Walking on Water

Ok…So my favorite story in the Bible goes a lil’ somethin’ like this…

Matthew14:22-23

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

   29 “Come,” he said.

   Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I feel like this is a moment in transition for a lot of people.  The lives of my peers are more dynamic than ever…parenthood (I see you Hayley and Steve), marriage (Congrats Mike Baker and Mike Brown on your respective and forthcoming nuptuals), our heroes are rising/falling and hell, I’m finally starting my career.  It is in these times that I feel more pressed to be faithful than usual because it is in these times of transition that I feel the way that I’m sure Peter did.  Looking out at that ocean, hearing the comfort in God’s words, but still human and in full admission that we may not be fully confident in ourselves to complete certain journeys.  I’m sure that by now God gets it…our bites aren’t half as good as our barks are.

People dedicate full time jobs to mitigating risk.  Countless company hours are spent designing blueprints for alternatives just in case things go awry.  We have insurance, we budget, we write bucket lists…all to detail the prospects of future plans/successes/shortcomings.   But, with that said I feel like the more we plan, God truly does laugh.  A good bit of us have created a reluctance to simply walk out on the water.  Most of us aren’t even willing to chance the possibilities, but would rather sit on the ship and wait for the storms of life to tear the decks apart.  Either that or wait to be rescued…even if it doesn’t come in time.

“…and the moments I thought I failed…I was  reminded of your nails…” – Smokie Norful  

A lot of us are content with being able to take what life gives you as opposed to going out and striving for what God has for us simply because there is a risk of failure.  We question the possibilities, are skeptical of those that offer the opportunities for greater things, and chide those who fail.  I decided to only share word of my departure from my job with the people at work that I cared for the most and ironically, I walked away from a lot of those conversations after I told them disappointed.  They were happy for me and that is great, but I was more disconcerted by what I heard after… The whole “I want to leave too…but” or “One day I’ll be able to get out of here…” talk.  People were talking to me like I was Peter…about to get off of this boat and about to walk on water…the worst part of that is that they made it seem as if me walking away was doing the impossible, as opposed to it being what God intended.  Frustrated…I just wanted to grab a few folks like, “YOU CAN DO THIS TOO!!!!” The noise became so loud that for a few seconds prior to accepting the job officially, I questioned it…I began to feel as if I was doing something wrong and slowly…I sank.  This feeling, in spite of the fact that I KNOW that God made a way for me to succeed, I stand at the rim of change feeling as if I would perish.  What a sucker.

People often speak of their faith in their blessings. They confess it with their mouths, but rarely do most of us act on it.  We always groan for the opportunity for greatness, but when it comes we act as if it is a dead alien body in the backyard.  Instead of walking on the water as we are instructed, maybe we prefer that God construct a bridge for us to scamper across instead. Not gonna’ happen.  The only way that we come face-to-face with what the promises of what God has in store for us is to traverse the uncertainties of life and walk towards him.  That isn’t always easy.  The rain will make it impossible to see, the winds may cause you to lose your balance, the waves will stir your consistency…but…there is only one way to save yourself.  Sometimes that even means walking out into the current when the water is calm and comfortable.  It is necessary to shake things up to break the monotony of the moment.  That may require a revolutionary stance.  Emptying out your savings to pay off some debt, taking a vacation without planning for it for half of the year, walking away from an eroding relationship, quitting your job to start a new one that pays a little less, or adding to your family are all things may not be without risk but don’t lack reward either.

By this point I feel as if I’m rambling and if you don’t get what I’m trying to say by now maybe it’s not time for you yet.  I start my new job next Monday.  It is not everything I want in a job, but it’s a step in the right direction.  It is my opportunity to walk on the water as instructed and with no apprehension, I plan on not only walking, but running across to embrace the possibilities ahead.  Sinking is not an option…

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Death of a Star – The Tragedy of Whitney Houston

I feel horrible about the passing of Whitney Houston. When she married Bobby Brown in the early 90’s, the media pretty much kicked her in the grave then.  Not just “White” media, but urban radio had already turned on her , cast her away as “Pop”, and pretty much predicted prophetically that the “Bad Boy of R&B” would be her unraveling.  In addition to being the benchmark for all of female voices in her wake, Whitney Houston is  also a poster child for how the media leads the sheep out of the pasture and into the clutches of the wolves.

I am guilty…and a pretty good amount of her audience is.  Prior to today, I hadn’t heard a Whitney/Bobby joke I didn’t like or during the time she attempted resurrect her career, the critiques of her voice bellowed louder than my praise of her legacy.  She and Bobby Brown became walking punchlines in our favorite MC’s verses and the butt of jokes galore by our favorite comedians and media figures.  So as one of the most highly decorated and most POWERFUL voices of this and any generation lays cold and my timeline fills up well wishes…I sit here stunned. Not because she is dead, but I feel as if I watched her die… and as with many of our prior heroes, I reveled in her addictions and demons.  The award show rants, television shows and interviews where she was treated like a sideshow, reality television and yes…even the gossip blog….I sat in front of the television/laptop and watched this slow train wreck to its fiery end.

Truth is…over the span of the past few years, we have watched countless heroes fall prey to our greatest foes and do NOTHING to even acknowledge their demons.  Depression and drug addictions are epidemics.  What’s worse is that instead of praising those who bear the Earth heavy burden of entertaining us, we are more likely to either wait with baited anticipation for their downfall or foolishly attribute their success to the occult.

Whitney Houston is another one of my childhood heroes that I will not get to see in concert.  She won’t get to be a Liza Minelli, or a Bette Midler, or a Barbara Streisand, or a Betty White.  I am now relegated to posting songs and alluding to old concert performances; a faux tribute to another iconic figure whose life has been mercifully cut short by God to protect her soul from the cruel grips that trapped her flesh body here.  The jokes aren’t funny anymore and the interviews now seem as if they are in spite.  This one hurts just like losing MJ…because just as we did the most to create a beautiful black star…we also contributed to the clouds and bad weather that eclipsed it.

Rest in Paradise Whitney.  Your voice is now in it’s right place.  May your musical impact resonate with us forever beyond every thing the world has done to you…Job Well Done.

Last Respects to an Architect

Before Terrance J & Rocqsi, Free & AJ, Donnie & Sherri, Carson Daly,  and just about any other variation of televised music  television there was Don Cornelius.  Before we had the dancers in music videos, and flashy DVD concert series’ and reality stages…there was a Soul Train line.  Beyond the catchy tag lines and deep baritone cool, Don Cornelius was an innovator.  He is almost single handedly responsible for bringing Black music to television.  Every Saturday morning, when the Saturday cartoons went off and my parents would get us ready for the day out, I would be transfixed on that animated train dancing across the screen and waiting to hear Don majestically introduce a Kashif, a blossoming Janet Jackson, or a duet between Melba Moore and Janet Jackson.  He created a following in music through not only what people heard, but rather by what they saw.  The frenetic dances and jamming music, a beautiful stage offering set forth with Don as a narrator… Now of course this all started before my time, but it was these moments that defined what music was in the 80’s and very much defined what is missing in music now.

We lost the Don Cornelius earlier this week in what was reported to be a violent suicide this week.  I don’t like to discuss the parameters around the deaths of our heroes, especially not when it comes to suicides.  People seem to be aware of depression and the mental illnesses that lead people down that road to take their lives.  Having lost family members to the same disease, it hurts losing Don this way.  A person that shared such a gift with the world surely deserved a more ceremonious exit.  I like to think that God hears the cries of everyone…including those that feeling as if there is no other way out.  A sad and sudden end to a legacy that is sure to be carried on through syndicated TV and also through the artists’ music that he platformed every week on his show.  There are few black weddings, house parties, jook joints, and even regular clubs that don’t have Soul Train lines.  Here is to you Don…Music will not be the same without you… Love, Peace, and Soul.

Love and Relationships: After The Love Has Gone

One of my fondest memories as a kid was the roadtrips that me and my family used to take to my hometown.  I, along with my parents, three sisters, and even the family dog, would all pack ourselves into a 1985 Buick Century and make the voyage from Texas (or Louisiana) all the way to Charleston, SC.  During the trip, I would sit with my head pressed against the window and daydream.  I remember travelling from state to state jostling through radio stations trying to find the urban stations and next thing you know you would hear “Ready or Not” by After 7…that was my joint.  I would sit there and fantasize about having my own wife and kids when that song came on…doing the same thing with them that my mom and dad did with us.  Crazy as it sounds, the lyrics of that song in particular set the template for the kind of man I wanted to be.  You know…the whole “Sun, Moon, and Stars…” thing…It was fly as shit to me.

I can say unabashedly that I am a hopeless romantic (Yeah ladies, we exist). I have never been a fan of the serial dating lifestyle, I have always had a higher favor for the sanctity of a good relationship between two people that were into each other.  Never cheated on a girlfriend…I just hoped to get married and have a few kids and settle down in suburbia with a good 9 to 5 and small church to go to on Sundays. Fast forward to now and I am a single dad to two boys in an apartment…exactly what I planned.  Why? Here nor there. Life Happens. GOD happens.  I just know that somewhere in the grand scheme of things,  I missed the part where the daydreams I had as a kid were supposed to meet up with reality and now…you get the idea.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not at all unhappy. I have the best boys that a man can ask for and even though it’s not at all ideal, I have a job and a lifestyle that provides for them handsomely. But in an age where people are getting divorced faster than they can get married, every now and then you are left to wonder what’s happened to the love that was so viceral in that After 7 song?

If you ask most women these days, they will say that guys are loose.  They don’t want anything but some trim and go. I have heard all of the horror stories they tell  about everything from the secret children to the down low relationships.  As a man and he will say that women are indecisive, demanding, or just as bad as the rest of the men are. There a plenty of fingers pointing but so little introspection.  It’s in every media outlet around you. Gossip sites are quick to revel in the union of two of your favorite celebrity couples, then vilify them, scandalize them, and lastly bury them in sensationalistic fervor  as their relationship collapses.  Or go to YOUR Facebook page. My timeline is littered with the status updates from “in a relationship” to “it’s complicated” to “single”… The Madea-like declarations that she is “drama-free”, “she can have him”,  or that she is “too blessed to be stressed”.  The guy that is super concerned for the welfare of that same girl on the wall while sending her messages that she is “Sexy as fuc” in her inbox accompanied by pictures of his member and phone number.  The prospects of a good relationship have gone the way of Donovan McNabb’s Super Bowl run.  My twitter timeline is full of video models getting showered with indecent proposals from 16 year olds in “RT’s” and your favorite R&B songstress gloating about her affinity for the “size” of her male counterpart. Absolutely crazy…but true.

Is this what we are left with? What’s the problem? More soon…