Cookies In The Elevator

Sometimes I take the stairs, but not today. I mean, it wasn’t like I didn’t need to take them. I had been sitting for hours; sitting and waiting. And with random people handing out free dessert, I needed the stairs today more than ever. Yes, there were times I stood, only to sit right back down again. I was greeting friends, old and new. Standing is almost exercise. And what about anticipation? Anticipation does excite the heart. Yes, we waited with much anticipation this morning; anticipation and joy. Joy was the other sweet treat distributed freely among us.

“Is she coming? Is it time?” “Almost. It’s taking a little longer than we expected,” he said. “It’s worth the wait,” I thought. “I wouldn’t miss this for anything!” I clutched my gift bag and smiled at the contents. Laughter and stories were shared; and then finally it was time.

“Are your cameras ready? Someone needs to get a video of this moment!” Someone? How about all of us?! With iCameras in hand, we silently huddled together straining for a glimpse of her. First came the husband in white and then her caregivers in blue. Then we saw her! “Yay!” we yelled. She almost didn’t see us. Her eyes were focused on one thing. She had been waiting for this moment. None of us will ever know how much. A few instructions were given and then she grabbed the rope; and moving it swiftly from side to side, she rang the bell! Yes. We heard it. We were standing there with her. But oh how it must have reverberated inside her. There were tears, of course. Tears of joy. Streams of victory and breaths of sweet release. Then one by one she hugged us all. She showed us her certificate of completion and her memorial bell. It didn’t ring very loudly- something she was determined to correct later. Then with one last look at her surroundings, in solidarity we walked toward the shiny, silver doors. All of us. And placing her in the center next to her little loves, we closed the doors, literally and figuratively; and ate cookies in the elevator.

For Shari. Thanking God she is now cancer free!

Who Do You Think You Are?

Behind his horn-rimmed glasses were eyes that resembled mine. I don’t really look like my dad. I’ve never even met him. But I do have a slightly worn, wallet-sized copy of his senior picture. My mom gave it to me at some point during my impressionable years. My mom also told me my dad was a doctor.

I honestly don’t know how old I was when she gave me that picture; or how I was able to hold on to it all these years amidst several moves in three states. But like that picture, the thought of my intelligent, responsible, admirable, doctor-father stayed with me far into adulthood.

I had no plans to write about this. Most of the time, I wake up and ask the Lord, “What am I writing about today?” (That is, if He doesn’t bring it up first.) Today when I asked Him, that old picture came to mind.

I spent some time this past week reconstructing the timeline of my childhood. I’m working on a dream project right now- publishing my very first book. God has given me a vision for some things I am to do once I have that book in my hands. I’m covering those things in prayer right now, or as my friend likes to say, “praying into those things.” To pray into something means, when God gives you an idea or a specific assignment, talk to Him about it. Spend time with Him. Let Him map out those things and give you specific strategies to accomplish what He has called you to do.

“Getting saved” is literally only the beginning of the relationship God wants to have with us. There is infinitely more. Think about the closest, healthiest, most loving relationship you have with someone. I promise you, that relationship pales in comparison to the relationship God wants to have with you.

I didn’t always know that.

To reconstruct my childhood timeline, I sorted through report cards, memorabilia and photographs. I googled places I’ve lived to cross-reference my memory. All of this took time and there are many years that don’t exist tangibly. Even so, I took notes based on what I have. I am preparing to tell my story alongside the stories that are in my first book. Even now, I am not privy to everything God is gently and lovingly pulling out of me.

This is where my bio dad comes in. I came across his picture this week. I picked it up and studied it. Apparently the picture has been exchanged a few times. Not only is it old and worn, but on the back of the photo there is cursive handwriting written with pencil and on top of that is my dad’s name printed with pen. Maybe the picture was given to a family member by his mother as school portraits often are. Maybe he himself gave the photo to a classmate. Maybe his sister gave the photo to one of her friends hoping they would think he was handsome. Maybe that friend was my mother. I’m too tired to explore the intrigue today. All I know is, at some point it became my mom’s possession and she entrusted it to me.

God used that photo and the story that came with it to establish a heritage in my life. From that point on, no matter what happened and no matter what was spoken over me, I stood firmly on the image and character of my father. I didn’t have to follow in anyone else’s muddy footsteps. I didn’t have to believe hateful, belittling lies. I knew who I was.

Do you know where I’m going with this? Do you see the parallel? God has established a heritage in our lives. If you don’t know what that is, you can find it in the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, our heritage and our lineage is laid out before us. Life before Jesus is like life before that picture of my dad. Before that time I felt inferior and poor, lonely and broken. I had no reason to believe I was anything more than what people said I was. I had no reason to believe I could live a life that was any different than what I saw around me. I lived in fear of tragedy and wondered what tragic event would end my life or the lives of those I loved.

If you identify with any of this, I encourage you to talk to God and read the Bible. The New Living Translation is one of the easiest to understand. It’s the version I read. I also use study books from a group called, She Reads Truth. If you want to know more about how to start a relationship with Jesus or have questions, feel free to email me.

God’s plan for you will blow your mind!


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Dear Sir

My heart goes out to men. Especially the men who don’t love sports and who are not six feet tall. The men who would rather see a play than a war movie. The men whose voices are soft and high pitched, not gruff and deep.

Just because you aren’t a carbon copy of the man you consider to be the epitome of masculinity- the man on the football field, the silver screen, or the magazine, you are still a man. God made you a man.

Don’t believe the lies.

Every person, male or female, feels insecure about some part of themselves, whether it be body or soul; wonders if they are good enough; wonders if they will ever achieve greatness; or truly be happy; though they may never admit it. Every. Person.

During these times of insecurity, we need to turn to God, to trust God.

Many people don’t trust God. They don’t think they can. They might not even believe in God… anymore. The distrust and unbelief has a direct link to some human somewhere who let them down, disappointed them, lied to them, hurt them, abused them… But God is not a man. God is a spirit. God does not reflect the image of man. Man was created to reflect the image of God, but they often don’t.

If you’ve been let down miserably by one person after another, tell God. Tell Him you’re angry or disappointed or scared. If you’re not comfortable in your own skin, tell Him. Ask Him the hard questions like, “Where were You when I was being teased or bullied or abused?” Whatever that question is, (the one that always comes to your mind in the middle of the night) ask Him.

But do me a favor; do yourself a favor; after you ask Him those questions, give Him a turn. I’m serious. Give Him a chance to tell you His side of the story. I encourage you. I beg you. Your mind will be blown when He answers you. I’m praying for you. If I know you personally, I’m praying for you by name. We need you. We need husbands and brothers and fathers. We need you! Don’t give up!

The Eyes of a Young Man

The room was abuzz with excitement as we waited for a table. This was my first time here, but my friends insisted this was the best place in town.

The best place for what you ask? For breakfast of course. Did I forget to mention that? It’s probably because I’m so hungry. Well, I was on the morning of this story.

I looked around from table to table- my eyes saw only strangers. My ears, now part of dozens of conversations already in progress, had only one question: “What was everyone talking about?!”

Well for one thing, they were talking about the fact that the owners were there. But don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as if the staff was on high-alert; they weren’t walking on egg-shells. They were standing tall and doing their best, much like children who had practiced for weeks for their school recital, ready to perform for Momma and Daddy.

We took our seats. I looked around again but now with a mission- to find the owners. Surely it must be the two men sitting next to us. Dressed in business-casual, they talked intently without looking up. “Is that them?” I asked my friends. My instincts were wrong.

Soon after we placed our order, a lovely lady, dressed in red came by our table. Her personality was just as vibrant as her clothing. She welcomed us to her restaurant and asked a few questions to get to know us better. She told us a little about herself as well; and in just a few minutes we were old friends! The moment her story began to mirror my friends’, she excitedly called her husband over. (I had never met him before, but his City Grits are infamous!)

His age was no secret. His wife shared it with us right away! He was more than 70 years old, but he had the eyes of a young man- lit up from within and filled with purpose. Each wrinkle on his face told a story and he shared a few of them with us.

The one that immediately stood out to me was about integration. “You know what I mean,” he said. “When they integrated the schools, I moved (schools) across town.” Because of this, “move across town,” this 77 year old man graduated from the same school my friend graduated from, albeit several years earlier. My friend tells stories of how rough the school was when she went there; but if the walls could talk, they would tell stories of an even rougher time. A time when students of color became pioneers, trailblazers, if you will. A time that those who saw it first-hand will never forget. A time that, in part, shaped who they are today.

He didn’t say anything negative about those days. He didn’t discriminate against us because our skin happened to be the color of the people whose lips spewed hatred and contempt in the face of human rights.

Today, we sat around the table and talked and laughed about the things we have in common. Today, our differences weren’t dividing factors, but beautiful colors in masterful paintings. Paintings that are still being perfected by the divine artist.

I enjoyed meeting the owners today. They made me feel at home. I left happy, well-fed and with this thought: We are no longer chained to the past. We can’t rewrite history; but we can leave a different legacy for our children and grandchildren. A legacy that looks like Heaven- people of all colors, loving one another because of God who is love.

He had the eyes of a young man. I’ll never forget those eyes.

Dedicated to Turan & Sheryll Strange- the owners of Another Broken Egg, Pooler, Georgia.

He Changed My Name

When I was born, my mother named me Mecheel Leigh Ritchie. She named me after the daughter of a friend. The daughter contracted spotted mountain fever when she was little and she passed away. To honor the life of this little girl, my mother gave me her first name, spelling it the same way she did.

I never focused too much on my name until I started school. The beginning of the school year is a bit unnerving for most kids. I remember the questions that swirled around in my mind each new year. Questions like, “Which teacher will I get?” “Will my best friend be in my class?” “Will my desk be in the front or in the back?” Most kids ask themselves these questions. One question that doesn’t usually make the list, (that is, if your name is John, Sally, Susie or Tom) is, “Will the teacher say my name correctly?”

However, that question dominated my mind. Why? Because without fail, each new teacher called me Metch-uwl, Meh-sheil or Michael. No one ever called me Michelle, which is my name. Although, I admit M-e-c-h-e-e-l is a unique way to spell it.

I was a very shy kid and first day roll call was a nightmare! Instead of simply raising my hand and quickly and quietly saying, “Here.” I had to answer the follow-up question, “Is that how you say your name?” I went to school for 14 years. During that time, I don’t remember anyone pronouncing my name correctly at first glance. This was my life and I learned to accept it.

Graduation finally came and my school days were over. A year later, I was married. The wedding was unforgettable and afterward we spent two weeks honeymooning and park-hopping at Disney World. It rained every day, but we didn’t care.

In addition to the fun and romantic things we did during those two weeks, we also had to do some practical things like changing our address, our car tags, etc. Government agencies are not known for their flair and enthusiasm, but those hum-drum chores went on without a glitch until we went to the Social Security Office.

When we arrived there we presented our marriage certificate and all the other documents they asked us to submit. The clerk took a look at everything and informed me that my name was incorrect. I didn’t understand. If anyone knew how to spell their name it was me. I would never forget it! I was traumatized by it!

It turned out my name was spelled wrong; not by me, but by the person who created my birth certificate and recorded it for vital statistics. I asked the clerk if we could just correct my name in the computer; but I found out quickly that this is not the way things are done. A name change took time and was expensive. My new husband frowned upon anything that would cost us more money.

When we left the office that day, the state of Florida officially recognized me as Mrs. Mechelle Foster. Not only did I leave with a new last name, but also with a new first name! ((And, I no longer have a middle name by the way. It wasn’t shown on my birth certificate.) It was hard to get used to at first, but at least no one calls me Michael anymore.

Although my name change was uncommon, the Bible is filled with stories of men and women whose names were changed by God. Why did God change their names? Because God changed them. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham when God told him he would no longer be son-less but would become the “father of many nations.” Jacob, the deceiver received a name change after he wrestled with God. His new name… Israel, means, “to struggle.” Saul, a self-proclaimed Pharisee of Pharisees and a persecutor of Christians, had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and would be called Paul for the rest of his life. In Latin, the name Paul means, “humble” or “little.” When God changes a person’s name, He has already changed their character.

God is still in the name-changing and character-changing business. No matter what name you were given when you were born or what you’ve believed or done throughout your life, God is ready, willing and able to change you from the person you are into the person He created you to be! Invite Him into your life today. You will never regret it. You will never be the same. Then you too can say, “He changed my name!”