Waiting on God to Step in

‘Thought  I’d take some time off from poetry and arbitrary prose, today, to do some preaching, and at the same time introduce a book that I am currently writing. It’s called Waiting on God to Step in and is based on the story of Lazarus.

For those who know the story- recorded in John chapter 11- we know it is the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. However, there are some underlying principles in this account which we need to consider when we try to summon God to intervene on our behalf.

Mary and Martha sent to call Jesus at a time when their brother, Lazarus, was sick. This was no ordinary scenario, though. This was a message stating, “He whom You love is sick” (vs 3) coming from Martha and “that same Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair” (vs 2).

Although that act of worship is recorded following that of Lazarus’ resurrection, it is evident that these siblings shared a special relationship with Christ at the time of their request. John clearly communicates this in saying, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (vs 5). What is perplexing about this account, though, is Jesus’ response to the message He received.

Immediately after expressing Christ’s love for this trio, John writes “SO when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (vs 6). This may rock your concept of Christianity. I, unconsciously, raced ahead in that verse, expecting an ending like …He dropped what He was doing and immediately returned to Bethany (where Lazarus lived).

I, in my belief in God, thought that He would swiftly answer when we call BECAUSE HE LOVES US. Yet, John makes it abundantly clear, that because of His love, Jesus ignored this urgent prayer, only to arrive in Bethany long after Lazarus was dead and buried. If we read the story to the end, though, we would realize that 1. Jesus had a greater miracle in store than the one requested and 2. His delayed response would served as a springboard to meet not only to Lazarus’ need but also that of the multitude gathered at his home.

It would really take an entire book to cover the depth of wisdom and spiritual instruction inherent in this account. But, suffice it, here, to say that sometimes when we do not immediately receive answers to prayer, it is not that God does not love us. But, It is precisely because He does, that He does not respond- at least not when or how we want Him to.

Again, when things seem to be go from bad to worse; when there is nothing left for us to do; when it seems like we have come to a place of total failure and it seems like God has rejected us, that is when God has a greater plan. The unanswered prayer is only an opportunity for God to do something we least expect. His delay is for our good, not defeat. More importantly, God’s entrance would only occur when the time  and circumstances are perfect for the miracle He intends to perform.

Waiting on God in a time of crisis is not an easy thing to do. Praying through the tears and believing while the situation worsens is a test of faith we sometimes fail. But, even when we think that the time for God to step in is past, He still has the final say.

We will not get to know the power of God if every time we call He just comes running.  We would not experience the fullness of His greatness if  our faith is not stretched beyond what we know is possible. We will not see His glory if we do not dare to obey even when it seems like folly to do so.

It is only when Lazarus’ sisters rolled the stone away from their brother’s tomb- four days after their prayers should have been answered- that they received their miracle. When they called on Jesus, they were asking for a miracle. When Lazarus died, however, they thought that their miracle  had been denied. So, for them to obey Christ’s command when “by this time he stinketh” (vs 39) required a different level of faith than what they initially used to call on Him.

God allows us to grow in Him because He loves us. He causes us to transcend beyond our “little faith” and small blessings because of His love. He takes us through extreme circumstances so that we can experience His extraordinary glory- all because He loves us!

So, despite the tears; despite the pain; despite the fears that we may endure while we wait on God, let us note that He has promised never to leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:6). We can rest assured of His love for us even when it seems like He does not care.

 

Making Lemonade

lemonI’ve long heard the great advice: If life throws you a lemon, make lemonade with it! And in my typical sass retorted: Sure, if only life would throw me some sugar and a copious amount of water too!

Thus, in my almost twelve years of single-parenting a ‘special needs child’- and almost twenty-two of single-parenting on a whole- I’ve squeezed some juicy lemons to make a concentrate, not believing that a wellspring of water elsewhere flowed. Or, that the honeycomb I needed was available.

Today, however, I’ve come to accept that lemon juice is great for washing fish and providing a scintillating- and delicious- satisfaction to thirst on a hot, sunny day. Today, I recognize that what at first seemed too acidic and abrasive to life, was the makings of a lemonade stand, an anti-aging treatment, anti-depressant and a plethora of possibilitieslemonade for turning acrimony into  positive results –45 uses for lemons.

So, as my first jug of lemonade, I announce my decision to begin a treatment center and school for children with learning and other difficulties. For now, the ‘stand’ is just a plan- that would require great acreage to adequately fulfill. But I’m starting in one house with just a few beautiful and special children.

I’ve found that I have had the sugar all along. In places I had not thought to look. I’ve found the lemon tree planted by the rivers of water- from which I can  incessantly draw. Now, I have poured my first glass and I’ve added some ice. So, let the games begin!

Oh God it’s Monday!

I got up sleepy this morning. Yes! I awoke before four to hang out the clothes I left in the machine yesterday, to mop the floor, prepare breakfast and post a blog before leaving the house for a ten o’clock appointment.

Now, I guess all the regular Monday to Friday workers- particularly moms- must have gotten up at about that time too- to cook, pack lunches, drop children off at whatever venues they would be kept during this school vacation, dress and set off to commute to their places of employment.

I do recall the stress of the “rat race” that makes one say on the last work day, “THANK GOD IT’S FRIDAY!!! After rushing and racing through the entire week, one takes the time for an after work “lime” or to simply kick off the shoes and recline, knowing that tomorrow, the alarm clock would not ring at five (or four or three!).

It is probably that alarm that brings the Monday morning blues. The interruption to sleep after two days (un)rest- cleaning, washing, ironing, scrubbing- all in preparation for a next work week. Well, after lazing around all day, yesterday, watching back to back episodes of If loving you is wrong, I awoke early to finish my chores before meeting with my publisher today.

Yea! I have a meeting with MY PUBLISHER! Isn’t that great? Things are looking up. Getting off the ground. So, while I would like to just go back to sleep, I have to join others in saying, “Oh God, it’s Monday!” I have to get to work. This is my “work” and I hope to do it as diligently as anyone else. So, I hope that there would be other Oh God it’s ….day, and ….o’clock, as I rush to meet deadlines and keep appointments.

Sounds exciting! Anyway, time is ticking away. I’ve got to go!

Gold Star

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I got a gold star yesterday for the achievement of one hundred likes on StyleWrite. Now, for a child who went to school before “order marks” (black dots) and stars replaced the tamarind whip and big red ticks, this was well appreciated.

It may seem like a small accomplishment. But, in the words of the Chinese philosopher, Laozi: 千里之行,始於足下, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a wallsingle step (Wiktionary). Thus, I have taken that step. I have begun my journey. And, to my delight, I’ve found some willing to cheer me on along the way.

This gold star represents a hundred times that someone said “well done.” One hundred kudos. A hundred handshakes. One hundred thumbs up sign that had been clicked. That’s a hundred reasons to go on; A hundred steps closer to the finish line!

So, thank you, again, for your support- readers and followers of this blog; fellow writers who gave their nods of approval; FaceBook friends and other well-wishers. Thank you!

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The Great Wall of China

The way to the top, is to start at the beginning and keep climbing till you get there!

Through the Tunnels

I recently heard that there is a tunnel in Tabaquite, Trinidad, that is quite an historical landmark. This picture was taken by someone whose visit was a knock “off the T&T bucket list”. I provide here a link to this person’s website Living & Loving Life. I have not seen it yet. But, I have added it to my bucket list.

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In my childhood experience, though, I occasionally passed through one at Freeport where Calcutta Road N0. 1 passes under the highway. I do not know the length of this tunnel. But, as a child, it always seemed too long. It was a spooky place where sounds echoed and were amplified and sight was gravely myopic. My only joy in going through this tunnel, was hearing the sounding of the car horn. In there, it boomed and sounded full.

That experience, though, provided some vicarious learning. It, later, helped me to understand the cliché :”there is light at the end of the tunnel”. I did not know it, then, but this childhood escapade would one day serve to steer me through the intangible tunnels of life.

The lesson I have learned is that  in spite of the absolute darkness that surrounds; despite the feelings of entombment, the only sensible thing to do in a tunnel is to keep trusting and thrusting forward until the end.

The thing about that light at the end of the tunnel, is that it does not appear out of nowhere. The light is there all along. But, the existence of the tunnel creates a false impression of the reality. It skews judgment and feigns gloom. One just has to keep in mind this is only a temporary veiling of truth; a brief alteration of perception.

Life sends us through some tunnels, sometimes. Times when we feel engulfed in darkness. Times when we think that we are all alone in our experiences. Times when we long to see the light. And, we can barely see the next step ahead. In these times, we have to trust that if we keep moving forward, we would find the way of escape. And, thrust- push through with all our might- until we get there.

As the saying goes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But, we only see that light when we have gone through. Life only returns to normalcy when we overcome the darkness; when we survive the missteps; when we learn to amble along blindly, duty-bound to conquer every obstacle in our path.

There’s no sense is going backward in the tunnel. There’s  no place to turn around. It is the one place where it is necessary to keep looking forward. Keep marching on.  Never let the darkness in. The light is present all around. We just have to get to where we can see it.

So, embrace the tunnels of life- because they teach invaluable lessons that cannot be learned otherwise!

Feeling Nostalgic

8931763-fountain-pen-with-ink-bottleAnybody, here, remembers their first ink pen? A fountain pen with two covers that came in different colours? Blue, red, black, green, sometimes with a silver top cover? The one you had to squeeze- the opaque tube inside the bottom cover- to get the ink in? Or, “push and pull” its plunger?

Anyone, else, went to school with an ink jar in his bag? Then, you would remember days when the ink spilled and soiled your books with ugly stains. Or, the nib blotted in your copy books. And your finger tips were ever blue.

But, the fountain pen was such a lovely pen. A step up from the “lead pencil” with the “rubber” on top: The HB, yellow pencils with which we wrote in “Infants”. However, the fountain pen was the messiest encounter of my primary school years- that and “whitening” with which we cleaned Bata Bullet and Doric sneakers almost every evening and scrubbed it back off on Saturdays with a stream of milk-looking water running down the drain.

Every Trini child who went to school in the seventies would remember ink blots in shirt pockets; copy books with holes from trying to erase ink spots with a lead-pencil rubber;stock-photo-ink-blot-vector-110530844 scrubbing blue-stained finger tips on concrete walls and the classic- cloth, green Milo bag with an indelible blue splatter from a bottle that opened or a cover that broke inside the bag.

Yes! Those were de good ole days, when we squeezed, pushed or poured out ink unto ripped pages of our exercise books. Then, folded them over and opened again to see the patterns made. When the smudges looked like butterflies. And, we pulled thread in different directions along the spilled-ink-in-folded-pages to make beautiful pictures. When the hibiscus fence was a whip tree in disguise.

But, then came the non-spill cartridge pen that spoiled the fun. And, the Bic that followed beginners-fountain-pen-2after with the ink already inside. The ballpoint pen which could “explode” in your bag, draining all its gooey contents to cause an even more unsightly stain than that of the fountain pen.

Oh, how simple life was, then. When the only major spills we knew were ink blots and cocoa tea on tablecloths. When plastic was cheap. And a yard and a half would cover the checkered tablecloth to prevent spills from soaking through. When a penny was a real coin and a cent could buy “three salt biscuit”. When “salt butter” and cheese were sold by the ounce. And the ounce ah cheese could really slice an put in bread.

But doh bring back dem ole time days when the blue bus was the only public transport and yuh had to stan up by de bus shed fuh hours waiting for it to come. When the Old Southern Main Road was the only route to get to San-Fernando from Chaguanas. And, it took an hour and more to get there from St Mary’s Junction. When you had to endure Petrotrin’s fumes, like rotten eggs, from Point Lisas to Savonetta along the way.  When the bison and donkey cart hauled loads of cane through the village and the few little privately owned cars like the Hilman Hunter and Cortina were luxuries.

The days when the village really raised the child. And the “private school teacher” was the lady dong de road and you didn’t need a degree to teach the ABC. When the jokin board used to scrub khaki pants real clean. And yeast came in a tin and had to be “set” with warm water and sugar.

When “F-I-SH AGAIN!” was the morning alarm as fishermen peddled Cro cro, red fish, and moonshine stringed on bicycle handles. And the bullet and gun shot were not yet known. When Madam Sheila could watch yuh fix in yuh eye until you say “mornin” an yuh dare not pass she straight!

When the milkman sold fresh cow’s milk in washed ketchup bottles. And “pausterization” was known as “scalding” and done in household pots. When bhagi, pumpkin and melongene were picked from the back yard to cook with bake. And kolojamoon stained both clothes and teeth. But you couldn’t resist the grape-like fruit.

Doh bring back dem days when we didn’t know ah ting ’bout “the ozone layer”. And noxious emissions from fuel-run vehicles were too insignificant to cause concern. When “traffic jam” was unheard of and it was common to “walk a mile an a half” to get from A to B.

butterfly-rainbow                           bluemorphoz

Just bring back the days when we grated St Vincent chocolate on a damp, cloudy day to “make tea”. When butterflies of all descriptions were an everyday scene. And breath-taking photographs of them appeared behind condensed milk labels. When moral and pitch were our favourite past-times. And the skipping rope provided hours of fun.

Maybe we were poorer then. But, maybe we were richer, too, and didn’t know.

To the school-aged children of the seventies, a happy day!

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What’s In A Name?

“She’ll get you for this!” my sister replied to a comment my brother posted on my Facebook page.

“Go tootsie go” he wrote in response to my celebration of the First 100 (and one!) followers on this blog.

Now, I’m bilingual- proficient speaker of Trini Creole, my mother tongue and prolific writer in the Queen’s English, which I learned at school. So, my immediate reaction to this use of my home name on social media- in the cyber earshot of my hundred and one followers!- was “whapp’n boy?” This being the much preferred equivalent to “what’s the matter with you, Terrence?”laughter

Obviously, he had not gotten the memo banning all my siblings from ever speaking that name, in public or private address. He, having lived abroad for over two decades, may not have heard that Granger’s daughter told him, one day- in my presence- that she wanted to “tootsie” -which in her version of the dialect meant “poop” “sh..” or whatever other name we have for the thing we flush. Or, the process of excreting it. And that I have since stopped responding to that name.

He, also having missed my dating season, would not have known that everyone else at home having bitten their tongues so many times trying not say Tootsie in the presence of a suitor, all eventually resorted to using my given name, Ruth.

cartoon-guy-laughing-pointing-bent-over-31869170I excused him, therefore, for his comment, based on those facts. But he, of all my siblings, should never think of using my nickname- aloud! In public! On an international forum! You see, he, too, has a home name. So, a simple “Thanks, Wendy!” would have been a great way to get back at him.

However, the Biblical “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you” came to mind. And I wrote, instead,”You really want to go there, boy?” What I really wanted to do was hitim two cuff an ah kick an roll up meh eye fuh ‘im. But, I would have to wait until he to comes home for that.

Today, though, I decided that I should not be so sensitive about this name. Like “Wendy”, it was given for a reason. I, the first girl child of my parents, was born after six boys. However, I was prematurely born and weighted four and a half pounds. An old wives’ tale, then, informed my mother that “eight month baby doh live”. But, Nurse Tootsie having met her crying on the ward, one day, strongly refuted this folly saying, “Look, yuh see dis chile yuh have here? Dis is a strong, little wretch yuh hear?”

I have since mostly lived up to Wretch and remained strong- and little, despite stuffed booties and hats, gathered, A-line and pleated skirts.1148635-cartoon-of-a-lol-laughing-out-loud-acronym-speech-balloon-royalty-free-vector-clipart But Tootsie, I never cherished. Although, like my predecessor I  became a nurse, I have refused to ever deliver a child, much less predict what type of wretch it would become.

So, to see myself bantered openly by the boy called Wendy! Well, I really should thank him for carrying this name (though not officially) for all these years. Given to him, the fourth-born son, because our mother was really hoping for a girl, this would have been my name instead of Ruth. And, I don’t think I would have liked that. So, thank you Wendy for taking that cup from me.

But, hey, “What’s in a name?” Shakespeare sagely asked. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet!” A Ruth called Tootsie; a Terrence called Wendy, what difference does it make? I remain the undisputed firstborn of the girls, number seven of the Whiskie clan- and, I guess you see where I’m going with this!arse laughing

Pep talk aside,- and because the English lexicon cannot adequately express my sentiments- doh worry, yuh cut-arse book!