As Mother’s Day came to a close yesterday, I found myself very tired and in great need of a good night’s sleep. You see, I had spent just about every day of last week celebrating something and by 6pm last night, I was tired, and I just wanted to rest. Despite my tiredness, I was extremely grateful for all that had happened. Open your bibles to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and read along as I share my recap of the week (NKJV is listed below):
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
On Tuesday I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to my state Capitol to witness the signing of two bills into laws. One bill would bring about change for the Sickle Cell Disease community (Md SB 161) and the other would mean a different future for Community Health Workers (CHWs) for the state of Maryland (Md SB 163). The executive director of my current company spent three years fighting for the creation and development of SB 163 and we celebrated as a state when this bill was signed by our governor. Prior to this bill, CHWs existed in the state but received no regulation or validation. Yes, they completed training to be the bridge between health services and the community, but they were not governed by any higher authority. Senate Bill 163 was monumental because it basically said that Community Health Workers were important, invaluable, and indispensable. Community Health Workers are here to stay in Maryland and I was truly honored to be in the number of people gathered to witness this bill signing. Even though I was not involved in the three-year preparatory process, I rejoiced with my colleagues because I knew what this bill would mean for our future in immigrant and minority communities.
Biologically, I only have two aunts on my father’s side of the family; by love, I have at least three dozen aunts. As my friendships grow with others, their family become my family and vice versa (I can’t even tell you how many parents, nieces, nephews, and cousins I have because of this…). This past Thursday I gathered with my framily (friends so close that they became family) to lay to rest my aunt-by-love, Beanie. Aunt Beanie battled breast cancer like a champion, but on April 27th, God called His child home. She had been in hospice for some weeks leading up to her transition and I had plenty of time to “prepare”, but as I sat in her homegoing service on Thursday, tears filled my eyes like a flood.
I had walked into the church and walked up to the casket with no fear. As I stood at her side, I prayed for her family. Not to be insensitive, but she is with the Lord and no longer needs my prayer- her family needs it now. So I stood at her open casket and I prayed. As her 88-year old mother walked in with the rest of the family to view her body, I continued to pray, asking God to comfort and keep them. I must also add that before the funeral I had asked the Lord to fill me with His strength so that I could be strong for the family. I wanted to be able to be supportive and helpful during their time of mourning. Personally, I think I was doing a really good job at this…until the eulogy. The presiding pastor stated that he had visited Aunt Beanie in hospice one day while she was sleeping. She was laying in what would be her deathbed and he grabbed her hand and began praying. In the middle of his prayer, Aunt Beanie woke up. The pastor asked her if she still believed in God and trusted Him… and with all the strength that she had, she boldly declared YES. As the pastor recalled this story I broke down. My tears were not sad or from a place of mourning; no, my tears were happy, rejoicing tears. I whispered to God that that was some serious kind of faith and I rejoiced because I knew she was resting with Him.
Yes, that was the moment that I broke out into uncontrollable tears visibly, but that was also the moment when I stopped crying in my heart. She was at peace, resting with the Father, and God had won her battle with cancer.
After the funeral, I drove to Prince George’s County, Maryland so that I could attend my weekly discipleship class. The name of the 18-month course is called Queen Esther, and as such, we refer to each other as Queens. The well-over 400 Queens are divided into three sessions (kinda like grade levels) and each session is divided into smaller classes with about 18-22 women in each class. In my class that night, the facilitators gave us a sheet of paper with another Queen’s name written on it and we were instructed to write one positive word or attribute about that Queen. *See below to read what others wrote about me.*
I will be honest, I was very misty-eyed when I read what these Queens wrote about me. At first, I thought of who I used to be and how these words could never describe the old me. But then I remembered that I had been set free from the old M.E. with the redeeming blood of Jesus and that I was a new creature in Him (1 Corinthians 5:17). As I continued to stare at the words, I thanked God because I was all of those words through and because of Him…and without Him, I was none of those words.
Those Queens celebrated me and caused me to praise my God because of all that He had done for me.
Celebrating a Butterfly…
Seven years ago, I decided to go on a cruise with my mother and my sisters. One sister could not attend because she was pregnant, and as God would have it, she ended up giving birth while my mother and I were cruising. I remember her pregnancy vividly because this was the sister who wanted no kids whatsoever. I also remember thinking that I would call her child Butterfly, regardless of the gender. Thankfully for the child, my sister delivered a beautiful baby girl. Little Butterfly is my entire heartbeat outside of my body. I have always been extremely protective of her since the moment I knew she was in my sister’s womb. Yes, that is my sister’s child, but she is my baby.
This past Friday, I was blessed with the opportunity to celebrate Butterfly’s seventh birthday with her. I was so tired after work (an employee had quit and two others were in a car accident) and I did not want to attend Butterfly’s birthday dinner. Despite my body’s pleas, I went to the dinner and my niece instructed us adults as to how we had to sit- she wanted to be in the middle, with me to her right, her Godmother on her left, and everyone else scattered about. It melted my heart that she wanted me sitting on one side with her Godmother (my best friend, Amy) on her other side. To me, that just symbolized how important I was to her and I loved it!
The child is wise beyond her years, with an IQ of 121… and she has Autism. Maybe this is another reason why I am so protective over her, because I do not want people to judge or mistreat her. Or maybe it is because God told me while she was in the womb that she would bring about change for my family (hence the nickname Butterfly). Whatever the case may be, I can see and feel the Lord’s hand in Butterfly’s life and being able to spend time with her continues to draw me closer to God.
Last month a few sistah-friends and I started a Losing with the Lord ministry and we are fully working on Healing through Him- mind, body, and spirit. On Saturday we had our second face-to-face meeting and we went grocery shopping. Obviously, I have grocery shopped before, but there is something to be said about shopping with women who continue to hold you accountable for what you put in your cart. With every selection, I had to be intentional and really weigh need verses want.
After shopping and eating, we opened up the house and became a hair salon. As with any Black hair salon, “clients” were double booked, the “assistant” kept leaving to do other non-hair things, and we laughed the entire night away.
I sincerely doubt our meetings will ever go as planned, but I am 100% sure that they will go just as God intends.
Celebrating the greatness of mothers…
That was actually the title of the sermon that my pastor preached yesterday. He talked about Zipporah (Exodus 4) and Ruth (the book of Ruth) and explained how their respective roles as mothers embodied who we should be as mothers and as Christians. As a personal note, my pastor also slipped in how we should honor our mothers while we still have the chance. Per usual, he was only confirming something that God had already told me. After service was over, I rushed to several stores, picking up various items that I would need for the Mother’s Day lunch/dinner that I was planning for my mother and my sister (with another birthday celebration for Butterfly). When all was said and done, I had done something for my mother that I had never truly done before- I honored her.
In years past, I would put an emphasis on going broke trying to buy something for her or attending an obligatory church service to be with her. This year I wanted to show her (and my sister and niece) just how much she means to me. For the first time ever, I think I finally gave her the correct “gift”- I gave her time, love, and intention.
I know, this was a LONG #MondayMessage but I needed you all to see one thing- praise God in the good AND in the bad.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18