Tag Archive | Encouragement

Where’s My Reward?

Alzheimer’s came into my family’s life in the early to mid 90’s when my precious Grandmother the Late Julia Mae Brown was diagnosed. We knew very little about the disease and went along with what the doctors said and did what they told us to do. Gran became a shell of her former self. She was very forgetful, didn’t remember her family, wandered off and even had angry out bursts. The Grandmother who would walk me across the street to Mrs. Winner’s to get cinnamon rolls, dance and sing was mentally gone.

Mom watched my Gran slip away and I know it hurt her terribly. She was the only girl and shared a very special relationship with her. I recall the hurt in my Mother’s voice as she eulogized Gran on December 11, 2006  “So long Julia, So long Julie, So long Mom… Bye Bye take your rest…” It was after that moment that we would often hear Mom say “Lord, let me keep my mind.” Then a couple of years later my step-mother passed away from a tragic fall due to hemorrhaging in her brain. Mom became extra careful with going up and down steps and more cautious of things around her. She didn’t want what happened to Gran or my step-mom to happen to happen to her. As a life skills trainer for the Learning Services Mom had a soft spot for the patients she worked with who suffered from major brain injuries. We were all shocked to learn that Mom had a terminal and cancerous brain tumor.

I remember taking Mom to her very first oncology appointment. The doctor had no beside manner, was very cold (to me anyways) and told Mom she could do radiation and take the chemotherapy pill that at the end of the day most people with gliblastoma mutliforme only live 2 to 5 years from diagnosis. I sat there in shock, looking at this man who basically told me that my Mother, my world, my reason for being a “miracle” would die! Mom on the other hand seemed unmoved by what he was saying, she was very polite and said “Ok” and “Thank you.” took the prescriptions, referrals, gave the man a hug and walked out. I’m not sure if she held it together because I (the youngest of her children) was there or what. On the way home steady tears streamed down my face and Mom said to me “Merical Joy, do I need to drive?” I said “No, ma’am.” and then she said “Well, fix your face.” I knew that while the doctor told my Mom she was going to die, she knew who had the final answer. (1 Corinthians 15:58 | NIV Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.)

Mom's first oncology visit

Mom’s first oncology visit

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This is why I found myself being upset with God today… Psalms 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Mother prayed to keep her mind, so why couldn’t she have her hearts desire to not suffer like her mother, my step mother and her patients at work? She accepted His call, did what He asked and during the worse part of her illness she felt as if she had more work to do.” For the life of me I can’t understand “WHY??” To me, she DID have more work to do. There was so much more that I needed to know and learn from her. By no way do I believe that God is a magician, but I do believe that He is a miracle worker. Didn’t my Mom deserve a miracle? With all of her ups, downs, struggles and success shouldn’t she have gotten something?

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Mom’s Last Radiation Treatment

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After I got out of my feelings and into my Bible and then to google for further research, 1 Corinthians 2:9 was revealed to me and it says, “However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him.” At the end of the day how can you question that?

Everything that happened leading up to Mom’s transition is still very fresh and hard to accept sometimes especially with the anniversary of her passing approaching. I’m doing the best I can for the most part because I DO know God, I DO Love Him, and I DO believe in His Word and I KNOW she’s not coming back. It’s just today is not a good day. I really miss, want and need my Mommy and I pray tomorrow will be better.

Learning to Grow in Faith

My mom loved to plant things. She had the most amazing green thumb I’d ever seen. Needless to say I wasn’t surprised to notice that the flowers she planted more than 4 years ago still bloom every spring/summer. It’s been 2 years since she passed. 

This flower symbolizes to me that no matter what happens during our troubled season, there’s always a better season to come. We have to learn to be faithful through the process.

 Ecclesiastes 3:2 A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.

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2 Peter 3:18 ESV
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

 

Always There

In preparing for a Kentucky Derby themed party I was faced with the question every woman asks “What do I wear?” I did what most women do, I went to the mall. Checked out a couple of my favorite stores and found the perfect dress in The Limited. The next question I was “Where am I going to find a hat?” Most people know that my mom was the queen of hats and accessories. I didn’t consider her things because they aren’t necessarily my style. After looking around and texting friends I came up empty and disappointed. Once I got home and settled (to my mom’s house) something told me to look in the closet. Low and behold Mom had a hat that matched perfectly with my dress. A hat still in the plastic wrapping with the paper stuffed inside. I pulled out the hat and tried it on and it wasn’t too much or too little. It was just right. As I looked in the mirror I felt my mother’s presence. It almost seemed as my reflection were hers looking back at me. I laughed and said “Thanks mom for always being there.”
I am reminded of the life of Jesus Christ. He lived, taught, prayed, suffered and died. He left part of Himself here in the form of the Holy Spirit to intercede on our behalf. The Holy Spirit also comforts and reminds us of His love. Often times we don’t consider Him in the things we do but when we operate in the spirit, His presence is ALWAYS there and can ALWAYS be felt.
Thank you Mom for reminding me of how Christ operates in our lives when we are tuned into Him. Thank you for showing me what it means to have a close personal relationship with Christ. To ALWAYS know that He is ALWAYS there for us even when we aren’t there for ourselves.

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The Big Race

You know how when you haven’t worked out in a while and the next day you feel sore and want to quit? Well, that’s because your body isn’t used to the new and improved you. Your body isn’t used to working out or being on the new diet plan.

How about when you got saved? You feel like the world as finally been lifted off your your shoulders. The day you feel Jesus’ presence and get baptized you feel cleansed and renewed.

Remember learning how to ride a bike? For me, it was fun riding with training wheels. But, the day came when those two lil wheels came off and I was all on my own. I had the feeling of accomplishment and independence.

After all that training, washing and riding somewhere down the line you backslide. You cheat on your diet, skip gym sessions, stop reading, and you fall off the bike. The common denominator is you can eventually get back on track IF you want to. You simply weigh your options. Healthy living over diabetes, Jesus over the world, and faith over fear.

Life is a race. From the day you are born you are conditioned for the “race of your life”. Your parents teach you all they can and at some point during your race you are taught some form of religion. I was raised in a Christian home and a Baptist church. I am the fourth generation to serve in my church. From then on, I learned to not only do what my mother said but to do what God said. When I went out into the world I was armed with what Mom taught me and the best reference book, The Bible and from that day on my race started.

I have three life coaches. The Father (watches over me), The Son (died for me), and The Holy Spirit (guides me). I was also given a physical and living coach on this side of the world. That coach was my mommy. She prayed, kissed, hugged, comforted, supported and unconditionally loved me. I’m sure there were and still are conference calls on what to do with me. No matter how far or long I’ve been gone I’ve always had a place to call home. A place I could go back to. My mother’s home, her arms and the church’s alter. In those places I found all of the things I needed to continue my race. Things that I may have forgotten or dropped when I lost my way. When I began to feel better and I see the road ahead of me I notice that right around the curve are the hurdles.

Who would have known that there would be so many hurdles? Choosing Jesus over the world isn’t an easy part of the race. Is there even an easy part? I was given a Bible for a reason. It is my spiritual water. I drink it to replenish my body, to give me energy, to keep fighting and to remember to have faith. At the finish line are the gates of heaven. The reward is seeing my family sitting at Jesus’ feet and surrounded by The Holy Ghost.

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I’ve had the honor to see my Gran run her some of her race. She was so graceful and regal when she ran. Gran ran as if she was the only one running. People would stop (minding their own business so to speak) running their own race just to see her pass by. I’ve heard stories of her races before I was born and all I could do was imagine what it must have been like to see her in action, live and in living color.

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God blessed me with the chance to watch my Mom run hers, to even participate in it. To pass her the Bible (her spiritual water) when she was thirsty. To hold her hand when she was weak, to wipe her tears when she cried and to hear her prayers just before she reached her finish line. Heavy heartedly I cheered her on with tears in my eyes.

I’ve gotten off course since Mom finished her race. I guess it’s because having her here made my race seem easier. As I put my running shoes back on and grab my Bible, I am reminded of the runners before me. They never quit or gave up and left me with all the tools I needed to continue on running. I must run my race with same dignity and tenacity they had.

One of the tools they left me with is encouragement. To encourage the runners who are running with and after me. While I can’t run your race for you, I can help you along the way. I can share my joys, sorrows, accomplishments, mistakes and lessons.

So as you read this and run your own race be encouraged. Know that even when you feel you’re alone, you’re not. NikeWhen you feel like giving up, don’t. If you have to take a break, it’s ok just make sure you get back up and keep going. Enjoy the race when you can. Stop and smell the roses. You don’t want to run your race and reach the finish line only to look back without having a sense of accomplishment. Don’t let precious moments in life to pass you by. Be faithful and prayerful, you’ll finish strong.

Dedicated to CB…

Smile

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The joys and inside jokes shared with Mom made having a relationship with her so easy and the hard times made it strong.

CATAWAMPUS: cat·a·wam·pus [kat-uh-wom-puhs] adjective 1.askew; awry. 2. positioned diagonally; cater-cornered.
When Mom would position herself into bed my brother Vernon would say “Mom, you lookin a little catawampus.” and that strange word (That I’ve never heard of before) would tickle Mom pink. She laughed for two reasons. 1. The word was funny. 2. It would literally take her 101 ways to fashion herself into a comfortable position in bed.

Video: I would often times watch Mom get ready or go shopping and watch her try on things. Mom had a “Fashion Fair (her favorite make up) Runway Walk”. Sitting on the sideline watching her I would make lil comments about how she looked and primped. “Whoo chile, watch out der now look at Rev. Martha!!” She would turn to me and say “Get out my video Merical Joy”.

Mom was a fashion extraordinaire and very prideful of her appearance. She never wanted to be seen NOT looking her best, regardless of how she felt. Mom came home from church one Easter Sunday and she looked stunning. I mean the hat matched the trim of the suit and so did the shoes. Only MY took the time to complete her look by dying her gloves and pantyhose mint green. My niece Carrie being silly and looked at Mom and said “Gran, what you doing with that flower pot on your head.” If I only had my camera that day. You see the outfit was a full length mint green coat with the matching long dress. The flowers were on the trim on the bottom the coat and around the sleeve. The dress had the same flower trim as my Mom’s hat, lets not forget the J Rene’ shoes that matched too. Mom looked in the mirror and gave herself the fiercest overlook and retired to her room. Not to throw shade at Kenya Moore’s “Gone with the Wind Twirl” but MY Mom, The Late Reverend Martha Virginia Alexander did it best!

These are the memories that make me smile and memories that I will cherish and never forget. Please create and cherish memories with your loved ones. Take plenty of pictures for they will provide comfort in the times of grief.

Be Who You Are

When becoming a mother for the first time, you have 1001 questions. You read books, you talk with other mothers, and rely on what your own Mother taught you. After all you want to be the BEST Mother you can be. Eventually after trail and error you learn what works for you. You also learn that the learning never ceases. Children are taught right from wrong and the difference between good and bad. Those things are apart of the foundation and core values set by your parents and loved ones. We are also taught to be the best “YOU” you can be. Embrace “YOUR” beauty and do the best “YOU” can. School teaches reading, writing, math, etc. Then there’s life, Mom always said “Life will teach you things you will never learn in the classroom.”

I was born a daughter, sister, aunt, niece and cousin. I didn’t know what those titles meant. I had responsibilities of being a daughter to my Mother but what about to the other members of my family? What exactly does a sister do? How am I supposed to be an “aunt” when I have two nephews older than me? (One of them had the nerve to make me a “great aunt”.) For the longest time, I didn’t feel like I connected with my siblings. I connected with my niece who was more like my little sister. It wasn’t until I reach adulthood that I was able to have a typical relationship with my siblings. We talk, laugh, joke, and fellowship with one another.

I can only be ME, I can’t be someone else. I am my Mother’s baby girl, a Mother to my son Adreyn, Sister to my siblings, Aunt to my nieces and nephews and more. I can’t be anything more or less than what God wants me to be.That’s why it’s important to be steadfast and confident in “Who You Are” and strive to be the BEST you for you. Mom was a walking example of that. There will never be another Rev. Martha V. Alexander, but her presence can always be felt. She knew who she was and remained true to herself and faithful to God.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”)

As I continue to learn and know myself I know I am greatness in the making because I am allowing God to do all the work. I strive to be a constant reflection of His grace and mercy while inspiring others as He inspires and humbles me. I am eternally grateful for the strength He provides me and the lessons my Mother taught me to be the BEST Merical Joy I can be. I may not be as “churchy” as some or go as often as others, one thing is true God knows my heart.

Hebrews 10:35-36 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised…

Helping Hands and Understanding the M.A.P

My church (The Greater Piney Grove Baptist) prides itself on being “The Church With Helping Hands”. Mom explained to me as a young child that “Humans have hands for a reason, to reach out and help one another.”

Last week I had a former classmate of mine reach out to me via Facebook. She’s a very sweet young lady and I have fond memories of her smile and laughter. Knowing very little of her life post high school, I did find out through a mutual dear friend that her Mom was ill and not doing well. Anyway, she reached out to me seeking a lil encouragement. At the time I was in my own feelings because the 7th approaching. The 7th of every month is a constant reminder of my own loss. I told her that I would be in contact later on that day. We didn’t get a chance to catch up. I found out a couple of days later on September 11, 2012 at 3:20pm that her Mom had passed.

My heart broke all over again as I began to feel the familiar flood of emotions that I felt the day that my Mom passed. It is a feeling that I don’t wish on anyone. As a child we think, want, and even expect our parents to live forever but that is far from God’s plan. Otherwise our patents would literally be “old as Methuselah”. As much as we hate the idea of death, it is a natural part of life.

The support system of family and true friends is nothing short of amazing. It was their hands that rubbed my back when I was in tears. It was their hands that prepared food, that mailed cards, texted, called visited and stood by and held me up when I felt I couldn’t stand. The Helping Hands…

One of the most important, loved and well memorized scriptures in the Bible is…
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I believe that death is the gateway to “eternal life”. God doesn’t want us to suffer, He doesn’t want us to hurt but because we’re human we do. What happens when the pain subsides, (does it ever) and tears run dry? We have to recall to our remembrance of God’s motive, His action, and His promise (Or as I love to call God’s M.A.P) to us. His motive is His love, His action was He gave His Son and His promise is eternal life for those who believes in Him. “Everything happens in life for a reason, according to God’s M.A.P”

Through the grieving process we sometimes forget about God. We become extra sensitive and maybe even offended by the cliche of textbook words of encouragement that people tend to offer. Even though they may mean well and genuinely care, it does absolutely nothing (at the time) to the person who is suffering a tremendous loss, especially that of a Mother. As time passes by, everyone goes on about their life as usual while we are left trying to mend the pieces of our broken hearts together. The loss leaves you lost. No where to go, no where to turn and at some point you find yourself going in circles.

When things settled and I was all alone to my thoughts and in reflection, I had totally forgot about God. I was grieving, hurt, angry, and a lot of other things. What is so wonderful is, He didn’t forget about me. God was there, like always. Wanting and waiting for me to come to Him to give me the “… peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) that He promised.

I pray constantly for the young lady that lost her Mother and I pray for her family. I don’t pray because its the “textbook cliche of encouraging words” but because someone did it for me. Someone reached out with their hands in prayer to help my family and I continue to get through the daily struggle and reminder of our own loss.

It’s been five months and I still can’t believe and it still hurts but I know Mom is wrapped in God arms and is reaping the eternal benefits of following God’s M.A.P.

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Don’t allow your loss to keep you lost, when God’s M.A.P is already laid before you.

Dedicated to B.H. Xoxo