"EXPLAINING TRUTH FROM THE BOTTOM UP"
I have a daughter whom I’ve loved since before she was born. My personal hand crafted gift from GOD. She was perfect. Every night I would tell her she was the best thing that God has ever given me. When she got older time seemed to take her away from me. I understand that we are supposed to let our children go, so they can come into their own. However this didn't feel the same. She was distant, and extremely nonverbal. I wasn’t really sure how to approach her anymore. It seemed like everything I said to her was the wrong thing to say. Having a real conversation with her was equivalent to pulling a tigers tooth, and we know that’s not going to happen without sedation.
What have I missed? What caused her to be this way towards me? I’ve worked my butt off to make sure she had the best. Not one time did I ever pressure her to do anything she didn't’t want to do? Alex was the top of her class; she was in the top five in our state for high school swimmers. She had a full ride to a division one college. Not just for swimming but for academics too. Alex was well on her way in life, but when it came to us it was a different story.
After watching Dr. Phil, an episode about “Lack of communication in families”, I decided to have a "Real on Real" talk with her. I thought I was ready to have this talk, but little did I know what was about to be unleashed on me. I asked Alex did she remember the last time she smiled while we talked. She shrugged her shoulders. I told her it was well over six years ago. She looked up at me and said, “Wow!" "So you know how to keep up with some things, but not others!” I was puzzled as to what she meant by that; so I asked. She then said, "Six years ago while I was busy trying to make her the greatest swimmer in the world, I didn't’t notice that she was pregnant." "What", I said. Six years ago she was in the seventh grade.
Then it hit me. I changed swim coaches that year. She told me that he molested her and got her pregnant and forged papers to get her an abortion. I was sick to my stomach. I couldn't’t speak; all I could do was cry. Tears just flowed down my face. She thought that I cared more about a stupid swimming career then her. How did I not see that something was wrong with her? She resented me all these years. I’m not sure how to handle the information that was just given to me. I needed time to process everything.
While I have prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more I am waiting to hear from God on how I can mend my relationship with my daughter. As far as her swim Coach God and the judicial system will deal with him. I’ve shared this with you to give you a wake up call. Please keep open dialog with your children. Always let them know that there’s NOTHING on this earth that’s more important than them. I pray this day is the day you declare you’ll have a “ONE ON ONE” day with your child, no matter what age group they fall into. In order to help our children, we must get down to the “ROOT” of the problem.
Last night I got an opportunity to see a movie during our Wednesday night Bible study entitled "Time Changer". In the movie, a Bible professor from the late 1890's wrote a new manuscript which promoted good morals without discussing Christ. His colleague, however, feared that his book could harm coming generations; arguing that teaching good moral values without mentioning Christ was wrong. Using a secret time machine, the colleague sent the Bible professor over 100 years into the future, offering him a glimpse of where his beliefs will lead. Arriving in the early 21ST century, the Bible professor was shocked to find that half of all marriages ended in divorce, (instead of 5% in 1890), teenagers talked openly about deceiving their parents, movies contained blasphemous language and people who went to church were so bored by the sermons that they needed extra activities.
After seeing the movie, and taken a deeper look into the world that we live in, I couldn't help but notice what was taking place before my very eyes. The people of our world have become lovers of themselves; by ascribing all they have and do to themselves, and thinking that they could be independent from God. People have become lovers of money; placing it on a pedestal as if it has the ability to give you what God can offer; such as salvation, peace that surpasses all human understanding, joy, and etc. People have become boastful; thinking that their achievements, possessions, or abilities is reason to consider themselves higher than others, and validation to be prideful. People have become abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, and have a form of godliness but deny it's power.
So why did it take this movie to get me to have an epiphany that we are truly in the last days spoken of by the Apostle Paul in the scriptures? If heaven and hell is a matter of eternal life or death; paradise or torment; heavenly security or total damnation; why wasn't I more adamant and zealous to fulfill the Great Commission, and live a life that glorified Christ? How is it that everyday that I live, that I'm not disheartened by all the evil and wickedness that's taking place in the world? How come I didn't realize that sin grieves God's heart, and those who approve of it will not go unpunished? Is it not said, "To Love God, is to hate evil?" After doing some self-evaluation, I've come to the realization, that I had been "Sleep Walking thru my Calling"
It's true that evilness runs so rampant in the world, that it has become a way of life; causing us not to be irritated or bothered by what we hear and see. Satan has deceived the world by design, and without recognizing his strategic plan to capture the minds of our youth, ensnare people into his trap, and keep people in bondage to their sins; you're "Sleep Walking thru your Calling". For Jesus commanded us to fulfill the Great Commission; and make disciples of men of every nation; baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Let's awaken out of our sleep; because we have a calling to fulfill!
I'm out and about making a few runs for the day; off paying bills and visiting a few people. I pull up next to a bus stop and a young mother was talking on her cell phone not paying any attention to what looked to be seven year old daughter. First thing that ran across my mind is “I really hope her daughter gets some of her attention at home.” Then my thoughts took me to my own kids. Do I give them all the attention that they deserve?
I decided to pay my cable bill in the mall, just to do a little window shopping while I was there. I went into one of my favorite stores, (Footlocker); it’s my guilty pleasure. While browsing, this woman was talking to her son whom looked to be around thirteen. He was asking her to buy him a pair of $200+ Nike Foamposites. This woman snapped! “Have you lost your d*mn mind, she said. You're stupid as hell if you think I’ll spend that kind of money on anyone other than myself. Dumb a*s boy, go sit your a*s down somewhere!” I was floored. Clearly, she has no idea what her words will do to him.
While walking out the store I couldn’t do anything but to keep replaying what I’ve just seen over in my head. I would bet any money in the world, that if I could go back into the past, I would see that boy’s grandmother talking to his mother in the same manor that she was talking to her son. I was compelled to have a quick silent prayer for the breaking of generational curses. Afterwards, I began to reflect on my own upbringing. My mother was a very spiritual God fearing woman; who was always in church. I was very blessed to have her in my life. She taught me how to conduct myself as a child, and showed me what being a woman of God was all about. If she wasn’t in church and feared God, I’m sure she would’ve talked to me the same way.
After leaving the mall, my next stop was to T-Mobile; in order to look at a live demo of a couple phones. I’m a techie and really wanted the latest phone that they had. While playing with the phone, there was a little boy about two years old crying. He looked like he just wanted to be picked up. The man that was with him snatched him by his arm and then popped the little boy in the mouth with his wallet. There was no way that I could keep my mouth shut after seeing this! I went to the man and told him that was dead wrong for what he had done. He said “This my nephew, he’s a boy!” I then asked, “What’s that got to do with anything?” He replied, “He's tough, he ain’t gone be no lil punk!”
Clearly, it was yet another example of someone reflecting back on how they were taught; and thought that it would be a genius idea to raise their children in the same way. Some male figure in his life had to rough him up; thinking that it was the right thing to do for him to become a man. This man has no clue how he is opening up Pandora’s Box to violence in this little boys life. It won't be a surprise if his nephew gets into fights at school, due to the fact that he doesn’t know how to channel his aggression when upset. Another quick prayer was needed for this little boy and his uncle. Through experience, I believe that God can change the thoughts and behaviors of anyone with prayer.
Today just happened to be a little more then what I bargained for, when I decided not to pay bills online like I normally do. Nevertheless , I do believe that everything happens for a reason. I could only guess that God wanted me to see what I’ve seen, in order to pray for the people I've encountered. There’s no CHANCE, just APPOINTED times by GOD.
Sitting at the bar and I hear the bartender say, "Last Call”. My first thought is that I need at least three more shoots of Patron. I’ve had a lot but hey, what’s a few more? I lift my hand to get her attention, with a polite smile she lets me know that she sees me, and will be right with me. Once she is near I let her know what I want. Kim (the bartender) laughs and says how about one more. I already know I’m not going to win with her so I take what I can get. Kim has been working at The Lighter for about five years now just about the same time I started coming there. We have built up a friendship, which has extended outside of the bar. That’s the only reason that I’m not upset with her laughing in my face over my request.
Around 3am I was awaken from my sleep with a very cold chill that came over my body. It was weird almost like I jumped into Lake Michigan, like I was a new member of the Polar Bear Club. I set up in bed and looked around the room. Why? I’m not really sure. After surveying the room I laid back down. What was that all about? I drift back to sleep. Quickly I fall into a dream where I see car crashes; people are hurt all around me, with blood pouring from the back of a ladies head. The blood was all over the back of her white shirt. I ran to her to come to her aide, but when I was close enough to touch her, my alarm went off.
Another long day at work is over with. I’m really starting to dislike my job, its taking children away from the only parents/parent they know. I’m almost starting to become numb to the pain I would feel in my heart taking them away and putting them in a foster home. I need to do something different with my life. Time to hit The Lighter it’s becoming a tradition for me now. Every day after work I indulge in few shots of anything and go home. This time at the bar it felt different when I opened the door, it’s hard to describe but it just didn’t feel the same.
I sat and talked to Kim for a while about her kids and the new puppy she got them. Kim has always been such a pleasant person to talk to. I guess that’s why they call bartenders “Therapist”. I would tell her how I’ve been feeling at work and she would always listen attentively. “Last call” comes out of her mouth, that’s my signal time to go.
Awaken again from that dream of car crashes and blood. What is going on? It’s like there’s some kind of message inside of this dream. I’ve never had the same dream over, and over again in my life. Is God trying to tell me something?
Today was the same as any other day except at lunch I went to the deli down the street from the job, instead of going to the cafeteria in the building. While standing in line I overheard these two older ladies talking about dreams and how usually God is telling you something or forewarning about something.
Ok so I’ve never been a very spiritual person, I went to church when I was younger with my parents. Since I moved to Milwaukee I haven’t found a church home. I do pray when need be, however maybe not nearly as much as I should. You know just to give thanks for the little things. As the two ladies walk out of the deli I snap back to reality and order my pastrami on rye.
Thank goodness the clock strikes four, time to run out of these doors and into Lighters. Kim welcomes me with her warm smile yet again. Tonight I think I’ll have a few Jager Bomb’s. Sitting at the bar going over the events of the day with Kim I didn’t start to feel that sense of calm like normal. It was kind of bizarre, creepy feeling that came over me. I think maybe I should go home and get some sleep. Tonight really didn’t end on the note I would’ve wanted it to end on. While driving home this unsettling feeling was crawling all over my skin. Those older ladies kept flashing in my mind. I’m going to put my “maybes” aside. You know the maybe God is trying to speak to me, tell me something.
I pulled the car over to pray. As I prayed I asked God just what in the world was he trying to say to me? Why was I getting such crazy dreams about car crashes and blood everywhere? There were so many questions that I asked, however the reply was silent. It really wasn’t making any sense as to why I was still sitting here praying to a mute God. It was right at that moment when I was fed up and ready to start the engine backup, that I heard “SIT STILL”. The voice wasn’t loud and booming like when Moses heard God in the Ten Commandments. It was like my voice however; but different in a way. It's hard to describe. Nevertheless, I knew it was God.
I did just as I was told and sat still. I wasn't quite so sure why I had to do so; but those words were so clear that I knew that I had to obey. If I had to guess I’d say I sat there for approximately five minutes. Once the heaviness was lifted off of me I started the car and began to drive home. I was about eight blocks from my house when a car right in front of me got T-Boned by a SUV that ran the light. What I’d just seen didn’t seem real; it felt like a movie. The SUV driver got out of his truck visibly drunk. The other driver got out of the car from the passenger side. She stood up and her back was facing me. Blood was running all down her white shirt.
I ran to her and turned her around to face me. I recognized her from the bar. She would come there a few days during the week. She fell into my arms, and we both collapsed to the ground. I tried to keep her awake, but it was to no avail. She was in and out of consciousness. The ambulance had pulled up along with police. The man did a breathalyzer test then was taken to the police car. The woman was taken to the hospital via ambulance. I stood in the street looking at her car. Then it hit me on why God wanted to me to “SIT STILL”. If I hadn’t listened to HIS voice, I would’ve been the one hit by that truck.
The next morning on the News, the reporter spoke about the accident and said the SUV driver was being charged with vehicular manslaughter. My heart fell into my stomach, when I found out the passenger died. Due to witnessing what took place, and the experience that I had with the dreams that God was giving me; I now realize to never take Gods GRACE for granted. Now Lord, help me find a church!
Remember when you needed a quick chuckle; you would turn to an episode of The Cosby Show, Family Matters, or Cheers to get your laugh on? Or perhaps you were fresh out of high school in the early nineties, checking out episodes of A Different World, just to get a feel of what college may be all about. Or let’s just say that you were an Action- Adventure type person that rushed home after school or work; just so you wouldn’t miss your favorite episode of Miami Vice, MacGyver, or Knight Rider. Whatever the case, the majority of shows consisted of good, wholesome entertainment, that the entire family could enjoy. But oh, how things have changed!
Like an R&B song, it seems that there is always something on television that can relate to our emotions. Being if that’s emotions of rejection, sadness, betrayal, jealously, sarcasm, bitterness, and/or hatred; television never seems to fail those who are led by their emotions. In fact, television has masterminded the emotions of so many people, that many become incapable of taking responsibility for their own lives. Where morals, values, and strong biblical principles once dominated our homes; it has now been replaced by deception, waywardness, and misleading entertainment.
What we observe and take in from television affects the way that we think; and since television primarily promotes negativity, watching too much will definitely be detrimental to our lives.
Time to go to the Barber Shop again; it’s only been one week since my last cut. At first, I thought that I had it all figured out. I bought some clippers, liners, and alcohol so I wouldn’t bump up; in addition to buying a mirror so I could see the back of my head. For the most part, I thought I was doing a good job. I faded my sides, cut my hair the length that I wanted it, and brushed it over a million times to get those 360 waves. After cutting it, I would always throw on my favorite outfit, thinking I was “So Fresh, and So Clean”; until my wife said the more that I was cutting my hair, the more it looked like I was developing a receding hair line. Now, to keep her happy, (and not make myself develop a receding hair line), I only use the equipment I bought for emergency purposes.
The first time that my dad took me to the Barber Shop, it was a pleasant experience. I was a freshman in high school, and my dad wanted me to look my best before my first day of class. When we arrived at the Barber Shop, we were greeted with smiles. The owner was happy that we chose his shop, and emphasized his gratitude. He also brought us to a barber that specialized in cutting teenagers hair, and recommended that I would make him my personal barber. By doing so, I could schedule appointments, and call with any questions regarding my hair, or scalp health. Before sitting in the Barber’s Chair, he brushed it off, sanitized the seat, and welcomed me to sit down when I was ready. After I was ready, he strapped the hair cover around my neck, asked if I was comfortable, then proceeded to cut my hair. During the process, he was cordial, and professional. We discussed many things such as: my aspirations, dreams, and what it would take for me to make them come true. The barber also spoke about things that he believed would encourage me in my future endeavors. Once he was done cutting my hair, he gave me a mirror, had me take a look, and asked if I was happy with the haircut. Needless to say, I was well pleased! Based on that experience, I attended that Barber Shop from the age of 13, to 18; due to the professionalism, being valued, and feeling a sense of appreciation every time I stepped foot in that Barber Shop.
That was then, and this is now. Getting a haircut nowadays in a Barber Shop, isn’t as refreshing as it was when my dad took me at age 13. I can’t count how many times that I’ve walked into a Barber Shop without being greeted, appreciated, or noticed. Many owners nowadays don’t take into consideration the thoughts, feelings, or beliefs of those they service. Uncensored music is played loudly on the CD player; negatively influencing the children who are sent by their parents to get a haircut. Profanity is rampant; indicating to those who don’t engage in such practices that they’re unwanted, unappreciated, and not valued. Displaying courtesy is far-fetched, and the only professionalism that many receive is in the haircut itself. That’s like walking into a restaurant with roaches crawling all over on the table, not being seen by your waiter/waitress for nearly 20 minutes, receiving your food 30 minutes after eating your appetizer, but liking how your food tasted.
The Barber Shop Experience; which involves good customer service is few, and far between. For the sake of business, many Barber Shop owners have compromised their morals and beliefs to fill the seats within their shop; by allowing those who don’t possess the basic fundamentals that’s learned in Cosmetology school, to rent out a chair without specific guidelines, and/or rules to follow. As a result, we have a lot of talented, gifted, barbers and hairstylists, who don’t know how to properly treat their clientele; or be considerate of others. It appears that if the Barber Shop owners are receiving their rent, then they don’t have any discrepancies, or problems on what’s taking place within their shop.
Many of us have compromised our views, and what we stand for, to do what we believe we need to do, to make a living. We’ve jeopardized our true character, and sold out to tolerate things that go against what we were taught or convicted of. While it may seem that our bills are paid, food is in the fridge, and we’re content by doing what we have to do to survive; the blood of others can be on our hands. Never allow what you know to be right, to be reduced to a grain of sand; due to what you’re willing to compromise to get ahead. Whenever you can find a good barber, "Keep Them"; because nowadays it seems that they're harder to come by.
Have you ever seen a Resistance Parachute? If not, it’s a parachute that straps to a runners back, catches wind, then causes a great deal of resistance to the person wearing it. It was created to help build speed and strength in the runner. After looking at various videos of different individuals training while wearing this apparatus, it hit me..., "Wow, there are so many of us out here wearing a Resistance Parachute, but we don’t even know that it’s on!” There have been so many times in our lives where we felt “Held Back”; or felt like things were coming to a slow grinding halt.
How often have you felt like you were being held back from achieving a goal that you previously set? Personally its been a lot for me! I would complain about where I was raised or how I was raised. I often pointed the finger at all the things that I deemed was a hindrance; when I should’ve bent my finger backwards and pointed it towards myself. No one but you and I can truly be a hindrance to ourselves. Take a moment to think about this. The world is so lazy in our methods now. Most of us don’t cook hot meals right off the stove, because it's quicker to use the microwave. It takes less work to blame someone else, then it does to sit back and do a self assessment.
Many of us analyze others based on looks, gender, race, creed, or economic background. Employers are now looking at perspective applicant’s Myspace and Facebook pages to try and get an inside look to who they are. All of this is done with the hopes of making their weeding out process easier. With that said, its time to analyze ourselves.
Being afraid of change is a huge obstruction for countless people including myself. After passing up on several different offers for advancement, and disregarding the thought of obtaining a totally different job in general, it again hit me; I was not only complacent, I was petrified of change! Without knowing, I've been wearing a Resistance Parachute!
Okay, let’s look at the infamous long engagement. You know..., the one where the proposal was like 5 years ago. You've been waiting for the right time; in addition to getting your money right in order to get married. In the mean while, you’ve been living under the same roof for years, and your third child is due in October. It just might be a good time to do a self assessment. Ask yourself, "What kind of Resistance Parachute do I have on?" Is it the kind that can be passed on to your children and theirs? Children are being taught its normal to start a family and not be married first. When did that become the norm? It’s time to turn that baby mama/fiancé into a wife.
Say there's someone at your job, grocery store, gym, or where ever; that has been catching your eye; but you don’t feel comfortable introducing yourself to them. They are very attractive, but you made it up in your mind that they wouldn’t go out with a person like you. Right away, you've degraded yourself with your own thoughts. You've hindered yourself from taking a chance on a possible connection. That person could've been shy, and really wanted you to come over to start a conversation; which could've potentially turn into a marriage/love that lasted a life time.
It’s time for us to take off that Resistance Parachute! We've trained long enough; for our legs are stronger, and our endurance is high! Be aware that insecurity not only feels like you’re wearing a Resistance Parachute, but it also makes you feel like you have weights on your ankles. Insecurity keeps us from taking the steps needed to move towards new possibilities; therefore, don't allow it to be a "Hindrance."
The other day, I asked someone at my job how they were doing and they replied, "Living The American Dream". Likewise, I asked another individual the same question later that day and they uttered the same response. Not knowing what was "The American Dream", I searched for the definition, and it stated, "An American ideal of a happy and successful life that all may aspire." After reading the definition, one word came to mind; "Money".
As most of you may already know, the love of money is the root of all evil. When I think of "The American Dream", and all those who aspire to live it, I perceive various ulterior motives that entails manipulation, deceit, flattery, and selfishness. Granted, there are individuals, businesses, and organizations that have good ethical practices, and serves as a means to provide services that are legitimate, helpful, and resourceful; but for the most part, to live "The American Dream" means to do whatever it takes to live a happy and successful life; according to the standards of society.
Since "The American Dream" is to live a happy, and successful life, and many people relate "Money" to be the key to their success and happiness, anything goes! Those individuals that own alcohol companies capitalize on people who live in anxiety, and depression, by providing an artificial remedy to their problems; without genuinely caring for their problems. Those individuals that own record companies, talk shows, radio stations, and/or any other form of media that promotes a message of negativity, capitalizes on people who identify themselves as being rejected, disowned, ghetto, or from the streets. Those people that are in the business of promoting pornography, explicit magazines, Gentlemen/Swing clubs, and everything else in between, capitalizes on those individuals who struggle with lust; all for the sake of living "The American Dream."
What's even more disturbing is that those individuals who have succeeded in their efforts to capitalize on the shortcomings of others, are exalted in America if they made a substantial amount of money. So what that rapper/singer conveyed a message to your child to sell drugs, pimp, strip, hurt others, or do whatever it took to make money; at least he/she obtained a music award, has a lot of cars, a big house and own's multiple businesses. So what the Owner of that explicit magazine recruited someone that just turned 18 to pose naked; at least he/she isn't lacking financially, can donate to charity, and provide for those that are in need of employment. So what that man/woman does web cam, and encourages others to do the same to make a living; at least they can put their children in college, pay their bills, and is living "The American Dream"
I've convinced that America is deceived by "The American Dream", and until we can grasp, and make efforts in fulfilling "The Greatest Commandment", which is to "Love the Lord with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and love our neighbor as ourself", we'll continue to be deceived by it. Contrary to popular belief, I believe that true happiness and success is only found in serving, helping, and adding value to the lives of others; through a spirit of love that only God can bestow on us.
Don't be deceived, by "The American Dream"