Friday, January 25, 2013


We were four years old and were, I think, the only African-American girls in our kindergarten class, though I am not entirely sure for two reasons:
(1) I was 4 and now I'm 35.  So, my brain has progressed (or regressed, depending on how you view it) over the past 31 years, and I cannot be accurate as to the logistics of kindergarten demographics.
(2) For me, we may have been, at least in my view, the only important 4-year-old Black girls in my little world which was probably in the early stages of being an egocentric person.

But back to her...this one friend that I had in this lowly kindergarten class on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids, Michigan...this one person that shared a unique quality like me that made her my ace boon coon even back then.  She had what was considered a strange name.  Just like me.

We were in early elementary together, the two girls with the strange names and the creative gift of writing.  We both loved books and words.  It wasn't until we entered middle school at Northeast Middle School and Creston High School (yay, Polar Bears!) after years of not seeing each other and growing up in different paths that we had some semblance of writing and putting words together.  She became my favorite poet, really, having this grasp of words and language and humor that was signature of this young woman with the name that could no longer be considered strange but had to be considered artistic and biblical license by her parents.  She wrote things that stirred in me the desire to write.

Even today that is a most difficult thing for anyone to do.  My taste in the written word has become much more eclectic now that The Babysitter's Club and Are You There, God?  It's Me, Margaret has passed into my literary history.  No one can effectively make me pick up a pen quite like this woman.  When writer's block threatens to invade, I think of something she has said or written.  And she doesn't even know that she has been a buoy tossed out to me time and again when words fail and I sink into "thick-brain."

A couple years ago, this woman with the artistic name published a book, a beautiful poetry book entitled Respective Dreamlands.  It is the tome I pick up along with The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou.  She sits in the picture above at her first book signing for this book that could barely hold her poetic genius, smiling her heart-smile which even today I miss seeing everyday.

Her birthday is the month after mine, a couple weeks before Thanksgiving.  Her birth month had to be chosen by God before the foundation of the world.  I imagine that when He thought of her, He started smiling too as He considered the exact time and generation that He would present her to the world.  She would have to be born in November in the exact generation I was because my life had to be impacted so righteously and artistically by her.  She had to be born in a month that would remind me that I have at least one thing to be thankful for...that I ever met her.

To me, Mykal is a woman that cannot be replicated but absolutely must be celebrated for her ability to intertwine God, faith in Him, and life's raw beauty in a uniquely poetic form.  And I am thankful for her presence, her love of writing, her truth in my world.  She shows me how to not take life so seriously but instead see the poetic humor in it all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


When I met this woman, I was 22 years old, engaged, thinking I didn't want to be and was trying to be free from the responsibilities of life.  I started working at a camp on Lake Michigan (Camp Blodgett) that summer of 2000, thinking that I could escape everything.  I didn't realize I would run right into a new friendship that would last me, now, nearly 13 years and counting.

I listened to a workshop by Shauna Niequist today about "Friendship" and I have to say that the words she spoke about maintaining real friends reminded me of the beautiful woman pictured above.  I do not reasonably think that I could be me if she wasn't here.  Everything about my life today has been shared in some way with her and nothing that matters to me is kept from her.  She knows me through and through; she even has the ability to subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) chastise me without me raising an eyebrow or getting an attitude.  (Those that know me have probably experienced "the Myama attitude" once or twice.)  Let me be clear's not that she's never said something I didn't agree with.  She just says it in a way that makes me think about life and my response to it.

Not many people can do that...successfully.

The baby girl she is holding is her "mini-me", her daughter that resembles her in so many ways.  I have watched her mother this little girl from the womb and onward, mother her nephew-now-son from the heart and onward.  And I cannot wait until she is the aunt to my children that they will need as they get older.  She took my wedding photos at my wedding in December, braving the freezing cold Michigan winter with her family, so she could capture my day.  She dressed her (my) babies up so they could precede me down the aisle.  And it was then that I realized that we are indeed friends/twins joined for life.

This the friend whose love I cannot live without.  And this post of tangible love is dedicated to her...

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Christmas Morning, 2012...The dawn is slowing coming through the windows, and the room is still dark where the man sits propped up in bed.  His hands are trembling as he reaches for a pen and paper.  He knows what he must do.  He must write before he no longer has the strength to say what he needs to.

She is in the other room, preparing for the day.  He has told her over and over that he does not want the family to have a sad Christmas Day.  He wants her to celebrate it as they always have for their large family.  The children are used to a certain affect on this date - bright and shiny decorations, millions of presents under the tree, and lots of goodies to eat.  He knows that because of finances some things had to be sacrificed, but he does not want his family to suffer.  He is also aware that his very life was being sacrificed, in the years to come, Christmas Day will always be bittersweet.  He wishes, just like most men, that he could prevent that.

It is out of his hands.  But what is not out of his hands is his ability to write words that can help his wife know his thoughts and heart and feelings before he was to leave for HEAVEN.

He shifts uncomfortably in bed as he prepares to write, the pain in his body being almost unbearable.  Thoughts fill his head of the first time he ever saw her, how he felt when he laid eyes on her, and how he knew then that they were meant to be.  Tears fill his eyes as he considers that they really didn't have enough time to express the love he knows they shared from day one.  They had only been married for 18 years; when the commitment was made, they thought for sure they would grow old together - retiring in some warm destination once all their beautiful children were grown and gone, living their own lives.  He stares down at his frail arm, once so muscular and manly.  He feels like his spirit is outgrowing his body, and he only has so much time to write the words.

He presses the tip of the pen to the paper and begins to write...

As an onlooker at a funeral that should not have been taking place, I listened to words a husband wrote to his wife on a cold Christmas Day.  He wrote the words until he had no more strength to tell her how much he loved her, adored her, thanked her for their life together.  My heart ached as I heard him say he did not want to leave her, leave their family, leave their children; yet he knew it would be their last Christmas together.  He thanked her for the richness of their marriage; he said that his life was blessed because of her.

A few days before he wrote that letter, I was standing at an altar staring into the eyes of a man that I loved  and committed to stay with until death.  So, as I sat there with the audience of concerned friends, loved ones, and community members listening to the man's letter, my heart began to break.  And yet, it began to beat with an intensity to love my husband even more - my husband, waiting for me at home.  The letter was from a man dying of cancer on Christmas Day but vibrantly and evidently still in love with his wife.  He refused to leave this earth before he said everything he needed to say to her.

Today, this post is a dedication to Debbie and Ricky - this color whose very lives together was a testimony and a landmark for me on my journey toward being the best wife I can be.  For the sake of privacy, I cannot post their pictures.  But I wanted to share this story, this moment in time, with the world - a world that is broken in so many places.  This man, though he was suffering, loved his wife.  That Christmas morning, his only thought was thanking God for the gift he had been given - the woman he called his "Angel" several times throughout the letter.

At the end of the letter, he asked her to give him one more chance to say more about his love for her.  I do not know if he ever got the chance (at least on paper).  But the one thing that will always be honored and cherished in her heart, as her life goes on, is how he pressed that pen into that paper and the words inside his heart flowed out.  HE wrote that for HER.  HIS words on THAT paper will remain, etched into it like stone.  HE loved and loves HER still...right from heaven to here on earth.

In the Lord's Prayer, there is a statement that says "Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."  This is made more clear to me now what that really means.  God's will is love - LOVE LIKE THIS.  In other words, as this story exemplifies, the prayer is that LOVE be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Ricky is in heaven, loving forever more the "love of his life" - his Debbie.  It is still working and making an impact even though he is physically absent.

Love never dies.


I thank God for that.  I have learned that in my own life.  OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

I want to dedicate a song to this couple and to us all...for remembrance and honor.  It reminds me of their love affair...please watch this and remember that at the end of the day, love is all that matters.  And nothing in this world can stop it - not even the grave.  (Jesus overcame that.)

I pray that Debbie knows this...the morning after her husband's funeral...the morning after she laid  eyes on the man that wrote that letter for the last time in this earth realm...the morning after she woke up in an empty bed and with a broken heart...THIS morning when their youngest children will undoubtedly enter the room and ask for him.

I pray for all that have had to say goodbye to those gone on before and felt their heart breaking in the process...hoping that one day God would help them pick up the pieces.  I've been there too.  But as life has carried on, I have learned to open my heart again.  That is why December 22 will always be a life-changing day for me.

Here is a book that I read, that helped me get through my own process and helped me understand that love has a way of finding you again.  Because it will and it can and it does...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


The CD I am listening to everyday now, on my way to work and everywhere else, is Israel and New Breed's  "Jesus at the Center", a compilation that cuts me to the quick and for me probably the one work of artistry and worship that this group has done in recent years that has the ability to speak for me.  I sing at the top of my lungs at 6:30 in the morning on my way, in the dark, before life cuts me to the quick and reminds me why I have to sing in the first place.  Even as I am singing, I am seeing the faces of the children that have been ingrained on my heart and I know as I sing to Jesus, I am imprinted on His hands and heart as well.  I sing, knowing that I don't have to apologize for being passionate about this call, like His, that matters more than selfish ambition.

I sing and consider the people that matter most to my world.  I hope they will  be blessed every step of the way, each day.

Love overrides all and grace touches in ways that mere presence can't.

I listen to the CD and thank Jesus for grace and love and music - the ability to sing of it all at this time in my life when I never thought I would have it again.  How awesome to have it all and yet be required to pour it all out into the lives that God sends my way to impact.

So I listen today.  I listen to this song that has resonated in my soul every time it is sang by various artists (Bob Dylan, Israel and New Breed, Adele) - "To Make You Feel My Love."  And to me that is what it is all about - making people feel my love, tangible and strong and vibrant.  What is the point of love, of justice, of grace if people don't feel it?  It must be felt all the way to the bone and blood and tissues - deep calling to the deep in all of us.  That is the point of even being here at all.  We can't be lukewarm. We can't be mediocre.  We have to pour it all out.  And then God gives it all back again.  Every day.

That is what I am learning today as I listen to this CD.

So with that in mind, I am going to love the souls that God has brought my way in a tangible way so the whole world knows that these souls matter to God and me.  This is the direction I will go with this blog for now.  No more complaints.  No more pointless debates.  Only love.

I think of these two women, as I think of highlighting love in a tangible way here on  my blog, not as the only women that matter but as the ones that will start out the trend here and most especially because I thought of them this morning on my drive to work:

These are ones that have made a huge difference in the earth for me in the last 15 years.  When I think of what my life as an adult has meant, I cannot help but think of them.  They helped me become the woman I am today, have stayed prominent when I had no one else to care.  They have taught me what true sisterhood looks like.  They are love to me.  They are family to me and each other, these sisters.  The beauty they exemplify means more than they even realize, as the day to day living life seems to be so difficult at times.  I want them to always know that they will always be special to God and me.  They will always be graced.  Although their parents helped shape me as well, they have been just as important to my life.

As I said earlier, as I drove to work with "Jesus at the Center", I thought of them today.  I prayed for them today - for their families, relationships, careers, finances, homes, and futures.  I prayed for their children and their children's children.  That is what I need them to know whether they read this or not.  That they are tangibly loved and I worshiped God as I thought of them.  This is more important than anything else.

And so today, with much appreciation that they are here in my world, I love them.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year, New Life

I took some time away from blogging so I could actually get married and then actually be married in these early days after the vows.  I thought many days about what I would say with my first blog post as a married woman, wanting to be prolific and full of wisdom and able to answer the questions I raised just before saying "I do" to Mr.  What I can say is that I am more wise because of love and what the love of God and the love of Mr. has done to me.  I am not more wise  or full of more wisdom because I had it within myself all along.  It came along with the vows and the commitment made - like a gift dropped down from heaven at the very moment we took that next step.

The intense love of both God and my man has changed me, even this early on - has settled me, has established me, and has integrated my selfish mind and heart.  I thought I was a person that thought more of others than myself, but marriage is really the only relationship (besides parenthood) that demands it.  And everyday, when the good of the household has to outweigh what I thought would be good for only me, I realize that I have to do this ten times more.  And no it is not rote or innate.  It takes deliberate concentration to not be who I was before "I do."  I have to be the woman that said "I do" and is now learning to "do" and "be" and "translate" the language of intense love and devotion everyday.

I thank God for this.

I thank God for the challenge to love deeper and broader and wider.  I thank God for the challenge to share a home and a life with this man - this man with the infectious laugh and music in his veins and love staring into my eyes.  I thank God that it really isn't a challenge at all.

It is what I want to do.  More than anything in this world.  In this new year.  In this new life.