Each will be like a refuge from the wind And a shelter from the storm, Like streams of water in a dry country, Like the shade of a huge rock in a parched land. Isaiah 32:3
“Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own scheme, Everybody needs someone beside ’em. Shinin’ like a lighthouse from the sea.” Song: “Brother” by NEEDTOBREATH (Link below)
Coming out of the store a few days ago, I ran into a man I know. He asked me how I am. I made the mistake of actually telling him how I am.
“Where’s the Yvonne I know?”
“She was buried with her daughter. You asked me how I am. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know.”
It’s common – or used to be standard fare – for me to answer the “How are you” question with “I’m okay.” But you want to know the raw truth? I’m not okay. I don’t know if I’ll ever be okay. Normal was obliterated on December 24, 2019 at approximately 2p.m. when I discovered my daughter. What I remember is kneeling beside her, praying to hear her heartbeat, holding her hand, kissing her cheek. I didn’t want to leave her. I was there in the beginning, and I didn’t want to leave her at the end. Everything ceased at that moment. I couldn’t tell you how many people came in the shed; I couldn’t tell you what was said. No birds chirping, no wind through the trees, not a sound pierced the tunnel I was in; I don’t know how much time ticked by as I knelt beside her. At that moment, it was just her and me.
Since then many thoughts have barreled through my mind… questions… Did I do enough; did I love enough; did I search enough; did she know how loved she is; did I give enough… so many questions with no answers. For those who know me, my most oft questions begin with “Why.” If I’m told something can’t be done, I respond, “Why?” If someone is angry, “Why?” stumbles out. Why has that been my go to? For me, I always believed if I knew the why, I would know the root cause and therefore, could find a solution, an answer. I ask “why” no more.
Then there came reflection… each person, no matter who they are, wants to feel love, be loved. When we fail to understand that, we lose ourselves to a world filled with ugliness and evil. We find ourselves struggling with life’s storm, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis… We search for a shelter, a lighthouse to guide us back to safety. We search for someone… anyone who knows… yet we so often fail to reach out because we feel no one knows, no one cares, everyone is too busy… Are you that person? Know someone like that? Do you assume that friend, that son or daughter or spouse, that coworker is strong enough because you’ve always seen them as such? That cashier, that person who cut you off while driving; that rival; that person who let their dog poop in your yard; that person sitting in church five rows from you; that person sitting in the theater three seats from you munching loudly on popcorn: that teenager clothed all in black: do you assume they’re not worthy because of the outward actions or appearances? Could they just be jerks and self-absorbed? Absolutely, but that probability doesn’t negate the deeper question: do you ever dive under the surface to learn more? Do you ever consider coming along beside the person to walk the journey of life?
My favorite scene from a movie – my absolute favorite – comes from “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.” The scene finds Sam crawling to his friend Frodo. The pair had been through fire, battles, floods, near-death experiences; the friends were hungry, bone-weary tired. They were so close to where they needed to be, yet it seemed farther away than it ever had. In this scene, after Sam crawls to his friend, Frodo; he takes him in his arms. He begins speaking to him, “Do you remember the shire Mr. Frodo?” Sam then describes how it will be spring soon; he reminds his friend of all the beauty spring produces in the shire. “Do you remember the taste of strawberries,” he asks. “Yes, Sam.” He continues and tells Sam that there is no veil between him and the ring of fire. Frodo is exhausted to the point where he doesn’t think he can make it, or that he can accomplish the task thrust upon him. Frodo is terrified. “Then let us be rid of it, once and for all,” begins Sam with firm resolve. And there it is, the best line ever to be written or spoken: “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you! Come on!” Sam then picks up Frodo, puts him over his shoulder and carries his friend, Frodo, the rest of the way up that desolate mountain to accomplish the task at hand. One step at a time, he carries his friend.
That scene is my favorite because it is so raw and filled with love… Sam knew he couldn’t do what had been assigned to Frodo, but he knew he could be his shelter at that moment and carry him.
We all need a shelter, a friend, a light to shine so we can find our way in the darkness. First and foremost, that always includes Christ, but in Him we are given a task to help each other, to love each other, to come along beside each other and say, “I can’t carry this for you, but I can carry you.”
The most treasured words my Shelby ever said to me were, “Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for always loving me.” I knew I couldn’t carry her pain, her suffering, but I could come along beside her, take her hand, and when necessary, carry her. Now she is held by the only one who loves her more: her Savior, Christ Jesus.
But have I done the same for others? Have I rejected a person before diving deeper; have I dismissed someone God put in my path; have I done enough to be a shelter for someone else? Please don’t comment on the questions I’ve asked myself, because the questions are for me to answer. Instead, ask yourself the questions.
One of the many thoughts that have blown through my mind as a hurricane wind blowing through an old oak is what now do I do? My precious Shelby always felt so alone, so isolated, as if no one understood, no one knew. Maybe if I had been more open during our journey to family, friends, anyone, she might not have felt this way. I don’t know, because as much as I want to, I can’t go back. I can’t change what was; I can only move forward and pray that I have the strength to be a shelter to all who God puts in my path, and when the opportunity arises, I pray I have the strength to say, “I can’t carry your burden, but I can carry you.”
Who has God put in your path? Who do you know who needs shelter? Who do you know who needs to be carried?
All of us need shelter from time to time. If you can’t find that shelter, message me, I will be that shelter with God’s strength.
“There hath no temptation taken hold of you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear, but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
I Corinthians 10:13
December 24, 2019: it began as any other day really. Coffee, letting out the dogs, deciding the grocery list for Christmas dinner. Nothing out of the unusual. Our daughter awoke, put in a load of clothes in the washer. I asked her if she’d like to drive around to look at Christmas lights that evening. She got that childlike smile and replied, “I’d like that very much.” I was excited about her and I doing what had been an annual tradition. However, as with all traditions, sometimes time and space interrupt them. This had been one of them. Our daughter had married almost two years earlier and was with her husband, who was stationed in San Diego. Our son, for this Christmas, had decided to stay at school. It would be the first Christmas without our two children together so I was already feeling a bit off… so the idea of driving around looking at lights, listening to Christmas music with my daughter took on a new sense of joy.
Our daughter had been home since early November. We had spent Thanksgiving together: the last time we were together has a family – me, my husband, our daughter and our son.
Deciding upon Christmas dinner, I asked my daughter if she needed anything from the store. She gave me a couple of items, and per my usual reply, I asked her to text me the items because I’d be sure to forget. I asked her if she’d like to come; she replied she did not. As we left, she saw us to the door. We hugged each other. “I love you,” she said. “I love you too, hon.” She stood in the doorway as we left.
Ninety minutes later, we arrived home, turned off the house alarm. I went to our daughter’s room; she wasn’t there. Looking into the back yard, I saw the shed door open. This was not unusual as sometimes the wind blew open the door. Not thinking anything about it, I went outside to close the door. Upon entering the shed, I saw my daughter lying on the floor. I knew…
Screaming something unintelligible, I ran to my husband. Ran into the house to get the phone. My husband called 911, I went back to the shed, still screaming, “No!” I knelt down beside her. I knew… blood pooled around her head, gun laying by her right hand, her eyes half open. I took her hand, it was already cooling. “No, no, no…” was the mantra. Placing my head on her chest, I prayed, “Please God, oh please, no…” All I wanted to hear at that moment was her heart, but the organ that pumped life through her veins was forever still. I don’t know how long I knelt beside my daughter, holding her hand, kissing her cheek, placing my head on her chest, before my husband and a law enforcement officer pulled me away. One on each side, each taking an elbow, pulled me up, walking me out of the shed.
The light that had been my daughter was darkened, never to shine again on this earth.
The ensuing days were filled with the usual activity that surrounds the sudden death of a loved one. Family and friends came, the funeral arrangements were made, we buried our daughter. The usual words were said, “I’m sorry for your loss;” “Be strong;” “Fill the emptiness with her memories.” All meaningless, albeit well meaning. It was during this time, those first days I came to truly understand the verse that opens this post. I learned how wrong I was. First, I had been wrong in its meaning for many years. I used to believe that God doesn’t give us anymore than we can handle regarding the trials we face in this life. Then I thought, “Well, He does because He doesn’t want us handling anything; He wants us to give it to Him.” Then I realized as I prepared for my daughter’s burial, that the verse has nothing to do with the trials and tribulations we face in life.
The verse, when read in context, refers to temptations not trials. There is no temptation that we face that is bigger than we can handle because God is bigger than any temptation, be it drinking, spending more time watching television instead of spending time with family, smoking, pornography… whatever that temptation is, it won’t be so big that we can’t overcome it because when we have Christ, He will deliver us when we earnestly seek Him.
It was then I understood the appropriate verse during these times is not the oft repeated paraphrase, “God won’t give you anything more than you can handle,” because burying my daughter who killed herself on Christmas Eve was definitely more than I could handle. It still is… So now, I remind myself of the appropriate verse that His grace is sufficient for me.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9.
Now that the New Orleans City Council has voted to remove statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, with the support of Mayor Mitch Landrieu, it is time these leaders ask themselves if the same standard will be applied to other institutions.
As reported in the Louisiana Weekly, during the meeting held to discuss removing the statues of Lee and Jefferson, it was stated that the time has come to remove the symbols of hate and slavery. On that note, the meeting ended with activist Pat Bryant leading the audience in a rendition of “Oh Freedom,” with his final words being, “And before I’d be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave.”
According to http://www.nola.com, Mayor Landrieu stated “Symbols really do matter. Symbols should reflect who we really are as a people.”
Located at 2701 General Pershing St is the Women’s Health Care Center which provides, “Expert, Confidential and Respectful abortion care.”
What’s respectful about a medical procedure that ends the live of a baby in utero, I don’t know.
Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States was founded by Margaret Sanger, a symbol of birth control and abortion.
Will these institutions, or symbols, likewise be removed in New Orleans or Louisiana?
If Mr. Byrant and Mayor Landrieu applied these same principles to other institutions, they would begin their fight to end every abortion that eradicates the lives of Black babies.
In 2010, Black Americans accounted for 12.6% of the U.S. population, yet Black American women accounted for 35.4% of all abortions; four times the number of abortions for white women. More Planned Parenthood or abortion clinics exist in low-income Black neighborhoods than any other group of American neighborhoods. Why is this? Why do leaders such as Mr. Byrant and the New Orleans City Council and the Mayor turn a blind eye to a monstrosity that is far greater than two statues? Why not is the Black community in an uproar over the slaughter of their babies while those infants are in their most helpless state, in utero?
Margaret Sanger, a white woman and the founder of Planned Parenthood envisioned birth control and legalized abortion as means to eliminate society’s unwanted: the poor, the illiterate, the minority, i.e. Black child. Her ideas were framed as a way to help women plan their families and to discard those children who didn’t quite fit into that narrative or plan.
“Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race,” Sanger wrote in 1922.
What was she speaking of when she wrote and spoke of a “cleaner race?” It surely wasn’t in reference to the elite and rich white members of society. Again, it was her definition of undesirables she wanted applied to society: the poor, the illiterate, the Black child; as if these qualities meant the poor person, the illiterate person, the Black person was of lesser value than her white counterparts.
In a letter to Dr. Gamble, she wrote that Black pastors should be recruited to help educate Black women about birth control and abortion, but they needed to be careful to not allow their true intent to be known.
“We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.”
It’s been argued that Sanger wasn’t speaking of exterminating Black children but rather offering birth control to Black women and that they (Sanger and company) would be accused of doing exactly what she stated should not get out. It might be a credible argument if it weren’t for the fact that she also said,
“The most merciful thing that a family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
While history is set to be removed from New Orleans under the guise of not having statues (“symbols”) that depict “racist” individuals such as Lee and Jackson, the silence is deafening as Black babies are killed in utero.
Why this silence of the biggest killer of Black children?
President Barack Obama is on record as being one of the staunchest supporters for abortions, even late term abortions. He voted against a Born Alive Act while in the Illinois Senate that would require doctors to provide medical care to babies who survive an abortion because it would be too inconvenient for the doctor.
Does he know the history of this “evil” he supports? Or does he just not care?
Why do other prominent Black leaders, elected or otherwise, not decry the slaughter that is happening to their very own? Why is a statue of Robert E. Lee more offensive than the killing of thousands of Black babies? Why are people more concerned with perceived past visages of racism than they are about the overt racism that exists in their very neighborhoods?