Lupus?! A wha dat?!

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Tag: New York

With gratitude

My sons and I, November 2020.

Three years ago I was in Brooklyn Hospital Center enduring what would become a three month long stay. I would spend Thanksgiving in so much pain that the last thing on my mind was a plate.

Everyday I would rise at 6, read scripture, and worship God while singing along with Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise.” I would hold on until 9am or so when I knew doctors made their rounds, clamoring for updates on my condition. Could I go home soon? Would I make it home in time for my youngest son’s first birthday? I wouldn’t.

So standing in front of this hospital means another opportunity for me to show gratitude. You don’t have to make it. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. If we’ve learned anything from 2020, impermanence stands at the top of the list. Life is truly a vapor.

Persistent widow prayers

13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 

17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:13-20)

In 2015, as I rode the G train, I would listen to “Pray For Me” by Kirk Franklin. The message of the song resonated with me. I was a new father, living in a new apartment, and starting a new job. I needed all the prayer I could get. 

I loved how the song opened with vulnerability on Kirk’s part. His voice made me think of a wounded healer, someone who has been beaten down but remains hopeful. 

Those feelings have been fixed for me in this season. Walking with a limp but trying to lead, be an example, be loving. 

I’ve found myself despondent at times. Too often, reminding myself that I am not sick. Even though I am at risk, I am well.

Reminding myself of this, encouraging myself really, has become a ritual. Deepening my praise by showing gratitude for daily bread in the midst of global crisis.

I am grateful for the privilege of sojourning through quarantine with family. I am grateful for my job, my students, friends, extended family, and a community that still gathers–electronically–to worship.

I feel blessed in the midst of this storm. It’s a familiar place. So many days in the hospital, through both severe flares, were filled with laughter in spite of the physical pain and dire circumstance. But I know everyone is not there. I know many people are too smothered by despair to find anything to smile about.

I’ve been sitting on this writing since Holy Week. Since Lupus, I’ve been drawn to the solemn holidays that force you to consider mortality. Ash Wednesday and its reminder of how dusty we are. Good Friday.

I wanted to share this on Good Friday because Jesus’ cry of “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” felt more appropriate than ever. These words really ring in the hollowness of isolation. Jesus quotes the psalmist in psalm 22 and opens the door for all who feel rejected and alone. I believe that New York is the worst place in the world for loneliness. Perhaps one could render loneliness into solitude if they were, say, a rancher in Wyoming. But to be in a place so dense with population and to feel alone, is a uniquely cruel torment. 

 

It’s a call for us to innovate our love. Who is our neighbor and how can we be neighborly while socially distant? 

 

To love from a distance has become a critical form of hospitality in this time. We have to smile from a screen or behind a mask. This is difficult but I pray that you find new mercies everyday. I hope you discover new ways to love your neighbor. A radical love that pierces distances and binds us together. Let’s pray for one another. Let’s pray for people we don’t even like. Let’s confess our inadequacies. Confess our need. 

Pray for me.

I’ll pray for you.

Heatrock of the Week: Andy Mineo- You Can’t Stop Me

The Morning After Post

Image

I can’t explain it. I can’t contain it.

If I had to pick a scene of the crime it’d have to be my seminary dorm room in 2009. Another winter, another heartbreaking season served by my Dallas Cowboys. Cursed because of their success and nationally televised games in my youth, I sought freedom from my tormentors. In particular one fiendish Tony Romo who in lieu of big butt and smile was still undoubtedly poison.

I was homesick. And loyal. In search of a new team would be no simple task. I had too much pride to jump to a team that was doing exceedingly well and no desire to take on the burdens of another squad. It seemed wise at the time. A decision that I could grow to appreciate and in time the star shaped scars would vanish.

But here I am now, laughing to keep from crying. How could I have jumped from a burning building onto a sinking ship?*

 

Two of my cousins are Jets fans and I have exchanged texts and emails filled to the brim with gallows humor. We’ve sighed over total win predictions, lamented our quarterback situation and even contemplated how many hours Rex spends on LinkedIn every week.

 

Yet still my excitement for this season remained. How could I still be so excited for a season where my team is the undisputed laughingstock of the league?** Fantasy football my friends, the balm in gilead.

 

Last year I had the displeasure of finishing in last place and was so mortified by this defeat that I joined three leagues this year. As it is currently, I am undefeated in all three leagues.*** Shouts to the tag team champions of the world Colin Kaepernick and Anquan Boldin. Keep putting up points like that and Coach Harbaugh is gonna name his playbook the Doomsday Device.

On the contrary, Marshawn, you better start carrying your weight or find yourself on the trading block. I’m so sincere.

 

Let’s get to my Week 2 picks. Home teams in bold. Can’t miss game with the ill underline.

 

New England over New York Jets

Can’t we just press end to simulation on this one? I feel like Mrs. Creed watching this one. Pray to God they don’t play ‘Living in America’ as Gang Green steps on the field.

 

Atlanta over St. Louis

 

Carolina over Buffalo

I’ve got love for Carolina but it can’t be a good sign that I really had to debate whether or not you could beat the Bills. Buffalo is like the kid in your class who makes you feel comparatively better when you get a C- on your midterm.

 

Chicago over Minnesota

 

Green Bay over Washington

As an ex-Cowboys fan it hurts me to admit how enamored I am with the stylistings of Robert Griffin III. Although I applaud his Nino Brown like attempts to throw Mike Shanahan under the bus, I am happy that I avoided him in my fantasy drafts. Monday night may have proved my intutions about how healed he really is right.

 

Indianapolis over Miami

 

Dallas over Kansas City

Don’t trap me Dallas! Don’t do it! I won’t get suckered in. I know it’s September! I know how Romo does! Come holla at me in December or January then we’ll see if we can get a reunion going.

 

Philly over San Diego

It must be hard being a Chargers fan…if you don’t live in San Diego.

 

Baltimore over Cleveland

 

Tennessee over Houston

Texans just seem so paper tiger to me. I guess that’s why I’m Dangerfielding them with this pick.

 

Arizona over Detroit

I bet these teams are gonna score 100 combined.

 

New Orleans over Tampa Bay

 

Jacksonville over Oakland

 

Denver over New York Giants

0-2 is not a good look Big Blue. I wasn’t riding with all those predictions putting Denver in the Super Bowl but after last week?! Demaryius Thomas is my spirit animal.

 

Seattle over San Francisco

It seems like so long ago now when I was booing Shaun Alexander and the Seahawks for being the closest thing to a J. Cole and Enya duet album. Shame on them for putting this game on during Breaking Bad. Don’t make me choose!!!

 

Cincy over Pittsburgh

Winning gains respect. You see how nobody is talking about how trash the Steelers are this year? It’s because they are winners. Society has collectively decided to let them go 6-10 in peace.

 

 *If not for the Jets, I may never have understood the pain of buyer’s remorse.

**Oakland, you had a good run.

***Don’t remind me that it’s only Week 1! Let me be great!

 

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