Another Chance

“It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23

When my daughter graduated from high school, her principal gave a closing address that has remained with me ever since.  After acknowledging and saluting the accomplishments of the graduating class, he said to them and to us all:  Now, you get to start over.  Nothing that you’ve done in high school matters – whether you were at the top of your class or just barely making it.  Right now, everyone has the same chance of being successful.   In effect, he said, you all get the chance to be the person that you wish to be, regardless of your past.  It does not have to determine your future.  In other words, you get a clean slate.  For me, that was profound and, what I thought, every graduating student needed to hear.

So my daughter went on to college.  I don’t know if the parting words of her former principal impacted her as much as they did me but I can tell you this:  the student she was in high is not the student she is in college.  She’s focused, determined and she now has purpose.  She’s proud of her accomplishments and rightfully so because she has succeeded where others have failed.  I applaud her, I celebrate her and I’m so very proud of her, too.  But more than anything, I’m grateful that she did not succumb to the desire to just give in and accept her past academic history as an indicator of the type of student she could be.  She had the courage to change and for that, I appreciate her.  Freshman year has become a defining moment for her.  Now she knows just what she is capable of achieving.  And she has become a living embodiment and illustration of her principal’s speech.

Every day we also get another chance to get it right, according to our scripture.  New mercy and fresh forgiveness is reloaded for us every single day.  I, for one, am infinitely grateful for the many opportunities I’ve had for a “do over.”  I thank God for them!  The fact that I don’t have to continue to be the person that I’ve become or continue down the path that I’ve chosen is exciting to me.  If I don’t like the direction my life has taken, I have the power to change it.  I get to do it again, I get to it over, I get do it better.  We are empowered to change.  That is good news.

At this time of year, we especially recognize the need to change how we’ve done things in the past.  This is our fresh start. So let us move forward with purpose, keeping in mind our ultimate goal of being better people, living better lives, with a determination to be a more positive influence on those around us.  Let us resolve to impact the lives of our circle of friends, coworkers and family in such a way as to leave a legacy and a pattern for those to follow who come after us.

So Happy New Year.  Happy New Start.  Happy New You.

Be blessed,


"X" Marks the Spot!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  (Isaiah 9:6)

A few days before Christmas and all through the house … I had no Christmas spirit!  It was depressing, actually.  I had not given in to the “spend, spend, spend, buy, buy, buy,” mentality yet but I was feeling the pressure.  A week before Christmas and I had not completed my Christmas shopping – in fact, I hadn’t even begun.  The pressure mounted but I just wasn’t feeling the whole shopping thing.  It wasn’t that I didn’t try – I went out many days with the intention of buying, only to come back empty handed.  It was incredibly frustrating.  Such a simple task, why couldn’t I just do it? I felt defeated by Christmas.  Something was wrong.

I recalled an episode of My Wife and Kids where Michael (with Damon Wayans as the father) wound up directing the school play for his youngest daughter’s class.   At the end of the production, the cast signed off with, “You put the peanut in the peanut hole!”  Michael had spent most of the episode asking what that meant but the answer was obvious, at least for the kids.  Where else would you put the peanut?

Then I realized the true source of my angst; there was a huge, Jesus-sized hole in my holiday.  I had gotten far away from the true purpose of this day.  So how did I get it back on track?  How did I put Christ back in Christmas and reclaim this day for him and for me?  I wanted to go on the news, shout it at the mall, go up to strangers and shake them by their shoulders and say:  We’ve got it all wrong!  We’re doing it all wrong!  My Christmas was all out of whack.  It had been hijacked and I wanted it back.

I thought about staging an intervention with my kids, to wake them up to what was going on.  Problem with that was, I think they already knew.  When my kids realized I just wasn’t enjoying myself they backed off with their Christmas requests.  My daughter, bless her heart, actually tried to help me as much as she could.  I don’t ever remember being this overwhelmed before.  I was mega stressed because of shopping and my inability to just get on with it this season.  My daughter said to me, gently, “Hey, Jesus is the reason for the season.”  To which I responded in a depressed fashion – “No, He’s not!  But he should be.”   That’s when I knew – the “Bah, Humbug” spirit was in me.  I couldn’t fix the world’s perspective but I could try to fix mine.

In the Transformers movie, there was one robot (in disguise, LOL), Bumble Bee, who couldn’t actually speak, except for in song.  Whenever he was asked a question or wanted to make a comment, he would contribute with a relevant song from his radio.  Sometimes, God speaks to me like that.  He answers me in song.  I had lost my focus and felt disconnected.  It was like a festering wound that needed healing and a brought a song to mind:  “There is a Balm in Gilead.”

So I began, very simply, by putting some Jesus on that wound.  I needed healing.  I needed to be reconnected to my source.  I found some of my favorite gospel songs, songs that really got my spirit jumping and made me want to “Praise the name of Jesus,” ala Tramaine Hawkins.  I listened to a beautiful song, full of majesty which made me want to worship – Kurt Karr’s, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”  It reminded me of why I live this life, why I do what I do and why I serve him.  Because he’s worthy.  Because he first loved me.  Because he came for me.  He came to save me before I even knew I needed a savior.  I began to sing along with Whitney Houston, “I love the Lord, he heard my cry …”

All week long as I shopped, not one cashier greeted me with “Merry Christmas!”  It was always “Happy Holidays!”  They may have been afraid to do otherwise; it’s against company policy, politically incorrect, verboten, taboo.  It made me think back on my childhood, remembering the signs posted at Christmas time which read “Merry Xmas!” and “Xmas sale!” Even then, there was a movement to take the focus off of the real reason why we celebrate.  I thought it strange practice then and I still do now.  How can we have Christmas without Christ?  How can we celebrate this day, His day without inviting him in?  Yet, that is what I had done.  Something had replaced Christ in my Christmas.  I had allowed shopping and the giving of gifts to become my primary focus.

Today, the “X” has taken on a new meaning for me.   It’s become my reminder to “insert Jesus here.”  Now, I feel much more laid back and relaxed about this holiday season.  My problem had a very obvious solution – you put the peanut in the peanut hole!  What a revelation!  Ever since I regained the proper perspective and put Jesus in his rightful place, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas …”

Be blessed,


Fail … NOT!

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT) 

“Love never fails…” (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV)

My son. He recently changed his major but put off talking to me about it. I think he was afraid I would try to talk him out of it. Over the past few months, he distanced himself from me more and more, not talking to me and becoming defensive whenever we did speak. It seemed all we did was snap at each other. There was a real disconnect. And when we finally did talk, we talked at each other, not truly hearing the other’s side. I was hurt; he was rebellious. My son said to me, “You don’t understand!” And I thought to myself, “Of course I don’t understand, you’re not talking to me.”

My son grew increasingly frustrated with me. He gave up trying to talk to me about what was going on, labeling me as another mother who just doesn’t get it. And when he did that, he gave up on me. I guess he figured this was an acceptable part of growing up – that your mom wouldn’t be able to understand or appreciate what you’re going through. He didn’t mean anything by it. He just accepted it as he saw it – kids grow up, they move on and start their own life and the parent sometimes has a hard time letting go.

Fortunately for us both, I did not consider this situation acceptable. You wanna change your major? Sure – I support you and want you to be happy. But this not talking thing? That’s never been a part of our relationship. That had to go. I told myself I would wait him out and he would talk in his own time. I told myself I didn’t want to ruin our time together by arguing about it during the Thanksgiving holiday. I tried to get away from it and ignore it but it was the elephant in the room. I tried talking around it but I felt like I was tiptoeing around my own son.

Finally, I sat down, determined to hash it out. He initially said, “What’s the point? You don’t get it! You won’t understand! There’s no point in continuing to talk about it if the end result is going to be the same!” And that’s when it clicked for me – he gave up on me, on us and our relationship as mother and son. For him, it was an acceptable loss. Not so, for me.

I told my son, “Make me understand. Talk to me until I get it. By your own definition, insanity is continuing to do the same thing but expecting a different result. I’m hoping that if we continue to talk about it, we’ll find a different way that will give us a different result.” I realized then that I wasn’t giving up on my son or, on us. Failure was not an option. I loved him enough to continue to try to reach him. Maybe I didn’t understand but I loved him enough to try. Give up? Never.

God used that conversation with my son to illustrate a point. That, right there, was our relationship with him in a nutshell. No matter what kind of blocks we can throw up to distance ourselves, he keeps coming at us. He won’t give up. The Apostle Paul posed this question: 

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35)

And then, he also gives the answer: 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) 

My son was resistant because he’d convinced himself I couldn’t relate to his situation – maybe because I’m older, maybe because I’m a woman or because I’m not a college student. I did the same to my mother when I was a young lady. She grew up during a different time and a lot had changed since she was a young woman so I discounted her. I didn’t value her advice. I came to believe, once I grew older, that she was such a wise woman. Her words came to me, time and again, and I realized just how much she understood and just how much has not changed about human nature and life in general. And I was ever so thankful that, despite how I rejected her advice then, she never stopped trying to impart that wisdom to me. She didn’t give up.

The reason why it was important for Jesus to come and live out his life on a human level, was so he could relate to us and whatever we’re going through. So there would be no walls or barriers or blocks between us and him. Nothing would be lost in translation. He lived a flesh and blood life so He could empathize. He does understand. He gets it. 

“For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18) 

God wanted to show me on that day, he loves us and he understands. He used my dilemma with my son to connect with me and teach me a lesson. I love my son and I’ve spent time building our relationship and forging our connection. I wasn’t willing to let that go. I wasn’t willing to let it become a misunderstanding or chalk it up to our age gap. No excuses. There are things about our relationship that I recognize will have to change because he’s becoming his own man and finding his own way. But this – our ability to talk and to come to an understanding, I was not willing to sacrifice. I wanted him to always know he can talk to me and if I don’t understand, I’ll surely try. I’ll keep on trying until we find common ground. 

The parent-child relationship is a foreshadow of the relationship God yearns to have with us.  God drew the parallel between my relationship with my son and His relationship with me.  And the message was the same as I gave my son:  I love you.  Let me in.  Don’t shut me out.  Talk to me.  I don’t want to lose what we have.  I don’t want to lose you.  Because God loves us, giving up is not an option. He’s gonna keep trying to reach us by any and all means necessary. His love won’t fail; his love is persistent. He’ll keep on trying because there is so much to gain and too much to lose.

Be blessed,