WHAT I REMEMBER ABOUT MAMA LULA

I couldn’t pronounce Mama Lula as a two-year old so I shortened it to “Mula”. No one ever corrected me, so I continued to refer to her as “Mula”after I reached adolescence. Mula married when she was fifteen and had her first child at age sixteen. During her marriage Mula gave birth to twelve children. She buried three of them and one included my father.

My grandmother was a unique woman. We shared the same birth month and she once told me when we were walking home that she was ashamed to be seen by others when she was pregnant. I couldn’t understand this since she was married, but I surmised it was another generation and another time, and I let it go at that. I also didn’t understand what she meant when she stated, “I didn’t have my children in no sets.” I picked up the context clue when she said, “all my children were by my husband.” Grandmother was one generation removed from slavery and I used to wonder how she learned to write so well. I used to steal glimpses of her penmanship when she wrote out notes or recipes. She never talked to me about her mother or father or her education, but then I was a child so I suppose that accounted for most of that.

Mama Lula was one of the neatest people I have ever known. She lived in a four room house that was built by her husband and others who helped him. I can still envision that house and every room in it. Her bed was made of feathers and it was always impeccably made with the bedspread hanging straight on all sides. Once when I attempted to make it she said emphatically, “Baby that spread ain’t straight. Fix it so it’ll look right.” Every item in her dresser was always ironed and folded. She kept things in this state even though she washed all her laundry by hand on a scrub board for many years before obtaining an old-fashioned washing machine with a ringer. She took pride in how clean and neat she kept things. I believe cleanliness to her was a character trait. Even though her house was small and functional; it was scrubbed clean everyday. Even though the floor had boards that covered holes and cracks, she swept it everyday as if it was the floor of a marble covered palace.

I never knew Mula when her hair wasn’t gray. Long before I was born, she used to dye it; but as time wore on the gray hairs outnumbered the natural ones so she let nature win. She was rail thin and the only evidence of her multiple childbirths was a little pouch of a stomach that she covered well when girdled and dressed up for church. Mula had a collection of shoes that dated back to the 1940s. I once asked her why she never wore her pretty shoes; she said, “baby, they don’t fit me like they once did, and my feet would hurt if I tried to wear them.” She always wore an apron because she was always cooking or cleaning. Mula made all her cakes from “scratch” and she beat the mixture by hand with an enormous stainless steel spoon. I tried to pick the spoon up once and didn’t try it again until I was a teenager. There are two things Mula always cooked with and that was lemons and garlic. Her kitchen smelled of garlic every time I visited her. Her cooking not only tasted good, but it seemed to be sprinkled with a magic that gave the aroma of love which caused me to gorge myself each time I visited her.

Mula’s house had a front porch swing. When I came to her house the swing was the first thing I’d run to and I would swing and swing until I realized that I was hungry. Mula kept the Jack’s vanilla wafers in a cupboard and I’d always grab a handful after the swing. Mula’s house seemed to resonate of all the life that once was there. Even though most of her children had long since married and moved away, I could still feel the presence of all the children and families that had once lived there. Mula had one son, Curtis Quince, who was born mentally disabled. He stayed with her until Mula moved away to live with her daughter in California.

The time came for me to go away to college. I went to Mula’s house to tell her. She said, “learn as much as you can, baby.” As a seventeen year-old I didn’t understand why she kept saying this to me; but as an adult I realize that most of her generation was denied the opportunity to go to school to learn anything. Her phrase resonated the centuries of slavery when our people were forbidden to read and write with punishment up to and including death.

I was on a trip to Atlanta when I called Mula who was living in Augusta with one of her daughters at the time. Even after having a stroke, Mula recognized my voice immediately. I said, “Hello, Mama Lula, it’s Jo-Anne.” She said in that high pitched sweet voice, “Hey baby, are you married yet?” I said, “no Mama Lula, I’m still in school. I hope I can come see you soon.” She said, “I hope so too baby. You study hard and make us real proud.” I said, “I will Mula.” “I then said with many tears in my eyes, “I love you.” She said, ” I love you too baby.” She then handed the telephone back to her daughter. I said my good-byes to Aunt Imogene and then hung up. It was the last time I heard her voice. Mula passed away one year before I was married. I had so wanted to call her and tell her that I’d finally married: yet I carry her memory and that sweet, high pitched voice with me when life gets beyond what I feel I can bear. I know that there was someone who suffered much more than I ever could imagine and she kept her dignity through it all. This alone gives me strength, courage, and hope.

The Birth of Faith

This post is dedicated to all women who believe that God gave them the ability to bring their child into the world with the absence of drugs, technology, and other machinery that interferes with our God-given ability and working in our own bodies to give birth.

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The Birth of Faith
She was born with a strength of character; I saw that from the moment I laid eyes on her. She had to be born strong, only God knew the things she would someday face. “What are you going to name her?”, the midwife asked while John held her in his arms. “Uyime Abasi,” he said. He looked at me with a mixture of awe and bewilderment. His face stated what his lips didn’t utter, “I can’t believe what just happened here, I just witnessed a miracle.”
I looked at the baby and asked him,” what does her name mean?” He said “it
means ‘will of God’”. I hid in my heart what her middle name would be long before I held her in my arms; even before she was conceived. God knew her before I did and He knew her middle name would be Gabriella. Gabriella…

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THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE AMERICAN DIET AND PORNOGRAPHY

The American diet mainly consist of unhealthy fats, animal products, carbohydrates, and the nemesis of health, processed sugar. Most people overly consume, dairy cheese, bread and crackers, potato chips, meat, and sugary desserts in the form of cake, cookies, ice cream etc. The American diet is full of calories, but no nutrients, it expands your waist, but doesn’t fill you up. Therefore, you keep eating, eating, and eating; and you continue to keep gaining, gaining, and gaining more weight.

Let’s not forget the temples of fast food which have been erected so that millions can enter each day to pay homage and worship. Fast food has probably contributed to more deaths than all the wars combined, yet people continue to trudge mindlessly to them as though they are chained by their power, and  have no ability to stop and no choice. The choice has been taken away from you by the addition of processed sugar, unhealthy fats, and dead carbohydrates contained in the fast food.  Fast food and overly processed food is formulated to make you addicted. You eat and never get full, you consume and are never nourished. People who are starving and people who are obese are both malnourished.

Hence pornography is similar. People who use pornography aren’t just looking for pleasure, they are looking for human connection. They are looking to be fulfilled from something that can never deliver. So, they look at the pictures or videos and hope that by consuming enough of it they will be satisfied. But, they aren’t satisfied, they just become addicted and miserable: and once addicted they no longer have the control over stopping. They may even forget they were looking for human love, connection, and relationships. Just as people who consume all the trash that is called food are looking for nourishment, nutrients, and satiation of hunger; but all they find is empty calories, weight gain, and disease. Why does the food industry make food that is so bad for people, food that stimulates disease and obesity: the answer is simple, it is for profit and monetary gain. It’s the same reason so much money is made from pornography, and the results are the same; the destruction of the human life and the human spirit.

WHAT WE CAN DO TO HELP OURSELVES:

  1. Try to only purchase food that is in its original form, it may or may not be organic, but stop eating food that is unrecognizable from the way it grows.
  2. Take the time to cook your own food. I know we are pressed for time, but there are ways around eating fast food. Chop your vegetables ahead of time. Buy vegetables pre-cut.
  3. Cook several meals at once and freeze them so you can defrost them later to be eaten.
  4. Find healthy alternatives to snacking, such as fruit, vegetables, real protein shakes,(not those filled with processed sugar).
  5. Educated yourself about what you are really eating: the calories, the sodium, the sugar, the additives. ( Re-educate yourself about what a healthy diet consist of )
  6. To avoid the temptation to use pornography, fight to build human relationships with real people. Remember that what you are looking at via the computer or telephone screen isn’t real; even if live people are there, there is no intimate, real connection with them. You are paying these people for their services and it is for their profit and at your loss. And you are losing much more than money.
  7. Also constantly strive to develop yourself, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that anyone else can do this for you. Find and participate in things that you are gifted in as well as things that bring pleasure in a positive way: this could be sports, music, art, more education for yourself. The list is endless.
  8. Take note

    that you have control over your own life, and if you don’t take control over what you eat, your personal relationships, and your choices in life; someone will make the choice for you.

THE MOUNTAINS AND THE SEA

image_577325847583628In life when faced with seemingly impossible and overwhelming circumstances, God has given us certain principles that will carry us through , coupled with a strong faith in Him and his promises.

The one thing that is certain about the Christian walk is the constant trials that we face. As a newborn believer, I  felt that I could relax and wait for Jesus’s return and in the meantime just coast into heaven for the next sixty or seventy years. I soon realized that this belief is a fallacy: the adversary convinces many Christians that to follow Jesus means to live a life free of suffering or difficulty. Also in our Christian walk we are faced many times with complicated decisions; and sometimes it seems we have no choice.

What we need to realize is that in times of severe distress and sometimes painful moral crisis, God has given us a blueprint of what to do and what not to do.  When I am faced with dilemmas in my Christian walk, I often read the book of Exodus (14:13,14) which is the story of  the Hebrews  leaving Egypt and their pursuit by Pharoah’s armies. The former Hebrew slaves found themselves in what seemed to be a hopeless situation: Pharoah’s army was behind them, the mountains were on either side and the Red Sea stretched in front of them. Sometimes the greater the seemingly hopelessness, the greater the deliverance at hand. Moses, the Hebrews leader who was chosen by God to lead them out of bondage had four main things that he told the people when they were at the edge of the Red Sea that fateful day.

The first thing he told them was to “be not afraid.” There are many things we can do when we are afraid; such as worry, panic, blame others: but the one thing we cannot do when we fear is trust God. Fear and faith can never exist at the same time. Fear cancels out faith and vice versa. So if you are in a seemingly hopeless situation, as tempting as it is to be afraid, don’t give in to it. If you ask God to comfort you, he will. Hebrews 13:5 says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” The one thing a child fears the most is being left alone, and this is because they can’t make it on their own. A good parent is never at risk of leaving their child intentionally; so it is with God, he will never leave us or abandon us emotionally because his love for us can never permit him to do so. When we worry in painful and stressful circumstances, it is like saying to God, “I don’t trust you to take care of me, or I don’t believe you can.” One thing to remember about the plight of the  Hebrews is that their hopeless situation brought them to their promised land. The path to our destinies is often paved with pain, fear, discouragement, and obstacles. The greater the obstacle, the greater the deliverance and miracle.

The next thing God told Moses to tell the people was to be still. Being physically still in times of crisis is so important. Often we think we are accomplishing something if we are moving; many times all movement achieves is to serve as a distraction. Physical stillness also can give us time to regroup and to think before acting. If every time we encounter stress we immediately act, we run the risk of acting in haste. And as my grandmother used to say, “Haste makes waste.” Stillness also gives our emotions time to “catch up” before we make a physical move. How many times have you known someone to act rashly only to later realize they’d made a mistake. When I’m faced with multiple decisions in my Christian walk, I find I’m not going to make a mistake if I take the time to seek God about what to do, and wait to hear what he says to do. It’s hard to hear the voice of God while in constant movement; especially when that movement has little or nothing to do with his direction for our lives. So when listening for direction from God, it is imperative that we find a place to  be still or not move until we know that it is God saying to move.

The next thing God said to do which goes together with stillness is to watch. We see sometimes only what God allows us to see, and this is hard to accept when we feel we are educated, intelligent, and well-informed. Unfortunately, no matter how intelligent we are our smarts are no match for God. There is physical seeing and there is seeing with understanding. The seeing with understanding is the level of seeing that God is trying to get us to. For we can have physical sight and be spiritually blind. When I pray, I ask God to allow me to see situations the way he sees them, which in turn will increase wisdom. We can never know all that God knows, but we can be in relationship with him closely, so as to act in ways that please him and glorify his will in the earth. Sometimes we can not see,(understand) God’s will until we just observe what he is doing, and we can’t do that unless we ask. Watching involves prayer, but it also involves waiting.

The last thing Moses instructed the people to do was to be quiet. This is hard for most people to do because it involves controlling a small member of our bodies, and that is the tongue. The book of James says, “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things..”(James 3:5) Our speech is the one thing that can build up or tear down. In regards to faith, it is important to always remember that our words have extreme power. That is why we should never confess negativity over our selves by speaking. We should never speak negative things over others unless it is to rebuke, correct, and instruct. The power of our speech is another sermon altogether; however when we are faced with extreme distress, we must keep quiet especially in regards to speaking negatively.  Also when in times of  extreme trials or pain, you can not tell everyone what you are going through; simply because they can not always understand. When facing extreme trials, the primary person you should talk to is God and leave it with God. When we speak without thinking we can never take back what has been said. Hence, it’s important to keep quiet and seek wisdom of what to say or if to speak at all. And always remember if we can control what we say, we can control other aspects of our lives. If in times of crisis you don’t know whether to speak or not, always ask God whether to speak or not; he will let you know. Finally, I can’t stress enough the importance of being quiet when facing life’s trials: because your words have power, they can inflict pain or heal, your words reveal how much control you have over your own spirit and you can literally speak your destiny into existence by saying the right thing or the wrong thing.

Heavenly Father I pray right now for those who are facing difficulties of the kind that only you can deliver them from, I pray for their confidence to be in you, and that they know that you will help them as they put their trust in you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.