The Loudmouth Protestant

August 31, 2007

He Won’t Leave Me Alone

Filed under: dreams,God — nickisym @ 6:06 pm

Long ago I knew this man–or maybe then he was only a boy–but nevertheless I knew him. Not in the biblical sense of “knowing” another, but I knew him well enough to believe that I could give him the good parts of myself. After almost three years of knowing this young man, giving him the best tangibles and intangibles of myself and crying countless times over him because I was forever in the darkness with him, I let it go. I cut him cold turkey save for one Easter Sunday when I wanted to get closure about the “us” that never existed. By the grace of God my period of heartbreak was easy. It took a lot of praying, digging in his word and reading relevant books but He saw me through.

But there is one thing that has been bothering me for the past 2.5 years. The fact that though he doesn’t exist in my immediate reality, he exists in my dreams more vividly than he ever existed in my life. Last night was the most recent of these dreamscapes.

It was me and about four other women whom had some connection to him in a previous or current life and then there was me. The two of us made plans to go out, but these four girls were also waiting for him to arrive for some reason unknown to me.  When he finally arrived, he was in utter shock that all of these women were waiting for him and so he tried to make amends with each of them except for me. As he spoke to each each of them, his words where inaudible to me but he knew that I was within earshot.

After he spoke to the last of the women, he stood in the middle of us. It was four of them, him in the middle and me on the other side. He was motionless and his eyes dilated and the next thing I know, he fainted. As the weight of his body turned to that of lead and slowly inched toward the floor, I raced toward him quick enough to catch his fall. The other women stood by and watched as I caught him and braced his head and neck so they wouldn’t break under the pressure of the fall and I secured his upper body in my arms. (I told you the dreams are vivid). After a while he came to and all I can remember is that he got up and walked away and off the canvas of my dream.

So when I awoke this morning I was distressed. Distressed that I could have dreams about someone whom I don’t even speak to anymore and haven’t for years. Dreams about someone whom I know nothing about save for what Myspace let me know a year ago. I was distressed to the point of tears–which I held back because like MJB said “I’m Not Gon’ Cry.” I prayed to God to take that cup away from me.

But now I want to find meaning in these recurring dreams of him. They aren’t all as melancholy as I described. Most have favorable endings, but why must I have them? I have prayed to God so many times for Him to wipe the slate clean and erase my memory of him. And it isn’t to say He didn’t do it because 98% of my mindscape is free of thoughts of him, but what of the 2% which occur in dreams???

Is it possible that I have unfinished business? (Oh please God don’t let that be the case.) I mean aren’t we supposed to just leave some people alone. Like a pastor said in Bible Study a few months back, “throw them off the boat.” Then if that is the case, can they be thrown out of my dreamboat too?


The Fashion God(s)

Filed under: God,simplicity — nickisym @ 1:55 am

This evening I decided to take a break from my usual esoteric reading in favor of busting open my New York magazine “The Fashion Issue.” Some may find it surprising–or not–but I love September for what it delivers in regards to fashion. The biggest issues of my favorite magazines come out, the best clothes for the fall come off the runway and into my favorite stores and millions of women around the country think about how they are going to change their look for the coming season. I am definitely a part of that lot.

Pre-Jamaica, I had big plans to “track” myself up, buy a new face, several beautiful pencil skirts, form-fitting tops and a pair of amazing shoes. Needless to say if you read my Rastafari post, my mind is in a different place.

But as I went through the New York magazine I flipped through the advertisements to land on one captivating ad by Burberry. It was a black and white picture of three woman and a man standing in a line, all clad in various Burberry pieces from the fall collection with Vogue looks. I stared at the ad for about 2 minutes because I couldn’t believe how amazing they looked. Most might not take a second look but I was taken a back by their immaculate presentation. It harkened back to the lovely feelings I had for last fall’s Balenciaga coat.

Nevertheless, looking at that ad ignited something in me again and made me kind of consider who I am this fall. Sure, I have this new consciousness, but how will that state of mind guide my style in the season to come. Will I enhance my current wardrobe with a new purse, shoes and accesories? Will I buy a few choice pieces for the fall? Or will I decline to be involved with fall fashion? Today, I had an opportunity to invest a little–and I do mean little–in my wardrobe at a sample sale. I managed to pick up about 6 pieces ranging from LaRok shorts to a long grey lace dress that was in desperate need of a slip and I settled on 2 pieces–the LaRok tan shorts and the grey lace dress…But as I inched toward the register I took a good look at both items and first put the shorts back because they did nothing for my figure and then put the lace dress down because I knew I had nowhere to wear it.

So I gathered at the end of my pseudo-shopping excursion that my focus this fall was going to be on simplicity. Simplicity for simplicities sake. Living simply so that others may simply live. I’ll be honest that it’s a difficult concept to master and execute, but I’m going to strive toward this.

Here’s to good stewardship.

August 30, 2007

Amy Whino-house

Filed under: Uncategorized — nickisym @ 2:51 am

I’m sorry, I know that was a cheap jab, but I couldn’t help it. Nevertheless, as many of us know, Amy Winehouse, the authentically soulful–unlike her affected peer Joss Stone–songstress has been all over the news ever since she hit the scene in the US. She’s a heavy drinker and drug user and is known for “calling earl” on the stages that she performs on. But finally enough is enough and she has been called out by–you’ll never guess–her father-in-law.

He has demanded that fans not buy her music or support her in any way, shape or form for the duration of this week so that she will realize the terrible affect her lifestyle has on her music. I have to agree whole-heartedly with his edict. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if fans of troubled artist just stopped supporting them until they had genuine proof that the star idols are fully recovered?

Imagine…Paris would sell no sex tapes, Lindsay would sell no tickets to her flopbuster movies, Kate Moss wouldn’t even be able to sell Chanel to a crackhead and Ray Charles may not have been as big as he was if the executives pushing his album took a step back and said, “You can’t make any music until you get off that junk.” What would one call this…Hmmm…is is accountability. By Joe it is!

We hold people accountable for their actions and we add consequences for bad behavior instead of ignoring it. It happens everyday for those in the walk of faith. We reap what we sow, and God rebukes those he loves. But what of those that don’t know the love of God, who will save them? That’s when the compassion of mankind comes into play.

Is there a faction of us passionate enough about the livelihood of our brothers and sisters that we will stand up and say “I won’t buy that album, see that movie, or go to that concert because the person has a problem.” It’s a better declaration than deciding to “keep it moving” and ignore the fact that an artist you call yourself admiring for his/her talent is doped up.

It reminds me of a concert that was in town a few weeks ago from an artist I respect. I’d heard many rumors about his drug usage and I only found this out after I bought his album back in 2001. I told a friend going to his concert that supporting him in that venture is just lining his pocket to buy more drugs and she replied “Oh, but he’s been cracked out since his first album dropped, we all know that.”

But what happens when he dies from a drug overdose that was sponsored in part by the money you spent going to his concert or buying her album? Are we going to spend time supporting the problem or being a part of the solution?

I know this might be utopian of me, but something’s got to give. I’ll just pray that Amy will stop fighting Rehab and just “Go, Go, Go.”

August 29, 2007


Filed under: God,Jamaica,rest — nickisym @ 8:04 pm

Some of you may have noticed–or maybe not–that I was gone for a little while. I have finally resurfaced with a renewed spirit and a refreshed body after spending some time in Jamaica. It was my first time to the country after spending many years of my life claiming my heritage there.

My primary reason for visit was a wedding but excursions soon overshadowed that momentous occasion. On my first day on the island, I took a bus from the Montego Bay airport–otherwise known as Sangster International–to my resort which was located in Ocho Rios. The ride was about 2.5 hours which was depressing considering I’d spent about 3 hours on the plane. But thanks be to God, the tour guide made it worth our while by giving us a rest stop at a local Jerk Hut–the first of many that I would encounter on the island.

Now the jerk wasn’t mind-blowing, but I was starving, so I devoured the dry chicken to the point where a strip of it got lodged in my throat–for two days. But the hard-dough bread on the other hand was moist, doughy and chewy–all important components of a slice.

We boarded the bus and passed about 10 other all-inclusive resorts until we finally reached our destination, Riu, Ocho Rios, a beautiful oceanfront resort. It was almost completely an outdoor resort with the exception of the fact that the rooms were obviously shelter from the great outdoors.

My good friend and I spent the next few days eating like queens, sleeping a whole lot and drinking lots of watered down–virgin–drinks. In all fairness, the wedding was great because it offered an opportunity for the family to get together–which I will talk more about in a later post–but the highlight of my trip was an excursion to Bob Marley’s Mausoleum.

Dare I say this leg of the trip was life changing thanks in part to our amazing tour guide, Desmond–typical Jamaican name. He was gregarious Rastafarian–or as my dad call them “Nyah Man.” Every couple of kilometers on the bus, he would stop, pick a few leaves and tell us about their medicinal purposes–no he didn’t pick a marijuana leaf, but we were offered a tour of the gangja garden situated not too far way from Bob Marley’s Nine Mile home.

Desmond told us of the healing powers of mint, hyssop, lime leaves, all spice and then he told us of the most magical fruit of them all, the Noni plant. Most of you have heard of Noni before, you might even have a friend or family member that is a Noni distributor. Noni is touted for it’s might healing powers. According to Desmond, if you put the juice of the fruit in your sauce, drink and baked goods, it will clean you out so good it will make you cry. Desmond also looked directly at me and told me that if I put in on my face every night for a week it will clear up that which is hiding my beauty. He then looked at my parents–who suffer from back and knee problems–and told them that the juice would heal their bodies. Desmond had such a strong conviction about the juice that he began to give us testimonies about how it changed the lives of people he’d sold it to in the past.

All of this was confirmation for me because I already knew about the incredible power of drinking the juice, but never had I had someone tell me with such strong conviction–plus he was selling¬† 100% pure Noni for $15 instead of the $45 charge in-state. Long story short, my friend and I bought a bottle and my parents bought six.

But Desmond’s amazing-ness didn’t stop there. This man knew the Bible like a seminary/Bible school taught scholar. He was quoting scriptures–KJV-style, telling us about their significance, even telling my friend and I our biblical names. He also confirmed something that my friend had been pondering for a really longtime in regards to her career.

In addition to Desmond’s prophesying, he had an amazing love and compassion for his country. And his compassion even bled into my mother, who, for the last year has been suffering with her knee following a replacement. As she tried her hardest to climb the slope leading to Mt.Zion–Bob Marley’s second home where his single bed and his body lay–Desmond scramble to find help. He made the driver of the bus take her and my dad up the first hill and he preached to her about the power of the Noni plant and the Hot Springs in Jamaica. He even called her mommy–in that so not NY way. It was endearing.

Desmond shared the history of his roots and culture with us. He told us about the ital diet of Rastafarians and their beliefs. It might sound crazy, but he imparted much on me that day. I left that excursion with a changed mind about my lifestyle. I wanted to go vegetarian, unplug my television, throw away my secular music and just be one with my God. (Side note: I know it sounds like I am contemplating Rastafarianism, but I’m not–plus Jesus Christ is not a Rasta’s savior, Haile Selassie is.)

So now, three days following the excursion, the feeling has stayed with me. I have started my ital diet–eating only vegetables, grains and things from the earth (with the exception of one quarter of a burger, some shrimp and a chicken wing I ate last night which my body immediately rejected–I was being entertained by a friend’s clients). I haven’t turned on my television save for watching the news. I haven’t been able to completely get through a secular song. Lastly, I feel a different connection to God. One that is not contingent on feelings but more on contemplation and thoughtfulness in my actions.

I came back from Jamaica in peace, a peace that feel unbreakable and beyond my own understanding, so I’ve been cutting my words carefully, minding my manners and trying not to let the craziness of the sh*tty–yes I said it–city life get to me. I want to retain this feeling, so I am doing everything in my power to hold on to it. I’m not jumping back into the rat race and drowning in work and a million and one assignments–professionally or otherwise. All things in moderation.

I’m resting in peace on earth.

Thank God!

Seasons Come…

Filed under: death — nickisym @ 5:28 am

Seasons go…

So the scripture goes and so does one of my favorite songs by gospel recording artist Donald Lawrence entitled “Go Get Your Life Back.” After a longtime of forgetting I even had the song on my iPod, I listened to it on a whim yesterday while in transit. Since then I haven’t been able to get that refrain out of my head and now I know why…

This evening I received news from a friend that a college friend of ours was killed about two weeks ago leaving behind two kids and a grieving family. Upon receiving this news I was absolutely stunned. Although it had been over 5 years since I’d spoken to this man, the news hit me like I just spoke to him yesterday.

I could recall the days that he spent telling me about his hopes and dreams for a better future than the present he was living. I remember his spirit, it was an interesting one. One that most people would disregard in a heartbeat–I know because I was tempted to disregard him on more than one occasion but I didn’t.

Though we established good rapport and a friendship, our communication was cut short when he moved back to his home city to support family. I had never spoken to him again after Spring 2002 and every now and then I thought of him, how he is doing and where he is…

I just can’t believe how quickly time changes things between people. Just like that his life was taken away for reasons unbeknownst to me. But honestly and truly I feel the pain of this loss like he was one of my dearest friends because he was a young black man and we don’t have but so many to lose.

So now my heart and my prayers go out to his family. And now I know how I can aptly place “Go Get Your Life Back,” because after they finish grieving his death that is exactly what they will have to do. The song says that “Go get your life back, everything the enemy stole from you.” It then continues with “for these trials come to make you strong.” And I hope that this trial will come to make his family strong, his children strong and every single person he ever met stronger people all willing to live everyday as if it were the last.

Rest In Peace…

August 22, 2007

Can I Not Say “Hi” Sometimes?

Filed under: Uncategorized — nickisym @ 2:13 am

It’s an important question. I know that as Christians we are called to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, but what do you do when someone’s greeting becomes an annoyance to you?

Case in point: There is a neighborhood homeless person on my block. Well I am not sure that he is homeless, but everytime I see him, he is outside–it could be 8:00 AM or PM. He is missing quite a few teeth and walks on a crutch–yes one crutch, not crutches. I am usually very diligent about saying “hi” to him, but lately his “hey sweetie, hey gorgeous” lines have worn very thin on me. Today was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As usual I walked past him and he said “Hey sweetie, I haven’t seen you in a while, why you don’t talk to me?” Immediately my blood started to boil because I was irritated that he believes we have such amazing rapport that it would warrant his calling me pet names and missing non-existent conversations. He then said “Excuse me” three times and at the fourth call I turned around to see what he could possibly want from me. When I turned around he bid me to come over to him and I briskly declines by saying “I don’t have time for this.”

And in saying all of this, it reminds me of the multitude of men I encounter on a daily basis who find it necessary to cat call me, “psst” me, call me “beautiful,” “sexy” and other phrases not directly related to what my God-given name is.

So now I am wondering, “Do I have a right to be fed up?” Do I have to say “hi” when a man greets me by saying “Hey sexy.” Do I respond when a perfect stranger–whom I believe has foul intentions–says “You’re beautiful?”

What’s a girl to do?

August 21, 2007

I Want a Love…

Filed under: love — nickisym @ 5:45 pm

that sounds like this…

Fear God, Not Man

Filed under: God — nickisym @ 5:26 pm

That’s the message I walked away from Monday night Bible study with. The topic of the Bible study is “Non-Negotiables,” also known as the things in our Christian walk that cannot be changed and that are necessary for our growth and development. Non-negotiable number one is: “Fear God, not Man”–because fearing man is a snare. Should you decide that you will fear man and not God, you will become dependent on man. You will be concerned with man’s every move as it pertains to you and you will become enslaved trying to please man.

I consider that message pretty powerful because there was a time when I was fearing man. It was about a year ago when my job was on the line. My fear was birthed when I began to read in the papers about the “bloodbath” style layoffs happens at the media behemoth where I was working. From the moment that I read it, I just knew the ax was going to fall on my desk.

Everyday I came into work with fear in my heart. Every time a senior-level person went into my boss’ office and shut the door, I became fearful.¬† And finally when it was my turn to go into the office and shut the door, I knew my time had come. But in all my fearing the worst situation, God’s grace gave me the best situation.

Instead of kicking me out on my tuchis, they shifted me to another department that needed an assistant. They told me to use that time to build up a different set of marketable skills and look for another job simultaneously–as they even looked for one for me too. My boss in the new department was fully aware of my situation and was very gracious throughout. But by the grace of God before the ax could drop, he found somewhere for me to be. To this day, I’ll never completely understand how I ended up where I am. I’ll call it fate until I get a better understanding.

So now I am in the position to fear man again as some axes are falling around me but given the message from Bible study and the overall sovereignty of God, I refuse to accept the assignment of running scared. It’s an insult to God. Like he would put more on me than I can bear?

So if you ever find yourself in similar situation–and it doesn’t have to be about work, it’s about life–remember, “Fear God not man.”

August 20, 2007

A Smokie Favorite…

Filed under: music,Smokie Norful — nickisym @ 10:30 pm

And I don’t mean Robinson–wait his name might be spelled differently. Nevertheless, I was listening to one of my iPod playlists and one of my favorite Smokie Norful songs came on. I appreciate Smokie because his music is like delicious love songs to the Lord. I mean, Fred Hammond makes music that was meant for loving on God, but for me, Smokie comes in second place. His music embodies brokenness, surrender and absolute love for the Lord. I decided I would post the lyrics to a song that embodies all of that and more entitled “Nothing Without You.”

Smokie Norful, Nothing Without You

I have no sun, no moon, no stars, no clouds, no day or night. Nothing is right if I don’t have you.
I have no hills, no mountains, no valleys or plains, no plateaus; nothing goes if I don’t have you.

There is no reason, any season of the year
to live without the one I love and cherish so dear.
And no amount of any thing can replace the joy you bring. I have nothing if I don’t have you.

There is no joy, no peace, no love for me, no one to care unconditionally if I don’t have you.
There is no west, no east, no understanding, no peace, no one that makes my very heart beat if I don’t have you. If I don’t have you

I have no life no death, no air to breathe, not a single thing to be if I don’t have you.

Oh, you gave me everything I’d ever need.
You are the true definement of my destiny.
Ever since you’ve been a part of my life, yeah, oh, my whole world has changed. Oh you see, there’s nothing lundone, there are no battles that are unwon, no burdens that we cannot overcome.
You are the beginning, you will surely be the last. Lord, my whole world starts and ends with you.
You are the alpha, You are the Omega.
There is nothing, there is nothing that can take your place.
Oh when I think about all you’ve done for me, how you came and made my life complete.
If it had not been for the Lord on my side, oh, without you, Lord, I surely would have died.
(I’d have nothing) nothing, I’m nothing if I don’t have you.

Simple Worship

Filed under: church,To Worship You I Live,worship — nickisym @ 3:02 am

Today I took a departure from my normally-scheduled Sunday programming. I decided to step away from my church-home to visit another church that I had been hearing much about. I had many opinions floating around in my head prior to attending the church. People told me that it was far away–even though I live in Brooklyn and the church is in Brooklyn. People told me that the praise and worship was subpar. Others told me the church was entirely too huge. Some people refused to disclose their thoughts of the church because they wanted me to go before they laid the smackdown on me.

With all that in mind I headed to the church, but I was careful to not let any of the information taint my experience.

The commute to the church was amazingly easy. The directions I received from the church via Hopstop clocked the commute in at 55 minutes but I got on the first of two trains at 8:45 and got to the church by 9:25–this includes the commute on a Shuttle Bus that replaced a train that wasn’t running.

I entered the church, which is quite colossal in size, and I wasn’t overwhelmed like people said I would be. I actually felt calm. When praise and worship began, I felt an awesome peace. People told me the praise and worship was dry but I found it to be incredibly moist. It was the kind of worship that was so simple and organic. A few singers and one person leading but the real choir was the congregation.

I couldn’t recall the last time I heard myself sing. I couldn’t even recall when last I heard a congregation sing because I am so used to people being scared to sing when they don’t have the choir to buffer their off-key voices. But today, I heard myself sing and I heard my neighbors sing as well.

There was also such a hush in the worship. Though we were all singing “To Worship You I Live” the atmosphere was still. I was actually able to have an internal dialogue with myself to talk about whether I really was living to worship the Lord. I reflected on whether I honestly and truly loved God. I just had an awesome time searching my soul for the deep things of the Lord.

That brings me to worship. I asked my friend before service started what his opinion of praise and worship was at the church and he said that it was “okay.” But of course his “okay” preceded the fact that we go to a church where the worship is considered to be “off the chain”. We have a dynamic praise team, a huge choir, and some of the best musicians in the industry. But as I stood there in the midst of one of the better worship experiences of my life it dawned on me that it isn’t up to any individual or any thing to cajole us into worship.

It should take no prodding from man for us to worship God and we shouldn’t rely on that particular song, that specific singer or that bass drop. We need nothing but broken and contrite spirits to worship the Lord. We don’t need a choir, we don’t need outstanding musicians, we just need open hearts and God. And this is all considering the fact that once upon a time people worshiped with next to nothing. They didn’t have soundboards, samples, mics, drums, guitars, etc.

So it was in the simplicity of worship and even the simplicity of the sermon that I was able to experience a refreshing. And I think that a return to simplicity is what the church needs. We’ve become entirely too accustomed to our hulking edifices, monstrous music ministries and hyped up preachers that we forgot how to appreciate it when it isn’t all of that.

When is the last time you simple worshiped or experienced “simple worship?”

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