Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thank God for my laundry! ;)

Laundry. Laundry, laundry, laundry, laundry! Sometimes it seems like that’s all I ever do! I look at the pile of dirty clothes on the chair in my room; it seems to be growing quite rapidly. Then my eyes fall on the overflowing suitcase that still has not been unpacked from the last church conference. Didn’t I just do laundry like last week or something? I sigh; it looks like I am going to have to do laundry again this week too. I scoop up as many clothes as I can carry at one time and head to the wash machine. As I work I can’t help but talk to myself...
“Your such a hard worker girl, people should just start calling you Cinderella.” I give myself a little pat on the back as I open the lid of the wash machine and start putting in my clothes. The whole scene is seriously like right out of the Cinderella Fairytale. I even think I hear my evil stepsisters screaming in the background. “CinderMary! Hem my dress, tie my sash!” Oh but wait, I don’t have any stepsisters and I don’t know how to sew. It must be my wonderful big sister reminding me NOT to use half the gallon of detergent and to remember to take the clothes out to dry, so they don’t sit in the wash machine for a week growing mildew. I head back to my room to reload my arms, sighing dramatically. Just how much longer is this princess gonna have to wait for a rich prince to come along and hire her a housekeeper?
As I am complaining my mind suddenly goes back to a conversation that took place quite a few years ago…
“It’s recess time!” Says our teacher Mrs. Martina to my fourth grade class at Black Mountain Elementary School in Cave Creek Arizona. “Everyone line up at the door.” As I stand in line waiting, one of the kids turn to me,
“You must really like that skirt Mary, you wear it EVERY day. I look down at my worn, cotton, navy blue skirt.
“Uh, yeah,” I say, “It’s my favorite!”
“Oh, do you have a lot of them?” asks another kid?
“Umm,” I hesitate not sure what to say. The reason I wear the same skirt everyday is not because it is my favorite, but because it is the only play skirt I have. My black skirt is reserved for church on Sundays. I hesitate, then, instead of telling them the truth, I lie.
“Oh yeah,” I say, “I have a lot of skirts just like this one hanging up in my closet!”
My cheeks burn because I hate lying, but I am too embarrassed to tell the truth. The truth is that every night after I take a shower, put on my pajamas and go to bed, my mom is up late doing laundry. It’s not because she wants to keep up on the laundry, but because if she doesn’t, my siblings and I won’t have any clean clothes to wear to school the next day.
Sometimes my shoes would get so worn the sole would be flopping off of the shoe. Instead of throwing them away my mom would hot glue the sole back on, because new shoes just weren’t in our budget. I can still feel the excitement I felt one day as I was given a new skirt to wear. It was one of the ugliest skirts I have ever seen. It was an old blue granny skirt with little green whales on each side of the pockets. The pockets on the skirt were so huge you could fit a sack of potatoes on each side. Yet I loved that skirt, not because I thought it was cute, but because now I had TWO play skirts. I remember packing for a 3-day youth conference and hoping that no one would notice that I would be wearing the same thing twice.
I think about my closet now. It is filled with an abundance of beautiful clothes. Clothes that I like and are my own style. Sometimes I wish that these youth conferences were longer because there just isn’t enough services to show-off all my outfits. Hanging on my bedroom door is a shoe rack filled with shoes. Instead of one pair of play shoes and one pair of church shoes, I have the privilege of being able to choose from a variety of shoes whatever I think matches best. Above all this, I even get to accessorize, which I absolutely love to do! ;) I have hooks on the wall filled with cute purses and a drawer full of headbands, flowers, ribbons and clips that add just the right touch to my outfits.
One Sunday night some of the girls from church and I are in the ladies bathroom excitedly discussing the next youth rally our church is hosting. Of course we are discussing the usual stuff, what guys we hope will show up and all that fun stuff when all of the sudden I gasp.
“Oh no!” I say placing my hand on my heart. “Oh no, oh no!”
“What’s wrong?” the other girls ask worriedly. I sigh,
“What do you guys think I should wear to the youth rally? “ I ask dramatically. Everyone immediately busts up laughing at my crazy antics. It may seem silly, but inside I really am wondering, because I really do have so many beautiful clothes to choose from.
I look down at all the clothes I am piling into the wash machine and I feel a bit shameful for complaining about washing them. I know by the world’s standards I may not be rich, but I am extremely blessed! I am learning to have an attitude of gratitude. Yes, there are a lot of people that don’t have to do their own laundry and too often it is because they don’t even have any laundry to wash.
As I get back to my laundry I think I can hear the birds singing and I hum a little tune as I work. Ok, ok, lets be honest, THIS IS CinderMARY we’re talking about. ;) It’s more like I hear the music blaring from my playlist and I dance a jig as I sing off key at the top of my lungs, “I feel the joy of the Lord falling fresh on me!” As I dance, I readjust my tiara, pour in the soap, put down the lid and listen as the wash cycle begins. It may seem weird but I smile as I think about washing clothes again next week. This princess thanks God for laundry!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I look at my phone and notice I have a text message. It's from my girl.
I quickley open the text to see what she said.
All it says is...
Hey Mamma
Hey Mamma...No one knows.
No one could quite understand what this means to me.
She has never called me this before, but it means so much.I can't stop the tears from trickling down...
I don't bother to wipe them away. I just sit and remember. Just one more time. This story is being reposted just one more time.Updated, edited and revised.

What are tears? This was the question that plagued my mind as I began packing her bags. I felt my eyes beginning to fill up. What are tears? I went to her closet and began taking her clothes off the hangers, her polka dot skirt, her zebra print shirt, her cute jean skirt with the embroidered flowers and fringed hem, and began piling them on the bed. I hate crying and I try to stop myself, but I just can’t. The first tear wells up slowly, quickly slipping down my cheek. Than another, another, and another. I touched my eyelashes and they were wet. What are tears? According to Webster’s a tear is simply a drop of salty liquid, which flows from the eye.
However; at the College of Apostolic Ministries, my teacher, Brother Kelly, emphasized to our class many times how important it is to weep before God. I can hear him so vividly talking to our class, telling us we need to pray for a weeping spirit when we pray. I didn’t understand what could be so important about our tears? Why would God want them? What are tears? I did not know, but I did know that the answer to my question was somehow wrapped around understanding the nature of love.

The cause of my tears was because the little girl I loved was leaving. Hadassah, who was 11-years-old, had lived with my sister and I for two and a half months, but now her mother had arrived from Liberia and she would be living with her. I tried to be strong as I continued packing her bags, but with each item I packed, I felt like I was packing a piece of my heart.
How Hadassah came to live with me began about five minutes before church one Sunday morning. I was walking out of the ladies prayer room into our sanctuary when my phone rang. It was Hadassah, one of the African refugee kids we pick up for church. Most of the African kids that came to church were from pretty rough homes. I quickly answered the phone...
“Hadassah? All I heard was uncontrollable crying.

“What’s wrong? “ I asked.
“My grandma doesn’t want me,” she sobbed. “Hadassah had come to the United States with her grandma when she was seven and I had been bringing her to church for about a year at this time.
“What do you mean she doesn’t want you? What happened?” I asked.
“I was bad,” she said, as if that was something new, “I mean really, really bad,” she continued, clarifying herself. “I stole stuff and now my grandma doesn’t want me. I am so scared,” she sobbed. “I want to live with you Mary. Please, please, please let me come live with you!”
I don’t remember the rest of our conversation, but after church I went over and talked to her grandma, after much discussion, it was agreed that it would be best for Hadassah to come live with my sister and I until her mother arrived from Liberia. I never thought twice about taking Hadassah in. It didn’t matter to me that I was a 24-year-old, single, white lady and she was an 11-year-old black girl with a major attitude. If God wanted me to do this, I would.
As soon as Hadassah came to live with us I began working with her on the things she needed to change. Sometimes we would sit with her in my lap, rocking on the rocking chair in our living room.
“I don’t know why I steal things,” she told me. “I want to be good, but I keep being bad,” she sighed.
“You can change,” I would tell her, “but you have to ask God to help you.”
She began to open her heart to me, telling me about the kind of life she had been exposed and hardships she had endured. Hadassah’s own mother was only a year older than I. She said it was typical for an African woman to have kids by 15, often even younger. She said that she was scared she could end up like all the African woman she knew, unmarried with many children.
I told her that it didn’t matter what kind of a life she came from, if she yielded her heart to God, He would use her to do great things. Although it may seem simple, it was working. People were constantly coming to me, telling me what a difference they saw in Hadassah. She felt like God had set her free from her habits of lying, stealing, and cursing. It was like a burden had been lifted from her and there was a special sweetness about her now.
With Hadassah around life was always fun and interesting. I’ll never forget when we took her on a family vacation to San Diego. Hadassah and I were out wave jumping in the ocean when all of a sudden a big gulp of water went into her mouth.
“Who put the salt in here?” She said spitting it out, disgusted.
“God did,” I said laughing.
“Oh, well if God did it then I guess its okay,” she said.
Every night we read the bible together, and prayed, always remembering to ask God to bring her mother here quickly. Hadassah had her own room but she always preferred sleeping on the floor beside my bed. One night I was drifting off to sleep when Hadassah woke me…
“Mary,’ she whispered. I tried to pretend I was sleeping. “Mary,” she whispered again, louder this time.
“What?” I said groaning in annoyance.
“I want to sing like a black girl,” she said. I sighed,
“So what do you want me to do? You're black, just start singing!”
“Teach me!” She said.
“How in the world do you expect me to do that?” I said sitting up in bed now.
“Please Mary!”
“Dude Hadassah,” I said laughing. “I wish I could sing well for a white girl and you want me to teach you to sing like a black girl?”
“Oh come on Mary,” she said.
“Okay, okay,” I said giving in, “Repeat after me, Oh happy day,” I said belting out my best black imitation. This resulted in the two of us laughing hysterically.
“You don’t sound like no black girl,” she said laughing.
“See,” I said, “I told you I couldn’t teach you!”
Our lives continued on together, in a comfortable, fun way. But sooner than we had anticipated her mother arrived from Africa. We had prayed for this to happen every night before bed. Now it seemed like God had answered our prayers too quickly.
I remember the two of us sitting on the floor in my classroom at church, sobbing. I pulled her onto my lap.
“I don’t want to go back Mary!”
“No matter what happens Hadassah, I love you,” I said. “You’ll always be my baby.”
“How can I be your baby? You did not born me,” she said falling back into her broken English.
“Hadassah,” I said, “I may not have physically given birth to you, but I borned you in my heart!” "I don’t want to go back,” she said sobbing again.
“I know,” I said softly. I know, I know, I know. As we sat there crying, our tears fell onto each other, binding our hearts forever.
After Hadassah went back, I watched sadly as she slowly began to slip back into her old ways. She is 12 now and beginning to grow into a young lady. She is absolutely beautiful, but the childlike sweetness is gone, replaced by and exterior of false happiness. My heart tightens as I see her in her tight shirts and short-shorts.
It’s a Sunday evening and I am with my friend Jacqui, seeing if any of the kids want to come to church. I see Hadassah out playing basketball
“Hey Hadassah” I say, “Give me a hug!” She comes running over and I pull her into an embrace. She smiles as she runs her fingers through my waist-length hair and tells me I look pretty with my hair down.
“I am praying for you,” I say.
“Thank you,” she says softly. I touch her cheeks and feel the smoothness of them; they are still just as soft as I remember.
“You know that you are still my baby, right Hadassah?”
“Yes, I know.” she says. We look at each other for a minute, remembering. Then the moment is broken. She reaches into my zebra print purse and grabs my last two sticks of sweet watermelon gum, “Can I have these?” She asks.
“Yeah, sure,” I say smiling. We say goodbye, then instead of going to church, she zooms off, in her super-mini, mini skirt and continues playing basketball.
The next day is Monday. Another morning has come and as I arise from my slumber. I know what I must do. I wipe my sleepy eyes and drag my body to the living room. I feel like going back to sleep, but there is something that compels me to go on. So I plop down on the brown rug in our living room and I begin to pray. And as I pray I begin thinking about Hadassah...
“Oh God,” I cry out. “Get a hold of my little girl.” I begin to feel that familiar trembling. “Watch over her Jesus. Send your angels to stand guard over her.” I feel tears beginning to fill up in my eyes. “Don’t let her forget God,” A tear slips out of my eye. “When she listens to that worldly music, remind her of singing ‘I got the Holy Ghost’. When she puts on immodest clothes, remind her of the day she gave all that up. When she feels the heaviness of sin, reassure her that there is forgiveness at an alter of repentance.”
My nose is running as the tears continue to fall. I touch my eyelashes and they are wet. I taste the tears; they are salty. But it’s okay; I don’t mind the tears now. Because I know that God put them there, just like He put the salt in the ocean. And although so much has changed with Hadassah, there is one thing that remains the same; I still love her.
What are tears? Now I am beginning to understand. I am starting to see why Brother Kelly kept emphasizing the importance of them in prayer. I know now why God wants them. God knows that we only cry over someone we care about. What are tears? Tears are so much more than just a salty liquid that flows from the eyes. Tears are what happen when you love someone so much it begins to leak out.