So…What’s your song?

At the beginning of 2013, I was still working in that call center that I still will not name…I remember waking up with a sore throat but knowing I would just go to work.  I figured, I felt fine…just had a sore throat.  Well, I hopped on the phone like always and the more I talked, the more I realized, I was losing my voice.  Every person that said something on the phone said, “oh my goodness, you sound horrible!”  I remember thinking, “but I feel fine.”  Finally, I decided to tell my supervisor that I was having a problem.  She said, “Well, I can understand you.”  Aggravated, I pressed on.  Like I said, my throat was sore but aside from that I felt fine.  So I kept water near me and throat lozenges were my breakfast and lunch that day.  About an hour after I talked to my supervisor, my manager called me and ordered me off the phone.  I went to the urgent care…strep test came back negative…just a sore throat.  Well the next day, my voice was completely gone.  I couldn’t even whisper!

I waited a few days and went back to the doctor because the issue hadn’t resolved itself.  The doc ordered me 2 weeks of voice rest.  Two weeks turned into eight!  Eight weeks, I was supposed to not talk or talk as little as possible.  Considering I sang every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at church and worked 8 hours a day on the telephone, I was seeing some serious problems!  I wasn’t mad about not talking…I was mad that I wasn’t going to be able to sing!  Me.  The one who wakes up with a song every morning was not going to be able to sing!  I couldn’t believe it.

Well, eight weeks later, I was better, not good as new as allergy season was upon us at that point…just better.  Something strange happened…I went to choir practice and something irritated me.  I mean I was downright angry!  Then when it was time to sing, either Sunday or Thursday and I’d be either mad or overwhelmed with sadness.  This went on for months and I never told anyone for real because I didn’t know how to express it.  We would sing songs and I would think about the words and it meant nothing to me.  One night, our choir director admonished us to encourage the people and reminded us that we have to believe what we’re singing.

That was the moment I realized my problem.  I didn’t believe what I was singing.  We were singing a song called Higher by William Murphy.  My throat closed up.  I couldn’t sing it because I didn’t believe.  There’s a part at the end that says, “I got my joy back” and it dawned on me that I didn’t have any joy.  It was September already and I had gone the whole year with no joy!

The next morning I woke up very early and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I lay there listening and heard absolutely nothing.  The root of my problem was discovered! I had not been waking up with a song!  How could that have happened I wondered over and over again.  I tried and tried and tried but I could not hear my heart’s song.  The music was gone!  I had lost my physical voice which lead to a loss of my spiritual voice. When I tell you that was the worst feeling in the world! It’s undescribable. I cried many days and nights with no reason I could come to. My friend Nicole prayed with and for me. I literally felt my spirit and flesh wrestling.

Before long, I had it back. It was only through prayer and seeking God that it was restored. So on the cusp of the new year I had my song again.

Now I’m more apt to listen for it. If I don’t hear it I immediately pray and wait for it. When my spiritual ears are opened I get my song and proceed with my day. Back in October or November, our choir began to sing a song written by our fabulous lead guitar player, Quintrell Bruno, called Never Be the Same Again. I was at a low point and close to losing my song again.  The lyrics are just amazing. The melody is haunting but it stayed with me.  I’ve listed the lyrics below but the part I needed…The part I always hear throughout my day…goes..:”don’t you know how much God loves you. Don’t you know how much he cares?” That’s the part I always need to hear. It was introduced to me late in the year but I’d heard it more in my spirit in the last quarter of 2015 than any other song all year long. It’s such a healing song. It’s the balm for my wounded soul. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to experience it.  Read the lyrics here and see what I’m talking about.

This same thing with losing my song happened to me again at the end of 2016.  This time though, I was in a place where it was all black.  I couldn’t sing.  Standing in the choir stand, Watch Night, I know my face told a story that words couldn’t.  I couldn’t even open my mouth to sing and I was scheduled to sing for two services on Sunday morning! I didn’t know it but I was at the door of my breakthrough!  One of my choir sisters prayed for me and I didn’t even know it.  All I knew was that between Saturday night and Sunday morning, a wonderful change came over me.  I had my song back and thankfully, I have come to a place of freedom and I will never be bound again.  I don’t have to wrestle with the darkness for that reason again.

So…what’s your song? Have you listened? Listen to your heart. It’s there.

Until next time,


Hakuna Matata

So…I Remember Mama…in a happy way…

So…I Remember Mama…in a happy way…

Most people I know have heard the song by Shirley Caesar…”I Remember Mama”. It is played in heavy rotation around the holidays and especially around Mother’s Day. In it…Shirley recounts a few memories of her mother. I’ve always loved the song. As a little girl it always made me kinda sad because her mother had gone on to be with the Lord. Even then I knew that my mom was very important to me and I didn’t want to imagine life without her.

Thankfully, I don’t have to know that pain as my mother is still living but I wanted to highlight some of the lessons I’ve learned that have helped me in this adult life and as a parent.

Lesson Number 1 – Do it well or not at all.

My mom has always been good at being of service to others.  She volunteers and does things that need to be done whether she’s been asked to do it or not.  When she does something though, there is no “half stepping”.  It’s done to the nines and while being the best or better than anyone else wasn’t her goal, she always has people wanting for more.  Her things end up being something to use for comparison.  “Well, when Elaine did it…we had blank blank blank….we should do it like that…”.  What that taught me was that you have to be your best for whatever you are called to do.  If you’re going to do a project and you have the resources to get materials, do that.  Don’t just throw something together at the last minute.  Take the time to do it right and everyone you’re attempting to serve will be grateful that you did.  If you can’t do it well, then step aside and let someone else who will give it their all do it.

Lesson Number 2 – Work hard.

My mom was a single mother and she worked her tail off.  I’ve said before that she has always had 2 or 3 jobs when we were coming up.  But in those jobs and along the lines with lesson number one, she taught us to put in the work for what you have to do.  There’s no point in going in there and not doing your best.  In the end, what you do will carries your name and people will look at you crazy if you do something lazy.  It will look like you did it lazy.  No matter who is watching, always always, put the work in whether everyone else is or not.

Lesson Number 3 – Your children are worth it even when they get on your nerves.

There was never a time we went without something.  I can’t tell you the countless activities I was involved in that cost a gazillion dollars.  My mom worked and we had everything we needed and a lot of what we wanted.  As a parent now, I see how expensive it is just to have a child exist.  When you add into that fees for things at school or other activities, you need about 8 streams of income just to make it through and that’s just with ONE kid.  She did it with 3.  When we were ungrateful, she would remind us how hard she worked and rightly so.  In 2003, I had brain surgery and was recovering at her home.  With me, I brought my toddler.  My sister also had a surgery during my recovery time.  My brother has Down’s Syndrome and lives with my mom.  So…what was my mom doing while taking care of the four of us and herself? She was working full time, part time and in school working on her Master’s Degree.  When the tables were turned later that year and she had a surgery that put her in need of care, we didn’t get it right.  I mean, we were helping, but Lord we weren’t doing it right.

Lesson Number 4 – Don’t worry about what other people think.

At the end of the day…you’re responsible for the things you do.  You can’t please everyone.  There will always be someone who is unhappy about whatever you did.  Guess what? That’s their business.  It’s their right.  That doesn’t mean it has to change who you are or what you do.  When it comes down to it, whether someone likes what you did or not, it’s something you did and chances are it has no effect on their lives.

Lesson Number 5 – Sometimes you have to be gangsta.
People who have known my mom for less than 10 years might not know this about her…but my mama is gangsta….lol.  She was She-Ra before She-Ra!  For as long as I can remember she’s been very independent and handles business no matter what.  I watched her move furniture across the room or out of the house without help.  There’s no need to try to act helpless like you don’t have 2 hands.  She did what she needed to do.  Lazy men standing around watching? Psh…not on Elaine’s watch.  “Y’all need to grab a box and help or something, don’t just stand there!”  Once upon a time, we lived in a place that may not have had the best security.  No worries!  My mama had a crowbar ready for anyone who might be big and bad enough to enter our home uninvited.  I once saw her take a glass bottle and break it against the side of a house to defend herself.  There was no fight, but the person who tried her life (as The Teenager would say) knows better and won’t even come close to trying her these days.

I remember in 1994, the Flint River flooded its banks and she went down to Albany State to help bag sandbags to minimize the damage to the school.  While she was there working, we were home and had the news from the local authorities that we’d have to evacuate our home.  When we made it to my mom to let her know, she came home in no panic and packed her some things because we’d packed her nothing (crazy kids).  Then she found cinder blocks and put all of her furniture up so that if our home did flood, maybe the water wouldn’t damage those things.  I was amazed at how calm she was and so proud of her for keeping us calm.

Lesson Number 6 – Never give up.

This is probably my favorite lesson of all.  When I was little, we lived in Washington Homes in Albany…it was a low income housing complex.  My mom was working on her undergraduate degree and our car stopped working.  She had class that night but do you think that stopped her?  Nope.  No one was available to come take her but she didn’t care.  She put on her walking shoes and walked right on over to Albany State.  Right out the projects, across the civic center’s parking lot, across the Flint River bridge on Oglethorpe and right on down to her class.  She was determined.  Her mind was made up and she was going to finish her degree.

My mom has also been on a weight loss journey for a few years.  She’s been the example for me because she has not given up.  She is making a true life style change and it shows in her progress.  The gym is now her second home.  Walking trails are her best friend and she loves to drink water! Each day this encourages me not to give up on whatever goals I’m pursuing.

Lesson Number 7 – Be yourself and be unapologetic about it!

My mom retired from Dougherty County School System in December 2009.  She taught English and Language Arts to juniors and seniors that year.  Some folks were pretty upset that she was leaving.  People called to offer her jobs in other schools in the system.  Some even went so far as to call our pastor to try and convince her to stay.  My mama said, “No.  I’m retiring.  This is my time.”  No explanations.  No apologies.  Just…No…and she was dead serious.  Of course January came and her next opportunity landed in her lap.  She though didn’t care about what anyone thought of her.  She wasn’t insecure.  She didn’t waiver in her decision, she just moved on because the time was nigh and that’s what she wanted to do.

These days though…she’s turned into Patty Pound Cake…She makes these delicious little individual pound cakes and puts so much daggum love in them that you can taste it…No other pound cake is good to me…not even my own!  She sells them…so lemme know if you wanna buy some…but every now and then…she sees where some love is needed and whips up a bunch…told you she’s the best!

I could go on and on and on and on and on and on….because my mama’s lessons are endless.  Just today she helped me to see that sometimes you’ve got to look back so that you can get what you need to move forward.  She’s the coolest….most awesome…supercalafragilisticexpealidocious mom ever!  I’m so glad she’s mine and I cherish each day I have to spend with her.  So while she’s here…I’ll continue to remember her in a happy way.  She rocks!

Until next time…

Hakuna Matata