The late Rev. Dr. Timothy Leonard Early was a great man of God, a devoted husband, a loving father, and a wonderful family man. He performed the wedding ceremony between my parents in a small church in Baltimore, back in 1988. He was my father’s brother; he was my uncle.
I didn’t know him that well. In fact, I didn’t know him at all. I had heard stories about the type of preacher that he was and how he had travelled all over the country, planting ministry seeds and doing Kingdom work. In December 2009, God brought Uncle Tim back into my life, via Facebook. Even though he hadn’t seen me since I was a toddler, he continued to pour into me and send his love in my direction. He liked and commented on every post that I wrote and with every click, I could literally feel the strength of his prayers for me.
Uncle Tim went home to be with the Lord on December 23, 2013 after a short illness. When he died, I immediately felt an inexplicable sense of emptiness, as I longed for his words about Christ. Distance and time separated us but his love defied the laws of space and time.
A weekend in Houston…
This weekend I had the chance to travel to Houston to attend the wedding of one of my line sisters and spend time with my family. I cannot even begin to describe how this weekend affected me (but I will try).
My father’s younger sister (my aunt) is my soul sister so when she offered to open her home to me, I jumped at the opportunity! I knew my line sister was getting married in Houston and figured this was the perfect time to plan a trip to see my dad’s side of the family. I had grown up without my father and without any connection to his family. Yes, we are friends on social media but for some of his family members, it had been 28yrs since I had last seen them in person. I honestly expected this weekend to be light and airy, filled with nonstop stories of days passed, but instead God happened to me and the weekend was a spiritual awakening.
The Sixth Ward….
Due to Hurricane Harvey my plans to hang out with my aunt upon my arrival to Houston got changed because her work schedule was changed. Instead, I got the opportunity to hang out with my cousin in Houston’s Art District for the first two days. This particular cousin is the cousin that I most admired in the past because she was the type of writer and motivational speaker that I aspired to be (I should add that I still very much admire her). When I knew that I would be staying with her, I had mentally developed all these questions to ask her but once in her presence, I was so blown away by the new woman that stood before me that the questions never came.
My cousin K had blossomed into this free woman. It was in seeing her now that made me realize how shackled she had been just 3yrs ago when I’d last seen her. She was always kind, funny, and beautiful but this new woman radiated light and love from her inner soul and her peace, like a fireplace on a cold night, warmed every room that she entered. Cousin K opened her heart and home to both me and one of my line sisters for two nights, changing my weekend of “family fun” into a weekend of deep gratitude and healing.
On Friday morning, we ladies got up and took a walk around Cousin K’s neighborhood. She wanted to show us a Bayou and a little bit of the art district. While we did venture and see these things, we also saw signs of just how devastating Harvey had been. We walked down by a senior assisted living facility and saw a water line that came all the way up to my shoulders (and I am 5’9”). The water had been so high that it completely wiped out the first floor of the building- but the residents had been safe the entire time. When we did get to the Bayou, we realized that our walking path was still covered with water in some parts. As I looked at the flowing water and recalled the water line from the senior facility which was only a few feet away, my heart rejoiced because I saw God’s mighty work in action. I realized the beauty of His magnificence because only He could send so much rain… and then recede the water with the use of more water. It was amazing to travel around the city and see how floods had completely destroyed one side of the street, while leaving the other side completely intact. Hurricane Harvey did not discriminate- it affected the whites and the blacks, the rich and the poor, the old and the young…. but Houston IS stronger than Harvey.
As we drove and walked around that Friday I carried one recurring theme in my heart- God is perfect in all of His creations.
Auntie and M.E. day….
I must say that it was so nice to have an “auntie and me day” where I wasn’t the auntie! I love my nieces and nephews but it felt so good to be the niece! 😂😂😂. My aunt lives in Webster, which is still in Houston, but about 20mins from her daughter, my cousin K. On Saturday Auntie gave me a great tour of her part of the city, which included visiting League City where her church is, NASA, and the Kemah Boardwalk. As we drove, I saw more signs of Harvey. We literally drove down streets where one side had furniture on the curb for disposal because they had incurred water damage, while the other side had no damage whatsoever.
In our travels we ventured to a local Chinese restaurant to have lunch/dinner. It was there at JB’s that I had my Saturday Awakening. We sat and chatted about family, life events, and God. My aunt is an evangelist, current mother of her church, singer, and former First Lady. In all that she says and does, she emits the light of Christ. As I said before, she is my soul sister and she is an empath like me. We both tend to be the “Worrying Wanda” of our immediate family and we carry the weight and love of the world on our shoulders. I knew we had similarities but in this moment with her, I saw myself in her and in seeing myself in her, I realized just how much I had in common with my dad’s family.
This is just how God works. I grew up without the presence of my dad or his side of the family, yet I still carry so much of their spirit in me.
My Saturday with my aunt was not enough time. We didn’t have enough time to go through pictures and glide down Memory Lane. We didn’t have enough time to really delve into our journeys with Christ. We didn’t have enough time to talk about men and love. But we had enough time for me to feel the power of her love.
A few days out the week my dad texts me and my brother pictures of pictures from the past. I love this time for many reasons but mainly because I feel like it’s our version of a photo album memory stroll. In the weeks leading up to this trip, he sent many pictures of his father and that line of sisters/brothers/cousins. It was through his pictures that I realized that about 90% of his side of the family contains ministers/preachers/pastors, evangelists, or people doing Ministry work. With that being said, my Sunday morning was spent at The Church of the Bay in League City, Texas where my cousin D is the pastor.
Before service was fully underway, I prayed that God would move through my cousin and send a word that would do some good and move within our spirits. So it was not surprising when Cousin D took the stage, began the sermon that he had prepared, but then shifted to where the Spirit was leading him. Always be careful what you pray for… In this case I got exactly what I prayed for because his sermon was specifically for M.E. Cousin D began speaking about gratitude but the Spirit shifted him to faith. Two nuggets that stayed with me:
1. Sometimes catastrophes happen to push you into God’s promise.
2. There’s a difference between stepping out on faith and stepping out on foolishness. If you feel the burning of the Lord in your spirit, it’s faith. If you don’t, it’s foolishness.
As I sat in my seat listening to his word, I recalled my 2017. While I wouldn’t call my experiences catastrophes, I would say that my year had many, many pits. However each pit pushed me closer to where God wanted me to be and pushed me into God’s promise for my life. For every NO, God sent a better YES. For every closed door, God opened a better door. I also became very aware of where God was shifting me. Despite my initial objections, God is shifting me into my own form of ministry. Aside from Christ Himself, the only burning in my soul is my desire to write and share God’s word.
It was evident that God was moving during the service because Cousin D had individual prayer at the altar, during service, with some members- something that he doesn’t normally do. As he went from person to person, God literally gave him the unique words to speak into each person’s spirit. And when he came to me, God told him to tell me one thing: let go of fear and do what God had already told me to do.
Later in the afternoon, my cousins and I all gathered at my aunt’s house for food, fellowship, and fun. We sifted through the pictures that my dad sent me of our ancestors, cooked up a yummy meatless meal for all to enjoy, and created our memories for the future. It was in that living room that I felt my late Uncle Tim; he was definitely in that room, I was still on a high from the sermon and I could literally hear Uncle Tim talk about Kingdom work. Uncle Tim’s mind was far beyond his time. God placed words and concepts in his head, to share with His people, for the day that Uncle Tim would no longer be here with us. Simply put, God allowed Uncle Tim to sow seeds on fertile ground for the time of His harvest…and for me, that time is now.
Although my trip was short in time, it was rich in lessons and memories. Not only did I get a chance to connect with family (and meet cousins that I had never met before), but I also received a revival of my soul. I remember having past “aha” moments which led me to quickly make some change in my life….that was normally very short lived. This weekend lit a spark in me that is pushing me to do what God has already given me every capability of doing. He has already given me everything that I need to complete this journey… all I have to do is have faith.
Hebrews 11:6 says “but without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
Beloved, hold on to that scripture (truthfully, hang on to that entire chapter). When you believe that Christ is Lord, you are also saying that you trust Him to work in your life. Have faith in Him! Step out on that faith! Know that God would never lead you in the wrong direction. There is no more need to fake it because with Christ, we are free to FAITH it!
As I FAITH it with Christ, I plan to work on my writing and the sharing of my testimony. This is the ministry that God has given me. God has ordered every step of my life so that I could get to this point and step out on my faith in Him.
But now I ask you: how will you FAITH it?