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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Uncle Henry’s worry box

Tig & Uncle Henry - Dallas Zoo, 1969
Read: Psalm 25:14-18
The troubles of my heart have enlarged… Psalm 25:17

The aroma of King Edward’s cigars engulfed Uncle Henry. His appearance was always scraggly with a scrubby face, but his presence commanded attention.  He was a man of few words but when spoke they were succinct. Though he never finished grade school, Uncle Henry was a wise and intelligent man.

Williams’ Grocery was the neighborhood corner store in South Dallas, which was the lifeline of South Oak Cliff. The sight of a tall lanky man with a big gnawed cigar grin warmly greeted every customer. I remember spending weekends and long hot summers watching Uncle Henry counsel, minister and become the local banker to patrons young and old. 

On a shelf behind the cash register sat a cigar box filled with scraps of paper.  Every so often, a customer asked to speak privately with Uncle Henry.  After a short conversation, he would scribble in a notebook, rip the page out and place in the cigar box. For years, I thought the pieces of paper were receipts or maybe IOUs.  Until one slow, hot boring day while tossing up a ball, I knocked over the cigar box. In the effort to clean up the scraps I soon discovered each piece of paper had notes inscribed – “This too shall pass,”  “Lord, Bless Ms. Johnnie,”  “the Lord will make away.”

As Uncle Henry approached, I asked about the box. To my surprise, he told me it was his worry box that anytime a customer did not pay a tab, something bothered him or if he did not have funds to pay a bill he would write it down on a piece of paper and put it away in the box. The intent was to not think about the worries but to write them down and do not think about them anymore. It was his way of giving problems to God and forgetting the problem. It was during the hardship of dealing with racism, discrimination, and Jim Crow laws he learned to pray, write problems down, and give it to the Lord. By passing them to God, Uncle Henry knew everything would be all right.
LaVerne & Uncle Henry - 1983
It took many decades for me to formulate my own worry box, learning how not to worry. God’s word forever reminds us to walk by faith not by sight, God is a heavy load barrier, and to pray and leave our burdens at the altar.  However, for some strange reason the Miseducation of man, we believe we can cope and deal with our problems better than the creator himself – God.   Anxiety in the heart can cause depression but if we trust in God, the burdens can be bearable.  We have to learn how to walk in faith.

Whatever problems you are facing – health, economic crisis, jobs, families or life – worry does not solve them.  Take time to pray and give God your problems. He will relieve the troubled heart and free it from anguish. Learn how not to worry but sing a joyful noise of praise!

My Uncle Henry may have not have looked wealthy but he was rich with God’s blessing and highly favored. I loved being around Uncle Henry because each day was a learning experience, every so often I long to be enriched with snippets of his wisdom and knowledge. But one thing is for sure I do not worry any more.  Thank you Uncle Henry for your worry box.


Gracious Father,
I surrender myself to you. I surrender my worries, problems and troubles. I am giving them all to you by placing them on the altar. Cover and guide me Lord.  Remind me that you are in control whenever I try to take my troubles from you! Troubles don’t last all ways and Lord you bring joy in the morning. I praise your holy name.  Amen.

Good morning! - Anxiety of the heart

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Mother’s Devotion

December 1999
A Mother’s Devotion

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:13

For the love of others

When I found out Mama was attempted in the hospital I caught the first flight heading to Texas. The preliminary cause was her inability to move due to thyroid problems.

After landing at DFW airport I headed west to Fort Worth, hospital bound. It came to no surprise to find Mama surrounded by a host of friends who cared and loved her dearly.  As conversations swirled in the small room, I could see Mama looked satisfactory but there were obvious signs she was tired, weak, and feeble.  Another shocking sight, she had long ragged finger nails. Mama never wore long nails they were always cut short. Was it because of her inability to clip nails or just tired?

Over the next several weeks I camped out in my Mama’s hospital room, tending and taking care of her in ways I never thought.
Her restless nights were laced with moans, groans, fighting in her sleep. Attempts to get out of bed but with her weak conditions she fail several times. Like a sixth sense I slept less, became attentive, concerned and on constant alert.

In between frequent checks to insure her safety and comfort the mind’s eye reflected on my childhood, when I would awake and find Mama sitting on my bed tending to my ailments.  A mother’s love is everlasting.  Mama sacrificed her sleep to insure I was okay.  Now it was my turn.

Making decisions for parents

About the fifth day it was apparent Mama was sick and once discharged she could not stay alone. The day had come where I had to make the decision for Mama’s well being. Yet I could not muster up the strength to tell Mama she has to move to Atlanta with me or reside in an assisted living facility. There was clear and present danger ahead. This strong willed and independent woman I grew to love was not going to accept this without a fight.

As the evening sun set upon the western horizon of Fort Worth, I stared at the brilliant red orange colors which filled the sky. In the midst of tranquility God’s invisible hand moved. What was perceived as being a debate became a painless conversation of acceptance. Our silence ended when Mama spoke, “you can have the car, sell the house, I am moving to Atlanta with you.”  A sense of peace filled my spirit. God causes all things to work together for good to those who love the Lord.

In our admiration Mama had a sudden urge to go to the restroom. In her current condition walk was labored and required assistance. There was no time for the aid of a nurse. Needless to say I was not fast enough to react either.  Mama had an accident in the bed, on the floor and all over herself. My first thought was to clean my mother.  As I removed soiled clothes and begin to wash her, tears flowed from her eyes, “I am so embarrassed, you don’t need to clean me call the nurses.”  There was a moment of silence.  “Mama do not be embarrassed that is what I’m here for.” As she sobbed, I reminded her “I would be less of a son if I could not do for you what you did for me as a child.”
After dressing Mama she hugged me and kissed me for the last time.

A mother’s love

A mother’s love runs deep.
She is a nurturing, loving, and gentle person.
She is understanding, leads by example, supportive, and will sacrifice herself for the well being of her family. 

A mother is a virtuous woman worth more than any precious stone
A mother’s touch heals all pains and mends broken hearts. Her unwavering faith is unprecedented.  She will never let you endure anything alone.

Just as days ebb and flow like waves of the sea, tears often flow from me. A day never passes without thinking of my Mama. I long to hear her words of wisdom, and every so often I pick up the telephone to call but stop. Though Mama is not here today her spirit lives on within me. Mama, fly high on this your day and know I will be forever loving you...

Happy Mother’s Day

Many of you are blessed to still have a mother. Cherish the precious moments. Take time to call, visit and love her not just on Mother’s Day.

May this day be filled with joy and many blessings! Make it a great Mother’s Day.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the creation of mothers.  Thank you for blessing them with a loving and nurturing spirit.  I ask that you bless mothers on this day.  Fill them with your Holy Spirit. Bless everything they touch, covering them with your Grace and Mercy now and forever more.Amen.

Good morning! - Tomorrow is not promised


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