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Daddy Gone

I was watching a clip from Iyanla Vanzant on Oprah. The title of this post, “Daddy Gone,” is the healing sentence she prescribed to daughters who grew up fatherless. She suggested saying this sentence and accepting it as true after you have told the true authentic story of your own father. So, here it goes.

I have few memories of my dad and mom married. I remember him eating breakfast in the morning, eggs. I remember him yelling at me to get back into my own bed when I would sneak into theirs. That is it. The same two memories on a loop. I think I was three or four.

I never thought I had daddy issues. I considered myself a pragmatist when it came to my story. I knew who my daddy was. He paid child support faithfully. He came around sporadically. I tried to develop a relationship with him as an adult. It did not continue. He died.

That is my story in a nutshell. I grew up. Completed school. Became gainfully employed. Father’s Day would bring a few what ifs but they would quickly fade. As far as I was concerned, his absence had not affected me in the least. I became a success and all without his input. I had not become a statistic. I was not a teen mother or on drugs. I had made it.

Then I began to date and get into a serious relationship. I noticed some behavior patterns that I did not understand. I would overreact to everything. I was always afraid and even anticipated abandonment. I expected fatherly behavior – to be taken care of, to be made whole. To be paid back for an emotional deficit acquired from age 3 until 39. An impossible task for another human, especially, another flawed one with his own set of issues.

So what’s a girl to do.

  1. Tell the truth. My dad was not in my life in a meaningful way. It has affected my relationship decisions.
  2. Forgive. That story does not define me anymore. It is no longer an excuse for my behavior. I am responsible for my actions.
  3. Let it go. I am still working on it. I can say that I have to let it go again and again whenever it comes to mind. Daddy gone.

What is your daddy story?

http://www.oprah.com/video_embed.html?article_id=44432

Walking On Water

I am up at 10:37 PM when I should be asleep, thinking. I was thinking about how disappointment comes in waves. They are big, boisterous and all encompassing. Imagine being a voyager in the middle of your nautical journey when a big wind blows in a tempest. What do you do?  Do you tuck tail & sail and go back in the direction you came? Or do you forge ahead knowing that behind those rain clouds, as big and ugly as they may be, is a sun. It was shining before the storm, it was shining during the storm, and it will shine after the clouds have rolled away.

I feel like Peter. I was so Peter for the longest time in my walk with Christ. I was so sure my faith was so rock solid, I could confidently say, “Sure, Jesus. I’ll come walk on that water with you.” Then the the waves came. And they kept coming. I took my eyes off the Son. All I could see were dark clouds. I felt the wind knocking me off my mark. I tried in my own strength to walk but the water rushed to me knees. I kept thinking, “Why would the Lord call me out of the comfort of my boat only to watch me fail?” It was then revealed that I took my eyes off of the Lord and tried to walk in my own strength.

“Jesus! Save me!”

It is the only strength I have left – to call out to the master. I wanted to be strong. I wanted to succeed. I wanted to walk on water. My mistake – I started to rely on me.

Jesus reached out his hand and helped me up. Wobbly and shaken, I am learning to stand. I know that without Him, I will fall. I just need to sharpen my focus. No matter the opposing forces, they are only distractions. Stay the course. Jesus is the author and the finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2). He set you out on the path of righteousness, he will see that you make it safely to the other side.

 

Edge of the Frame – Mr. Bear

I had been sitting on a Walgreen’s shelf for a few weeks when a young, caramel-faced woman stared into my eyes. She picked me up and squeezed my side. Sandwiched between her arm and her side, I was taken to the register and purchased. I was elated to be chosen and soon I would have a home. We drove quietly to my new abode. A love song by someone I am unfamiliar with, played on the car’s radio.

The caramel-faced woman’s name is Michelle. She took me out of the plastic bag and sat me on a faux suede sofa. It was brown and soft like me. Out of nowhere and huge black dog charged into the room. Our eyes lock. Certain that I am staring death in the face, I say a prayer to the stuffed-bear gods. Quick as a blink, Michelle grabs me holding me over her head. With her free hand, she grabs the dog’s collar and leads him into the basement. I am safe.

I feel like the luckiest bear stuffed. I have a new home and a mom who just saved me from the brink of death. I watch mom write and seal a card and stuff it in a glittery bag. She places me in there, too. I soon fall asleep.

I awoke to voices – Michelle’s and a man’s. I strained to see but it is dark inside the bag. Michelle’s hand retrieved the card. I heard the man say, “Aw.” I heard kisses.

“Wait, I didn’t give you your gift,” Michelle chimed.

“I told you that men don’t get Valentine’s gifts.”

“I couldn’t help myself. He is just too cute. Just like you.”

She pulled me from the darkness.

“Bwahaha!”  the man laughs. “What is this?”

“A bear silly.”

“I’m a grown ass man,” he managed between laughs.

“You don’t like it?” Mariah asked disappointment echoing in her voice.

“Nah, It’s okay. I’m giving it to Mariah though.”

When the rough play of the day was done, I could always look forward to being placed in her arms and tucked under the covers. We would sleep soundly until morning.

Christmas came and everything changed.

I have been in this chair watching Mariah hug a plastic doll. She is not soft and furry like me. When I sat on the shelf at Walgreen’s waiting to be purchased, I had not known what it was like to be hugged and loved. I am waiting again, this time with a broken heart.

 

 

 Edge of the Frame

Trusting God

These are two very loaded words – trust and God.

The ‘trust exercise’ is used as a team building mechanism. It involves two people. One must turn his back to the other, cross his arms, close his eyes, and fall backwards trusting the other individual will catch him.

Not I, said the cat!

My inclination is to buckle my knees and brace myself to catch myself. As crazy as that sounds, I am always trying to catch myself. Then, someone comes along preaching about trust and God. Now I am supposed to close my eyes and trust that a being I cannot see will catch me.

Easier said than done.

Today, I left my purse at a Panda Express. All on the ride home, I was singing in my heart, Jesus never fails, and other songs about trusting God. I get to my house and I cannot find my purse. Now chile, everything is in my purse – wallet, cell phone, lip chap – everything! I did not panic. God had put  a song in my heart.

trust

I called the Panda Express and the young lady had my purse! She said she would hold on to it until my friend could pick it up for me.

God knows me. He knows my inclinations and tendencies to panic first and think rational later. He sent me a song to prepare me for what was ahead.

I know there are greater challenges to face. To get to where I am headed, I will have some lost purses along the way. I am learning from lessons great and small that not only will God catch me as I am falling but he will give me the peace that trusting him along the way gives.

This lesson was better than the fortune in the cookie.

 

How Saturday Cleaning Blessed My Soul

There is a dog in my space. He knows no boundaries – only-dog syndrome. Subsequently, there is dog hair found everywhere. To combat this fluster of fur, I vacuum. I have a really good vacuum. It even has the word, “Powerful” in its name.

vacuum

Today the fur was winning. I could not understand. I had this ‘powerful’ instrument designed to clean and remove dirt, fur, and anything that should not be in my carpet, yet the nuisance remained. I saw a piece of trash, big and white, juxtaposed with the brown carpet fibers. Going through the usual motions, ran the vacuum over it. It remained – stubborn. I wanted it gone. I tried again. It rolled across the carpet fibers in defiance. How is it that this powerful vacuum was not removing the trash I wanted out of my life?

I unplugged the device and started examining the hose. Nothing there. I turned on the light and peered into the hole the hose was joined to. There was a clog of dog hair and dirt. I tried to remove it with my hand and could only scratch the surface. I got a screw driver and began to dig out the clog bit by bit. I realized the problem was much deeper than the hole. The clog was all the way to the upper canister. I took the vacuum outside and pulled, dug, and shook that dirt/fur/dust clog until all was clear. I then put the pieces back together.

Isaiah 59:1-2 says,

1. Behold, the Lord‘s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2. But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 

You can go to church (or not), read your bible, and be a generally good person and lack the power to remove the trash the enemy drops in your life. Is there contention, strife, trouble on the job, your health, your kids and family? Could it be that their is some trash of your own blocking your power source?

Let me tell you – prayer is powerful. I have been on this prayer kick ever since being introduced to the book, “Fervent,” by Priscilla Shirer. You can, through the power of prayer, influence your environment.To get this, you must believe the premise that there are two worlds – the natural and the spiritual. There is a constant battle of good versus evil. As a believer, your life is meant to be vibrant and abundant bringing glory to God our father. The sinner sees your life and wants that joy, inner-peace, and abundance that your life reflects. The enemy’s job is to make your life unproductive and dull; a life that is riddled with failures and sins. A sinner sees your life and thinks, what’s so different between him/her and me?

Satan is after our witness. He has lost your soul to Christ.In comes the lure of sin. It stuffs you with debris. It keeps you powerless. Like that big, ‘powerful’ vacuum unable to suck up flimsy dog hair, sin separates you from fully realizing the power of God. So, review your life. Is there a clog somewhere? Is someone, something, or some behavior keeping you from walking fully into what God has for you. If you are not sure, start with prayer. Like that plug of fur and dirt deep into the canister of my vacuum, God will reveal it. Then get rid of it. You may have to pull it out bit by bit but the result is power to transform your life.

Happy Black Girl – Tamika Catchings and Las Vegas

I ran across a page on the internet once entitled, Angry Black Woman, or something like that. The author discussed a range of issues – race, politics, gender, etc. I just could not get passed the name. I believe that words have power to shape your future and even influence your current mood. I did not want to be angry.  My name is Felicia. It is derived from the Latin word for happy. Every time someone says my name, they are literally calling forth happiness. I like to spread happiness to others but, lately, I have been having some challenges in this area.

I was at a networking event in Indy where Tameka Catchings, of WNBA fame, was keynote speaker. She discussed overcoming a hearing impairment and other obstacles to become a WNBA Champion and a gold- star Olympic medalist. She also heads a charitable organization, Catch the Stars Foundations, which hosts an annual basketball camp for kids, fitness clinic, and literacy programs.

What stood out to me the most was her humble demeanor. I have been to a number of networking events. The wealthy people on stage really want you to know that they are ‘special’ lol. Catchings came across very personable and relatable. She seemed so . . . happy. Like, really happy to be there and to share her experiences and gifts with us. It just got me to thinking about how to be just that – happy.

I have just returned from Las Vegas this past Saturday. I was with my sister celebrating her birthday/wedding anniversary. When she brought up the idea of the trip, I was really gong-ho about it. Then some drama happened. I had to figure out another living arrangement relatively quickly. Should I buy or rent? How much can I afford? How soon do I have to move out? Stress on worry on stress. I even considered cancelling the trip.

The thing is I really needed a vacation. I had planned a trip to Vegas earlier in the year that fell through. I was stressed from work, my living situation, my health. Life was coming at me from a lot of angles. I was meditating and God let me know to let go. Let go of the worry, the stress about finding a place to live and go on the trip. I decided that I would not allow outside forces to rob me of my plans or my peace. I made the choice to go to Las Vegas.  It did not matter that I was the only single girl in the group, or I could not get my eyebrows arched because time got the best of me. I was in a place I had never been before having a new experience with people I love and who love me; and I was happy doing it.

Happiness is a choice.

The decision about where I should live was settled in one day. I went to a view an apartment community and was bummed that the unit was not up to par. I pulled over into a gas station and had a talk with my daddy God. I asked that He show me where I should live because I had been looking at homes and apartments for the past couple months to no avail. I looked online in the area where I was and found a great place. I called them and immediately went for a viewing. I loved the location, the apartment, the staff who assisted me, and the price. Even the online reviews were good.

Back in undergrad, I read a book called the Secret to Happiness by Alice Walker. She summed up that the secret to happiness is resistance. I beg to differ. The secret to happiness is trusting in the one who made you. Knowing that his plans for you are good. If you are in need of direction, you can stop at a figurative gas station and ask for help.

I am so excited about my future. I am excited about new adventures. I am asking and trusting God’s direction for me. I am learning how to be happy.

 

 

 

Sunday School Lesson – Helmet of Salvation, Or Get Your Mind Right

Ephesians 6: 12-18 Outlines the Armor of God. It is a list of battle tools we as Christians must wear to defeat the enemy in a war that is not physical but spiritual. I was asked to teach this Sunday’s Sunday School. I have decided to share it here with all of you.

The topic: The Helmet of Salvation.

To begin, the helmet is a piece of armor placed on the head of a soldier. It is meant to be protective. It is intended to shield against blows from the enemy’s sword. Salvation is the deliverance from sin and its consequences brought about by faith in Jesus Christ. As a sinner, you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, believe that God raised him from the dead and you are then saved, saved from hell or the eternal separation from God. This is also known as justification. Once done, it is done. Past tense. But if salvation is past tense, why must we wear the Helmet of Salvation daily?

Salvation is part justification (past) and sanctification (present). Sanctification is that daily renewing of our mind to conform to the mind of Christ. How, you may ask? By reading the word of God and allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to transform us. Consider the following scriptures:

Romans 12: 2 – And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.

We know that our sword is the word of God but what is the enemy’s sword? What pointed, sharp weapon does he use to try to penetrate our helmets?

Words, thoughts and ideas are used in an effort to deceive us.

Yes, every day the enemy is plotting, planning and executing an attack against your mind. The goal is to get you to stop believing the word of God and believe his lie. His only weapon – deception.

Eve, anyone?

1. Every sin begins as a thought and the thought morphs into sin – James 1: 13-15.

2. He is the deceiver. It is what he does. Revelations 12: 9; 2 Corinthians 11:3.

 According to Adweek,

“Studies have shown that your typical social media user consumes 285 pieces of content daily, which equates to an eye-opening 54,000 words, and, for the truly active, as many as 1,000 clickable links.”

This is just social media. Think about all of the thoughts aimed at you. The careless gossip shot in your direction. The email link with questionable jokes or photo. Arrow after arrow, dart after dart – the enemy is relentless.

You would be remiss to walk out with your head uncovered, exposed.  Daily we must carve out time for prayer and devotion. It is, essentially, placing the Helmet of Salvation on err’day.

So, what should we think about? .

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8.

 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Actively think good thoughts and actively reject evil ones. You do this daily with the help of the Holy Spirit with your Helmet securely in place.

Be blessed.

 

The Sorry I Never Got

People will tick you off! They will hurt you unprovoked. Sometimes, the will leave you hanging after you have been there for them many times.

Life lesson 101 – rain comes. We cannot allow ourselves to drown in it.

imnotsorry

 

I have read the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. It is an excellent prayer manual. At the end of each chapter, the authors urges the reader to write a prayer strategy based on the topic of the chapter.  I was just getting really good at my morning prayer and devotional. It had truly  become a habit. Then this happened – I was in a relationship with someone and wrote wonderful prayers for his future. They included how I wanted God to bless him and make him great. Then this individual did something pretty hurtful.  I would get to my prayer card with these prayers for him and I would stop. I did NOT want to pray good for him, especially, after he had been so rude and hurtful to me.

So much of the Christian walk is counter intuitive to the world’s view. The world preaches and eye for an eye. Jesus implores us to turn the other cheek. The secular view is to hate those who hate you. God tells us to love our enemies. He actually goes one step further with this scripture in Matthew:

 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” Matthew 5:44.

Herein lies the rub. How can you honestly wish good for someone who has harmed you or you know would curse you if given the chance?

It is about control. You cannot control another person. You can only control your reaction to him/her. When someone hurts you or rejects you, that is out of your control. The desire to get even is a very human, natural response. But, we are called to live supernatural lives. Ya’ know, Super Nerdy Church Girl. You see what I just did there.

I started to pray honestly for him again but first I had to pray for me. I had to ask God for a heart of forgiveness. I had to ask him to help me see this person with the love of Christ. My prayer life is back stronger than ever. Although the enemy hit me with an unexpected wave, he did not know this girl knows how to swim.

 

Reclaiming My Space

In the space movie, Gravity, Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut who floats alone in space after an accident separates her from the space station she is working on. She is left alone, forced to face everything she ran away from while trying to find her way home.

Man, allegory! We all need our space – literally and figuratively.

I started my initial blog, Talulazoeapple,  in 2007 to document my move to Dallas, Texas. I was seeking some wide open spaces, room to make my big mistakes. *cue Dixie Chicks* During my time there, I finished graduate school, published my first novel and made some new friends. Check,, check, and check!

I ran out of goals.

Everyone around me was married or getting married and having kids. Marriage and kids – those are the goals that involve participation of another person. Kinda, hard to fit that on a scheduler. Dallas, which was once a vast frontier to explore, had begun to feel cold and empty. I was floating in it – aimlessly. I packed up and moved to Indiana. My brother invited me to live with him until I decided where I wanted to be.

Bullock’s character,having lost all crew members and her ship destroyed,  begins to give up. George Clooney’s character, who had drifted off into space, sacrificially, to save her, re-appears. It is only her imagination but he encourages her to fight to live.

gravitylight

A really good friend died from brain cancer. I found out he was sick the night before I drove across the country from Dallas to Indianapolis. Within six months, he had passed away.

Ironically, he had a nickname for me – Gravity. I called him ‘Light,’ affectionately. Nerdy, I know, but it worked for us. He was smart, like really smart. I felt that I could trust his advice because he really knew God’s word and he wanted nothing from me but friendship. He wanted me to succeed. He was my George Clooney. Always had an encouraging word. His spirit was a shining light. When he passed away, there was a void in my life. With everyone busy with their families and lives, who was left to encourage me?

I was never meant to stay in Dallas. It was a journey that I needed to experience to grow into the woman I need to be to live my destiny. I have learned that I can succeed on my own. I have the power to shape my life through conscious choices and strong faith to get me through the rough patches. I was never meant to stay with my brother forever – just a makeshift spacecraft to get me back to where I need to be. I know that I need a place to call my own.

When Sandra Bullock finds the resolve to re-enter earth’s atmosphere, it seems that Murphy’s law is also in full throttle. Knowing the path to take and being certain of your destination does not mean the absence of obstacles. It just means you must use the intelligence and resources God has provided to get you to where you need to be.

gravity

Life is meant to be lived – according to God’s purpose with some happiness along the way. Getting to that place will take everything you are made of. Don’t worry. You are well-equipped.