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DAILY READ: Covenant Relationships

But I will establish My covenant with you, and you will enter the ark - you and your sons and your wife and your sons' wives with y...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Assist KATRINA Victims

This is a quote from an acquaintance who is actually there in the trenches, so to speak:

"...it is truly devastating here. There is water everywhere, no electricity in some places, people dead and floating in water. There are no words to explain. I left early enough and went a little north to Baton Rouge, my daughter's house. We experienced loss of power and lots of wind. Where I actually live (Laplace) there is just loss of power. However where I lived all of my life (until two years ago), New Orleans it is like a war zone. We will not be in livable conditions for several months...we all need prayers...thanks for being concerned. "
Okay people, this is where we get the opportunity to demonstrate the compassion we've been feeling for the Katrina victims. Choose one (or all of the following agencies, farbeit for me to limit your generosity). There are also more agencies listed under the how you can help section below. Were I alone in this endeavor, I'd probably be overwhelmed by the magnitude of my undertaking, but thankfully, I can have confidence in the fact that together we can make a difference.

Peace,
Dee

AMERICAN RED CROSS
www.redcross.org
1-800-435-7669 or
1-800-HELP-NOW

AMERICA's SECOND HARVEST
www.secondharvest.org
for hunger relief
1-800-344-9338

CATHOLIC CHARITIES
www.catholiccharitiesusa.org

CHURCH WORLD SERVICES
www.churchworldservices.org
1-800-297-1516

SALVATION ARMY
www.salvationarmyusa.org

Related Links:

How You Can Help
IMAGES: Damage from Katrina - 8.31.2005
VIDEO: David Murphy's AccuWeather Forecast
Hurricane Katrina Satellite
Hurricane Katrina Rain Forecasts
Hurricane Katrina Severe Weather Warnings
StormTracker 6 Maps
INTERACTIVE: Learn about hurricanes
Complete Hurricane Katrina Coverage

Katrina Aid - Brooklyn, NY

Out of the population in New Orleans affected by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, 85% were African-American. People lost everything. This clothing drive is to aid the families
as they try to rebuild their lives.

Please give whatever clothing you can new or old, but in good condition.

Drop off locations:




Just Hair Barber Shop
794 Nostrand Avenue
btwn St. Johns & Nostrand Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11216
&
177 Quincy Street
btwn Nostrand Ave & Bedford Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11216

Please contact Camille at 347-526-8373 for further info or you can contact your local RED CROSS at 1-800-HELP-NOW.

Katrina Aid - Memphis, TN

This information was posted by a group member in Memphis:

In light of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the City of Memphis is working with the business and non-profit communities to provide assistance for people in our city. If you know of anyone that evacuated to Memphis and will have to remain here for a while, please pass this number along to them (1-901-543-5300).

We are opening shelters and our schools to those who will have an extended stay.


Thanks for your assistance in seeing that this number gets into the hands of those who need it most!

Peace,
Dee

Friday, August 26, 2005

Our Plans and God's Plans

By Christopher Donaldson, Sr.

Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. ~ Proverbs 19:21
Have you ever heard of someone who spent years of preparation for one vocation only to end up doing something completely different? Perhaps this could be said of you. Quite often we have in our minds what we believe we want to do only to have a course correction. Often the course correction comes through a major crisis that forces us into an area that we would never have considered.

Such was the case for Samuel Morse. Born in 1791, Morse grew up desiring to be an artist, and he eventually became very talented and internationally known. However, it was difficult to make a living as an artist in America during that time. A series of crises further complicated his vocational desire when his wife died; then his mother and father also died soon after. He went to Europe to paint and reflect on his life. On his return trip aboard a ship, he was captivated by discussions at dinner about new experiments in electromagnetism. During that important occasion, Morse made the following comment, "If the presence of electricity can be made visible in any part of the circuit, I see no reason why intelligence may not be transmitted by electricity." In the face of many difficulties and disappointments, he determinedly perfected a new invention, and, in 1837, applied for a patent that became what we know today as the telegraph. He also created Morse code. It was only later, after many more setbacks and disappointments, that his projects received funding.

Samuel Morse later commented, "The only gleam of hope, and I cannot underrate it, is from confidence in God. When I look upward it calms any apprehension for the future, and I seem to hear a voice saying: 'If I clothe the lilies of the field, shall I not also clothe you?' Here is my strong confidence, and I will wait patiently for the direction of Providence." Morse went on to create several other inventions and can be recognized today as the father of faxes, modems, e-mail, the internet and other electronic communication. ["Glimpses," Issue #99 (Worcester, Pennsylvania: Christian History Institute, 1998).]

God's plans may not always seem to follow our natural inclination. Perhaps God has you taking a path that may not lead to His ultimate destination for you. Trust in the Lord, lean not on your own understanding, acknowledge Him in all you do, and He shall direct your path (see Prov. 3:5-6).

Copyright (c) 2005 by Christopher Donaldson, Sr.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Jealousy

Jealousy: An emotion many of us struggle with, but few admit to. The following piece by a writer in one of my writing groups identifies it for what it is so well, I asked his permission to share it with you.

Question:

Do you ever get jealous of others in your writing?

Response:

I'd like to say I'm not suseptible to jealousy . . . I'd like to, but lying is worse than being jealous. It's worse when things don't seem to be moving for me and others are reporting this wonderful success. It's not that I'm not happy for them, I am, I promise. But deep inside in the place I banish it to when it rears its ugly head, it creeps out, "why didn't you get that award, make that deal, do that great thing," it hisses.

Then I hit it over the head, that's coveting something my neighbor has, some success they have rightfully earned. Bad monster.

"No," it says, "it's not coveting what they have if you don't want what they have, but merely similar success or achievement." Tricky monster. Back to your dark recess.

"No," it whines, "this is not a sin or a fault, it is drawing motivation for success of your own." Logical monster, and that one sounds pretty good. But success of our own doesn't depend on building on what others are doing, but is recognition of what God is allowing us to do. Didn't I tell you to get out of here?

"But you don't understand, if it hadn't been them doing that, it would have been you." The monster hissed at the hole to the recess. I don't buy that, it isn't a competition, it's God's plan for my life and my writing and has nothing to do with who else is working in the same area. This is the last time I'm telling you to get back in that dark recess.

As it slithers back I can see the green monster has substance and shape. It is a serpent. I should have known who it was all along.

Blessings,
Terry

Copyright (c) 2005 by Terry Burns

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Time Saving Tip

This little time saving tip was passed on to me by a co-worker so I thought I'd share it with you guys:

Locked your keys in your car ???? Did you know this??

If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone on your (or someone else's) cell phone.

Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the other person at your home press the unlock button of your key fob (clicker), holding it near the phone on their end. Your car doors will unlock. Saves someone from having to drive your keys to you.

Distance is no object you could be hundreds of miles away, and if you can reach someone who has the other "remote" for your car, you can unlock the doors (or the trunk!).

Editor's Note * It works fine! We tried it out, and it unlocked our car over a cell phone!)

Friday, August 12, 2005

And the Beat Goes On

This post was taken from one of my writing groups on yahoo.

August 11, 2005
Entrenched Epidemic: Wife-Beatings in Africa
By SHARON LaFRANIERE

LAGOS, Nigeria - It was a typical husband-wife argument. She wanted to visit her parents. He wanted her to stay home.

So they settled it in what some here say is an all-too-typical fashion, Rosalynn Isimeto-Osibuamhe recalled of the incident in December 2001. Her husband, Emmanuel, followed her out the door. Then he beat her unconscious, she says, and left her lying in the street near their apartment.

Ms. Isimeto-Osibuamhe, then 31 and in the fifth year of her marriage, had broken an unwritten rule in this part of the world: she had defied her husband. Surveys throughout sub-Saharan Africa show that many men - and women, too - consider such disobedience ample justification for a beating.

Not Ms. Isimeto-Osibuamhe. A university graduate and founder of a French school, she packed her clothes and walked out as soon as she got back from the hospital. So far, although her resolve sometimes wavers and she does not want a divorce, she has not gone back.

"He doesn't believe I have any rights of my own," she said in an interview outside her French classroom. "If I say no, he beats me. I said: 'Wow. That is not what I want in life.' "

Women suffer from violence in every society. In few places, however, is the abuse more entrenched, and accepted, than in sub-Saharan Africa. One in three Nigerian women reported having been physically abused by a male partner, according to the latest study, conducted in 1993. The wife of the deputy governor of a northern Nigerian province told reporters last year that her husband beat her incessantly, in part because she watched television movies. One of President Olusegun Obasanjo's appointees to a national anticorruption commission was allegedly killed by her husband in 2000, two days after she asked the state police commissioner to protect her.

"It is like it is a normal thing for women to be treated by their husbands as punching bags," Obong Rita Akpan, until last month Nigeria's minister for women's affairs, said in an interview here. "The Nigerian man thinks that a woman is his inferior. Right from childhood, right from infancy, the boy is preferred to the girl. Even when they marry out of love, they still think the woman is below them and they do whatever they want."

In Zambia, nearly half of women surveyed said a male partner had beaten them, according to a 2004 study financed by the United States - the highest percentage of nine developing nations surveyed on three continents.

In South Africa, researchers for the Medical Research Council estimated last year that a male partner kills a girlfriend or spouse every six hours - the highest mortality rate from domestic violence ever reported, they say. In Harare, Zimbabwe's capital, domestic violence accounts for more than 6 in 10 murder cases in court, a United Nations report concluded last year.

Yet most women remain silent about the abuse, women's rights organizations say. A World Health Organization study has found that while more than a third of Namibian women reported enduring physical or sexual abuse by a male partner, often resulting in injury, six in seven victims had either kept it to themselves or confided only in a friend or relative.

Help is typically not easy to find. Nigeria, Africa's largest nation with nearly 130 million people, has only two shelters for battered women, both opened in the last four years. The United States, by contrast, has about 1,200 such havens. Moreover, many women say wifely transgression justify beatings. About half of women interviewed in Zambia in 2001 and 2002 said husbands had a right to beat wives who argue with them, burn the dinner, go out without the husband's permission, neglect the children or refuse sex.

To Kenny Adebayo, a 30-year-old driver in Lagos, the issue is clear-cut. "If you tell your wife she puts too much salt in the dinner, and every day, every day, every day there is too much salt, one day you will get emotional and hurt her," he said. "We men in Africa hate disrespect."

Nigeria's penal code, in force in the Muslim-dominated north, specifically allows husbands to discipline their wives - just as it allows parents and teachers to discipline children - as long as they do not inflict grievous harm. Assault laws could apply, but the police typically see wife-beating as an exception. Domestic violence bills have been proposed in six of Nigeria's three dozen provinces but adopted in just two.

Women's rights activists say that the prevalence of abuse is emblematic of the low status of women in sub-Saharan Africa. Typically less educated, they work longer hours and transport three times as much weight as men, hauling firewood, water and sacks of corn on their heads.

Ms. Isimeto-Osibuamhe does not fit that standard profile. Articulate, with a fashionable haircut and a sociology book in her bag, she speaks in a confident, even assertive tone of voice. Her diary is full of plans for various projects she hopes to undertake. "I am an organizer," she said in a series of interviews. "I am a leader."

But that did not save her from a seemingly endless string of beatings during her eight-year marriage to her husband, Emmanuel.

By Nigerian standards, Ms. Isimeto-Osibuamhe said, her parents were progressive. Her father occasionally beat her mother, but he also encouraged his daughter, the oldest of seven children, to pursue her studies and, later, her careers as a marketing executive, French teacher and host of a French educational television show.

She was only about 16 when she met Emmanuel. Like her, he went on to graduate from a university, specializing in accounting. Slim and handsome, he slapped her only once during their long courtship, she said. She thought it was an aberration.

It wasn't. Now 35, Ms. Isimeto-Osibuamhe says that Emmanuel beat her more than 60 times after she married him in 1997. He beat her, she says, while she was pregnant with their son, now 6. He threw a lantern at her. He held a knife to her head, she said, while a friend pleaded with him not to kill her.

Emmanuel Osibuamhe, 36, now says he was wrong to beat his wife. But in a two-hour interview in his office, which doubles as barber shop, he insisted that she drove him to it by deliberately provoking him. Pacing the floor in freshly pressed pants, polished shoes and yellow shirt, he grew increasingly agitated as he recalled how she challenged his authority.

"You can't imagine yourself beating your wife?" he said. "You can't imagine yourself being pushed to that level? But some people just push you over the edge, and you do things that you are not supposed to do."

"For God's sake," he added. "You are the head of the home as the man. You must have a home that is submissive to you."

To him, that means accepting that he is the head of the household and makes the final decisions. It also means that all property be in his name and that his wife ask his permission before she visits her family, he said.

When Ms. Isimeto-Osibuamhe eventually sought help, others only seemed to support her husband's view. She went to the police. "They told me I am not a small girl," she recalled. "If I don't want to be married, I should get divorced."

She told her father-in-law. He advised her that "beating is normal."

She told her local pastor, who counseled her that "I shouldn't make him so angry," telling her "whatever my husband says, I should submit."

She found support, finally, at Project Alert on Violence Against Women, a nonprofit organization that runs one of Nigeria's two shelters. She lived at the shelter for weeks. She titled her statement detailing the violence "A Cry for Help."

Briget Osekwe, the senior program officer, said the group's files contained 200 cases like Ms. Isimeto-Osibuamhe's. Even some women who are economically independent like Ms. Isimeto-Osibuamhe, she said, are loath to divorce their husbands for fear of social disgrace.

"In this society, a woman must do everything she can to make her marriage work," said Josephine Effah-Chukwuma, who set up Project Alert in 1999. "If it fails, the woman gets the blame."

Since she moved out, Ms. Isimeto-Osibuamhe said, her husband has hit her a dozen times, once knocking her to the floor of their church. She is torn over whether it is possible for him to change. She worries about how she will raise her son, now living with his grandparents, should she divorce. "Should I stay because of the baby and then get killed?" she asked. But at another point she asked a reporter to make sure that in any account of her story, her last name would be hyphenated to include his.

Her diary is filled with notes on how his views are wrong. "Marriage to you: A slavery relationship!" she wrote this January.

She has now found a new outlet as the creator and host of a local television show on domestic violence. After the first program was broadcast, she said, she was deluged with calls from women like herself. She hopes to pursue their cause through a little foundation she has formed called "Happy Family."

"An African man believes his wife is like a piece of property, is like a car, is like a shoe, is like something for him to trample on," Ms. Isimeto-Osibuamhe said. "Our men need education."

So do "our mothers, our fathers, our sons," she added. "The whole society needs to be overhauled."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Thanks for Nothing P-Diddy

By David Sylvester - Contributed by T. Duffy

Hi Black Folks!

My name is David Sylvester and I recently completed a charitable bicycle trip in Africa, riding over 7000 miles from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa. The trip made me the first and only African American to cross two continents on a bicycle. I have plenty of great and fascinating stories.

Many are funny, others bittersweet, some are poignant, but all are entertaining. Surprisingly one story has stood out and if it was not for the fact that I have a picture of it, many would never believe it. And it is for that reason that I am sharing it with you.

While in Lilongwe, Malawi, I came across a store by the name of "Niggers" -that's right " Niggers"! The other riders, who were all white, could not wait to inform me of this to see my reaction. Initially, I thought that it was a very bad joke but when the other riders were adamant about the existence of the store, I had to see it for myself.

What I found was a store selling what the owner called 'hip hop' style clothing. It was manned by two gentlemen - one of them asleep! (Talk about living up to or in this case down to a stereotype) I asked the guys what was up with the store name. After hearing my obvious non - Malawian accent and figuring out that I was from America, the man thumped his chest proudly and said "P-Diddy New York City! We are the niggers!"



My first reaction was to laugh; because many things when isolated can be very funny, but it quickly dawned on me that this was so not funny at all. It was pathetic. I did these bicycle trips across the USA and through the 'Mother -Land' in honor of one of my good friends, mentors and fellow African American, Kevin Bowser, who died on 9/11.

Here I am, a black man riding across the world on his bicycle in honor of another black man, riding 'home' and what do I see?? Some Africans calling themselves Niggers! They were even so proud of it they put it on their storefront to sell stuff. When I relay the story to folks back home in Philadelphia, most of them laugh too and rationalize it by saying 'well, we can say it to each other' or 'there is a difference' or even 'they just spelled it wrong. It should have been 'nigga's' or 'niggah's' Gee, like that would make a difference.

The issue is not the spelling. I was wrong. We are wrong. There is no justification for an infraction of this magnitude. The word and the sentiment behind it, is Flat out wrong! We have denigrated and degraded ourselves to the point that our backwards mindset has spread like a cancer and infected our source, our brothers, our sisters, our Mother Land. I have traveled all over the world and have never seen a store by the name of "Jew Devils", 'spic bastards', 'muff divin''' dykes' or anything like that- Only the store niggers!

I am to blame for this. Every time I said the word I condoned it, by not correcting others or rationalizing it gave it respectability, by looking the other way when others said 'hey nigga what's up' allowed others to see it and ultimately that when I purchase CDs, DVDs, T-shirts and other stuff, I enriched it.

I now see the error in my ways and I am so, so sorry black men and women. The flame that we called entertainment, that was only to warm and entertain us, now engulfs us and scorches our own self-esteem. If a child only knows to refer to men and women as niggers, bitches, pimps and hoes, then what is he/she to grow up thinking of themselves and others as he/she gets older?

This is no joke you can see my site http://www.contribute2.org/ and read some more stories. The bottom line is this; I rode over 12000 miles on 2 continents through 15 states and 13 countries and broke 2 bikes in the process to get to a store in AFRICA called niggers. I am willing to step and admit my part in the havoc that we have wrought on our mindset but I think that We all are to blame.

I finish with 4 things: If you don't like being called a nigger, bitch, faggot, dyke, spic, Jew dog, wop, towel head or anything of that ilk- then THINK. THINK before you speak those words, write those lyrics, support that rhetoric and most of all THINK before you purchase! Purchasing is akin to compliance- I may like the beats and rhythms of some songs but I cannot support it any more. You rappers are intelligent- find another word to describe yourselves.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Just Do It!

I’m in “just do it" mode today. I woke up feeling quite purposeful this morning. I haven’t yet done my daily read of Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren; and considering that in concluding the five (5) week series on Sin yesterday, my Pastor stomped all up and down on my corns, repeatedly, I ought to be in a funky mood. I mean, I suffered quite a few major (to me) disappointments last week. Nothing went as planned, yet, I’m at peace with myself today. Those who know me would tell you that most days this state of peace is a hard-fought, hard-won battle for me. So days like today are prize occurrences.

On a day like today, instead of talking about what I’m going to do, I just do it. Instead of fussing about the way that things should be, I just deal with what is. Instead of female dogging and moaning about who did what to me last week or last year, I forgive and forget and figure out the lesson to be learned from the occurrence.

In doing so, I realize that there’s a certain amount of freedom to be gained from operating in this manner.


  • It frees you from unnecessary stress.
  • It fosters a feeling of self worth; and
  • It forces you to look for the positives in everything you attempt to do.
So if you’re not as yet, I encourage you to “Just do it!”

Peace,
Dee

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It’s a Celebration! Enjoy Yourself!

By Ken Aveirls, Sr.

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." ~John 20:19

A USA Today’s newspaper, printed a story on “Fear – What Americans are Afraid Of!”

54% - Car Accident
53% - Cancer
50% - Inadequate Social Security Insurance
49% - Inadequate Retirement
33% - Suffering Violence
28% - Contracting Aids

If you aren’t careful, fear will immobilize you! The disciples were suffering from paralyzing fear! When you get to that 19th verse of John’s 20th chapter, the doors of what I would like to call “the church” were shut! Fear stopped the disciples. . .and it can also stop your ministry! Can you imagine if. . .

The Choir stopped singing!
The Stewards stopped praying!
The Preachers stopped preaching “Good News”!
The Trustees stopped building!
The Missionaries stopped witnessing!
The Ushers stopped standing at the doors of the church!

My beloved, we’ve survived bad choices, poor decisions, indiscretions and personal weaknesses! We’ve said some things we shouldn’t have. . . done things we knew were wrong. . .gone places we shouldn’t have! We’ve lied to ourselves, lied on people, and lied to God. . .and yet through his “Grace and Mercy”. . .He has allowed us to live “one mo gain”! It’s a Celebration. . .Enjoy Yourself!

The devil wanted you dead! Satan wanted to sift you like wheat! Ol’ Slewfoot wanted to kill you with drugs, alcohol, food, depression, a broken heart, sickness and stress! The devil tried to drive you crazy, kill you in that car accident; tried to make you believe that life isn’t worth living! The devil stalked you on your job, in your marriage, and tried to turn your children against you! And here you are today! A walking, talking, breathing, living testimony that you survived and made it through! Come on! It’s a Celebration. . . .Enjoy Yourself!

Well. . .the Bible says. . .Jesus came and stood in the midst of them and said “Peace Be With You!” What a wonderful Savior! Jesus was a man who spoke “Peace”. . . even stormy winds and turbulent waves obeyed Him! When the disciples saw Him, they were glad! Aren’t you glad today? Don’t you want to celebrate with me?

Let’s Celebrate! All that He’s done for us!
Let’s Celebrate! We have future blessings in store!
Let’s Celebrate! Everyday with Jesus is sweeter than the day before!
Let’s Celebrate! He still answers prayers!
Let’s Celebrate! He still has healing for your body!
Let’s Celebrate! He still dries weeping eyes!
Let’s Celebrate! He’s still a problem solver, heart fixer, and mind regulator!

It’s a Celebration . . . . . Enjoy Yourself!

Copyright (c) 2005 by Kenneth Aveirls, Sr.


Senior Moments

I got the following post from one of my yahoo groups and thought it was just too funny, not to share. Enjoy:

This true story was reported the news in USA Today

An elderly Florida lady did her shopping, and upon returning to her car, she found four males in the act of leaving with her vehicle.

She dropped her shopping bags and drew her handgun, proceeding to scream at the top of her voice "I have a gun, and I know how to use it! "Get out of the car!"

The four men didn't wait for a second invitation. They got out and ran like mad. The lady, somewhat shaken, then proceeded to load her shopping bags into the back of the car and get into the driver's seat. She was so shaken that she could not get her key into the ignition. She tried and tried, and then it dawned on her why.

A few minutes later she found her own car parked four or five spaces farther down. She loaded her bags into the car and then drove to the police station.

The sergeant to whom she told the story doubled over on the floor with laughter. He pointed to the other end of the counter, where four pale men were reporting a car jacking by a mad, elderly woman described as white, less than five feet tall, glasses, curly white hair, and carrying a large handgun.

No charges were filed... ah, senior moments..

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Jehovah Shalom

or My Search for Peace
by D.S. White

Jehovah-Shalom says much to me as a name of God. It reveals that He is Peace, literally: “The Lord is Peace.” Jehovah--God is; Shalom--complete, whole.

I first encountered my need for peace in my childhood. Although I was shielded from open confrontations, I nevertheless discerned that the structure of relationships in my family was not natural. As an avid reader, I saw what authors divined a family structure should or could be. My family definitely didn’t fit. Where were all the hugs, kisses, and unconditional love?

Instead, I remember an almost frantic desperation to get household chores done and food cooked. Through it all, I tried to make as little noise as possible in order to avoid the detection of my very existence. Detection incurred punishment. The pattern of our lives developed an overly heightened sensitivity in me to the discord in the relationship between my parents, my siblings, and myself.

I remember always trying to escape to somewhere peaceful, be it a place in my imagination, within the pages of a book, the bathroom, or up under the house in a spot so narrow that no one could see or reach me. I was afraid to sleep at night because the night meant struggle for me--fighting demons, spirits, or maybe just an overactive imagination. I can’t clearly tell anymore. I just remember the dread and fear of going to bed at night.

During my teenage years I craved love. I wanted a partner just like I read about in books, like some of the popular kids at school had. I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do with one when I got one. I didn’t think that far ahead. My main focus was the desire to be complete, because surely something was missing. I knew that if I just had someone, like everyone else who walked around holding hands or kissing in the hallways or having their books carried, I’d be complete. (Not that I wanted to kiss in the hallways--that was a bit much, though holding hands was quite an acceptable show of togetherness. Come to think of it, I actually did have my books carried on many an occasion; it’s just that the carrier wasn’t as tall, or as short, as dark or as light, as smart or as funny or as glasses-less as I thought he should have been). I sought perfection in my partner and ultimately in myself and everyone around me. Needless to say, since we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, I was a frustrated, suicidal teenager.

I graduated from high school at seventeen and moved to New York, where the search for the perfect partner continued. Finally, I met him. He wasn’t too tall; he wasn’t too light or too dark. He was really handsome and, by george, he didn’t wear glasses. His name was Clemente and he was of Hispanic descent. He adored me just as I was and went out of his way to please me. We had several things in common: we were both serious young individuals, with a shared adoration of martial arts movies, long walks in Manhattan, and me.

I invited him over to my house, which was actually a two-bedroom apartment I shared with my elder sister and niece. Aflutter with excitement, I cooked the only dish I was capable of cooking at the time: boiled rice, fried chicken and buttery corn. My sister was not overly enthusiastic about him, but she didn’t give him the cold shoulder. She even invited him to adjourn to the living room to view a family movie, after which she excused herself and my niece. Clemente and I were left to ourselves to cuddle and talk about our goals.

This is when I learned that he expected to have around five children with me! He also felt comfortable enough to let me know that he wished I wouldn’t wear so much makeup or such bright-colored clothing. He also wanted me to eat healthier, etc. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t realize that he had signed his own death warrant. I was blindsided by his intent of multiple impregnations. His controlling attitude scared the life out of me and at the same time stuck in my craw. I had just realized my independence as a young adult, and nobody but nobody was telling me what to do!

My search for the perfect partner continued through a marriage at nineteen, the birth of my one and only daughter, and separation from my husband two years later. After that I met my mate for life (I thought) and commenced a relationship which lasted twelve years.

During those twelve years, we hit many highs and lows. We would be in synch for short periods of time, and then each partner would alternate periods of chasing the other for intimacy. There was love, provision, hand holding, back rubbing, toenail polishing, and scalp greasing, but something was still missing. I had my partner, but no peace; no sense of completion.

That relationship has since dissolved to friendship, and a new relationship has taken its place. I’ve met my Partner for life--and don’t you know He was right there all along, being taken for granted. He was there at my birth when the breath of life was breathed into me and I became a living soul. He was there at my baptism at age seven. He was there in the night through all my nightmares, soothing my brow and making sure that I made it through the night.

He was there when I chose another to be husband, then another to be soul mate for life, entrusting a man with the duties of provider, harbinger of peace, caretaker of my heart, role model and future step-father to my child. His heart was broken over and over when He’d call me and I wouldn’t answer Him because I wasn’t ready to deal, because I wouldn't settle for anything I hadn't chosen. He saw me through my migraines, imparting some of His peace as I lay comatose and traveled outside my body. Those times were my only conscious contact with Him, my iron will and icy wall of denial melting as I cried out to Him from the depths of my soul.

He was my conscience as I daily did a job I detested, while the job He’d created for me laid waste. The epitome of unconditional love, He received me with open arms as I surrendered my all and accepted the commission after three days of lost sanity wherein He showed me what life could really have been like without His presence in my life. Then and there, the missing link clicked into place.

I am still human and I still cringe at my imperfections, which become more glaringly obvious to me the more I learn about my Soul Mate. But instead of looking outside for comfort, I look inward and bask in the peace I find in His presence, in His acceptance of me, His faithful presence throughout my life. He sees the imprint of my DNA, which matches His own and tells Him that I am heir to all His qualities.

I no longer need to seek completion. Peace is not something any human partner can give me, because I already possess it. It became a part of me at age seven, when I said "I do" to my very first Bridegroom. I now realize that peace has been attainable to me at all times. All that was necessary was for me to relinquish my will and rest in the completeness and peace of Jehovah-Shalom.

Copyright (c) 2003, D.S. White, All rights reserved

Monday, August 01, 2005

Welcome to New York!

by D.S. White

Here’s a little rough excerpt from my memoir-in-progress, done journal style so it’s choppy in spots.

The Big Apple (with the big bucks! No piddling MD teacher's salary for me! With my shorthand/transcription skills, my typing speed and my Spanish I can command a salary equivalent to dear old Dad’s). Off with the old, on to new things, as the valedictorian said at graduation: “Our lives have just begun!”

###

Hello roomie! What? Still a 10pm curfew! I'm seventeen and a high school graduate! Stop playing! I'm calling mom!

Five minutes later, “What? Do what my father says?" This stinks! (Of course these arguments are all carried out in my head...cause a sistah likes having teeth, thank you very much).

Okay, so dad is not buying the roomie theory and mom is suddenly a June Cleaver clone, nevertheless, I can do this! It’s just a hiccup in the scheme of things.

Job hunting time! My sister is going to show me the ropes.

First Day of Interviews:
I'm wearing my favorite off-white suit, polka-dot red blouse with ruffles, red shoes and red lipstick. (Somebody made a mistake and told me red was my color. What? Oh you mean the polka dots? Hey...it is 1983!)

Train Riding:
My sister's instructions are, “Do what I do. When we get to Utica Avenue, get in front of the doors and take a deep breath. When they open, spot a seat, develop tunnel vision, and don't stop moving till you're in it!”

With the bravado of the unknowing I confidently stated, “I can do that.”

Day One:
Success! I'm in a seat, glowing a little from the exertion, with just enough deportment left in me to refrain from giving my sister a high five. The interviews are all promising; the train ride home is uneventful. My nightly phone call to Mom, who is still madly packing to join dad and me yields nothing but threats to leave my substantial book collection behind. One pleading phone call to "Uncle" Arthur...and that problem is solved.

Day Three:
An old pro by now, I take a deep breath as I mentally choreograph the upcoming dance to my seat. Five, six, seven eight...elbow, elbow, swivel, spin, kick, shin change, turn, slide-into-seat. It all goes as planned--oh wait, pleated skirt, must fix pleats before sitting. There we go, and now the well-programmed-look-before-I-sit turns up...a pair of eyes looking up at me from my seat!

There I am poised in mid-squat, beginning to blush from anger, indignation, embarrassment and betrayal. I look to my left and my sister--stalwart, overprotective, warrior-babe--is not hauling him out of my seat by his collar or cussing him out in proper English as I expected. What is she doing?

She's laughing. So hard she can hardly respond to my hissed, “Why didn't you warn me? Or better yet, why didn't you stop him?” And the question of the day: how the heck did he get around me to land in my seat? I'd done the famous pole move and cut off the left side, and my sister was supposed to have the right. But noooo...

After a puff of her inhaler (an asthmatic, she'd laughed herself into a wheezing fit) she communicated her disbelief and fascination with the fact that I thought my pleats warranted that much fixing and that I hadn't considered the possibility that someone would slide into the seat.

My arguments:
1) I'm going on an interview (wrinkles not good).
2) White skirt (gotta be careful and ladylike while wearing white).
3) You were sitting right there... I thought you had it!

At this point, I'm sure the tears filling my eyes couldn't be attributed to my fake laughter. Thankfully, the lights in the train car went out and my dignity was saved.

Ah well, my first lesson learned in NY. That incident was the precursor to a not-so-great interview, but I consoled myself with the thought that I wasn't too thrilled about the location of the job anyway. It was on the 35th floor, and I've a problem with heights.

Tomorrow’s got to be a better day.