That NEW Adage

A pressure-relief valve about God, and just about everything else.

For Unto US (Kathy and Me) a Child is Born

Diana, our new daughter, was born on Good Friday! She weighed nine pounds and one ounce, and was 21 1/2 inches long. Even though she was in pickle juice for nine months, she is beautiful. (She looks like the little “Ice Age” baby) Kathy was basically in labor from Wednesday on, and we went to the hospital at 4:45 AM. Diana was born by c-section at eight PM!

Many beautiful things happened, but as I am just getting home and getting adjusted to the exponential increase in work and DEcrease in sleep, I will have to write about it all in detail in a day or so.

You can see pictures of the process at  http://kiralisa.wordpress.com/2008/03/22/a-precious-baby-is-born/where my friend and churchmember, the great photographer Lisa Thomas, has chronicled our experience.

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March 24, 2008 Posted by | Birth, Children, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Kids, Life, Motherhood, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 16 Comments

How Beautiful, How Sad

How beautiful, how sad
The stark dichotomy
How grand, how Galahad
The thought occurred to me.
How does a man react
When told this solemn tale?
The hardest heart is cracked
The strongest legs will fail.

A Man devotes His life,
His every waking thought
To them that hold the knife,
And those that know Him not.
He knelt that we might live
Instructions were complete
“Receiving is to give.”
“Refrain from all deceit.”

He lived without a mark
No sin to stain His Name
Yet, His eyes braved the dark,
For us He took the blame.
Without His sacrifice
We’d all embrace the flame
And miss sweet Paradise
While burdened under shame.

What man of you would give
When faultless thought and deed
Your life that sinners live
To meet a glaring need?

So I accept the gift
In grace and in relief
For shoring up the rift,
But cannot dodge the grief
When thinking of the hate,
Of clenching teeth and fists
Of bruised and bleeding pate,
Of spikes through feet and wrists.

This necessary wrong
Has fire allied with ice.
I weep, yet all along
My thanks cannot suffice.

So beautiful, so sad
The circumstance, the cost.
But for He woolen-clad
We ALL are hopeless lost!

        1996 Derrick L. Williams

March 17, 2008 Posted by | Christ, Christianity, Crucifixion, Easter, Jesus, Poetry, Religion, The Passion, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

It Takes a Village to SPOIL a Child!

“Max just put a battery in the toilet upstairs,” young Demetrius calmly said to the adults who were downstairs watching the game and having adult conversation.

Exasperated, Kathy looked at me and sighed, “Go up there and get it out.”

“There’re some yellow gloves under the sink you can put on to get it out,” Daddy said, laughing.

As I made my way through the kitchen to the stairs — about eight boys were having a sleepover/party for my nephew, Ryan, who just turned ten — I heard a yell from up in the gameroom, “THASS OKAAAY. MAX GOT IT OUUUT!”

What? As if THAT’S better! So I get upstairs just in time to snatch the wet battery from the soaked hands (and arms) of my boy an inch before he put it in his mouth! I couldn’t be angry at him. I had to shake my head and laugh. He’s incredibly curious, and I know this curiosity will pay off for him in the future.

We were at my folks’ house tonight since I didn’t have to work.

My parents were the most no nonsense parents in the world when they were raising my sisters and me. I said “WERE.” I get most of my parenting techniques from them — with a few modifications. They did not stand for spoiled behavior in us. They spanked WAY more than we do. We didn’t drink Kool-Aid with meals — only water. We did as we were told with no backtalk, no “whys” and no stomping off into another room. We toed the line, no exceptions.

Now, as grandparents, they are doggone marshmallows! You know what I mean…

At home, and in stores, and at church, etc., we have Max pretty much locked down, behavior-wise. He does as he is generally told the very first time. If I say, “Max don’t go in that room,” he turns right around with no whining. We don’t have to get after him that much.

On most Sundays, our family gathers at my folks’ house for dinner, and as soon as we get there, Max, somehow sensing the change in the rules, does what HE wants to do.

Tonight, as every time we visit, he wanted to go upstairs and play with the teen-agers, who were playing video games, pool, and wrestling. Kathy — rightly — felt that those boys shouldn’t have the responsibility of watching a nineteen-month-old Super Ball bounce from one new discovery to the next! It was their time to play and have fun, so we, to the great chagrin of the former wicked witch (NOT in an evil way!!!) of MY childhood and the current jellyfish of my adulthood (Ma) declined to let him go upstairs. He whined and cried all night. To the guests who had never seen him, I’m sure he looked like a brat.

Max is a LOT of work at my parents’ house. There is so much more room, so many more things to get into. Rather than acquiesce to our commands, he chooses to pout, and we — to our fault — sometimes give in to the peer-pressure and the possibility of being seen as mean parents and don’t cut the bad behavior off quickly like we do at home.

My parents have spoiled that boy and he knows it and they won’t admit it. If I did to Max what they did to us, they would probably cut me out of the will like a cancerous tumor!

So, Kathy and I went to the store, and asked Ma to watch Max for us. “Yeah,” I said resigned, “You can go ahead and let him go upstairs, but I’m gonna make him come back down when I get back.”

That’s how he ended up being up there. Kathy and I were only proven right. And as further confirmation, there’s this:

After I took off his shirt and washed all tha HEPATITIS off his hands and arms(!), Ma took him with her into her bathroom while she put up some towels. “Come on, Max! You can stay with me!”  As soon as I got back to the adult conversation and to my four years pregnant wife (that’s why I was doing everything… She can’t MOVE!), I heard Ma in the back; “No Max! No. NO! When I got back there to to see what cat as trophy he had wrought, I saw my mother laughing and wringing water out of the silk-lined shower cap that she hangs on the faucet of her jacuzzi which just happens to be just the right height for a nineteen-month-old baby to reach!

All the adults in the living room, even Daddy, chuckled and agreed: “Thass what she GIT!”

March 15, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Christian Life, Family, Fatherhood, Grandparents, Humor, Kids, Life, Life Lessons, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 2 Comments

“Outnumbered” Chapter one

Jeff, being a newly-graduated police officer liked the fact that he could drive around in his squad car while off duty. “It saves gas, and wear and tear on my own vehicle,” he always told his friends when they asked. It wasn’t as cool, they thought, for a brother to be seen in a po-leece car as it would be to be seen in his own new Mustang. Jeff Stout had always been kind of practical, though.

As he turned in to the main entrance to Hunter Park, he wondered if his boys had gotten started without him. It was after 4:00 in the afternoon, and he was supposed to meet up with them at 2 o’clock for some hooping. Basketball was the one thing that connected him with some of the guys from his childhood. Being grown took everyone in different directions, and paying bills took precedence over hanging out.

It was the first week of good weather after a hard winter, and the brothers were out in full force! It was barely March, but the hoochies had their butt-cutters on, and the dudes were at them hard like bears on a riverbank checking for salmon! Negroes everywhere! And fifteen different kinds of music blasting.

Hunter Park was huge. One of the biggest parks in Scofield. And pretty much all black since all the whites left the surrounding area. You could drive your car through it for twenty minutes and not cross over the same road. It was easy to get lost. There were shaded barbecue and picnic areas, camping grounds, and a few basketball courts. There was a golf course, too, but it hadn’t been kept up in the last ten or fifteen years.

As Jeff drove through the park, he noticed the hard stares he got as he passed people. He was beginning to get used to being seen as the bad guy, but it bothered him. He had always tried to be cool while obeying most of the hard rules.  That was a tough line to walk having been one of the few kids in his working-class neighborhood to have a mother and a father. He got into a lot of fights after being called “preacher boy” or “mammy’s boy” or some other slight designed to make him seem soft. A soft kid in that neighborhood didn’t have a chance.

His parents, though, stressed education and obedience, and made him pay for any transgression with the “rod of correction,”as it was often called in his home. Jeff had to figure out how to stay out of real trouble — theft of any kind, shooting hooky, sex — and still be an allright enough guy to not have to scrap every day. It was tough, but it developed in him good negotiating skills and diplomacy. He had friends from many different walks of life.

So, yeah, the stares and the muffled taunts stung him a little, but not so one would notice.

Up ahead, a group of about eight or nine guys were walking, all in the street blocking the way. They were dressed in the usual baggy, sagging jeans, basketball jerseys, and baseball caps.

As Jeff approached them, he bumped the horn lightly. They kept walking, not even looking back.

“My people,” he muttered, sadly. “Whass up wit us?” He blew again, longer this time. Still no response.

It was said, and is known, that in North Scofield, if a brother is leaning into a car window in the middle of the street, even the cops wait politely until he gets finished! Hunter Park was in North Scofield.

Jeff gave two short blasts from his siren, and said on his intercom in his best cop voice, “Get out the street!”

They stopped. Turned.

“Man!” he thought. “It’s about to be on!”

March 14, 2008 Posted by | Action, Black Life, Drama, Life, Race, Short Story, Writing | 1 Comment

The Night the Lights Went Out

Never in my life. Never has this happened to me.

Kathy and I were watching tivo, and Max was playing destructively, as is his bent. “Bent” being anything he has touched.

Karen from the church gave us one of those easels with the chalkboard on it, for the kids to write on. There is a tray under the board that goes from front to back which is to hold supplies — crayons, pencils, etc. The tray also serves to support and strengthen the easel. Its base is pressboard. Not very sturdy at all.

Max likes to crawl inside of stuff… When Kathy had a contraction last week and slightly panicked and started packing hospital bags and asked me to quickly put the bassinet together, Max crawled into the little space at the bottom where the baby supplies are kept.
Well, we were watching tivo, and Kathy tapped me on the leg and whispered, “Look at that li’l boy!”

He was crawling, legs sticking out, hanging down, onto the tray part of the easel. It was about two feet off the floor. I forgot to tell you that of the four butterfly wingnuts that hold up the tray, only three were actually in service. One being unfindable.
Max is nineteen months old, but he is as big as some three-year-olds. He weighs about thirty-five pounds. I know he will bump his head in life, and I don’t generally rush to save him from every skinned knee and fat lip. I didn’t move. Just watched him…

He pulled himself up into the tiny space, and as soon as he tucked his legs in, in slow motion, the tray began to break apart and collapse. Verrrry slowly. You could hear the pressboard crackling like giant graham crackers. Max, who is MOSTLY head, rolled head-first onto the floor amid a pile of what was now kindling! (I’m laughing now. But I’m scared to laugh anymore…)

Kathy and I howled like two wolves. More like two hyenas.
I laughed so hard. So hard that I couldn’t breathe. My eyes began to roll back, and my head felt like it was floating…This has happened before when I have laughed really hard, but what (apparently) happened next never has.

I was frozen. All I remember is that I was holding my glasses limply in the crook of my thumb and forefinger. I remember that when we started to laugh, we both lifted up the blanket that covered us to hide our faces. And our shame at laughing so hard at our boy.

Now, though, my fingers were curled as though I were still holding it, but it had dropped.
“What happened?” I asked. “What’s going on?” I didn’t feel any pain, but I felt as though I had just awakened. It felt as though days had passed but the same tv show was on.

Kathy was crying, but I couldn’t remember if she was crying from laughing, or crying from crying. So many unformed questions swirled, alphabet soupy, in my head. The fog began to clear when I saw Max walking around swinging a stick that looked like it came from a tray that attached to an easel.

Kathy was leaning over me, scared to death, and now crying from crying. “What’s wrong?!? Don’t play with me like this! You can’t leave me now! We got too much goin’ on!” (I wasn’t dying or anything. She was just scared.)

I was still trying to get it together. “A B C D E F G… Now, smile… okay, I can smile. Move your left arm… okay. So I didn’t just have a doggone stroke!” I knew what had happened… I laughed so hard that I lost oxygen and freekin’ blacked out! (It’s called “hypoxia.” I looked it up online as soon as I got up!) I have gotten that light-headed feeling a lot of times in the past when something reeeeeally funny has happened, but I have never gotten to the point where I lost consciousness!

I asked Kathy what let her know something was off since Max was on her side of the room and she was looking away from me. She said that she knew something was wrong because I had suddenly stopped laughing and it wasn’t time for it to stop being funny yet. She said that when she saw me, I was staring up into space, “What’s goin’ on? What’s happ’nin’?”, as though I had just seen Jesus or an alien. Seriously, I wondered if I had just gotten back from a summit meeting with God.

I guess this is what they mean when they say, “I fell out laughing!”

Folks, don’t laugh at your kids. It could kill you..

March 13, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Children, Family, Fatherhood, Humor, Kids, Life, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents, Writing | 4 Comments

Use COCKY in a Sentence.*

Guys I grew up with had the funniest way of butchering words, with their “domino pigeons” (doberman pinschers) and “speed thermometers” (speedometers). Scratching a chalkboard would make your “flush cross,” and a luxury automobile was a “Catlack.” They used to say “Holy GOAT.” As in, “Eric caught the Holy goat last night at the revival.”

 I pictured my friend chasing this funky billy goat around some hay-covered pen and tackling him in a cloud of dust. I figured that there must have been a cool reward for catching it!

There were WAY more than six degrees of separation between these guys and a dictionary!

Today, people still have misconceptions about God, the Holy Spirit. Jehovah’s Witnesses call ”it” an ”active force,” like electricity, while many Charismatics think He only functions to pounce on you like a vampire and make you fall out and flop around like a catfish in a rowboat!

We, as Christians who ardently seek to defend our Faith from those who would wish to distort it, must be sure to accurately define the terms we use — especially when dealing with essential matters like the nature of God — when dealing with our neighbors. 

So, when you hear Juanita call herself a “prophetessss,” or when Creflo says “ye are gods,” or when Paula, Eddie, Crouch, Benny, or the rest of the “pack” use the term “sow a seed,” see what they mean by these words, and see what the Bible says. Find out what the Word of God says about the “power of the tongue,” and “healing,” and God’s sovereignty, versus what the Word of Faithers say.

Or else you could wind up on the wrong end of that Eternal Stintchin’ Cord! An’ you don’t want that!

*”My daughter thew my COCKY down tha sink!”

ed. I, of course, am not belittling my own people here. I grew up in this environment, and so have a shared experience which makes it not mockery to laugh at things which I used to do myself. The grace of God allowed me to have two teaching parents who insisted that I learn and that I navigate the waters between a colloquial way of speaking and an orthodox one.

March 5, 2008 Posted by | Christianity, Creflo Dollar, Evangelism, Faith, False Doctrine, False Prophets, False Teachers, Frederick Price, Humor, Jehovah's Witnesses, Joel Osteen, Juanita Bynum, Kenneth Copeland, Language, Paula White, Pulpit Pimps, TBN, Word of Faith, Words | Leave a comment

Two Bears and a Cub

The Parents were both sleeping soundly when out of the silence, a horrified — and horrifying — cry shot like lightning through the dying darkness. The Mother immediately leapt into action, while the Father lay there not moving, thinking he was dreaming and praying it was not the Baby.

The Mother returned to the bed with the Baby in her arms. The Baby, wide awake now, and smiling, was unconcerned with the fact that the Father had only just two hours ago gone to sleep, and had to get right back up in two more small hours.

The Baby was talking to the Mother in a cute, nineteen-month-old kind of way and the Mother, unaware that the Father could hear it all, whispered back to him in an effort to soothe and drowse him.

“O-Mommee!” he said, as though he just realized she was there.

“Go to sleep, Baby.”

“Ohh Kayyy,” he whispered, resigned. This went on for minutes, as it does when he has a nightmare and the Parents go get him to put him back to sleep.

The Father was desperately trying to hold on to the greasy rope of sleep that slid, ever more rapidly through the fingers of his mind. His head was facing away from the Action and towards the clock, whose ten-foot-tall numbers screeched in neon, “5:38 am.”

“Well,” said the Father to himself, “Almost two hours… That’s a LOT of time left to sleep.” As though he would drop to sleep that very moment. The thing about sleep, though, is that you don’t get to experience all that good time when you are asleep. You go to sleep, and the next second, the alarm goes off. It doesn’t FEEL like eight or ten hours just went by.

In the waning darkness, the Baby realized that the Father was right there. “O-Daddee!” he said, elated.

Something that felt like a little Baby arm smacked the Father on the back of the neck.

“Don’t hit the Daddy, Baby. He has to get up in a little while.” It was a little Baby arm, then.

“Ohh Kayyy.”

They went back to their back-and-forth.

“5:47 AM!”

“I know, “ the Father retorted sharply, on the inside.

Something that felt like little Baby fingers began to wrestle through the tangle that is Sleeping Black Father Hair. “Aaa Da-Dee!”

“Leave your daddy alone, Baby,” said the Mother in a vain effort to forestall the inevitable. “You suuure love your daddy, don’t you?” she whispered rhetorically, as much to the air as to the Baby. The Father heard this and thanked God for giving him stewardship of a son who thought absolutely the world of someone so unworthy as he.

The Father, like the rolling of a tidal wave, at the rising of some leviathan, gave up on sleep and turned over and took in his arms this thirty-five pound wriggling onesie full of all that the Parents hold dear. “Come on, Baby. Time to go to sleep.”

Ohh Kayy!” smiling.

The Father began what was known as “The Kansas City Shake” which no baby could resist.

“Go to sleeping, Baby,” he said, in a lilting,  nonspecific, somewhat French, somewhat German accent.

His eyes soon began to slide closed. The Baby’s eyes did, as well.

In the bluing light of the morning, something like a little Baby arm reached up and lay on the Father’s neck. The Father looked and noticed that it was, in fact, a little Baby arm. And the Baby was asleep.

“6:24 AM!”

“Da-Dee…”
 

March 3, 2008 Posted by | Childhood, Christian Life, Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Fathers and Sons, God, Kids, Parenthood, Parenting, Parents | 10 Comments