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Thank You for Peewee

Woman Be Restored

Spending my day at the Woman Be Restored Conference at Times Square Church. This year it started with a two hour morning break out session. I chose the Relationship Restoration breakout teaching. I missed most of the first hour – I thought there would be a warm of singing before we got into the meat of the conference. My thinking was wrong. So was my attitude. I walked in on the teaching saying that our ability to forgive is based on our capacity to forgive. My listening walls immediately went up and I typed in my notes, “capacity vs. understanding.” Meaning we have the capacity to do everything God instructs us to do, we are limited only by our understanding of who God Is and the Power He has to Perform in our life. We have to understand that saying “yes” and “amen” to God will take us places (internally and externally, spiritually and physically) we can’t even  imagine or envision.

While my attitude was busy saying no to the teaching in the room by countering the points with my own, God broke in with a whisper, “Thank you for Peewee.”

Before I know it, I’m searching my phone for this post I wrote in October 2016. I shook my head slightly on the negative even as my hand was going in the air for permission to speak.

My hand played cat and mouse with the air several times before I was called on. I ended up being the last to speak before we closed the meeting in prayer. I think it was fitting to close on a cry of thanksgiving. I started by stating that forgiveness is an expression of love and I offered it to my dad, Peewee, as an offering of love for my deceased mother who loved him to her death. Forgiveness is a process and many people will try to dictate or force their interpretations on you about their idea of what forgiveness looks, feels or sounds like. Then I read the paragraph beginning with “So on to now.”

October 2, 2016

Thank You for Peewee.

My dad has been coming to mind strongly and often lately.

I wrote a piece about him a few years ago as a submission for a father/daughter project. Some time after his death, I had a series of dreams about him, disturbing dreams actually. Dreams where I was locked up and still a sexual object for him. The dreams didn’t stop until I forcibly removed myself from the home he had me locked up in and blew the home up from a helicopter with a rocket launcher.

I awoke from that final dream feeling quite bad ass and liberated.

Despite the effort I made following his release from prison to build a father/daughter relationship with him, most of my thoughts of him are devoid of fondness. My greatest sadness about him is that there is no longer any opportunity to reconcile with him again. Our relationship blew up after my brother died in 2007 because of Peewee’s decision to honor his own brother at my brother’s funeral. His brother had also sexually violated me in my youth. My brother was not fond of him. And even if they had been in communication as Peewee’s sister recently tried to tell me, Antione would not have approved of the way his sister’s rapist was given a place of honor to speak through a relative of his love for his nephew at his funeral as his unprepared sister realized too late what was going on.

Peewee and I fell out over that sneak attack. What I snapped at him outside the funeral home as we walked out was, “Even now, with the death of your son, you chose not to put your children before your brother and sister. When will you put us first?” Although he had no rights of fatherhood, I had already named him as legal next of kin for my brother in order to help with funeral preparations until I was able to arrive in Gary. I insisted in the street the day of my brother’s funeral that he put his grandchildren first and sign the paperwork to have my brother’s cremated ashes sent to his daughters. He agreed and we walked back into the funeral home to complete the paper work. After that I told him he and I were done.

He died three years later. To my knowledge he made no effort to mend our breach. When he knew he was dying he called his brother and sister. Even on his deathbed he didn’t ask for me. I saw that as a choice… as in he chose who he wanted to see and be with in the end. As in, he never did get around to putting his children first – before his brother and sister.

And for that ending, my thoughts of him are often filled with resentment and a deep sense of rejection. Wow. I hadn’t been able to follow my thoughts through to this revelation before. His sister and perhaps others thought that my feelings towards Peewee were based on his sexual abuse of me in my youth. When she finally spoke to me about it a few years ago, I told her what I shared here and added that he had been forgiven long ago for his abusive violation of me.

So on to now. I’m sitting in the sanctuary streaming silent tears. During service, after a phenomenal message on ethics, integrity, loyalty and righteousness by Elder Jerry  Hampton, I prayed during the singing of “You Are My Strength.” I began crying and thanking God for everything He has done for me. For my humbling and my affliction. “Thank you for hearing me. Thank you for responding! Thank you for the pastor. Thank You for this.” The word was phenomenal during that service and during the morning service also – the message flowed through both. The song took me to another level. “Thank you for keeping me. Thank you for everything You are in me. Thank you for forming me into the woman I am and for everything you’re doing to make me the woman I am becoming.” And before I knew what was coming up from the deep well of my soul, these words passed my lips, “Thank you for Peewee!” Perhaps I stunned myself for a millisecond, but almost immediately I affirmed my thanksgiving by repeating my thanks twice more. “Thank You for Peewee, Father! Thank you for Peewee.”

Perhaps this is the reconciliation my spirit, body and life needed: Acknowledgement that even Peewee has been a blessing to my life.

I then gave thanks for Anthony, the long forgiven uncle I want nothing to do with. I gave thanks for their sister who has a special place in my heart but holds none of my trust. I gave thanks for my mother who is always a blessing in my sight. I gave thanks for all the family God has blessed me with who has repeatedly and consistently rejected me or mocked me. They have all been my training ground. The rod of my affliction. Without them what would I know or understand of the true darkness of the human spirit? And by contrast, what would I appreciate in the pure light of God’s grace and mercy and redemptive powers?

Praise God. Thank You Father. Thank You Jesus. Thank You Holy Spirit.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Recent thoughts re Peewee

I’m packing up my New York City apartment in anticipation of a cross country move. One medium size box is nearly full with stationery. I paused when I saw that.

The things I enjoy most in life were introduced to me my Peewee. My first box of stationery was powdery pink parchment he gave me for Christmas when I was 11 or so. He put together my first bike and let me help then took me outside to teach me how to ride. one of my remaining goals is to do long distance cycling across many different terrains. My live if sci-fi comes from watching Star Trek with him. it’s amazing to me that these are the memories that are dominating more and more as time passes.

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Song & Verse: Whitney Houston & The Greatest Love of All

A Pop Culture vs. The Bible Post

But there is a great difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gracious gift. For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ. And the result of God’s gracious gift is very different from the result of that one man’s sin. For Adam’s sin led to condemnation, but God’s free gift leads to our being made right with God, even though we are guilty of many sins. For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.  ~ Romans 5:15-17 NLT

My prayer for Whitney is that she was in right relationship with her Lord and Savior before she died on February 11, 2012. In the end, that is all that really matters.

What a talent we were blessed with through her voice and music. I admit to being angry with her in recent years. I am not the sort of person who continues to support people when they are obviously doing wrong. I’ll root for them to do better, but I am not going to stay in their corner when they are not right. I am not the type of consumer who spends a dollar to support a habit either. I am not the enabler that builds a person up with false accolades or a show of faithfulness that is not heartfelt. That said, though I’ve been a life-long admirer of Whitney Houston, purchasing and memorizing various LP’s, cassette tapes and CD’s, I refused to support her financially when her drug addiction became known. During her recovery, her highly publicized attempts to rehabilitate her life and her image, I had hoped she would be successful in her quest. I had hoped that her gift would allow her to rise higher than ever before. But when I heard a selection of songs on her last album, I Look to You, I heard a ravaged blessing — a gift that was taken for granted. Her voice was no longer what it had been.

My anger towards Whitney stemmed from my inability to understand how someone could so willfully destroy their gift. We all have special gifts that God has blessed us with – whether or not we are aware of our gift or not. We are gifted even if we choose not utilize our gift. But God has made a way for our gifts to make room for us in the world and bring us before great people or a great multitude of people (Proverbs 18:16). Our gifts are meant to be a blessing to others.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.  ~ 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NLT

Remember this: When God blesses you, He intends for you to bless others.

I do understand that people do not comprehend the full scope of the consequences of their actions when they embark on any particular path. They may know in the process of making a decision that things could end up wrong, but invariably they assume that the worst won’t happen to them. I’m not just talking about Whitney; I’m talking about everyone – I’m talking about you – I’m talking about me. We are aware, on some level, that our choices can have some consequences, repercussions and unintended results. We all make and will continue to make choices that harm our life, that can bring harm to others and that we later wish we had not done. But when we make the decision to do that which we later wish we had not done, we don’t consider or even imagine, the magnitude of the situation that one small choice will get us into. [Picture Adam and Eve here.] Our wrong choices aren’t a surprise to God. He isn’t shocked when we mess up. However, His Spirit is grieved when we choose to stay in our mess. He is hurt when we don’t correct ourselves and repent – when we don’t turn back to Him and accept the love sacrifice He provided for us in Jesus Christ, the Greatest Love of All.

Learning to Love Yourself…

I believe the children are our are future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone to fulfill my needs
A lonely place to be
So I learned to depend on me

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

And if by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

from The Greatest Love of All; Lyrics by Michael Masser and Linda Creed; Performed by Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston, 1986

Learning to love yourself is only a step towards receiving the greatest love of all. The single, The Greatest Love of All by Whitney on her debut album, Whitney Houston was released in early 1986. I was ten years old. I was being abused at that time and this song became my anthem. I wrote the lyrics down and kept them memorized – I can still sing this song from memory. I was a child and according to the lyrics, I was the future. No matter what was going on in my home life, there was something inside of me that I could depend on. There was something inside of me that would strengthen me. No matter what they (my abusers) took from me, they couldn’t take away my dignity (sense of self). I didn’t’ have to live in the shadow of my abuse – there was something greater in the light. Though the man who should have been my hero was the man destroying my innocence, I didn’t have to live in a destroyed state – I could rise and walk on my own strength (John 5:1-15; see Just do it – Get Up and Walk!). Whitney was the first person to ever tell me to find my strength in love. What a concept.

There is no better principle to live by.

Through this song, Whitney Houston blessed my life in an incomparable way.

Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

Looking back from my perspective today, I will say that God was speaking to me in a way that I could comprehend at that time. Through the years, He has led me into a deeper understanding of love. Love is at the center of every transformative and transitional moment of my life. If you look, you will see that it is also at the center of all of your pivotal life moments as well.

Nearly fifteen years after The Greatest Love of All was released and changed me from the inside, Love evolved into Forgiveness for me. For the sake of love (in my case, love for my deceased mother), I was willing to forgive my dad for his abuse of me in my youth. I actively went after him to explain my decision to forgive him (as a gift, not for him, but for my dearly departed mother who had loved him) and my desire for a reconciled relationship with him.

Step by step, God has shown, and continues to show, me what love is – in very difficult and painful situations. Yet I have not shied away from the challenge of pursuing love. I embraced it – even then – wholeheartedly, before I knew I was in a process of change; way before I recognized God had me in hand.

Forgiveness evolves into Reconciliation.

Full reconciliation was never achieved with my dad. He wasn’t interested in discussing our history; he kept putting it off for another time. He died while our relationship was in a broken state over another matter altogether – and we had never reconciled our relationship from the first breach. For this reason, the failure of reconciling a significant relationship in my life, I know that opportunities to reconcile will present themselves in other relationships until I make that manifestation of God’s love active and visible in my daily life.

Love evolves us. Love stretches us. It grows us. It teaches us. Love is more than an emotion and a feeling – it’s a way of life. Where would I be today without love? Without learning that love lives in me? Without learning that I can offer love as a gift? Without learning that I can accept love as a peace-offering to heal a relationship? Where would any of us be without love?

The life of Jesus is by far the greatest example of the process of love and its evolutionary results. Jesus was given to the world first as a seed in a young woman’s womb. He was nurtured as a child and educated as a disciple of the One True God, who made Him a leader to the masses. Through the process of His physical death, Jesus provided the opportunity for eternal life for every human being. Jesus came for a purpose. He died for a purpose. He rose for a purpose. Jesus was given for a purpose.

For Love.

John 3:16 says: For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life (NLT). Because of love, God gave. He sacrificed. He allowed life. He allowed fellowship through His gift of love — Jesus Christ is the way for us to get right and stay right with Our Father in Heaven.

Yes Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so
Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to him belong
They are weak but he is strong

Yes Jesus loves me
Oh, yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so

Pressing on the up away
Always guide me Lord I pray
Undeserving, and stubbornly never fail to love me still

Yes Jesus loves me
Oh yes Jesus loves me
Oh yes Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so
Yes Jesus loves me, love
Oh yes Jesus loves me for the Bible tells me so
For the Bible tells me so

(Feels so good to know) that I’m never alone
See, sometimes I’m lonely but never alone
For the Bible tells, for the Bible tells
For the Bible tells me so

Jesus Loves Me; Written by Benjamin Winans & Cedric Caldwell; Performed by Whitney Houston, The Bodyguard, 1992 

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