Taste and See

Find-Love

“By night on my bed, I sought Him whom my soul loveth. I sought Him, but I found Him not.”

Song of Songs 3:1
For years, this verse declared an agonizing truth: I couldn’t find Him. No matter how much I tried, no matter how hard I believed. I couldn’t find Jesus, not the Jesus that I had heard countless others describe. And verse 4 of this particular passage only caused me to lament more:

“…I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go…”

In my sincerest efforts of faith I would declare this right alongside other believers. I found Him! I found Him! The emptiness is gone! But deep inside, there was still a hollowness; a longing for love. Relentless, soul fulfilling love. I was starved near to death for it. I thought I’d break in half if another “BFF” abandoned me. I could stomach not one more rejection. And despite being raised in a Christian home, it wasn’t until I was older that I realized how broken and love starved my own family was.

My sister Leah, 4 years my senior, is my very best friend. Yet, I think because she and I were so close, her relationship with Jesus filled me with envy more than others. For her, Jesus seemed so tangible, close, and real. And it pained me to no end that it wasn’t that way for me. It wasn’t until I grew older that I realized only time, experience, and continued childlike faith could ripen the connection I had with my dear Saviour. To walk with Jesus was to follow closely behind Him, trusting Him every step, rather than trying to take control and make things happen through religious behavior. It’s not religion; it’s a relationship. 

After hearing it quoted and expounded upon countless times during my childhood, today this verse rang in my heart once again with a bit of sadness at first. The Lord reminded me of how desperately I longed for the Lover of my soul once upon a time. Eventually I matured to understand that nothing of this earth could have ever fulfilled that longing. And in reminiscing on that sorrow in which I once lived, He said to me, “All of mankind lives with this void until they find Me. I am the only fulfillment of one’s soul void.” Our souls were made to love and be fulfilled by One. We are all broken. We are all love starved. We are all seeking the one Lover of our soul.

All of these heart sayings came quietly and simply and ended with the Lord bringing a final revelation through a forgotten favorite song.

Admittedly, all of my favorite music has taken a back seat to Christmas music since the beginning of November. So when the thought to listen to Taste and See by Travis Greene came to mind, I definitely deemed it random, but was excited and thought, “How is it that I’ve neglected to listen to this song for months!?” And as I listened, my heart burst as I was reminded of the beautiful lyrics and thus I understood the final piece that Jesus wanted me to understand.  Some of the lyrics are as follows:

 

Searching far and wide for anything to fill your heart

Love that was inside was far away when the pain starts

And the day has become dark

Everything’s falling apart now

But God is good

 

Taste and see that the Lord is good

Taste and see that the Lord is good

Try him now, one thing’s for sure

He will never forsake you…

 

Nothing missing

Nothing lacking

I found all I need at the table with You

 

I found all I need, all I need in Him

Every void is filled at His table

I found all I need, all I need in Him

Every void is filled at His table

 

As I listened, the Lord said to me, “Jackie, don’t you see! It’s come true for you!”

 

“…I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go…”

Song of Songs 3:4

 

The void that once was is truly filled.

Advertisements

Dark skin

I don’t want to write about this. I shouldn’t have to. This struggle should no longer exist.

But today my 5 year old daughter told me that she doesn’t like my dark, brown, skin.

I am not the darkest of dark. I have seen blessed others with skin hues darker than my own. Yet, I can’t remember a time that I haven’t been aware of my darkness. Even in 5th grade I had friends that called me “blackie”, a slur (that I didn’t understand to be a slur at 11 years old) that rhymed with my actual name.Within my own family, of 4 girls I had the darkest skin, and that was made well known to me by my siblings.

It’s taken a great deal of time for me to truly love the color of my skin, the dark chocolate brown that it is. I haven’t felt alien or ugly in a very long time.

I am regularly told that my daughter looks just like me despite her skin being much, much lighter than mine (due to her father being white). I regularly relish in such compliments because of the extreme difference in our skin tones. I suppose if I were to be honest with myself, I still feel a level of insecurity in that, meaning, I don’t expect people to be able to see our shared facial features, only our stark difference in skin tone.

Lately, I’ve seen a good number of white people on social media saying that to declare things such as “Black lives matter” and “Black Breastfeeding Week” or “BET: Black Entertainment Television” only divides us further as people. In their sincere ignorance I can understand their point, being unaware of the fact that as black people we cannot ignore racial differences because we live in it constantly. Being a white person, you could live an entire lifetime and never feel out of place racially because the culture we live in is predominantly white centered. To be white is the “norm”. To be otherwise is “different”. And that’s how I’ve felt, and many black people have felt their entire lives. Different, in the negative sense of the term. Different, wrong. Different, incorrect. Different, not right. Different “What’s wrong with you?”. Different, weird. Different, freak show. Different, “You need to change to fit in.” Different.

I appreciate the progress our culture has made. We’ve come a ways. When I was my daughter’s age I hardly saw any black girls in the tv shows I’d watch. And if a black girl or woman was included, their hair wasn’t allowed to be the natural curls they were born with. It was usually awkwardly straightened. Just today my daughter was watching a really cool cartoon we’d never seen before called Princess Knight. The premise of the show is largely in the title: It’s a cartoon about a princess who is also a skilled knight and is able to help her friends whenever they’re in need. What stood out to me (beyond her being an awesome knight as well as a princess) is that her skin color was brown! And it wasn’t just a tan brown, she’s a good solid BEAUTIFUL shade of brown! And I immediately pointed this out to my daughter, “Look! What color is her skin!? Isn’t she beautiful!?”

Again, someone might say that I am a part of the problem by focusing on differences, but as a white person can you imagine growing up and never seeing yourself portrayed in the media. Whether we like it or not, the media shapes a large part of us. Imagine growing up and never seeing a version of yourself in tv shows, commercials, magazines, newspapers, music, government leaders, doctors, lawyers, teachers all dark skinned. A part of me responds to that with, “THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!” but I would never wish such a thing on non-brown people because growing up that way, never seeing someone that looked like me, stunk!

I hated my coarse hair growing up! I wished and dreamt and dreamt and wished for long, flowing hair, but I wasn’t born with that. I was born with ebony black, coarse, tight, curls. And all I ever saw being portrayed as beautiful or successful growing up was white girls and women with long, straight, flowing hair. Growing up that way, it was consistently reinforced; I was “Different, unaccepted.”

This conversation with my little daughter, barely 5 years old, began a day earlier. She was watching one of her favorite shows and suddenly declared, “I don’t like brown.” I can’t even remember what was happening in the show for her to declare that, but in that moment I knew exactly what she meant. My heart jumped, but I remained silent for a moment and thought carefully before I responded, “What do you mean? Why don’t you like brown?”

“Brown is just not my favorite.” she said.

“Well it doesn’t have to be your favorite. Brown isn’t my favorite color but I still like it.”

“Yeah, but it’s not my favorite still.”

“What about mama’s skin? Mama’s skin is brown.”

“I know but it’s just not my favorite.”

I let it go in that moment. I didn’t want to press it and I honestly wasn’t sure what to say from there. But, not long after that her friend, Aria (name changed for protection), came over. Aria is a white girl, a few months older than my daughter, and she brought with her a beautiful, white doll with long, straight, blonde, hair. As soon as my daughter saw Aria’s doll, she lit up light a Christmas tree and fell head over heels for this doll. This caused Aria to be taken aback and I had to tell my daughter that this doll was special to Aria and that she couldn’t play with it. My daughter quickly moved passed that and ran to get her dark, brown skinned doll with endless, nearly black, tight, ringlets of hair to play alongside Aria’s doll. This gave me peace, but only for a moment. Not long after I heard my daughter rummaging in her bathroom for hair supplies. When I came to help find the hair supplies that she wanted, I found out that she planned to make her doll’s hair “straight and beautiful” like Aria’s doll. My heart sank again. I calmly explained, “You can’t make her hair like Aria’s doll’s hair. Her hair is curly and beautiful. You should leave it as it is.” Thankfully, she quickly accepted that as well and moved on, but I knew this wasn’t over.

As soon as Aria left, I sat on my daughter’s bed and scooped her into my lap.

“So, what were you saying about brown before?” I calmly asked.

“I don’t like brown. It’s just not my favorite.” she replied with her head held down.

“Well what about your skin? Your skin is light brown and it’s beautiful!”

“I know, but I just don’t like it” She reiterated.

“But who made your skin?”

“God did.”

“And who made mama’s skin?”

“God did.”

“And does God make ugly things?”

“No.”

“No! He doesn’t! He only makes beautiful things! And He made you so! Beautiful!” She smiled a bit and nodded. Then she said,

“Yeah, I like my skin.” And within no time she jumped down from my lap and went on about her 5 year old business. But my heart kept turning the issue over. I felt the same hurts from my childhood creeping up and I thought about the lack of dark skinned heroines being portrayed for her to see.

And then this morning happened. The issue resurfaced as I saw her playing with her miniature, white dolls. And I thought about all of the white dolls I had stashed away in our closet waiting to be wrapped for her birthday. Lastly, I thought about the dark brown dolls I had bought her for Christmas last year. I tried to recall the last time I saw her playing with them. I couldn’t, because she never played with them. She mainly played with the white dolls she was playing with now. At least one of them had red hair, not blonde hair. Still, I had a bunch more white dolls stashed away to be given to her in just a few days for her birthday. I know she’ll love them as soon as she sees them, but am I reinforcing her negative feelings toward brown skin by giving her more white dolls?? But what could I do? Brown baby dolls are pretty common nowadays, but she preferred mini sized dolls that fit in the palm of her hand. Brown versions of those dolls are largely nonexistent. I felt stuck.

“Hey baby girl, what do you think of you light, brown skin?”

“I like it.” she said nonchalantly without turning away from her play.

“And what about mama’s dark, brown skin?” she was silent for a brief moment and then said,

“I don’t like it. Brown is just not my favorite.” still playing with her dolls and dollhouse. I was taken aback and asked again,

“You don’t like mama’s skin?” she stopped and looked at me.

“No, it’s just not my favorite.” I can only imagine the blank expression on my face at that moment. Then I asked her to come to me. She came and leaned against me.

“Look at mama’s skin. God made my skin. You don’t like it?”

“No.” she said. “My skin is beautiful but your dark skin just isn’t beautiful.” I stared at her blankly again and then quietly said,

“Ok.”

She went back to playing with her dolls as my mind began to reel. I knew I couldn’t be angry at her. She was 5 and knew nothing of racism and slavery and rejection because of skin tone and lack of representation of minorities and how much mama had to grow and fight and pray to learn to accept herself as beautiful in spite of her dark skin and coarse hair! And how could I as her mother reinforce all those lies of “white only is beautiful” by continuing to let her watch her largely white, preschool tv shows or giving her more white dolls to play with!? And then I said to her,

“Where are your brown dolls?”

“They’re in my room.” she said.

“Go get them. You need to play with them, too.” she ran to her room and brought back 3, dark brown dolls, each of them about 3 inches tall. And she laid them on the floor outside of her dollhouse and continued to play with her white dolls.

“No! You need to play with your brown dolls.”

“But, I don’t have enough…they don’t fit.” she was right. They were kinda big for the Little People house she was playing with.

“Give me the white dolls.” she got up and handed them to me. “Now go play with the brown dolls.” She returned to where the dollhouse was, and she began to cry. And I began to cry. I was stuck. I felt helpless. What was I to do? None of this was her fault. She is just a little girl. I told her to come here once more, and I gave her the white dolls back. She took them back, smiled, and returned to her playing.

Then I wept bitterly and sobbed loudly.

 

Piano/Vocals cover: It Is Well (Grander Earth)

Hi friends!

The link below leads to a cover of It Is Well by Hillsong sang and accompanied by yours truly. 🙂  This is a song I always unintentionally stray back to during those rare moments where I’m not trying, but simply being (Those moments are few when you’re a mom/wife and everything in between.) I thoroughly enjoyed this brief session and wanted to sing and play it over and over again thereafter. I hope you enjoy it as well. 🙂

 

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1JyN2d88MQbYsEw5ULWrfoXk1kmH0aVD3

I laid down
closed my eyes to sleep
and I saw him.
I saw dad.
Not in a vision
he was just, there.
Sitting on the burgundy leather couch
like be always did.
I opened my eyes again to write something poetic in response
but the words didn’t fit. Nothing came
except tears.
Tears came,
and they fit just right.
They flowed as I thought of him
at the old house.
I’d open the door, walk up the creaky wooden steps, and there he’d be sitting on the burgundy couch and call me, “Baby girl.” as I leaned in to embrace him.
I saw him so clearly.
Not in a vision.
He was just, there.
The achings of my heart must have brought him forth.

Living Letters

I should’ve shared this weeks ago.

This is a tribute, of sorts, written by my dear husband in honor of my daddy during his short battle with leukemia, and finished shortly after he went home with Jesus.

It is far more beautiful than my words can express.

—————————————————

From Ryan’s Journal

February 3rd 2018

The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote…By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught. – Walt Whitman

Life gushing onto the page.

Wherever paper and pen can meet life has the opportunity to gush out onto the page. Writing is supposed to flow as blood through your veins does flow. When Walt Whitman talks about writing as raw expression I can only see blood splattered across the pages uncontrollably. Inconsistent as blood from different depths of cuts drips, or seeps, or pours. Some pages in this vision are soaked through, while others only have a spattering on them; but all birthed from a violent unrestrained spilling out of lifeblood onto the page.

Pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, a voice breathes into a microphone, a paintbrush slides across rough canvas; the expression of life must break through all mediums in the gush of it. This is a radical shift for me but as I grow in understanding I recognize it to be true. Oscar Wilde challenged the statement that art imitates life, revealing the closeness of the bond between life and art. He reversed it to say that life imitates art. His given example is that though the sunset existed before it was painted, before art turned it into something beautiful and wondrous it was simply a cold hard fact, and that the act of art gave birth to the idea of a sunset. It is not the art that created the sunset, but our very understanding of what it is is deeply tied the art behind it, to the point that it would be difficult to separate what it is from the art that described, defined, and named it.

When Adam and Eve were created God gave them the task of the naming of Creation. I believe this task is the soul of art. This act of creation is not a physical creation but it is still an imitation of God’s act of creation. Within the act of writing, speaking, drawing, painting, dancing, singing, etc is a naming of things and a categorizing of creation. There is little or no separation between the expression and the thing itself.

So when Walt Whitman talks about writing in the gush of it, I see the line between the living and writing becoming a blurred all the more, to the point where the pages must be stained with the lifeblood of the author.

Here I am talking about lifeblood gushing onto the page, and not without a personal reason. Blood has been on my mind a lot lately with Pastor Childs in the hospital with Leukemia. It is a cancer of the blood that begins in the bone marrow and spreads through the blood. It has now spread up the spine into his brain and throughout his body. He has often blurred the line in talking about himself as an example saying that the way one lives one’s life is an “epistle to be read of men”.

4-8-2018

In the weeks that followed the original date of this journal entry, my father in law passed away. There are so many moments, some of which I may write about in the near future, but for now suffice it to say that his life truly was a living epistle. At the funeral we could easily see the many, many lives he touched throughout his life. It was his level of personal commitment, and devotion to the Lord in his personal life that led to his legacy. In his case his life was his art.

https://wp.me/p7g4G9-8b

A Can on a String

A beautiful poem written by my brother-in-law/friend. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. ☺

A Can on a String

by Andrew

A can with a string,
The child holds it up to its ear,
An astonished expression betraying
The surprise that her friend’s voice she could hear.

Me an adult, watches with a smile
Wishing for an experience
To be as joyful
As that small child.

But no surprise or wonderment crosses my face
As I look out and and see one thousand and one tins,
Each can’s voice impossible to trace.

The voices in the cans are people like me I know
Each with a life ambition and destiny,
combining to create such a clamor
i recognize none but a single voice in that mad symphony.

the director’s wand falls with a clatter,
the strings, drums, and winds all bleat
creating such horrendous noise,
to order it would be such a feat

i remember the child
as someone picks up a cup on the string
and hope for that moment of joy
to happen when they hear
my voice on a string.

https://wp.me/p7g4G9-9c