Tribe

“…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” ~ Proverbs 18:24 NKJV

As the holidays approach I think more and more about my fragmented, distant family. Although there are only a handful of us left, we rarely connect with each other outside of tragedies.

I have five siblings that I seldom see. I have not seen my youngest sister in years nor have I met her last three children. The same goes for my youngest brother. My middle brother only contacts me when he is in need. I communicate the most with my middle sister which is still only marginally. My brother who is the second child reaches out more than the others. I suppose because it was only us for the first two years.

I have three aunts and a smattering of cousins. I talk to two aunts on occasion and my cousins when I run into them on a rare outing.

It is hurtful to be estranged from family. I have spent many days pondering our fragile connection. However, lately I have made peace with the way things are and instead try to focus on nurturing the relationships that I do have.

The other day my seven year old asked if we could have a “real” Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family. He referenced an end of summer party that we attended, “like the party at the big, blue house.” It took me a minute to recollect and figure out that he was talking about my friend’s party. We had a great time surrounded by both good food and people. It made me sad that I cannot offer him such a setting. We simply do not have the family for it.

Life is tough. The Bible even warns us that our days will be full of trouble and I can say that this has certainly been true in my life. But I also know that is why the Lord, in His infinite wisdom, gave us families. Our family are supposed to help smooth life’s frayed edges.

I too, know that we can’t force our blood relatives to be kindred. However, we can create our own tribe-another blessing from our Father who connects us all. I’ve done this in a sense. My motley crew of a family does not resemble the traditional model. It is composed of my two boys, a few true friends, coworkers turned comrades, some church saints, girlfriends now sisterfriends, and past and present students.

As a bonus, we get the families of my tribe mates as well. Sometimes I sit back, reflect and wish it could be different with my biological family. These people are blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh after all. This will never change. But too much time has elapsed which has allowed the distance to widen. Things are strained and tense to the point that I do not even wish to attempt to sew the rip that’s torn us a part. Obviously no one else wants to either. Being family should not be a seasonal affair when it is meant for a lifetime. Now they are almost like strangers to me. I only know them by heart.

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Dry 

“He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs.” ~Psalm 107:35

Reminder for those of you in a desert place: 
“Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rain will come again.” ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

Refuge 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”—Psalm 46:1

In July I had the pleasure of spending a week in beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico-in the Condado Beach area to be exact. One morning I decided to take an Uber and go to old San Juan. I heard it was a sight to see and indeed it was. I fell in love with the colorful buildings and the blue-yes blue, cobblestone streets. 



I wanted to take a picture or two of myself but it was hard to get a good shot solo. I saw a group of ladies on a corner and approached one of them to take my picture. She happily agreed and they all participated and turned it into a photoshoot.  


Afterwards I asked where I could go for breakfast which is where they were heading and they invited me to tag along. The ladies ranged in ages 61-68 and had been friends since they were small children. Maria and Frances still lived on the island. Nell lived in New Zealand and was there to visit friends and her ailing parents. Mary lived in San Antonio and was there for the same reasons as Nina. 


I spent about five hours with “the girls” who treated me to breakfast and taught me a lot about Puerto Rican history and culture as they graciuosly took me on a walking tour. They dropped me back off at my hotel and I left them transformed by their kindness to a stranger. I hoped that we would stay in touch.


Sometimes our lives intersect with strangers and we are richer for it. In light of the hurricanes that hit both Puerto Rico and Texas, I have not stopped thinking about my new friends. I have been trying to get in contact with them to no avail. I pray that they are okay. Through my church we have sent more than $100, 000 in funds to Texas, Florida, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico. But I wish I could do so much more. I have agonized over this and today God told me to write this post and pray. 


So I ask you all to please help me stand in the gap for “the ladies” as well as the thousands of others suffering due to the storm. Let’s gather in His name on their behalf. Let us pray that they remain hopeful and faithful in their time of trouble. Let their needs be met and take comfort because Help is on the way!  The Bible says that the prayer of the righteous availeth much! 

Shut Your Mouth 

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue. And those who love it will eat its fruit.”  ~Proverbs 18:21

When things are not going well in my life, out of fear, I have the tendency to complain, gossip and resort to a negative mindset. It’s like I already know the terrible outcome based upon “evidence”- the very antithesis of faith. 

 It took me a while to realize that this behavior is merely a display of faithlessness. It shows that I don’t believe in the omnipotence of God. If I did, I would “be still.” I quickly forget that His promise is that ALL things will work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. I surely love Him and believe that I have been called by Him. So what’s my problem?!

I’ve concluded that sometimes we just need to shut our mouths. The Lord has everything under control. He has already told us that the battle belongs to Him. All we have to do is hold our peace in the midst of it. 

And when we don’t shut our mouths, He will shut it for us. The angel Gabriel tells Zachariah the priest he’s going to have a son. But the priest needs proof.  

“How can I be certain? My wife and I are well passed childbearing years.”  
The angel responds “Your mouth will be shut because you did not believe the good news.” Luke 1:5-23

This week I plan to be quiet. I want to hear every message that God has for me. I AM going to trust Him to guide me through the challenging situation I am currently navigating. I need His guidance and I can’t afford to let my mouth get me in trouble. It can’t be done without HIM. I’m leaning on Him for what He promised. 

My lips are sealed! 

Faith and Fashion

My church had an awesome women’s conference over the weekend called “Healing for Your Soul”with speakers Kelly Price and Pastor Kim Burrell and it opened with a fashion show in which I was a part of. 

Elan Furs was gracious enough to allow us to model their beautiful coats. I loved mine so much that I had to buy it, lol. 

We walked down the “runway” to Walking by Mary, Mary which was perfect. It was great fun and a wonderful opportunity to fellowship with the ladies. 

Mountains Moved

In a previous post, I wrote about the importance of recalling past victories, no matter how big or small. Our remembrance gives us hope and belief that God will continue to provide and make a way in future battles. What are some of the mountains that God has moved for you? 

It Is Written

“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” ~1 Corinthians 11:1

I came across this beautiful comment made by my favorite musician, Prince and thought I’d share: 

God is a generous and loving being. It is written we should act like God. There are enough opportunities. 

I am keeping my eyes open and my ears tuned for such opportunities to glorify God. 

I am thankful that Prince was able to redeem himself and find the narrow road that leads to life before it was too late. 

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so! 

The Missing Pieces

“I will put My trust in Him.” ~Hebrews 2:13

It feels so good to trust in the Lord and lean not to my own understanding. 

I often liken life to a billion piece jiggle saw puzzle. Each event, experience, trial, blessing, etc. in our life represents one piece-thus it rarely makes sense to us. 

But God…literally and figuratively speaking, the Creator of the puzzle, has already put it together and can see the big picture. Trust Him my friends. 

  

Hannah’s Prayer

“O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:26

Today I was reading scripture when I came across Hannah’s prayer. I was really struck by it so I thought I would share: 

My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation. 

No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God. 

Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed. 

The bows of the mighty men are broken, And those who stumbled are girded with strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, And the hungry have ceased to hunger. Even the barren has borne seven, And she who has many children has become feeble. 

The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust. And lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set them among princes, And make them inherit the throne of glory. 

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, And He has set the world upon them. He will guard the feet of His saints, But the wicked shall be silent in the darkness. 

For by strength no man shall prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; From heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth.  

He will give strength to His King, And exalt the horn of His anointed. 


Born

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.” ~Jeremiah 1:5

Today I have been on earth exactly 38 years. I am filled with a gratitude that no words in the English lexicon can adequately express. 

I only know that Our awesome God chose to grace me with another year of life.

I have no grand plans. Nor a desire for a party, a cake , a multitude of gifts or to celebrate the whole month long. 

I am content in the knowledge that even before I was a thought, God already knew me. I was chosen specifically by the King. 

I am thankful for my mother who chose to have me even though she had just turned 16 a little over a month before I was born. So this day, of course, makes me think of her sacrifice. It reminds me of Romans 8:28. I like to believe that I am the good born from her youthful indiscretions. 

Today I received such an outpouring of love at both home and work-I was quite overwhelmed-in a good way for once. God used most all I encountered today to express His everlasting love for me.