Sunday, August 16, 2009

An FYI To My Typical Mormon Brothers & Sisters:

Now that I have your attention, let me just share a few things with you that you may not understand.
Black folks talk to God. Oh I know we all do, I believe, for the most part, we all call it prayer. We talk to him through prayer.

BUT... we also talk to him out loud. We have conversations with him. We express feelings to him. We please with him. And yes, sometimes we even debate with him. It's not weird to us to speak his name out loud and communicate with him as if he is right next to us. We do it while shopping, exercising, crying, laughing, doing laundry, cooking... you name it... we talk to him whenever we feel the need. Maybe it's a cultural thing?
Our mama's do it. Our Grandmama's and Great-grandmama's did it. They did it in the Cotton and tobacco fields. They did it in the Massa's house. They did it behind is back and under his roof and out loud and in their own homes. If I'm to believe he is with me always, why wouldn't I audibly burst out in conversation with someone who is with me?
I bring this up because it is not strange for me to start a conversation with "I was chatting with God the other day about so-and-so, and he told me...."

Or.... "I was about to do such-and-such, but God told me to close my mouth, sit down and be still instead..."

I have seen the raised eyebrows and questionable looks. I don't mind them because I know the heavens are opened. I know the Lord communicates through his Son, Jesus Christ, through his prophets and apostles, and through us, his children. I can feel his spirit with me so distinctly when that communication comes from the Lord. And it NEVER fails me. There have been times it has saved my life and the lives of those around me. I have learned not to question it and to obey it. Sometimes it is an Audible voice. So much so that I will turn and see who is speaking to me. Other times it is a thought, impression or feeling from within that leaves me no doubt or fear and an urgency to heed it's command.

What I have learned from talking to the Lord is that he wants me to communicate back. When I don't understand, I ask questions. Sometimes I joke and laugh. I figure he's given me my personality, he knows me, he expects me to be me. I also realized that my communication with him is for MY sake, not his. I have an obligation to come to him, confront him, ask for clerification and understanding. He knows when I am ready, willing and able to seek out his will. However how vain would it be for me to expect HIM to come to ME and grant me knowledge and understanding.

It disturbs me when I hear people say.... "Well God hasn't revealed to me any such things" My first response is.... "Well have you asked of him??" Someone once had the arrogance to say... "well he's revealed so many other things to me I'm SURE he would have let that be known if it were true." You go right on ahead and think that. We have an obligation to COME UNTO JESUS.
In past postings I've done this. I used to have a little sign on my bedroom door:

(Ask. Seek. Know)

How arrogant and selfish of us who expect knowledge to be dropped upon us without seeking out the answers for ourselves. The Lord knows us well. We do not speak to him for his benefit. We do not sit on our skimpy knowledge of him, the world and heaven and expect to know All there is to know of him just through reading the scriptures. Our journey as mortal beings is a life long education. The scriptures are our text book. I have been to many educational classes in which the textbook was given out for instruction. However, it is when I indulge in the lecture from the professors where I get the deepest understanding, those intricate details, and a deeper more clear meaning and knowledge.

I believe the Lord expects us to ask questions. I believe he expects us to speak to him formally and non-formally. If I am to believe he is my father, which he is, should I not be expected to speak to him as such. Just to be clear, I do believe in formal, proper prayer. I also believe there are times when the conversation comes out how it comes out and it is just as valid.
As I sat listening to my grandmother talking when I was in wasn't just jibberish. Everyone once again she would say... "Lord, have mercy on me." Some people would say this was using the Lord's name in vain. I have heard many times... " Oh, my God." I have seen the circumstances in which the phrase was used. Many times it was a plea for patience, help, security, strength. There may not have been a folding of arms or a kneeling but it was indeed a communication with the Lord.
There have been times when it's used as an expression and not a communication. This is what I believe to be in vain. I guess intent is how it's defined. And sometimes we are BAD at defining intent.

So if you see me walking down the street or sitting alone talking and you don't see anyone around me. TRUST ME, SOMEONE IS THERE!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Family Reunion II: The Time Spent Together is What Matters Most!

You know that commercial we have.... "FAMILY. It's about...TIME!"
Family really is about making the time to be together. I think I mentioned in the earlier post that my Grandma is bed ridden. I think it's been of April. I couldn't believe it because when I was back home back in August she was up and about. She had some dementia and wasn't really sure who everyone was but health wise, she was strong and functioned ok. She did need supervision. So when I heard she was bed riddin I was shocked to say the least. My Uncle lives with her and takes care of her. He's with her pretty much 24/7. It must be hard on him because he gets very relief of getting out of the house.
My Grandma has 5 kids. all live within a 20 min radius. 3 live within a 3-5 mile radius. With too busy lives it appears she's not getting the loving care she could and should be getting from family. This breaks my heart. 1 mama can take care of 5 kids, yet 5 kids struggle to take care of 1 mama. Oh I have huge feelings of guilt living here in Utah while they're in Michigan. I have 2 cousins who go an visit and help now and then,when they can. For the most a whole, WE the family could be doing better.
I feel for my Uncle. His life is basically keeping track of and making sure Grandma is taken care of. I think Grandma knows and recognizes him best. He's got health issues of his own but for the most part I think being cooped up and not having decent conversation is what puts a toll on him.

My sister and I sent alot of time with Grandma. While we were there we fed her, changed her, dressed her bed sores and just spent time talking to her and listening to her talk. Grandma still has alot to say. Some of it... is just talk. Alot of on point. Most of it... HILARIOUS. I was able to get some video of her in her new state.
I appreciate the fact that she talks about the man standing in her room that the rest of us can't see. We're pretty sure it'a "Papa" her husband. He's been gone 35 years. A couple years ago she kept saying her Mama and Daddy were coming to get her. The next day her sister passed away. I have no doubts that she saw them coming. It just wasn't time for them to come and get her. I like that she knows her mama and daddy will be coming for her and she can see glimpses of them. There's been a couple times she would burst out in song. I've never heard my Grandma sing before. this summer and she filled the room with a rich soulful old school gospel melody. The hospital bed she's resigned to lifts and lowers and so do the head and feet. Each time they adjust the bed she's fearful she will fall out so she grabs onto the bars.
The ole girl is STRONG. S.T.R.O.N.G. Sometimes taking 2 of us to pry her hands loose from the bars so we can turn her over. And she is quick. Some of my favorite moments were her telling my sister to get out of her face, or threaten to break her arm or to leave her alone. AWESOME! My sister is a hospice care aide so she took care of alot of her hospice needs while we were there. It was very educational.

I relearned my education about how important it is to have family and be close to family. So much so that I'm seriously thinking of moving back home so I can enjoy them more than every other - every 5 or so years. I really enjoyed my time at home.
I think the most fun I had besides the reunion was hanging out with my Uncle. We really game him a bad rap back in the day. But he's turned out to be the man to step up. We took him with us all over so he could get out of the house. Sunday the night before we left he took my sister, cousin and myself to the cemetery so we can visit Papa's grave as well as some other family members. I think the best time I had was just before we were leaving for the night to head back to the hotel to get ready for our flight home... we did some last minute souvenir shopping. I had my sister go to the Local convenient gas station and stepped inside. I said a little prayer:

"Forgive me Lord for what I'm about to do."
And purchased $30 in instant lotto tickets! I took them back to the house and said... "Ok... we're all gonna split whatever we win." I knew my mom would not approve but being a grown woman she believes in agency. So I was shocked when she used her agency to play as well!
(Now Im not advocating gambling in the least bit. My immediate family are LDS so the cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents and so forth are not. This was something they did quite often. I don't intend on it being a habit it was just one last bonding moment with our uncle.)

So the 4 of us sat in Grandma's living room floor and scratched off 30 lotto tickets. I think we won about $51.00. So we split that 4 ways. Most of the fun was trying to figure them out. It's not so easy as just scratch and win, there are rules and directions and instructions and such. WE needed a lotto tutor. Figuring them out was more fun than winning. We split the $$ 4 ways!!!

I didn't realize how much I miss the family. I intend on staying in touch with as many of them as I can. And I plan on being at the New York reunion in 2 years and every reunion after.

Family! It IS about TIME.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Welcome to Soul Food Sunday!

(This was from Soul Food Sunday back in April)

It's the first Sunday of the month. In Mormonville across the world it's known as fast Sunday. Fasting is where we sacrifice 2 meals, and don't eat for 24 hours. The money you would have spent on that meal is turned into the church to help those members of the church who are struggling. We also dedicate this time of sacrifice for fervent prayer and meditation to the Lord for special needs we are seeking to have resolved in our lives. It is the one time each month we are asked to have a personal sacrifice for a spiritual blessing. I like to think of it in terms of this....The Lord gives us 7 days. He asks us to put everything aside, worship and remember him and rejuvenate our spirits 1 day out of 7. We usually have 4 Sundays a month. 1 out of 4 of those we are asked to sacrifice and give to the poor. Those are not HUGE sacrifices asked of us. Imagine what the world would be like if it followed this pattern on a regular basis. It's not secret that our Church has one of the best Welfare systems in the world, it's why the Government is constantly taking our state leaders for their cabinets. And there is a stream of city and state governments in and out of Utah looking at how the church sets up it's welfare programs.... How can a church be shipping supplies, foods, clothes etc to disaster victims across the world within 24-48 hours where it takes Red Cross and other national organizations 5-7 days? The system works. It's not based on greed or getting what you can just because you can. It is based on need. You get what you need so others may do the same and you contribute back always.

Another reason Fast Sundays are a big deal is because we go to church for 3 hours.
That's right T H R E E H O U R S! So after fasting for 24 hours and then a 3 hour block of church... U. R HUNGRY!

I'm pretty sure most of Utah Mormonville is having a dinner of Roast beef, funeral potatoes, green be ens, rolls and jello... My house hold is having black food. Not burnt...although that happens sometimes... but soul food. Soul Food Sunday!
I listen to some of the messages from the Black Churches on B.E.T! I put on the Gospel Music XM station and invite The Winans, The Crouches, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Mahalia Jackson and many others to enter and fellowship with Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Saints Voices Unified and a few other LDS Artist.

Dinner will typically be BBQ, Beans and Rice, Fried Chicken or Fish, Greens... NO NOT SALAD GREENS, but collards and mustards and turnip greens. Mac n Cheese or Cheesy grits are regular on the menu. And for sure Cornbread. And we can't forget the Red or Grape kool-ade with way too much sugar and a splash of lemon juice.
Totally makes starving for 24 hours and trying to stay awake for while members step up to the mic and testify of the Lord and the truthfulness of his Gospel that much more worth it!
Now I know some of you are thinking Soul food Sunday sounds like a heart attack on a plate! It certainly would be if this was an everyday menu. These are items I do have through out the month here and there, but not like the indulgence of Soul Food Sunday.
I live in a state where only 5-7% of it is Minority. The rest is pretty Homogenized. When my sister and I moved here we decided to be "pioneers." This place will never learn how to culturally diversify if people of culture and diversity keep leaving. I love that we stayed. I love that sometimes all eyes are on me, because then I can "do my thang." I like breaking the stereotypes and educating people about the black culture and the black history of the United States and even the black history of the church that SO MANY folks are oblivious to. Soul Food Sunday means more to me than Grandma's cooking and a full belly. It's an continuous educational experience for myself and my daughter and it keeps me connected to my family that I'm so far away from. Teaches her how to do the old school cooking and she gets a taste of how things would be if she visited Grandma's house or Aunty's house. I like when I came home from Church today that the house smelled like Grandma's house... Greens and Red beans... mmm mmm mmm! I highly recommend everyone encorporating on a regular basis some sort of cultural event with your family each month. Even if it is just cooking foods from your native origins.

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments

Big Brother, Little Sister Moments
Hand in Hand


I earned some temporary wings!