Perfection Obsession

I threw the broken seashells behind me and placed the perfect into my pail. My toddler, Bella followed behind selecting her own shells. The water swirled around our legs. I kept glancing back to insure she wasn’t swept away by the undertow. Later that evening, I returned to the beach to clean up, and peered into our pails. My bucket was a quarter-filled with the perfect shells, hers overflowed with all the broken I’d discarded. Immediately, I felt the familiar nudge when God wants me to see beyond what is physically there.

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            I have a tendency to wade in the waters of perfection-obsession. Perfectionism can be debilitating to a writer… an artist… an older Momma, filling me to the brim with the “not enough” syndrome. My writing doesn’t grab the attention enough, my paintings aren’t riveting enough, as a mother of a toddler I’m not young enough. Perfectionism’s return is always void, always costing me an empty bucket of unfulfilled hopes.

            That night on the beach, I dumped my shells and slipped a couple of Bella’s shards into my jean pocket.

            Bella is a lover of the broken, the imperfect. I am thankful.

            When we snuggle in the chair at night, she raises her brows, and tells me to do the same. She traces the lines on my forehead with her little finger and tells me she has lines too. For now, rooted in innocence, she sees my lines as beautiful, and I am grateful.

            I’ve worried about my Bella, thought about the unfairness of it all, being stuck with the older version of Momma. The one bearing sags of four pregnancies, diminished eyesight, and with three other children- an over-filled calendar. The Momma with lines around her eyes left from a life of laughter, sprinkled on occasion by the heaviest of clouds.

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            Bella watches me put on makeup. “Mommy you’re pretty,” she says. I smile, the lines appear in the mirror, trying to taunt me, but I remind myself they are evidence of a life well lived. I am living proof a bucket filled with broken pieces produce blessings in a lifetime. The crooked legs I was born with, still want to dance.  A creative mind that daydreamed in school, now creates paintings and characters.  A once naive and trusting spirit brings laughter to the joyless.  A broken heart that feared commitment, still leaps at the sight of my husband.  A memory that couldn’t retain history dates, remembers life’s tiniest details. A weak faith has endured testing and strengthened. A girl who wanted to take on the injustices of the world now shows mercy to those around her. A twenty-something’s unwise choices has produced wisdom. It is the broken pieces about us that can produce full buckets of God’s glory.

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            Occasionally, we need reminding, God loves us no matter. Just like Bella, walking along the shoreline picking up the pieces I’d discarded, Jesus walked this earth and picked up the broken, washed up, and rejected. His final act of love for a broken world was to break Himself on the cross and rise from the tomb, leading me to my ultimate blessing… I have a Savior who’s perfect, so I don’t have to be.

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            Are you chasing perfection? Chasing the lie? Do you spend more time worrying over the sags, bags, cracks, and lacks? Do you work harder to impress the world or to please God? Do you compare yourselves to others on social media? Don’t sap the joy out of your life with perfection-obsession.God loves those broken, tired, wrinkled, and baggy parts, my friend. Nestle into His grace, and while you’re at it, spend a little time this summer picking up the broken seashells.

 

When Being Still Seems Impossible!

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“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalms 46:10 English Standard Version.

In 2015, I wrote about a citrus tree I’d planted in my small garden. (You can find the story here https://tammycarteradams.com/2015/08/28/far-reaching-branches/) My husband, Jay told me it would never produce fruit in such a small space in our garden.

            I am happy to announce…he was wrong! Fist pump!

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“Give me some dap!”

 

There are huge uh… fruit of some sort growing all over it. I believe it’s grapefruit, but I won’t know until the day it ripens, which for weeks I’ve been monitoring its progress.

            “How’s the fruit?” Jay says when I walk in the door from the garden for the umpteenth time.

            “Still green.”

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The Mystery Fruit

            After several months of this, I contacted a specialist on all matters of the universe, Dr. Goggle and found it takes 11 months for grapefruit to ripen on the vine. ELEVEN MONTHS!  I mean goodness gracious, I could die of scurvy before this fruit ripens! Kudos to the citrus farmers out there, I crown you Saints of Patience.

            Blessings follow patience I suppose. If you’ve read my previous posts titled Half -Naked and Picking Weeds Part 1-3 (You can find part 1 here: https://tammycarteradams.com/2018/05/22/half-naked-and-picking-weeds/), you’re familiar with my friend Vanessa and her battle with brain cancer. She’s being blessed for her patience.

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Bella staring out the hospital window.

            Since Half- Naked and Picking Weeds was posted, I’ve been sitting with Vanessa in her apartment while she tells me her life story. Her apartment is dark, because her eyes hurt, and I squat at the foot of her bed with pen and notebook. Somehow, we work through her sentences one by one, word by word, and I’m able to understand. (The brain tumor has affected her communication skills.)

            These past weeks, her head has been hot to the touch. So much so, one day I placed a cold cloth on it after rubbing it with oil. There was a bump rising up on her skull, along with the anxiety in my gut. Time was running out…or so I thought.

            Her mother Joan came into the room, “No Tammy take that cloth off. Jesus is using heat to heal my daughter.” I removed the cloth, remembering my sister’s hyperthermia treatment in Germany, where a doctor heated her body up and iced her brain to fight breast cancer. How ironic, Vanessa’s brain was heating up now on its own.

            Last week, my husband and I met Vanessa at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. While we waited for her MRI consult, Vanessa wrung her hands, I reached over and squeezed them in her lap.

            “Oh my gosh, I’m just so anxious,” she said.

            I touched her head. “You know it’s weird, but your head’s not hot and that bump has gone down. You look good and sound better since the last time I saw you.”

            “I know. I feel great,” Vanessa said.

            Finally, we were called back to speak with the doctor. The doctor turned from the monitor and asked her, “Are you sure you haven’t received any other treatment?”

            “No,” Vanessa shook her head. “I’ve been on hospice.”

            “Well, this is incredible. You only have one tiny spot of cancer left. Here,” She pointed to the monitor, “at the base of your brain. You can see, the swelling and the tumor have all shrunk. I suggest you get off hospice and start getting some physical therapy right away.”

            Vanessa laughed. Her mother cried. I sat speechless by it all. (Speechless is a word rarely prescribed to me.)

            You see, I’ve struggled with this whole cancer thing since my sister’s diagnoses. I’ve been asking God if He ever heals miraculously in the USA. I’ve read of many healings in developing countries where there is no medicine. Although, I’ve prayed for a miracle, I admit my faith is weak when it comes to healing. Sometimes, hopes hurt, and when they’re dashed to bits it takes time to recover. So, we build a wall around hopes and tread the perimeter with caution.

            I can’t imagine I’m the only one who feels this way.

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My sister’s daughter Peyton.

            Around two months ago, Vanessa was given two months to live. Her tumor grew and swelled her brain to a point where she wasn’t conscious. Two hospitals washed their hands of her and sent her home to be on Hospice, but God had a plan. The miracle comes when there is no other option.

            After her MRI, I sped a squealing Vanessa zig-zag down the hallway to the check out. Behind the check-out desk there was a sign on the wall. The sign was incomplete, but I knew it was meant to be noticed.2018-06-26_17.00.01

            “Vanessa, look what that sign says.” I whispered in her ear. “It says, Be still.”

            She nodded. “Be still and know that I am God,” she said.

            Perhaps, that’s why God allowed my tree to produce something to teach me to be still while He brings uh… something to a ripened state. Hmm…Maybe that’s why He’s brought me Vanessa. So, I’ll just wait…and continue praying….and maybe wiggle in my seat a bit.

            Perhaps you’d like to share how you struggle with being still, being patient, and letting God. Until next week…

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Finding Splendor in Time

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I dug up the rocks and plopped them in a bucket, leaving digits in our front yard. Churned up over and over by the farmers in the hopes our soil would eventually swallow them, but the stubborn rocks still prevented the football games I’d imagined here. I stretched the kink out of my back, as my husband, the builder, wants to take my picture. I pose with my shovel.

“My country girl.” He laughed and shook his head, not understanding why I like to play in the dirt. I’m a do-it-yourself kind of gal, while he’s a “we’ll just hire someone to do it” kind of guy, but somehow in our zooming twenty years of marriage, we fit like the soil hardened around those large rocks jutting my yard.

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Bella joined me. I told her to search for dinosaur bones, and she’s delighted.

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The next day, Colin and I drove the ATV to the river to look for fossils. I’d read shark teeth were found there. We dug in spots at the edge of the dark water only finding the treasure of each other again.

“Momma, we need to get a metal detector. Imagine the pirate treasure that could’ve washed up here from the ocean,” he said. Several times metal detector comes up as Colin often does when his pubescent mind wants something.

“Colin, you need to learn to live in the moment God puts in front of you, instead of yearning for something better.” I found a piece of driftwood. “Here, look for driftwood if you’re tired of digging in the sand.”

“But it’s just wood,” Colin said.

“It’s a piece of art, wood that is shaped and preserved by the salty waters.”

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We hiked along the beach and woods searching for nature’s art, spotting large cat tracks, coyote, raccoon, deer, wild hog along the way. A wildland recorded as scary to the white settlers. A place the Native American’s hid. A land we love. He made me laugh. A twig snaps. We spun around. My middle son Christian snuck up on us in full camouflage.

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“You guys need to clear out by 6:30pm,” he said walking toward us. “I’m hunting wild hog tonight.”

I stepped back knowing he’ll scold me for wearing perfume and leaving a trail along the beach. He walked on without noticing.

“How much time do we have?” I said.

Colin glanced at his phone. “Twenty minutes.”

I sighed.

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Our twentieth wedding anniversary snuck up on me this week. Earlier, Jay suggested dinner out. It seemed casual. We glanced at our sick Bella on the sofa snuggled with Nick, my eldest son. The builder wanted time… my time. I agreed to go.

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He pulled into the Ritz at Amelia Island. “Can’t we go to some small seafood place on the beach?  Someplace dark and intimate.”

“Nope, it’s a special night tonight,” he said.

We sat in the lounge. My black pants were a little short as my ankles peeked out. It was too cold for the dress I bought. I tugged my pants down to touch my ankle boots. He handed me a glass and we toasted our twenty years. The guitar player played our song, Someone to Watch Over Me. Gershwin’s words bring my late twenties with them. I didn’t think I needed him then. I just wanted him.

Today, I know I need him to watch over. He shoves the gun and radio in my hand before I head to the woods, while I roll my eyes. He yells at me as I dive off the ATV when it starts to tip over. While I never worry about dangers, he keeps a lookout. While I like to do the work, he tries to make life easier by hiring the help.

At the Ritz, he kneeled on one knee. His lip quivered. He opened a box. I stared at the contents afraid to touch the too much. “Will you have me another twenty years?” he said. Tears filled his eyes. He was more nervous than he was asking me the first time. He’s tried to build a perfect moment.

I lifted my weathered hand… artist and mother…hands that are washed too much. He slipped the ring on my finger, and I saw the remnants of our dig still under my nails after all the brushing. I’m embarrassed.

“That’s your original diamond, just a new setting. I built it myself.” He’s proud. I told him I’m relieved he didn’t trade up my diamond. “I wanted to build on our foundation,” he said.

I glanced at the ring and see my ankles sticking out again. I remembered the scolding I gave Colin to enjoy the moment in front of him. I forget my fingernails. Stopped tugging at my pants. Gratefulness pinks my cheeks. I lowered my hand and looked at my treasure. A treasure I found drifting by when I was picking in the dirt of my career. In him, I’ve found splendor in the grasses of time, in the plucking out the rocks so the roots of love grow deep, and in the simple moments that drift by.  

He lowered his glass. “I reserved a room on the ocean, but since Bella’s sick I didn’t think you’d want to stay the night, but we can get room service. Spend some time alone before going back.”

I smiled. “That sounds perfect.”

 

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I’m Full of Bull!

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At the farm, there’s a gentle bull in the pasture behind our house. Some mornings he’s standing there by the fence looking through the french doors at me. I step out onto the porch and sweet talk him. If we’re by the fence, he’ll trot over and without warning give you a lick across the face and neck with his enormous tongue.  It’s gross, but you can’t help but walk away feeling loved and a bit sticky. He’s a new Brahman bull the farm has acquired from a ranch in Texas.

While the other bulls buck each other over territory and food, he meanders away, not wanting to participate in the conflict. He not only stands out from the herd in behavior but in his appearance as well. He is pale in color and has an enormous hump on his back that looks burdensome and painful to carry.

            I’ve nicknamed him Ferdinand after the once controversial classic children’s story, The Story of Ferdinand the Bull, by Munro Leaf.  Ferdinand is a bull who’d rather smell flowers in the paddock than fight with the others. It’s a Bella fav.

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I find it intriguing how much we can learn from a bull. His breed is named after the Brahmins who were Hindu priests. It’s ironic considering the Brahman is looked upon as sacred in India, the Brahman breed is the largest source of meat for carnivores today. Due to their thick skin, they are resistant to extreme heat and pestilence. They also do well in extremely cold temperatures.

Traditionally, the Brahman bull is used in a sport called Bull-butting. It is a ferocious game between two bulls until one falls to the ground disabled or gives up and retreats. To prepare for their sport, their bodies are strengthened on a diet of milk and honey. It is beyond my comprehension how so many people enjoy watching sports involving hurting animals. If there’s one thing I would change about this world, it is purposely hurting the defenseless for pleasure, power, or convenience.

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Yet, we have become a world of bullies haven’t we? One can scroll through Facebook and find political rantings written in a way that shames those who have a different viewpoint on the matter.  It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything political or responded to anyone’s comments. God impressed upon me it’s not my place, for I’m His. He doesn’t want me to lose my clout by being a lout (sort of speak. I tried here.)  I’ve been obedient, but I admit, some days it’s not easy. I pursued a Political Science degree in college, and I was raised in a very political family that loves a good debate, but then there’s Jesus. He didn’t waste breath or influence on politics. Although He had the power to overthrow the Roman government, He used his energy and His influence on Kingdom work alone. I love that about Him!

 

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There is also body-shaming going on throughout social media. It’s another kind of bullying it’s just hidden under self-promotion. I was blessed to see what that does to a woman whose breast was chopped off, whose hair and eyelashes had fallen out, and who felt she lost everything that made her a woman. My sister Tricia died of breast cancer in 2014. One night, I found her sitting on the bed staring at a friend’s sexy pictures with tears in her eyes.

“She’s supposed to be a Christian,” she said. “Does she even know how this feels to someone like me?”

I snatched her phone away. “That’s it!” I said. “We’re having a friend deleting party!” I deleted all the women from her friend file who made her feel inadequate. You see, the enemy tried to use those pictures to steal her light, but he didn’t win.

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I say I am blessed to have witnessed this because it gave me a love for women and their struggles. I know the women who reveal their bikini-ready bodies, are not thinking about how this affects women who are hurting, women who can’t lose weight, women who are sick, women whose husbands find them unattractive, but I plead on their behalf that you remember to love them by considering their feelings. We need to be more outward- focused in a world focused inward.

On the flip side, we Christians have to stop being so easily offended. We tend to live with our hearts outside our chest, which causes them to get bruised and banged up. In defense, we want to stand up for ourselves or our Lord, while God is saying “it’d be better for you to get out of My way.” There have been times I’ve wanted to stand up for myself because I felt attacked or accused unfairly, but you know what? God’s got my back.

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We as Christians should carry our cross of self-denial like Ferdinand carries that large hump on his back. We should learn from a gentle bull not to bothered by the heat of politics or the pestilence of a self-obsessed culture. Just as he gives kisses to a carnivore like me, we should be willing to love those undeserving as well. When we see some bucking going on, it’s best to get out of the way and mind your own Kingdom-building business. The cold don’t bother Ferdinand, so don’t let the times people are cold bother you. Allow God to thicken up your skin and see yourself through His eyes.

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Momma often rolled her eyes and said “Bull!” when she felt we fed her a tall tale, or she used the cliche’ “He’s full of bull,” meaning he’s full of you know what (wink). I no longer subscribe to those cliches. Don’t go offending my bull now, Momma! In the case of Ferdinand, I hope someone thinks I’m full of bull, for he’s a bull with a lot of heart. See you soon Ferdinand.

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A Memoir from India

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I’m never one to read romance. There’s nothing wrong with romance, but if I’m going to take the time to read, it’s going to be something that will stay with me. I love the movie “You’ve Got Mail.” When Meg Ryan said, “You are what you read.” It was an aha moment for me, for I believe there’s some truth to that. So, if you get a book recommendation from me, it will be something I couldn’t put down, but will most likely fall into historical fiction, non-fiction, and memoir. They are my go to’s. This is a memoir.

I think too often we grow complacent here in the United States with our faith. I love to read soul stirring missionary stories, that remind us we serve a living God who performs miracles. This book is one of those stories. It is a book you will find hard to put down and reveals how God used this young woman’s childhood to prepare her to serve in the darkest places of India, and the miracles she witnessed by being obedient to the call. Check it out!

Seeds of Love…Seeds that Change

 

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“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” Mother Teresa

            We’ve been supporting Abilaisha through Compassion International since she was wee thing, now she’s fifteen. What happens to a ripe, innocent girl in India when Christian funding is forced out? Those that sleep on the concrete, untouchable floor of the Caste system are often sold, used, and abused. I didn’t get to say goodbye to a girl who called me Momma in her letters. Abilaisha was abandoned.

Compassion International has been serving the poor children of India for 48 years through an American sponsorship program. According to Guardian, since the election of Prime Minister Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who ran on a promise to rid the country of corruption and to promote Hinduism as the National religion, twenty-five, foreign-funded charities have been forced out. There is a fear by Modi and the BJP, India will lose its Hindu culture, and Compassion International is setting out to convert Hindus to Christianity. Compassion President and CEO Jimmy Mellado denies this accusation, for Compassion International has only worked with already established Christian churches to help them feed, clothe, and educate their needy. Undoubtedly, this shut down is allowing India’s Christian impoverished to slip through the geysers created by its political climate.

According to Open Doors an organization that raises awareness of Christian persecution around the world, since Modi’s election there is also a rise of Christian persecution in India.  Churches are being burned, pastors beaten, and out of the 64 million Christians, approximately 39 million have reported suffering direct persecution.

What will happen to my Christian daughter Abilaisha?

One ordinary day, I was complaining about laundry and dishes and boys dirty socks scattered about, when a letter arrived. I recognized Abilaisha’s foreign script and turned over for the translator’s version. Inside, I read the words carefully printed in pencil.

A typhoon hit her village, wiped out everything. Both her parents had Typhoid Fever and she was caring for them in a small tent. Then, as if nothing in her world was falling apart, she asked about me and told me she prays blessings on me every single day. Me, her spoiled American Momma. No complaining or pity party splattered her page. You see, she’s used to this life, used to the struggle, the hunger, the fraying of her hem, the holes in her shoes, but being used to it doesn’t make it okay.

I tracked down her village on goggle, tons of trees doted with small dwellings. I thought it would make me feel closer, but as I stalked her like a hawk from above, it had the opposite effect. She’s there, somewhere in a tiny hut, and I’m here in a palace. Our worlds lie far apart and I am humbled by my blessings and helplessness.

I stressed my concern to Prem my Indian sister-in-law with indignation, “Why doesn’t India do something to help their poor?”

“Honestly Tammy, the problem is so big. There is so much corruption and so many poor,” She shrugged, “where would you even start?”

I suppose the disciple Thomas felt that way. He was naturally a doubter, wanting to place his fingers in the holes of Christ’s hands to believe His resurrection. When Thomas reached the vast land of India, I imagine he felt a bit overwhelmed. Eventually, he died there, speared in a village like Abilaisha’s, but not before converting many for the gospel. If he hadn’t started Abilaisha may never have received the good news of a God who loves her unconditionally.

Heres where I find my starting point, planting seeds of love.

Although, she’ll probably never read this, this is my love letter for a little Indian girl named Abilaisha, which I’ve lost to a government that doesn’t want me to help her. I ask everyone who reads this to pray for Abilaisha and all the Indian children,  for their safety, their needs to be met, and their unfaltering faith. We have to start somewhere.

 

Note: In order to protect Abilaisha, her last name and village has not been included in this post.

There is a great need for the sponsorship of children around the world. If you would like to become a spiritual momma or daddy to those less fortunate, please consider sponsoring a child by contacting www.compassioninternational.com.

For more information on Christian persecution: www.opendoors.org

 

 

 

 

 

Shades of Skin

“Momma if we end up in a race war whose side are we on?” His large dark eyes peered up at me. Eyes inherited from his paternal grandfather. His brown skin a perfect blend of my pale and his father’s dark. A color, many will risk skin cancer to obtain.

I glanced at the television. As a mother of four bi-racial children, I shuddered at the scene. What do I tell my twelve-year-old son? Whose side do we take?

My white heritage is layered with historical accolades in the building of this great nation. Some of the names sprouted on our Carter/Turner family tree are planted in historical references and textbooks. I’m proud of that. They risked their lives for their religious freedom and later freedom from the British. There is also a dark side of my ancestral history, one in which I’m not proud of. My ancestors were wealthy slave owners. One of those slaves born on an ancestral plantation was Nat Turner, who led the Nat Turner rebellion.

Through the limbs of our family, this racist ideology slithered down like a poisonous snake and I was raised within the snag of prejudice.

After I married, my father and I co-wrote a story to share his overcoming this generational sin. In light of all that is breaking on the news, I thought it applicable to re-post here.

He Said:

I was raised in an era when children were taught to respect their elders, saying yes sir” and no ma’am” to every adult…every adult, except black adults. As a small boy, I once addressed a black lady with,yes ma’am” and was scolded by my elders. They instructed me never say that to a colored person.” Upon asking why, they answered, You just don’t.”

Everything was segregated then from the black and white drinking fountains, to the restaurants and schools. Blacks sitting in the back of the bus were the norm. An age when congregations understood the words, “love thy neighbor” to mean, love thy white neighbor.” Hate, bigotry, and prejudice abounded. Our hearts from youth were ingrained with this ideology.

Like so many people at that time, I too was prejudiced, so much so, I refused sleeping in the same motel with a black family. Looking back, I’m not proud of this chapter in my life, but this is the reality of who I was.

She Said:

I knew the line we weren’t to cross, like the train tracks running through our small town, splitting colored town” from white town.” The gulf not only ran through town, but hung heavily in our churches as well. A dark veil prevented those who loved God, from feeling God’s unconditional love for others.

            One Sunday, a dark-skinned Indian man and his white wife visited our church. Once the service was over my father greeted them, and I took notice. When it was time to leave I jumped into the back seat, and leaned in between my parents.

            Daddy, you said black people can’t marry white people,” I said.

            My mother glanced back at me. Honey, he’s not black he’s Indian.”

           What’s the difference, he’s dark skinned?”

            She started to answer, but my father interjected. It’s wrong for anyone to marry outside their race,” he said. It’s not God’s plan or He would have made everyone the same color.”

           But you were nice to them,” I said.

           Once they’re married,” he shrugged, they’re married.”

He Said:

My oldest daughter Tammy moved to Florida for a job opportunity. One night in November, over the phone, she explained she ate Thanksgiving dinner with a black family, invited by their son Jay. I blew my top.

            “Don’t you ever see him again!” I yelled. No coffees, no lunch breaks, no contact at all. I forbid it! This is for the best.”

Months went by. I heard nothing more about Jay.

 She Said:

I’m ashamed to admit, I was unkind to Jay upon meeting him. His first attempt to invite me to dinner gained rejection. I tried to push him away. Where I come from you don’t date outside your race, religion, or political affiliation, but when alone in a strange town you begin to see outside the bubble you’re born in.

 He Said:

Tammy flew home for a visit and we had a wonderful time together. When it was time for her to leave, I sadly watched her plane veer down the runway back to Florida. When I returned from the airport, my wife informed me she found a letter my daughter left behind. A heavy dread came over me, as I backed into my chair. I examined the envelop in my hand. A father has an intuition when it comes to his daughter. I knew what was in the letter.

 She Said:

I left my engagement announcement in a letter. I remember the smell of my father’s shirt that day, when he hugged me goodbye. I didn’t know if he would ever speak to me again. As my plane turned onto the runway, I looked back to see his silhouette waving through the window, and I cried.

 He Said:

Every bitter emotion filled the fibers of my mind and body. An older family member advised me to disown her…count her as dead. He went on to say, Have you seen mixed children? They have yellow eyes.” That criticism was the last thing I needed to hear. My heart was broken and filling with disappointment, shame, and anger. Maybe he could disown his daughter, but I could not! I loved her, and needed time to work things out. Many sleepless nights followed. I spoke with my pastor and friends to no avail. I was still in turmoil.

 She Said:

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I started to have abdominal pains landing me in the hospital one night. I repented for living a lie, while wearing down the carpet with my pacing. I waited and waited for the phone to ring.

 He Said:

Not long after the letter I purchased new tires, and while waiting for their installation I sat in the lobby. There I saw Mr. Goodman, a black man I’ve known for years. I looked over at him and prayed, Lord, can you show me how to love this man?” There was no vision or bolt of lightening, but He did answer my prayer, and I can testify God went to work on me. He cleansed my heart and lifted a heavy weight from my mind. If I had heeded the advice of family, I’d have missed many good times and so many blessings.

 She Said:

I made one mistake…I warned Daddy. I told him Jay planned to officially ask for his blessing.

            “You mean today?” He said.

            “Yes, today.” I nodded for emphasis.

Daddy started avoiding, and Jay started pursuing. Three days later, an exasperated Jay trapped him during a football game. Reluctantly, he gave his blessing, and it was like the heavens opened and the angels sung. We were blessed!

The wedding plans began the next day. Jay picked the date, the venue, and reserved the hotel rooms. In less than three months we were to be married, before Daddy changed his mind.

At our wedding, Daddy stood and gave me away with the words, Her mother and I.” I looked back at them and whispered my thanks. We were one flesh, no matter what the color.

 He Said:

Tammy and Jay have been married for 18 years. As her father, there is a deep satisfaction in watching the happiness of my daughter. She’s blessed with a good husband, who treats her like a queen. I am also blessed with three beautiful grandsons and a new granddaughter whose dark eyes light up, when they see their Granddad and Nana. They shower us with hugs and kisses.

 She Said:

After the birth of my first son, my father came to see him. He held him in his arms by our pool. The sunlight shimmered through his light newborn hair.

            You know, I can’t tell which one of you he looks like,” he said. I think my grandson’s Italian.

            He’s a mixture of us all,” Jay said.

Four children later, I recognize God’s handiwork. I imagine once we exchanged our vows, God released a sigh in His heavens and said, It is good,” just as He does any union He orchestrates. Still, what amazes me most is God loved my father so much; He took one of his biggest fears and made it a blessing. God is good.

He Said:

There are some who say nothing has changed between the races. I say they are wrong. I have changed, and I choose to believe I am not the only one. I believe God has erased bigotry from the hearts of millions across this nation. When I look back to how far I have come, I am slapped by the irony that I, the great, great, grandson of a plantation owner, who owned 99 slaves, has four grandchildren from a bi-racial marriage. Hate crime laws, race legislation, or the right politician in office will never change a man’s heart. There is only one who can alter the heart of man. All we need to do is allow it, by practicing what my daughter teaches her children- to truly love is to love with a colorblind heart.

 

I thought about this article today while reading everyone’s posts on Facebook. Many of the posts revealed which side of the line the writer stands on. My thoughts also returned to the night the Ferguson riots blared on the television…

“Momma?” Colin said again, tugging on my sleeve. “Whose side do we take black or white?” I glanced across the room at my husband holding my little girl, the palest of my children, who prefers her Daddy to me. Each member of my family beautiful and distinct in the color God created them. I imagine the Master added a dab more brown on my son Christian, and a smudge more white on Nick.

I wrapped my arms around him. “We are on God’s side,” I said.

I am the blessed wife of a loving black man and the mother of four bi-racial children. I was raised in a racist home. May my life be a testimony that it does take innocent blood to cleanse this country. Our Lord Jesus at Calvary shed the only blood capable of cleaning our land and our hearts many years ago. I refuse to stand with any group spewing hate or ranting chants inciting violence. I stand firmly on the rock of my salvation.  Every life is precious no matter the color and each holds a unique purpose under heaven. Where do you stand?