Friday, December 4, 2009

Frustration and Stress and then...PEACE...

Peace is not the absence of war. It is the embrace of the Prince of Peace in the midst of war.

I am learning that everyday now, as I wrestle with my emotions about the situation my family is in right now. I think of the Scripture I read this morning before beginning my day today:

John 14:27 (Amplified Version) "Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]"

I read this with new eyes, as if the familiarity was no longer the blindfold that had shielded my eyes each time I had read it before. I read it while a soft whisper resounding in my ear assured me that Christ was in the room with me, as I swallowed the words.

I can choose to accept the peace that Christ gives. He gives it to me freely, but I have to reach out my hand to take it. I can refuse it and try to remedy situations like the ones I am facing now, as my niece and her sisters' lives hang in the balance, precariously. I can try to block out my emotions by listening to music that does not feed my achey soul and instead feeds my lust for a carnal distraction. I can try to be a stoic, mature person whom is not touched by the reality that the children in my life are depending on me to pray for them and instead choose to hope for the best instead of lifting them up.

Or...I can grab hold to this Word and say, "I choose Peace."

I choose Christ's peace today. I choose to trust Christ when He says His peace is not like the world's peace because that peace has never been a sustaining, perpetual peace. It has been fleeting and momentarily fulfilling. Then it disappears. Like it did yesterday when I stalked around my house like a raging lunatic, shouting out my defiance and declarations.

I choose to believe that Christ's peace is more than alcohol, boyfriends, food, shopping, and even the distraction of work. It is that which stays with me in the night when there is nothing else to do and no one else to take my focus.

I will stop allowing myself to be agitated and angry and a cursing Peter. I stop allowing myself to become unsettled, fearful, intimidated, cowardly...disturbed. I do not want to be a disturbed individual. No one wants to be around disturbed individuals.

I choose to accept Christ's peace today.

Monday, November 30, 2009

When Someone Says Thank You




I had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday (as can be seen from the silly picture above) with my family, my "children" and my mom. There were no tears shed, there were no arguments. There was only good food, laughter, movies, and the sound of children talking and playing in the house. For me that is what is most important about the holidays. My mom and I are establishing our own traditions, mirroring the traditions we had in yesteryear when my grandparents were still alive and I was a little girl.

Last night as I talked with my 18-year-old niece, I realized that some things have to remain as a legacy. Family must be a present reality in the lives of the children that are growing up in our home. There is so much missing and I refuse to miss the tiny powerful mmoments of love that they need today. I want my grandparents legacy of family to live on when I am gone too.

My niece told me last night that she appreciates my mom and I so much for being there for her, even though her parents did not. Her mother and father seem to hate the presence of family so much that they tried to convince her that the only way to make it through life was independently, unattached, "on your own." But we have tried so hard to show her that everybody needs somebody, and family must be constant. True love starts there.

She said to me, "Thank you, Auntie Mya." Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the bullets shot through my heart when her mother tried to separate us from her for some crazy reason, and I fought to stay (even on the fringes of her life) because I loved her so very deeply. I remembered the arrows my own brother had shot through my soul out of selfish ambition and hatred. I felt the wounds still somewhat fresh from the last battle I had waged against him when it came down to telling my story in "Father to the Fatherless."

And I knew then that the warfare, the battle for her heart, her soul, her future was and still is worth it. She left me with these words:

"I don't know how I make it through each day; I don't know how I do what I do. I just do. I don't even remember yesterday. All I see is my future."

My 18-year-old baby is a mother to a 2-year-old curly haired boy, who understands far more than I ever imagined what family means - even when neither of her parents are there to teach her. I see her future too, and I am excited for her as well.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finding Art in the Foreign Soil of Life

Reading Leeana Tankersley's new book, Found Art, was reading the internal map of a woman whose life is in a constant place of discovery. Some discoveries are beautiful, immortal; others speak of the hurt and despair of this world that highlight the enormity of our mortality. As a woman married to a United States serviceman, her life became something far more than what she could have ever imagined it would be, when she said "I do." It became more than a mission of living a new combined life with a husband and a newly constructed household. It became a purpose she had to accomplish within herself, a world she had to be introduced to, a way of finding the art lying hidden beneath the surface.

Change is never easy.

The foreign soil of a life utterly uprooted and changed time and again tested Leeana to the breaking point at times. But the reality that she had to accept and the lesson her writing teaches anyone who reads her book is that the truest sign of that acceptance is the ability to appreciate the beauty in the most foreign of places, in the most strange circumstances which call upon all of us to reach for God even in the most unconventional of ways. God exists in the unfamiliar as much as the familiar. God's peace can exist even when our lives are anything but peaceful.

The precious emblems of life, the art that we find in the ruins of life, are the very tokens of belief that we all need to push forward when God requires so much more than we believe we can give. This what Leeana's book is about - the finding of those moments, those emblems, those irreplaceable artifacts of life that point to God's enormous grace in the face of life's challenges. This is her story, uniquely hers and uniquely powerful as all testimonies are, but it is also her permission to us all - to live with our eyes, our heart, our minds wide open even when we are afraid to do so.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Reviews: Trying This Again

I tried to start doing this last year when I began this blog but never quite got the hang of reviewing books as I said I would do. So I am going to start this endeavor again, choosing a book off "Myowne Bookshelf" to review. The first book I have selected to review is "Found Art" by Leeana Tankersley who is a friend of a writer that I have connected with after attending the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing almost two years ago (Shauna Niequist, whose blog is listed below). Stay tuned to a future post that will review her book.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Mother's Prayer


This is the prayer of my heart today, as I care for the children entrusted to my care, the three little girls that needed a home and needed my heart:

Lord, please help me to be the best mom I can be at this time, for these precious babies you have lent to us. Please help me impact their lives in a positive way, giving them the opportunities to experience life like they never have before. Do not let me cause any more harm, stress, pain, or grief than they have already experienced in their short lives. Please be our Provision, our Source, our Peace, our Safety.

Thank you for the privilege of mothering another's children. Being a mother is such an honor that I would never take it lightly...

In Jesus Precious Name...thank you Father for giving me your Fathering and Mothering Heart...Help me to always see them like you see them...Queen Esthers for their generation...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Beautiful Additions




My sister friend Tashara and her husband Idris have a new baby boy added to their family about a little more than a month ago. His name is Raphiel and has joined his brother Josiah in Myowneworld's Beautiful Baby Club. Wouldn't you agree?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Derrion Albert...the Face Behind the War for Our Youth

The youth violence that is so prevalent in the major cities of this country is so heartbreaking. Hearing the story of the young man that killed outside of his high school on Chicago's South Side made me realize that as a believer in Christ, I have to hit my knees and prayer more vigorously for the children and teens in this country.

I saw the video of this baby being beaten to death senselessly by a group of young men displaying dangerous out of control behavior. I saw this baby lose his life when he had nothing to do with the riot. I saw his mother weeping for her son. And I realized something.

The sound of the trumpet must be raised; the alarm of spiritual warfare for our children must resound across this land. There is no reason for all this violence except Satan himself wants to destroy our kids. Some people think it is a race issue, and perhaps it is. Some think it is a socioeconomic issue. It is partially that. But what we need to know is that there is a diabolical plot by the enemy of our souls to destroy mankind, starting with our children and teens. The enemy is seeking to devour our babies. The issues that spur the violence are not the reason for the violence.

There is a root cause that the Church must combat through fasting, prayer, and action. It is not enough to carry out the spiritual disciplines. It is not enough to pray. It is not enough to take action by physically being present. We must do all three things to make the impact this nation and this world needs.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When I Don't Know What God Has in Mind...

I embrace His will anyway.

Yesterday, I made room in my house for the arrival of two children. My niece is living with my mom and I after a long spiritual, physical, and emotional battle with the foster care system in Kent County, Michigan.

We received a phone call last week that the foster care agency would like for us to take her little sisters as well.

They are really just babies (5 and 2 years old respectively) and have been bounced from foster home to foster home. In my heart, I have wanted all three in my home since all this mess took place.

And now, the babies are coming.

I have always wanted to impact children in some way. The mothering heart beating within me has always desired to be a mother, and although this may only be temporary, I believe that for this small space in time, God wants me to open my heart, my life, and my home to these precious girls.

This is not the way I planned for my life to go, but I am willing to do whatever God has in mind. I am surrendering my will in exchange for His. And after reading Pastoral Musings from Rain City today, I realize that having that mentality is just what God desires. (If you have time, read the post for October 1st.) Being ready for my plans to change because God has His own agenda for me is the measure of being a Christian, that is the least that I can do.

And I am okay with that. I take joy in the fact that I have a chance to impact a life (three of them) and hopefully one day, the God that I love will be able to use this time of planting a seed of love to yield a bountiful harvest in their lives later.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hair, Hair, Brand New Hair




So here are some pics of my new coiffure. I decided I needed a drastic change to my outside as my inside is changing too. I have always wanted to dye my hair a bold artistic color. I am by no means a behind the scenes, incognito, shy person. I used to be, especially when I was a little girl. But as I've gotten older, I've realized that I love me, I love the person God made me to be, and there is no reason to be ashamed of her. It is okay to do what I was born to do: STAND OUT.

Here's to a brand new me.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Art Portfolio: Picture #2


The title of this piece is "Playing With Mommy's Hair."

The baby in this picture loves touching her mother's hair, which amuses the mother to no end. The baby's surprised expression shows that not only is she experiencing a little heaven on earth as she feels the senation of her mother's hair in her little fist, but she is pleasantly surprised that someone caught her enjoying herself.

Perhaps one day she will grow up to have beautiful hair like her mommy. But until then she will explore, appreciating her mommy as only she can.

I am thinking that my portfolio will feature women and their glory. Hair is so important to us all - it crowns our queenly nature. So this portfolio will deal exclusively with what it means to be a woman, what we celebrate, the beauty God has given to all of us. We'll see the direction the portfolio will take us in later posts.

Essence of Spirit Artistic Expressions


This is one of my first pictures in my new art portfolio. I am returning to my first loves: art and writing. I have been embracing my call as a writer for a while now, but art kind of got put on the back burner. But, forgetting about how much I used to love drawing as a child and a teenager, how I used to hang my pictures on the wall of my bedroom, how I used to imagine painting, working with clay, and drawing as a way of life, and how I hoped that one day I could represent my name's meaning (Essence of Spirit) to the fullest both in the literary and art worlds would be like forgetting who I am on the inside.

This picture is something I've been working on for a little while. The thing I like the most is the detail in the woman's afro and the look in her eyes. Her stare is so penetrating, makes you wonder what she is thinking, makes you realize that there is so much more to her than what meets the eye. If you look closely you will see words hidden in her hair (the Fruit of the Spirit, listed in Galatians 5:22-23).

I can only hope I can start doing more art like this on a much broader scale, like my mom's best friend Jo used to do. I also hope to return to painting again and working with clay again.

I went to a art festival a couple weeks ago and when I saw people just like me with a passion for birthing artistic pieces, I knew I could not use excuses anymore as to why I am not producing. I am behind schedule, so it is time to get busy. My plan is to present a portfolio to the artistic director at Studio 1219, a art gallery in Port Huron. I want to start displaying my work instead of keeping it to myself.

Let me know what you think of this piece... The title of this work is "Fruit of the Spirit."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ten Things I Never Thought Would Happen

I will be 32 in less than a month...imagine that... Time flies when you are having...fun...

In celebration of nearly 32 years of life I would like to compile a list of things I definitely didn't plan on by the time I reached 32.

I never thought...

(10) I'd be THIS chubby. (As one of my older cousins said to herself when she began the BWS - Black Women's Spread - "HAS IT COME TO THIS?") And go figure, I haven't had babies yet. BWS ususally happens AFTER children. Apparently, I am in trouble...apparently I am jumping the gun.

(9) I'd be living with my mother - AGAIN. Her wearing muu-muus around the house are seriously a scary, yet hilarious sight. My next question is, will that be me in another 32 years?

(8) I'd be living in a town lamer than the one I grew up in. I have literally seen tractors being driven down main throughfares and have had to shake my head in disbelief. I also have shaken my head at the number of restaurants that close at 9 on a Saturday night.

(7) I'd be single, not any closer to marriage than I was at 16, and fighting off the advances of married men...some being the husbands of some of my friends (or used-to-be friends). Must have a sign on my forehead or on my t-shirt or on my car's license plate. They are coming out of the woodwork like roaches.

(6) I'd be raising the child of my older brother rather than my own child. I think I may be too tired when it's time for my own hard-headed 16-year-old. Especially if the clothes get littler, skimpier, sexier. My child will be wearing a garbage bag if trends keep going the way they are going.

(5) I'd have to plan for vacations months in advance just to cancel them because the money I had saved for the occasion sprouted wings and took flight. It seemed like when I was younger, money was in unlimited supply...especially when it was somebody else's...

(4) I'd get my hair done every three months or so instead of every weekend (like I had planned). Now, I just make the "do" do what it wants to do. Scary thought, huh? It's mostly combed every day.

(3) I'd beg to go on "What Not to Wear" just so I could replace my wardrobe with a whole new one. Still trying to figure out how to pretend like I would be soooo surprised that one of my (great, wonderful, sensitive, and caring) friends recommended me for the show since technically I can't recomend myself.

(2) I'd no longer be the fun aunt my nieces and nephews used to adore (or at least like to be around). Maybe they were just being kind...maybe I wasn't that fun to begin with...

(1) I'd be so ornery and creaky...like a little old lady...joints popping when I get out of a sitting position or when I climb stairs.


And now, here's the flip side...then things I never imagined I would be doing.

I never thought I would enjoy:

(10) Going to the gym, to get rid of all this...stuff...and there is a lot of...stuff...

(9) Eating salad instead of chocolate.

(8) Telling myself that I would be okay if I wasn't a size six ever again in life.

(7) Dancing to the latest jams using old school moves (like my mom used to do). And how I (my nieces) would laugh at her (me).

(6) Being such a goody-goody. The piercings have closed, the hair is all one color (mostly), and the tight jeans have been shipped off to Goodwill since the tightness uncomfortably squeezes my thick thighs. It's not as fun as it looks, fellas, to smash all this into that.

(5) Listening to jazz instead of hip-hop and rap as my music of choice. Don't get me wrong I do like some bass and bounce in my car but when I am chilling, I love to chillax to the jazz station. Go figure.

(4) Telling stories from "back in my day..."

(3) Going to church more than I enjoy going to a nightclub. Who would have thunk it? The girl that used to hit the floor with her girls on a Friday night now would prefer an open mic night for singles at a church called Revolution?

(2) Going to art shows, poetry readings, and movies alone. I used to invite people to go with me, but the older I get the more I prefer the pleasure of my own company.

(1) Enjoy my relationship with Jesus more than the day before. As a teen I didn't think it could be any more carefree than it was then. But now...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Gaining Clarity for my Next Season

I never thought I would want to come back home to Grand Rapids. I never thought I would miss it. But the funny thing is as much as I want to be adventurous and move somewhere else by myself, I know I am not ready to leave my family and friends just yet. I know at some point (perhaps when I am married) I will leave Michigan. But being separated from my godchildren and nieces and nephews is not desirable at this time. And also, I believe that I have found my next church home. If you recall, earlier this year, I was wrestling with leaving my current church in Port Huron. It's not that it isn't a progressive ministry; I just believe that I have outgrown it and need something more.

I do believe leaving that ministry has to be strategic and planned by God. I can't just walk out because I love my godmother deeply, sincerely, and because she is working so hard to maintain the ministry, I can't just walk out on her. But I am planning to talk to her about it when she and I return from our respective vacations. I know that I cannot stay forever, and my heart strings are being pulled in a different direction.

God will give me the time and the season that I can return home to Grand Rapids and subsequently to leave the ministry that I have been a part of for the last nearly 12 years. It's not easy but I know the right time will present itself soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hmmm...

Apparently black people from Port Huron don't like the 4-H Fair. Must have something to do with the Confederate flags flying around.

And yet my friend and her husband and her precious baby daughter were there with me, laughing at the possibility that there were really people there that didn't think we belonged in the vicinity. But as always, we do belong. I make it quite clear that I don't live in the boxes my grandparents and great-grandparents had to. I remember the stories of segregation and hatred and brutality and Confederate flags symbolizing closed doors, and I stare into the eyes of those that are surprised to see me at the Goodell's County Fair. I stare into their eyes and by staring at them dare them to say a word to me about the self-imposed reality they live in. It's not my reality, I say silently. I have somewhere to get to - a place my forefathers never thought they would ever go. So if these arrogant, racist strangers want to stay in a place of separation that's their choice, but as long as I have the opportunity to do so, I will show up wherever there's corndogs and ferris wheels and country music. Because I can.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Interesting Country Type Stuff

I am about to go to the Goodell's County Fair with a good sister friend of mine in a few minutes. Let me say this first. I am definitely a big city girl, but I do like a little bit of country. This means music and country fairs and bonfires with smores. But when it comes down to actually living on a farm, I suddenly morph into big city chick. We'll see how the city girl likes a 4-H Fair...

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's Time to Sit Down...

I am officially unemployed for a month. I should be worried, but I am simply too tired to be worried. I am planning on sitting on a beach near my house equipped with all the necessary books (#1 being my Bible), pens, and notebooks for days of hearing God's voice, writing, and getting rejuvenated so I can move into a new season. I can think of nothing better to do. I have given so much of me that I need to have time to just be quiet and let God pour Himself into my life again. There is nothing else I'd rather do right now. It's not that I am loving the possibility of not making money or having to go on unemployment, but I need a serious break, a serious retreat...

So, here I go...

30 days...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Slacker!

I have not written on here in a while and I feel that I need to play catch up. There has been a lot going on, so I promise (at least to myself) to post more after this week. I will be off for a month from work, so I will have plenty of time to write then.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My Fondest Memory of Michael Jackson



It broke my heart yesterday to hear that the singer of the soundtrack of my childhood died yesterday. I have to say that I believe Michael Jackson may have had physical ailments no one was aware of but one ailment he did suffer from that we all were cognizant of was his broken heart. He had been ostracized and rejected by an American society that was ready to put a noose around his neck as a result of false abuse allegations. The love America once had for him dried up and he was left wondering why people were so quick to label him as a pedophile just because he would rather be with children than with adults. Sometimes, I feel just like him.

I believe that he simply was a wounded man from childhood that had never been given the chance to be a child, so when he became an adult he tried to regain what he had lost. Apparently no one had ever told him that regaining childhood is impossible, and when you try to, people look at you like you're crazy.

Which is exactly what happened.

And now, he is dead, I believe, of a broken heart. Rejection can kill you.

But as I remember with the rest of the world today what a great, one-of-a-kind artist he was, I want to tell you a little story.

Picture this: 1982, Southeast side of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 636 Thomas Street to be exact, a bright living room with an antique record player. A four-year-old girl with pig tails, barrettes, and a colorful outfit begs her grandma to "Play the Jackson Five for me, pleeeease?" The grandma, not usually a fan of secular music, having been raised in the church with the awareness that all secular music has the ability to send you to hell, smiles broadly, knowing her only granddaughter loved music, loved to sing, loved to dance, and above all loved Michael Jackson. Everyone in the family knew this; a cousin called all the time to ask the little girl if she was still in love with Michael Jackson and if she still planned to marry him. The answer was always yes.

The little girl's grandma carefully removed the 45 from it's jacket and placed the disc on the turntable, and suddenly her granddaughter's favorite song of all, "ABC", projected from the speakers. The little girl immediately began dancing and bopping all around the living room, singing along to every word. Her grandma stood in the doorway of the living room laughing and bopping right along with her baby.

That little girl was me. The music my grandma played for me was one of the happiest memories I had growing up. My home life was so dysfunctional and when I went to visit my granparents' home, that was the one time I could dance and sing and be a kid and make someone else dance and sing and lay down all the constraints that religion and life and even poverty tried to place on her.

When Michael died yesterday, I felt like part of my childhood went with him. I felt the sincere loss of the days when I could be with my grandma in her house. She went home to be with the Lord in 2005 and as long as I had his music I could relive those days with her. I know it makes very little sense, but his music represented happier times for me - not only when I was four but throughout my childhood and adolescence.

I pray today for his family, his children, and others like me that appreciated his existence. I pray he found the peace that evaded him while he was alive. I hope he knows that he really was loved, even by a little four-year-old dancing around her grandma's living room.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What Happens When We Fight Back...

A couple months ago I wrote about a major issue that was taking place in my family that had literally thrown me to my knees. My niece and her siblings had been placed in foster care, though my niece and one of her sisters should have been placed with their fathers or their fathers' families. My mother and I decided to join alongside my brother in the fight for his rights as a father to parent his child or at least to have a say-so in where his daughter should go, since her mother had not maintained her parental standing.

I talked about the frustrations of watching how Michigan and specifically Kent County had botched the case and how our family had been literally undergone character assassination every time we stood up in protest. It has not been an easy battle but I believed then, as I still do now, that families should not be splintered and the real battle was between us and Satan himself, the chief destroyer of families.

It has taken what seems like forever (but really only since November) to get some measure of victory. The truth is God taught my hands to war with wisdom and with the gifts and abilities He has given me to wage war spiritually and naturally. The pen is truly mightier than the sword. The Spirit of God instructed me on how to complete an impacting fight as a Christian by using that same pen.

I wrote a formal complaint to the state, wrote letters to others, and stood in faith believing that I was standing on the side of righteousness against racism, classism, and even judicial injustice. After God showed me where to go and what to do, He taught me how to trust Him and wait.

And now, my family has regained custody of my niece, and in fact, I am still fighting to keep the girls together ultimately if they are not returned to the permanent care of their mother. The battle we waged shook some pretty influential places and positions and I believe it made lots of people remember that truth prevails, even if that truth comes from the mouth of a seemingly insignifcant African-American grandmother and her big-mouth wordsmith of a daughter.

The end result I hope is much bigger than a victory for my family. I hope other families will begin strengthening their families too so that children aren't separated by a system that truly means well but sometimes makes life-altering mistakes that the children will pay for for the rest of their lives.

Thank you to those who prayed for my brother, my niece, and my family. We certainly needed it then, and we still need it now. There is much more to the story that is in fact still happening but this is where God has brought us for now. One thing I know for sure, those who believe in the cause of the Kingdom of God should never remain silent in the face of injustice - even if you don't know if it matters or not. Your voice matters more than you can ever know.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What is in a Name?

A week or so ago, my first cousin Kamani and his wife Amber had their third son, a boy that will follow his older brothers that stand admiringly over his bassinet, I am sure, everyday. The brothers, Kamani Jr. and Jaheim are already fighting over who will love him more.

My cousin and his wife decided to name this baby boy directly and indirectly after our grandfather, Harrison "King" Jones, Sr. I complained a bit when I heard my cousin say that they would possibly choose the name Harrison for their new son (as this is his father's name as well). But I have hidden that name in the treasure chest of the future, hoping to name my first son Harrison William after the names of the greatest father figures I could ever have. The truth is, my cousin had every right to name his son Harrison, but instead he decided on a much different, wonderfully powerful name that I love for that little boy. The very name speaks of greatness.

My new baby cousin is named Kingston Xxavior. I think the name is brilliant. He will be called "King" after my grandfather. And for our family, this is an amazing tribute to the man that helped teach us all what family is truly all about. My grandfather's nickname was given because he truly was a man above men, a wise sage in the community in which we all grew up.

And so, I welcome Kingston Xxavior - already thinking of a poem to write in honor of his name, already thinking of the power that his very name connotes. I look forward to what this little boy will grow up to be...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cold Tangerines


I met an author about a year ago at Calvin College's Festival of Faith and Writing 2008, and I attended a reading she gave in a workshop regarding her book, Cold Tangerines. Her ability to capture the simplicity of faith and the enjoyment of life was exactly what I needed at that moment. For me, faith and church life and my spiritual walk had become way too complicated. When I was a child and teenager, early on in my faith, the love of God was a simply profound reality. It had not become muddled with the issues that can convolute faith in our adulthood.

Shanua Niequist, author of this fantastic orange book, helped remind of the days when I enjoyed life and the small details that make life what it is. Her words reminded me that my life with God could be a deep wellspring springing up into everlasting life.

I am recommending this book to anyone that was in the place I was in - wrestling with having a genuine yet simple faith in God in the face of life's distractions and difficulties. As part of writing this I am going to start including books that I am reading or have read and would recommend. Shauna's book, mentioned before on this blog, is still for me what I need in good reading - a reminder of what the faith walk should truly be about. I think the reason so many people wrestle with faith is because we have a tendency of making it so farfetched and out-of-reach. That is not what God intended. Let's get back to the days when we can enjoy glasses of lemonade, cold tangerines, children's laughter, the kiss of a sunset, the majesty of dawn. That is the point and Shauna has made it.

More Bay Harbor Pics




These pictures are of my co-workers and I on our trip last month. It took me a while to get them. We truly enjoyed oursevles in the cozy resort area. It was so pretty that I wouldn't mind getting married there one day...

Monday, May 11, 2009

My Trip to Bay Harbor, MI









This is one of the first pics that I took when we got to Bay Harbor. The hotel was so beautiful and the time away was so relaxing that we hated to leave. I forgot my camera, though, so I will post some pics as soon as I get them. Everybody else had theirs...and boy, did we have fun!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Heading Out

My co-workers and I are headed to a conference in probably one of the prettiest spots in Michigan. I have never actually been to Bay Harbor, Michigan, but I am a lover of the Great Lakes and sunrises and sunsets and being away from home for a couple days. I will post pictures and write a little more about my mini-adventure in wine country as well, if we make it there.

Until then...

I know my last post was a bit wierd but it was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing. This guy that I have somewhat befriended, against my better judgment, was in my head that day. I apologize profusely for being so silly when I KNOW the man God has for me is FOR ME. Please forgive and please PRAY that I don't give up my faith that my husband will be home soon...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dear Chozen One (A Letter to the Man on the Fringes of My Life, Existing in Silence for Now)

I have thought in many ways how to just pretend that I never heard your voice or saw inside your mind.

I have thought of many ways how to imagine that you are not a small part of my life right now...a life I was living quite fine without you.

I have thought of many ways to release myself from my imagination, erasing your phone number from my cell phone, not texting or calling you only to get no response until you feel like being bothered. It's too early for this. We only just met and you have no right to make me feel like you don't need me.

I met you in a more influential way a month ago. You called me first and I returned the call, even though you thought I would not.

I had never thought about if there was a possibility of an "us" because "she" is still there harassing your very existence. I did not know she was capable of making your life unbearable or of breaking your heart. I did not want to know that you are questioning if the son you all supposedly had together was actually yours or if he belonged to your once-upon-a-time friend. I didn't want to know.

But then we went to the movies after a few phone conversations, and I realized that you may be closer to what I really want than I dared to admit.

I knew she was going to make your life a living hell, as you all spiraled through court filings and lawyers and the end of a marital contract. I knew she was going to give one final blow to your heart, and all you wanted was for it to be over. You wanted your life back.

But now...you don't call because you do not want to mix the old with the new. You do not want the new life you could build with me in it with the life you had with this woman that quite possibly never loved you.

I apologized to you on Saturday because she is less than a woman for all the things she put you through. I wanted you to admit that you also opened the door to heartache when you married her anyway, those few years ago, even when you knew she was a nutcase. I want to believe it is because you wanted to be a real man for her, though I am convinced that she did not deserve you.

I told you that I wanted to be cautious when speaking about her because I did not know her and she is the mother of your son (whether he is yours remains to be seen and even if he is not, you are his legal father according to the law). You said you knew you would have to be bothered with her at least until your son is 18. She would never be completely gone. That is a long time, and I pondered even as you spoke those words if I really should be involved with you after all. I want nothing to do with her, if we are going to give a friendship and a deeper relationship a try after you are legally done with her.

I want to be separate. But how separate from you and your drama do I want to be? Am I really willing to wait for you?

The truth is...I looked into your eyes. I heard your voice. I saw how your mind works. And I may not want to just give you up just yet. Maybe I should just stick around and see what the end will be.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Revolution!

I attended the church of my former youth pastor and loved every second of it. By far it is one of the best churches in my hometown. I felt right at home, truly. If you are ever in Grand Rapids, Michigan be sure to stop by Revolution Christian Ministries.

The service was just what I needed and I walked away so refreshed. I hate to say it but my home church here in Port Huron doesn't really make me feel that way. It's a good church but I don't feel really challenged by the culture there. I wish I could move back to GR just so I could be a part of the Revolution...

I've Been Tagged Too

You've been tagged in this note so now you have to answer these questions by copy/pasting into a new note and tagging 20 of your friends. Do your worst!

1. Describe your worst date?
The guy begged my friend to hook us up and when I finally consented to a date he walked me around Eastown (in Grand Rapids, MI) and then after talking my ear off took me home without taking me out to eat. Wow. And I like to eat. And real dates should consist of food or even water. That was our last date. Because I like to eat. And apparently he doesn't. Or he was on a " full fast." Whatevs...

2. Who was your worst girlfriend/boyfriend?
All of the boyfriends I had left something to be desired. Except ______. We were supposed to get married but it just didn't work out.

3. What was your worst subject in school?
Math

4. Describe the worst job you ever had?
Residential assistant at St. John's Home (residential home for teens).

5. Who was the worst friend you ever had?
I have never had any really bad friends.

6. What was your worst sexual experience?
No comment. Because I shouldn't have been involved in a good or bad one since I'm not married. And it's no one's business if I did. Which I am not saying that I did or didn't.

7. What was your worst parenting moment?
No kids.

8. Where was your worst vacation?
Haven't had one yet. Not a real one anyway. I usually say I am on vacation when I don't want to be bothered and do not want anyone to ask me to do anything.

9. Who is the worst role model in your life?
No one.

10. What is the worst lie you ever told?
I don't lie...OOOPS...that was my worst lie.

11. What is the worst thing you ever considered doing or did do?
I plead the fifth because if I answer it will change how people view me. HA!

12. What is the worst food you ever tasted?
These chicken wings I had on Saturday at a restaurant in Holland, MI that a friend and I went to. They weren't done all the way and I immediately sent those bad boys back. UGH!

13. What is the worst cell phone service?
Nextel.

14. Where is the worst place to live?
Hell! or The projects. Then again what's the difference? (Ditto, Talulazoeapple!!!!) I don't plan on living in either one. EVER.

15. What is a fate worst than death?
I don't think there is one.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Famous Friend

My friend Tashara (the mother of Josiah, whose pics graces earlier posts) was on Oprah last Friday as part of a group of women talking about their marital sex lives. She always manages to make her way onto television (her last appearance was on a designed to sell home improvement show). I thought it was great that she said she wants her husband to be dominant in the bedroom.

Maybe when I get married, I can tell a television viewing audience that I like my husband to show me who's boss in the bedroom. Or not. At any case, I bet her husband got a kick out of hearing that his wife enjoys his rambunctious side while in throes of passionate lovemaking. If he didn't...I did.

I just love my friend...she tells it like it is.

If you didn't see the show, check out the interview on Oprah.com entitled "What Women Really Want" and hopefully you'll be able to find her. There were only two black women on the panel and she is the one sitting closer to the camera on the "front row".

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

50 Words (copied from FullComplexity)

I thought this was pretty cool to try. Here goes:


1. Beer: An acquired taste, but not a refined taste
2. Food: Comfort
3. Relationships: Change according to the season
4. Your CRUSH: Don't have one anymore
5. Power Rangers: Wierd attire (whole body suits?)
6. Life: We only have one
7. The President: The World's Most Powerful Black Man
8. Yummy: Sunrises with a cup of Biggby Chai in front of Lake Huron
9. Cars: Freedom to Sing as Loud as I Want (even if other drivers stare at me)
10. Movies: Going to one tonight with a new guy-friend
11. Halloween: Most demonic night of the year
12. Sex: Female
13. Religion: The opposite of a Relationship with God
14. Hate: The opposite of Love
15. Fear: The opposite of Faith
16. Marriage: The Best Ministry of All
17. Blondes: My Twin Sister Toya and My Niece Brooklynn
18. Slippers: Comfy after walking in heels all day
19. Shoes: Time to buy some new ones
20. Asians: Culturally Sound
21. Past time: Reading Great Books
22. One night stand: What I will have every night with my husband
23. My cell phone: Needs an upgrade (In a major way)
24. Smoke: ...from incense unfurls...
25. Fantasy: Dreams that could one day come true
26. College: A necessity
27. High school life: Wonderful friends and great parties
28. Pajamas: My god-daughter's footed pjs with Dora the Explorer are so cute on her. Makes me want a pair on cold nights
29. Stars: Makes me introspective as I gaze at them; makes me look up when I feel down
30. Center: God
31. Alcohol: Stings on an open cut
32. The word love: What I need more than money, food, my next breath
33. Friends: Necessary to life
34. Money- Seed for sowing
35. Heartache: Results from other people's tendency to be self-centered
36. Time: Is winding up
37. Divorce: A curse on the family
38. Dogs: I want one named Malcolm.
39. Undies: Nobody's Business but MINE
40. Parents: The closest people to love or hurt you
41. Babies: I want one soon
42. Ex: The Ex-Factor (song by Lauryn Hill)
43. Song: Psalm 23 (India.Arie)
44. Color: Yellow
45. Weddings: Beautiful, makes me euphoric
46. Pizza: Deep-Dish, Chicago Style
47. Hangout: Barnes and Noble
48. Rest: I need some - away from other people's problems preferably
49. Goal: Fulfilling the Mission that I came to fulfill
50. Inspiration: The voice of God

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Random Turn

1. I'm reading Rebecca Walker's new book compilation called "One Big Happy Family" knowing full well that I may not agree with some of the writers that are telling stories about their home lives and lifestyles. But I did not realize that the very first story (about a married couple's decision to become polyamorous - basically meaning they have an "open marriage") should have been skipped so quickly. To me, that is not the glorification of a healthy family nor is it the modernization of an old concept with a twist. It is, simply put, mutually agreed upon adultery. Not cool.

2. You never know who is looking at you...or who may have a crush on you. I'm a living witness. Stay tuned for more news later...if there will be more to tell.

3. I need a friggin' vacation. I wish I had more money so I could go where I really want to go.

4. Commuting to work 40 minutes each way kinda sucks. But getting a paycheck every two weeks doesn't. Go figure.

5. The Golden Oreos are the greatest cookies ever. The original ones are yucky. I am a believer in Oreo power again.

6. I'm starting a writer's group and the first meeting is this Saturday. Instead of complaining that there is nothing to do, starting fun activities with likeminded people can effectively kill BPH (Boredom in Port Huron).

7. Why do women always wear tight stretchy pants to the gym? Even if I was a size three (which I'm not) I don't think I would ever feel comfortable working out on an elliptical machine (which I don't) while old men with big bellies and young men with big egos stare at my be-hind. Maybe I'm secretly jealous. Or not.

8. I don't know why I did it but I watched a few minutes of the new College Hill South Beach last night and realized why kids nowadays are so "off". This show is absolutely STUPID and I am sick to death of all the weave, frivolousness, and cat-fighting being so entertaining. That is one television show which will further contribute to the destruction of the brain cells of our youth. WHOOOHOOO!!!! Good job BET.

9. I do like Harlem Heights (sorta) because it makes me wish I lived somewhere so up and coming. But this show is kinda goofy too - especially the relationships between some of the females on the show. I still don't know why some of them have attitudes with each other. But most of the guys are pretty cute.

10. I need some new clothes but I refuse to buy them because I am hoping to lose weight. Hmmm...maybe I should stop loving Golden Oreos so much? Otherwise I'll be wearing these same old rags forever...(Or I may have to let them out so I have more room for the BWS - Black Woman Spread).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Me and My Brother, Fighting Side by Side

The letter in the last two posts was my way of warring with words. I emailed it to the President of the Grand Rapids InterDenominational Ministerial Alliance and I snail-mailed it to my former youth pastor and senior pastor (both of whom know my brother, my mother, and me). I am planning to give it to my current pastoral staff at the church I am attending and then will send it to others that I know are in Christian Leadership.

But the point of this letter, as I look back at it and dissect my wordiness and try to figure out if my clarion call will make a difference, is my declaration to the enemy of our souls that has long tried to destroy my family and tried to divide my relationship with my brother. This letter is my weaponry, my ammunition, as I shoot back at the darkness that for many years has caused us to be at war with each other.

I guess it's like this: when it's all said and done, ain't no devil in hell gonna destroy my brother or his seed! (Please excuse the vernacular...) It's like when you are kids and somebody is picking on your brother (which happened more times than I can count) and even though you and him may fight like cats and dogs (which also happened more times than I could count), you will not just stand idly by and let it happen. You will fight for your own (I did it from the age of three and now that I am 31, I will still fight for him).

In the situation he is battling, I refuse to just let him be mistreated. I refuse to see him lose his daughter, even if she wants to stay out there. I decided to use what I know (the laws of the land) and what I have (my voice and my pen, my influence and my experience) and what I believe (that God will protect His own and He is more than the world against us) to fight.

When I started engaging in this battle, realizing more than ever that it is a spiritual one, I understood that I have to fight for this man. Sometimes women have to fight for the men in their lives and not let them be taken out by the enemy. That is my role. It hasn't been easy but it has been necessary.

Prayer and aggressive action and knowledge and wisdom have been the weapons God has given. But there has also been love - the greatest weapon of all. The love I have for this brother that I thought I would never have a decent relationship with has overcome the hatred the enemy truly does have for him. And for me that is a sure sign of the victory I know is ultimately ours in Christ.

It's amazing how battles like this turn arch-rivals into a dynamic, unstoppable team. Perhaps this too is the victory I have long been seeking.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Letter for my Brother, Part Two

My name is Myama Myowne Boone, and I am choosing to fight for my brother’s right to be a father. I am fighting for the 14th Amendment to apply to him – in this country where he willingly pays his taxes, his child support, and now is being stuck with a $14,000 bill which is steadily increasing each day his daughter remains in care.

I am also most importantly a member of the Body of Christ, hoping to change the world one family at a time starting at home, and then in the communities where I grew up, in the lives of the families I work with and advocate for daily, and in the hearts of the children and teens that are desperately hungry for love, family, and acceptance. I am a member of Christ’s Body, and I am demanding change.

Communities begin with families. The brokenness we see everyday is the result of broken families. But some families like mine are splintered because of many factors that feed the fragmentation. The problem is when a ruling entity determines protocol, laws and standards of procedures, it fosters rebellion and anarchy form the top down when those statues are deemed negotiable on a case-by-case basis.

Why in some cases and not in others does the Michigan Absent Parent Protocol become changeable and flexible? Why, in my brother’s case, is it okay for the state of Michigan to ignore his rights and/or demand that he agree that foster care is in the best interest of his child when he is a ready and willing father? Is it because of his race or his socioeconomic class? Or is it because the foster family seems to be more likely able to give her an upper middle class lifestyle? Or is it because the system has a habit of giving men a bad rap when it comes to deciding custody for their children?

I am writing not simply to foster outrage at the way the law bends, changes shape, and metamorphoses into a different organism altogether when race, poverty, and classism intermingle and explode. I am not simply writing just to remind you of what you may already know. I am writing to remind the Body of Christ that we all have a greater responsibility to care expressly for the disenfranchised and marginalized, even if the disenfranchised and marginalized is my brother, your sister, my neighbor, your cousin, the man down the street, or the children sitting in our pews every Sunday.

We must not stand back and allow the fathers that are returning to or attempting to maintain their rightful places in their children’s lives to be trod upon in the name of mammon and enterprise. We must not allow children to be monopolized by a moneymaking infrastructure that is slowly becoming something not structured to help heal broken families and lives as it was meant to at its inception. We must not allow mothers who need help raising their children to be pawns in the destruction of their own offspring. And most importantly we must not allow our families to become even more fractured than they already are.

Are we helping heal the family unit? Is there a cause for our intervention? Can we demand of the government to change with the times? Should we stand up for righteousness in our society and call the lawmakers and policyholders to task on the areas where we see families and children headed on a downward spiral further into fragmentation and poverty when there are clearly other alternatives?

I say yes.

We, as the Body of Christ, see the grand finale of familial breakdown. We try our best to fix the broken places. We speak to families, proclaiming God’s healing and intervention. We develop programs and methods and ministries to minister to the whole person (and it is wonderful to the purpose of God for our individual houses of worship). But how can any of our plans be effective when our parishioners walk back into the worlds from whence they come, battling with the powers-that-be, which seem determined to undo the work of Christ in their lives?

My brother, like so many fathers out here, is not perfect. His anger and frustration at the rejection of his paternal attempts at reunifying with his daughter may be raw, fresh, and I fear, used against him. When he tells the caseworker that he wants his daughter and she comes up with some new idea to keep her in the system longer, he seems to be at the breaking point. His questions may be intrusive to a system that refuses to answer. His determination to hold fast to that indefinable other called “parental rights” may be maddeningly frustrating to that same caseworker, to the attorney assigned to his case, to the judge sitting on the bench in Family Circuit Court, and even to the biological mother, whom while she may not be any closer to receiving all her children back home, does not want any of the fathers to exercise their rights at all.

But the truth is, despite the appearances, he is a father. He is one of many.
For so long society has complained about the absence of fathers in the homes of our communities. I have been one of the loudest voices, having grown up without mine and watching the eventual destruction a parent’s continued absence causes in their children’s lives. In fact, my brother struggled with always being present in all his children’s lives but he has never been untouchable. They know their father; they love him though it has not always been easy, and no, he has not been the model parent. But as stated earlier that has no bearing on whether he should be allowed to parent his child when she is in trouble.

As I have witnessed the phenomenon of parental absence and neglect perpetuated sometimes by outside forces instead of being curtailed (as the Michigan Protocol was designed to do), I have wondered if there is indeed more to the story. I have wondered if we can make a blanket resolution that all non-custodial parents and specifically fathers do not care about their children. I have wondered what the church’s response should be.

I am writing to you, our leaders and pastors, because I believe the cries of our families and the fathers of those families (children) are demanding a response from us. I believe with my whole heart that God Himself is allowing some things to be uncovered so we will know how to pray and respond. I have sensed for a long time that God the Father is not simply unhappy that fathers are missing from the homes, but that He is unhappy that there are certain systems of thought and social policy that are feeding the spirit of absenteeism that seems so pervasive. I have prayed about how to encourage the fathers to return to their children and not to leave them struggling alone. But then the question was raised that what if some fathers want to return to caring for their children but are being prevented by various legal sources? What if they want to have a more permanent voice in their children’s lives but outside entities are stifling the power of their presence and the way has not been made?

I am not in any way defending single parenthood or the conception of children out of wedlock. I am in no way defending men that parent children and then just leave them. I will not condone any parent, male or female, birthing children into this generation haphazardly. But what I am bringing to your attention is that parental separation happens for a variety of reasons, but children should never be denied the opportunity to have their natural parents, who are willing to fulfill their role, in their lives and given the opportunity to do so.

I am writing this because my brother daily wrestles with giving up his parental rights, which is what some others have insinuated would be the best thing. I am writing because we have demanded that men in our communities “do everything right” but when the procedures are followed, when those who are willing put their independence on the shelf in support of the greater good of their children, and when they try to stand up instead of sitting back, there is still no guarantee that “everything” is “right” because whether those in authority want to admit it or not, the rules to the game do change halfway through the process.

I am writing because my brother has chosen to stand instead of bow to the pressure. His daughter, whom has stated many times that she wishes her father had been more present when she was younger, has even tried to dissuade him from his goal of caring for and protecting her. I am writing because if my brother does not hold unto his rights to his daughter, no one else will make sure his rights are protected. Or so it would seem.

My petition to you today is simply yet profoundly this:

Be the Body of Christ with me for my brother and those other non-custodial parents (primarily fathers) that are being denied their God-given and constitutional right not to give up their children to the foster care system unnecessarily and who truly love and want to care for them.

Be the Body of Christ with me to broken and splintered families both within the church walls and in the milieu of our world’s highways and byways.

Be the Body of Christ with me, agents of change and mission, demanding that the laws set in our world are fairly and uniformly honored and adhered to by our governmental officials and agencies.

Be the Body of Christ with me most importantly in the prayer and supplication needed on behalf of our children, on behalf of our families in our communities, and for men like my brother. Some are indeed standing up, and we need to help strengthen their legs and hold up their arms. That is what my family is attempting to do for my brother but we are finding that we cannot do it alone.

Please join us in prayer during these next two months. On May 14, we will return to court for yet another court hearing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My brother will be traveling from San Antonio, Texas to demand that his parental rights be finally honored and he be given custody of his daughter. That is the work only he alone can do.

Non-custodial parents, men or women separated from the other parent of their child(ren) have the right by state law and a duty to protect and care for their children themselves. Judicially no one has the right to forcibly seize or terminate a parent’s rights without due process. Once that parent has been cleared for possible placement of their children should the other parent lose custody for any reason (and specifically, in my brother’s case, to the foster care system) that parent has the right to petition the court for full and permanent custody.

I am requesting the spiritual assistance of the leaders of the Body of Christ at this time – not only for my brother but for the many men that are losing their children everyday unfairly. Please put this cause on your church’s or ministry’s intercession list. We so desperately need your prayers.

I will close this letter with a final thought.

When the prophet Malachi spoke of the coming of the spirit of the prophet Elijah in the Book of Malachi, I always wondered if the continued meaning of that passage was only exclusively referring to the coming of John the Baptist in the New Testament. I always wondered if there was another meaning equally as symbolic. Did the Word given by God elude to another clarion call?

In Malachi 4:5, I began questioning if God was simply referring to a spiritual return of the fathers to the children as witnessed in the coming of John paving the way for Christ. Or was He also signifying of another day? More literally, in our times, would there be a physical return of fathers to their children? And then, I began to wonder if there is something pivotal the Body of Christ can do to help influence this return by bringing a deeper awareness to our local government, with the intent that ultimately children are indeed returned to their fathers.

Clearly every story is different. There can be no across-the-board uniformity because these are personal situations, but in my study of the research and my reading of some recent treatises and reports, I have had to realize that what my brother is going through right now is not unique. Some of the things I have looked at and the stories I have heard first hand implies that time and again men like my brother can be railroaded into giving up their constitutional rights, threatened with false allegations, and forced to pay for many years for the care of their children when their children would have been better served with their fathers, despite the assumptions made.

My niece will be 18 next year, but by the time her father finishes paying for an unnecessary stay in a foster home, she will be an adult. The truth is it is highly unlikely that he would ever be able to simply pay $600/month for her to live in someone else’s home. That is an unfair request to ask of a father that wants his child in his own home.

Thank you for your prayerful attention in this matter.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Case for Father's Rights, Beginning Right Here at Home

I have taken some time away from writing about my niece's foster care dilemma because more issues have presented themselves that have made me take a pause before speaking on it any further. But now that I have taken that time, I have decided to post Part One of a letter I am sending to some pastors I know and pastors in the city where my brother and I grew up, the city where my brother has not been treated as my niece's father but as simply a black man that has shaken up the seemingly racist and discriminatory intentions and practices of a case worker, a judge, and a system. I will post Part Two tomorrow. Please let me know what you think, feel, and believe about the situation my brother is facing, and most of all - please pray for him as he fights for custody of his daughter. Feel free to alert others to my letter and my brother's story. We need the prayers of as many Believers as we can get.


Dear Pastor, Clergy Member, or Church Leader:

Blessings, grace, and peace to you in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! If I could have your attention, I would like to tell you a story. I know this may seem strange and even a bit lengthy, but if you bear with me, it will all make sense in a moment.

My brother is a father…from the inner city of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

My brother is an African-American father with a bi-racial child – a child who is now part of the foster care system in Kent County, Michigan.

My brother is a father, regardless of socioeconomic background, educational level, or race, with rights upheld by the Constitution of the United States. These rights were made fundamentally and legally sound concerning parents in his situation by the Supreme Court in a 1982 ruling which stated “…the fundamental liberty interest of natural parents in the care, custody, and management of their child is protected by the 14th Amendment, and does not evaporate simply because they have not been model parents or have lost temporary custody of their child to the State.” This ruling was quoted in the January 31, 2008 Michigan Absent Parent Protocol manual, as the state sought to establish bylaws which local governmental entities were to abide by in regards to the rights of parents like my brother.

And yet, knowing this, what happens when the system that has jurisdiction over my brother’s child constantly overrides the United States Constitution, which gives him certain inalienable rights to live, breathe, and exist within this country’s borders with his family in tact?

Who will fight for my brother?

My brother, this 36-year-old African-American father of four children is fighting for the right to raise his child in his own house, but his court-appointed attorney told him that if he will be a good father, he must pay only $600 a month to keep his daughter in a currently unlicensed foster home, in the home of an unrelated family who falsely claimed to be her relatives, a family determined at any cost to adopt his child.

If he is truly a good father, he must comply by the rules of the local private foster care agency. The caseworker was supposed to contact him if Department of Human Services failed to locate him when the girl was removed from her mother’s home but she and DHS failed to do so (which is the first step mandated by the Michigan Protocol Handbook). Our family found out that she was in state care when she contacted me via email. In turn, I alerted him. He came forward and asked for his daughter.

But first, the caseworker wanted him to attend parenting classes and perform a drug screen and complete a psychological evaluation to prove that he is able to parent his own child, despite the fact that he lives in San Antonio, Texas (inevitably showing that any request she gives will be difficult or impossible to complete due to the distance and the lack of monitoring). He also has steady employment and a home to take his child to. Still my brother has to prove that he can care for the child he has paid child support for, been involved with for most of her life, and even made sure was taken care of when her mother was previously unable to. He has no history of drugs, domestic violence, alcoholism, or any prior Child Protective Services cases. But still, he must comply despite obvious protocol written and clearly spelled out that states the contrary.

My brother’s frustration at being charged $14,000-plus while his daughter lives in a foster home is causing him to wonder if being a “good” father is synonymous with being chewed up and ultimately spit out by case workers, agencies, foster parents, lawyers, and judges. The sad fact is I believe that the system is truly, with the best of intentions, meant to protect children and promote reunification and healing for America’s most broken families. But, even I, a proponent of the mission, wonder if we are closing out the absent parents (most likely, fathers) that are the key to that protection and healing. I do not know what to tell my brother; I do not know how to support the mission of the system I work for in conjunction with the reality he is living right now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Am I Remembered?

I just talked to one of my friends over the phone that I hadn't spoken to in a while. Her son Josiah's pics can be found on this blog, as I have a tendency to ooh and aww over how absolutely gorgeous he is.

She told me today that she is pregnant again. She and my other sister friend Toya are both expecting, and I am so excited for them both. I try to keep the game face on and say that I am okay with being single, but to be truthful, I wish it could be me calling them to say that I am going to be a wife and a mother. I want them to be excited for the positive changes that are taking place in my family instead of telling them that I am hoping for change in the lives of children that are not even mine.

That sounds silly, doesn't it?

Tashara is due in late August/early September and Toya is due in July. My goddaughters Terryl-Lynn and Journee will be two in July. I marvel at how much they are growing and the little milestones in their developments but sometimes I wonder if I will be a mother to my own children one day.

Currently, I am being licensed for foster care since I want to mother a child so bad. But it really isn't the same. I want to know what it feels like to love my husband and have a baby with him and take care of my child with him. I feel sad and happy all at once as the little families around me are growing and expanding. And I wonder as I silently look on and applaud the happiness my friends are experiencing if God is going to remember me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Such a Shame...





My mother began screaming over the phone. I began to cry after I told her. With all that has been going on in my family this was the last thing we wanted to hear. My niece, the young mother who has a beautiful 23-month-old son will be raising him alone. He will grow up without his father because of a foolish decision. By the time his father will be released from prison, the little boy will be 12 or 13-years-old and that's only if his father gets released at that point. If he does well in prison, as the judge told him, he will get out and still be a relatively young man.

But my nephew will not have his father.

My prayer is that my brother, his PaPa, will be the man he looks up to for guidance; his life is changing and he is becoming the kind of parent and grandfather I always knew he was capable of being. My prayer is that Little Squirmy's uncles Davon and Anthony, my own precious nephews, will be able to be great role models for him. By the time his dad is released, they will be adults that may make better father figures for him than his own biological father. I am even praying that my niece will be married by then, hopefully not waiting for her baby's father, and will have moved on. I hope she will meet the kind of man that will love her enough to help her raise her son.

It is a shame that my niece, my baby-girl, will have to deal with parenting alone until then. I cut and pasted part of the article that details what will happen to this absent parent, this young man. It has truly broken my heart that my family is battling against the demon of fractured families. One niece is in foster care, which has been a bigger battle getting her released back to her paternal family than anyone could ever know, and then the other has to be a single mother at least for the next ten years.

It is indeed a cryin' shame.

"18-year-old sentenced to 11 to 32 years in prison for party store robberies, shooting
by The Grand Rapids Press
Tuesday February 24, 2009, 5:30 PM

GRAND RAPIDS -- An 18-year-old who confessed to robbing two party stores, including one where the store owner was shot in the leg, will spend the next 11 to 32 years behind bars.

Jeremy Deanda was sentenced Tuesday for two April 17 holdups, at Gerk's Works Party Store, 1298 36th St. SW, where owner Hung Nguyen was shot, and Kay & Kay Party Store, 1273 Chicago Drive SW.

Victims of the robberies say there were two people committing the crime, but only Deanda has been charged and convicted of robbery and assault.

Deanda's lawyer, Damien Nunzio, negotiated a plea agreement that called for Circuit Court Judge Christopher Yates to make the minimum sentence no more than 9 years on the robberies and assault, plus 2 years for felony use of a firearm.

Yates told Deanda that his lawyer worked out a good deal for him.

'You're a very young man and if you do all the right things in prison, you could be a relatively young man when you get out,' Yates said."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

And On A Lighter Note


I just bought the new India.Arie CD and I have to say that I absolutely adore it. I enjoy listening to all the songs but I do have my favorites that I repeat as I am rolling in the Silver Bullet. #13 hit me right in the chest as I listened to it for the first time on my way to my hair appointment. I mean, the words just reached me right where I was emotionally and spiritually. I literally cried. It reminded me that no matter what happens in my life right now, God has my back and I don't have to act crazy or feel betrayed or disappointed. He's right here. That song was a great reminder. #16 is also a great affirmation to a broken, tired spirit.

This is definitely a top pick of mine, and I rarely buy CDs (because I can't afford them). But when I heard she had a new project I went right out and bought it because I can trust that she is going to put out some truly genuine and creative music.

I may even go so far as to say besides her first CD, this is probably my favorite of hers. It is worth a listen...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Challenge of Closed Doors

I was reading FullComplexity's blog, and she was talking about closed doors. Sometimes life doesn't go the way you planned or the way you thought it would. Sometimes you wonder what you did wrong. But as we all fight through disappointments and let-downs, broken hearts and uncertain futures, I think the point is that we do draw closer to God. Challenges do make us pray "harder", seek God's face more, inquire of His wisdom when we simply don't know what to do or what's coming next.

This past week was like that for me. But I have been seeking God in a way I haven't done in a long time - past merely the calisthenics of a dull faith. The struggles I have faced in my own family have caused me to be more concerned about other children in foster care and other families that are being torn apart. It has made me listen more closely to God's voice - not so much for the whys but the hows.

How does God want to use me in a season of pain and hurt and shut doors?

How does the encounter with the disruption of my comfort zone change how I view the world around me and the people in it?

How can I actualize the purpose of God birthed from my own experiences to impact others?

The closed door my family experienced a week ago today has not dissuaded me from the fight. It has merely given me ammunition to attack the unseen enemies that are trying to destroy children and teens, families and communities. I began to see the bigger picture. That closed door made me realize there are other opportunities to change the things in this world that make my blood boil and God's heart grieve.

I began to look and I found answers to some of my questions concerning the foster care system and what we can do to change it for the sake of the children wrapped up in it. If you get a chance check out the following reports that help highlight many of the issues here in Michigan that make the system so screwed up:

(1)"Cycle of Failure: How Michigan Keeps 'Throwing the Fight' for Children and How to Make the State a Contender Again"; Produced by the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform and Written by the Executive Director, Richard Wexler (Published online February 18, 2009) - This was featured in NPR news today ironically as I was writing this entry.

(2)"Race Equity Review: Findings from a Qualitative Analysis of Racial Disproportionality and Disparity for African-American Children and Families in Michigan's Child Welfare System" (Published online January 16, 2009)

Both reports have their slants and as with any socioeconomical dissection of state and federal programs, there may be people that disagree with the findings. DHS actually disagreed with the "Cycle of Failure" report's findings and stated to NPR this morning that it was filled with inaccurate stats and information. But regardless of the skeptics, I believe both reports are worth reading - specifically the second one.

My point in saying all this is that when challenges present themselves, figuring out ways to address those challenges can help us overcome and facilitate change. When doors we thought would stay open are shut, utilizing opportunities to grow is so necessary.

At least that is what I am trying to do.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In Retrospect

I have had some time to really think about the best way to fight for my family during this time. I have decided that covering my family in prayer is genuinely the best way to handle the foster care concerns we have, to protect my brother's rights as a father, and to ensure that no other family has to battle with the racist, greedy, hypocritical actions that can present themselves within the parameters of the policies and idealism of systems meant to protect children.

I am not willing to say that we should do away with the foster care system entirely. The purpose by which it was established is still necessary so long as there is abuse and neglect in this country. But I am saying that there needs to be an overhaul within the ranks of management and in the placement of children. So, instead of fighting against the entire practice of protecting children, I have decided to get right in the midst of the system and in my little area of the world impact lives and systems and practices.

How do you show people a better way of doing anything worthwhile? By showing them. How do you effectively teach families and communities how to improve and become safe havens for children to grow and live? By teaching them. How do you respond to negative institutions and systems? By either infiltrating or renovating, by becoming a part of them and changing them from the inside out as much as humanly possible, or by formulating a new, different system entirely.

I have never been a person that likes to sit on her hands. I'd rather be doing something about the problems in my world, the world I can directly impact. I'd rather walk in the fullness of what God has called me to do. I'd rather be challenged.

When I told my best friend Toya what I was planning to do, she told me that she would not discourage me, but that I would learn alot. She worked as a Child Protective Services worker for a couple years, and just recently switched to become a Foster Care Monitor - supervising workers at an outside agencies that place children and follow up with care plans for each child. One day I hope to do the same.

But for now, I'm okay with the possibility that I might get angry with certain issues I encounter; I might come home crying or full of angst about some situation I encountered at work that day. But at least I'd be getting right in the trenches. I may not be able to save every child or teen. I might not be able to help heal every family. I may not even be able to rewrite some flawed policy. But I will be able to DO SOMETHING.

That is the whole point of life, I think - TO DO SOMETHING WORTH LIVING FOR.

The situation I have encountered wiht my niece is not a new one and not the only one I have had to take a step back and scrutinize. It is not the first time I have had to ask the question, "Is there any way I can impact this problem? Is there anything I can do to change a situation for a child?"

I worked at a residential center a few years ago that made me ask these questions of myself. I disagreed that children are commodities. I hated that the children and teens I developed relationships with felt like they had dollar signs tattooed on their foreheads. I hated that even I missed the point of the mission. So when it was time for me to go, I decided that if the chance ever presented itself again, I would not repeat that mistake.

Well...here I am and a deeper challenge has presented itself. The war I am fighting for my family is a war for all our families in one way or another.

And for this reason, I am called for such a time as this...

Friday, February 13, 2009

And the War Rages On

The court hearing did not go well at all. The judge dismissed our concerns and decided to leave the children in the inappropriate placement where they are. No one cared about what my niece and her sisters are suffering through. But we are going to fight on...if for no other reason than that we are making stand against a corrupt system.

I can't go into the lies the Case Worker told against my family.

I can't go into the concerns my mother raised to the judge that were subsequently swept under the rug.

I can't go into the pain I feel that my niece will continue to suffer humiliation at the hand of a foster mother that will do anything for money.

Though we are battling with the system, until my niece declares that she wants to live with my mother and I, I will not fight to remove her any longer. I will not be able to talk to or see her until the Case Worker says so (which is not likely to happen since she is convinced that her seeing me is detrimental to their cause).

But I will be fighting for fathers' rights and family rights and especially children's rights. My brother has not lost his rights to his daughter and likely won't but the way things have gone in the judicial system, my niece will have a hard way to go without us for the next two years or so.

It breaks my heart that I will not be able to have a say so in what happens to her but she is not my child. If she were my child, she would not be living in this mess.

Monday, February 9, 2009

In Lieu of the Court Hearing

The court hearing regarding my niece and her sisters is this Thursday. I want to say I am nervous about the chance we will have to speak to the judge about moving the children's placement until a decision is made about terminating their mom's rights. I want to say that I hope that he won't dismiss my brother, my mom, and me like all these other authority figures (in the "system") have tried to do every time we confront them about the mistakes they have made and are continuing to make. I want to say that I don't trust that the right choice will be made by the judge.

But I can't. I can't say any of those things.

There is a truth that I believe we are standing on - the TRUTH OF GOD. We are standing on the side of righteousness and are trusting in God and not in our own abilities to change the minds of the powers that be. And further more, we know who we are and to Whom we belong. We also know that God wants those girls protected and nothing Satan does will prevent God from having His way. We walk in the favor of God, and what's more, we are praying that the lives of these children will be more valuable to the judge than what a neglectful mother wants, what an agency that is supposed to be protecting the children but are not wants, what a greedy foster mother wants, and what those who sit in seats of power but abuse that power want.

These babies have to matter.

And we are taking a stand by faith to protect the course of their lives. That is more important than anything. The war we are waging is so much bigger than just the three little girls in this situation. There are many, many families that are fighting for the right to care for children wrapped up in the foster care system. And if nothing else, we are fighting so we can show others how to do the same thing.

I am reading a book called Prophetic Intercession written by Barbara Wentroble. This book is more of a guide that teaches Christians how to pray impactful prayers for others. So, this week in anticipation I am praying for the court hearing - that God's will be done, that we are given a voice, and that we can bring these girls home to a place of peace outside of the atmosphere where they are right now.

Please pray with us, whenever you get a moment. We certainly need your prayers. My girls need your prayers.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Poetry, Center Stage




Last Friday, January 30, I participated in a Poetry Reading Event at a church in Port Huron. A friend of mine, Richard Murphy, asked me to be one of the headlining readers on the schedule and I heartily agreed. The name of the event was what sold me.

My friend is a relatively well-known Christian HipHop artist around our parts and he wanted to do a Poetry event at his church. He titled it: "Testimony of a Ghetto Child." I liked the theme behind the reading - the desire to intertwine our faith in God with the awareness of the social ills in our society.

I wrote and read the following poem for my spot in the evening's line-up:


GRAND RAPIDS, HOOD LIFE, OVERCOME
(Dedicated to the ‘hood I grew up in)

By Myama Myowne Boone

Where I come from, the place of origination
Can only be truly…understood
If you grew up with more bars and liquor stores
Than churches in your ‘hood…

You can only translate my language,
The words that I write and speak
If you are well-acquainted with
Never ever seeing the change that you seek…

Streets named Wealthy, Lake Drive, and Thomas
Held poverty, thirst, and doubts…
Neighborhoods with more children than fathers
Perpetuated beliefs that the ghetto could spit you out…

There has always been music, sounds, energy
Reverberating from the baseline of life’s soundtrack;
There has always been the struggle for escape
From the ghetto’s pressures, persuasions, and personal attacks…

But in the middle of the raucous rush,
Between the lines at the welfare office on Franklin Street,
Somewhere beyond the gentrified canvases
Of rebuilt mansions in Heritage Hill’s buppie beat…

A little girl, like I was, is beckoned by God now -
Out of the shadows of a city that swallows lives whole,
Out of the cold racial divide, out of the mentality –
Becoming separate from those satisfied with playing a role…

Hip-Hop, Double-Dutch, Food Stamps, Domestic Violence:
Words and names so customarily a part of life –
What she hears and plays and needs and hates
Become words of dual force that can cut like a knife…

For each reminds her that she is ever a product
Of a generation that can hide within itself,
Of a nation that can cover self-inflicted abuses,
As people, like crabs in a barrel, war for wealth…

But she is called to be different, a rare grace,
And the voice of God urges her to live beyond the institution –
Because no matter where she was born or brought up,
Satan and his ghetto enslavement owes her restitution…

The clarion call God has on her life is absolute
For the city in which her foundation is laid;
The brick and mortar of the same ‘hood I lived in is
Where every generation deals with mistakes made…

Madison and Union, Bates and Dunham Streets –
The pavement weary feet have trod down;
The skyline of an untouchable commerce seen from dirty windows
Separating the haves and the have-nots in this town…

She will overcome – run through troops and leap over walls –
Her faith in the God of her grandparents established in truth…
For she knows that there is more to her future
Than what was denied and refused by her parents in their youth…

Little girls with visions grow into dynamic women;
Little boys with dreams become world-changing men…
The circle of life in the ‘hood has the unseen power
To either draw them into success or into sin…

Little girls in the ‘hood can walk righteous;
Little boys in the ‘hood can reject any generational curse…
The story of God’s grace can change lives
Once predestined for a trip in back of a police car or a hearse…

For that little girl so like the girl I used to be
Is one among many today that will transform the ghetto…
God will use her, use them all as torches in the dark,
Declaring that the enemy of their souls has to let go –

He has to let go of the lives crushed by addiction;
He has to let go of the neighborhoods reduced by crime…
He has to release the grip of poverty chaining generations
Because freedom is past due; it has long been time…

For the place where I became the woman I am,
The city that could have devoured my dreams
Is destined to grandly and rapidly
Be touched and transformed by a God Who redeems…

Through It All

I have been asked a lot lately why I decided to stay in Michigan and endure the financial struggles during this season of my life when I could have gone pretty much anywhere and done better. I thought it was a silly question at first when I consider the reason I am staying.

But still...
Why would I rent a house in a place I do not necessarily want to be?

Why would I put the brakes on my dreams of relocation and having a fab single life?

Why in the world would I embrace struggle when my gifts and my talents would make room for me in the presence of great men and women (in the undefined "out there somewhere")?

Why? Why? Why?

Am I stupid? Slow? Self-punishing?

The simple answer is no. No, I'm not a fool. I know how to make sound decisions, even when it seems like I would be better served in a different environment. I consider myself to be very intelligent (or at least, I have some mother-wit). And I have learned that when I trust God in my decision-making, I end up more blessed than I could have ever been if I only trust in my own wisdom.

I decided to stay in Michigan, even in light of all the circumstances I have to face right now because of a little girl:

A little girl whose big hazel eyes and curly ringlets won me the first time I laid eyes on her...

A little girl whose vivacious personality and immeasurable talents and gifts have caused many people to be drawn to her...

A little girl who has suffered through much more than I am going through right now...

A little girl that needs someone to care...

A little girl that is crying out for help...

A little girl that calls me in tears when her heart has been broken (like last Thursday, when her foster mother called her a selfish f**king b**ch because she was told the little girl wants to live independent of the foster care system, on her own)...

A little girl that doesn't understand why her life is collapsing around her and needs her Auntie Mya right now...


She is why I am staying.

If you can only do one thing in life, if you only get the chance to accomplish one feat, make sure you let that one thing be an unselfish act. Let it be something that impacts and changes the life of another person. And let it be God-inspired because when He calls you to do a certain thing, He will give you the resources to see that thing through.

I had to stay in Michigan in order to get licensed for foster care and to provide an immediate home for that little girl. I could not leave and then try to help her. So when the question was raised if I would leave for Nashville or Chicago or Timbuktu, I had to say "No." I had to lay my desires down on the altar, the place of sacrifice, so my little girl could live a life where she could smile again. And you know what, I haven't really wanted for or needed anything that hasn't been provided thus far.

Remember, ultimately your "real" life is not about you.