Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Re-education in Africa

This past summer I had the opportunity to travel with my family to Ghana, West Africa. This was a missions opportunity; my very first and my husband’s second. We were deeply committed to taking our children so that they could experience “being” in another country. I had always heard the stories of women “whipping” them out, not caring “…where they were…”, and etc etc etc. I frankly prided myself, to a degree I suppose, on being a “good” breast feeder. Meaning I covered myself, ran to my car to feed my baby, or found some “safe” place to go feed them. But boy did I turn baaaaaad in Africa! I learned so much from Ghanian women. The women carry themselves with such grace, strength, & confidence. They are symbols of beauty. They are symbols of humility. They are women of innocence. They are women of courage. They are women of love. They are women of creativity. They are women who pull their boobs out IN PUBLIC and feed their babies!
I felt so stupid when I first saw a mom breastfeeding while sitting on the streets outside of the airport. I looked away, like “Oh, shoot! Sorry.” But she smiled at me. She held her head high; she looked down at her baby and stroked its cheek. She NEVER covered herself! She never covered her baby! She never rushed her baby! All while the police were right there outside of the airport. I kept watching her from afar. This intrigued me! She wasn’t exposing her breasts! She was feeding her baby! Everywhere I looked as we were in the city on the way to village, were babies on backs; babies on breasts. It was never ending. Mom’s with big babies, little babies, in between babies, and obviously preschool babies on breast or sitting at mom’s feet. Babies tied in the front with free access to breasts, while mom cleans, makes a sale, or does hair.
As we had church services, pastor’s wives sitting on front rows pulling out breasts feeding their babies. Ushers sitting down to feed babies; women praising God while feeding babies! Never once covering themselves; never once covering their babies; never once going to the back of the church or leaving. They were just feeding their babies!
Finally it happened….my little milkie baby wanted to eat…..IN PUBLIC! I was frantic! Not because of what people would say, because I KNEW I’d whip it out! But because I didn’t know what my husband would think. He was bringing the message this particular day. It was hot…..VEEEERY hot! I was thirsty. I was sweating. My babies were thirsty. They were sweating. We had one bottle of water to go around. She was having a fit! She wanted some milkies!!! I tried to offer her some water; but she refused. I looked at daddy in the pulpit and he KNEW. He mouthed to me “go ahead and feed her…” Oh boy was I excited! I get to experience PUBLIC breastfeeding! I unbuttoned my shirt, pulled out my breast; she latched on and melted in my arms. I was so happy! I felt so free! I WAS PUBLIC BREASTFEEDING! Then for a moment, a voice rose up and said “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! Put a cover over that baby!” It was her THE AMERICAN SHLONDA…. I quickly reached for something and covered myself and my milkie baby. It wasn’t long before she was nursing and angry! I looked at her and she was pouring in sweat!! I looked around and all of the women were looking at me (I just haaaad to sit in the front right?!). They were frowning like I did something wrong! They just kept staring; whispering to one another. They didn’t understand what I was doing. They were worried about my baby. They saw her under a cover…in HOT weather…sweating….wanting to eat. I felt bad, then. What was I doing?! It was my baby….EATING! It felt so right to be able to sit, where I was and feed her. She was happy….kicking her little feel…rubbing her milkies, LOL! I was soon that mother I saw my first half hour in Africa…..confident, head held high, looking at my baby, & stroking her cheek. I had arrived ignorant; departed as a Re-educated AFRICAN-American…..

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Well after much thought and encouragement I have started my blog. I am fortunately blessed by amazing people around me that have shown me the simplicity and yet rewards of here I blog!
I'd like to begin by discussing my choice in title, Silent yet Leading. My awesome and wonderful grandmother passed December 2005, five months after I married. Many would characterize her as kind, giving, loving, and most would tell you that she could throw down in the kitchen! Well before she passed I dreamed that I walked into a room and she was sitting in a rocking chair looking out of the window. I walked into the room with a burst of energy and said "Grandma, I heard hear the spirit of the Lord saying: 'Silent, yet leading!' " Over the past five years God has taught me so much regarding those powerful three words.
With those three words, I believe the Lord is calling us, me in particular to retire lip service and lead with my lifestyle. In Romans 12: 1 & 2 Paul "begs" us to give ourselves unto the Lord, stating that is our only reasonable service. Meaning there is nothing else we can even do for the Lord! He wants our bodies; our Paul goes further to say we cannot be like the world but unlike the world to prove the perfect will of God. I do believe that this dream was the Lord's way of telling me that old things are passed away and new things were coming. Isaiah 43:18 & 19 supports this because I see my grandmother as a woman of wisdom. The rocking chair is symbolic to me as a place of rest to "recount." My grandmother looking out of the window sitting in the chair is symbolic of her looking back over her life. Me bursting into the room is symbolic of the "new" thing coming forth. I believe that my grandmother was looking at the trials she overcame...I believe that she was looking at her accomplishments...I believe she looked at her husband, my grandpa...I believe that she looked at her children and through them saw us, her grandchildren. She then rested in her wisdom knowing her time of peace, of perfect peace were near. She was able to rest in the wisdom that brought her through and the wisdom that held her at that present time. She knew she had given herself over to be used by God so she had rest...yet I believed that she still had questions: Did I impact future generations? Were my seeds rooted? Did they fall on good ground? I represented the new generation that gave her the answer to her questions. Through these three simple words she knew that it wasn't by what she said but, by how she lived.
In grandma's last days, I remember getting called by my aunt saying: "They are asking us to get all of the family here..." I remember I was driving and my heart was literally in my stomach. I had to pull over and scream, cry, and yell it all out. I remember at the hospital all the people whose lives she touched: the closest family, distant family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Everyone that had been impacted by a quiet and gentle spirit... When my husband and I visited her in her ICU space, I could have never been prepared for seeing this leading lady in such a state. Machines beeping, tubes, and my grandma ALWAYS had her hair done! I remember being kind of scared. My husband's strong hand on my back nudged me forward...I looked to the right of the bed...the rocking chair. I looked to the left of the rocking chair...the window. I knew then that this was the day of the activation of her Godly wisdom in my life. I remember grabbing her hand, leaning over in the bed up next to her ear and whispering "'s Shlonda, grandma.......I was listening." Next I felt a warm wetness on the side of my face and it mixed with the tears from my eyes. Two generations forming a sea of wisdom...... We stayed like that for a while, me enjoying her however I could get her...her imparting the qualities of a 31 Woman to her granddaughter. She held my hand tight, knowing I'd need the strength as I do laundry, clean, pick up, cook but most importantly as I fashion and mold the fourth generation, her great granddaugther.
All that is to say: we have to give ourselves over completely to God so he can use us. He doesn't want our lip service, but our heart service...We have to be the doers of the word, not just hearers! Its the only way to impact a generation, to take back the nations! Many blessings!