Reflections from past Januarys

Hosea with second cousins

 

My primary avenue, as it is with most bloggers, is to observe and write about personal observations. My handle, “Old and Blessed” makes it clear, at least I hope so, that being blessed to be at my age is an awesome thing. Nineteen years ago, I didn’t expect to be here, but God has decided that I should be. I’ve been looking back at some of my Facebook posts from past Januarys. I think many of them look bloggable. Let’s give it a try. Here goes:

January 3, 2019
Human history is replete with shining moments which shout to us that hope must not be discarded. The sacrifice of our Lord and Savior is preeminent among them all. Reflect and find reasons to keep the faith…

Kids at piano

January 3, 2019
I’m just sitting here, thinking about 2018. I lost my mom, and there were other losses, too. However, I was blessed to have had all the folks I lost. Furthermore, God blessed me in so many ways. There’s a little rain inside…

January 3, 2017
I was watching an episode of the Tavis Smiley Show recently, where he was interviewing Bonnie Raitt. Their conversation drifted into aging. Tavis made a comment that resonated with me, “Aging is cool.” He said it because he’s more comfortable with himself now, and happier than he’s been at any age prior to now. That got me thinking about my own age. Although I’m dealing with cancer, not as vibrant and physically flexible as I was in earlier years, my aging process has been cool. I am comfortable with this space on the chronological map. Thank God for aging and the growth that comes with it.

January 3, 2017
I can’t think of anything too much more powerful than self-conviction (motivated by the word of God). Once I, you, everyone is aware of their own sin, judging others becomes a dirty little practice of the past. You realize that when you judge others, you’re in that mix, too. Our job is to love, as Jesus loves.

January 1, 2018
It’s 9:22 and I’m tired. We had our annual New Year’s Day family gathering. This is something we’ve been doing for some thirty years. We invite many relatives over from both sides of our family, eat, talk and have fun for a few hours. The cooking starts the night before and usually ends an hour or so before everyone starts to arrive at 1:00.

This gives us some quality time to visit with family we don’t make the opportunity to visit during the year. It’s also a wonderful time to collectively count our blessings, and to thank God for all He’s done, and is doing in our lives.

This is great way to start the new year!

chris and hosea in dashikis

 

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

My cancer came back

Gift of life

Facebook posts:

December 10, 2016

I’m writing this post with a bit of hesitancy. For those of you who know me personally or have been my FB friend for the last few years, you might find me describing myself as hesitant a bit of a stretch. Well, I can understand that. I’m usually not one who holds back when I have something to say. I think I’m hesitant because this time around I don’t want pity.

Let me get to it. My cancer is back. I had a good conversation Thursday with my oncologist. The report wasn’t all bad. My Myeloma is slowly progressing. That came as no surprise to me. I’ve been closely watching my cancer markers from my lab tests for the last few months, and the numbers have been slowly increasing.
The good news is that treatment for Multiple Myeloma has improved tremendously, since I was diagnosed sixteen years ago. After the first of the New Year, I’ll start a treatment regimen that well involve oral medication and an intravenous drug [taken over a period of months]. This treatment has an eighty-five to ninety-five percent success rate for patients who have experienced a resurgence of their Myeloma. I’ll be going to the clinic for infusions given weekly for the first eight weeks, then every two weeks for sixteen weeks and then every four weeks after that. I’m praying for a quick remission, cutting short this time frame.

To all of you who have prayed with and for me before, I make that request again. I expect to be around to see my little grandkids and the one great grand grow into early adulthood. If it’s God’s will, that will happen…I’m sure.

May 30, 2017

All, I just heard great news from my oncologist. I’ve responded well to my treatments. By the grace of God, my cancer numbers, when graphed, have dropped like a lead balloon. In other words, the treatment is working as it should.
I’ll continue this course of treatment with the goal of putting me into remission again, long term. Thanks to all of you who have sent up prayers on my behalf!

nativity barn

 

December 20, 2019

Shortly after the May 30 post above, I went into remission for the second time, and I’m still there. One thing my journey with cancer has taught me over the last nineteen years and nine months is that the most important things in life can’t be measured by how much you accumulate, but instead by how much you appreciate what only God can do for you. My daughter asked me the other day what I wanted for Christmas. At the risk of disappointing her, I said I couldn’t think of anything. You see, I already have her, the rest of my family and an extension on my life that I probably don’t deserve. These things can’t be accessed through a hefty bank account, or with credits assigned to a plastic card. They are God-given and they will be with me eternally.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

The Domestic Political Threat

Scary stuff! History is the beast that lingers off stage, waiting to make a come back, because it knows we have very short memories. Being of African ancestry, born in America, I often wonder if there’s any place of cultural and political refuge for me. The dynamics in this blog seem to be global in occurrence. I’ll reblog this one for sure. Good read!

Lew Bornmann's Blog

It seems to me….

People might not protest for overtly political or social causes, but when they can’t feed themselves and their family, they will take to the streets.” ~ Marcus Samuelsson[1].

The U.S. faces a number of critical challenges but perhaps the most threatening is the breakdown of political compromise resulting in the possibility of an elected political leader attempting to impose a totalitarian governance supposedly for the “good” of the nation. Though most people consider the possibility highly improbable, that also was widely believed in Chile, the German Weimar Republic, and other nations until after it had actually occurred.

The primary risk is in one political party gaining sufficient power to stack the courts with sympathetic judges, manipulate voter registration, using the courts to challenge election outcomes, and, finally, invoking “law-enforcement” to use the police, National Guard, army reserve, or army to suppress political…

View original post 1,332 more words

Losses that cause great imbalances

holiday sadness 1

Note: There is an inaccuracy in this post. Contrary to what’s printed, there is an increase in deaths during the holiday season. For example, the prevalence of mental illnesses such as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) causes an increase in depression, which can result in more cases of suicide. I believe the point of this piece remains valid though: Deaths during the holiday season can have more of an emotional impact of surviving loved ones with each new season.

Have you ever noticed how tenuous everything can be sometimes? The stability of all we have and enjoy can be whisked away like vapor in what seems like the blinking of an eye.

I’m sure you’ve been told, in one form or another, to not take anything for granted. Most of us have heard a story, a testimony from someone about how they failed to kiss a loved one before leaving home one morning and to later receive news that the precious family member died in some horrible accident. The loss is some how made even more the worse when time is given to think about how love was not overtly shown to that beloved family member. The imbalance to one’s life, family structure, community can be emotionally devastating.

I’m hesitant to write about what follows; however, I feel a compulsion to do so. One of the things that motivated me to pen this piece is a question I received from a member of my Sunday school class yesterday. I’ve been an adult Sunday school teacher for almost thirty years, and on rare occasion I receive a question that’s sincere and needy of a response; however, I’m hard pressed to find a good answer, even in the sacred text. The question posed by one of my students was: Why does it seem like more people die in December, around what is seen as the most joyous holiday season of the year?

Some questions presented in my class fall like a brick, resulting in silence from the members and stares toward me. It’s as though I’m to recall the perfect scripture from some rarely visited room of the Bible to address the burning inquiry of the day. There were several students who quickly responded to this question, leaving me to listen and learn. The bottom line was that there are no more deaths during the holiday season than any other time of the year. It’s that death during a time when joy and celebration are supposed to be the norm has a greater impact, leaving survivors with memories that are much more haunting than if these tragedies occurred in May or August.

I think this question was prompted by my sharing a story that was very recent and personal. Thanksgiving was good this year. My oldest daughter and her husband, who live about two miles away, came to spend a couple of days with us. She volunteered to prepare the Thanksgiving meal. Might I say, we all ate more than necessary. Later, during the evening, while we were all sitting around the living room with over-taxed digestive systems, watching football, my cell phone rang. This was the disruption to the peaceful setting: There was a traffic accident on Interstate 30. One of my first cousins had lost her husband’s grandson, his son’s ex-wife and the stepdaughter of his son’s ex-wife. A tractor trailer rig had crashed into the back of the car driven by the granddaughter (16-years old) of my cousin’s husband. She was attempting to move back onto the interstate, after having pulled off. She was injured; however, her injuries weren’t life threatening. This young lady had just been given the car she was driving as an early Christmas gift. She’s now left to grieve the death of her mom, brother and stepsister.

holiday sadness2

A few imbalances: 1) children aren’t supposed to die before their parents; 2) the daughter is left to deal with the loss of her mom, brother and stepsister; 3) this happened during a time of holiday thanksgiving; 4) this tragedy reached deep and wide into an extended and blended family.

It’s almost impossible to know what to do when life throws you more lemons than you can muster up enough sugar to make lemonade. One can only prey that God’s mercy will be availed.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Women in charge: really!

Meetoo 1

I saw a headline recently where former White House strategist Steve Bannon expressed his fear that the #Metoo movement was problematic. Evidently, he feels that women are positioned to take over society. I’m still trying to form thoughts on how to respond to that, as I stroke the keys for this piece. One thing I must accept as my truth: anyone who has or has had any connection to this present White House has some cracks in their thinking anyway. Beyond that, I can’t for the life of me figure why he would make such a comment. When I look at the history of humankind, it seems to me that it’s been one colossal mess after the other. Who’s been in charge? The very gender Bannon is fearful of being dethroned.

On a personal note, women have played a big part in my life. My father died in a tragic accident when I was eight years old. I’ve written about that before. My mother, only twenty-six years old at the time, with only an eight-grade education, was left with three children. From the few details I can remember, she never panicked or fainted even though the challenge before her was daunting. This was nineteen fifty-eight, in the South, when sexism, Jim Crow and a slew of other unjust cultural and societal norms were solidly in place. Not only was my mother an engine that kept things going for us, but I remember many women who were strong forces in my small community. They were the numerical majority in local churches, they were the purveyors of charitable drives that rushed to the fore when tragedies struck neighbor after neighbor. In retrospect, we now realize that many communities had “hidden figures” in the person of women. Even the American Civil Rights Movement would probably not have experienced the success it did without the important contributions of women.

Metoo 3

I know, there are some who think men are just better equipped to handle the slings and arrows society launches into the various arenas established to manages things. Things like prime ministerial/presidential offices, city council administrators, military admiralties and generalships; those roles that we often think are God-ordained for men only and work better without the emotional baggage women bring to bear. To anyone who harbors these concepts, limited by scared thinking, I say poppycock.

Some reading this piece may say it’s not well thought out and doesn’t address all the cultural, religious, psychological, biological and who knows what other factors that must be weighed before we allow those #Metooers to wrench control of everything. My response to that is: when the house is on fire, I don’t care who brings the water to put it out. The world today is in a mess on so many fronts. Just maybe a woman president of the United States is what we need now. Not a woman president made in the image of a stereotypical male chauvinist, but a true-to-self woman who has a “Godly-informed” conscious that will cause a pause in thinking whenever an urge to go down the same dark roads traditional thinking has forced us down far too many times.

Metoo 2

Mr. Bannon, cool your heels. I have too much respect for women to even think they would want to take over the mess we’re all mired in, but I do think some would welcome an opportunity to get on the field. Something tells me that a more cerebral, less testosterone-fueled approach to things, all things by some of our hidden figures might bring us closer to the light.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Maybe we need a star trek?

the enterprise

I think I’ve written about the science fiction franchise Star Trek once or twice somewhere on these pages. It’s a wonder I haven’t written more than that since I’ve been a Trekie for all the fifty-four years since this on-going tale of galactic encounters first hit the small screen. There was something uniquely appealing about this tv show when I first saw it. I was living as a sixteen-year old in dusty, poor Cross County Arkansas. This show presented an image of a future where poverty, racial animus and all the human flaws which prevent us from realizing our fullest potentials had been eradicated. This was too powerful of a fantasy to discard. Nineteen sixty-five was a time of discord in America when many social and political occurrences were coming into their own: the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war, the Hippie consciousness. Not unusual in any form, the world was hiccupping in its own contemporary fashion as it has throughout history whenever some political or social consciousness rises to the fore. We see examples now in Hong Kong and Iraq, places where one would think people would have some hesitancy about marching in the streets. However, when folks are sick and tired of being tired, they throw life and limb into the wind.

I’m one of those people who can converse deeply and philosophically about Star Trek. The connectivity between all the tv shows and movies is clear to me. I’m also one of those people who saw more than science fiction in the show from day one. How can a sixteen-year old back in 1965 not be fascinated by a world where humans have finally figured out, to an overwhelming degree, how to be humans; demonstrating care and respect around the planet that’s been needed for eons? Not only have we learned how to live together harmoniously, we have ventured into the far reaches on our universe, seeking communion with other species of sentient beings. Most of the isms that have plagued humanity since the time of the garden have been eliminated.

saturn

In the Star Trek world, humanity has coalesced and formed a never-before whole, strengthening itself to withstand enemies from outside its home world. Politics as we know it today are passé. Money and the enticement for evil endeavors are no more. Can’t you see how this picture of peace and harmony, short of the second coming of Christ would be pleasant to the senses of a poor sixteen-year old during a time when America was seemingly come apart at the seams? Maybe we do need a little star trek today, or a little of the social and political consciousness fanaticized by it at least.

vulcan salute

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

Have you come face to face with life yet?

Facing life 1

Are you alive? You’re probably saying that’s a dumb question. I’m reading this, so I must be alive. My friend, I’m not asking you this question simply to determine whether your heart is beating or that your lungs are inhaling and exhaling air. The old saying that starts with the words “life comes at you…” is based in some degree of experience you’ve never had before. It usually occurs when some calamitous event visits you when least expected.

My pastor recently preached a sermon based on the book of Job. Job was a man God considered most righteous. His righteousness was a thorn in the side of Satan. Being highly motivated to do his job well, Satan secured permission from God to interject some horrible misfortunes into Job’s life. For those of you familiar with the story, you know Job lost all his children, his cattle, his home, in fact all that God had blessed him with, except his wife and a few judgmental friends. From the ancient text (the Bible), it’s made abundantly clear that Job lost all, of what we today would call, those things that make some look at with profound envy. Even the Jones’ would lose their position of being the standards for material gain by which others would measure their achievements.

Facing life 2

There are people in society who seem to have it all. They were born into the perfect family. They always had adoring friends, graduated high school and college at the top of their class, had no problem establishing great careers, and the rains of good fortune just seemed to be in the forecast at all turns. But then as with Job, everything takes a southward direction, resulting in stresses and strains they didn’t see coming. The feasts they have been enjoying for so long finally morphs into famine, and they’re not prepared to cope. It’s at that point that their health might have collapsed, or they might have lost all the material gain with which they’ve been blessed. Chapters in life like this are when you’re forced to look life dead in the face. You can’t continue to skip happily through the tulips without a care. You must pay attention.

Life has many hues. It’s always there; however, oftentimes we don’t take stock. We don’t recognize that our good fare comes by way of God’s blessings and not by anything we’ve done. Life is more than the reflection produced by our decaying accomplishments. In order to live it fully, one must make the effort to recognize all that goes into it to make it what it is. It takes this kind of thinking, this kind of consciousness to experience an introduction to life, and to begin living it as one should, being mindful and thankful.

Facing life 3

Job came face to face with life, when he realized that God provided it, sustained it and provided all the good things that make life grand. Take some time, take inventory of all you’ve been provided, no matter the amount. Let life introduce itself to you before a calamity comes knocking.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.