you and me

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the way you

dream and it becomes reality

see others dreams and show them the way

 

the way you

grow older but never age

demonstrating to future generations to seek their distinctive beauty

 

the way you

see that which is not visible

hear that which is not audible

 

the way you

act and respond in crisis

never seeking recognition but restoration

 

the way you

strengthen the weak

bless and heal, uplift and encourage

 

the way you

majestically enter any space

commanding attention, but never seeking it

 

the way you

carry your unborn

with the assurance that they will thrive

 

the way you

love those who are unlovable

with care and thoughtfulness that they may feel loved

 

the way you

color your full lips, cover your curvaceous hips

knowing your beauty is not in what others think or see

 

the way you

could be high yellow or red-bone or paper sack brown or chocolate or dark as the night

and your glistening melanin empowers others to take pride in the power of their own black skin

 

the way you

build community

at home, in church, at school, even in sorority meeting

 

you demonstrate the presence of God and the power of the Holy

 

you remind us how to live believing in the promise of God

 

you teach us that it isn’t about us at all, but how we bring Glory to God

 

the way you do you

makes me want to be the best me

#30DaysOfThanks AshaLu

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Every family needs a moral conscience. Someone that is not trying to impress or improve standing, but simply always insists on right being accomplished.

Our 25 year old is that kind of young woman. She’s an extreme #introvert who has been asking since I started my #30DaysOfThanks to know what I planned to say about her. She didn’t want it flowery, just plain and simple. I promised her it would be.

Asha Lucinda Ingram is our youngest kid in our rapid succession of having children one immediately after the other. Raymond and I had just figured out how he could go to school in Indiana (momma’s boy was trying to get closer to his momma). We got there in August and she was due in October. We delivered her in Atlanta and decided to stay in Ohio with my parents for a couple months before going back to the family housing dorm in Bloomington. Asha was in the children’s hospital for reflux for a couple of weeks around thanksgiving and thus began my love of Twix. (Stress eating – I DO NOT, I repeat, I DO NOT RECOMMEND beginning a life of eating off your stress)

Asha, decided pretty early what and who she liked and what she didn’t. Probably, because she started off so sick, we indulged her way more than we should have. (Another thing you shouldn’t do) Asha fully expects that what she says should be the rule of the house. She’s the real reason that 30 grown people dress in matching pjs and travel for Christmas parties. She sends a family holiday letter pretending to ask our opinion when in reality she’s already planned everything.

She will only work for companies that are ecologically sustainable, take a stand on justice issues, have a community focus for the least of these and give her 2 weeks for Christmas and summers off. No, she won’t be a teacher cause she won’t make enough money. I know what you’re thinking and you’re right. This year Asha named herself #StayAtHomeAunty as she was #MarchingtoZion she is the favorite “nanny/driver/caregiver” for dozens of kids.

She teaches #BlackPride #BlackLivesMatter #BlackIsBeautiful. She is very active in our #AdamsPark community and takes a stand on #gentrification. She makes me do better when I think about giving up. She reminds me that generations are watching and need to both inspired and empowered to live their best lives. She inspires me to not care what anyone else thinks or if anyone else notices but to always seek justice, to pay attention to the needs of others, to know that everyone doesn’t hear, see, learn or experience things the same, to see the very best in all people.

She’s also the reason that #Koal is still in my house. She almost had a nervous breakdown when I was giving him away.

#30DaysOfThanks #Whatareyouthankfulfor #Icanhelpyouifyouletme #Parenting #DailyPrayer

GrandMaBarb #30DaysOfThanks

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I have always been extremely sensitive to the tension in the room during the holidays. You know like when my dad’s mom would come to town and my dad would have to like both the #sugarsweet #greens of his youth or the correctly cooked bitter greens that my mom made. Or even if he would eat more of his mom’s #fruitfilled #coconutcake or his wife’s coconut frosted layers. My dad always ate everything they both made with no comparisons and a big smile.

When #DudeandMe married we too married each other’s families and each other’s moms. Raymond ABSOLUTELY ADORES his mom and is a big ole #mommasboy, the kind that if he hears stress in her voice he’s there. Like 8 hours to Indianapolis there. Raymond’s mom and I never compare food or cooking or cleaning or how to raise kids. When I go to her house I eat whatever she cooks thankfully with a big smile. I trust that she raised Raymond and therefore her discipline is good enough for my children. I make every one clean up after themselves and I come behind and clean up again with bleach. I wash all of our towels and change all of our sheets when we leave her house (Even when she says not to and Raymond is ready to go) #MyMommaBroughtMeUpRight

Dude though, who always gotta be starting something will say Toni my momma’s ……. is so good you should learn to make it like hers. I nod and wash the dishes. One day the conversation was about chili. Now, I pride myself in my chili and at our house one day, Raymond gave his usual after the meal, “thanks, that was good baby” but didn’t have the good sense to stop there, he went on to say, “you know you should try and make it like my mom’s, hers is better” I thought long and hard before my next sentence. Like I was warring in my head the best comeback or how to cuss him out without the kids hearing me. But I simply said oh okay sure.

Later in the year we got to #NapTown and Raymond asked his mom to show me how to make her delicious chili. This was before texting, so I had to be fully present in the room. A couple of hours later we had this beautiful pot of chili with hearty chunks of beef, beans and “big thick noodles”. Raymond was so excited and I was excited for him. The whole trip every time he asked for food, I fed him chili.

I learned quickly that the love, devotion and respect that Barbara Ingram commands from #Dude is the same respect that he gives to me and the same respect he teaches Omar by his actions to give not only me, but every woman in his company. #GranMaBarb keeps a #pristinehome, makes all Raymond’s favorites, indulges his every whim and makes coming to Indianapolis fun for the whole family. Even at 5, Zion has grown up looking forward to #Thanksgiving at #GrandMaBarb’s.

A couple of years ago, Raymond and I were talking about that chili and he called his momma to tell her that I was talking about those noodles. I want you to know I was terrified. Barbara Ingram does not mince words and I wasn’t quite sure what she’d say after my #mommasboy of a husband told on me. He was hollering laughing and passed me the phone. I was like “hey GrandmaBarb, how are you doing?” She laughed and said “Peanut is so silly, what is he talking about?” I said who knows and we talked about her health what everyone else is doing and the #powerofprayer.

#30DaysOfThanks I thank God for a mother not by birth, but by heart and by a common love of her son. I thank God for Barbara who sees me not as just Peanut’s wife, but also as her daughter. #Day21 #Whatareyouthankfulfor #MotherInLaw #MotherInLove #Mommasboy #Icanhelpyouifyouletme #CleanUpAfterYourself #Thanksgiving #Holidays

#30DaysOfThanks Home

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A few years ago #Dude told me I needed to pack, I was so excited thinking about what kind of vacation we were going on. Then I learned that we were downsizing.

I immediately thought of the years that I had spent perfectly decorating every nook and cranny of my 6000 square feet. I remembered every party, prom, birthday, Christmas, Easter, Holiday fun. Like a rush of wind I thought of graduation parties, Halloween activities, kids sleepovers, my girlfriends sleeping over. The last kid was about to graduate college and I fully expected to enjoy every square foot of that house just me and dude. I was going to give him his own floor and I would have mine and we could still share the bedroom (for obvious reasons).

Raymond, who is ALWAYS #MakingMoneyMoves also had dreams after our kids finished college (This is a placecard to remind you #communication is key in marriage and relationships). He dreamed of retiring, downsizing and taking it easy. Hence, #nest1500. We went from 6000 square feet to 1500 square feet and of course most of my furniture didn’t fit through the doors, let alone in the rooms.

When I expressed my concern as gently as I could muster, dude came up with some slimy slogan, home is wherever I am with you. I was like ……. please. I then asked the Lord for peace. A couple weeks later I was out and saw this….

I was like really God. I heard the Lord say, lean not to your own understanding. Needless to say, I bought the picture and it hangs in my bedroom.

I thank God for my home that transcends space and time, but simply resides in our hearts.

#marriage #30DaysOfThanks #Whatareyouthankfulfor #Icanhelpyouifyouletme #Icanhelpyouifyouletme #Day15

A FORCE OF NATURE #Day14

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#30DaysOfThanks Right after we finally learned to care for our colicky baby boy, we went to the doctor and discovered we were pregnant. Whew!

Right before Omar’s 1st birthday here comes the prettiest busiest little bossy chocolate drop you’ve ever seen. She is still the same.

Iman is the answer to my mother’s regular quip, “Just wait til you have children of your own”. #Parenting girls is just short of amazing. (Amazing is a nicer word than I want to put here) I was/am a bit of a tomboy and could wear a uniform daily. Miss Iman who could not be satisfied with one frilly outfit per day fought daily through the uniform years and who knows when she began to wear makeup.

Iman made, with the help of my mom, her own prom dresses because none She saw captured her essence. She with friends, pulled off a ridiculous senior year prank. She believes in her own #blackGirlMagic and is not afraid of anyone’s opinion. She loves deeply, over thinks and takes HUGE risks. She is a hustler, believes and prays to God and her eyebrows are always on #fleek.

Iman is an incredible mom for #MarchingtoZion. He adores her and inspires her. She has had lots of jobs and created her own. She designs, creates and plans and makes us all do what she wants oftentimes before we realize what has happened.

#ShopNamiBoutique is a great testament to what it means to believe in yourself, no matter what anyone else believes about you. Simply trust God’s promises concerning you. #Whatareyouthankfulfor #Icanhelpyouifyouletme #Parenting

#Day13 Thankful for me

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#RememberToBreathe #RelaxYourBody #ReleaseTheTension #LetYourBodyRISE my 53 year old cousin, Aubrey dropped dead early Saturday morning and I am sure it was a broken heart, his mom died 3 weeks ago. #pray for my family especially his sons.
Every single day I get up and #GetItDone no matter what IT is usually without hesitation. In all that I do for family, church, church family, school, and work I manage to still take care of me; playing with friends & family, nails and hair, working out, living my life.
I realized yesterday that I needed a day to do NOTHING constructive other than pray and #workout (for me another form of prayer). I got up late (6.3a) prayed and strolled into the #YMCA around 8.30ish. While on the track I watched folk go into the studio while I was listening to horrific #biblicalstories on my earphones and thinking about horrific things going on in the world. I realized I wasn’t breathing, not really.
After wandering into the #Yoga class, and getting over the smell of my gym shoes and feet, (#odoreatersmatter) I started getting into the practice. The beginning salutations and breathing exercises felt right and necessary. My body resisted the poses and as I worked to glide into themI heard the instructor say REMEMBER TO BREATHE.
There are so many times that we move through life doing all the right things but not really taking deep life giving breaths that remind us that we aren’t in this by ourselves, that God loves us and is present with us.

I think the instructor saw my struggle when she said RELAX YOUR BODY. I was already trying to breathe and she wants me to breathe AND relax. I was about to become overwhelmed and not really enjoy the practice when she said RELEASE THE TENSION. For me that’s like not taking everything too seriously just do what I can and enjoy the time I have.

Finally, she said LET YOUR BODY RISE. Yes, that’s it, that’s exactly what I needed. This morning’s yoga practice reminded me to focus on me: mind, body, soul and spirit. I #ThankGod for the ability to be me. #Day13 I thank God for life, a reasonable portion of health and strength and a heart to trust God to always be present hearing and answering my prayers and needs. Remember to breathe. #30DaysOfThanks #Whatareyouthankfulfor #Icanhelpyouifyouletme

journal your grief

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#Truth is every #death reminds you of all the ones that came before. Like the premature removal of a scab before the wound has been fully healed that was held together with a bandage that ripped your skin while exposing the wound.
Im not professing to tell you anything you don’t already know and haven’t experienced, but I bear witness to the pain and to the grief.

The 1st death I remember was my 96 year old grandfather, the Reverend Henry Allen Belin, Sr. in 1974. I was 9. My family has always been crazy close knit and everyone was heartbroken, devastated, inconsolable. We had just come from Baton Rouge and by the time we got home they called and said he died. Being a kid, I took my cues from my parents. (Because folk live well into their 90s doesn’t mean the grief is easier to bear)

We went back to Baton Rouge, the church my granddaddy built and the place where we celebrated his life well lived. It’s the same thing my family has done for James DaJames, Jake Auntie Mae, Glenn, Grandmama, UncleSL and what we will do for Haskin Payne III.
We will Celebrate the incredible human being that God created, the way he loved Cassandra and his sons, the way he cherished his mom Pat, Rochelle and Helah, the way that whenever you saw him it was like you had just spoken the day before, the way that he embraced life and living.
What I am saying, brothers and sisters, the Bible says flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

#Icanhelpyouifyouletme #grief #JournalYourGrief #BearWitness #YouAreNotAlone #Praying for the Comforter to come. #BelinFamilyValues #grief