Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Sin of Carelessness

     The soft, gold morning sunlight was gently beginning to shine through my bedroom. I was still in bed. I smiled to myself. I had no where to be, except in bed. Plus, I love Autumn lighting. It's so perfect, so gentle, so full of a different type of expectation. I turned over in bed to snuggle my blankets happily.

     And something somehow whispered to my soul.

     "You forgot."

     Nervousness began to creep into my entire body.

     You know when you have that feeling that you've forgotten something dreadfully important but you don't know what it is. But somehow your body knows...

     "You forgot to call her on her birthday..."

     OH. NO.

     The "her" was my aunt. And her birthday is pretty much like Christmas to her soul. If you don't acknowledge her birthday, it is a complete slap in the face. I knew I would never hear the end of it.

     Plus, my mom (Who knows I'm horrible at remembering birthdays---even her own) gave me a reminder the day before to call my aunt. And yet...

     So I lay in bed, knowing that I would have to make the belated birthday call today, a week after the fact. The tension level in my body was starting to rise. The last time I had forgotten my aunt's birthday, and tried to call her to make amends, I think she hung up on me. But definitely chewed me out.

     Some backstory:

     Some of you know that I grew up bi-coastal. From ages 6-16, I would spend my school year in Southern California, and for the entire summer, I would spend 2-3 months with my aunt and grandma in Upstate New York.

     Those were the best of times, and occasionally the worst of times.

     Somehow I was the favorite grandchild and the favorite niece. My aunt pretty much spoiled me rotten. Trips, tons of new clothes, any concert I ever wanted to go to I went to, more trips and adventures, and did I mention clothes? She's invested thousands and thousands of dollars in me, years of her lifetime, and her special version of caring, yet tough love.

     Yes, her tough love.

     She's a New Yorker, in every sense of the word.

     And I'm so grateful that she's in my life. I think I would have been an oddly unbalanced person if not for my aunt. My mom is literally one of the most patient and kind people on the planet. And I would have been a life-less noodle the first time any one disagreed with me or criticized me if not for my aunt. You see, my aunt and grandma are cut from that legit Ol' School cloth. They give it to you straight. Like for real. At times, while growing up, their words were completely cutting but at the same time, they strengthened me. 

     Their words strengthened me in a way that helped me to know who I was and who I was not. How I wanted to be, and how I didn't want to be.

     But I think there's still pain there in my heart because of the mixture and bluntness of this experience.

     I'm cut from a different cloth. I am my mother's child indeed. And there's a tenderness in me that continues to be a solid characteristic of who I am. And my heart has always responded profoundly to kindness.

     And knowing in my heart, that my interactions with my aunt would be forced in some way, and knowing that I would simply be berated, left little room for anticipation of wanting to make that call.

     But I know that there's still pain in her heart. Her responses are still that of someone carrying the load. Pain that planted itself in her heart before I even arrived on the scene. Pain of a life of unmet expectations. Pain of being betrayed. The pain of being forgotten about...

     I'd like to think of myself as an intentional person. A person who cares. 

     But this week, God was ever so gentle in showing me a major area of improvement. He is the kindest one I know, and the most truthful.

     Patrice, one of your blind-spots is that you are careless, you can easily forget about someone or something that does not benefit your immediate needs, in all your pursuits, slow down, take time to remember...people not just deadlines, things to do, work, and ministry.

     I'm convinced, more than ever that "rushing" is of the devil. I have no problem doing things quickly, but when you rush to do something, fear is present. And things just start to get weird real quick.

     And likewise, when our minds our so preoccupied with so many things, our lives become disjointed, uneven, and indiscernible. 

     Case and point: Multi-tasking doesn't seem to be as beneficial as once thought. (See Article

     My mind was full and busy last week with work. And if your name wasn't connected to the project at hand, I probably would not have called you, texted you, or responded to you in a timely manner or at all...

     Which is actually a pretty standard human characteristic.

     But I was being challenged to love better. To not simply love in an ordinary, unmoving way. But To love like I had been loved by the God of the universe.

     As I reminded God that Kindness was a fruit of the Spirit, an aspect of who He is. God simply reminded me that Carelessness was a painful counteract to that very Kindness that I demanded I receive first from my aunt. 

     It was now time to get low--to get humble.

     I was still nervous.

     But I dialed anyway.

     Sometimes we become careless out of habit and not necessarily out of some vindictive motive; and other times, we become careless because we do not want to confront our own demons.

     But God simply says, to come to Him and He will give our hearts rest. 

     I hadn't talked to God recently about my ongoing heart issue with my aunt. And I know that God was using the platform of this circumstance with my aunt to heal both of us and to also show us a new aspect of His beautiful countenance and love by walking us through the pain of confrontation.

     Through life's confrontations. We always have 2 choices: 

+To become Bitter 


+To become Better

    So how did the phone call go?

     It started smoothly, got incredibly rocky and confrontative, and ended with my voice shaking and me almost in tears. We were both being confronted with who we were and our perceptions of one another. But I could tell that we were both choosing to be humble, forgiving, and loving. I do think it's the beginning of something. And I genuinely hope in the years to come, it has the chance to truly be completed.

     I did cry after that phone call. Heavy, salty tears. But it was a cry of release more than anything else.

     Nevertheless, I still love the sunlight of Autumn. 

     It's so perfect, 

     so gentle, 

     so full of a different type of expectation...

Wisdom's Knocking:

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” 
 ― Mary Oliver  (1983 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

S.W.A.G. Champion

Photo Credit: Evan Kaufmann


     I will not apologize for using the word "Swag" repeatedly in this post. In fact, I'd like to redeem the negative connotation that haters have brought to this word. I know you want to give 2010 it's word back. But too bad. I'm bringing it proudly into 2013 and BEYOND.

     Mind you, I know the word has been overused by tween girls and college students alike. And who could forget those lovely deodorant commercials that proudly displayed their "Swagger".

     But I'm here to tell you, SWAG is back. Well, in fact, it never left.

     And I was so kindly reminded on September 1, 2013.

     Quick: What do you think of when you hear the name Paul Newman?

     You don't know who that is?

     I can't even talk to you right now.


     Let's try another name.

     Henry Cavill.

     Okay. That's what I thought.

     That, my friends, is swag in action.

     It's that intangible presence that covers a man. It's cousins to the "It-factor" but often much more subtle. (Note: One can have swag AND the "It-factor").

     Whereas good looks and kindness can get you into a door, Character and Integrity keep you in the building...

     Same goes for  the relationship between the "It-factor" and swag.

     Real swag has a depth of character and integrity attached to it, that often the "It-factor" has not yet grown in.

     Let me repeat that.

     Real swag has a depth of character and integrity attached to it. 

     It's definitely a stand alone trait.

     The "It-factor" can get people's attention, but if you're a man, and you have swag, you'll not only get people's attention, but you'll practically be reigning like a king if you know how to use your gift correctly.

     Now as you can see, I'm using the word swag as a strictly masculine adjective. Well, that's just the way it's gonna be. And that's just the way I like it. Okay? Okay.

Photo Credit: Evan Kaufmann

     Someone once told me, "You don't need a man, Patrice--You need a Champion.

     And I was like. "Dang, girrrrrl. Okay. Hmm."

     Because you see, I had to sit and really think about what that truly meant.

     All my life (even up until just last Friday), friends and family would never want to set me up with someone, because they felt like the standard of who they envisioned me with was so incredibly high.

     Now of course, this is an incredible compliment and I'm a bit humbled by it, but at the same time, you could see how one could get discouraged...say after....15 years of being on the market...

     But the question remained. Had I ever met a champion?

     I had. But like a shooting star, they were far and few between.

     During those times, I would either disqualify myself or I found myself  too busy playing the "Mommy-Fix-It" role with broken boys who were enamored with me and afraid of me at the same time.

     However, I too had a lot of growing up to do over the years. And I'm so grateful to have walked out my 20s as a single girl on a crazy God adventure (Which is still continuing and definitely keeping me guessing!).

     But what about those champions that I had contact with? Well, I look back now, and I'm so incredibly grateful that I did not seriously date or marry any of them. Yes, they were champions in their own right, but they weren't my champion. And we most likely would have driven each other crazy. They didn't belong to me, and I somehow knew that in my heart at the time.

     Like Kenny Rogers says, "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away and know when to run...."

     But back to swag.

     Swag somehow makes me feels safe as a woman.

     And if you're in my circle of friends, you'll often hear us say words like, "He's a thug", "A don", "He's got that swag". Trust us, these are all good things.

     Now what do I consider authentic swag traits?
1. A man that loves Jesus
2. A man that prays
3. A man that loves his family
4. A man that can get his worship on
5. A man that is not afraid to be vulnerable
6. A man that looks people dead in their eyes and listens
7. A man who is kind, but could also punch someone in the face if need be
8. A man with proper shoe game
     Okay, so I may have added some swag "preferences" in there, but you get the gist.

     Swag-- She.Wants.A.Gentleman.

     Oh yes, I did. I just busted out an acronym. I know this is why you read this blog, to get cutting edge acronyms. Well, I didn't want to disappoint you.

     So what happened on September 1, 2013?

     Well, a friend of mine sent me a text message with a Youtube link and it simply said this:

     "...This man...I mean he could be your husband."

     I honestly didn't think too much about the text. But I valued the sentiment. And I highly value this particular friend. So, I checked out the link.

     And I don't know what I was expecting...

     But I was NOT expecting that.

     It's like when you first see a shooting star. At first your mind has a bit of a delay in determining what the heck it's looking at, and then the excitement stirs once you've processed the miracle.

     Well that's what happened to me.

     I was profoundly reminded of what a true Champion looks like.

     I mean, profoundly reminded.

     With said, I know you want some details, so I'll tell you:

     He's British. He Loves Jesus. He's Not Married. He's a Grown-UP.

     I mean, what more do you need?

     But in all actuality, he and I have never met, he may have a lady friend, and he lives in London and I highly doubt our paths will cross anytime soon. But it did my heart good to see a Champion in action.

     And not just any champion. A Swag Champion.

     He just reminds me of my future husband. That's all.

     Mostly, the DNA that he carries in his spirit, felt somehow like home to me.

     Now, don't worry, I'm trying to stay as level headed as possible through this mild-to-moderate crush. Which means, I'm only stalking investigating him on social media and the internets once, or twice, or five times a day. But other than that, there's really nothing else to be done. I'm not about flinging myself desperately across the interwebs whilst still on a singleness vow. I'll save that for 2014.

     But I will be in London next month (a trip I planned over 8 months ago)...Coincidence? Probably. Or not...

     However, regardless of what happens or doesn't happen next month, I'm hear to tell you, I've now been reminded of what I've been truly waiting for...my Swag Champion.

     And furthermore, as you all know, my singleness vow ends December 31st, 2013...

Wisdom's Knocking:

Keep calm and trust God.