Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Sister's Passing

I proclaimed this year to be my family's season of elevation. I was so looking forward to becoming a witness to the many blessings that God would place upon us. My world completely crumbled after my baby sis, Latoshia, passed away. I literally thought that I would die from the shock and the pain. We had just spoken the night before. We had the best conversation, laughing and giggling about anything, everything...nothing.

It's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that it will probably be some time before we see her again. I don't know how to move on without her. My siblings are my best friends. Like I said at the funeral, we are all twins, just born in different years. I am thankful to God for his grace, comfort, strength and wisdom. Without him I know that I wouldn't be able function. I am numb at times and at others, I am overwhelmed with emotion. One moment, I am joyous about Latoshia's transition into heaven's glory but then I am heartbroken when I look at her husband and their children. I am still trying to find my balance.....

As a family, we are beginning to see why God chose to take her away silently. Latoshia was fully aware of God's plan. Over the past year, she planted messages here and there for us to find. We understand that her young age was a critical part of God's plan. Her transition has opened the hearts and minds of so many people. Nearly 1000 people attended her wake and funeral. Two hundred and sixteen people turned their life to Christ. This was confirmation that Latoshia's passing was not in vain. Pastor Hart Ramsey taught perhaps one of the best eulogies, I've ever heard. For many years, I've heard pastors tell the family that you shouldn't cry when a child of God passes away. Pastor Ramsey explained that grieving is a natural human response that happens anytime we lose a loved one. He went on to say that a person should grieve based on how they believe. As Christians, there is a grieving process, but the pain is relieved by the knowledge that our loved one is in the arms of God. We will see them again.

I see death differently now. I don't refer to Tot as being dead. As a Christian, she transitioned. She forever lives but not in a place where we can reach her now. I'm at peace with that. She completed her assignment early. She didn't allow stumbling blocks to deter her from her God-given mission. I know that I'm her big sister but I really want to be like her when I grow up. Her crossing over only makes heaven that much sweeter.

I am so thankful to have a relationship with my siblings that is strong, pure and full of love. Tot and I talked all the time. If someone gave her a hard time, we knew about it. She loved hard and she was very forgiving. At the funeral, I watched some of the people who hurt her, cry in guilt and despair. My heart went out to them because that's a heavy burden to bear. I encourage you....Don't take your family, friends, church members or coworkers for granted. You never know that will happen next.

I was a little disturbed at the increased number of Facebook friend requests I received, especially from those who's never given me the time of day. I had to decline a lot of requests. This email will probably be one of the highest opened from our mailing list. It's strange but some people have a fascination with knowing about another person's pain. I can't understand that. If you are guilty of that (as I have been in the past), I encourage you to change that mindset.

Yes, I proclaimed this year to be my family's year of elevation and God started with Latoshia. She received the highest honor of all. Her passing was not a tragedy, loss or misfortune. It was the stepping ground to my family going to next level in Christ, Life and what's right in God's Sight. My sister "Rests In Peace" but we as a family, "Rejoice In Praise".

Many Thanks for Your Prayers, Words and Acts of Kindess...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Lips, Eyes & Michael Jackson

The older I get, the more I understand the life lessons my parents taught me when I was younger. At the time, these lessons didn’t seem important, but now they are my biggest influences. My mom taught me to always speak and be courteous to others while my dad taught me to be a continuous “watcher of man”. His lesson was “The boldest backstabber will seemingly hug and kiss you when they are actually marking your back for a bulls eye.” He also said “The eyes will tell what the lips won’t say. My mom reinforced his lesson while reminding me to always spread God’s love even if it’s through a kind hello and sincere smile. She believed that sometimes a kind word from a stranger would be just what a person needed to make it throughout the day. She believed it would restore hope.

I have implemented these lessons in every aspect of my life and now they are life lessons for my own children. I’ve had to use wisdom over the years. There would be times when God wouldn't allow me to speak. There would times would a person’s refusal to make eye contact didn’t mean betrayal but instead said “I’m hurting and I don’t want you to see”. God has shown me the difference between the two.

Last week a friend of mine said to me  “Goll-ee Bridgett, you pay attention to everything.” She’s right but I can’t help it. I Peter 4:7, tells us to “watch unto prayer”. I study my word, life, things and people on the daily basis. I’m not one to believe something just because you said it (especially if you can’t back it up with scripture).

When Michael Jackson died I faced a lot of scrutiny after I commented on Facebook, that we shouldn’t get caught up in idolizing his work more than mourning his soul. Did he make it into heaven? I have no idea but based on the lifestyle he choose and the kingdom he promoted through his music, I can’t say that he was a delivered child of God. Yet and still, Heaven or Hell…I dunno. Now, don’t get me wrong. It hurt me to hear that he passed away, not because of his music but because of him as a person. True, he was talented. Growing up we weren’t allowed to listen to secular music but even I knew whenever an MJ song played. His music was intoxicating. His moves were mind blowing. But still, he chose not to use his God given talent to promote the kingdom. A lot of people made the comment that I shouldn’t judge (which I didn’t). I studied the life of Michael Jackson behind the music and he was truly a tortured soul. In spite of his fame and fortune, he battled a troubled childhood, low self-esteem, allegations, isolation, trust issues, insomnia and so on. My heart went out to him.

So many people (Christians too) knighted him as the King of Pop, when it would have been more important if he were a child of the KING. They called him as IDOL when they should have veered him as an INDIVIDUAL who was screaming for help. For those of you who are ready to send me an email defending your iconic views about Michael, first ask yourself, “If I had ONE chance to speak with Michael before he died, would I have talked to him about salvation or his fame and music?” I dare you to truthfully answer yourself.

I believe God has taught me to watch people because he wants me to see past the exterior. I admit. I have not mastered this gift and sometimes I wonder if I want to. I’ve already seen things that trouble me but on the other hand, God has revealed to me things that have literally saved the life of others.

I don’t know how many Christians Michael encountered in his life but I’m sure he did meet at least one person who was willing to see past the fame and into his soul. The bible reassures us that a person won’t leave this earth until he/she has heared the true gospel. It says so in Matt 24:14.

Sometime we get so caught up in a person’s fame and/or flaws that we become blind to their heart. Admittedly, I struggle with becoming frustrated with people and wanting to walk away. Sometimes I wish it were easy to give up. But as a child of God, I have no choice but to see them through his eyes. Matt 18:22 constantly rings in my ears, “seventy times seven, seventy times seven.” So I repent and I continue. If I said it once, I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again.

Don’t get so caught up in the hype that you fail to see the life

behind the man. Are they living right?

Are they an example of Jesus Christ? The one who gave up his own life.

What’s their mission? What’s their plight?

Are they on the road to hell or heaven’s flight?

Listen to the lips. Watch the eyes

Are they full of the gospel or hell bound lies?

If you could make a difference. What would you do?

Would you teach the gospel? Would you tell them the truth?

Or would you give them a paper for them to sign while saying “You sure are an idol of mine.”

Do you care enough to give them a hug while encouraging them to embrace God’s love?

Are you strong enough to in God remain firm?

Can you be the teacher and help them learn?

About heaven and hell? Right and Wrong?

When it comes to God, can you be strong?

To die in Christ is to live in gain.

Can you tell them the truth despite their fame?

When it comes to gospel, stand and be wise

Go for the heart but start with the lips and the eyes.

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