A Christmas Eve Note

 “Love yourself. Accept yourself. Be honest about what heals and helps you. Then you will bring your healing gifts to others. Your life will be a gift to the world.” ~Melody Beattie

One of my favorite events of Christmas is trimming the tree. I completed the trimming this morning. I was very ill earlier this week. Yes, there is a point in putting it up this late, it is my joy! Also, I remember. I reflect on each ornament. There is so much love,  so many memories… Damien is now 27, and now has a fiancée!! Darius gingerbread man hangs crooked–he was created in 1997 and has survived many breaks. I have glued him back together several times during Darius’ gravity defying superboy years. Smh/lol.  He is now 24. Autumn & Brutus'”new” ornaments with their initials. As they hang their individual ones, (I love their banter.): Brutus:”You know “B” is always at the top.” Autumn: “A” always come first.” As she hangs hers higher. I am a grandmother and my first grand baby brings me the greatest joy–her love is the reason for my illness. I could not put her down no matter how she coughed and sneezed. Oh she is getting so big, my Plump Plump.

 I have beautiful old ornaments passed to me by my deceased Mother-in-Law. The way I decorate all my Mom, deceased now 4 years. I remember so much of how I grew up with family …I remember my oldest brother Wayne teaching me the tricks of cooking grits. “Michelle because the instructions say 5 minutes. You do not stop there. You cook them longer than 5 minutes.” This morning we had grits for breakfast. (Not something I eat daily.) I remember walking over our land and picking out our Christmas tree for Daddy to cut down. I remember all my Waxhaw Christmases. #Tillman

My children do not realize the joy of trimming the tree yet. The toils of youth!  The thought of trimming the tree is cumbersome and they want to do something else. I cherish this time, it is very dear to me. I give pause and think of so much that has brought me to this day, my now. So much has happened in my life this year but that will be another blog post. I promise to share. 2016 has been amazing and amazingly difficult yet I have not lost sight of how God does what He does.
Reflect. Remember. Receive. Giving back to self requires many non-worry moments. Light your candles, play the Christmas music, fill the kitchen with the smells of baked cookies and favorite cakes. Listen to the laughter of children, of family. Love more because you are capable. We are equipped with the gifts to love, to love others and to be loving. Gift the world with your presence. We were created in His image for so much more.
Live love. Love self, it is imperative that we do. Be great at expecting God’s best for you. What we gift out, boomerangs purposely. Continue in God’s grace for your life. Do not doubt His love for you even though it feels and seems like He hasn’t heard a word of your prayers. As He justifies, He prepares. Merry Christmas!

Season’s Best,

Michelle & the Tribe

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Christmas Tree 2016…my Angel Woman’s head. My tree is 7ft tall…I wouldn’t have it any other way. #tiredoftakingpics #thisisthe bestshot

Propaganda’s plight vs Hope

Lately, my focus has been on the circumstance of my life, my status, and the way I am living and how I continue to have to put one foot in front of the other… I am looking at my fight, on the way I have to fight. I am tired yet pushing ahead on purpose.

Early this morning, I kiss the Little Ones good-bye.  Sometimes they are aware of my good-bye kisses most Saturday mornings they are not.  As I exit our home, leaving for the part-time job at the Center, I am creating a mental task list of my day, how to be, praying that the teens did well throughout the week. I think of my week…the tornado, how Brutus’ anxiety of losing me causes him to come in my bedroom and hold me throughout the night…how I have to sleep-whisper, “I love you,” “I got you” and “I am right here, baby.” I wonder if I am doing enough for him, for all my children. I think of how my family depends on me.  I think of how I have no one to fall on, another Christmas, another year alone. That it is all on me.

I hear him before I see him,  I scream, freeze and cover my mouth when I realize he was only speaking. He hugs me and just holds me…”Its okay.  The media got us so scared of ourselves.” He says. I try to break the embrace because I do not want to cry and I feel as if I have insulted him,  offended him. He holds me even tighter and says, “It’s alright. This world got us scared of ourselves. We don’t know how to be.” I return his hug, grateful, understanding, tears welling up.  Me: “I am so sorry. I was in my own world your voice startled me not your presence.” He kisses my cheek, “I know.  I know.” He hugs me some more. I hug him back. I thank him and we part ways, better, hopeful.  I am more upset with myself, how I am becoming (even for a moment) because I am unsure of what to do anymore, how to be…and this Stranger reads me, encourages me.

In my car, I focus on my breathing, cover my face with my hands  and do my best not to cry. I send up prayers for this man, this Black Man, a wonderful Black Man, this caring stranger who reminded me that I am not alone. That no matter the continuous multiple injustices of this world that God is not idly waiting or standing by. #KeithLamontScott #JoeMcKnight

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I do not have all the answers and a big part of me would not dare to handle such a heavy responsibility. What I know, is right from wrong. What I know, creating policy and law does not make the taking of a life correct. What I know, I am letting my heart become fretful, frightful and that worries me. What I know, normally my mornings consist of peace that someone speaking to me would have never caused me so much alarm. I am actually walking in fear and worry for my life, my sons, my daughter, my nephews, my uncles, my cousins, my family, my friends, for us, this world. So much wrong, protected wrongs that leave us feeling vulnerably unprotected. I can encourage others. I encourage myself. Yet, the law of this land, the community consciousness of a few people can perpetuate so much destruction, legally. Healing is never complete before another tragedy erupts. #BlackLivesMatter

His hug reminded me that even though I handled so much for so long, it is not time to stop. I leaned into him, this Man for a moment…his heart gave me the synergy to keep going without losing hope, to continue to fight the right way, to be the change agent, to focus on what I know best: give love and to be loving. I pray you meet your “Angel” and that he/she rights your way with the needed hug, encouraging whispers and a kiss on the cheek…the kind of hug that saves your heart, hems it up and reminds you there is more. Knowing God as I do, you will. God is not idly waiting or standing by.

Know that your life is the center of God’s focus, every aspect of it. No one gets the easy way out nor will the best of us always have the easiest path of living. Just do not give up on being who God wants you to be, stop watching the self-made timeline and do the necessary work, believe and continue. #CarryHope

Choose to be amazing,

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!

Humility, a lesson by Bru

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I purchased a footstool when my older sons left home. I am exactly 5 feet tall—plenty opportunities for my children to joke me. Oh how Damien and Darius loved to purposely place the salt and pepper shakers or any cooking ingredients on the second shelf out of my reach. Of course, they would laugh and chuckle while I fussed.

My footstool has become a point of argument for Brutus and I. He believes it is his toy, the family “what-not”. I get frustrated because when I need it I can never find it. Our first argument, I told him how it would be and his sarcastic retort was, “Its for everybody.” So I hid it in my closet out of view.

Thursday morning, after everyone is at school, I decide to try a protein smoothie. I am blending blueberries, bananas, walnuts and I want to use just a little bit of honey. I think I see the honey way back in the back of the cabinet. I can’t reach it. I’ll just go get my footstool. It’s not in my closet, nor in the pantry. I search every room in the house and I can’t find it. So now I am mad. No longer do I really want the smoothie. Every time I try to be healthy, do something for me these little people move what is required or  it magically disappears. I’m a routine person. I know where I put my stuff. If I don’t move it, it should be right where I left it. I’m so mad I have already played out the conversation I am going to have with Brutus when he returns home.

He is home. We talk about school. He had a great day. Me: “Bru where is my footstool? I looked for it everywhere.” He runs happily into my bedroom. Bru: “You didn’t look on my side of your bed, did you?” He hands me the footstool. (I’m still mad but hiding it.) Me: “Its my footstool. I couldn’t reach something earlier today and I needed it.” Bru: “The footstool is for everybody. Its not just yours. I keep telling you that.” Me: “It is mine. It is not a toy. Again, it is mine. If you are going to use it just put it back where I can find it.” Bru, big sigh “Momma it is the pattern of life for me to want what you have.” He pauses: “This conversation is over because I don’t know what I am saying right now. I don’t know where it came from.” He has this strange look on his face and jumps off the footstool and begins his homework. I am dumbfounded. He’s eight years old. I remain in the kitchen.

Me: “Bru do you think you are different?”  Bru: “Yes, but only because I tell you I love you every day and all the time. I don’t think other kids do that. Why?” Me: “Just wondering.”

What do you do with that? “….it is the pattern of life for me to want what you have.”  I didn’t take his statement as an envy or jealous emotion.  I am pointing out my selfish wants for the footstool. He is  pointing out the value in having the footstool. “It’s for everybody.” I am the Psych grad; the graduate student. I’m Momma.

My children have this astonishing strength of faith, they always have. I don’t mess with it; I let it be but man they scare the heck outta me. At times I wonder why God has me as their protector, their mother, in this role. I tell Autumn what Bru says, she laughs. I ask Autumn: “How am I suppose to take care of you two, alone?” Autumn, shrugs her shoulders: “You’re doing it. You have been doing it.” She continues her homework. Brutus plays with his legos.  Well, I just send up a silent prayer for strength, wisdom and continue reading my book.

The smoothie wasn’t nasty without honey. I drank it….go me! No sugar. At this moment the footstool is in the pantry. Grateful, I am learning from two of the four greatest gifts God has ever blessed me with.

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Let go of the distractions. At times the lessons are right in front of you.

their Mom,

~A. Michelle