Sunday, January 24, 2016

back


The day I returned to school (last Tuesday, January 18) it was pouring rain.   I dashed from the parking garage to my new statistics class and got pretty soaked.  Most students were like me, but many clever kids had hoodies or umbrellas.  I forgot what one of those looked like (thank God for rain!)

I nestled into a brand new classroom and looked around.  Here I am again, I thought.  I just turned fifty three and I could be everyone’s mother, I’m sure.  Still, I am here and my competitive streak starts to come out, wondering if I can be the top student in the class. 

Then, I come to my senses and remember this is an analytical math class.  Hopefully I will pass.
Last semester I carried nineteen credits – and I didn’t blog.  Homework sucked up my time and I put my nose to the proverbial grindstone .  I read and wrote constantly and came away with all A’s – again.  I am determined to do my best and that means prioritizing what I’m writing. 

This semester I am carrying less units – I have eighteen.  This means five classes, two of them honors courses and one that is six units all by itself (STATWAY – my statistics class).  I type this before I hop in the shower and head off to bed.  . 

Tomorrow I return – and I’ve got a lot of nose left to push toward the grindstone.  I am determined to do my best , and that means being ready. I have my clothes set aside, my lunch packed and my backpack filled with books and completed homework

Amat Victoria Curam -- Victory loves preparation.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

MLK




We Americans worship heroes we barely know.  We follow athletes because of their sports statistics rather than their character or what they stand for.  We elect presidents because they can argue persuasively in debates, even when we don’t know much about their lives or lifestyles.

Martin Luther King is an exception.  He is an American hero that wanted to be known.  He had the most incredible family roots and beliefs that he communicated powerfully through the written and spoken word.  While he was known for his letters and speeches, there is still enough about him that remains a mystery.  

Today, I celebrate his birthday by re-publishing this blog.  These are surprising bits of trivia about Martin Luther King that I hope you enjoy:


1.  Martin Luther King was not his real name.

Michael was born in Atlanta in 1929, named after his father, Michael Sr. When he was only two years old, Michael Jr. (our beloved MLK) went with his family to Europe. Michael Senior was so profoundly affected by the person of Martin Luther, the great reformer,  that upon his return to the States changed his name to Martin Luther King, Sr.  and his son’s to Martin Luther King, Jr.


2.  He came a powerful and spiritual family.

His father and mother were both ordained Reverends and respected leaders in the Atlanta community.  They shared a home with his maternal grandparents, the Reverend and Mrs.  A.D. Williams.  

While the Kings were known for their virtue, they were also seen as radicals, embracing equality not only among the races, but among the sexes.  The King men were staunch believers in the power of Jesus Christ and the Bible and believed in living according to the word of God, which teaches nothing less.  They led Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, right down the street from their home. 


3.  His call to stand up for the civil rights of a nation started in childhood.

As a black child, Martin Jr. was introduced to the world his own black parents had to live in – a world that was racially segregated.  It really didn’t matter that his parents were educated; the American south had enforced laws about the separation of blacks and whites. 

Etched clearly in King’s memory was  a family trip to buy new shoes.  Little Martin was excited at the prospect, only to enter the store and be immediately ushered to the back exit. 

“No coloreds.” The store owner said to them, angrily.  

Martin learned on that day that blacks were not allowed in most restaurants, on public beaches or swimming pools.  They couldn’t drink from the same water fountains as white people and couldn’t use the same toilets. 

While these experiences were commonplace for all blacks in the south, it started a fire in Martin's heart.  This event began to shape King's passionate crusade for righteousness.


4.  He graduated high school at 15. 

MLK skipped both 9th and 12th grades (some historians have him skipping the 11th), and enrolled in Morehouse College, a prestigious private, all-male, black university in Atlanta. He graduated with a Bachelors degree in sociology at age 19. 


5.  He thought his wife was brave for taking him on.

After Morehouse, King completed seminary and was introduced to Coretta Scott, a woman whose wit and vigor was an incredible match for his. 

As much as Martin is celebrated, Corrie (what he called her) was as well.  A brilliant thinker, gorgeous in physical appearance and social graces, Coretta was also known for her voice: a mezzo-soprano.  Her voice, Martin said later, was angelic and worshipful. 

On the night they wed, the newlyweds were denied entrance to their hotel (supposedly booked knowing it was a whites-only place).  The couple decided to spend their wedding night at a Black-owned funeral home.  It was only the beginning of many stands for justice they took together.



6.  He’s called “Dr. Martin Luther King” because he was a PhD.  This title was not honorary.

After marriage, King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, when he was twenty-five years old.  He then began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Ph. D  in 1955. 

He was just getting started.


7.  Rosa sat down and Martin stood up - in that order.

On a December,1955 evening in Montgomery, Rosa Parks rode the bus home seated in the fifth row, which was permissible.  It was, after all, the first row of the "colored section".

It was standard practice that when the bus became full, the seats nearer the front were given to white passengers.  This happened and the bus driver asked Parks and three other African-Americans seated nearby to move: “Move y'all, I want those two seats!"

Three riders complied, but Parks did not.

The bus driver threatened to have her arrested, and Ms. Parks said he had every freedom to do that.  She wasn’t breaking any written law; she was just uppity and he called her bluff. 

Upon hearing of the arrest, King and his colleague (Ralph Abernathy) organized a city-wide boycott intended to cripple the financial legs of the bus companies.  A staunch devotee of nonviolence, the men were adamant that no one should lose their cool.

Martin wrote to the city with the organized plan of protest: Black passengers should be treated with courtesy. Seating should be allotted on a first-come-first-serve basis, with white passengers sitting from front to back and black passengers sitting from back to front. Negro drivers should drive routes that primarily serviced Negroes.

On Monday, December 5, 1955 the boycott went into effect – it was the beginning of organized non-violent protests across the south.  Martin was at the forefront of a revolution. 


8.  He was a man determined to be seen and heard.

From 1957 until his death in 1968, King gave over 2,500 speeches; he traveled more than 6 million miles; and  he wrote five books and countless articles published in newspapers and magazines.
Upon seeing him deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech, John F. Kennedy, amazed and open-mouthed, turned to his chief of staff and said, “Damn, he’s good!”

My favorite writing of his (besides the PERFECT “I have a Dream” speech) is the letter he wrote from an Alabama jail to the surrounding clergymen.  This portion resonates the most in my soul:
“We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience…”

9.  MLK set his face towards Jerusalem.

Martin had two heroes:  Jesus Christ and Martin Luther.  Both men were killed in the middle of their ministry, for their beliefs.   Martin seemed to recognize the same would be true for him.

After many, many death threats and his own people warning him to “go underground for awhile” Martin eventually made peace with the destiny he had – to die for the cause worth dying for.  On April 3, 1968 (the day before he was assassinated), he preached at the at Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee:

“Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about a thing. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”


10.  Martin’s heart betrayed a life lived at full speed.

King was assassinated in Memphis when he was 39, after two other attempts on his life.  The details of the assassination are sketchy, but it alleged to be a conspiracy.

 At the hospital, one of the attending doctors noted during his autopsy that King “had the heart of a 60-year-old."  A heart that was tired; overworked and stressed – beating in the man that championed respect and nonviolence.


Martin, we hardly knew ye…





Friday, January 15, 2016

love

A special thanks to my guest blogger, Alicia Rodriguez for lending this piece to Brazen Princess.  All text here is copyrighted and reserved to Alicia Rodriguez 2016






Love has been the ultimate definition of multiple misconceptions of our generations. 

We have tried to define it, excuse it, ignore it, and some even pretend to excuse their psychotic, overbearing, and jealous tendencies by using it as an excuse. We have lost the true meaning it holds and always has held. 

This simple, complicated word that is misconstrued and over used and under achieved is the reason we drown ourselves believing that it is just one simple thing. 

Love is flawed. 

It is an invented word, created by man, defined by man, and throughout the years, it has become Latin. A language lost in the shores of our minds. There is no true definition for it as it has many sub points, different types for different people. Love isn’t just between partners, children, or family members. People love their animals, books, actors, or their favorite artichoke dip. Does this mean that love is similar to the word I or you? NO… 

Because the truth seems to be retracted from the necessary definition of love. Our minds can only expand to the levels we allow them to, which is why my personal definition of love is that it is the one thing that allows us to expand. 

At the infinite measure we allow our minds, bodies, and souls to be at, we take that feeling, urge, emotion, and we give it to another. We allow whomever, whatever we love to take the euphoric feeling that is felt and ask no questions. We freely mask our urges with self-control and selflessly enable it to be built into someone else’s castle, expecting nothing in return.

This is just one woman's opinion of the common word which some say cannot be defined. 

Maybe it was lost in translation, perhaps it was forgotten, but one truth remains- the impact of true love could quite possibly change our world.

















All text here is copyrighted and reserved to Alicia Rodriguez 2016

Sunday, January 10, 2016

resolve



This year -  2016 – began ten days ago.  Do you have any resolutions?

According to the US Bureau of statistics, 45% of all adults will decide to make 2016 a better year by changing one habit.  They RESOLVE to do ONE THING differently in the New Year.  Only 10% will keep these resolutions.  Most people, in discouraged frustration, will abandon their resolve by March.  More than half of all people in the United States do not make New Year’s resolutions because they cannot face this familiar pattern again.  They resolve not to make New Year’s resolutions, citing that they either don’t trust themselves or they don’t have time to change.

2016 promises to be fresh and new and filled with promise.  On the evening of December 31st, Mario and I arrived in Kansas City, happy to see David and Lennae, Joe and Ariel and their families.  As the New Year rang out, I raised a glass of Fanta Zero and said “Cheers” to 2016.  I kissed the love of my life and thanked God that I had actually fulfilled my New Year’s Resolution for 2015.

I am the most blessed woman I know. 

I say this with humility.  I am not that girl with a perfect, easy life.  I have only recently decided to take my life back. I used to be part of that discouraged, frustrated group when it came to New Year’s resolutions.  Mine had their own private graveyard, hidden in the dark recesses of my soul.  I tried not to be disappointed with myself, but I hated the fact that I couldn’t stick to any fitness, academic, or personal goals. 

Then, two and a half years ago, I got sober and stopped eating compulsively.  My life changed. 

Last year I made a New Year’s resolution to take a few classes at my local community college.  I took a deep breath, enrolled in school and started attending classes at 52 years of age.  I was swept up in a passion and love for it.  I learned how to write academic papers, read closely and compete academically.  As I type this, I am four classes shy of an AA degree – one that I plan to achieve by the end of May. 

Bam!

I say all of this to say this next thing:  If I can do it, YOU can do it.

You can make a New Year’s Resolution and fulfill it – especially if you really want to.  All you have to do is want to. 

The truth is, I am extremely ordinary and am living proof that if I can stop my compulsive patterns anyone can. I ran a marathon just before I turned forty – and my friends started running after they saw I did.  “Shoot, if you can do it, I figured I could!” They told me – and that made me laugh. 

You know what the marathon taught me?  All I had to do was keep running.  If you can run in pain, you can finish the race.  If you can run while others start dropping out like flies, you can cross that finish line. 

Don’t fall for the deception that resolutions are all balderdash.  They give us a chance to take stock of our lives and see what needs to change.  Give yourself permission to achieve; don't live with an assortment of dead excuses of why you can’t be the person you always wanted to be.   Don’t let fear, doubt, excuses, distractions and addictions dictate who you are.


Live 2016. 

Live it and be victorious.



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

28

December 29, 1987


Mario and I have been married Twenty-eight years today.  I thank God for Mario who is a major fox and a hell of a lot of fun to be with… but I have to say that it has not always been easy.  After twenty-eight years we have a relationship that is beautiful and we have reaped it after years of hard work.  For years we both practiced sowing the seeds of love.  Our early marriage counselors promised us that sowing good seeds would bear good fruit.  They were right.

After you have been married for as long as we have, people ask you for advice.  We usually don’t give any – mainly because what these couples are really asking for is hope.  They want us to tell them that there is hope for their relationship, no matter how badly it has deteriorated.  All couples do – they want a good relationship.

Once a year I break out our best advice – and here it is.  Read on if you want to…this is the super-abridged edition of what we would tell couples if we really did give out advice.  

1.  Don’t expect your marriage to be like your wedding.

Please don’t take this the wrong way.  

I just mean that your marriage is not going to be like your wedding where everything is all about you!  Weddings used to be a church, a smattering of family, and the bride and groom dressed up in their “Sunday best”.  Now weddings are five-star affairs with big, fat dresses and tuxedos and tall cakes.  Grooms and their groomsmen dance in synchronized fashion.  Envelopes of money are given in celebration. 

Marriage is a MERGER, a legal contract, and a covenant that cannot be broken.   God help you if you think that marriage is one big party.  It is work! Often it is boring, tedious, and routine.  Only the best couples have the endurance to bring life into this arrangement!

2. DEPOSIT into your spouse’s heart.

Love is one of the key ingredients in successful marriages, but romantic love is not enough.  People who master marriage realize that the spouse has a “heart account” that must be filled.  Most people know how to make love withdrawals – but forget to make the love deposits.

Kind words, gifts, laughter, memories and special traditions that you celebrate together are all examples of deposits.  Figure out what your spouse likes and do that thing a lot.  

Let it be your idea. 


3.  Ditch your addictions.

Love is a seedling in an antagonistic world that is built for individuals.  Individuals have addictions. 

Alcohol, drugs and gambling are not the only addictions that kill relationships (although they certainly do a LOT of damage to plenty of marriages). Socially acceptable addictions like food, television, phone games, and work take their toll on more families than you would think.  

After years in full-time ministry we have heard too many partners confide that their significant other no longer values them as much as their ____________.  Fill in the blank with your addiction – that kind of behavior kills.


4. Relationships are worth protecting.   

In an effort to be polite or socially acceptable you may forget that the main relationship you are in requires a genuine wall of defense.  People may try to kidnap one of you for fun and games at the cost of the other’s happiness.  Others may be friends with your spouse but not care for you.  These people have a habit of asking if “just one of you” can work or play side-by-side with them.  There might be times when friends encourage gossiping about your spouse. 

Even well-meaning friends and family can make these mistakes.  We have had many of these in our marriage, but have always managed to remember that our partnership takes priority.  We are not joined at the hip, but we do value togetherness.  Most successful couples are genuinely friends who like to be with one another.  Mario and I keep our spiritual eyes open for the other’s welfare --protecting one another means protecting our relationship. 


5.  Love requires action and movement to continue. 

Love does not grow by itself – it’s not kudzu or phlox. 

Do something.
 
Guys, if you’re actually reading this, make her a card.  Tell her you love her.  When you’re wrong, say “I’m sorry, babe.” That last part, “babe” can be substituted with your pet name that makes her feel like she belongs to you.

Girls.  I know you’re exhausted, especially if you have kids, but make him a damn sandwich now and then.  Tell him that he’s smoking hot – and prove it.  Give him a memory that will wreck his concentration the next day at work. 

6.   Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

I didn’t author this – God did.  Learn how to listen (without your answer playing in your head).  Listen like it’s the first time you’ve ever heard what he/she is saying.  Listen more than you talk and get a reputation as a listener.  If you listen, you open one another’s hearts.  Each time you listen to your spouse you say “You are worth something to me.  What you have to say matters.” 

You may not agree with each other, but at least you have listened.

7. Use your manners.

This is your spouse, not your property.  Say thank you for everything they do for you.  Say please a lot.  Hopefully your mother raised you with manners - exercise them!!

Also, please tell your lady that you love her and that she’s pretty.  Do you know how important that is to her?  A lot important. Okay?

Also, please RESPECT that guy, alright? Do you know how important that is to him?  A lot important. Okay?

I can also tell you – if you’ve read this far that community and accountability is important.  For us, our church and our families witness to our union and our major life decisions.  This is important for the big life changing events that will affect your relationship.  It is also important for the little decisions that affect others. 


Be blessed and live in love.  We wish you the best in everything. 

Love rules!!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

53

I'm 53 today!

I will love this year.

I turn fifty-three today, an age that doesn’t mean much, other than I feel blessed to have such good health at this age.  What does appeal to me is that number – it is one that I have admired for years.  Isaiah fifty-three is one of the most significant pieces of literature in my life.    

Isaiah, an Old Testament prophet, specifically described the Messiah over 700 years before the birth of Jesus. Isaiah’s prophecy was so spot-on that it reads like an account of the sufferings of Jesus on the cross that someone wrote afterward. I remember the first time I heard it – in the living room of our Spiritual mentor’s house.  He asked me if it sounded like anyone I knew.  I went to bed that night and couldn’t get the chapter out of my mind.  How beautiful - that God would use these words to reach my heart.

I am a woman with a gazillion facets that can never be seen all at once, but God knows -and sees-every side of me.  I was a woman hell-bent on following my own version of wisdom when God penetrated my heart and injected life into me.  I was changed completely by His love and I am constantly amazed at HIS mercy.

I give this gift to you on my birthday –Isaiah 53.  Whether you are suffering or victorious, let these words wash over you.  Honestly, does this sound like anyone you know? 


Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him. He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

secrets

In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "HOLY TO THE LORD " Zech. 14:20

Breathe deeply. 

You have now prepared for Christmas and are now ready to receive, and participate in, the celebration of it.  Christmas is not only an event, it is the spirit of generosity and deep, abiding joy. 

No matter where you are in the world, Christmas is a special time.  I have been in the Dubai airport in United Arab Emirates and enjoyed the decorative red and gold lights whispering of the coming Savior. There are beautiful surprises that are hidden our traditions; they explain this holiday’s meaning.  Even the pagan celebrations involve an element of a hidden treasure inside of an obvious gift – but we Christians hold the truth.  

It is an amazing privilege entrusted to us - to be bearers of so great a  secret.  

I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,
Isaiah 42:6
All year long we can whisper of it, but Christmas is the time we can sing it out loud.

He is here, He is here…

The Messiah that we have been waiting for has arrived!  He was promised from the beginning of time and He is the perfect plan of God.  Jesus was born because everyone needed a Savior from our condition of sin.  

Here’s the secret: He is the perfect representation of God.  God invested himself into us, into mankind.

Because of Christ Jesus, the Messiah, we are reconciled to God, our heavenly Father.  He was born in lowly and humble circumstances, and gave us an example of how we should live.  No matter how much wealth we can accumulate it is nothing compared to heavenly glory, which is what He left to become incarnate. 

Love. Humility. Adoration. Joy.

The life we are now living is lit up by a Redeemer who came to us to fulfill a promise.  All other gifts are nothing in comparison to this one; all other joy is dependent on this. 

Merry Christmas!!