Friday, September 30, 2005

September 30, 2005

Technically, I guess I would consider myself 75% Southside of Houston and 25% Union County, Arkansas, when you consider social environment and childhood development.

I was born in downtown Houston and had a permanent residence in Sunnyside, but every summer, my sister and I would spend 3 months out of the year living with our grandparents in Arkansas. We were blessed to grow up knowing and learning from both our paternal and maternal grandparents. A lot of people can’t say that.

I even have some friends who have never even met any of their grandparents, so I know that our experience of learning from older generations has been a direct blessing from God. Because there are things that your grandparents can teach you that your parents can’t.

We were even blessed to know our great grandmother before she passed away, Grandma Bessie. She was the one that first taught me to have reverence for the LORD. Whenever there was a storm passing through, she’d make us turn off all of the lights and appliances. We’d all have to just sit there in the dark and be quiet. Listening to the wind, rain and thunder clapping in the background when those strong thunderstorms rolled through Southwestern Arkansas and cooled off the summer heat.

“Ya’ll HURSH!!...God is talkin’!”

Whenever she’d say this, she’d give us a no nonsense scowl, then lean back in her chair with her hands folded and bow her head. Almost like she was in prayer or some sort of silent meditation.

A lot of people can relate to the ‘hood’ in D.Washington. I use slang and ‘what it do’ talk as a regular part of my speech. But what people can’t always pick up on right away, is the ‘country’ that’s in me.

Some people get offended when you call them ‘country’. Because they assume that’s a demeaning term to their intelligence level. It doesn’t bother me when people call me country, because in my mind, that’s where real begins for mankind.

Country people know how to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Country people know how to work on their own tractors. Country people know how to draw their own water out of a well. Country people know how to build their own house. Country people know how to raise farm animals like chickens, guineas, ducks, hogs, goats or whatever livestock you might have that can be eaten and/or sold for textiles.

My maternal grandfather was my Big Daddy. He lived in a populated area in Arkansas called El Dorado. They had running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, cable, neighbors, they lived in the city. But yet he still retained the country mentality of independence. Country people don’t ask the government to help them, they get out and work the land and work their trade for a living. My Big Daddy was a plumber by trade, but he also was a carpenter, rental property owner and he was a Pentecostal minister with 12 children. Big Daddy was what we call a ‘hustler’ in the hood.

My paternal grandfather, Papa (prounounced Paw-paw) lived about 12 miles from El Dorado, in a town called Calion, Arkansas. Calion had running water and electricity and cable and all that stuff too, but it was a lot more rural environment. There aren’t any red lights in Calion, only a few stop signs. Papa worked at the saw mill there in town, like most of the other residents, but Papa is really a farmer by trade. He had acres of land that he farmed everything that could grown..Collard greens, purple hull peas, turnip greens, squash, cabbage, bell pepper, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, watermelon..if he could get his hands on the seeds, he could grow it, with the LORD’s help.

A lot of people don’t realize that farmers are hustlers too. Because it’s only through farming that you can take a couple of seeds and plant it and tend to it as it grows and end up reaping a harvest of a hundredfold. Farmers are the realest ‘flippers’ in the game. They can take a little and make a lot. It was my Papa that gave me my first lesson on the value of a dollar.

I was following him around as I usually did as he worked. We were headed back from the hog pen and he pointed down at the trail we were walking along..

“Look there Man..there go some money.”

I peered down at the direction of his finger and saw that it was a penny.

“Aww Papa”, I exclaimed, “This ain’t nuthin but a lil ol penny.”

Papa looked at me like I was a damn fool, “Boy! Don’tchu know that 100 pennies make a dolla???”

That was my first lesson on finance. I was just thinking in big licks, I hadn’t understood the concept of grinding. I was a ‘petted’ grandchild. I’d help every now and then, but I did more playing and goofing off than anything and he let me. Because Papa grew up on that other side of the mountain. He didn’t have the luxury of attending much school because he had to work to help support his family almost since the time he could walk.

So when I came along, his oldest grandson, Papa didn’t put much work restrictions on me in the summer. He let me run around and enjoy myself,

“I’ve picked enough cotton in my life for ya’ll Man..I’m just thankful to God that ya’ll don’t have to do that.”

It was my Papa that gave me my familial nickname, “Man”.

And to this day, all of my homeys from BACK in the day still tease me about my childhood nickname. But I don’t trip with them about it when they call me that, I just smile, because it’s just good to be called, ya feel me?

My wife and I decided to leave Houston last Tuesday when Hurricane Rita was growing to a category 5 hurricane. We have children and big trees in our yard, so we didn’t want to run the risk of being flooded out or having to deal with a tree crashing through the house. So we loaded up our kids and my sister’s kids in my father’s Suburban and headed for Arkansas.

Our plan was to make the trip like an extended weekend, visiting our kinfolk and staying out of harm’s way.

There’s a lot of families that went through a lot of trauma and stress over this whole evacuation thing. Because just like you had some people who were ready to break out and flee to higher ground, you had a lot of old school folks who were bunkered down, ready to ride out the storm.

Now the question comes up, if you are a true believer in God..would you flee from the impending Hurricane or would you stay, leaning faithfully on God’s Grace and Mercy to see you through?

I’ve had some time to think about this question, and my answer is..both. There are some true believers who stayed, just as there are some true believers who evacuated. The Spirit will move you to do what you think is best in times of impending danger.

Everyone has seen the horror stories of the traffic jams on all the freeways in Houston from last week. We got caught up in the cusp of it. Fortunately we were never in a position where the traffic came to a complete stop, but a trip that would normally take us 5 ½ hours took us 20.

I have family members that aren’t speaking to each other right now, because they’re mad about decisions made to NOT evacuate.

When we got back to Houston, I had family members who stayed behind laughing and smirking at me, because they feel they made the right decision by staying behind and they were better off than those of us who left and got stuck in all that traffic.

I just laugh at them and bob my head, “Yep..ya’ll turned out on the better side this time. But guess what? If another Category 5 looks like it’s heading this way? I’m leavin AGAIN! I’ll see ya’ll when that trumpet blow and we’ll know who gets the glory..ya feel me?”

I just enjoyed the opportunity to be around my aunt and my uncles. To hang out with my Grandma and Papa for a few days. To hangout with one of my close homeboys and see his son run a touchdown for his high school football team.

So no..I don’t regret evacuating at all, because I have a peace that can’t be shaken. And for those times when you are worrying about what if, and what could have been, then you need to pull out your Bible and lean on a verse that has soothed the minds of millions of believers throughout history.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God; to them who are the called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:21

That’s not ‘some’ things, that’s ‘ALL things.’ The only stipulations are that you have to:

1. Love God

2) You have to be called according to His (not yours) purpose.

Think about that. It’s a Biblical truth that is more powerful than most people realize.