Tag Archives: grace

Conqueror

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Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

My best friend has conquered life! On 12.12.12, she returned to our Father in heaven. I have memories that span 22 years-from elementary to college, children and husbands, shopping and dining, drinking tea, attending cultural events, worshipping together, celebrating birthdays and other milestones, and our love of all things Twilight-Team Edward (I take pleasure in the fact that it was me who got her hooked, lol)-we have traversed the roads of life together.

On the drive home from the hospital, the theme from “The Golden Girls” kept playing in my mind:

“Thank you for being a friend/Travel down the road and back again/ Your heart is true/ You’re a pal and confidante.”

She was all that and more. I’ve never had a finer friend. My heart brims over with love for her. I take comfort in knowing that absent from the body means present with the Lord. More than a conqueror, cancer didn’t beat her. She ran the race until the end. For weeping may last a night, but joy cometh in the morning!

I encouraged her to start a blog, and for a moment, she did. She didn’t write a lot, but what she did is so powerful and motivational. I am still amazed by all that she was.

I praise, bless, and thank God for our time together!

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Pray Back

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Even though Rhonda wisely cautioned me not to open Pandora’s box, I did.  When writing the post Her Footstool, it wasn’t enough for me to recall the hurtful comments that Eliza had left on our voicemail three years ago in her “footstool” sermon.  And because I have quite a memory for detail, there was really no need for me to dig out the old tapes and listen to that message or any of the other ones that I did for that matter.  I guess in a way, it was a test.  I wanted to see if I was truly “over” the past.  Unfortunately I did not ace the test.  I only listened to five or so of the messages, but it was enough for the old wounds to fester and burn.

 

Listening to her biting lies and fanatical commentary really cut me.  It was like reliving the nightmare over again.  I recalled many of the things she did, not only to me and my husband, but her crazy attempts to involve Nicholas as well.  I contemplated how and why things got so bad.  I wondered how one person could have so much hatred for another.  I was indignant at her nasty, superior tone laden with accusations.  In her “footstool” sermon she declared “my kids don’t even like you.”  That instantly upped my ire.  She knew as well as I did that they were conditioned not to like me.  In short they were forbidden to like me.  I finally had to put the tapes away.  I had heard enough.

 

 This past Sunday when I took Ethan down to visit her; I was in a weird kind of mood.  After they chatted for a while I sent him to gather snacks for the three of us. I took that moment to share with her something that I thought she needed to hear.  In a sober tone I said “Recently I came across some of the old voicemails that you left for me.  Those tapes have further confirmed for me that it is only with the grace of God that we are sitting here today.  It has been nothing but God behind this.”  This wasn’t what she expected to hear.  I figured she would rapidly change the topic, but she responded by agreeing with my statement.  She also admitted that she probably has done some mean things to me due to my loyalty to her ex, my husband.  She also said that she did not know me back then.  Eliza finished by preaching about Matthew 7:5.  Touche, I stand corrected. 

 

For the rest of the visit we played our customary game of Scrabble.  I allowed her and Ethan to carry the conversation.  At the conclusion of the visit I gave her a heartfelt hug just to let her know that I did not hold anything against her.  She hugged me back tightly and told me for the first time in person “Morocco, thank you for bringing Ethan down, thanks for the snacks…I appreciate all you do.”

 

I was not expecting any grand revelations from her about what I said to her.  I knew she would be too proud to apologize.  Believe it or not, an apology is not what I wanted.  I think I wanted her to simply acknowledge the things that she did.  Once Eliza is released from prison I’m sure I will never have her ear again.  She won’t have to listen to me.

 

I experienced a lot of emotions on the drive home.  I felt so vexed that I had to email a good friend for her support and advice.  Stacy, formerly of the Perfect Blend, really helped put things into perspective for me.  She also suggested that I do an exercise creating a timeline of the events that transpired with Eliza.  With each event she suggested that I write about how each one made me feel.  I started working on it yesterday. 

 

I don’t know why it has been so hard for me to forgive Eliza, especially when Jesus so freely forgave us and still continues to do so.  There is no sin that can’t be forgiven…70X7 is what I believe he said.  With this in mind I have made up my mind to let go of the past once and for all.  I know that I don’t have the right not to forgive her. 

 

Initially after hearing the tapes I felt a surge of vengeance.  I could hear James Brown in my head singing his song about retaliation.  I wanted payback.  But after having the space to think about things I realized that I don’t really want to pay her back.  That would just keep the bitter cycle going.  Besides, she is already suffering enough and wanting her to hurt more is just cruel. 

 

 

Instead I am choosing to “pray her back.”  After my exercise is completed, I am going to pray her back for each incident on the timeline.  I am going to pray consistently that God change her heart.  I’m praying that she experiences the true glory of God. But I will be praying for myself as well.  I am going to pray that God gives me the strength and grace needed to be as quick as He is to forgive others.  I am praying that I am finally able to release the hurt that has caused me to have an unforgiving spirit once and for all.

 

Grace

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The concept of grace has been on my mind a lot lately.  In fact, I just finished reading two books that deal with this very subject, Grace After Midnight: A Memoir by Felecia Pearson and David Ritz and A Pace of Grace  by Linda Kavelin Popov.  I don’t think that this is a coincidence either.  Grace, I know, has many definitions.  Grace can be described as favor or goodwill, mercy, clemency, or pardon.  But the definition that appeals to me the most is the one that defines it as “the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.”   God is my strength and this is proven everyday.  When it is all said and done I know that I have led a blessed existence. 

It was only with God’s grace that I was finally able to gather the courage to go to my doctor’s appointment for a diabetes test, something that I have been putting off for two years.  His strength propelled me forward.

He gives me the strength I need to responsibly raise Jazmine, Nicholas, Ethan, and Evan along side my husband. 

He allows me to deal with Eliza in a peaceful manner.

Only His grace allows me to admit when I am wrong or have wronged others.

When I forgive others I am exhibiting His grace.

He gives me the serenity to accept the things that I can not change.

With his grace I am able to bear living without my mother.

Grace allows me to see beauty in my sorrows.  The grace of God has moved mountains for me.  In the darkness of my days the sun still seeps through.  For he has promised…I will give thee the treasures in darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.

His Grace…

It allows me to teach where I do to the best of my ability, despite the many shortcomings of the district.  Through his grace I have made a difference.

His grace has awakened me for the last thirty years-thank you Lord!

I don’t deserve it but He gives it to me freely regardless–even when I don’t feel it, it’s there.

His grace saves the day.  Sadly, I am not always a gracious being, this I know.  But He has placed it on my heart to be more so.  He is watching and I am determined not to fail.

Therefore I am in practice.  I want to be a graceful person in every sense of the word.  Mind.  Body.  Soul.

Reaching Out

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Today marks the one month anniversary of my mother’s death.  It has been overwhelming living in the wake of her loss.  And as much as I have wanted to stay in bed forever, I knew that I would have to continue on with life…eventually.  My first foray back into the land of the living was taking Ethan to see his mom.  My mood was quiet and reflective. I had no intention of sharing my loss with Eliza.  It wasn’t because I was uncomfortable around her.  Our encounters have been surprisingly amicable.  And not to say that there are not awkward moments, because there are, considering that all of our interactions previous to her incarceration have been over the phone or in a courtroom.

 I had several reasons why I didn’t want to share this news with her.  One, I didn’t want to burden her with my problems during her parenting time with her son, two, I have been trying to keep things on a less personal level with her (I was tired of having my kind gestures  rebuffed), and three, it was still difficult for me to speak about.

So when she asked me how work was going I was caught off guard. Generally she never asked anything directly about me. Sometimes I would offer bits and pieces about me in an effort to humanize myself. I wanted her to see me as someone other than her ex-husband’s (relatively) new wife whom she hated.  She would respond politely by asking a few cursory questions, cautious not to convey too much interest.

 I carefully replied that I had been swamped at work because I had been out for eight days.  I coughed for added effect.  I figured she would assume that I had been too ill for work.  However, this time she pressed on.  Were you sick? she wondered.  I took a breath and replied, No, Eliza, my mother died.  She instantly reached over and hugged me.  She also provided me with a few encouraging words before we continued our game of Scrabble. Periodically she would reach over and rub my leg or pat my back.

I had not expected any further mention of my loss.  After all she had already offered her condolences during the visit.  But a week later I received a letter in the mail. The following day, a card.  The letter read:

Morocco,
Hello friend, how are you? I pray you’re doing better. As I know these times must be very hard on you. I want to extend my deepest sympathy to you. When things get rough–as they sometimes do–we may think about giving up. However, I want to encourage you to be encouraged and know that trouble don’t last always. The sun will shine again. I say this from experience because after my mother passed on and began her journey with the Lord I felt like the sun would never shine again–how could it? But after allowing Jesus to be my comforter–the sun did shine again. Morocco, my friend what doesn’t kill us will only make us stronger. Your blessing are on the way. Know that you are in my prayers with each passing day. Be blessed lady!
Isaiah 41:10 “I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.” Jesus loves you–You’re not alone! God will be your strength!

I was touched and a tad suspicious.  I didn’t know what to think.  My old insecurities surfaced.  Was she writing to taunt me because I was finally suffering?  Was she sincere?  Did she want something in return? Of course I let Rhonda read the letter and she felt that it was indeed heartfelt.  I could only hope.  Tired of being paranoid, I decided to reply to her candidly.  Rebuking my wariness of her motives, I concluded that she was reaching out.  She did not have to write in attempt to provide my grieving heart with comfort.  So I wrote:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor heights nor depth, nor any other created things shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37-39 5 March 2008 

Eliza,Hello, I hope all is well with you.  I am fair.  I want to thank you for your kindness. This is indeed a vulnerable time for my family and I.  It’s funny that you use the analogy of the sun and death, because that’s how I have always felt. At the hour of my mother’s demise, it truly felt like the sun had set and would never shine again. No pun intended, but I know that someday the Son will rise again!A couple of days ago I had this desire to call my mother. I had a general question that I probably could have asked one of my aunts, but I just wanted to talk to my mother and no one else would do. It is in these moments that I am overwhelmed with sorrow realizing that she is no longer with us.Having been down this path before, I know you completely understand.  It is easy to stay faithful when things are going smoothly, but ever so difficult when you are facing troubles.  I know that my faith is being tested.  I am admittedly weak and I pray that I am able to remain steadfast.  I am working diligently to do so. I am attempting to be thankful for this opportunity to draw closer to God.  I need him right now because there is no one here on earth that can ease my heart the way he has and can.  I am still in mourning, though I am determined not to wallow in a puddle of self pity. I am reaching out to others because it makes me feel better.  It also puts the purpose of life into perspective for me.  I really think God meant for us to provide encouragement to one another.  So I thank you friend for reaching out and providing me with much needed encouragement. Be blessed.

When my mother died I remember confiding in the hospital chaplain that I would not be able to survive this tragedy.  She smiled before saying You will.  God is going to put all kinds of people in your path to get you through this.  Could Eliza be one of those people???