Wednesday, November 26, 2008


A friend of mine asked me in an email what I am thankful for this year. With Thanksgiving Day's arrival tomorrow and my plans for the weekend looming on the horizon, many of the blessings I am thanking God for are in the form of the people I love the most. I will be spending time this weekend back home in Grand Rapids with "my babies" - my Tae and Erika and Vonnie and Anthony and Squirmy. I am truly thankful that God uses them quite consistently to change my mind about being self-centered.

I am thankful that God has healed me enough and is still healing me enough to be a good aunt/surrogate parent to my brother's children. My plans have momentarily changed in terms of moving out of state right now due to some issues that have arisen with my youngest niece. The truth is as much as I wish I could just pack up and leave them all, I am not released to do that JUST yet.

And I thank God for that, even though I do feel a bit boxed in at times because I know that I could be doing a lot of living somewhere else. But, I thank God that I can impact their lives as much as I impact the lives of the young people I see everyday at work and the lives of the young people I will one day touch. I want to start at home, with my own babies, and I thank God for the chance to be there for these children who need my brother's love and presence but do not truly have either. But they do have me, and I am not fighting that anymore.

I also thank God for my mother, who is still in the land of the living. We don't always see eye to eye on things but mostly we are comrades-in-arms when it comes to our family and most specifically her grandchildren and great-grandson, whom she adores. We fight together for their futures, and I thank God I am not alone in the struggle to change their lives.

It may seem wierd but I am thankful that I am needed by my family, that my nieces and nephews love me, that I have people to care for. If it were not for them I would be the loneliest woman on earth. So many people in our world do not have family. So, I am thankful for their smiles, their laughter, their passions, and their dreams. I am thankful even for the times when they try to assert their independence and I have to rein them back in ("You ain't grown YET!). And I am thankful for their futures, and I cannot wait to see the kind of men and women they will grow to be.

For this, I am thankful. My life is so full.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Few Indiscretions

So...I have a couple guilty pleasures that I'd like to tell you all about. I am not a perfect person, so I'll throw that out there as my disclaimer. I love God, go to church (not always every Sunday, but often), I read my Bible, and I try to live as drama-free a life as I can. As I always say, there is no need for unnecessary dramatics in my world, and I'd like to keep that way for as long as possible.

But there are a few things that might be considered not so Christian that I either enjoy watching, reading or doing. The first thing I enjoy doing is going out with friends for food, drinks, and karaoke. That may or may not be a good combination but I tell you what, it makes for a rip-roaring good time and I walk away feeling totally free and uninhibited. I enjoy being with people that don't take life too seriously, and I think once you've been in the church for a long time, people start to assume that you aren't supposed to enjoy life, laughter, and singing 1980s R&B.

My next "indiscretion" is something I am reading right now. The thing is I have been waiting a long time for either a movie or another book from Sister Souljah, and when I saw in either Essence or Ebony (more reading indiscretions) that she had a new book out I was really hyped about the whole thing. So, when I went to the library last week and saw her book "Midnight" on the shelf I almost broke down dancing right then and there.

(Let me just say this: Here in Port Huron, Michigan (or Port Boring, as it is so affectionately called) where I am temporarily residing until something better comes along, the library very rarely orders books by African-American authors. So when they do I am very pleasantly surprised. The library gods must think that Black folks don't read. Well, honey, let me tell you - I DO read. A lot. And I read several different types of books as you will hear about in future posts. But...I digress.)

Anyway, I am reading this book right now. I am amazed that it is 500 pages. It has started out a lot different than her first book "The Coldest Winter Ever" which I happened to love, by the way. That book was great, but the problem I found out later, is that it paved the way for a lot of poorly written "ghetto" books that landed on bookstore shelves much to my chagrin (a writer that is fighting to get two books commercially published right now). Again, I digress.

"Midnight" is my book indiscretion, sitting alonsgide Erwin McManus' Soul Cravings, Barack Obama's "Dreams From My Father", Stephen Mansfield's "The Faith of Barack Obama", and last but not least my worn Amplified Bible. It is living on my bed's headboard bookshelf in obvious mixed company. But the reality I tell myself or the excuse I give anyone else is that I am learning something life-changing from each book. I will give a more thorough critique of "Midnight" and the other books I am reading right now when I finish them, but I had to give some sort of explanation as to why this book is being read so voraciously by the Church Girl, right?

My next indiscretion is something I liked to watch on television. I say liked because the season finale just aired Tuesday, although there is one more show next week that will uncover some apparent dirty laundry and one more delectable tidbit of drama. The wierd thing is my godmother actually hipped me to this show and she is a pastor herself. She liked it because it showed Black women that didn't live in the hood and had money to boot. I do get a bit tired of seeing Black women on television that are standing in the welfare line or having babies out of wedlock with every Tom, Dick, and Harry. That being said, there isn't much else to be proud of in a Afrocentric kind of way with this show.

I just flat-out enjoyed this crazy mix of weave-wearing, sassy, rich femme fatales on this hour-long laugh fest. The Real Housewives of Atlanta became a guilty pleasure of mine the last few weeks of the show. I even started engaging myself so much with NeNe, Sheree, Kim, Lisa, and DeShawn that I started declaring to anyone that watched the show and would know the characters who I liked or disliked more. I very rarely get that involved with a television show (except Grey's Anatomy and sometimes Keyshia Cole's show).

I could not STAND NeNe. A lot of people said they liked her because she kept it real and she seemed the most down-to-earth. (What kind of real are they talking about?!?!) I personally thought she was the fakest, most two-faced one of them all because she kept up so much dissension with all the women - women she was supposed to be friends with. She reminded me of women (females) I have known both in high school and (dare I say) in church (but I won't talk about that) where I came face-to-face with the rawest qualities of humanity. And I am being real here when I say that I will not befriend (at least on a deep level) a woman like that. She will keep up too much chaos.

NeNe is the type of female that thinks (in layman's terms) she is this angelic representation on earth and is ignorant enough to believe that gives her the license to talk about other people as if she is better than them. She is the person that can be the loud-mouth, the life of the party, but can also be the one that everyone wants to fight. I literally wished I could jump inside the television and whup her tail and then jump back out before she could understand why she was lying on the concrete.

(I know...that is not a very lady-like or Christian attitude, but I am being honest here.)

This type of female was personified in many girls in my high school back in Grand Rapids and it makes me wonder if they still act like her today. I know back then I would not deal with them. NeNe was superficial and fake because she would smile in her "friends" faces and then would run them down in the next breath - once she got a few drinks in her. I know I said earlier that I like to go out and have drinks but not to the point where I am saying something I will regret later. I don't believe in getting twisted and then letting it all hang out. Once again, I apologize...I digress.

To me NeNe was not a viable symbol of true womanhood (not that the rest of them were in all areas; she just stood out the most). She is the person I point out to my nieces and say "Don't be like her. Somebody will want to beat the brakes off you if you turn into THAT. And it just might be me."

She is a symbol of a woman out of her element that does not fit in the classy world her marriage evidently placed her. Her attitude exemplified the fact that money certainly does not buy class. I think a real woman is born with a certain pedigree, a certain quality, and NeNe did not have that and she certainly was not trying to develop it.

So those are my little indiscretions. What are yours?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Little Girl and Her Baby

The pictures I have posted with this entry is of my little girl Tae, otherwise known as my niece, and her son. Since the moment she was born 17 years ago I have loved her so very deeply. The second I laid eyes on her I knew that I would never be the same. She would change my definition of love and family. My brother's ex-girlfriend had her when they were both 19 and were totally not ready to be parents (and in many ways they still aren't - sorry, I hate to say it, but they are both 36 year old kids). But she appeared in our worlds anyway - ready or not. And she is still here doing her thing as only she can do it - making us all re-think our perspectives on life. And in the midst of it, we can't help but love her. I know I can't.

She is now 17, a junior in high school, and is a mother herself. It rocked my world when she got pregnant at 15. I was so scared for her and for her child. Mainly, I was scared that she would never shine as brightly as she was born to do. But she is shining. She IS shining like a star despite the difficulties being a teen mother can bring. I love her so much for her resiliency, and I never fail to tell her that.

The picture shows my little girl's beauty; it also shows what I saw the first day I ever met her in Butterworth hospital 17 years ago. It shows a beautiful girl destined to change the world. And she will. She was born to be a trailblazer and a world-changer, and part of my plans in myowne life is to help her do just that.

The little boy in the first two pictures (with all the beautiful hair) is her son. She loves her Squirmy as she calls him. His name is Jeremy and he reminds me so much of her when she was his age - same eyes, same smile, same personality. I am nostalgic for those days; I really am. No matter what, I know that she will be as good a mother as she can be because she knows how to ask for help and she doesn't want her son to be anything less than the best. She will be graduating high school next year, and I wonder what her life will be like when she enters adulthood. I want her to be successful; I always tell her this. And she is determined that she will be. That's all anybody can ask. Really.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Need a New Place to Call Home

I drove to work with one thought on my mind this morning:

"I've got to have a place to call home...a place of my own...a place for me."

I had a brief mini-spat with my mom last night because she is apparently getting tired of me crashing at her house until I am able to move to my own apartment in Port Huron or hopefully, another city. Things are not going according to plan since I had to move out of my last place, and I am ready to just go somewhere for me for once. I came to Port Huron to help my godparents and have hated the stay.

I also am staying with her because she is planning to move to the Phoenix, AZ area, and I wanted to go with her. I didn't want her to go alone because we have no family in that area (most of our family is either in Michigan or down South.)

But she doesn't seem to want me with her, and I don't want to be miserable or to make her miserable since really this move to the Valley of the Sun is her dream - not mine. I don't mind going to Arizona but I have some concerns with how she will treat me if I am not able to find a job right away or an affordable apartment there. My mom can be mean sometimes, and I hate it.

But the truth is, I do need my own life. The problem is I don't know where to go. I don't particularly want to return to my city of origin (Grand Rapids), and right now, Michigan really sucks as far as jobs and housing and men and good times go.

So my question to anyone reading this post is: Where is the best place for a 30-something, single, African-American female with an education and no kids to establish a home? What location should I set up residence in, where I can take part in artistic endeavors, meet new people, find a great church to attend, possibly get a graduate degree, and where I could potentially meet a great guy to settle down with?

Maybe a lot of women in my shoes are asking this, and I am not alone. But if you, O Reader, have found a happy place, please let me know about it. Please let me know if the city you are living in is working for you and why. I am pretty stumped as far as my next move is concerned.

Places I may be interested in going:
(1) Nashville, TN
(2) Chicago, IL (although it can get friggin' cold there, but I love the Chi)
(3) Phoenix, AZ
(4) Somewhere usually pretty warm most of the year

Places I am definitely not interested in going:
(1) Detroit, MI
(2) Somewhere people are not doing anything positive
(3) Somewhere cold (besides Chicago)

That leaves a lot of room for choices. Let me know!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Okay...I need to do a few updates since most of my posts lately have been about President Obama or the election campaign issues I was having or other people's babies. When I started this blog, I had intended to write about the class I was teaching at church and some changes I am making right now in my personal life. Well, some things never change.

I may have intended to teach these kids at church, trying to motivate them to live out their faith in a more intelligent, learned way. So, what happened? They stopped coming. A couple times my class got cancelled. Then I would show up on Wednesday nights and they wouldn't, for various reasons. And then, I just decided that this inconsistency is proof that some things never change. One of the issues I have with my church is the inconsiderate way things set up for the teens are viewed. And I am so sick of it. I have tried setting up tutoring programs, youth activities and classes. Nothing ever continued after the first month.

A lot of it has to do with the parental involvement. The parents are not very involved in anything that has to do with their kids - at church and at school. I know because I have worked with them in both places. I am not just drawing an unfair conclusion. And if the parents don't make certain things a priority, the kids won't either.

So this was my last shot at trying to do something life-affecting at my church. I have tried many, many times, and although my pastor doesn't agree with this, I don't believe in beating a dead horse. of right now...the class "Own Your Faith" is on hiatus (maybe, permanently). It's too bad really; it was going so well. But I don't have the energy to beg people to bring their kids so I can teach them about the things of God and faith. That's not my job.

And then...something else has happened that has caused me to really take a look at relationships and even how I may be viewed by men. Most of my friends are married - except for one. All of them have gotten married within the last 6 years. So, I have had a good opportunity to see how relationships are built and what makes them work (or not work, in some cases). I have had the chance to interact with these couples in a variety of different ways, and I have drawn a lot of conclusions about what I want and what I don't want.

And one thing I don't want is to learn that one of my friend's husbands thinks I am beautiful and wishes that we could be together in some way, form, or fashion because my friend is not doing her wifely duties.

Yes, you heard me. One of my friends' husbands, in a feigned attempt to ask me for help in understanding his wife (like I can help with that; I don't KNOW her like THAT), also released some real talk in my ear. I am surprised that he would admit this but I am not surprised that married men are so intrigued by me. I am not saying this in a proud or conceited manner. But I have had married men (some married to my friends and others, complete strangers) look at me inappropriately or even try to hit on me in some way.

And this solidifies why I keep my distance when my friends get married or get into relationships. It's scary first of all to be the only single one in my groups of friends. And it is also scary that when you try to befriend and be helpful in any way, you are looked at as a potential jump-off. I am so freakin' sick of being viewed as a great distraction or so empty-headed that I would be willing to kiss, sleep with, or even carry on indepth conversations with my friends' significant others.

Not cool. And not happening again.

I want my own husband - not somebody else's and especially not my friend's. I told my mom that I get tired of men just wanting to sleep with me but not wanting to marry me (either because they won't or because they obviously can't). It was just so selfish of these married men to try and trap me into something that would ruin my friendships with their wives. And it is so selfish of some men to try and bed me down and then walk away.

I'm not a ho, and I never have been. I'm the church girl (not innocent by any means, but really trying to live right). So (excuse the french, but) what the hell is this? Do I have a sign on my forehead that says I am easy or desperate or stupid? I'm just wondering.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Night

My mother and I stayed up late to watch the election results, and when they came in, she screamed in disbelief. Then she began to cry. If you have ever seen my mom cry, you will know that it is not a pretty sight. But, I wept real ugly, right with her. I'm sorry...I came undone...

I wept because she was remembering a day I was blessed never to see. I have faced some levels of racism and prejudice - called "Nigger" right to my face, denied jobs I was clearly qualified for, treated as an outsider even in my undergrad studies when I thought my intelligence and love of Christ indicated that I deserved to be treated as an equal.

But she has seen so much more. She has experienced some things she has never shared.

She has seen her father and mother's determination to give their children a better life than they had. She heard the account of her father's ambush by a group of young white men when he was young and the way his life was spared by an elderly white woman that refused to see "Mandie's boy" harmed in any way. (Mandie was his mother.) She had witnessed the hard work and harsh treatment her mother sometimes endured at her job as a nurse's aide in a hospital years ago. My uncle had told her of the difficulty she had growing up in the South, along with my grandfather. And she herself lived the life, along with her brother and sisters, of a member of the third generation of an African-American family this side of slavery.

I cried with my mother as she sobbed her father and mother's names, wishing they were here in the physical to see such a monumental occasion in this country. I wept with her as she dialed her brother and sister up to celebrate long distance.

But I also cried as I looked at the pictures of my nieces and nephews adorning every available surface and showcased on the walls. They have always been very important to me, to us. I did not pursue goals outside of Michigan until they were all out of the formative years and entering their teen years. I wanted to make an impact on them while they were little.

As I gazed at their smiling faces in retrospect, I realized that no matter what happens in this presidency, they will always have the reminder that they can shoot for the moon and hit another solar system. They can separate themselves from the stigma of racism and overcome that demon.

We are doing that now for the next generation. And no, we are nowhere near being totally fulfilled. We have some people out there that are very angry that we have a Black (bi-racial) President in this country and are planning to kill him. There are people that wish him dead - him and his family, simply because he is of African and Caucasian descent (perhaps an anomaly in the White House?). There are even people of color (I know a few) that are not glad that he and his family will grace the halls of that mansion.

But I am praying that the beginning we had yesterday will continue for the sake of the children whose lives have been affected from the first day until now. I am also praying that God will have His way in this country. I happen to believe He will. He has heard the cry of the oppressed and the day for vindication is today, right now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

ELECTION DAY 2008 - A Historic Occasion, Indeed

I voted for Barack Obama this morning to be the new President of the United States. As I drove from the voting precinct I was assigned to, my thoughts were on my grandparents and how proud they would be to potentially have a Black President in this country where our ancestors were shipped as slaves, mistreated for generations, and treated as second-class citizens. I did not, believe it or not, ultimately focus solely on his similar ethnic identity in my decision - as I fear many in my culture have. I voted for him because I believe that even despite our opposing views on certain issues we are more alike than we are different; we are closer in our hopes for this country, where we both hold claim to so many freedoms once denied my grandparents.

I am still very curious about this man, Barack Obama, and with that in mind I have decided to begin reading more about him and some commentaries concerning who he is as a person. Obviously books only tell partial truths, but I do not think I will ever get the chance to know him indepthly or personally (at least not right now). But I am definitely sincere in my pursuit to understand this amazingly intelligent, passionate man that may, after today, be leading our country.

With that as my basis, I have agreed to review a book written by Stephen Mansfield, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers. The book is called The Faith of Barack Obama. I will post my comments about the book here and on the websites Thomas Nelson has requested.

This is indeed a historic day in our nation, and I am literally shaking deep within at the thought of the changes that could be taking place in this country starting January 29, 2009. Happy Election Day, all!