Self Love

self-love

“You’re only as beautiful as you let yourself be baby. If you can’t see the beauty in you, then how can anybody else.”

Sand rocked back in her chair then forward towards young Cynthia. She looked over her glasses deep into the girl’s eyes before saying…

“A bad man don’t love nothin’ more than a woman that can’t see the beauty in herself. Can you see the beauty in yourself?”

Cynthia shrugged and tilted her head with a shy smile on her face.

“I don’t know, I guess so?”

Sand shook her head slightly then smiled softly at the young girl. Cynthia became curious as to the woman’s thoughts.

“What. Why are you smiling at me like that?”

Sand responded joyously.

“Jesus sees the beauty in you.”

Then she nodded her head in the affirmative.

“Yes it’s true, HE loves you same as HE loves me. Jesus sees the beauty in you always so you should always see the beauty in yourself. Can you see it?”

Again Cynthia responded meekly.

“I guess so.”

Sand shook her head from side to side before taking a more stern tone with the esteem challenged girl.

“It’s time you wised up girl! It ain’t only you, you got to worry about; you got that baby to worry about too. If you can’t see the beauty in yourself right now maybe you can try seeing the beauty in that little girl. Jesus loves her too. Do you love her enough to keep her and yourself out of harms way?”

She then reached down into the carrier and picked the infant up and kissed her gently on the cheek. Sand’s words seemed to finally awaken something deep within the girl.

“I love my baby and I’m gonna take good care of her.”
“Taking good care of her don’t stop with just feeding, bathing and clothing her. You got to put her in a safe, loving home where she can grow learn and thrive. Expose her to the WORD at a young age and she will be a blessing to you in the years to come.”

Tears slowly streamed down Cynthia’s cheeks.

“But I love him Miss Sand. I love him.”
“Does he love you child? Has he even demonstrated the ability to love himself? If he can’t love his self then how can he love anybody?”

Cynthia began to sob harder and mucous dripped from her nose. Sand handed the girl a handkerchief and continued on. Her point had to be made.

“I’ve got some place for you and this baby to go. You can get out of this wicked place and start anew. Your life is only going to get better if you put Jesus and the welfare of this beautiful child first in your life. No man should ever come before that. The Lord blessed you with that pretty girl. That’s Jesus’ baby, same as your life is his and so is mine. We were put here in this place temporarily for his purpose. This is not our last stop; this is just a drop in the bucket of time. This life is a trial, a test and a trust. He’s trusted you to do good by the life he gave you to govern over in this foreign place. Heaven is our true home. Do you understand?”

Cynthia looked up at Sand now crying openly and answered.

“Yes.”

Sand continued on.

“Do you love Jesus?”
“Yes.”
“Do you trust in him?”
“Yes.”
“Well to love and trust him is to love and trust in you. Don’t ever put your trust or faith in man, only Jesus. When that boy gets out of jail you will be out of town and on to a better life.”

Cynthia’s weeping had slowed some at the mention of her beloved boyfriend.

“This is still his child too. I can’t just disappear with his child.”

Sand patted her on the shoulder before further encouraging her.

“Child if he cares he’ll come here and I’ll make sure that if he wants to send some money or a letter that I will pass it on. I don’t know if it will happen or not but if it does you can be sure that I will do exactly what I say but don’t count on me to seek him out. He got a responsibility to you and this child so he needs to be a man and live up to his responsibilities. Don’t be foolish enough to invest your energy into thinking about how he might feel about the situation because I can assure you that staying here and waiting on him would be a huge mistake. Now is your bag packed?”

Cynthia nodded her head in the affirmative.

“Good, now Chookie ‘round back ‘wit the car runnin’. C’mon and give me some sugar now and be on your way.”

Sand kissed the baby again and then put her back in her carrier. She then placed a Bible in the girl’s hands and kissed her on the forehead. Sand helped the young girl and her infant daughter into the vehicle and they were off to start a new life. Cynthia’s courageous decision led to a loving and productive child hood for her daughter, Carol, filled with laughter and serving. Loving ourselves is a blessing given us freely by our Lord. Sadly we are often too blinded by sin to accept and appreciate our blessings. Carol would later become a journalist exposing the ills of the world, while never making her father’s acquaintance. She was never blessed with the urge to seek him out. It just goes to show, God don’t make no mistakes.

Self Love

Perry’s Presence

perry
There was a time as a lad growing up in Philadelphia that I wasn’t too tough. In actuality, I was considered a bit of a cry baby by some friends and family. Five soon to be six, I had a difficult time dealing with bullies. I had no father. Learned things of becoming a man I wasn’t offered, so in many ways I was left lacking. My father wasn’t deceased just absent do to sporadic irresponsibility and prison terms. Many children he fathered but failed to raise all over Philly and South Jersey. All were bastards minus one, me. My parents wed yet I have brothers a few months older and younger than I. Rest in peace to siblings lost many years ago before escaping adolescence. The price paid to the streets for morality we fail to instill in our children. Unfortunately most of my bastard siblings didn’t have what I had; people who cared enough to offer me guidance and direction.

A young bully by the name of Scottie roamed the streets of my neighborhood terrorizing kids from his bike. Run ‘em over and down is what he loved to do. A “CHiPS” helmet he wore on his head conjuring up mischief and assaulting his peers. On Scottie’s neck grew a large growth in the form of a huge brown bubble. It made him look almost disfigured but it never discouraged him from getting into a confrontation. As an adult, now I understand that his disfigurement most likely fueled his negative behavior. One day I became his victim. Scottie ran me over on his bike and I did what a cry baby does, I cried. Snot dripping from my nose I made my way into the house still shedding tears. I told my mother what happened then tried to make my way up to my bedroom to finish my cry. There was one thing standing in my way, you. You wouldn’t allow me to be defeated so easily.

You dragged me back outside to face my tormentor. Scottie smirked and other kids laughed because I was so soft you had make me come out and fight after I had been disrespected. Once in front of him you ordered me. “Hit him back!” I gave a weak attempt, hitting him lightly on the shoulder. Again you ordered me. “Hit him again. Hit him in the face!” I swung and hit the side of his “CHiPS” helmet hurting my hand more than my opponent. Back inside we went and I could see the disappointment in your eyes. Unknown to you, a lesson was learned and confidence gained that day. I started to see Scottie for who and what he was, a coward. If he were actually challenged who knows who might win. Nobody was fighting back; Scottie was winning by default. Cleaning my self up, I looked into the mirror and remembered the look in your eye. I respected you, and I needed you to respect me too. To garner that respect all I had to do was stand up for my self, something I should be doing anyway. Quietly I waited for my opportunity.

I went outside as often as possible over the next week hoping to have a confrontation with Scottie. Never the initiator of conflict, I had to be patient and wait for the trouble to come my way. Eventually the opportunity for redemption arrived. Scottie, being the bully he was, saw an opportunity to test me and he took it. I lingered in the alleyway just as he was riding down at top speed. He spotted me then targeted me. In my peripheral I could see him coming. I moved just in time so that he barely missed me. “Get out the way punk.” Scottie yelled as he turned his bike around and rode back towards me. I just looked on as he approached. He quickly dismounted his bike and walked up on me. “Yea punk, yo’ light skinned daddy ain’t wit you now. What you gonna do?” Without saying a word, I balled my fist up and got in a fighting stance. Scottie was stunned that he was actually being challenged; I saw it in his eyes. Inside me more confidence grew. Then your words rang in my ears. “He ain’t tough he just pick on dudes he knows ain’t gonna fight him. I bet if you fight him one time he won’t never pick on you again.” I knew then that you were right. Before he got his guard all the way up I swung my left fist, thumb tucked in my palm. I was aiming for his nose but he turned his face and I caught him in the temple. Scottie spun around and fell to the ground. The first thing I felt was fear for several seconds, I thought I had killed him, until… the kids in the alley erupted in laughter and cheer. The older kids started calling me the champ. Elation and pride came over me as they lifted me onto their shoulders. “Champ, champ, heavy weight champ.” Scottie’s older brother helped him to regain consciousness as I was carried off out onto the block to more cheers and praise.

I thank you for that day in my young life. As a man I would rather resolve my problems minus becoming violent but I still refuse to be bullied. You taught me that I’m not someone to be run over in life, figuratively or literally. The courage you instilled in me that day helped me to become the man I am today.

In those dark days when we question our value there are some things we need to be mindful of. No man is an island and it takes a village to raise a child. It’s a small world; there are many lives we touch during our existence on this planet. That good deed done, lesson taught or time spent may have taken little effort for you but remains monumental in someone else’s life. Please continue to leave your imprint through your offerings.

I heard you were a little down so I thought I’d drop you a few lines to remind you of the positive affect you’ve had on my life. I haven’t seen your face in over two decades but what I learned from you still resonates with me. Perry I want to thank you for the offerings you’ve given to me. Your presence in my life has been profound. Be blessed brother.

 

Where She At?

where-she-at

Chris Cooper, lover of many loved by so few found a new love today. Mandy is her name, voluptuous with the fairest of skin and hair the color of rust. Some of her friends jokingly called her “The Ginger”. Very social Mandy was and many friends she held dear. Most of Mandy’s friends were male. Chris thought Mandy to be the love of his life Mandy thought Chris to be just another of her male friends no more important than the rest. They had some good times, they had some laughs but when they were apart Chris would always ask “Where she at?”. He thought of her all the time, she was always on his mind, she was always on his mind. Obsessive was Chris in his love for Mandy The Ginger, never realizing it wasn’t being returned. Together they worked at a restaurant, she a waitress, he a bartender. Chris tried to mirror her schedule so that he could be with her more often but Mandy was employed elsewhere as well. She worked in retail as a part time cashier. Her manager she lusted for, but he could sense her feelings and kept her at a distance. Engaged to a young lady who was quite the big wig in the company, he was not willing to risk his future for a tryst with a young girl fifteen years his junior. Mandy yearned to caress his dark skin and muscular body. She often stated that he had to buy her a drink on her twenty-first birthday. Mandy knew the watering hole he frequented and who his friends were. She would be sure to be there when she knew he was there. Whenever he saw her he resisted her charms. He didn’t want to be caught in public fraternizing with his employees especially not his younger female ones. Mandy’s other males were often confronted or questioned by love sick Chris. Chris’ erratic behavior sometimes irritated Mandy when it effected her relationships with her other males. But Chris was the most dedicated so she kept him around. He treated her like the sun of his universe, oh and he bought all of her drinks too. Sometimes he may even show up where she was and pay her tab. On a faithful night the favorite watering hole of all was showing a pay per view boxing match and everyone gathered to watch. Mandy didn’t spend the day with Chris instead she spent it with two of her other males. Chris sat and got drunk, angry he couldn’t contact the one he loved. Later that evening Chris staggered into the establishment full of fight fans in search of his sweet Mandy. He spotted her standing behind two big guys sitting at the bar with her hand on one other their shoulders. Rush up to them Chris did in defense of his best girl.

“Take your hands off of her!”

He threw a drunken punch. He missed. Blows were returned, Chris slid down to the floor unconscious before he dropped. Kicked and stomped a bit before being rescued by patrons and employees. Pulled away to safety Chris slowly awoke. When asked if he was alright he but one response… “Where She At?!?” Where she was, was in another male’s bed less than an hour after Chris was checked into the hospital.
That’s Where She At?

Evicted from Society

evicted2
“Ma’am, I’m sorry to bother you, but do you think that you might be able to spare any loose change you may have.” Esther stepped back and looked the scruffy looking young man over then asked him one simple question. “Do you love Jesus?” Steven lifted his head and pushed his dingy brown hair out of his eyes to see Esther better before answering. “Yes ma’am I do, with all of my heart.” Esther continued to examine the man from a safe distance. He didn’t reek of alcohol or look to be strung out on drugs; he smelled of out doors but nothing that a shower couldn’t cure. Esther cocked her head at the man then asked him a second question. “Do you talk to him everyday.” Steven let out a chuckle and gave a brown toothed smile before replying. “Ma’am being in continual dire straights, how can I afford not to.” They shared a laugh and then Esther replied simply. “None of us can afford not to baby. I’m Esther and you are…” Esther said extending her hand to her new friend. Stephen wiped his hand on his pants before shaking the lady’s hand and introducing himself. “I’m Stephen, Stephen Murphy, good to make your acquaintance.” Esther took a seat on the bench outside the store and then patted the spot next to her, directing Stephen to sit down beside her. “Son, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?” “No Ma’am, go right ahead.” “Well, you seem like a nice man and somewhat intelligent. I was wondering how you got to be homeless. You are homeless, aren’t you?” Stephen chuckled again. “I guess my uniform here gave me away.” He answered while pulling at the bottom of his stained shirt, looking down at it. The two fast friends laughed together again. Then Esther chimed in. “You sure are in high spirits for a man in your situation.” Stephen allowed his face to reveal the sincerity in his heart. “Ma’am I’ve got the joy of the Lord’s love in my heart always. He sent you here to speak with me today and for that I am grateful. This is the first bit of kindness I’ve been extended in several days.” Stephen ran his hands back through his hair as he took a moment to reflect on his journey before sharing his experience with his new friend. “My story is quite the sorted tale ma’am. I am actually from Flint, Michigan, born and raised. I’ve been homeless the last three years due to a string of unfortunate events. I used to work construction for over ten years before I got injured. It was great, traveling to everywhere in the mid-west to do work. Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati; I’ve work in ‘em all. I had a house, cars, savings, a wife and a child on the way as well three years ago. Things were great and I was on top of the world, literally; I worked high steel, sky scrapers. That was until I got hurt on the job, back injury.

I was out of work only three months when the bills started piling up. We ran through my savings in no time. My insurance didn’t cover much so I took out loans against my house to keep the lights on. Then I sold one of my cars. My wife was pregnant and caring for me was putting a great strain on our relationship. She left me five months after I was injured on the job; then I found out something that tore me to pieces. I didn’t have a baby on the way. My wife was pregnant but the child wasn’t mine; it was a high school buddy of mines. They had been carrying on for years whenever I was out of town. I can’t tell you how much it hurt me to discover how I was being betrayed by two people I trusted. I suffered many sleepless nights in pain, emotional and physical. Within six months my back was starting to feel a little better and I could walk around without a lot of pain. By the seventh month, my house was foreclosed on and I was evicted to live in my car. My parents died three years earlier and I didn’t have any family in the area anymore. We never had much family. Most of my friends, except the one having an affair with my wife, had moved away and started new lives in other cities. I eventually migrated into Detroit to be in a more metropolitan area where I might be able to find work and shelter. When I arrived there, I learned what it truly was to be homeless. After my car was towed, my third day in Detroit and I was left with no shelter, I became a citizen of a new dangerous world. I was attacked on my first night sleeping in the streets, robbed of all the worldly possessions I had left and beaten with a chain and lock. I almost starved while trying to recover from my injuries. That night I learned not to be weak. I found a small community living in a downtown bus terminal and joined them, my fee for entry was two half eaten Big Macs I found in a dumpster behind a Mc Donald’s. I’d never been much of a fighter in my life, but I certainly learned to fight back, I had to if I were going to survive. I lay on wet cardboard out in the open like an animal many night’s of my life. I often shared my bedding with animals mostly large inner city rats.” Esther winced at the graphic detail Stephen gave of a homeless man’s life in the big city. Stephen continued on with his terrible yet true tale of torment.

“The people living in the street displayed behavior of survival; it was a dog eat dog world. I could somewhat understand their brutality and immoral conduct but the actions of the “civilized people” truly surprised me. I never realized how cruel we Americans were to people without homes. They spat at me when passing by, teens ridiculed me or stole my shoes, tied the laces together and threw them up on a telephone wire when I was asleep. I would hear well to do ladies tell their children not to get too close to me as if touching me might be hazardous to their health. I was made to feel as if I weren’t human. Sometimes I wanted to yell out to them “This is not my choice, I didn’t want this; this is something that happened to me.” That is exactly what they don’t understand. Most of them are just one pay check away from being where I am, lost in an outcast world of desperation. The police were never any help to us what so ever; they were sometimes worse than the citizens. They called us skells or lice heads when running us away from some area that “decent folks” didn’t want us in. That was the only time that they interacted with us, to show us how much we weren’t wanted by the rest of the populace. That was when I finally understood that I had been evicted from society.

If one of us got attacked they would receive no medical treatment; the assault would even go uninvestigated unless someone was killed and sometimes not even then. If a person on the streets is sent to prison for a crime they commit, it is almost a reward for them. They knew that they’d eat and shower everyday. But, in actuality they were just being removed from one jungle and dropped into another. Tax payers came first; that’s who justice and medical treatment was meant for. It was certainly not essential to care for a man, woman or child who was not currently paying into the system no matter how many years of their lives they worked and paid taxes. I saw many people freeze to death in the cold winter streets of Detroit. I eventually migrated east to Philadelphia where I found survival to be just as challenging. I traveled by the same means as the men they once called Ho Bo’s. I hopped freight trains. There in Philly I slept on the subway platforms or heated grates around the city. ATM vestibules were a safe place to sleep sometimes until the mayor started cracking down on that as well. Police would often jar you from your sleep with a whack from their baton on your lower leg. That was your alarm, pain and ridicule. After another horrid winter outdoors, this time in Philly, I decided that it was time I moved to a warmer climate. I gave thought to settling down in Charlotte or Atlanta but I knew that it never got cold in Orlando so this is where I came. I thought that I might be served up a little southern hospitality and a steady day laborer’s job. Unfortunately, neither came to fruition. I was still viewed as a scary, smelly, subhuman being shunned from civilized society. Pan handling even became more difficult when they made the poor register for cards granting them the permission to pan handle then band them from being in certain areas of the city at certain times. If found you were detained and arrested. A lot of people, including myself, have gotten arrested on purpose just to get out of the rare cold, get a shower, a bed or meal.” Stephen paused and shook his head while inhaling deeply as he thought about his last shower and how good it was. “Showers are like a little piece of heaven in our world. To be clean and smell good is a luxury to a person on the street. I’ve done many things that I thought I’d never do while living out here. The way we live is a social injustice. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully aware that a large number of people living on the street are there because they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, mentally ill or criminally insane. There are ways to help these people and to make the streets safer for everyone. There is no reason that even one American citizen should live on the street. We are the richest nation in the world. Rich enough to be involved in several wars at one time, explore outer space continuously and provide humanitarian efforts all around the world. A person’s mental health is not essential to treat if the person or their family has no money. Rehab facilities are big business now, there’s money to be made. They can’t be admitting anyone who is unable to compensate them handsomely for treatment. The criminally insane are never brought to justice as long as their crimes are against the undesirables. Some days can become mentally depressing as the anguish of a bleak future and the struggle to find food can overwhelm even the strongest of people.” Stephen pulled a napkin from his pocket and dap a tear from his eye as Esther listened intently. “There has been only one comfort during my three year decent into the world of homelessness. JESUS!

I was raised in a Pentecostal church as a boy in Flint and my parents were devout Christians. As I got older, I moved away from Christ and further into the ways of the world. I no longer attended church, tithed, prayed or read the Bible in my adult life. Things were going good, I had everything that I wanted and I thought that it was all because of me and the greatness I possessed. I never once gave thanks or praise to the Lord although I always knew the truth. It even took two and a half years of not having a home for me to turn to him. I have now and because of that, I have peace in my heart and spirit during these trying times. I know that he will deliver me from this and that’s what keeps me going. I understand that our time on this planet is temporary; it’s just a test. When I am done with this trial the Lord will call me home; he can now trust me with this life because I will use it to serve him until my time here is done. I don’t know exactly when my life here will get better or if it ever will but, I am grateful for my suffering. If it were not for me having to endure such hardship, I would never have turned to Jesus. I could have died the richest man on earth and been headed straight to hell for eternity. So, I remain grateful and thankful.” Esther threw her arms around Stephen’s shoulders and held him tight. She then started praying to Jesus that HE would give her the wisdom in her efforts to help this man and that they may both use his struggles to help others. She thanked HIM for allowing their paths to cross on that day and for the opportunity for them both to serve in a greater capacity. When she finished her prayer, she pulled back from Stephen and looked him deep into his tired eyes. “Stephen, our lives are going to change today, yours and mine. Oh how we are going to do a powerful work in our Lord and Savior’s name. I’m so excited. I want you to look around at your surroundings, say goodbye. When you return to these streets it will be as a champion of the people, your people. The people you will never forget.” Esther stood and pulled Stephen up from his seat by his shoulders; he stood 6’2” when upright. That evening Stephen met Esther’s large Jamaican family and the following Sunday morning he met her congregation and pastor. That Monday he was working, helping to build a new church sanctuary. He returned to the streets to minister to people and serve food every Tuesday and Thursday. Three months later he helped to organize Esther’s home church’s first food drive for the homeless. Three months afterwards he helped to start and worked at a soup kitchen for Orlando’s homeless. He conducted a small service at every function. Reverends and pastors from around the city joined him in his causes. Stephen created a Christian workshop and job training facility that offered lodging to its enrollees. Stephen spoke at churches all around the city on the plight of the homeless and his call as a Christian to assist them in their time of need. He always shared the story of his rise and fall and rise again through Jesus. Within two years of first making Esther’s acquaintance, Stephen ran for councilman of the district where most of the homeless lived and he worked for their causes. He even started a voting drive amongst the poor and homeless and got a large number of them to register to vote. Stephen won in a landslide and continued to be a champion for the forgotten. Clothes drives, book drives and more food drives were held around the city until peoples’ perceptions of the homeless became more positive and realistic. They began to realize how close some of them actually were to joining them or how close they had come to being homeless at different difficult times in their lives.

Stephen took his hardships and adversity and turned it into triumph through his faith in Jesus. Enduring devastation and destitution is possible through faith. When faced with challenges and adversity, you should pray that much harder and be that more grateful because often times these are the things that help us to see much more clearly. Strengthening our faith and bringing us that much closer to the Lord. The next time privation and poverty present themselves, pray and praise HIM that much stronger. Trust that your faith in HIM will not be in vain. HE will deliver you; just ask Stephen. Thank you Sister Esther and all those like you!

 

The Problem

different-types-of-drugs
Gleefully we indulge in great debauchery for the euphoria it offers us. Instant gratification, a rush, escapism through a numbing of the pain was sought and achieved briefly. Through our vice we experience all of the momentary relief we seek and even some peace. The problems lay dormant as they are temporarily forgotten only to return when the feeling escapes us. Problem solved… No! Problem postponed, left to be resolved when rational thinking takes back over the mind. Overwhelmingly taxing and sometimes insuperably insurmountable, is the problem viewed sending us back to vice. More fleeting, less fulfilling is the joyous feeling we experience through our chosen sin. We are awakened from our stupor only to be greeted once again, by… the problem.

Genially gracious were our minds enlightened and our hearts edified by the Spirit tearing blinders from our eyes, gifting us sight. Understand now we do. The problem is not the problem. The problem is the strife we bring into life, through our self-detrimental desire for vice.

The Problem!

Addicted to Chaos!

chaos2
“Get ya’ll bad asses in this house and shut up all that damn noise in there! I’m sorry Miss Mary, I appreciate you bringin’ the boys home for me. They’re always into somethin’, wit they bad asses. I don’t know why these kids is so damn bad or where they get it from. I need ta whip they ass more.”

Tamara took a drag off her Newport and blew the smoke in the air out over Miss Mary’s head. She stepped out onto the porch next to the woman and took a seat in one of the plastic chairs.

“Please Miss Mary take a seat.”
“Thank you, but I can’t stay long; I got some neck bones in a pot on low. It’s about time to add my beans. I usually make my butter beans with a left over ham bone and scraps or some ham hock but I decided to make ‘em with neck bones this time. I ain’t done that in years.”
“You sure can cook Miss Mary.”
“Well thank you sugar. I’ll bring you down a bowl when it’s done.”

Tamara threw her cigarette butt to the red concrete porch and stomped it out. Then she sighed hard and looked to her older wiser neighbor and asked a simple question.

“How you do it Miss Mary?”
“What you mean child?”
“How you always stay calm and got three kids, two in college and one about to go to school on a football scholarship. Your husband died when your kids was young and you ain’t got no more money than everybody else around here but you stay doing good. You live good your kids do good and you always got what you need.”

Miss Mary smiled then chuckled at the young girl’s statement before responding flattered.

“Well the first thing is Jesus; trust and believe in Jesus. He’ll give you peace and help you to make wise decisions. Invest your time and energy into what’s important, your children. Show the babies love all the time ‘cause sometimes it’s tough.”

Tamara took a second to grasp exactly what Miss Mary was trying to tell her.

“Well Miss Mary it’s hard to love these bad kids I got, they take after their daddies. No matter how much I holla, scream or beat, they still gonna be bad. Just like their daddies.”

Miss Mary took a moment to choose her words carefully before replying to Tamara.

“Well if it were me the first thing I would do is stop telling them that their bad, ‘cause eventually they start to believe it. Then they start being bad. I would make sure that they had plenty of positive activities to get involved in. Things they love to do, sports, clubs, drama, karate or something. Then instead of beatin’ on ‘em you can take away their special thing until they can behave themselves. Love them; tell them how much you love them everyday and encourage them to do good in their activities. Were their daddies good or bad?”

Tamara frowned up her brow as she tried to think about each of her baby daddies’ and their personalities.

“All four of them ain’t… nothing. They all bad Miss Mary, all of ‘em.”
“Well baby if all of them are no good then don’t keep tellin’ your children that they are just like them. Don’t continue the drama in their lives. If you used to fight and argue with the fathers and the children saw it then you are teaching them the wrong love lessons. When you yell and fuss at them all the time it teaches them bad love lessons. We should want our children to learn that we show the most love and respect to family. We need to protect not hurt the people closest to us. When I say hurt I mean physically, emotionally, spiritually or mentally. Baby you gotta stop being addicted to chaos; it’s not good for you or your babies.”

Tamara smiled then giggled.

“Addicted to chaos? Miss Mary you sure got some way of talkin’ but I hear you. I do like a lot of drama; maybe it’s time to stop all that. I’m gonna start being sweeter to my kids and maybe I’ll go to church with you sometime if you’ll take me.”

Miss Mary rose from her chair with a grunt and a stretch.

“Whenever you want to go to church honey; just let me know. I’ll be here bright and early in the morning to pick you up. Well you just think about it baby, I gotta go tend to my beans. I’ll be back with a bowl when they’re done.”
“Alright Miss Mary I’ll see you when you come back and thank you again.”

Miss Mary winked and smiled at Tamara. Tamara winked and smiled back in an attempt to start being more like Miss Mary as she watched her turn and walk down the road. Tamara turned and walked inside her house to prepare dinner for her boys. She decided that night she would ask her four sons what they wanted instead of just making whatever was the easiest. She summoned them.

“Boys, what ya’ll want for dinner tonight.”

They all ran to her feet from different places in the house with different requests for dinner. Tamara stepped back from them and silently looked down into their little faces. She realized how different and special they all were. She brought joy to their little hearts when she announced that she would make each of their meals and they would all eat them together. A group hug was had then they all told her of how they loved her and how she was the best mama in the whole world. Tamara had taken the first steps towards breaking her addiction to chaos.

Addicted to Chaos!
Photo: Addicted to Chaos! “Get ya’ll bad asses in this house and shut up all that damn noise in there! I’m sorry Miss Mary, I appreciate you bringin’ the boys home for me. They’re always into somethin’, wit they bad asses. I don’t know why these kids is so damn bad or where they get it from. I need ta whip they ass more.” Tamara took a drag off her Newport and blew the smoke in the air out over Miss Mary’s head. She stepped out onto the porch next to the woman and took a seat in one of the plastic chairs. “Please Miss Mary take a seat.” “Thank you, but I can’t stay long; I got some neck bones in a pot on low. It’s about time to add my beans. I usually make my butter beans with a left over ham bone and scraps or some ham hock but I decided to make ‘em with neck bones this time. I ain’t done that in years.” “You sure can cook Miss Mary.” “Well thank you sugar. I’ll bring you down a bowl when it’s done.” Tamara threw her cigarette butt to the red concrete porch and stomped it out. Then she sighed hard and looked to her older wiser neighbor and asked a simple question. “How you do it Miss Mary?” “What you mean child?” “How you always stay calm and got three kids, two in college and one about to go to school on a football scholarship. Your husband died when your kids was young and you ain’t got no more money than everybody else around here but you stay doing good. You live good your kids do good and you always got what you need.” Miss Mary smiled then chuckled at the young girl’s statement before responding flattered. “Well the first thing is Jesus; trust and believe in Jesus. He’ll give you peace and help you to make wise decisions. Invest your time and energy into what’s important, your children. Show the babies love all the time ‘cause sometimes it’s tough.” Tamara took a second to grasp exactly what Miss Mary was trying to tell her. “Well Miss Mary it’s hard to love these bad kids I got, they take after their daddies. No matter how much I holla, scream or beat, they still gonna be bad. Just like their daddies.” Miss Mary took a moment to choose her words carefully before replying to Tamara. “Well if it were me the first thing I would do is stop telling them that their bad, ‘cause eventually they start to believe it. Then they start being bad. I would make sure that they had plenty of positive activities to get involved in. Things they love to do, sports, clubs, drama, karate or something. Then instead of beatin’ on ‘em you can take away their special thing until they can behave themselves. Love them; tell them how much you love them everyday and encourage them to do good in their activities. Were their daddies good or bad?” Tamara frowned up her brow as she tried to think about each of her baby daddies’ and their personalities. “All four of them ain’t… nothing. They all bad Miss Mary, all of ‘em.” “Well baby if all of them are no good then don’t keep tellin’ your children that they are just like them. Don’t continue the drama in their lives. If you used to fight and argue with the fathers and the children saw it then you are teaching them the wrong love lessons. When you yell and fuss at them all the time it teaches them bad love lessons. We should want our children to learn that we show the most love and respect to family. We need to protect not hurt the people closest to us. When I say hurt I mean physically, emotionally, spiritually or mentally. Baby you gotta stop being addicted to chaos; it’s not good for you or your babies.” Tamara smiled then giggled. “Addicted to chaos? Miss Mary you sure got some way of talkin’ but I hear you. I do like a lot of drama; maybe it’s time to stop all that. I’m gonna start being sweeter to my kids and maybe I’ll go to church with you sometime if you’ll take me.” Miss Mary rose from her chair with a grunt and a stretch. “Whenever you want to go to church honey; just let me know. I’ll be here bright and early in the morning to pick you up. Well you just think about it baby, I gotta go tend to my beans. I’ll be back with a bowl when they’re done.” “Alright Miss Mary I’ll see you when you come back and thank you again.” Miss Mary winked and smiled at Tamara. Tamara winked and smiled back in an attempt to start being more like Miss Mary as she watched her turn and walk down the road. Tamara turned and walked inside her house to prepare dinner for her boys. She decided that night she would ask her four sons what they wanted instead of just making whatever was the easiest. She summoned them. “Boys, what ya’ll want for dinner tonight.” They all ran to her feet from different places in the house with different requests for dinner. Tamara stepped back from them and silently looked down into their little faces. She realized how different and special they all were. She brought joy to their little hearts when she announced that she would make each of their meals and they would all eat them together. A group hug was had then they all told her of how they loved her and how she was the best mama in the whole world. Tamara had taken the first steps towards breaking her addiction to chaos. Addicted to Chaos!

 

Breaking Bread

breaking-bread-1

When we gather together with the people we love around a table to break bread it is far more than just sharing a meal. Saying grace together before the meal then passing plates, dishes of food and beverages we form a stronger bond. Once the table is Blessed, down goes the stress. We eat to provide our bodies with nourishment but we engage in the tradition of gathering together so that we may fellowship, share with and encourage those we love so. Life issues and problems are revealed and the troubled are heartened, wisdom imparted then thanks and praise are given to the wise. This is what gathering together is all about. When was the last time you gathered around a table with those you love? Gather together, share the love.