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My Black Panther Experience

As a congregation yesterday our church, New Life Community Church, went to view the highly anticipated movie, Black Panther. This outing was special for a few reasons. One was because we encouraged the congregation to dress the par in all black or African garb. Secondly, the viewing was immediately following our morning worship service which was FIRE!!!! Then lastly, it was no cost to our members. Three other church came together to buy out the theater as an opportunity to fellowship and show solidarity.  Sundays in my book are made for church, family, and fun! I saw this day as a great opportunity to do the most and get the entire family dressed up in coordinating African inspired outfits. Being that my sewing machine is hidden in my in-law’s garage I couldn’t make anything so I simply took scissors along with safety pins to the 6 yards of fabric I had that a friend brought back from Ghana.

My husband wore an all-black suit with a complimenting sash I made from the fabric. I missed my hair appointment this week so it was an easy decision to go with a head wrap using the matching fabric. The original design idea for my two boys was to create a front pocket with the fabric to sew onto a regular black t-shirt. That didn’t happen so they ended up wearing dashikis that they already had. Last month a family friend brought Jayla a dress from South Africa, so she wore that along with the head bow I cut out using the same fabric. I’m not gonna lie, we rolled up to Grand Lake Theater looking like Wakanda royalty.

The real reason for this post is to share with you three lines in the movie that pierced my mind, heart, and soul! The movie, directed by a family friend, Ryan Coogler, was phenomenal to say the least. Almost a year ago his wife, my team mate and friend shared with me pics of the set and how taxing and ground breaking this film was. I honestly had no idea then the totality of this movie and how it would shape the world as we know it. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. And if you have seen it, go see it again! Yes, it’s that good.

THE HEART PIERCER

tell him who you are!” by Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett)

I almost lost it during this part of the movie. The Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) was challenged to a fight for the throne of Wakanda by a neighboring tribe’s man. Black Panther was being served left and right, to the point it looked like he was down for the count. With the people of Wakanda onlooking and his mother right there in his corner, she yelled with a growl from her belly in a manner of which only a Black woman can, “tell him who you are!” That moment was extremely sobering for Black Panther and I believed it was felt throughout the audience as well. It’s pivotal moments just like this one, when we want to give up, when we feel like we are in over our heads and that the giant Goliath is getting the best of us that we need powerful words spoken to our souls as reminders to give it all you got! Stand tall, don’t go out like a punk! Give it another go and finish the race!

As Black people, with our culture being stripped from us and in general the world reciting words of inferiority, a stern reminder of your roots, pedigree, and the DNA that runs through your veins is the remedy at times. In response to his mother’s outcry, the Black Panther claps back with thunder in his voice, “I am the son of T’Chaka King of Wakanda!” It’s like he had a come to Jesus moment about who he was. This line impacted me most because it reinforced our impact as mothers. As parents, we help to shape the identity of our children. We are their first source of esteem and confidence. In this scene, it was beautifully displayed how influential a mother’s presence, position, and voice is in her child’s life, no matter their age. Just as the bible says to train up a child in the way he should go, as parent we must do our part to teach our children who they are, so they’ll be able to respond in full confidence as did the Black Panther.

THE MIND PIERCER

“Just because it works well doesn’t mean it can’t be improved” by Shuri (Letitia Wright)

One of the reasons why this movie is so brilliant is because of the technological advances which is one of the trademarks of the Wakanda nation. During one of the scenes, The Black Panther is challenged by the princess, the Chief Technology Officer of Wakanda, about the use of one of their high tech gadgets. The Black Panther, claims the device works so what is the fuss? Shuri taunts the royal heinousness with the challenging line, “Just because it works well doesn’t mean it can’t be improved” Her words suggest that there is always room for improvement. Hmph?? That good isn’t good enough. Shuri raises the bar for our idea of excellence. I am guilty of sometimes being comfortable with what is working. This shift in mindset positions one to always be on the cutting edge, to assume the role of a trailblazer never being left behind. This one line challenged me to examine those areas of my life that are working well but can still be improved. Thanks, Shuri!

THE SOUL PIERCER

“…just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships…” by Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)

I will be the first to admit that nearly any reference to American slavery makes me sick to my stomach. The thought that another human being would kidnap, enslave, and subject a person to the treatment African Americans endured for centuries digs at every fiber of my being. Near the end Killmonger, the villain in the movie, is nearing death. The Black Panther offers a hand of mercy for recovery. Killmonger, knowing he’s in for it declines the King’s offer of another chance at life with these souls piercing words, “…just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships...” Wow, that was deep, right? Almosrt every line he served in the movie was. The ocean as a grave? The desire for freedom in the afterlife over the bitterness of oppression and bondage. But then again, the vivid reminder that during the slave trade men, women, boys, and girls made the same life-defining decision to be free in spirit than bound by physical chains. That statement allowed me to consider what choice would I had made if I was one of the hundreds of black bodies crammed onto a ship like chattel, forced to eat slop, and stolen from my homeland. Maybe I would have jumped too.

If these mere three lines struck you as they did me, just imagine what the full movie would do. Thank you, Ryan, cast, and crew for giving my boys a movie they could see themselves as the superhero in. You should have seen them cheering on as The Black Panther contended. Thank you for allowing me as a black woman to see power exercised in combat, competence, and love. Thank you for reminding my husband that there is royalty inside his DNA as a black man. I’m certain we will see it again, along with the DVD when it is released.

Job well done.

When Grace Finds You

Growing up my siblings, along with my first cousins and I used to play a game. This game kept us active and smelling like puppies as we rummaged the streets of Inglewood. I recently discovered that my children love the game of Hide and Seek too! If you were “it” you had to find and tag other players in the game as they hid under cars, in trees, within bushes, and behind parked cars. When you were found you were upset, doubted your hiding abilities or thought someone was cheating. Bottom line it wasn’t cool to be found.

Today as I reach the milestone of two months postpartum (not sure when you stop counting) I am confident to say that grace has found me. The Lord must have secretly been playing this game with me, but after careful review of my life and being asked, “How have you been since you’ve had the baby?” my answer remains “I have been graced!” Grace found me as a train of meals were delivered daily to my doorstep the weeks following Jayla’s arrival. Grace was laid upon my shoulders as loved ones visited to lend a hand to household chores. Grace gently kissed me on the check as Jayla began a steady schedule that allowed me a decent amount of sleep at night and productive during the day. I am so grateful that God loves me to know what I can handle and when to send help. We are now

We are now a family of five which is the number of grace. My husband’s ability to discern when I was close to the edge then he stepped right on in was surely grace in the flesh. The boys have been able to gracefully share our love and attention with their sister. Most recently, I found myself getting stressed and having growing anxiety trying to manage my responsibilities. Typically, that is a sign that I am operating outside of God’s grace. My next steps are to take a step back, get some rest, or ask for help.

I am learning as a person of purpose, grace is a requirement for reaching your destiny. Some of my favorite scriptures are bursting with the promise of grace.

And He said to me, “My GRACE is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.II Corinthians 12:9

And God is able to make all GRACE abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.II Corinthians 9:8

I find encouragement from these two passages in the following ways:

  1. When I am feeling weak it is a reminder that God’s grace can find me here.
  2. It prevents me from thinking I have to always have it all together. If I continue to fake the funk and pretend to be strong, Jesus can’t step in to help.
  3. There is sufficiency in Christ. (Whoa…I can say that again) This scripture becomes an internal check to consider if I am placing more dependency on others, myself, or systems instead of God. He is all we need!
  4. God’s grace leads to abundance! So again, I ask myself, “Am I banking on grace or on me?” It’s a better turnout when I’m on the lookout for His grace.

These are promises worth standing on. So if and when you find yourself lost and in over your head, meditate on these scriptures then pray for God’s grace to find you.

Tag, you’re it! 🙂

Preggo Partners

An assuring scripture that I always cling to when I try to go at things alone is Eccl. 4:9-12. It states how two are better than one, emphasizing the power of agreement, synergy, and help. Whether the season you are experiencing is good or bad, it’s always better to be going through it with someone versus by yourself.

Last year I was offered the opportunity to travel both to Paris and Dubai. My only expense would be is airfare. While those are both places I wanted to experience, the offer was only extended to myself and not my husband. I mean what would be the point of sitting under the Eiffel Tower without being about to snap a selfie with your life-long partner. Certainly in these instances, 1 was a lonely number.

One of the greatest gifts I’ve had during this maternity process is having some pretty awesome preggo partners to experience it with. My first preggo partner is Dominique, whose due date is separated by only 72 hours from mine. We found out about our pregnancies and made the big announcements within days of each other. Today I wanted to get out, get walking and challenge myself to get a good walk in. My husband had to handle some ministry business so who did I call? The only woman that is just as desperate as me to do whatever it takes to get our babies out of us. In less than a hour we took the trek uphill for about a good mile. It was a beautiful day coupled with temperatures in the near 80s. There were separate moments when we both got tired, felt pains and even contractions. I am certain if I tried to make that trip by myself I would not have made it pass the STOP sign on the corner. Again 2 are better than 1.

There is an ongoing joke not to drink the water at New Life Community Church because it’s not only myself and Dominique with child but also my good friend Iguehi who surprised us all with the announcement of her pregnancy in the early Spring. She has an amazing testimony and I can’t wait until she shares it with the world. So here we are three wives blessed to bring life into this world and enlarge our families. If two are better than one, you can bet three is exceptional.

Just yesterday during church Iguehi and we tried to give each other a hug and had to pivot to give side hugs because our bellies were in the way! Iguehi is a beautiful woman inside and out. Pregnancy is an experience that forever connects you with other mothers. You can feel their anguish, pain, and joy that they are experiencing which causes you to have automatic compassion towards each other. I was sharing how uncomfortable falling to sleep was to Iguehi one day. The next day she showed up on my doorstep with a pink body pillow that floored me. At that time we didn’t know the gender of the baby and I had prayed about it that morning. So when I saw the pink body pillow I knew it was confirmation that I was giving birth to a girl and my sleepless nights would be coming to an end.

My next preggo partners I have yet to have the pleasure to meet, but they both inspire me. Being able to follow both Serena Williams and Sanya Richard-Ross on Instagram has allowed me to be a part of their maternity journey. I am a huge tennis fan, and truth be told the reason I was introduced to the sport was because of the Williams’ sisters. A few months ago Serena shocked the world when she announced her pregnancy, but the kicker was that she had just won her 23rd Grand Slam at the Australian Open all while being pregnant! How freakin’ amazing is that.

Pregnant women doing amazing team, I’m here for that!

 

As a former track & field athlete and forever Sanya fan since her days at University of Texas at Austin the news of her pregnancy was exciting to hear. After marrying her college sweetheart who is a retired NFL player, multiple Olympic appearances and titles under her belt they are now expecting their first child.

Not only is Sanya keeping physically active and running a business with her husband, she recently published a new book, “Chasing Grace”. I think you see the root of the mental sisterhood we have right together right??


In my mind what connects us is the grace given to us to accomplish great things all while producing life. This is not to say bringing life into the world isn’t enough on it’s own, but you get my drift. Women, there is nothing we can not do. So here is to a legacy of children who will rise and call us blessed, who has victory, love, and compassion embedded into their DNA because the whole 40+ weeks we carried them we lived out our purpose. To all the other pregnant women out there, may you be strengthened with all the grace you need to achieve your goals and produce life.