Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Am Not Forgotten

So we bought this car that looks a lot like this one, but the rims were... um... worse. After losing big honkin' man truck when the economy went bad Ken was never in love with this car, but I liked it. It was smaller. It was very, very good on gas. The week we got it I filled it up for only 15 bucks. That was heavenly after paying 20 bucks for a quarter of a tank. Big honkin' man truck consumed copious amounts of twenty dollar bills.

I was happy to be on the road again. Life isn't easy in Inktown for a big family with no car. That's not to say our "Vision"--that's the kind of the car we had: an Eagle Vision--didn't have it's problems. It sorta started falling apart. We started patching it up. We don't have much money, so this was hard, but we were doing it. Yesterday afternoon Ken and I decided we were going to throw caution to the wind, give the car the best once over we could for our money, and head to Lexi with the family on August 3rd. Nothing was going to stop us. At least that's what we thought.

Not an hour later I went outside to take my mother-in-law to the store in my lovely, gas efficient car, and it was gone. Yep. Somebody stole my Vision! And isn't that ripe with symbolism?

Of course we went through the full range of emotional responses to such an affront. We called the police. We filed a report. We railed about it to our neighbors. Ken and I met up again in our bedroom many, many hours later. We stayed up talking into the wee hours of the morning, finding consolation in each other the way the battle weary do.

This was a real faith lesson to me. Facing this loss, which was huge to us, I had to ask myself what it is I really believe. Is God still faithful? Can I trust Him in this? Will I say a prayer for the person that stole my car--and not one of those cursing prayers David was so fond of praying when he composed the Psalms.

Yes, yes, and yes, though admittedly, asking God to be merciful to the car thief was harder. What drove them (no pun intended) to do it? Did they have a big family and need to get around, too. That's unlikely. It was probably some drug thing. They certainly weren't trying to live large styling and profiling, not in my ride. It was the most unpimped car on our lot. When I think of it, I get this feeling of despair and hardness in our car's booster. I guess that's an even more important reason to pray for them.

Finally, Ken and I fell asleep. And I can't say I wasn't discouraged, but as soon as I got to my computer this morning, there was an email from one of my Godbabies, Kosha. She's pretty amazing, y'all. I'm one fortunate woman to have her in my life. She sends me abundant gifts of love, including the wonderful pink quilt of fabulous she had her grandmother make just for me. So, in my inbox was a single line, "I love you Godmama. Kosha." That alone lifted my heart, but it was the attachment that broke the levee restraing my emotions and made me bawl like a baby. It was a song by Israel and New Breed. The title alone said enough:

"You are not forgotten."

I don't care how much faith you have, sometimes, you feel a little beat up by life. If you are battered and bruised by the dailyness of living, take heart. You really, truly, are not forgotten. Don't blame yourself.

Without further ado, the lyrics:

People walking by, very seldom they say hi, they don’t know how wonderful you are
If they only knew all the things you’ve been through, if only they could see your heart
I hear you crying for help, please don’t blame yourself;
You are not forgotten, you are not forgotten

When it’s time to go to sleep and you try your best to keep yourself from falling apart.
There’s no need to fear, because I’m already here, and I’m the one who sees your heart
I hear you crying for help, please don’t blame yourself;
You are not forgotten, you are not forgotten

You are not just a face in the crowd, you are not a forgotten child
Let me whisper it loud, I love you, oh, I love you

You can hold your head up high, ’cause I’ll make everything alright,
I’m committed to you smiling again
And eventually you’ll see people’s similarities, everyone just needs a friend
And when they’re crying for help, you’ll be able to tell them, please tell them for Me

You are not forgotten, you are not forgotten
You are not forgotten, you are not forgotten

Just remember, you are not forgotten


Sunday, July 26, 2009


Okay, so I went to yoga class today. I know. I can't believe it either. I'd been threatening to go ever since I read my lovie Kim's new novel, Stretch Marks. Her characters were all kinds of fabulous: yoga doing and health food eating. One of them dyed her hair wild colors. I read that book and the next thing I knew I had red and blonde hair. What can I say? Books influence me. I just thank God I don't have a uterus anymore, otherwise I'd probably be pregnant right now!

And really, I tried yoga because I've grown weary of these body challenges I have. I don't have insurance, and the over the counter medication isn't very helpful anymore. I decided to do whatever I can to feel a little better, including eating better (OY! The number on the scale now!), using homeopathic remedies, and doing gentle exercise. I practiced yoga in my twenties, and I enjoyed it very much. So, I thought I'd go back to it.

I tried to get Abbie to go with me, but she was having nothing to do with anything that sounded remotely like a workout. I did managed to talk Nia Grace into it, and I was proud of her because her sister went to a birthday party. She could have easily chose to do that, but no. She wanted to go with mama. So, we dropped Aziza off to her princess party, and off we went.

The studio was located inside a lovely little storefront, right next to Cold Stone Creamery, and y'all know that ain't right! But we did not go for ice cream. Oh no! We charged into the the yoga joint, me mustering all the resolve I had.

The interior was lovely. The walls were a reddish/orange color, and everything in there was soothing, and stipped down to the essentials. I liked the vibe already.

We were about five minutes late. The door to the main floor of the studio had a sign on it that said, "Shhhh. Class is session," or something like that, which intimidated us. Nia and I stood in the reception area, alone, for the longest time trying to figure out what to do. I was tempted to just turn around and go home. After all, I didn't have on a cute yoga outfit, just sweats (a little small for me now) and a sleeveless t-shirt. I'm obese, and hadn't done yoga since the eighties. Seriously. What was I thinking? But I have to get over being self-absorbed, and do what my body needs to get better, as much as I can.

I cracked the door, and a man met us. He whispered when he asked me if I'd done yoga before, and if Nia would need a mat. Yes, a long time ago, and yes. He gave Nia a mat, and we quietly went inside, rolled out our sticky mats, and began.

Holy guacamole! I thought I was gonna die in there! I stretched muscles that haven't been moved in the 21st century. Oh man. Am I ever out of touch with my body. I was surprised to find I couldn't do relatively simple moves. I've lost so much of the abilitity to balance myself. And doesn't that show??? Don't miss the layers of meaning in the idea of being balanced. While we stretched, a lot of things occured to me. I knew I wasn't always the way I am now.

My mind flew back through the years, and I remembered a time when I didn't hate my body, when I wasn't afraid of it, and when I was simply who I am: not "too much." Not too little, either! Some twenty years ago, maybe more, I made my body my enemy. As I moved from pose to pose, memories of the abuse came back: physical, mental, emotional, and sexual. The raging bulimia I had revisited me. Sadness rose to my throat like vomit used to. I realized I stopped trusting my body so long ago. I disconnected from it. Stopped caring about it. I abused it. And now, it suffers. And like the rest of me, it craved love and respect.

I got discouraged. I wanted to run out of there. Everyone else seemed so serene. So capable. But I suppose one must have courage to do many things in life, especially change. I breathed back the tears threatening to pour out of me. Returned to the child's pose when I had to. I humbled myself, and I soldiered on.

Every now and then I'd peek at Nia, quietly moving from pose to pose. What a doll she is. She was a real trouper, doing yoga like she was made for it.

At the end of the class we were silent, all of us, lying in the corpse pose. My mind ran amuk! Dear Lord, I'm noisy on the inside. And there I was, in a darkened room confronting silence. God had been calling me to silence for months. What a surprise to find it there. But God met me in that place of repose, Himself silent, but there He was with me. I felt Him, and knew He honored my effort. His presence was like a gentle, "Yes." One yes is all you need sometimes.

When it was time to go we sat upright. We put our hands together near our hearts. "Namaste", we said with a tiny bow in parting, which means "I honor the divine in you." And I see it lovies. God is generous enough to give Himself to all of us. We are made in His image and likess. He did this for every human. No matter what we believe. And isn't that magnificent?

And OUCH!!!!


Friday, July 24, 2009

How About This?

Okay, so I'm at the Christy Awards, right? And yeah, I know. I didn't ask you to help me figure out what to wear. Trust me. You did not want to share that anguish with me. Not for a second. You should have seen what I was going to wear at first. It was so tragically wrong that I found myself praying in TJ Maxx for mercy and help. And then I was steered toward these dress/shirt/skirt things with a tube top. I loved them when I saw them earlier in the season, but of course I wouldn't wear such a thing. Not at my weight. But there it was, all shiny and beautiful, and it had butterflies fluttering up near the bodice. How was I supposed to resist butterflies? God had sent me to my dress. The one that would make my heart happy. Not to mention later I wore it as a skirt with a wide belt, and as a fabulous top over jeans at a dinner party.

You may notice I didn't have hooker heels on this year. Lovies, that would have been torture. Did I tell you that the ceremony took place on Saturday, the day I arrived in Denver? On travel days I'm never quite right. This was a really, really bad travel day. By the time I got off that plane I was an aching mess. So, I had to use my cane. Notice that I also have a brace on my wrist. It was that kind of fibromyalgia day.

You can see behind me other people are standing against the wall. Those were the other finalists. I had the misfortune to be called to the stage first because my category was first. Not only was I unsure about when I should go up, but it took me an excruciatingly long time to get to the stage.

I wish I could tell you that every step I hobbled I did so giving thanks. I'm afraid I was a little caught up in self-pity. All the agonizing I did about what I'd wear meant little when I was in so much pain. I wanted to be fabulous, with all eyes on me because I looked stunning. I'm not even sure what birthed such a fantasy, but I can tell you I certainly did NOT look or feel fabulous. At all! If all eyes were on me it was likely because of my painfully slow ascent up three little stairs. And you know what else? I knew I wasn't going to win. I knew it deep in my bones. At least people were praying for me.

Prayer really does change things. As I took a final belabored step toward Donna, suddenly the heavens opened. I felt the arms of God wrap around me. Not only did God know how much it cost to write that book--to even get to the point of being asked to write it--my friend Donna knew. It was she who indulged my dreams when I said I love Christian fiction, no matter what, because I always find Jesus in it. And lovies, I'm always looking for Jesus. It was Donna who I told I just wanted a little Christy nod! I didn't have to win it! It was she who listened to me bemoan my fate as a black CBA writer. She knew it all, and God knew all she did and more, and suddenly Donna was putting a Christy Medallion around my neck, and the two of them, God and my friend where holding me.

My heart was split wide open, and all the love I could stand poured in. God didn't have to say, "Well done." With every fiber of my being I knew I did what I could. I tried. And God's reward was greater, kinder, more resplendant than any effort I made. He showered me with love. In that singular, amazing moment. Whatever indignity I endured to get there, and there were some, any slight or pain, it all fell away from me. I was swept up in something big, and magical, and good.

For me, it was the moment in my life like Michelle and Barack's, when they were dancing their Inaugural dance. He looks at her and says, "How about this?" That's how I felt in God and my friend's arms.

"How about this?"

My friend had just put the Christy Medallion around my neck. Other friends, so many of them, old and new were there. Some of them made it possible for me to be in Denver that night. One or two of them made Zora and Nicky possible, in more than a few notable ways. My son Kamau was tracking the live blog, and so was my sister Carly, and bff Mary. And they were clapping, and watching, and rooting. All was well. Truly.

God gave me more than I hoped for. It was better than what I dreamed it would be. And I won! Not the Christy Award, but so much more.

That's why I'm smiling in this picture, cane; wrist brace; broken body, and all. Because God is so very good.

And so are my kind friends.

Thank you all! You rawk!


p.s. Zora and Nicky is now an ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Book of the Year finalist!