I figure since the Book of Life is gonna be opened on Judgment Day anyways, and all the deeds of my life written & told whether good or bad- I might as well get a head start & tell it now…this way, no one will be surprised. Yes, I am a Christian. Saved. Sanctified & Love the Lord. I am successful, married & have two sons. I am Blessed. I pray, read my devotions & go to church on Sunday. I am also a human being with human emotions & human issues. One of them being motherhood…

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Closer than a Brother

My friend Margaux woke me up sobbing on the phone in my ear one Sunday morning last August. My business partner and I decided not to drive back to NY after vending our T-Shirts at the “Passion Fest” in Pennsylvania, so we stayed overnight in a rinky dink motel so as not to drive home in the dark. As I navigated through my morning brain fog into semi-consciousness, I began to hear what she was saying. I thought something tragic happened, but it turns out she just ran into ran into my youngest sons’ “dead-beat Baby Daddy” F. R. who was cleaning his car.
It disturbed her deeply that my son’s natural father never made an effort to come to his graduation a few weeks ago.
Now, as I reflect-this is tragic.
Of course my husband, my oldest son , my immediate family and close friends were at graduation, but Terrence from the Teen Organization that Kris belongs to also came. All of the important people in his life who love him came to his graduation, and I know it was special for him, but the person who would have made Kris really happy didn’t come, or call.
This is an all too common scenario today, and a sad commentary on the state of fatherhood in the African-American community.
I know way too many mothers that shoulder the parenting responsibility alone, the father either being absentee, or deadbeat.

The last time I was in court for child support, his father asked for a reduction in the child support order that he was already not honoring because he was now on “public assistance”. Never mind that he finds the money to go back and forth to Florida several times a year, and the money to buy his booze...
The judge reduced his payment to zero.
“Indefinitely?” I asked her in disbelief.
The indifferent judge looked at me and said “possibly” as she struck her gavel and dismissed the case.
And just like that, I lost any little faith I had in the justice system.

I am blessed to have made a decent living through my career designing,
and I am grateful to God to have wonderful men in my boy’s lives, but I am even more grateful to have a sister-friend like Margaux.
We can call each other and pray for whatever, but even more than that,
Margaux called this brother out on the carpet about not showing up at his son’s graduation. She totally confronted him about not calling or seeing his son. She told me verbatim excuse after excuse that he recited.
I was not surprised at all.
Kris is thirteen, and I can count on one hand how many long visits
he’s had with his dad.

Through her tears, Margaux was sobbing for my son, for her own sons, and for every sister in the same situation’s sons.
We go way back. In fact we met when I first became pregnant with Kris right after my mother passed away. I thought F.R. was a good friend until he totally abandoned me when I became pregnant. As a Christian, abortion was not an option for me-so I knew I’d have to go with God on my side…and by my side He has been. I don’t regret anything, and Kris is a wonderful blessing in my life. I know that there are scores of women that heva fallen into a similar situation.
Thinking about the wonderful support I’ve had from family, my church, and my friends brings tears to my eyes.

Friends do make a difference, and so this post is a tribute to my dear friend Margaux for the entire world to see. I sent her this e-mail the other day:

For being such a wonderful sister-friend.
You really touched my heart the other morning when I saw that my baby's pain touched you...
friends like you are hard to come by.
Thank you for caring so much for Kris.
Thanks for speaking your heart and mind to F____ representing Kris & me like that. Not everyone would get involved that way.
Don't worry-between you, me & God he has enough love to survive!!!!
(Like I said- I trust that God is gonna deal with these men when they meet Him face to face.)
May God richly bless you today and always.
I know I get busy & absent minded-but I only have the highest thoughts, wishes & regards for you.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Jumping 2 Conclusions

I rarely write about my marriage, but today I feel the urge.
My brother Tony and I speak daily, sometimes more than once.
Well Tony called my cell phone and asked me why no one answered
the house phone. I said it didn’t ring. He said-OK-maybe I dialed the
wrong number. Let me try again.
I let a minute or two pass and no ring. I picked up the receiver
thinking the ringer mechanism was broken, and I heard my husband
on the line, so I hung up the phone.
I called my brother back and started fussing about how annoying it
was that my husband didn’t answer his call, after all we DO
have call-waiting… and how he gets on my last nerve bla…bla…bla.
Later, when I went into the bedroom, hubby mentioned how he
had just gotten off the phone with the phone company complaining
about the big $200 mistake they made on my phone bill, and how
he corrected the mistake…
I hadn’t seen the bill, or paid attention to it.
My mind was taking things to a whole ‘nother level before
I even realized what was going on. I started a whole dialogue
with myself about all the things my
husband does to get on my nerves. My conversations
were deep!
Granted, he could have clicked over to my brothers’ call,
and said she’ll call you right back, I mean what do we have
call-waiting for? But when I think about the ultra long customer
service hold times I’ve experienced, I couldn’t blame him for
not wanting to take a chance switching over,
missing the rep’s answer, and having to start the
call all over again.

Made me think how many other times I have jumped to conclusions
and have been unjustifiably accusatory…even if in my own head.

Jesus was accused of all sorts of things. He just came here to save us from ourselves.
Lord, give us patience…help us not to judge too quickly, and to live by your teachings.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self‑seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I COR.13:4-7

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Following the Passion

PassionFest July 8th, 2006

Our Flaunt the Faith venture is officially one year old this month.
Rasheeda and I were vendors at the Passionfest event in Pottstown, PA a few Saturdays
ago. It started out with a blessing- a wonderful lady named Dee came out of nowhere while we were just setting up our tent. “You look like you can use a hand,” she said, and she proceeded to help us set up our brand spanking new canopy.
Although we are “Sistas Doin it for ourselves” we are still girly girls and could use a hand.

“Where are your chairs?” she asked us.

Rasheeda and I looked at each other and realized that in our haste to get on the road, we had forgotten our chairs among a few other things. It was a 2.5 hr drive from Brooklyn, and it was going to be a long day in the sun…

Dee said she’d go to the 99-cent store and get some chairs for us. We both thought-what a great town with nice folks. We know we are no longer in NYC.
It seemed like Dee was back within minutes with chairs for the two of us-
If Dee went to the 99-cent shop, she picked out the top of the line chairs for us and we were able to rest our tired bones when not working…they were top of the line spectator seats with cupholders and everything!!!!!! Dee was our first customer, She bought a T-shirt, and just like that –she was gone…(thanks Dee may the Lord double the blessings back to you!!!)

The day started out a little slow as these festivals sometimes do…the crowds/customers tend to come in waves. We could see the extreme sports events taking place in the distance- the youth were making their way over to the green where skaters and bikers were doing their stunts. We had a relatively good day; -made some nice sales, made some great contacts, and had wonderful weather to boot.

We were feeling blessed that customers were commenting that they really liked our shirts-namely our designs and messages. We felt that we had accomplished our mission of creating tasteful designs that have a message about God.

A great day came to a perfect ending when exceeded our sales goal for the day, and we even made sales while we were packing up our boxes in the twilight dusk light.
Our new canopy and chairs was a cinch to put away and all was well.
Until we got on the road, that is…
No sooner than I turned the corner out of the Pottstown High School Field did I hear a funny familiar rattling sound. I drove a little further and stopped.
I took out my flashlight and sure enough we had a flat tire.
The road was pitch black, the town unfamiliar, the new Land Rover on loan from my husband-intimidating!!!Luckily, we were in close enough proximity to go back to get some help. Rasheeda walked back and grabbed some Passionfest security.

One thing about rural towns – there are lots of manly men who know lots about cars and trucks. This one man had a Land Rover himself and was able to help us out. They had our tire change done no time…a younger man of the three asked to say a prayer for us, and they all huddled around us and prayed for our traveling mercies.
It is an awesome thing to be in the company of other believers. We may not know one another, but we are truly one in the spirit.

My husband called triple A, and they came amazingly fast & reinforced the job.
We stayed at a motel in a nearby town, and hit the road in the morning….

We made a wrong turn in PA, which put us about 20 miles and ½ hr out of our way-but we made it back to NY safe and sound.

Dee wrote and told us that about one hundred teens came to Christ that day at the Passionfest.

We will continue to follow the passion…
Praise His Holy name!!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Talk of the Town

I just had one of those long conversations with my twenty- two year old. You know, one of those precious early Saturday chats when I caught him after sleeping in late, and in between phone calls and running out again.
He has always been one to speak his mind-but this day, he was particularly verbal.
I don’t know how we started on the topic-but I think he was reading some past blog entries and read a line from my entry called “Quality Time”. Justin has always told me what a great job I’ve done as a mom-but this time he didn’t hold back with some criticism. In “Quality Time”, I mentioned being guilty of not spending enough quality time with my boys. He was quick to point out how true that was with vivid illustrations.
We order food in a lot, and always have. I’m sorry, but except for weekends I have gotten home too late to cook. Working in the garment industry, I had to travel a lot-and work many late nights. When my mother was alive, she cooked for us, and as a single mother, I had to keep my career going. I was driven to buy some property, and to make a better living for my boys who both attended Parochial Schools.

I grew up in the housing projects. My family didn’t even own a car. My parents both only had a sixth grade education. My father, a native of Virginia, met my mother, a filipina during World War Two while he was stationed in the Philippines. He brought his “war-bride” home to Brooklyn…to the projects.
So please excuse me for wanting more. For wanting to own a home. A car. For wanting to make a good living to keep my sons in private school. Excuse me, please, for making up for the “deadbeat “ dad’s not in "your" lives.
Whatever time was left, I went to the gym, took us to church, made sure you all were entertained.

During the conversation, Justin wasn’t ungrateful-just matter of fact. He mentioned also how through the years, many other kids always got a ride from their parent’s to and fro, and I was always busy “doing my hair” or something…

A twinge of guilt hangs over my head today. He’s right. I was there as much as I could be, but hardly there for home cooked meals. His friends made fun of how much my family ordered in, and how I never drove him places.
The guilt passed quickly as I pondered the good stuff he always tells me:
“You are the greatest mother in the world! I am the outgoing “chick magnet” that I am because of you!!! I know how to get around and be independent because of you!!! You are my Hero!!! You leave me with some very big shoes to fill, and they are high heels!!!”
So talk on, folks. Although I might be too dead and beat to cook at the end of the day, at least I am not a "dead beat" mom.Yes, you were fed, and clothed and housed...quite nicely-and loved, I might add. Oh, and remember when I took you to Paris when you were three? And through it all, you are some of the most emotionally balanced, and socially adjusted kids I've ever seen raised in the hood. So I ain't mad at myself!

In life, there is the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I see the ugly and sometimes it is me.
I look into the face of God, and He reminds me who I am in Him.
We have to face the ugly to move forward and make progress.
I thank God that our past does not define our future….

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Use as Needed

Kris has been away at Basketball camp in Pennsylvania exactly twelve days today, and not even one phone call.
OK, I broke down the day before yesterday and called Debbie at the camp office to see how he was doing, and to make travel arrangements back to New York. Debbie assured me that no news is good news.
Granted, I sent Kris to camp to get him out of the city for a while, and to have him learn to be independent. But at least a phone call…
I guess no news really is good news.
This is probably how God views us. We call him when we need him, barely checking in to have a conversation. We know how find Him, and in emergency situations, we are in his face - beseeching Him day and night. But as soon as the fire is put out- it is back to business as usual. But God knows our flaws because we are his children.
So with Kris, I ‘m sure I’ll hear from him tomorrow when it’s time to pick him up from from the station.
He is my child…I am not mad at him.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Back to Square One

Well, I’m back for a month now, and the vacation reverie has totally worn off. Back to the stressful job, my youngest just graduated and is going to High School, and I’m trying to keep my wits & cool as I deal with my own personal mid-life crisis issues…
I also have a Christian T-shirt business (www.flauntfaith.com) that I am trying to garner business for. Things are rather slow right now. It’s kind of discouraging, but I will keep the faith, and keep plugging away-no matter how bleak things look at times.
I believe that God has given me the vision, and He will provide. I don’t believe he allowed us to come this far to fail.
My accountant said that the first year is usually the hardest, and that you will indeed spend a lot of money to make money. I’m finding this true.
So yes, I am in the struggle of the juggle of a demanding career, family life, and trying to grow a small business…
This blog started as an offshoot of my Flaunt the Faith website. I was to originally chronicle my business experiences good and bad, but it ended up being more of a personal journal. Writing has become a catharsis for me, and for many others who blog.
Well right now I’m having my first production disaster. I have faced many of these crises in the garment industry where I have worked for several years, but this is my own crisis.
My printer made a mistake, and now one of my orders is late. We might have to give a refund on this order. Right now as a growing business, we can use every order we can get. But there are always challenges in the business world.
I guess you deal with it and move on. Lord, help us to remain strong in the faith and not give up as we run Flaunt the Faith.
Through the many years of my Christian walk, and through the ups and downs, the Oswald Chambers daily devotional “My Utmost for His Highest” has proven to be a timeless classic & always right on time. This one speaks to my current challenge:
“Faith to Persevere”

I hope this helps a brother or sister facing any challenge…have a blessed day!!!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Safe and Sound

It is 12:30 AM and I just got back from spending a much-needed de-stress, de-tox vacation time away with my dear friend Anneliese who lives in Tacoma, Washington.
She moved from New York to Tacoma to go to school about two years ago, and for now it is her home.
As I write, the birds are chirping outside my window loud and boisterous, as if to welcome me back and also herald in the burgeoning spring & warm weather.

I am not the person I was when I left New York last Thursday.

On Saturday, we took I-99 and drove up to Vancouver, where we spent two decadent days Thrift Shop hopping, and eating in reckless abandon. I knew that I would start my diet when I returned, and Anneliese said that Vancouver has some of the best Chinese food around,
and so we ate our way around town sampling a piece of it’s multi-culturalism:
Samozas & honey balls for a mid-day snack, Salt baked Squid, Tilapia fish for Dinner, and Eggs & Home fries for Breakfast.
(Not necessarily in that order!)

From Mount Rainier serving as a backdrop while driving in Seattle & Tacoma, to the gorgeous tree topped mountains along the scenic winding road on the way up to Vancouver, the only word that comes to mind is magnificent. I wanted to take it all in and not feel like I was rushing to do anything.

The beauty of it all was just that: the beauty of it all - God’s gorgeous earth.
Even though the weather was slightly overcast on most days, the beauty just couldn’t be suppressed.

For me, the highlight of the trip to Vancouver was when we made a wrong turn, and ran smack into a Salvation Army Thrift Store. We were at a stop light and a brown skinned weathered looking man who looked like he stepped right out of the pages of National Geographic magazine crossed in front of the car with what seemed to be all of his possessions on his back, and a Husky sleigh dog in tow.

“Looks like he just arrived from Alaska.” I said.

“And here comes his lady!!!” said Anneliese.

Sure enough, his lady was following, not too far behind, with her own possessions,and her very own Husky by her side!
I was so in awe of the moment, that I did not have the presence of mind to jump out and shoot some photos of this Indigenous pair.
No matter. The images are forever etched in my mind.

The drive back to Tacoma was just as beautiful, and the weather was perfect.
By this morning I could actually say, “mission accomplished”.
It takes a few days to totally de-stress from a New York state of mind.

I feel that I have gained the clarity to move forward towards my purpose, and on the path that the Lord has laid out for me.
Good times with a good friend and good food in a beautiful city were just what the doctor ordered!!!!

Thank you Lord, for your traveling mercies, for your healing power & for bringing me back safely to my loved ones…

“The heavens declare the glory of the God; and the firmament shows his handywork:.”
Psalms 19:1