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Communion Cup Confusion

Preeeee-shusssss Lawd….take myyyyyy hannnnnd….leeeeead me onnnnn….let me stah-ha-hand….

The church drags on in unison as I peer out into the congregation from under the wide brim of my first-lady-has-to-be-big hat. My mind is racing like a paragraph with poor punctuation…. Is anyone really aware of the words that we are singing? Wait….is the usher chewing gum? I wish someone would pick that bible up off of the floor…why is my son under the pew….I sure hope I made enough copies of the flyer for next week, did we wish Sister Jenkins a Happy Birthday, she will certainly blame me if it’s not mentioned on the mike.

Whew I am sooo tired and it’s hot in here come on air conditioner get cold, thank God I was able to pay the electric bill yesterday ( had to pull over off of the highway to do it on the side of the road). Umphhh would we have issues today if the lights were off!!…huh? I just heard my name, my thoughts are interrupted as I hear the pastor announcing that I was working on some event flyer for something that I knew nothing about….pause….paste a smile on your face and nod your big hat in agreement (these are the instructions I give myself in my head)…*Sigh* Something else to do….Jesus it never ends!

Look at this mess going on in God’s house, communion Sunday and no supplies. Last month the ushers knew that allcommunioncups the cups were used, so wait until this Sunday to mention it.  These people wouldn’t pee on me if I was on fire but always have a big old smile for ‘paaaaassssstor’.  Look at him acting like it’s OK that we don’t have these supplies….all full of grace and asking ever so sweetly that they make sure that the communion supplies are here next week.  Ain’t this some mess? I dare not say anything about communion Sunday and no cups because then I get told how I have to have grace and mercy. Next will come the grumblings from a handful of members that sing the same old ‘she tries to take over everything’ song. Oh yeah….she being she-me-her. Pul-eeze! I don’t have enough to do with a full time job, children, a non-profit, church business, ministry work aaannndd a home to take care of.  I can’t address it, but I sure will be the one at the church supply store getting them dang cups just in case…..

So I know you are wondering what happened. Yup, while taking care of my family, working a full time job, working in ministry with my own calling and burdens, spending time with my children, grocery shopping…I stopped, just in case, at the church supply store. Sunday morning, the usher didn’t come to church AT ALL. No communion cups, no phone call….nothing. Hmph, Pastor Grace and Mercy would have been really looking dumb after announcing last Sunday that THIS Sunday we will have communion –  had ‘she’ (she being she-me-her) not gone to the store pulled three wrinkled dollars outta my purse and bought those stupid cups.

No one in the congregation knew the details, nor do I think they cared about the communion supplies, how they got there or who paid for them. But from under my brim as I peered out into the congregation, I could see that everyone was at ease because order was restored for (especially for those who need that scheduled communion on 1st Sunday).  I chastise myself, remember that I didn’t do anything without the awesome help of God and the sacrifice for MY sin was far greater than buying some plastic cups.

The point is that very few understands the responsibilities, the inner conflicts, the unwarranted judgement and hard work that comes with the “First Lady” title. As you pray for your pastor lift her up too. Take a moment and view the church as she sees it while peering out from Under her Brim.

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My Hat Doesn’t Fit

As the First Lady you get called on to attend meetings. There is the meeting of the Women’s Ministry at your church, Mini-Hat1Ministers and Pastors Wives Meetings, District Women’s Meetings, State Women’s Ministry meetings….you get the point. If there is the word WOMEN in any ministry meeting title, there is a good chance that you are invited, expected or guilt-ed into attending.

Now don’t get me wrong, there have been some meetings that set a purpose, met it and I walked away blessed to have been there. But there have been some where I sat at a table, pen in hand and envisioned what their facial expressions would be as I imagine myself jumping on the table and screaming “WHY ARE WE HERE AND WHAT DOES THE SHINGLES HAVE TO DO WITH IT???”

I went to one of these meetings in the winter and because of how far it was my sister came along with me. It was cold outside and early on a Saturday so I jumped up, made sure the house was in order – who are we kidding, it was Saturday and there were four kids to ask ‘didjaeet (did you eat)??’  I put on my jeans, some knee boots, a decent sweater while grabbing my coffee saying goodbye and going out the door. I met-up with my dear sister (who has always been my roadie, no matter where I went once I got a drivers license, she would jump in the car and go with me to go to the moon) and we jumped on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

When we got to the church we descended down the stairs to join those already around the table and to my horror….many of the women were in their ‘Sunday go meeting’ outfits. Here’s me…jeans, boots and a leather jacket while these seasoned sisters were in full ‘church wear’ at 10 o’clock in the morning….a Saturday morning.

At first I was mortified in a quiet way. You KNOW there were icy looks, not loving sisters but judgmental biddies (that’s what I saw as they assessed my Saturday attire) but as I sat there I thought….they don’t know me! Then I started wondering ‘why am I here’ I giggled as I imagined them calling each other asking  “did you see what she had on?!”  That’s when I knew….my First Lady hat didn’t fit. Maybe it wasn’t that the hat didn’t fit, maybe I didn’t fit the mold that people had placed on the hat. Whatever!! I’m here now, dragged my sister out in the cold,  paid tolls on the Pennsylvania turnpike and got up early on a Saturday to be here so I participated in the meeting, took my ill-fitting Hat (in their eyes of course) and went home. That was one meeting that I never attended again but I still laugh at the looks peering at me from under the First Lady’s Brims.

Church is not for the Faint of Heart

“C’mon, we’re going to be late” I heard blast through the house. “I’m COMING!!!!” (I screamed back). Good Grief! It’s easy for you to be on time. After I deal with getting the kids ready, can I have a moment to slip on some lip gloss for goodness sake.  – I gotta get these kids together without starting a third world war or it will be a looonnngggg service…..for me in the pew.

It was the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship District meeting (or something like that) being held at a church in Chester, Philly, NJ….or somewhere that required an extended period of time with antsy kids in the car. Sunday School and Morning service at our church…run home, get some food together, grab a bite to eat, change the pants that a stain somehow jumped on my son,  replace the missing barrettes and re-braid my daughters hair, clean up and back on the road again to get there on time.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Lord and worship is how I express my love; however, the Lord knows that I am exhausted every Sunday trying to be a worshiper and an attentive mother. I don’t want my children to disrupt the service or interrupt another worship so I sit on pins-and-needles….hoovering, watching, waiting to deal with a fidgety kid, a bathroom run, the loud “STOP IT!!’ when one touches another all while looking poised and together, follow the service and actually hearing a Word….I am WORN OUT.  Continue reading

Sold out for a First Lady Hat and Parking Space

People that know me will be nodding their heads to what I am about to say – in the past I was NOT a fan of Iyanla Vanzant. There…. I said it out-loud. Nope, I did not like the award 20130216193114!Iyanla,_Fix_My_Life_Title_Cardwinning, Oprah validated, Sistah Friend, Yesterday I Cried, In the Valley author.  I can almost hear you saying – “WHAT? Iyanla is awesome, Diva you are out of touch….not like Iyanla….there is something really wrong with you…! Where is the sisterly love and support in that?” My feelings were based on her philosophy of the Universe and not God formulated my opinion of her. It was that simple. Judge if you want, my thoughts, my views, my opinion. Daddy used to say they (opinions) are like bellybuttons (he used a different anatomic part but I’m going to keep it clean) everybody has one.

However, as ‘life’ happened to Iyanla – I’ve seen a change, I hear her acknowledging God, I see a more genuine spirit of love in her and as a ‘fruit inspector’ I am seeing more in her fruit than in her eloquence of speech and her signature endearing term that she calls everyone  – Beloved.

Now with that out of the way, let’s move on to what is under this former First Lady Brim.  1In an episode of “Iyanla: Fix My Life,” Iyanla travels to Louisiana to help a couple in crisis. The husband, a pastor, admits to cheating on his wife with about 20 women over the course of his 10-year marriage. Many of his mistresses are members of his congregation… and one of these women gave birth to his child. His wife, Natashia, wrote to Iyanla asking for help in deciding whether to stay or to go. Continue reading

The Tennis Match Under my Brim

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…….There’s a storm out…..over the ocean….and it’s mooooovvvvvvinnng thisa way………if your souls not ankered in Jeee-suss, you will shorrrl-eeeee, drift aaaaa-waaaaaayyy.

That is what was being sang….but what I heard were nails screeching down a chalkboard. I mentally smacked my lips, there is always that one who wants to make a Luther ooooh-hoooo-hooooohhhh sound messing up the whole song. As soon as I thought it, I could feel my lips turn into a thin straight line with a ) on the end of it. Without saying a word, I heard the look on my friend’s face (let’s call her Helene). It was saying girl….get that stank look off of your face, the whole church can see you. 

My brain went back and forth in a conversation within my own thoughts as if in a tennis match…the spiritual man jumped in…my focus is supposed to be on God, not on the LutherWannaBe or Fake Patti LaBelle. Jesus, help me to focus on you. Serve – My flesh fought it (right in the pulpit!) yeah, it would be a lot easier to focus on God if this foolishness wasn’t flouncing around in front of you. The spiritual side returned the thought over the net with power…Jesus said if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me. Where does it say anything about the people? Nothing so ignore them and shift your focus.

While this tennis match is going on in my head….my facial expression CANNOT change. If a fly lands on my nose, I cannot flinch. I can’t blink and have to constantly tell all of the players in the tennis match not to mess with the face so that it could keep one look on it and not distract anyone in the congregation. With all that going on in your head, how in the heck are you supposed to receive a word?

Not to mention that it is most certainly a skill and Lord knows not my gift.  Anyone who knew me well could read me with a glance. It was nothing for me to rebuke my kids with an eyebrow lift while walking to the microphone, turning to Proverbs to read the scripture lesson. Unfortunately, those who don’t know you and have decided that they don’t like you will read all kinds of craziness into you just using a tissue to wipe your eye. So you quickly learn as a First Lady, that you are expected to glue a smile on your face and nod in agreement like a bobble-head doll on the dashboard of a Jeep bouncing through the mountains. Whatever is going on in your head, you need to learn how to keep that under your brim.