Category Archives: Faith

My Life in a Peanut Shell

I just realized (in the spirit of life imitating art) that recent events in my life were merely a series of promos for the upcoming Peanuts movie.

Everything that I needed to know I learned in kindergarten(?) or maybe in some of the cartoons that my mom relied on to babysit me.  We already know that some of the greatest childhood entertainment came from Looney Tunes, Hanna Barbera, and Peanuts.  Charles Shultz would be turning in his grave if he witnessed the evolution of children’s entertainment.

“But NO!  I had to listen to YOU…”

The above clip has had significant meaning to me in the past few years.  Take a look at the script:

“I’m glad you came back…”

“You’ll see the Great Pumpkin with your own eyes…”

“If you try to hold my hand,  I’ll slug you!”

“You look all around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy…”

“I was robbed!  I spent the whole night waiting for the Great Pumpkin!”

“Halloween is over, and I MISSED IT!”

“And it was all your fault!  And I’ll sue!”

“What a fool I was…”

“You owe me restitution!”

pumpkin carving

“You’ve heard about furry and a woman scorned, haven’t you?”

“Well, that’s nothing compared to the fury of a [woman] who’s been cheated out of trick or treats.”

Each line above has meaning to me.  We could explore the nuance of each one, but it is a personal journey, no? Remember, these cartoons were created nearly 50 years ago!  Although they were not likely to be a prediction of things to come, they were certainly a reflection of the way things were at that time.  A happier time, maybe.  My naivety and genuine innocence prevented me from perceiving the full weight of what was happening in those cartoons.  But now, it’s far more than an opportunity to reminisce.  There was something there for me to see THEN.  There is something so familiar that it has awakened something in me NOW.  I’m not embarrassed that I could draw something so prolific from a childhood memory.  In fact, it lends itself to the notion that a seed was planted then that will blossom now.

Do you suppose that the most overlooked part of Trick Or Treating is the trick?  We are so focused on the treat, that we forget that there is an alternative…the silver lining, if you will. That trick is a surprise.  It jolts the system causing either alarm or uneasiness.  It’s a learning experience, and its an opportunity to avoid being tricked again.  That knowledge is far more valuable than any classroom lesson or parental warning. Ah, the silver lining…the reward on the other side of disappointment.

I come from an era when my mother was reluctant to let me engage in tradition Halloween shenanigans like “mischief night,” “beggars’night,”or the actually dressing up to go door-to-door asking for treats.  She blamed her mistrust on the Atlanta Child Murders, the Tylenol Scare, and a general mistrust of strangers.  It was never due to the evil that the holiday represented.  And for me, whatever mom decided was law!

In college I read James Baldwin’s “Evidence of Things Not Seen”baldwin This gave me healthy a perspective of the racial relations that led up to a mis-adjudication of a black man for crimes committed against young children by an “uncatchable” serial killer.  “The Tylenol Scare” referred to an urban legend about children receiving tampered candy and medicinal treats instead of the traditional Halloween spoils. The general mistrust of strangers is certainly a trait that I’ve carried into adulthood however.

My childhood was probably no different from any other child born in the early 70’s who endured the disco era, Reaganomics, or 80’s fashion.  But it was the cartoon entertainment that had the most profound impact on me.  From Peanuts, I grew excited about the holidays.  I learned mistrust from my “friends” each time I witnessed Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown (every time he began to believe in the genuine goodness of people).  I developed an enjoyment of neo-jazz from the score in each Peanut’s Holiday Special.  I witnessed gender identity develop each time “Chuck” had an encounter with Peppermint Patty.  The lone black kid, the musician Schroeder, and Pig-Pen were all characters that I could relate to because I either knew someone like that kid or I WAS that kid!  Not to mention the very first time I heard what Christmas was all about [Charlie Brown]. It was my first exposure to the biblical story according to Luke.

But the Halloween Special…  that one’s most meaningful to me now.  Have you ever considered the undertones about faith in that one?  The waiting for evidence of things unseen?  That’s Hebrew 11:1!  And only as recent as yesterday did I stumble across what some believe to be the true meaning behind the Allhallows Eve. But what I experience now adds meaning to what I already held to be true.  The caution, the waiting, the patience, the disbelief, and now the 12 steps to recovery.  Laughingly, I recognize that not everything in life requires therapy to recover.  Sometimes a few moments of silence is all that is necessary.  I wonder what the the Peanut’s Valentine’s Day Special has in store for me.


She said that she’s ready…

Last week I sought out a friend.  She told me that she was tired.  In her words she explained that she’d wished that the Lord would just come and take her.  Her heart was heavy and her body was weaker than it had ever been before.  Although she was able-bodied, she wanted to be finished with the work, the stress, and the aggravation that surrounded her.

I wouldn’t dare debate her.  I recognize the responsibility to intervene, but I also understood the value of listening and offering support.

Weeks prior, I made a similar comment, “I can’t wait for the end to come.”  However, when I said this, I knew in my heart that this was NOT a cry for help.  It was an acknowledgement of the signs of the apocalypse and an awareness that these problems were not going to correct themselves.   I understand that I am the change that I want to see.  But I also know my own limitations, and these current events represent circumstances greater than me.  I can’t fix them.  I can only watch and pray.  I pray that the Lord’s Will be done.  I know how the story ends.  I am anxious.


For anyone else to hear my story might suggest that I might be too anxious.  I am not.  I am patient.  I have watched and I have seen these circumstances before.  Daily, I am learning more about the past.  History is being rewritten.  The truth is being told.  These are exciting times!  However, to hear my friend speak caused me to reflect on my own words.  Are our concerns aligned?  As she’s old enough to be my mother, I call her my sister because, not only does she guide me, she is willing to be my friend.  She doesn’t preach (normally).  On this day though, she was prophesying her own fate. I was concerned.  When the faithful loose their faith…?


As the sun sets, it rises elsewhere.  An end is not a finality, but the beginning of something new. Perhaps my friend was not praying for an end as much as she was eager for a beginning.  However, she was not eager to return to her beginning (to redo a life of passionate experiences); but a new beginning where she can bask in the Lord’s Love.   This would be a place where time stands still and the worries of the world no longer exist; a place where evil has no meaning because it does not exist.  Is it delusional to long for such a place?   Are we not living our lives to eventually arrive at such a destination?

Some argue that we can have heaven right here on Earth.  Others argue that we must live a righteous life here on Earth to earn a place in heaven.  What about those who have no faith?  No ambition? No destination?

Like a child swinging in the park, our emotions waiver. We try to find reason in the world around us.  Absent God’s Word, we are lost.  Even when we are surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ, we fight what we know is right.  We want to live right but we want to do it on our own terms.  If ever there were a paradox…

We look for a constant.  The pendulum of daily circumstances offers us countless opportunities to get it right.  And with every right decision there is a (usually easier) option that we’ve omitted…yes omitted.  By skipping over the paths most traveled, we position ourselves to endure a harsher, more challenging route.  We become stronger.  We become bolder.  We become resilient.  We also become less emotional, less vulnerable, and more callous if we are not careful.

To exercise descretion, some may argue, is to waiver.  To deviate from the “right” course is to risk destruction.   And stopping along the way to contemplate allows for distraction.   Choosing the path that is right for you is the biggest challenge.


Before you finish that thought, take a gander at this.  We find what we are looking for in the least likely places sometimes. Other times the answers are right in front of us.

A few weeks ago I visited another church to hear my brother-in-Christ preach on a beautiful Sunday morning.  I’d made excuses as to why I absolutely needed to serve at my home church unyieldingly.  But I was convinced otherwise.  So many little distractions sought to derail me from hearing this meaningful sermon.  Alas, I arrived unscathed and unrattled.

The humidity was high and the fans were whirling.  The sweaty brows were merely preparing for the message that had been prepared days before.  Days before.  The message was about the days that were left.  The minutes that were left.  And if there was anything that would make a soul sweat, it’s the uncertainty.  “Am I worthy?”  That’s the question that is so often asked.  And the answer is yes!  “Is there time?”  That’s a question that is not easily answered.

Spoiler alert!  Tomorrow is not promised.

He preached on the book of Revelations.  Specifically the tribulations as described in Revelations 6:1  I shall call them the Dees. There was Dominion; the Division that we are witnessing daily with the injustice and civil unrest in our nation and the world; the Deprivation that we can not ignore unless we live far from the urban areas; and the Destruction that is eminent.

This book of the Bible is always fascinating to folks who enjoy science fiction.  However, calling any part of the Bible science fiction is practically blasphemy.  Believers embrace it as truth, but non-believers become intrigued.  If not for the evidence from our history and contemporary proof, agnostics and atheists would debunk every prediction as a scare tactic or as fables and myths. 


Simply put, we are ignoring the laws that have been laid before us by God.  Matthew 18:18 provides a rule for adhering to the laws made here on earth.  We are making our own laws that could potentially be recognized in heaven (if we as a culture would adhere to them here on earth).  But we do not.  Romans 13:1-7 speaks a more intense truth.

Our laws are outdated, our law makers are corrupt and distracted, and our prisons are filled.  We have allowed the wrong forces to rule dominion over us.  Only when there is mass oppression is there an uprising.  Where were the rebels when the laws were proposed?  Who spoke up when the votes were cast?  How did we as a people get so distracted?  We’ve sought the world instead of God, and now can not recognize Him and His word unless it is discretely placed on a track in our favorite song. Even then God’s word is misquoted, misrepresented, and misguiding.

With the Bible being the most purchased book in the English language, it is still the least read.  Seek ye first the kingdom of God.  How do we know when scripture is taken out of context?  We don’t.  We defend that it was written by man, translated by man, and facilitated by man to justify man’s will, not God’s.  The southern doctrine of slavery is proof positive of this.  Global missionaries are also facilitated and supported based on the Bible and man’s interpretation that the gospel must be read from the highest mountain.  This is not hypocrisy. This is doctrine.  Without guidance however, mankind too often misinterprets the rules by calling them guidelines.


We witness division daily.  We can not turn on the news without hearing about how “they” have oppressed us; or how “our” rights and liberties are in jeopardy.  Them verses us is the daily argument.  There hasn’t been a week in the past three years that our nation has not seen a steady incline of inequality.  Foreign nations have been dealing with civil unrest for hundreds of years!  The fights over the Holy Land have escalated to the point that the hype of the war-torn regions no longer peaks the interest of media fanatics.  It’s no longer news.

There’s division in race, gender, sexuality, nationality, religion and creed, age, and the list goes on.  The oppressors worry that they will become the oppressed.  The fear is that vengeance will be sought by the righteous.  But it is the meek who shall inherit the earth.  Blessed are the righteous!


We see starving families at all corners of the world.  When we can’t see it, the media surely broadcasts the impoverished nations for profit (either through corporate sponsorship or via fundraising campaigns).  Scandal plagues our world and chips away at what is left of our trust and social conscience.  Even the righteous and giving are left to feel stupid and used as they seek to follow God’s word–to help right the wrongs of the world.  Trust is lost.  The hungry continue to starve as fewer people want to help.  Servants of God dwindle as the true believers struggle all alone.

Our society has no relief for the vacant homes that outnumber the homeless.  The homeless perish in the winds of destruction, the floods, and the oppressive heat that is unpredicted and unexplained.  The leaders rush to make sense of the perilous times as the followers scrutinize every decision. We believe everything that we read.  But we refuse to check our source.  We’ve no longer insisted on checking our facts.  We deprive ourselves of knowledge for the sake of time. We refuse to use that same time that we saved to think about what we are doing.

The hungry stay hungry.  Even the rich squander their wealth, risk their health, abuse life, and (stolen) liberty to maintain their privileged lifestyle.  Don’t take my word for it (click on any of the highlighted links above to read more).


destruction 2

Although the apocalypse describes characteristics of our culture that are already present, in fact the worse has not yet occurred. We are only getting a glimpse. It took what was described as seven days to create the world (and the scientists translate those “days” into billions of years). Could not the last “days” already be amongst us?

Even the secular world is beginning to see the signs and the impending doom.  I take relief only in knowing that despite the signs of impending doom, the mere prediction is not enough to know for certain.  We won’t know.  We won’t see it coming. And there won’t be anytime to prepare once it has begun.

It’s not too late to get right with The Lord. Tomorrow is not promised, but we still have right now.  This is not a final synopsis.  It’s important to get right today.  Immediately!  But even after salvation, there is much work to be done here on earth.  The saints emphasize serving the Lord.  We serve Him by serving man, but not by serving ourselves individually.  It is the world that makes salvation tricky.  There are no tricks in God’s word.

Be mindful of the D’s.  In a time when we believe everything that we see, most of what we read, and a lot of what we hear, we are gravely at risk.  We’ve given dominion to the wrong authority.  We’ve willingly divided ourselves.  We watched the destruction and simply rebuilt our lives on sinking sand.  Waiting for the destruction makes even less sense.

Dear Dad…

When there are so many things to write about and so many things to reflect on, today is a day that my focus shifts.  As a father and a son, Father’s Day is a day when I can do what ever I like (in theory).  However, it is the day that I represent all that is important to me.  Not too many fathers will admit, but the truth is that we are far more important than we are given credit for.  This is not to diminish mothers or grandmothers or even grandfathers, aunts, uncles, or anyone else that helps raise up a child.  But on this day we focus on the importance of fathers.

As an educator, I spend very little time discussing any of the “holidays” because of the need to focus on everything else.  I don’t place a high priority on any holiday because I end up having to justify and dance around beliefs systems. Otherwise I’d try to make a way to incorporate the meaning of the holiday into a bonafide lesson.  And because Father’s Day usually falls so close to the end of the school year that it gets overlooked anyway, no one complains–not even the dads.  The mayor of a local town recently posted to his Facebook page that he is so proud that 15 dads came out to the “Annual Donuts with Dad Breakfast. ” This kind of puzzled me.  I certainly could address that, but I’d like this story to take a different direction.

As a social worker, my focus on dads was minimal because mothers usually accepted all the responsibility in the household. For court, counseling, and intake interviews moms carry the load.  Sure there’s mention of dad but there’s always a compelling reason that he could not attend.  And although there’s a shared responsibility of raising a child, there are usually responsibilities that are often overlooked that dad is actually fulfilling.   Dad is not there to defend himself.

As a father, I do not need to defend myself.   As a son, my father’s absence had an explanation.  I never questioned it.  I knew and I understood.  But because the moms of the world were always there to offer an explanation, the real reasons were diluted.  Our world has two sides to it–the explained and the unexplained.  This is a balance that is necessary to keep things in check.  Although we might not be comfortable, please understand that balance is required in everything.  The ying to the yang, the male to the female, the rational to the irrational, and the list goes on…

But we force an inequality.  We demand more than we should and accept less than is acceptable.  It’s a paradox!  We overlook the need for balance.  Mother Nature will find the balance though; just like Father Time will never cease (even though we don’t see him until it’s too late).

My father is no longer here.  My mother is.  Balance.  I miss him.  My mother demands that I miss her.  Irony.  I have to laugh to keep from crying.  Today I celebrate the fathers who can no longer be there with their children.  I recognize the reasons.  I embrace those reasons even though I may not endorse them.

In this world full of so much tragedy, we manage to find some happiness.  Balance.  When the scales are tipped too much in one direction there is chaos.  We’ve come to accept certain arguments and conditions. Someone might suggest that the scales need to be re-calibrated.  This rings true in just about every aspect of our natural world–and probably in the supernatural realm as well.  Let’s explore that for a moment.

I spoke to one of my pastors yesterday who suggested that our role in the church has become antiquated. Men don’t come out to church as often as they should because the church is perceived as effeminate.  We refer to our Savior as a man who is caring and compassionate, who counsels and nurtures, who provides and heals.  This sounds more like a mother than a father.  I replied that “We call Him Father, but treat Him like a mother…”  Make of that what you will.  I’m certain that it will become a preaching point in today’s sermon.

My father was no mother.   As caring and compassionate as he was, he was still assertive and stubborn in his ways.  He provided resources that the family happily consumed.  He provided for several families and raised more children than he conceived.  He married more often than his wives would have preferred, but he was respected by each until the relationship had ended.  He loved his trucks and his sailboats.  He loved his projects and his books.  And he loved his children.  He was riddled with the guilt that he hadn’t enough love to give–even though he had given all that he had.  That’s not effeminate. That’s the type of man he raised me to be.  That’s the type of man that all of his son’s have turned out to be.  These are traits that I am modeling for my son.


In his absence, I’ve learned the meaning of balance.  I only had him as a constant in my life for 13 years.  Too short?  No way!  That’s way longer than than I’ve been in my son’s life (so far); and way longer than most children have their fathers in their lives.  I am blessed to have been conceived by him, to be supported by him, and to have him there to show his love to me.  My father demonstrated balance in his life.  He was a poet and a sailor.  He lived his life like a well-narrated story, filled with comedy and tragedy.  He rarely completed a project, and his ultimate demise mimicked his projects.  This was no accident.  As I said, he was a poet.  Had he been a painter I’d suggest that all of his brush strokes were deliberate.  Instead, I confirm that all of his “I’s” were dotted and all of his “T’s” were crossed.  He left this earth of his own free will.  It’s been impossible to grieve his death because I daily celebrate his life.  Although I’m criticized for my perception of my father, I will learn from his model.  I will live my life the way I know best and I will teach my children how to LIVE life to the fullest.

Today, I also celebrate my children.   They were conceived in love and are nurtured daily by a mother and father who want nothing more than for them to be healthy and happy. Our children’s lives are not traditional.  However, “traditional” is no longer the norm. Therefore, their existence is actually better than most–and certainly better than what they could have had–no father.  I am the best father that my children will ever have! That’s as easy as affirming that I am the only father they will ever have.  I had a step-father for a few years who once told me, “you only get one mother…” Puzzled, I asked him if the same was true for fathers.  He had no answer.

034IMG_0001kids and me

Dear Dad, I love you.  Knowing that I will never see you again, I am happy for those years we had together.  You will live on in me as I provide for my children.  And one day when I too have left this earth, my children will be great people and live happy lives.

The Rock

Who’s your rock?  My friend used to call me her rock.  I didn’t understand what she meant, but it sounded like a compliment so I received it happily.  She was going through a storm and I seemed to resemble a beacon of hope.  She put a lot of faith in me which made me nervous. I felt a little unworthy. But who was I to dispute her opinion, especially when she was in duress.

Years later she’s come through the storm and has the battle wounds to show for it.  She made it through the worst on her own, as far as I knew. When I called upon her recently to reiterate some of the “good advice” that I offered her, she only said, “be still”.  She told me that was the best advice that I’d given her.  In fact, she admitted that it took years to realize how important being still was to obtaining serenity.  I was confused because the same advice I had given was the precise advice that I needed.

I’d forgotten the power of release.  Sacrifice comes in many forms.  Personal sacrifice requires an understanding as well as a commitment.  The most important component of personal sacrifice is that it can’t be dictated by someone else.  We find comfort in sharing someone else’s experience, but we can never truly make their experience our own. Even in a book, we can only be provided an out-of-body experience.  However, living the tale is a story unique in its own right.

When we are lost, we look to a map. The map may come in the form of a fold-out paper with a key and squiggly lines, or it can be a valuable testament of biblical proportions.  My pastor used to tell us to remember to bring our map to church every Sunday.  But we worshiped while learning how to interpret the map.  I put my faith in the map.  I put my faith in the Bible, and I put my faith in  the the preacher.  It sounds like a good plan.  Putting my faith in good should yield positive results, right?

Where we put our trust we put our faith.  When we put our faith in the wrong person, the disappointment shutters our belief system.  No more so than when everything hinges on a single belief that there is a master plan that doesn’t work.

The rock.   This is where we want to put our hopes, our trust, and our faith.  More emotional than any of these is love.

Lovers Rock
When my father died, this song was what I played each time I entered his solemn abode. It was a new release at a time before Pandora, mp3s, or satellite radio.  Putting the cd on repeat was the worst thing I could have done. It made me hate a song that I’d have otherwise loved.  It was symbolic.   At a time that my family lost its rock, I was the replacement pebble.

For my formidable years, my father was my rock.  I was certain that I’d be the rock for my kids soon enough. But the circumstances by which my father’s life was lost left me wondering if I’d placed my faith in the wrong person. For me there was faith in the father, and there was faith in the Father.  I thought that the two weren’t mutually exclusive.   My father was instrumental in my walk with the Lord. When he was gone, my walk truly became my own.

After fifteen years of progress without my dad, I’ve lost more faith in man and garnered more faith in myself.  As a man, faith in self is an arguably less popular trend.  As a Christian, faith in God’s will is enough to restore any lost faith in myself; but it does nothing to restore my faith in man.  I am.
 I’ve learned to distrust.  Having faith in relationships, organizations, colleagues, and family has left me empty and disappointed.  We know the importance in having faith. We simply struggle with knowing how to cope when things go wrong.  There will certainly be disappointment.  But the vagueness on how our map was constructed or how to combat the struggles en route to our destination–that’s the hardship!  It’s those milestones and all the tribulations along the way that really test our faith.  You see, that rock seems worthless if we don’t step off of it.  I mean, how do we lead a life without movement?  We step off the rock, assess the situation, and proceed with caution.  The whole while we are keeping the rock in sight (in case we need to run back to it).  And what do we do when we falter?  We seek the rock. Mankind can not merely savor the comfort and sanctity of salvation.  #Savorthefavor

 Who’s your rock?  Have you invested so much faith in man (and the world) that you’ve lost sight of the Rock?   Will you turn to your rock when all else fails?  Or will you not only stand on the rock but encourage others to do the same?


Ten years ago, I found myself in a new career, uncomfortable scenarios, and little hope.  With no idea what situations brought me to this place, and with very little hope for escape, I was lost.  One night at the Bridgeton Police Station I met an angel case managing a family in crisis.

Her unfamiliar confidence and passion to stabilize an unpleasant event was intriguing.  All I could offer was an old rap song to distract the children from the police interrogation.  That night she privately affirmed me and explained that she wouldn’t be there long because her marriage couldn’t endure it.  Although it made sense, I had come to work for the agency in hopes to restore my own marriage.

She told me that she was going to become a teacher.  It was an approach that I hadn’t considered for myself since my freshmen year in college.  Nonetheless, it sparked my interest.  She said that she wanted to work with children.  Sounded good to me. That’s what I wanted too.  I just hadn’t figured out how.

Before I knew it, she had resigned.  She’d been hired at a local elementary school teaching English-As-A-Second Language, Language Arts, Math, and Science.  This inspired me to spend the first two hours of every day looking a career in education.  I too needed an escape to a more fulfilling career–one that embraces hope, is heralded as a noble profession, and helps without hurt.

The years that followed found me in a classroom of my own.  Our paths would not have crossed again had it not been for social media.  On the rare occasion that her actual photo graced her profile was the day I connected with her online.  Nuna was her online handle.

MySpace, Yahoo IM, and eventually Facebook became the mediums through which we shared ideas and accomplishments.  She saved her relationship and introduced me to someone after my marriage collapsed.  Like good friends do, we partied, celebrated life, and enjoyed the company of our mutual friends.  Relationships dissolved and our professional lives took on new forms.  We supported each other’s endeavors from a far;  only commenting when asked for an opinion.

Although not an integral part of my career or my personal life, I’ve shared with her my most emotional experiences.  From her own perspective, she’s offered advice.  Younger but wiser, her advice was always valued.  Her own expertise has been recently recognized by higher authorities which has positioned her assent to a new level of achievement.  I’m so proud of her.  She continues to inspire me.

True friendships cannot always be defined by cliches.  In this case, no cliche can adequately define the value of my bond to Nuna.  Exciting times…