Thursday, November 14, 2013

Portals Into God's Presence: All Hail the Power

On Sunday, at the New Hope Baptist Church of Metuchen, the choir sang me happy. For as much as I love contemporary Gospel music and anthems, I love a good hymn. I just do. And there is something about "All Hail the Power" that reminds me of God's majesty and sovereignty in the midst of life's messiness. This song also has a way of transporting me into the heavenly realm, alongside angels, as we worship God, who is worthy of our worship and praise. Beloved, beyond our singing, let us crown God Lord of all...

All hail the power of Jesus' name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown Him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem,
and crown Him Lord of all.

Ye chosen seed of Israel's race,
ye ransomed from the Fall,
hail Him who saves you by His grace,
and crown Him Lord of all.
Hail Him who saves you by His grace,
and crown Him Lord of all.

Let every kindred, every tribe
on this terrestrial ball,
to Him all majesty ascribe,
and crown Him Lord of all.
To Him all majesty ascribe,
and crown Him Lord of all.

O that with yonder sacred throng
we at His feet may fall!
We'll join the everlasting song,
and crown Him Lord of all.
We'll join the everlasting song,
and crown Him Lord of all.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reflections from the Trenton Half Marathon and 10K

To God be the glory, running the 10K portion of the Trenton Half Marathon and 10K was exhilarating! I was proud to complete the race, without stopping to walk, in 1:32:47. More than that, I was proud to be part of the Black Girls Run! Trenton Takeover. To be part of that movement was exciting; There were sisters of all shades, shapes, and sizes doing their thang on the pavement! When I was ready to walk, I would focus on a BGR! in front of me and use her as my motivation to keep on running. In fact, after crossing the finish line, I thanked a few of those sisters. The best, and hardest, part of the race was seeing the smile on my hubby's face and snuggling with Baby Girl post race (snuggling was hard because this running momma was as sore as sore could be!). Below are a few pictures of the experience. Enjoy!

Baby Girl and I with the founders of BGR!

Race bib and jacket prepped for an early morning rise...

BGR! in full effect...

One of my sisters in ministry and our North/Central Jersey BGR! Sisters...

Edison BGR! representing at Trenton...

Staying close to keep warm...

BGR! Group Picture... (From BGR! Official Facebook Page)

Go! Go! Go! (From Trenton Half's Official Facebook Page)

The email I received shortly after crossing the finish line...

Me and my future BGR!...

Momma, Baby Girl! Check out the race bling!

Edison BGR! Blinging!

Post-Race lunch with hubby...Baby Girl was asleep like she had run 10K!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Vulnerability, Anonymity, and Parenting: A Response

Yesterday I received a comment on my blog. I've chosen not to publish it, but I do want to address it. I will not address the specifics of the woman's issue with my post, rather I want to write about the spirit of the post. (and, should anyone choose to leave a comment—ahem, mom—please address the spirit of the post. I know that I am a good mother to Baby Girl and I do not need to use this space to argue that fact.)

First, let me give thanks for each and every person who reads my blog, whether posted here on on Project Eve. I am grateful for my readers, and I am especially grateful when folks engage the material by either sharing it with others or leaving a comment. I recognize that by posting my words in such a public space that I open myself up to criticism. Surely, not everyone will agree with my beliefs, questions, ideas, methods, and lipstick choices however, I do believe that there is a way that we can engage in healthy dialogue, even in the blogosphere. Which leads me to my first issue with the comment...

Ma'am, you chose to leave an anonymous comment. No name. No pseudonym. No Twitter handle. No email address. Just Anonymous. I don't know what to call you. And because of that, you have closed the door on what could have been a beautiful dialogue. You had an issue with one post, "The Benefits of Daycare," but interrupted another post, "Portals Into God's Presence: I Need Thee" with your comment. It's as if you ran into the room, grabbed the microphone from me, shouted your thoughts, dropped the mic, and ran out of the room. It's easy to make such remarks when you are Anonymous, unknown and unsourced. And while our socially connected world has provided tremendous opportunity for conversations that previously were unavailable to us, it has also opened the door to many Internet thugs hiding behind keyboards making assumptions and spouting their stuff, without taking the time to engage the writers or other folks leaving comments. I am disgusted when I read articles online where writers choose to be vulnerable—whether I agree with them or not—only to read through the comment section and some Anonymous person leave harmful and/or hateful words. Ms. Anonymous, if you really wanted to add something to the discussion you would have left your name, something for me to address you with dignity and respect, so we could talk.

Secondly, even though it has taken some time, I am quite confident in my parenting and in the decisions that hubby and I have made for our family. That said, if there is anything I have learned in 18 months of parenting is that it is vital to respect, and support when possible, whatever parenting decisions other mothers make—especially first-time and new mothers whose insecurities and hormone surges render us vulnerable. Short of neglect and abuse, I no longer judge how another mother chooses to feed, diaper, clothe, discipline, or put her baby to sleep. Ms. Anonymous, you initially read my piece on Project Eve, a website for inspiring women. To inspire means to breathe life into and, for a moment, your comment left me breathless. Your comment did the opposite of what that community is about. Your comment did the opposite of what I am about. In fact, when I slept on your words, I was reminded of a passage I read in BrenĂ© Brown's book Daring Greatly:
Interestingly, in terms of shame triggers for women, motherhood is a close second...Society views womanhood and motherhood as inextricably bound; therefore our value as women is often determined by where we are in relations to our roles as mothers or potential mothers...If you're working outside the home, the first questions is "What about the children?" If you're not working, the first question is "What kind of example are you setting for your daughters?" Mother shame is ubiquitous—it's a birthright for girls and women. (Daring Greatly, 86-87).
You tried to shame me and my decision. Your Anonymous position was steeped in self-righteousness.  But what you said was not about me or my Baby Girl. I would have to agree with BrenĂ© Brown (again), in her chapter on Wholehearted Parenting where she asserts:
After all, we rarely engage in self-righteous judgement when we feel confident about our decisions...if doubt lurks beneath my choices, that self-righteous critic will spring to life in not-so-subtle parenting moments that happen because my underlying fear of not being the perfect parent is driving my need to confirm that, at the very least, I am better than you. (Daring Greatly, 216)
Ms. Anonymous, while you are feeling sorry for my Baby Girl, I pray that you become so comfortable in who you are and the decisions that you have made that you don't need to critique me and mine, or anyone else, from behind the shadows.

Portals Into God's Presence: Lift Him Up

I must admit, I have been watching the Oxygen series "Preachers of LA." I was curious; I wanted to see these six preachers live the God life as their show tagline says. Never mind that there are no women preachers featured. Never mind the opulent cars and clothes and homes, which are diametrically opposed to the life of Jesus, who had no place to lay his head (Matthew 8:20).

As I watch, I try not to cast judgment, but—for me, as a preacher of the Gospel who takes her ordination vows very seriously—the show raises the question: "Is God being glorified?" Further, I wonder—since the preachers featured have publicly said that they are on the show to lead souls to Christ—is Jesus being lifted up on the Preachers of LA?

As a preacher, I know how easy it is to get caught in the hype of your own self. I've even noticed myself in the sermon preparation process writing to move the crowd in the pews, instead of writing to  move the congregation into the presence of our glorious God. This call to ministry requires a system of checks and balances, both internal and in the form of a mentor/friend/deacon/mother who will call you out on your stuff if self is being glorified more than God.  As preachers—in LA or any other city—our refrain in life, especially when people want to make rockstars of us, should be, "to God be the glory." When we do our work preaching, teaching, and serving we should measure our success, if you want to call it that, by whether or not Jesus has been lifted up. Lifting Jesus is our part. Drawing souls is God's part. Which leads us to our hymn of the week: Lift Him Up.

How to reach the masses, men of every birth,
For an answer, Jesus gave the key:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
Will draw all men unto Me.”

Lift Him up, lift Him up;
Still He speaks from eternity:
“And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
Will draw all men unto Me.”

Oh! the world is hungry for the Living Bread,
Lift the Savior up for them to see;
Trust Him, and do not doubt the words that He said,
“I’ll draw all men unto Me.”

Don’t exalt the preacher, don’t exalt the pew,
Preach the Gospel simple, full, and free;
Prove Him and you will find that promise is true,
“I’ll draw all men unto Me.”

Lift Him up by living as a Christian ought,
Let the world in you the Savior see;
Then men will gladly follow Him Who once taught,
“I’ll draw all men unto Me.”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

From Time to Time Top Ten: I Knew I was a Runner When...

Welcome to a new feature on From Time to Time, the Top Ten list. I am not a big fan of the David Letterman show, but I love, love, love his top ten lists. They are hilariously informative at times, and sometimes just hilarious. And to be honest, a Top Ten list is the perfect way to blog with the option of writing a lot or a little. So, for the first installment of the From Time to Time Top Ten and in honor of my first 10K run in two days (cue Eye of the Tiger), I present the "Top Ten Reasons I Knew I was a Runner…"

10. Each and every person who ran the ING New York Marathon, and most especially my friend Nikki G., are all my heroes. Now that I’ve logged a few miles, I admire folks who can run for 26.2 miles. I admire their endurance. I admire their discipline. I admire their courage. 

9. I now have three piles of clothes in my laundry bin: Darks, Whites and Running Gear. And while I may mix my darks and whites from time to time, I keep my running gear separate and I follow the care instructions to a tee.

8. I am serious of about my Black Girls Run! (BGR!). I reactivated my Facebook page mostly so I could connect with my New Jersey BGR! group. I use the official BGR! members page to RSVP for runs, but I find great encouragement from the posts in the North/Central Jersey BGR! Facebook group. I also find great joy in sharing my success with the group. (I’m sure I’ll be posting this entry to the group page.) I wear all pink and black running gear all the time. I purchased new pink lipgloss for Trenton, after all, BGR! is about preserving the sexy. And after I finish this post, I'm going to get a pink and black mani/pedi for the weekend. 

7. I read articles and watch You Tube videos about proper running form. Then I practice. I must tell you, it has made a huge difference. I used to heave and haw through a 5K and now I am running 3.1 miles with relative ease. I also now have the endurance to run 6+ miles.

6. I have the Nike+ customer support in my favorites list on my iPhone. I call them at least once a week. Especially when my runs don’t register on the leaderboard in my home screen. I call them so much I’m sure they have a picture of me posted in their call center.

5. In September I went to Road Runner Sports and got fit for running shoes. I now have a fancy insole that is customized for my stride, arch, etc. Its so fancy I’m sure it will do the laundry for me if I ask. At my fitting I learned that my perfect shoe is a neutral plus. Thankfully, I found a pair of pink and black Nikes that fit well and were on sale. And I’m so serious about my running shoes that I only wear them for running. They aren’t sneakers. They aren’t tennis shoes. They aren’t errand shoes. They are running shoes.

4. Instead of sleeping in on Saturday mornings (which I now have the option of doing, since Baby Girl is sleeping longer) I get up, get dressed, and hit the pavement with my local BGR! Group. This is from a woman who really, really, really loves her sleep. 

3. I bought running underwear. Yes, running underwear. Before becoming a runner, I didn’t even know running underwear existed. But now, I’m all about Dri-Fit. In fact, I wonder if anyone has though about a Dri-Fit clergy robe. That. Would. Be. Hot. 

2. I am super-duper excited and ready to run the 10K in the Trenton Half-Marathon and 10K. I’m so excited, my running gear is already packed. I'm so excited, my hubby is excited. Trenton, here I come...

1. Even before I hit the pavement on Saturday, I’m already thinking about running a Half-Marathon in the Spring. Nike Women’s Half Marathon here I come…