Monday, May 18, 2009

Desperate People Do Desperate Things

Every ministry has it trials.  My ministry to addicts has left me open
to manipulation, games,and thefts of all sorts.  If there is a game that an addict can play on someone, I have probably had it played on me. About the time I think I have grown wiser to them, a new game comes up. I have always believed there is a cost to an education.  My educational cost this month will be to buy a new camera, as I had mine stolen last month. 

In the early days of my ministry, when things like this would happen, I would feel violated, confused and hurt. And yes, I would feel like a fool for them getting over on me.  There were times that I actually prayed, “God, do not send another addict my way.” This was one of those prayers that God said,  “No”.

Ok, if God was not going to give me my request, then I must learn to deal with the people He sent me some other way. I could not fall apart mentally, emotionally, and spiritually every time I was played or taken advantage of.

I was shocked one time when an addict (after stealing my car) said to me, “Well, it is your fault, you knew I was an addict.” Indeed, I was incensed, “You mean you get to victimize me and I have to carry the blame for it as well?” I latter learned that part of the addictive personality is the blame game.  It makes it easier to justify their addictive behavior.

Finally, one day after another incident, the Lord told me “Desperate people do desperate things.” There are many desperate people in my neighborhood.  People desperate for food, for housing, for clothing, for jobs, for medical attention, for drugs and alcohol, for attention, for love, for God.   Have you ever been desperate, I have.  At that point, I began to understand the behavior that compelled some people to behave the way they do. (I do not condone their behavior; I only somewhat understand it.)

And it helped me to understand better how I should respond to these people.  First, I determined to respond to them scripturally. A flood of scripture came to me.  “Be wise as a serpent, but gentle as a dove.”  “Turn the other cheek.” “Forgive me, my trespasses, as I forgive others.” “If I love only those who love me, what good is that?” “Pray for them that despitefully use you.”  By placing me in the hood, God was giving me a daily opportunity to live the scripture, not just hear it.

Second, I decided to stand on the character and promises of God towards me.  “I am your provider.” “I will never leave you or forsake you.” “No weapon formed against you shall prevail.” “All things work together for good to them that are called according to His purpose.” Living in the hood, has giving me greater opportunity to trust God and to take him at his word.

I have come to several conclusions after all these years:

God is enough.  I have asked myself, If I have nothing left in this earth-no possessions, no friends, no family, no health, is God enough?  I have concluded, yes He is!

            Obedience is better than sacrifice. Although I have often discovered that obedience will of require sacrifice, if nothing else the sacrifice of my self will.

            Desperate people do desperate things and sinners do what sinners do, therefore I should not be shocked or amazed by their behavior.  They are doing what come naturally to them.  Yet, God loves them, not for their actions, but despite their actions. If I call myself a child of God, can I do any less?

As the old gospel song goes, “He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.” My constant prayer is “Lord, help me to look past their faults and see their need, as you have done for me. I too am a desperate person. I am desperate for you.”

Friday, May 8, 2009

Who Is a Mother?

It is a custom in the black churches to call the older women, Mother, out or reverence and respect.  These church mothers have done more than just attend church regularly and grown old.  Most of them have actually mothered most of the members of the church.  They have been advisors, educators, correctors, loving arms, and handkerchiefs in times of grief.  They have often mothered the motherless.  It is right to look at them as mothers, for that is what they are.

This phenomenon is not peculiar to only the Black Churches. Mother Theresa is another renowned mother, had no natural children.  Her children where the poor, the infirm, and the dying. Like a mother by her sick child’s side, she comforted, soothed and reassured them with her love and unconditional acceptance. Mother Theresa considered it an honor.  She said, "The title of 'Mother' is the biggest honor I have ever received".  An amazing statement from a Pulitzer Prize winner.

When I gave birth to my daughter, Shannon, the doctor told me I was built to have a dozen children.  I was only mildly amused at the time.  As it turned out I only had one child, but as I look back, I would not have minded having 12.  You see, I feel like I have been a mother all of my life. Following my daughter’s illness and disability, it slowly dawned on me that I would be having no more children. Not only that, I would be having no grandchildren either.  At times I would whine to the Lord about this.  But one day He spoke to me with His reassuring love, “Chere, I have given you many children in the Lord and they have children.  These are your children and grandchildren in Me.”   The first time I was called Mother by one of my spiritual children I was startled.  And then I began to feel as Mother Theresa felt.  What an honor!

What is a Mother's love?

(Photo by Nooksphotostream, Flickr)

It is something that is very, very special.

It is something that no one can really explain.

It's something that is made up of much deep devotion, joy, pain and sacrifice.

It is endless and unselfish and it endures whatever may come.

It is full of hopes, dreams, tears and pleasure.

Nothing can ever destroy it or take that special love away.

It is very patient and forgiving.

A Mother's love is a lifelong commitment to selflessness.

More often than not, it requires much more giving than receiving.

But it is something that is given with delight, gratitude, enthusiasm and much satisfaction.

A Mother's love never fails or falters even though the heart is breaking.

It always believes when all the rest of the world is condemning.

A Mother's love is a splendored miracle that man cannot understand.

It is something that cannot be measured, for it has no beginning or no end. (Author Unknown)

Monday, May 4, 2009

What does ‘Mine that Bird’ & Susan Boyle have in common?

They were both long shorts. Mine That Bird, ridden by Calvin Borel, won the Derby by 6 3/4 lengths over Pioneerof the Nile - the largest margin of victory since Assault in 1946 in the Kentucky Derby with 50-1 odds.  Susan Boyle amazed ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ judges with her “I Dreamed a Dream” song.  Every since Boyle came to the publics attention, there has been much ado about whether she should get a makeover.  Well, I was thinking maybe Mind that Bird, might like a makeover as well.  Here are a few hairstyles to consider, which one do you like best?


Saturday, May 2, 2009

How The Flu Helped Get Me To College

In the words of Sophia of the Golden Girls, “Picture It” the year was 1965. 

I was a 17-year-old school senior at Yerington High School in Yerington, Nevada.  I had been working as a waitress 
after school and on weekends for two years at John’s Cafe.  John’s Cafe was the town’s main restaurant, and one block from the high school. All the teens and town folks hung out there.  After high school, I had plans to attend college, and needed to earn as much money as I could.  So one day I muster every ounce of  courage and asked my boss, John Young, “When I graduate from high school, can I get what the other waitresses are making?” You see high school students could be hired at $1.00 per hour, but minimum wage at the time was $1.15 per hour.  John had been drinking that day and became very insulting to me for asking for a raise. I quit, and my brother, Dan, who was working as a dishwasher, also walked out with me.

Now quitting a job in our little town of under 5,000 people was very serious.  First off, there not many jobs to be had, and second off, everyone knows everyone and a bad reference could be equal to being blackballed. You might never get a job in that town again. I just knew that I would be going to college completely broke.  I was heartbroken.

 However, as luck would have it (or should I say as catastrophe would have it?), a serious flu epidemic hit our town.  My mother, a nurse and hospital administrator, was out of town at a hospital convention.  I was left in charge of my two brothers and sister in her absence.  The flu hit all three of them, as well as most of our classmates.  I spent days playing Nancy Nurse to them. They closed the school for a week, as they are doing now. I was one of the few in our town who did not get the flu.  I never understood why.  On the same day that my mother returned home from the hospital convention, I received a call from John Young.  Apparently most of his waitresses had the flu as well. He was asking me to come back to work, and yes he would give me my raise. I worked for John’s Cafe up to the day I left for college.

The Golden Girls

Another Golden Girl Goes Home

While I’m on the theme of old women, I was saddened by the passing of Beatrice Arthur (Dorothy Zbornak of the Golden Girls) April 25 at the age of 86 from cancer. I enjoyed her in both of her roles as Maude and Dorothy of the Golden Girls.

Beatrice "Bea" Arthur (May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009) was an American comedian, actress, and singer. In a career spanning seven decades, Arthur achieved success as the title character Maude Findlay on the 1970s sitcom Maude, and as Dorothy Zbornak on the 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls; she won Emmys for both roles.

The Golden Girls

With The Golden Girls NBC brought to television one of the first representations of senior women coming together to create a circle of friends that functioned as a family. The program centered around four main characters: Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), a divorced school teacher; Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty), Dorothy's elderly, widowed mother; Blanche DeVereaux (Rue McClanahan), a widow and owner of the Miami home in which all of the women lived, and Rose Nylund (Betty White), a widow and an active volunteer in the community. Aside from the mother-daughter relationship between Dorothy and Sophia, no other family relations existed between the women, yet they shared their daily lives, dreams, fears, and dilemmas as a unit. The group life of the characters enabled expression of diverse opinions and approaches to problems the women faced as individuals.

Thank You For Being A Friend

I feel this is a great song for all old friends. Anyone who regularly watched could not help but feel these lovely ladies were their friends. The opening line of the popular song "Thank You for Being a Friend" not only became the weekly thematic prelude to the situation comedy, The Golden Girls, it also came to represent the sensibility which sprang from the heart of this delightful program.

Thank You For Being A Friend Lyrics

Thank you for being a friend

Traveled down the road and back again

Your heart is true; you're a pal and a confidant

I'm not ashamed to say

I hope it always will stay this way

My hat is off, won't you stand up and take a bow


And if you threw a party, invited everyone you knew

You would see, the biggest gift would be from me

And the card attached would say, 
Thank you for being a friend


If it's a car you lack

I'd surely buy you a Cadillac

Whatever you need, anytime of the day or night


I'm not ashamed to say

I hope it always will stay this way

My hat is off, won't you stand up and take a bow


And when we both get older, with walking canes and hair of gray

Have no fear, even though it's hard to hear

I will stand real close and say, 
Thank you for being a friend

And when we die and float away

Into the night, the Milky Way

You'll hear me call, as we ascend 

I'll see you there, then once again

I want to thank you for being a friend.

Which Golden Girl Do You Most Identify With?
If you are 50 plus, I wondered which of the Golden Girl you most identified with. For me it was definitely Dorothy.  But I have friends that certainly remind me of Blanche, Rose, and Sophia.

Dorothy Zbornak............................. Bea Arthur

Dorothy was the strong, sarcastic, sometimes intimidating, and arguably most grounded of the four women in the house. She was a "bookworm", and an over-achiever in high school. Yet, she suffered from low self-esteem because one previous boyfriend was emotionally abusive, while another one supposedly stood her up on the night of her prom. Dejected, she later accepted a date with Stanley Zbornak (Herb Edelman) because she "felt she couldn't do any better". She became pregnant while still in high school, resulting in a shotgun wedding to Stan. She divorced after 38 years due to Stan's infidelity. Like the other women living in the house, the series saw Dorothy progress through her fair share of romances, with her love life often coming into criticism by her mother.

Bea Arthur Quotes

__”After being in the business for such a long time, I've done everything but rodeo and porno.”

__”I'm not playing a role. I'm being myself, whatever the hell that is.”

Blanche Devereaux................Rue McClanahan

Blanche is portrayed as a promiscuous woman, with her initials spelling out the word "BED." She spends a great deal of her time with members of the opposite sex, and this is a source of both condemnation from and amusement to her roommates. Blanche's seemingly liberated human sexual behavior was a contrast to the sexual climate of the 1980s, when AIDS was beginning to seep into a nation's consciousness. Blanche acts as co-roommate and landlord to Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak, and Sophia Petrillo. Though she is annoyed at times by Rose's constant storytelling, she sees her as both her best friend and a surrogate sister. To be sure, Blanche has her own collection of strange stories, which she also shares from time to time.

Her relationship with Dorothy is mixed with envy and condemnation on both parts: Dorothy envies and condemns Blanche's sexual comfortability, while Blanche envies Dorothy's intelligence and condemns her fashion sense, among other things. And yet, both she and Dorothy at times isolate themselves from Rose, ganging up on her when the latter says anything particularly foolish. Their relationship is also symbiotic: in one of the last episodes in the series, Dorothy admits that Blanche has helped her be comfortable with her own sexuality, while Dorothy herself has always served as Blanche's other voice of reason.

Blanche's relationship with Sophia is also interesting: Blanche sees her both as a mother figure and as a mean old lady, and Sophia sees her as one of her daughters and, very vocally, a streetwalker.

Rue McClanahan Quotes

___ “Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without.”

__ “I've been allowed to develop my own character, which I'm still working on.”

Rose Nylund...................................Betty White

Rose was comically portrayed as naive and simple, although arguably the most kind-hearted. She was best known for her rambling, nonsensical stories about her bizarre hometown, St. Olaf, Minnesota, that her roommates endured with exasperated silence—and the occasional muttered insult. Although all four women volunteered their time, Rose was arguably the most involved in charity work. She drove a bookmobile, was a candy striper at a hospital, and helped organize a charity talent show, among other things. She listed cheese making as a hobby on her resume, as well. She was a perennial runner up for a Volunteer of the Year award, even coming in second one year to a woman who was already dead. Rose was an avid animal lover.

Betty White Quote

___“Keep the other person's well being in mind when you feel an attack of soul-purging truth coming on”

Sophia Petrillo........................Estelle Getty

Sophia is best known for her wisecracks, put-downs and brazen remarks, often commenting on Dorothy's lack of love life, Blanche's promiscuity, and Rose's stupidity. However, despite her sharp criticism of her daughter and roommates, she loves and cares for them deeply; she even sees Rose and Blanche as surrogate daughters. The other women usually seek Sophia out for advice, which Sophia is all too willing to share, usually beginning with her catchphrase, "Picture it…" Like Rose's tall tales, Sophia's parables often end with a moral, from which advice can be gleaned. Sophia had many suitors, many causes, and a good heart despite her shape tongue. (Beatrice Arthur, who played her daughter Dorothy Zbornak on the show, was in real life a year older than Getty. Estelle Getty died last year of severe dementia).

Estelle Getty Quotes

___ “Age does not bring you wisdom, age brings you wrinkles.”

___ “I think they look upon me as an old child, because I'm so little.”

Golden Girl Quotes

Blanche: I just don't know what to do.

Rose: Well I'm here if you want to pick my brain.

Dorothy: I think we should leave it alone Rose, and let it heal.


Dorothy: Oh c'mon, Blanche. Age is just a state of mind.

Blanche: Tell that to my thighs.


Dorothy:  Rose, I know this is a long shot, but did you take much acid during the sixties?


Blanche: You know what the worst part about getting older is?

Dorothy: Your face, Rose's hands?


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