Culinary Skills & Dilemmas

When I have no solace, a lot to think over and no one to share my thoughts with I cook. I love the art and the science in preparing a meal. I love the creativity it takes to create a new recipe…the imagination of different flavors and spices. Trying to measure and enhance one product  to mesh with another. I enjoy the soothing methods slicing vegetables brings. I love the colors of bell peppers, the promise of just enough heat of habanero peppers and I love the earthiness of mushrooms. Today I am preparing a new dish, a signature recipe in every aspect: Salmon Braise, perhaps. I like that. As I am cutting, and preparing all ingredients to go into the crock pot I think, I pray. I listen for confirmation, affirmation of my thinking process. Oh how I miss the days of having someone listening to me, hearing my heart without cutting me off, nor interrupting me nor misconstruing my words. I continue cutting. This meal is supposed to be for me, the Little Ones do not care too much for mushrooms and okra. I think I have prepared enough for the neighborhood.

My dilemmas: Church & Internship and other stuff

My length of unemployment boggles my mind. It still hurts. I feel so unbalanced and insecure. I have worked since I was 15 years old. Its wonderful being available to the children, driving them to school and helping with homework. It is completely alien to me not being able to provide from my own work. I do not know how to be…but I am learning. I am learning that this phase of my life is so much bigger than not having a 9 to 5 or an office job.

Church vs my prayer life! Someone told me that the length of my unemployment might have a lot to do with my prayer life. (I have to bite my tongue a lot!) This statement pissed me off until I realized my relationship with God is intimate and no one gets to decide if I am close to Him or not based upon my employment status. (The preparation of cooking gives me time to evaluate and rid myself of others’ toxic conversation.) My spiritual growth is becoming greater but my spiritual connect with fellow believers has become stagnant. This concerns me. I believe in going to Church although I do not believe in the strictness and mandatory that religiosity pushes.

Teaching this Identity Workshop series will be a huge undertaking for me. I am in awe of how I got to this point in my life. This concept is not mine alone. If it were up to me, I would be behind the scenes somewhere. I consider myself more of a support person not a leader. I think I help leaders be better. I am a bossy supporter! 🙂

Internship! Internship! Both placements are awesome and could take my counseling career to great horizons. What is amazing to me is that internships are coming left and right but no job offers. Confuses me so; boggles my mind. You would think God’s priority would be opening doors of job opportunities first.

This Soul reveal has been on my heart for awhile: I attended several training classes this past week. My counseling journey can be quite heavy. Confidentiality is a huge piece of counseling, the heart of it. This journey is going to be more difficult than I thought and what I presumed. One class educated us on the effects of child sexual abuse, the tragedy of what happens to the victim from onset to the cycles of their adulthood. Heart wrenching. The documentary included a 60-year-old beautiful woman; she had the bluest eyes and the whitest hair. (I still see her face.)  One particular night she described how terrified she was at a young age. Her father was in her room and they both heard her mother’s footsteps approaching. Her father stopped. She held her breathe knowing that it would all stop now…then the return of exact devastation as they heard her mother’s footsteps retreat upstairs. She knew her mother would not save her. He knew that they all knew, He would not stop. She stated he abused her from the age of 2 to 17. Oh how I felt her terror. I wanted to protect her then and at present. She is 60 years old and the fear that came over her as she told her story saddens me deeply.  It is a heavy but necessary training course. The permission of hurt that mother allowed, it stops my heart. We can prevent child abuse. Although my heart ached for all their stories and my soul is tattered, I will continue to volunteer as a Guardian ad Litem. I do not see myself removing this type of servitude from my journey.

Do your best to stop taking ownership of the hurt people cause you. It is not your fault. I believe we all have good hearts and the Life stuff happens. However, taking ownership of what others intentionally do to us manifests into cancerous emotional scars. It multiplies. Yes, get to the root, do the necessary work to heal but stop blaming yourself. Getting hurt is not a responsibility, stop owning it.

What I gained this past week, the good things, the revelations are: the beauty in pushing forward, the hope in seeing tomorrow and the requirement necessary to focus on the love received. You will make it. Our humanness, that spiritual part of us promises that we will overcome. Sometimes the unintentional hurt pulls our heartstrings the worse. Allow God to work His way… you have to release it, all of it.  It is not your fault.  Tomorrows are worth the fight. {Psalms 91:1}

Me intimately worded,

A.Michelle

Love anyway

To be a Guardian ad Litem is the most adventurous, heart-wrenching, soul-healing-happy roles ever. Although, I am unable to share their story due to confidentiality please note that the victims are within the system for much more than what my little self can fix…being there, visiting them makes me happy.

These two, six-year-old girl and nine-year-old boy are the most genuine lovable pair I have yet to advocate for. They have no knowledge of the past week travesties to their race nor of the ones who protect and serve. They did not hear the woman in my Sunday School class state: “We cause things to happen to ourselves. We deserve what happens to us when we put ourselves in environments like that.” She’s Black, a mother, a wife and older.They are unaware of the state of my heart. I visit them at their daycare. They greet me with hugs and questions. I smile so.

They command me to get on the floor and race cars, play in the sand box. I think oh my achy knee, hitch up my skirt and I join in. It takes a minute for me to realize that the little girl has snuggled up against me and is inside the crook of my arm. I hug her. She is just chattering away. The little fella has named me in his imaginary carpool with himself as the driver, “Ms. Michelle you can sit in the back seat. I got this.”

We move to the drawing table and they talk some more. We are drawing and coloring, making paper airplanes and paper masks. Frustrated, the little fella destroys his mask because he cannot cut it just right. He begins to fuss at his sister. She says, “Stop getting so upset. I didn’t do anything to you.” Without any anger or accusation, I address him, “Don’t do that. Do not fuss at her. Try again. We will have to use a different type paper. Don’t get so frustrated and do not quit.”

An hour later, “Ms. Michelle can you come back tomorrow? Ms. Michelle come back next Friday it is show and tell. Come back next Friday definitely. Ms. Michelle you do not have a phone? You lose it, break it? You really need a phone so I can show you how to play games.”(I keep my phone off and out of sight. They have my full attention.) I left there with a drawing, a happy heart that is sleep (too cute) and a happy heart that is crying. She also drew me in a picture with her family.

Their story is not the easiest nor one of the worst I have had to advocate for but the innocence and love they have for this stranger bends me and molds me into a better human, a better mother.

Writing about child advocacy is a difficult task and because of the emotional totality of it, I do not write but today, today these two are an exception…a remarkable exception. Their big hugs are enough to mend me, encourage me to keep doing what I do. 🙂

As a people we cannot be outdone.God cannot be beat. There are so many reminders of His promises to us. Find a way through it all, continue to care and love for and on others. It makes our world different, better.

When I return home my Brutus: “The kids good? These are not the ones at the Center. These the ones you guardian for, the ones that have been neglected? You help them. Kids should have their parents, Momma. I like that you do this.”  I kiss and hug him even the more.

My morning affirmation: After the loss…love anyway, trust this part of the journey, trust the timing of your heart. I believe we observe the power of Holy Spirit more in this part of the journey when we trust God’s timing. We are not in this alone. There is no part of our journey God hasn’t equipped us for. I promise you each phase of our journey prepares us for His next. I am so ready for “After the loss” moments, soul-tired yet ready.  💛 Faith read: Matthew 11:28-30. The choice to be amazing does not guarantee the absence of hurt…it sets you apart to set you apart. Continue to be amazing! ~M.

P.S. I love when the beginning of the day transforms the remainder of the day.

As for the lady who spoke such ignorance. No one addressed it. I think God has a way of indicating to fools too.

Be amazing!

An Anchors’ Way…

anchor

Two of my favorite men have passed this year, in January and May. We move about life so fast; we keep so busy, reflection is good for the soul.  I saw them weekly at Church, and each time I was always greeted with the most generous smile and great hugs. Old Men, my Elders….67 years old and 90 years old. Musician. Deacon. Wonderful lives. Great men of character. Always laughing, always encouraging. Loved life and phenomenally dealt with whatever came their way. Men of Standard. I think of my daddy, miss him.

I miss them too. Sunday mornings are definitely different. Despite how difficult transitioning may be for us, the point of living is to live loving. Cherish each other. Family is much more than blood, it involves an understanding of how deep our connections can flow. On this Sunday, I am more caring rather than despondent. I purposely seek out the faces of their wives, their children and make sure I speak and hug them. I send text messages whenever they cross my mind. Funny, I really cannot imagine spending a lifetime with a person. I believe it to be a rarity not an impossible. They made it look easy.

This world is so different from what I know and it is challenging to see so much difference when my childhood, my growing up, my foundation is completely different. They were my anchors. They consistently reminded me to, “Hold it in the road,” “pray,” “have faith,” or “its ugly out there keep God in here” (pointing to my heart.) So yes, I will miss my Sunday laughs, my Sunday Family, my extension of home. Without the storms, there would be no need to anchor. Let others love on you.

Be ever expectant,

Michelle

Sunday Brunch…..the Sabbath

Sunday BrunchI am sitting here thinking about my Church life, my pastor and my parents. My pastor is due to retire next year….I am sadden, happy, proud and grateful for him and his wife. His leadership is more than phenomenal. He is 76 years old and still preaches two services every Sunday. I have never had to call him for anything personal, never had to reach out to him outside of the Church. Yet, he and his wife know my name. No one knew me personally at the Church, yet when I joined six years ago it was him and his wife that were standing up for me (as my family)…..it felt like home. So many Waxhaw, Momma & Daddy feelings, flashbacks at that time.
Today, after Church I am standing and talking with a friend. She is telling me of her troubles with her daughter who is in college. We talk how it is a growth experience for the parent and the child. College is difficult. Parenting a child away from home is difficult. Our pastor is making his way towards us, shaking hands and speaking. He says to her, “Tell her we sent her to college to get a degree not a dude.” Oh how we laughed. She told him to call her, talk to her. He said he would and writes down her number… “I will call her and give her some communion. You know when you take communion it is sacred. Imma speak  some sacredness in her life.” We laughed, she thanked him. Immediately, the mother relaxed, confident he would carry out what he said. She is a single mother; a weight within itself and he lifted that weight with a promise to call. His leadership does so much more than the eye can see.
 I have never felt the need to ask my pastor for anything outside of church—-I gained what I needed, the prayers, the advice, the structure, the teaching, weekly in his sermons, any church activity–even when he attended the basketball games. But I don’t think I would have been able to appreciate any of it; Sunday, the Sabbath, friendships, opportunities of serving, loving thy neighbor, worshipping, Church without my parents, my family. The circle of life…..I don’t know why I am thinking about my daddy so much today but it is good. We are where we are, intentionally, spiritually.
Be found loving,
A. Michelle!
P.S. Nap times are crucial on Sundays. Smile, take one. It is a national requirement.