Category: Jesus

Saved from my own harm

April 26th, 2009 — 8:40am

I experienced an incident yesterday that happened several months earlier in a similar fashion and, once again, found myself…for lack of a better word: pleased to find that Christ had delivered me from myself yet again.

I have a way of getting ahead of myself, allowing my emotions to take control of my tongue (or in this case, my typing fingers) to the point that I can no longer muster the common sense needed to interact with the rest of the world. To put it simply, when I hear or read something I don’t like, I sometimes respond before taking stock of what I’m saying and what the ramifications of saying could be.

Several months ago, I found myself in a situation where I thought I could not handle the people around me and was just about to say something abrupt and simply mean before exiting the scene, but Christ stifled my voice for just long enough for the situation to work out by itself and leave me looking and feeling like the person I’ve always been rather than the mean and embittered person who tries to come out every now and again. Yesterday, I once again was saved from myself.

Sarcasm is my preferred mode of interacting with others; people always seem to remember the witty, sarcastic girl they had met the previous day. While this can have it’s ups and downs, I know I can definitely “dish out” much more than I can take in return. When I allowed a series of witty snips to really get to me, instead of relying on my own sarcastic quips to take away the minor hurt, I prepared to retort with something that was downright arrogant and mean. In other words, I was prepared to be completely unlike myself in a minute of subdued rage over being incapable of bringing a “comeback” soon enough. The amazing thing is, I actually completed my rant and forwarded it for my quarry to see. It was only after the fact, when I didn’t receive an immediate response, that I took the time to re-read what I had written and realized that what I said could have been the very thing that ruined my friendship with this person. But, then God stepped in for me. 🙂

Even though I’d sent my message, it wasn’t read; we sarcastic run in the same circles and my recipient didn’t wait for a response, and so, my mean epithets were never even seen. The words I’d said were harsh and rude and make me feel ashamed, but it’s moments like these that help me realize that I have to work hard to keep that mean, embittered person from taking over my life again.

Christ has always shielded me, to the point of almost spoiling me. He spoils me with the people around me and He spoils me with gifts as well. I just find it rather amusing that God can find a moment out of infinite time to step in and save myself from augmenting or harming the blessings that lie in wait for me.

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Obligatory New Year’s post

January 1st, 2009 — 1:09pm

According to this article, making New Year’s resolutions often do more harm than good. What people mostly experience is that they can never live up to the high expectations they set for themselves and become depressed and embittered as the year continues because they fell off this bandwagon or went right back to doing what they had resolved to no longer do. I am quite guilty of making resolutions without having the resolve, willpower, whatever to stick to them and this year I just said, “To heck with it.”

My mother always told me the superstition regarding how one brings in the new year. Essentially, how you bring in the year is how you will live the year. In some regards, this is true. For example, I rang in 2005 drunk, a little depressed and drinking with people I really didn’t like and most of my year was spent drunk, a little depressed and around people I just wanted to punch in the face. On the other hand, I rang in 2006, not wanting to spend another New Year’s in some bar surrounded by people I didn’t like, in the church and ended up joining the church and discovering how awesome God is.

In most cases, though, this idea is all superstition and completely false. Every year since I can remember, I have spent the majority of December 31st cleaning like mad to make sure the house/apartment/townhouse/whatever was as clean as possible to ring in the new year and every year since I can remember, the house/apartment/townhouse/whatever ended up just as dirty throughout the year as it was on December 30th.

This year, rather than say, “Hurray! A new year! Let me make all these resolutions I’ll never stick to and such!” I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing; that is, going for my major goals. The house is a mess right now, but to be honest, cleaning it up on one night was not going to keep it clean all year. I have to be in the mindset to keep it clean daily. I don’t weigh what I want right now, but I’m very healthy and if I keep eating how I should and exercising regularly, my body will adapt. After all, I didn’t put on the weight in a week, so I can’t possibly expect it to come off in a week either. My novel is still not complete, but if I just keep writing something every day my ultimate goal of having a novel published by 9/26/2010 will get accomplished.

I still went to church tonight to ring in my new year, but I also still made sure my daily chapter of the Bible got read and I am still going to do my stomach crunches and light lifting before I go to sleep. There really is no difference between 12/31/08 and 1/1/09; I’m still going to keep doing Dorienne and still strive for my goals. Or, like my pastor often says, I’m going to remember to keep the main thing, the main thing. 😀

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The small things

November 30th, 2008 — 1:58am

Something like this happens nearly every day of my life, but rarely do I step back and really thank God for the small wonders He bestows upon me. Since I’m a bit too thick to remember the proverbial small things, He takes some of them and just expands them in front of my eyes so that I remember that even though I am just an insignificant speck amongst all His creations, he is still watching and listening.

I try very hard to find the something good out of everyone I meet, but of course, there are some people I just don’t like. While I make every attempt to first examine myself to make sure what irks me about them is not something they do and that I also do or worse, is something that I am just projecting onto them unduly. Once all these conditions are met, I chalk said person up to “I just don’t like them,” but again, work diligently to remember that Christ’s teachings are to love all my “brothers” and “sisters” and pray for them even when my “humanity” just doesn’t want to pray for them. That said, I have encountered a number of people through my job that “I just don’t like,” but it is amazingly through these people that God allows me to remember my own faults and issues and also reminds me to thank Him for the small things.

A few months ago, I applied for a new position within my job and was sore to find out that I did not get the position I wanted, only to realize that that same position would have put me in direct contact with one of these few people “I just don’t like.” That little scenario in itself was happy-dance and blog-worthy because it was one of those times when I had said, “Well God. I don’t understand why you didn’t given me what I wanted, but I’m sure this is all a part of your plan.” but the real joy comes from today. When faced with another one of these people that “I just don’t like,” I cried out an arrow prayer of sorts that I didn’t even realize I was making and was provided with not only the peace I was seeking, but also the ability to save face so that I could remain on good terms with someone who I really just want to punch in the face, but don’t because…well, there are lots of reasons, but I know I just shouldn’t.

The point of today’s ramble is simply that God is always listening and knows precisely what I need, and for that, I am thoroughly thankful.

I added this video as one of my YouTube favorites recently because it really makes one consider “insignificance” in a whole new light:

I am incredibly small when compared with everything else in God’s universe…and yet He still saves me from myself and answers my prayers.

…kind of brings this little diddy to mind:

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Too stressed for Jesus?

November 9th, 2008 — 8:07am

I realized something fascinating this week…

Throughout most of October, I had made a strong effort to ensure that I read at least one chapter of the Bible every day. I started with Luke, then the Gospel of John, then read Mark. I am currently reading Matthew, but there have been large gaps in my reading in November. I took a temporary position at work that is a nice opportunity, but has thrown my schedule completely out of whack, making me feel the busiest I have ever been. The problem, however, is that somewhere in all of that busyness, I started to forget about my daily chapter. Interestingly enough, once I stopped reading my chapter-a-day, I started feeling stressed again; a stress that was reminiscent of the days before I came back to Christ. The house became messy, I did not seem to have time for anything and I started gaining weight…all because I had neglected to take time to ensure I had time for Jesus.

Over the past few days, I have been working diligently to make sure I took some “me” time somewhere in the day just so that I could make time for Christ. I am still not back into my normal rhythm, but at least I am aware of the root cause of my stress and know how to do something about it…and also ready myself to vow to never let it happen again.

On another note, my favorite author of all time passed away this week. My reaction to the news was with complete shock, though as evidence that I am living in a Post-Edrith and Post-MawMaw psyche where I am almost always “all cried out,” I did not cry. I may yet find myself needing to mourn him with tears, but at this point I don’t really know what to do.

When I was growing up, there was no “Young Adult” genre and so, I went from reading Berenstein Bears to Crichton and King. Crichton’s works have fascinated me more than any other author I have ever read and the thought that there will never be a new Crichton novel leaves me feeling rather…hollow.

There was a point in my life (actually a rather long span of my life) where I wanted to be a black female version of Michael Crichton. I wanted to go to medical school and then begin writing just so that I could take a path similar to his. The only reason I watched the bits of ER that I did was because he had created it and I had fantasized about what kind of show I could create after I was out of medical school and had published a few novels. I have greatly adapted this dream, but the fact remains that it was Crichton and his works that first put the thought of “I could be a writer” in my head. I still see myself years from now saying, “He’s the reason I became a writer.” I already feel the loss.

I have prayed for his family and also that he was at peace with his God before he passed, but I think that some time during these next few weeks, while carving out some “me” time, I will definitely need a moment. I know the older I get, the more often this will occur, so I suppose I should simply ready myself for the inevitable, but I think I may find a new fervor for re-reading each of his works that I have in my possession.

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It’s finally happened…

October 18th, 2008 — 4:59am

…I’ve missed an episode of SVU and, to top off everything else, I think my undying love for The X-Files is finally starting to take a downturn. I realized the latter a few days ago when I go through old files on my computer and saw I had not updated the TXF site in months. (As I write this, I decided to take a little break and post some kind of update and found that David Duchovny split up with his wife. Does any Hollywood marriage last!?!) It is a strange feeling for me to not have some X-Files story building at the back of my mind or to not have a bits of an episode playing in my daydreams. Lately, I have been writing more often and have had little to no time to watch anything at all, hence the reasoning for missing SVU.

I wonder if this is a sign that I’m getting older. A part of me says “no” since I still play the Sims like it is something I’m paid to do and I watch (emphasis because it usually just plays in the background while I play Sims) Daria and Futurama in non-stop loops as playlists on my computer. Then another part of me causes my head to nod and say…”yep, I’m getting old.”

I turned twenty-four last month and I let the occasion pass without much fanfare partly because I was bracing myself for the one anniversary (I hate using that word to describe this, but there really aren’t any synonyms for it) of Edrith’s passing and partly because I just don’t want my birthday to seem like a big deal anymore. All the “fun” ones have passed and only the old ones remain; 25, 30, 40 etc. I’ve got friends who are living together, friends who are getting married, friends who have got married and are about to start a family, friends who already have several children…I’m getting older and every so often I think about how far I have come, but mostly how little I’ve moved since I turned eighteen and became an “adult.”

Supposing I look at the positives, I am successfully living on my own first the first time. I say successfully because I haven’t got tuition hanging over my head and can actually focus on paying off some debt while still managing my apartment and preparing to add my college loans to the fold. I am also starting to figure out who I am: a writer. It has always been a part of who I am, but I’ve been sensing now more than ever that this is the path on which Jesus has set me, rather than something that I just want to do. When I think about any job or career path I’ve ever had, everything always came back to writing. I somehow found a way to write on the job or found myself working just to support myself while I write. I know it’s best to take advantage of these times now because I know marriage and children would never allow for that kind of behaviour…if I ever get married and change my mind about over-population and my general forecast about the state of humanity. I guess there were some negatives to add, but thank God (literally) they’ve been pushed away by thoughts about this story and that story I’m planning to write.

Something interesting I’ve experienced, however, that has got me really think is the idea of rejection. The closest I came to not getting specifically what I wanted, ie: entrance into a creative writing class at OSU, and the fact that my creations have been rejected multiple times from ModtheSims2 presents a completely foreign sensation to me. I’m not used to dealing with rejection, though I’m happy I haven’t resorted to tears or swearing over something I don’t care about too much, but there is something so unsettling about working so hard at something only to not have it well-received. On the other hand…perhaps this is Jesus’ way of telling me my time is better spent on other things…*rubs chin*

Oh well…this is my second completed written “project” in two days, so here’s to praying that this is one step in the right direction in the way of writing the “Great American Novel.”


Original link

On a side note — Daggonnit, John! Why couldn’t you start later in the afternoon so that I could make it to Westerville after church!!! I guess I should be somewhat satisfied though because it if was both John and Sarah, I would have to be giving 11:00AM service “my best” as I flew across the city to see them both. Honestly, that is a once in a lifetime event and I met Bush when he was running. Of course, that’s not much to brag about, but still kind of cool on its own…

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It’s on, now.

September 12th, 2008 — 12:16am

I’m starting a writing challenge to myself today. Everyday, I will have something done. A chapter, a blog post, a set of notes, a whole story. Something will be completed every single day.

I put myself to this challenge because I really need to work on the craft and just flex my fingers in it any way that I can. I know I get burnt out a lot more often than I should which results in playing the sims for days on end without getting any real work done. And, there’s truly work to be done, now that Flight is almost complete. I think that’s really what’s pushing this new drive; the completion of Flight just frees me up for so many other opportunities I feel like I’m going to burst or my fingers will just fall off before I finish everything I’ve got to say. Either way, I know I’ve got the stamina for this and, if I don’t already, I know I’ve got goals out there that are just itching to be completed. I know for certain I don’t want to wake up at 35 and realize I’ve got nothing accomplished, thus the setting of this challenge.

I’ve got loads of other challenges in the back of my mind, but Damen is the most pressing right now, or simply getting in everything that book will entail. I feel like I’m putting my heart and soul into it right now and every once in a while, I feel discouraged when I look at it because it’s not coming as fast I think it should. Then, Jesus smiles…perhaps just smirks or nods contentedly at me as I pursue this and I get the small signs that tell me I’m on the right track for attempting this. Like today, for example. I’d forgot I’d written my draft for the final lines of the novel and set to work on “creating” them. I realized when my fingers hit the J and F bars for insight, I didn’t know where I wanted to go with the end, only that I needed to go somewhere. Lo and behold! a thought came to me and I pushed it into existence as quick as my hands would move, thinking that I’d come up with something new all by myself and “to heck” with whatever I’d originally thought I should do with the ending…only to discover, while re-reading the notes I’d already written, I’d already written close to the same exact thing months earlier, which makes me honestly believe that this is something I should do, rather than just want. Usually, the bad things I want in life, Christ steers me away from and then, due to this marvelous ADHD He’s blessed me with, I forget whatever bad things I’d intended on doing before I even get to them. When it came to this ending though…He drove me right back to what I wanted to say and with a burst of blessed energy that I’m finally doing the right thing, it’s on now!

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…to get some milk and co-okies…

August 12th, 2008 — 3:03am

It is always so fascinating when you have a moment to reflect. Only in these moments do you realize just how much you take for granted. Or who for that matter. My great Aunt Phyllis passed away last Sunday and while I cannot forwardly remember her, I still prayed for my grandmother very, very hard. “They” say these things come in threes. With a lot of people the three started with Morgan Freeman, but with me it started with my great aunt.

I’d be lying if I said I watched every episode of The Bernie Mac Show and I’d also be lying if I said that he was one of my absolute favorites in comedy. But, I will say this: his was the funniest spot on The Original Kings of Comedy and you can always spot talent when you watch a comedian do stand-up. Even the few bits of The Bernie Mac Show I remember still stick with me and make me smile.

Bernie Mac was truly hilarious and, even though I only saw him in things here or there, I was still devastated when I read that he had passed. It seemed so simplistic and just far too soon, but I guess God knew it was his time just like with anyone else. What really interests me is the fact that he seemed more cherished to me than say Isaac Hayes. My heart goes out to the Hayes family, but with Bernie Mac, you know he is somewhere where there is no more pain and no more tragedy.

I watched The Original Kings of Comedy tonight because it was the only thing I had with him that didn’t require going all the way back downstairs and sifting through my DVDs, but I’m very glad I did. In the film, right before he goes on stage, he does the coolest thing; make a cross over himself and clearly say a short prayer before performing and his was just as funny as the first time I saw it. When he got into the part that turned out to be the plot of his show, I was crying with laughter for ten minutes straight.

While the bipolar in me wants to rush out and buy several seasons of The Bernie Mac Show and watch ten episodes of South Park straight, that “moment” passed without incident just by seeing Bernie Mac make that little cross before he performed. When I learned of Isaac Hayes passing, I prayed for him and his journey because it seems he went before the Creator a Scientologist instead of a Christian as he should have been, but with Bernie Mac, everything is all smiles. I know where he went and I can’t imagine how best to “pay my respects” to someone than to laugh with them on home.

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April 4th, 2008 — 1:22am

Every once in a while, I find myself in an anxious stupor (if that’s even possible) as I feel time ticking away from me tick by tick by tick by tick…Whoops! There goes another second.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the odd one out in a room of millions. Like being the only girl in a room full of men. Like being the short person in a standing crowd. Like being the only black person in a classroom – Oh wait! I already face that every day!

But really, sometimes I wonder if anyone else in the world looks at the fact that every second that passes is a second closer to death. I think about it…often. Far too often. Sometimes, I think about it to the point that my breath catches and I run a dozen prayers through my mind to calm my spirit to the point that I can face the world again. And, there goes another ten minutes.

The entire idea of life bothers me. Twenty-three years have come and gone for me. One day I’ll wake up and I’ll be thirty or forty or sixty or ninety or I’ll just wake up to some searing pain in my chest as my body goes into cardiac arrest and I run a dozen prayers through my mind hoping that all “bad stuff” I’ve done or said or thought can be washed away in the .0310 seconds before I take my last breath.

The Christian in me does not fear death. I know – no, I really know – that I have accepted Christ in my heart and if I were to die at this very second…there’s a pretty good chance I would go to heaven. That part doesn’t bother me, in fact, it’s the only thing that comforts me. But then come the “what-ifs.”

The what-ifs drive doldrums into depressions, they drive eccentricities into insanities, they…I don’t know if I can sit here and list all the ways the what-ifs make the world a miserable place, but every time I think about another second passing…the what-ifs plague me.

What if this is all there is? What if there is no after-life waiting me? What if when we’re gone, we’re gone? What if I’ll never see Edrith or MawMaw again? What if my own mother dies and that’s it. No more hugs or lengthy birth stories every 26th of September; no more nothing. What if I never get married and have children? What if I end up old and alone? What if death is painful? What if it starts happening to me and I’m conscious of every part of it? What if I’m in such a panic when it starts to happen, I don’t even think of prayer and my last thoughts are “Oh shit!” instead of “Oh Christ!”? What if I think back to writing this post in my last moments and think, “What an utter waste of time!”? What if…indeed.

All the what-ifs notwithstanding, time keeps on marching. Already twenty minutes have passed since the moment I wrote “Time” as the title of this. Twenty minutes gone in a life that has to end at some point. Twenty fewer minutes to wonder, to love, to think, to grow, to create, to cry, to smile, yearn, eat, sleep, breath. And, there goes another twenty.

I think this is just a reflection on procrastination. I haven’t had time all week to even practice the lesson to be able to teach the adult class on Sunday, but what has me on edge is the fact that there hasn’t even been time to procrastinate. It’s already April and the book’s not done. It’s already April and the weight isn’t down a bit. It’s already April and I still don’t feel like I’m a greater, stronger, better Christian. And, another ten minutes into April gone.

Time…keeps moving on. Heh.

Time keeps movin’ on,
Friends they turn away.
I keep movin’ on
But I never found out why
I keep pushing so hard the dream,
I keep tryin’ to make it right
Through another lonely day, whoaa.

…maybe that should be my new song for the blog. Hmm…

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Still struggling

December 29th, 2007 — 11:15pm

Time has been passing me by so quickly these days it seems like I get home from church, then wake up Monday morning and then only a few minutes pass before I’m right back to a new Monday. I suppose the time warp is really not really much more than a combination of procrastination and stress. What is really irritating that is I procrastinate procrastinating and I am stressed over things that really should not be stressing me at all. In fact, it is really all the stress that is slowly but surely eating away at me.

I worry about what I am going to do with the rest of my life. I have a lot of dreams, but there are millions of people in this world with dreams just as big if not bigger that go unrealized everyday. Am I doomed to become one of them? What am I going to do if this “writing thing” doesn’t work out? I can see myself slowly disintegrating from the absolute doldrums of a nine to five job that is so boring that every day I wish for death just so I could stop working. I also see myself living that life all alone. I think I could make it without knowing my dreams if I just was not so alone all the time, but it is so hard to separate my “old self” from my “new self” that when I go out to meet people, I end up finding myself attracted to the same old people with whom I shouldn’t be associating. It’s very depressing.

I can’t keep to commitments, even the really important ones that I have every intention of keeping. I chalk this up to procrastination. Even as I type, I procrastinate. It seems to be etched into my very soul and then I realize all the planning I do to keep from procrastinating is just a new form of procrastination in itself. I keep meaning to do this for people, spend time with people, call people, heck, do things for myself, but it never gets done. I suppose I could use the tired excuse of fatigue being the reason I don’t do what I should, but that just feels, for lack of a better word, lame.

It’s been about three or four weeks since I started this post. Sadly not much has changed in my life regards to my recent depression. Actually, that is not quite true. If anything, I feel like I’m spiraling to a new low. I’ve only just now even wanted to write anything. When I get depressed to the point that I don’t even want to write, it just depresses me even more.

I feel like Flight is a disaster. There are points as I re-read it, I just want to pitch the entire project. The reviews I’ve been getting are always positive, but the part of my psyche that judges everything I do too harshly, looks at every word of every chapter as complete tripe. I haven’t updated it in weeks, and while a part of me truly wants to the words, “what’s the point?” keep billowing through my head.

MawMaw died two weeks ago. Her homegoing was last Friday.

I’ll be honest in saying I did not cry as hard as I did for Edrith, but I’m certain it’s because I’m all cried out at this point. When I first heard the malpractice, I wanted to burst into tears right there and then, but as there still seemed like a glimmer of hope existed, I didn’t. I cried when I called Caprica. I could hear her crying on the other end and I just kept thinking, “We just lost Edrith…” I could say that this doesn’t seem fair, but so rarely in my life have I seen anything that could qualify as “fair,” that it is ridiculous for me to get into it. All I can say, is that I’m less saddened by the fact that she’s no longer in pain and no longer struggling. I, however, continue in both regards.

I had a list of things I wanted to talk about in this post: more members of Edrith’s family have joined the church and I burst into tears each time they do; I feel like I’m only going through the motions when it comes to church; the fact that I want to tank the book; my urge to write combined with my lack of motivation and the idea that bipolar disorder could be the cause of my doldrums; I’m not in the mood for any of those.

Something that did happen about three or four weeks ago was mightily troubling, though. We had an afternoon service one Sunday and I’d told myself the Thursday before it that I wasn’t going and that I would not be swayed by a change in mood come Sunday afternoon. And I didn’t. That afternoon, instead of second service, I was in my apartment looking for a church video of our choir singing Stephen Hurd’s “Revelation 19.1” and I had prepared myself for what, or should I say, who I was going to see.

I’d found a video of our choir singing from September. It was the last time Edrith sang with us. I was all right for the first few minutes of forwarding to see which specific service the video was from, but then I burst into tears and continued crying for the rest of the day. The only thing I could to was let the video play and have my own personal, second service as I watched and listened to a sermon from months earlier. I thought I had been prepared to see her, alive and well, but I was not. A part of me wonders if I’ll ever get over this; another part does not want to get over anything because then it feels like she’s gone forever. It’s just still so hard coming to the realization I’ll never see her again in this life. Which brings me back to MawMaw…

When I’d first met her, a year earlier, she’d said to me “Hi. I’m Grandma.” I already had a grandmother, so she was “MawMaw” to me then and had been until two weeks ago. It feels like I can’t properly mourn her because my tears for Edrith have not yet dried. It’s times like these that I’m happy I’m saved because I can’t imagine how else to get through something like this.

My heart hurts, mostly because I couldn’t imagine hurting even more so closely to a previous loss, but there’s more to it. The Mass Choir sang at her homegoing and at one point, her second granddaughter had come to be hugged by her godmother in choir stands. There is something so heartbreaking about listening to a five-year-old cry for the loss of a loved one. You think that someone so young can’t really understand what’s going on, but they really can.

I think what had been bothering me most when I first started writing this post, weeks ago, is that I mourn so thoroughly, but I feel like I don’t even have a right to mourn so hard. Edrith was a friend, but she was not my best. MawMaw was MawMaw, but she wasn’t my grandmother. I feels like I don’t have the right to cry so hard for them, but I can’t help it because I loved them both so much. What’s even worse, is that I cry even harder because I know my time is coming too. I know one day I’ll be sitting in the front row of our church crying over my own mother or my own grandmother, father, step-father, step-brothers, cousins, friends…Death is coming and there’s no way out of it. There’s no escaping it. I hate not having control of something in my life. I don’t fear what happens after death. It’s the act of dying that causes my heartbeat to race like it did when I almost drowned when I was eight years old. The only thing I can do about it is pray for Jesus to give me strength throughout the rest of my Christian walk.

A new fire feels lit, though. I want to write again and I yearn to be published.

Of the six goals, I laid out for myself last January, only one was partially completed. I finished a novel and “submitted” it to the world. Sadly, it’s not publishable, but I still did it. This year, the goals are still very much the same: get fit, graduate, write and stay neat. I will not however dwell over these goals by reading the post several times and forget them as soon as the month of January had ended. I’ll just say that I aim to be a better person and just do it. We’ll see how this goes.

This is the first time I am entering a new year in this deep of a “low” and my hope is that ringing in the new year in the house of the Lord will diminish some of that and pull me up so that I have the desire to do what I need to do.

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The greatest thing happened today

October 21st, 2007 — 4:04pm

The greatest thing happened today!

It comes after two of the most endearing and tearful weeks of my life and it takes a special resolve to keep my composure now. This past week might have been the most difficult of all. At times I would seem fine and at peace, but then something would happen to bring out the tears once more.

The funeral…The Homegoing was very nice. I nearly forgot. We don’t have funerals for saved people. We have Homegoings to send them on home to their Father. Her homegoing was just very, very nice.

I got there early to help my cousin set up her video and I was completely unnerved because when I first walked in the church, one of the other members looked at me and said I looked just like her as I walked through the door, and I took it as a complete compliment, but I was still rather unsettled at what the sight of me was doing to her. It was a compliment, however. To be compared with someone who was in tune with her Lord…always a compliment.

So, I’m helping my cousin and another member comes into the sanctuary and she pauses as she stares at me because I’m standing right next to the pulpit. At first, I thought she was going to say something because of what I was wearing (I hardly ever wear a skirt and I was wearing white because I kept telling myself that this wasn’t a funeral, so there was no need to wear black), but then she too told me that she thought I was Edrith standing there. She started crying as she sat down afterward and I had no idea what to do even as I kept rubbing her shoulders and telling her that we all knew where Edrith was. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord…

At that point, the funeral home had not brought her there yet and my cousin and I kept trying to make the video work, but it simply would not function and as I’m handing her my cell phone so she can call my other cousin, her husband, for more direction, the church doors opened and then they came in with her. The casket was a shade darker than Tiffany Blue and I froze. I stood on the pulpit with my cousin who was working with the video equipment just behind it and I stared anywhere except at the casket. I simply was not ready. I had been trying all week long to get ready, but I simply wasn’t.

The Sunday directly after we had first received the news was the most tearful service I have ever experienced. Everyone was so affected and it really hit home when we didn’t see her there. I remember driving up to the stop sign just in front of the church, as it sits on the corner, and I just sat there in my car for a full minute just staring at the church. My hands were shaking and the tears were beginning to come again because I knew what was about to happen. I knew that I was going to walk through the church doors and instead of getting a quick hug from her and a little “happy dance” that I had made on time for Sunday School for the third third week in a row, she would not be there. I eventually gained my composure and got to the church, and you could just see it in everyone’s eyes.

I tried to keep my lesson light-hearted and my other students and I tried to laugh about how Esau must of have looked being covered in red hair and how simple he seemed to give up his birthright for a bowl of soup, but even toward the end of the lesson, I began to feel it again. When we concluded Sunday School, our secretary only had this year’s records because her mind was clearly elsewhere and the atmosphere was very subdued. It only occurred to me then, that our Sunday School director had forgotten to come around and even collect the offerings for my Young Adult class. I also hadn’t realized how much I’d taken for granted seeing her standing next to Deacon Jordan as they concluded. I nearly lost it at first when we consecrated before Sunday School and she was not the one to lead the prayer. I had grown so accustomed to how she would pray: “Oh Heavenly Father, we come to you…” She would continue to say it throughout her prayers: Oh Heavenly Father, this and Oh Heavenly Father that. It was so Edrith and her style of praying and I miss it dearly.

The devotional service was subdued as well. Normally, it is filled with upbeat songs to get everyone in the spirit, but the songs were slow and moving throughout the service. You could just see it on the face of everyone in the church. Hugs lasted longer as you could feel others shake as they tried to hold back tears and I had held it together until I saw our choir director, her best friend. She was surrounded by others who just kept telling her that we all knew where Edrith is, but the tears just kept coming and when I hugged her I broke down with her. I don’t normally cry in public if I can help it, but I broke down as we cried together for our lost sister.

The rest of the service went along, though also greatly subdued, and I kept trying to keep my eyes dry as I stood at the door and greeted people as an usher, but I kept running for the tissues and simply had to leave for the restroom at one point. I normally take a collection plate down the aisles during the missionary offering, but I could not and asked to just hold the door during the offering. I was not ready to see all the faces yet because I knew what was coming.

The announcements went as normal and I nearly lost it altogether when I followed along in our bulletin. A project she had been heading was still on schedule and her name was still there as someone to speak to about the project. Our announcer, also the same member who broke down after thinking I was Edrith standing at the pulpit, had paused as she read the reminder for the event and thankfully read the other name as the event leader, my cousin, but we all saw it and the other ushers came out with several news boxes of tissues.

Pastor said a lot about her and I was okay at first until he started to tear up at the pulpit. Dear Jesus…everyone was crying at that point. It was just so sad because we knew where she went, yet our hearts still wretched for her and still do. The youth was began singing and with each song, I grew more tearful even though I tried so desperately to keep my composure. One of our lead ushers kept asking me if I was okay and I kept saying yes, wanting to believe the words, but during altar call prayer, I held hands with him and another usher as one of the ministers lead the prayer and I started shaking violently because I was trying to hold it together, but the tears kept coming and eventually, he just pulled me into a hug and allowed me weep openly on his shoulder. By the time, the altar call prayer was over, I knew others were crying just as much and even harder than me, but the tears would not stop and I crossed the church to where my mother sat and just fell into her arms as I cried. She pulled me into the hall continually saying “I know baby. I know.” as I just wailed in the hallway. The hardest thing about it was that…as old as I am; I am 23 years old, I live on my own, I have a job, I go to school and I have my own insurance. I am, for all intents and purposes, an adult, but all my grown self wanted, no needed in that moment was my mother. As I crossed the church, I just kept saying to myself “I just want my mommy.” I had never experienced grief before and I’ve found that as grown as I pretend to be, at the end, I just needed my mother.

She eventually took my outside because a short while after we left the sanctuary, Edrith’s goddaughter, also the daughter of her best friend, was having a fit not unlike mine in the arms of her mother and it made me cry even harder. Outside, my mother just kept telling me that these should not be tears that I would never see Edrith again. She said, that we knew where she was and we know that she is praising Jesus right next to the father; she said to me the same thing I had been trying to tell others all morning, but I just needed to hear someone say the same to me as well. We were joined by other friends who had come to check in on me and my one friend began to cry slightly. She said, “I don’t remember who got on me most about coming to church and Sunday School. Edrith or Dorienne.” and it made me laugh because that was just the kind of person Edrith was.

After a while, I was okay and I haven’t had screaming tears like that since, though the silent ones have slipped every now and again and did so immensely at the Homegoing. Throughout the rest of the week, I was so unnerved by the fact that I could be shaken to my knees with grief and be brought to the point that I needed to just hug my mother and cry. I kept having to tell people what happened and write e-mails to my professors to explain what was going on in my life. I had to turn in a paper a week late because I had had every intention on beginning it Sunday night, but it did not cross my mind again until the class I was able to attend that week. Even now, I am still trying to play catch-up, but it is slowly coming along. My employer has been oddly understanding. I had a vacation day scheduled for last Wednesday, but was able to get it moved to last Monday so that I wouldn’t have to just call in “sick” to go to the Homegoing. They let me work “mail” a lot because somehow, listening to someone gripe about why they had to pay a $4.38 finance charge on their credit after I had just lost a dear friend was just bound to cause problems.

Previously, I had never been involved with the plans of a Homegoing. It never occurred to me that the programs that were passed out during the service had to made. Things had to be written for them, they had to be printed and put together. That first week was probably the most stressful week of my life. I offered help where I could and even then I still felt inadequate. That Saturday, nine days after it had happened, I had called our choir director, Edrith’s best friend, and the director of the choir in which Edrith sang, to see if we were going to have a practice/getting together in remembrance of her and she told me that we weren’t and that they were just looking at the site for her grave that day. I went to work that day able to keep it together unlike the previous week, where I was okay until someone asked me what was wrong, after seeing the look on my face and probably noting that I was still in glasses and had on no makeup. My friends from work tried their best to console me and I pulled it together quickly, but I was in no mood to deal with customers regardless.

Last Sunday was the first time we had to sing without her. It was…very difficult. At one point, right before we began another song, Caprica, our director, looked to Edrith’s seat in the choir stand and this look came over her face. She had to keep leaving the sanctuary after each song and I knew she left to weep away from the eyes of the rest of the congregation. We could just sense it as we sang up there. She was with us, but she wasn’t with us and that’s what made me cry hardest during altar call prayer. It was not as drastic as the previous week, but I still cried hard because I knew that at no point again in this life would I look two seats down to the soprano section and see her smiling face.

After service, we had to put the pieces for her programs together and we had this fun assembly line going as we kept the conversation light-hearted via my other cousin, who I had poked and prodded about the staples not being on the pre-made creases from the assembly line until she sat back and let me do it. It took close to three hours, but I stapled together all 200+ programs…directly on the crease. 🙂 We had pizza together before afternoon service, and we joked and laughed and just talked like women do when we get together and every once in a while we’d talk about how pretty her picture was on the programs and who was doing her hair and such. It was a very bonding moment for all of us and I got to show my sarcastic side more than I had previously.

All of this was going through my head when the men from the funeral home came in the sanctuary with the casket and when they had opened up the casket and I could just make out her hair between the top of the closed part and where I stood, I handed my phone to my cousin and I ran away into the side hall. I had tried to keep it together, but I really wasn’t ready. I came back quickly, though, to help her and when it looked like she got a good handle on making the video work again, I left again to sit just in the hall. I hugged those I knew who had come through the doors and at one point I stood just to the side of the casket’s opening and could see the white of the pillows around her face before I left again. My other cousin just kept repeating that we were not having a funeral. We were just sending her home.

With everything set up, we filed up to see her and I was holding the hands of two of my cousins as we walked toward the casket. I began to shake again as we approached and I thought I was going to lose it again and I felt my cousin squeeze my hand just as tightly as I squeezed hers as we finally got there.

Her hair done exactly like she always had it, even with the little flip across her forehead and as my other cousin said as we stared at her, she really looked at piece with all the white around her. My memory of what I saw is very blurry because the tears were coming down my face so readily that it blurred my vision, but that’s okay because that’s not how I plan on remembering her anyway. All of my memories of her are happy, not sad at all.

Our choir, with my two cousins included, took the choir stands, but as we sat waiting for the service to begin we noticed how full the sanctuary was and by the time service was about to begin, some of the actual church members were sitting in the choir stands with us to make room for all those who had come to pay their respects for her. It was just so full. The doors of the sanctuary remained open and they had set up more seats out in the hall to account for all the people. We actually ran out of programs and someone had to quickly run out and have some xeroxed to accommodate everyone who was there. What is amazing is that there were so many people and yet, lots of people had already left during the wake and even more had left because there just wasn’t anywhere else to sit. So loved…

I kept it together for the most part once we were in the choir stands and we sang twice before they showed her video. Tears were streaming down my face throughout most of it and I was trying so hard to pull things together because I knew what the last song we were going to sing was and it was always one of my absolute favorites.

As this was a Homegoing and not a funeral, the songs we sang were bright and uplifting and that is how we sing “Pass Me Not.” I think I’ll post of video of us singing it a couple months ago in this post…but my favorite part of “Pass Me Not” is when we break the harmony and the different parts sing alone. Edrith was a soprano and though she was not some Whitney Houston-type singer, she could carry the soprano part all by herself and even before October 5th, it was one of my favorite parts of the song; how Caprica would point to Edrith and the other sopranos and we would just continue with the song from that point. I knew the song was coming and I glanced at where she should have been sitting. We had lain this shimmering throw over one of the seats in the soprano section, right where she should have been, and tears fell down my face before we even started the song because I knew whose voice I would not be hearing as I tried to maintain my own alto part.

Right when we broke into the soprano, alto and tenor parts like normal, the tears began to flow even harder, but I sang Edrith home as loud as I could. Afterward the music was playing and Pastor was yelling about how great God is and how we’re just singing our sister on home and I had a little moment of my own. I’ve never been one to be so moved during service that I dance and so on, but I had this moment where I was sort of bouncing in my seat a bit as I cried tears of mixed joy and sorrow. Something like that for a person like me is akin to jumping up and screaming and taking laps around the sanctuary as I screamed “Jesus!” I really can’t explain that moment, but it brought me peace afterward and throughout the rest of the service.

I rode in the car with my cousins and some other friends to the grave sight and we had a nice talk on the way there. We sang along with some of gospel songs that had come on the radio and jokingly suggested what we wanted for our own Homegoings. No one really wants to think that kind of thing, but it’s good to get it out early on so that when tragedy strikes, everyone knows what you wanted. Caprica had said to us that Edrith hadn’t wanted a sad funeral. She wanted it to be joyous and she wanted everyone to be happy. That kind of conversation had probably taken place months or years earlier, but at least we knew what she wanted.

I should ask my cousin what the exact number of her marker is because with all the twists and turns we had done in the cemetery, I know I’ll never find it again on my own. She rests by several large trees and it is so peaceful out there…

We had dinner at the church afterward and I had to explain my choices for vegetarianism multiple times and endure several calls of “I’ve never heard of a black person who didn’t eat chicken.” before I was able to sit. I sat next across from friends and between Pastor and one of the ministers I just call “Paw-Paw” even though we’re not related. I laughed a lot when talk with Paw-Paw turned to me ever getting married, since Pastor had talked about how Edrith was not willing to settle for anyone, but waiting on a good man. I had never given it a lot of thought, but I really do want Paw-Paw to dance at my wedding someday, so I should probably get on with that, too.

This past week had gone by in interesting spurts where I was upbeat having sang her home to points when I wanted to watch one of our church DVDs, but knew I couldn’t because I knew most of the services I have are ones where our choir sang and I wasn’t ready to see her just yet and the thought of that kind of brought me down a bit. Most interesting is that I don’t see myself ever trying to sleep in on Saturdays anymore. I don’t know because I know getting up at eight on Saturdays when I don’t have to probably won’t keep anyone else from passing, but I still don’t see myself doing that anymore.

But…today, the greatest thing happened.

I had been so crazed this week trying to just push through things that I hadn’t got to the lesson until I was literally driving myself to the church. I won’t be allowing that to happen again because there’s just no excuse for it. I know I should be prepared to teach the adult class on any given week and it would have been due justice if Deacon Jordan had looked at me and asked and I would have had to tell him that I simply wasn’t ready, but we got through the lesson and had a rather fine discussion as a whole group as Sunday School concluded, though it was very small with the fewest people I’d seen there yet.

As I stood my post at the door later on, greeting people and handing out the bulletins, I saw her mother and hugged her as she came through the door, though I had never hugged her previously even though she was a church member. Some people I hug, some people I don’t because we just don’t know each other like that, but she I hugged and probably will continue to hug each Sunday. What was so great though, is that directly behind her was a face that had only become familiar to me last Monday. One of Edrith’s sisters had come to our church.

I remember Caprica telling us after it had happened that Edrith was the only one of siblings who was saved and seeing her sister this morning nearly brought tears to my eyes. Throughout the entire service I kept praying and praying that the Word would touch her and that she would see reason to join and “give her life to Christ” today and like always, my Lord Jesus answered my prayer when I prayed so earnestly. She probably had made up her mind to do it when she got up this morning, but I prayed for her anyway. I was so sad for her when I saw her at the Homegoing because I knew she wasn’t saved and that was probably the hardest thing to deal with, but there she was and when Pastor Emeritus opened the doors to the church this morning, she stepped out in the aisle and I nearly burst into tears.

She joined the church today. She’s older than Edrith was, but she’d never been baptized and I’m just so happy and I burst forth with happy tears. Anytime I see someone join the church, it is cause for me to smile, but she in particular was most moving.

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