life beyond the well…


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I. CAN’T. BREATHE.

I can’t breathe.

That’s what Eric Garner said over and over again, as the NYPD officer held him in an outlawed choke hold, pressing his knee into his back, eventually leading to his death.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe. I may not be in a physical choke hold, but this- these cases of police misconduct and the killing of unarmed people of color is choking the life out of me, out of my people, out of our communities, out of our children.

I can’t breathe because I am (we are) in this abusive relationship that forces me (us) to be afraid of those who are in place to protect me (us), and I (we) see no way of escape. There are no shelters where I (we) can escape for my (our) protection. I am (we are) searching for refuge, for equal footing, for right standing and it doesn’t appear to be available.

I can’t breathe because I (we) spend all of this energy trying to be the “good” or “safe” black person, even though I (we) know that while I (we) can change my (our) name, neighborhood, job, clothes, education level, friends, behavior…I (we) CANNOT change the very thing that makes other people feel afraid or threatened: my (our) skin color.

I can’t breathe because I am (we are) exhausted by the constant stream of microaggressions I (we) face, of having to deal with “good decisions” that have racist implications, of having to decide if I (we) should speak up because of knowing (expecting) the response to be that I am (we are) “playing the race card” or “being too sensitive”.

But.

If I have to “play the race card” or “be too sensitive” because it forces you to be more careful, more thoughtful, more intentional in your interactions and decisions regarding people like me- so be it.

I will not continue to be uncomfortable so that you can maintain your comfort. No. It’s time for us to be uncomfortable together.

Discomfort produces action. Appropriate action produces change.

What is appropriate action? I challenge our communities, ESPECIALLY our communities of faith to address these issues, then act.  Hear the stories of hurt, of anger, of fear- and then do the work that helps to change hearts. Share the gospel. Love like Jesus. While I hear and understand the cries for justice, I know that the true need is Jesus. True acceptance of Jesus compels our hearts and our minds to change.

My prayer in this situation is best encompassed in the lyrics of “Build Your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective Experiment: 

“We are Your church.
We pray revive this earth.
Build Your kingdom here.
Let the darkness fear.
Show Your mighty hand.
Heal our streets and land.
Set Your church on fire.
Win this nation back.
Change the atmosphere.
Build Your kingdom here.
We pray.
Unleash Your kingdom’s power
reaching the near and far.
No force of Hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts.
You made us for much more than this!
Awake the kingdom seed in us!
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ.
We are Your church.
We are the hope on earth.”

Amen.


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Coming Home.

“But sometime when the springtime comes and the sifting moonlight falls, they’ll think again of this night here and of these old brown walls, of white Old Well and of Old South. With Bell’s deep booming tone, they’ll think again of Chapel Hill, and — thinking — come back home.” – Thomas Wolfe

Everyone should have a place where to which they can return and feel at home.  Things may have changed.  Buildings are different.  Some people aren’t there. But, none of that matters when you return to that place. What matters is what that place you gave you.  How it forced you to grow.  How it introduced you to new people and new circumstances.  How you overcame far more than you thought you ever would. How it helped you become who God destined you to be.

For me, that place is UNC. One day I’ll be able to find all the words to express how transformative my experience was. My desire to attend UNC was reluctant–both of my parents worked in Chapel Hill, so I had already experienced a lot of what (I thought) made the town special.  I’ve enjoyed hot dogs and Shirley Temples from Sutton’s Drugstore since before I was tall enough to see over the counter. I remember shopping for books at the Intimate Bookshop.  The Miami Subs on Franklin Street- I enjoyed those fries and sandwiches long before I understood their appeal to late night college students. Before I had sense enough to like Cosmic Cantina, I got my tacos from the Taco Bell on Franklin Street.  I remember picking up church programs from the Copytron at the corner of Franklin and Columbia with my mom, eating hotdogs from Squeaky’s on breaks with my dad, and enjoying Time Out biscuits any chance I could.  Summers were spent at camp at Hargraves Recreation Center, Saturdays in the fall were spent attending Communiversity.

And so, I thought I had a real understanding of what made Chapel Hill special. And while I was partly right, I was also completely wrong.  My love for Chapel Hill grew immensely as a result of attending UNC. I grew immensely as a result of attending UNC. I learned how to lead and how to love. I became more culturally aware. I learned how to work smart and work hard. I had professors who challenged me and pushed my thinking. I fell in love with Jesus. I met my husband. I gained some of my best friends.

When we returned to UNC for Homecoming last month, being on campus was like getting the biggest warm hug from a friend that you haven’t seen in far too long.  Yes, things had changed.  Yes, I have changed.  But like the best of friends, when you’re together, it’s like you’ve never been apart.

Until next time.

Peace and Blessings!


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Giving Tuesday: Higher Definition Church

As we round out this “weekend” of shopping and spending (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday), we arrive on “Giving Tuesday” which is a global celebration of giving back.

On this “Giving Tuesday”, I ask that you consider donating to Higher Definition Church, the church plant that Preacherman and I, with our team, will launch in March 2015.  Your generous donation will help us to impact lives for the Kingdom of God across the city of Jacksonville, as we teach that there is no greater definition that one can have than being a child of God.

You may donate online here.  We are so excited about how God is working and the lives that will be changed as a result of His work in us and through us.

Peace and Blessings!


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Wait, it’s December?

Y’all, I CANNOT get over how fast 2014 has flown by.  How is it December 1? I still feel like there’s so much left in this year- so much that I’m still believing God to do; so much that I have left to do.

Preacherman and I just wrapped up one of the best Novembers on record.  We celebrated our anniversary, went to a Lecrae concert, headed to North Carolina for Homecoming at UNC, enjoyed time with family and friends, worshipped with friends at Hungry Church, ate entirely too much for Thanksgiving…and reveled in how much God has blessed us with this amazing life.

We’re starting December in Birmingham, Alabama, attending a conference on church-planting.  We are so excited to be launching Higher Definition Church in 2015, and there is MUCH work to be done.  Nevertheless, we are working, praying, fasting, and believing.  There are truly great things to come!

This December won’t be any less busy than November- but I am excited for this season that we are in.  Though we often feel stretched and pulled, those times force us to lean in to God, to trust where He has us and where He is taking us.  This journey, this life, is such an incredible gift.

Anyone else surprised that it’s December?  What are you grateful for in this season?

Peace and Blessings!


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Celebrating TWO

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Dear Preacherman,

It’s been two years.  Why is the time going by so fast?  At this rate, we will have to live to at least our 120 years, so that I can feel that I will have had sufficient time with you.

You are amazing; more than I bargained for, beyond what I imagined, the answer to my prayers.  Thank you for your love and your faithfulness, your leadership and your kindness, your relentless drive to pursue and fulfill God’s purpose for your life. You are absolutely one of the best people that I know and I am so glad to call you mine.

In these short two years of marriage, we have changed jobs and addresses; gained and lost weight, traveled to quite a few states, partially eaten our way around Jacksonville, figured out how to make salmon in a way that rivals Vin Rouge, gone to our first professional football game (and made it on the big screen), and shared more laughs than I can remember, nor that I ever want to forget.

Year three is sure to be an exciting one for #TeamAlmond and I’m while I’m excited about the things to come, I’m even more grateful that I get to face them all with you. Love you to the moon and back, Boss.

E5


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The False Report

As I mentioned, Preacherman had been having some undiagnosed difficulties with his car.  Though we had our suspicions on the issue, and trying different potential solutions, we eventually needed to call in some reinforcements.

So, after a particularly challenging situation, we called in some reinforcements (in this case, AAA) and solicited their help on resolving the issue.  And after they provided their report to us, we began to take the appropriate action.  Imagine our surprise (and frustration) when we realized that we had been given a misdiagnosis and a false report.

What we thought was a major issue, really was just a minor hiccup that, with the appropriate knowledge, we could have resolved for ourselves; saving us a significant amount of time and money.  It’s so incredibly frustrating to be in that position, knowing that charting your course of action based on incorrect information has resulted in unnecessary expenditure of time and money; neither of which you can recover.

In this situation, there wasn’t much more that we could have done to avoid the false report.  But every situation isn’t like that.  Oftentimes, we are fed information from a variety of sources, and we have the opportunity to choose what we believe and on which information we will base our decisions.  As believers, our decisions should be rooted in our faith in God and our trust in His word.  We should be seeking to make decisions based off of HIS report and not that which we see around us.  We must guard our hearts and our minds and seek Him daily for the clarity we need to proceed in boldness with faith.

“Whose report will you believe? We shall believe the report of the Lord.” 

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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Divinely Delayed

I really hate being late.  Well, let me not say that…because there are definitely areas of my life where I struggle to be on time.  Just keeping it real.

So what I really mean is that I hate for my routine to be interrupted, thus causing me to be late(r).  I know that it happens, and generally there’s nothing that I can do about it, so I’m good about rolling with the punches…after I get over the initial frustration.

Today was one of those days where my routine was interrupted.  Preacherman was having car trouble, so I had to take him to work.  The challenge is that he has to be at work an hour before I do…so my entire morning routine was thrown off by having to take him to work and struggle through the early morning traffic.  Adding insult to injury was the fact that my car was in DIRE need of gas.  I mean, to the point that I was praying that we would make it to his job, and I was REALLY praying that I would make it back home without having to call AAA because I was stranded on the side of some Jacksonville road.

After making it back home (thanks God!), getting dressed, and making it out of the house in a decent time to head to work (after stopping at the gas station), I received a phone call from a friend who I haven’t talked to in a while.  She’s struggling.  Going through some major stuff.  And while I’ve been praying for her, I haven’t had a chance to connect with her on the phone in a while.  So, it was good to talk to her FOR REAL and be able to encourage her in her situation.

On the way to work, I processed all that happened.  Had I not been delayed by Preacherman’s car issues, I would have been on my regular schedule and would have missed the opportunity to connect with a friend who so desperately needed to be encouraged and reminded of God’s love for her in the midst of her challenges.  And I would have missed God’s reminder to slow down and enjoy His delays because He’s always at work.

It’s so easy to be frustrated when our routine is interrupted.  I encourage you, in the midst of those interruptions to seek God.  What is it that He is trying to tell you?  How, in those moments, does He desire to use you?  I’m grateful for God’s nudging and gentle reminders of how He is always at work.  I’m grateful for being used to encourage someone else in their situation. And though I was initially frustrated, I can honestly say that I’m grateful for this morning’s divine delay.

Until next time…

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!

 


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31- I Know A God

And just like that, another year has passed.  Today, I turn 31.

I don’t really know what to do with 31.  I think that after 25, you just have the big celebrations for the years that are multiples of 5.  So…that means I have a few years to get ready for 35.

But what do I do with 31?

I feel really blessed and really grateful.  That has everything and nothing to do with my birthday at the same time.  But as I reflect on this year, what it has meant for Preacherman and our family, I think of this song, written by our friend Jordan.  Here are the lyrics:

“I just wanna sing about His glory.  I just wanna speak to you about how mighty He is.  I just wanna praise Him because He’s worthy.  I just want to live according to His will…Words can’t express my God and His ways. I give You all of the glory and praise.  Your name above all other names.  Your name above all names.  I know a God who reigns over everything, won’t change when everything around me does.  My faithful God loves me more than anything when I haven’t done anything to deserve His love…”

If there’s anything that I’m confident in, it is that I know this God of whom my friend sings so beautifully and passionately.  And I’m so grateful for His steadfast love and faithfulness.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!

A Birthday Request:  This year will be huge for Preacherman and our family, as we prepare to launch Higher Definition Church.  We are committed to changing lives and hearts for God across the city of Jacksonville, but we need your help!  Please remember us in prayer as we branch out to do the work that we have been called to do.  Please also consider donating to help us meet our fundraising goal!  We are extremely grateful for your love and support!


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Green is for Grandma

I hated the color green as I was growing up, and it was all her fault.  She loved it in the most ridiculous, passionate way.  She had green EVERYTHING.

Green sweaters.

Green dresses.

Green pants.

Green church suits.

Green church shoes (to match the green church suits).

Green LEATHER outfits (yes, outfits- as in more than one).

I should also mention that it didn’t matter which SHADE of green it was.  If it was in the green family, it was good as gold. I didn’t much mind the green for her. I mean, you like what you like.  But what I DID mind was the fact that she spread the green to us by way of our GREEN summer camp shirts.  You see, for a huge chunk of my childhood, my grandparents ran the Harriet Tubman Summer Day Camp in the basement of their church.  And we had camp shirts that we had to wear–and our camp shirts were green. AND, since my grandparents ran the camp, that meant there was no shortage of green shirts for me to wear. I could never ruin my shirt. I could never lose it. I couldn’t forget it. There was always a green shirt for me.

But now, things are different. They’ve changed. And I’ve grown and changed, the color green has become less of a subject of my distaste and more of a comfortable and familiar association with someone who I loved deeply, and who deeply loved me.

Now when I see the color green, I am reminded of faith, family, strength, dignity, purpose- all things that she embodied. I am reminded of the value and necessity of education. I am reminded of the responsibility of serving others and lifting as you climb, lest no person be left behind.

Green is for Grandma.

In honor of my grandmother, Mrs. Mildred Eleanor Roberts-Davis

August 20, 1935 – July 8, 2006

 


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Book Review: NIV Life Journey Bible

I love reading the Bible. It’s hard. It challenges me. It changes me. It pushes me to grow in my relationship with God and with others.  While I have a small NIV Thinline Bible that I carry with me to church (and I also use the Youversion app on my phone quite frequently), I love having a bigger reference bible that can provide greater help in navigating life and growing my faith.

Enter the NIV Life Journey Bible.  It’s already in my favorite translation (NIV), but what I really love about this bible are the practical inserts spread throughout–inserts on family, relationships, grief; with an overall theme of being emotionally healthy.  I think that this is hugely important, and in my own experience with church, I think that sometimes things can be so overly spiritual that there is not much attention paid to some of the real issues that people have.  Being emotionally healthy and learning how to be in healthy relationship is hugely important, and having a bible that highlights those principles as you go through it, is awesome.

I think this bible is excellent and I would recommend it to others. However, I would especially recommend it to new believers, people who enjoy devotionals, and people who value emotional and relationship health in conjunction with their spiritual health.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine

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