My 6 Grateful Things List

Starbucks           Panera

Thank you so much to everyone who read my short story “6 o’clock Movements.” I enjoy writing short stories, and I am thinking about occasionally putting short stories on my blog. And if you haven’t checked  out “6 o’clock Movements” in its entirety, please head on over to the first part and read it until the fourth and last part.

Also, I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving, and that you didn’t eat too much turkey,ham, chicken, or whatever your favorite holiday meat was. I didn’t get to post my list of things that I am grateful for, so I decided that I would do that now. Here is my 6 grateful things list in vlog form. Don’t pay attention to me when I say 5 grateful things. It is 6, y’all!  I forgot how to count. 🙂

And special shout out to two lovely bloggers that I mentioned in the vlog: His Love Is Better Than Wine and I Kissed My Date Goodnight. Please check these blogs out.  Thank you to the many other bloggers that I read. I may not have mentioned you, but I appreciate your work. Blessings, afrotasticlady

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6 o’clock Movements: A Short Story, Part 4

Part 4 Blog Series

Benjamin stopped focusing on the cows. “Asha, why are you talking like that?”

“I don’t know. Sometimes, I just don’t know how to help you. I just pray, you know?”

“Yeah…thank you for praying. I’ve been pretty nasty lately.”

“Depressed…it’s not you though. And I just get angry at you because I’m like ‘why is this man acting like this.’ But I think that’s why it’s good you can talk to Jere. I only understand some of it. But you and Jere can have your guy heart-to-hearts.”

Benjamin snorted. “Not heart-to-hearts. We talk about stuff. We do pray for each other. It’s good.”

“Good. You know Ephesians 6:12, right?”

“Okay with the random questions.”

“Ben..listen,man! What’s Ephesians 6:12?”

Benjamin huffed. “Uh…it’s for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and some other stuff.”

Ben..not just some other stuff.  It’s umm..and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. It’s a good verse, you know? All of this stuff…the unemployment…our fights…it’s more. It’s the enemy trying to stop the good stuff.”

“Yeah,” Benjamin pondered the verse and tugged at his ears. He felt like he had been such a “bad” Christian in the last year and a half. The layoff contributed to his sad and angry moods. He constantly bickered with Asha. Sometimes, he ignored the children.  He attended church services with his family, but he half heard the sermons.

“Um…Daddy should be home in a little while! Okay, baby?” Benjamin heard Asha tell one of the children.

“Who’s that Asha?” Benjamin asked.

“Your baby girl. Aima.”

Aima, with her two afro puffs, tottered around the house and usually destroyed the Leggo buildings or crafts that Gabriel and Julian created. She was a miniature version of Asha, as she was spunky and gregarious.

“Asha, I’m just so tired of this. I feel like I’m carrying all of this mess all over the place. It’s exhausting,” Benjamin grumbled.

“Yes…yes..Daddy’s coming home soon,” Asha spoke to Aima again. “I’m sorry, Benjamin. Aima wants to talk real quick.”

“Hi Dad-dy!” Aima greeted in her squeaky voice.

“Hi baby! What are you doing?’ Benjamin asked.

“Playing. I made you a hat.”

“Oh really?! How did you make me a hat?”

“With my Playdo, Dad-dy!.”

“ Aww..thank you. I can’t wait to see it. Can I speak to Mommy?”

“Uh-huh!”

“Say bye to Daddy!” Asha told Aima.

“Bye Dad-dy!” Aima exclaimed.

“Bye baby! I love you.”

“I love you too!’ Aima giggled and returned the phone to her mother.

When Asha was pregnant with Aima, Jeremiah told Benjamin, “That baby girl is gonna have you whipped around your finger. You know how girls are with their fathers.” Even though Jeremiah did not have any children of his own, he had shared some wisdom with Benjamin.Jeremiah was a few years older than Benjamin and had been serving God longer, so Benjamin appreciated their brotherhood.

“I’m sorry about that, Ben. Aima really wanted to talk, “Asha stated.

“It’s okay. Had to talk to my little lady anyways. Um..I was just saying before that I’m pretty exhausted and tired of carrying this mess. I feel like I’m carrying all of this stuff,” Benjamin replied.

“Yes, I know baby. We are all tired and going through this together. But we can pray to God to help us. He can carry this stuff, you know?”

“Um..I have trouble believing that sometimes. My faith is low,” Benjamin coughed.

“Yeah. it’s hard. I know you get worried about how long we can last with just my income. I get worried too. But I think we can both be honest with God and tell Him that we are having trouble with our level of faith. Let Him know how hard this marriage thing is. Just tell Him everything, you know? We can even look into counseling or something. For you and for us.”

“Yeah. That’s fine.”

“I’m gonna text Jere and ask him to come get you Hmm…maybe he should bring  your other buddy Malakai with him. I think  you can ride with one of them while the other drives your car back. It’s just getting so late.”

“Okay Asha. Thanks”

“I’ll try to stay on the phone with you a little while longer. Might be multitasking with the kids, you know? Just think you should have some company.”

Benjamin patted his stomach. He opened the glove compartment and rifled through a clump of receipts and a cookie wrapper. Under his car’s registration, there were smashed vanilla sugar wafers in a Ziplock bag. As he scarfed down the wafer bits, he heard Asha repeatedly tell one of the children,”Thank you.”

Benjamin grabbed the bottle of Ibuprofen and tossed it into the compartment.

(*Note: That’s the end, y’all! What do y’all think about Benjamin’s situation? Have you ever experienced times where you felt very discouraged and were uplifted by God? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks so much for reading my story! 🙂 Blessings, afrotasticlady)

6 o’clock Movements: A Short Story, Part 3

Part 3 Blog Series

(*Note: Parts 1 & 2 are up if you haven’t been able to read them! Part 4, the last part of the story is coming soon. Keep your eyes open for it! )

“I know…I know…” Benjamin replied.

“Baby, where are you?” Asha questioned.

“I don’t know, Asha. What did you cook?”

“What?! Are you for real? Are you really asking me ‘what did I cook?’ I spent half my day crying about you. The kids looking at me like something just went loose in my head.”

“Okay Asha…okay…I’m stupid. Shouldn’t have asked you that.”

“Stop that. You’re not stupid. You avoid things. That’s what you do. “

“I didn’t need to call you. I’m not looking for a lecture.”

“I’m not trying to lecture you. I’m mad. I was worried that you were hurt. Thought about calling the police.”

“I’m fine. No need to call the police.”

“Are you coming home? Or did you decide to leave us?” Asha’s voice quivered.

“No. I don’t wanna leave girl,” Benjamin replied.

“Oh!”

Benjamin scratched the steering wheel. “Asha, I thought about leaving. Thought about hurting myself.”

“What?” Asha yelled.

“Asha, I didn’t though. I just feel so useless since I got laid off. And it shouldn’t be this hard to find a job. I don’t wanna do all of these stupid odd jobs. I don’t want you to work overnights so we can survive. So, I thought maybe I should just leave the house. And just be done.”

“Done? What?”

“Asha, I wouldn’t really do it. I’m too chicken, and I heard your voicemails. I heard Gabe talking about his Leggos. I thought about Aima bullying her big brothers around.”

“She’s just assertive like her mama,” Asha giggled, and then she began to weep.

“Asha…don’t…it’s okay.”

“Ben, you’re depressed and talking about suicide. That scares me. I know you feel useless. Like you’re not a good father or husband. But I know you’re trying to find something. I was angry when I said ‘you’re not even looking.’ I know you’re looking. I just think we’ve both gotten annoyed about the searching and the waiting. You know what I mean?! ”

“Yeah.”

“You keep saying ‘yeah’ to everything. I don’t know what you want me to say,” Asha yelped.

“Asha, please! I’m not gonna hurt myself. I can’t. Especially with God talking to me.”

“Hurt yourself? You wanted to take your life! You’re just using cute little words now. But you wanted to rip yourself away,” Asha sounded as high pitched as Aima’s voice.

“Asha, I’m not going to rip myself away. I’m not going to do anything to myself.”

“Okay…cause I’d probably be a hot mess if you did. You know?” Asha’s voice lowered.

“Yeah,” Benjamin quickly responded. “Yeah, Asha.”

“Okay, alright. Did Jere end up calling you? Cause I told him to call you?” Asha’s screeched.

Benjamin removed the phone from his ear and exhaled. Goodness Asha, he thought.

Benjamin returned the phone to his ear. “Yeah, yeah, I got his message. Your brother is ‘good peoples.’ He told me I could call him if I needed to talk.” Benjamin observed cows snipping at the tall grass at a nearby farm.

“Good peoples. Y’all are too cute. I’m glad that you can talk to him about stuff.”

“Yeah,” Benjamin continued to watch the spotted animals. He needed to take the children to a farm. With all of the stress surrounding his unemployment, he was distracted whenever he took the children to an outside activity.

“Benjamin, maybe Jere should come out to where you are at? He can come pick you?”

“Nah, I’m good. I’ll be there in a little bit.”

“Stop being so stubborn and let Jere come out there. He can support you, pray with you. I don’t even know if you want me to pray with you.”

 

6 o’clock Movements: A Short Story, Part 2

           Part 2 Blog Series

Four missed calls. Four voicemails. Asha had called three times. Asha’s brother Jeremiah had called once.

Benjamin was glad that he liked his brother-in-law. When Benjamin first met Jeremiah, Jeremiah was quiet and frowned at him like he was an expired piece of food. A month later, Jeremiah informed Benjamin that Asha had a challenging break-up and he did not want to see Asha endure sorrow with another man. Jeremiah described Benjamin as “good peoples” when he discovered that Benjamin had prayed about Asha before he asked to make their relationship serious.

“Let me see what these people want,” Benjamin dialed his voicemail.

Ben. Benjamin, where are you? You’ve been gone for a while, and the kids are asking about you. You just walked out of the house. Like you didn’t care or something. I know you’re tired. You’re angry. I guess you’re angry at God. I don’t know. God’s done a lot for us. He’s been helping us but I don’t think you see that. I don’t know Ben. Just bring yourself home,” Asha pleaded on the voice message.

 “Hey man, it’s Jer. Asha’s worried about you. She called me, crying. Said you ran out of the house after a fight. You know you can talk to me, man. It’s irritating, I get it. But you can’t be acting how you acting right now. Alright…call me when you get this message,” Jeremiah said on his voice message.

 “Daddy. Daddy. I wanna play Leggos with you. Julian made you a house. A big house. We want you to seeee it,” Gabriel, his five year old son whined.

By the fourth message, Benjamin had closed his eyes.

Benjamin, did you get my last message? I called you. Did you forget that you have kids? They are over here. They asking me “Where’s Daddy?” I don’t know where Daddy is. I don’t know why you won’t call me back. I don’t know why you ran outta the person like some crazy person. You’ve been gone since 9 this morning. Ben… God’s got us. He’s been got us,”  Asha’s voice sounded softer, and she was sniffling.

“Baby… you’ll get a job. I know it’s been a while. But you will get a job. A real job. I love you. Call me back, please!Asha finished.

Asha. His brown woman. His wife who wore a pink,pixie hair cut. Benjamin was raised on Southern Gospel music like The Blind Boys of Alabama but when he met Asha, he learned to like her Christian metal music. He did not even know that brown folks liked metal music.

He remembered when Asha wagged her finger and said,“You know what? Black people need to step out of their comfort zones and listen to some other stuff. I like Gospel like you, but I also like metal. I’m still Black, boo.”

Benjamin laughed at the recollection. Then, he looked at his phone. The screen displayed that it was six o’ clock.

“I’m hungry, “Benjamin placed his hand on his stomach. His stomach was plumper than before. Benjamin usually heard the cliche comment “You look like a basketball player” when people looked at his tall and muscular body. With his ravenous eating and lack of exercising, his muscles were transforming into mashed potatoes.

Benjamin realized that Asha served dinner around this time. He enjoyed eating her home cooked meals, especially her vegetable lasagna.

Call your wife, Benjamin heard. Benjamin realized that the enemy was not speaking to him. God was speaking. He did not want to hear God.

“No!” Benjamin pounded the steering wheel. “I’m done, Lord! Like what am I supposed to do? Survive on unemployment and church donations forever. I got a family to support,” he shouted. He picked up the bottle of Vodka and sniffed it.

“I can’t even drink this junk anymore. Too strong,” Benjamin laid the bottle on the passenger seat floor. Benjamin looked at his phone again and selected Asha’s name in the contact list.

“Benjamin. I called you. Like twice,” Asha picked up on the first ring.

(Note: Please stay tuned for Parts 3 & 4. Thank you so much for reading lovely people!:) )

 

 

6 o’clock Movements: A Short Story, Part 1

(Note: Hey, hey! I wanted to share a short story that I begun to write several years ago but did not complete. I finally completed it! This short story will be presented in four parts on my blog, and each part will be followed by an inspirational song that I enjoy hearing. I pray that you receive a positive message from the story! Blessings, afrotasticlady)

                           Short Story Blog Series

A bottle of Vodka and a bottle of Ibuprofen were sprawled on the passenger seat of his car. Vodka was a strange beverage for him to be drinking. In college, he had attempted to drink a cup of Vodka at a fraternity party, but the alcohol scraped his throat. He could not continue drinking, and the fraternity guys laughed at his innocence.

Now, Benjamin shoved the Vodka bottle into his mouth. He swallowed the raw liquid and let out a gruff “aaah.” He turned his head to his driver’s window and observed the people entering and exiting the Western Massachusetts Rite Aid.

A young woman yanked her two year old daughter out of the sliding doors. Her red hair was in a loose bun. She wore yoga pants with a large hole in the right knee area. Her slender child moved in the opposite direction. She screamed “C’mon kid!” and tears exploded on the child’s cheeks.

Some of the customers scowled at the adult and child as they interacted with each other, but none of them interrupted the battle. Benjamin quickly rolled down his car window and heard the expletives that flowed out of the mother’s mouth. He knew he should intervene, but his stiff body would not respond to his compassion.

The mother dropped her bags and pulled the terrified child towards her face. A middle aged woman with wavy, grey hair wrapped in a bun, slowly pushed her shopping cart towards the entrance. Again, the child tried to remove herself from her mother’s thin arms. Despite the mother’s skinniness, she appeared to be a strong woman. The mother let out a final swear to her daughter and spat on her face.

Benjamin shook his head and stared at the adorable child in denim overalls. “Mum-my…I hurt,” the child wailed. The middle aged woman  left her cart and ran over to the woman and her daughter.

“You don’t spit on a child like that. Is that your daughter?” the middle aged woman asked.

“Yeah, it is my daughter and this ain’t none of your business,” the mother responded.

“Honey, are you alright?” the middle aged woman bent down to the child’s level.

“Get away from her, nosey!” the mother slid her body between the middle aged woman and the child.

“You don’t need to be a mother! What’s wrong with you?” the middle aged woman yelled.

“Lady, I don’t even know you, and you think you can tell me something!” the mother yelled back.

Benjamin rubbed the sides of his face, and then grasped one of the dark coils of his small Afro. He did not want to listen to this confrontation anymore. His mind was already confused. He brought the bottle of alcohol to his mouth and drank it the same way his own kids drank their juice boxes. They titled their little heads and gulped until it went down the wrong way. They never heeded Benjamin’s instructions to “slow down.” They dealt with the effects of their quick drinking: strained coughing.

Benjamin ripped the Vodka bottle from his mouth and hacked. He was removing himself from his empathy. The middle aged woman could solve the situation between the mother and her child. He turned on the engine and peeled away from the parking lot.

“Where am I going?” Benjamin questioned himself.

This country town was different from his home. Down the street from the Rite Aid, there was a Moms and Pops store and an old fashioned movie theater with only two titles on the placard. As he drove out of the downtown area, vast farms approached him. His two year old daughter Aima, would have danced as soon as she saw the animals. She recognized animals well and amused the family with her imitations of cows, horses, and pigs. Benjamin smiled and thought about Aima’s high pitched voice making a “moo” sound. Benjamin stopped smiling and grimaced when an agitated driver rushed past him.

“Dang man, where you going?” Benjamin shouted and waved his fist. Drowsy, Benjamin pulled over to the side of the road. His head dropped on the steering wheel,and he began to moan. Full moans. Moans that would have frightened his children if they were in the back seat. Benjamin blinked, and tears trailed down his cheeks. He turned his head towards the bottle of Ibuprofen.

That bottle looked more glorious to him than his Bible looked.

Take them, he heard in his mind. He grabbed the bottle and massaged it in his hands. He slouched down in his seat and spun the bottle. Benjamin sighed and dropped the bottle back on the passenger seat. He took his phone out of his pocket.

Holding Onto His Love

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13

In this blog, I write a lot about His love. God’s love. I am constantly learning about how much He loves me, and how much He wants me to authentically love others. Even though, I was raised in a Christian home, I still needed to discover this love on my own. In Fall 2004, I was in my first semester of college, and I decided it was time to turn up. I was little rebellious before I left for college, but I knew that being away from college would make turning up more accessible to me. I partied and got drunk a few times. Being drunk actually elevated me from my shy, nice girl status to cool kid. For the moment, I enjoyed hearing my peers’ compliments about my drunkenness. But the Bible is right when it states:

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22: 6

Perhaps, my partying, swearing, and drunkenness do not seem too “bad,” but I did not feel right. I believe that if I had continued to be a partier, it might have led to some other toxic choices.

But in October 2004, I went to a Gospel concert on campus that was hosted by a Christian student organization. I was surrounded by folks who were singing passionately about God. After the concert, I went to my dorm room and called my parents. I asked them to pray the prayer of salvation with me. They led me to Christ.

And I have been tightly holding onto God’s love for the last eleven years.

I wanted to share a video of my small rendition of “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan. Again, I am not a singer; I just like to sing. I blame it on several years of participation in school choruses.

How have you been impacted by God’s love?