In Honor of David Mitchell, His Family, and Yours

By Natasha Foreman Bryant
 
 I shared these exact words in my Breaking Bread blog a few moments ago, but I know that not everyone who reads this blog also follows my Breaking Bread blog. So I share these with all of you….
 
 Last night my dear friend, Carman, called me and painfully muttered the words that I knew would come one day, but never knowing when—she told me her father David had just passed away. David had been fighting Alzheimer’s for several years now and it was taking its toll on David, Carman, and their family.
 
 But in David’s passing I don’t see things as though he ‘lost the battle’ to Alzheimer’s, instead I see things differently. I see that David had the opportunity to spend time with his family and be cared for by his family. During his battle his family was faced with the option of embracing change or resisting it, and they were faced with a reality that they definitely weren’t prepared for or desired. David’s battle challenged his family. David’s battle has strengthened my friend Carman, and their family. They may not see it right now because the reality of him not physically being here is clouding the reality that he will always be here, and that not physically being here means he is no longer suffering, but forever living in and with peace.
 
 I pray that in their mourning they seek out God and seek to rejoice, pray, and give thanks for God and for Him not only bringing David to them, but allowing them to spend as much physical time as they have with David. I pray that they rejoice, pray, and give thanks for the challenges, the battles, and the pain over the years because with these things they have grown stronger and more resilient. I pray that David’s life brings them closer together, helps them overcome past issues, and prevents future ones.
 
 I pray that they don’t see David’s passing as a loss, but as a gain, because David has been promoted to his next level of existence. David has gone on to bigger and better things, experiences, and realities. He physically cannot be seen or touched, but through memories and laughter, he will always be felt and seen spiritually. David was a physically fit man who loved to exercise and roller skate, his condition prior to being promoted didn’t allow for him to do the things he loved—but now he can.
 
 I know what it’s like to ‘lose’ a loved one, I have ‘lost’ many. I know what it’s like to ‘lose’ a parent, my dad was suddenly and without warning promoted by God in 2001. I had so much guilt built up because I didn’t return his phone call ‘in time’ that day, because I didn’t get the chance to say, “I love you dad” and “see you later”, and because I didn’t pay attention to earlier signs of a heart attack. I had nightmares because I would flash back to the moment I found him in his office. I couldn’t shake the image.
 
 I was torn between embracing his sudden promotion and wanting to disconnect for awhile from the world. So I found a reasonable middle ground. I knew my dad would not want me to mourn him because he lived such an amazing life, flaws and all, and he had such a giving heart, so why wouldn’t I celebrate his life, legacy, and promotion to eternal life?
 
 My middle ground was living my life, growing comfortable speaking about his, doing everything and anything I could to be a great student of Christ and servant leader, and doing what I could to make him proud and to make myself proud. I have spent the past 13 years growing, healing, and celebrating life—mine and my dad’s. I have failed and succeeded, fallen but always gotten back up. I know dad is proud of me. Yes, there are times I cry because I miss him, because I want to see and hear him experience the great things that are going on in my life, and because I want to ask him for professional, personal, and spiritual advice. Then I eventually smile, thank God, tell my dad I love him, and talk to him anyway, knowing he can’t interrupt me [smile].
 
 I pray that my friend Carman and her family find a comfortable middle ground that they can eventually grow and mature into a higher ground of acceptance and celebration, because honestly, David wouldn’t want them to be constantly mourning him, depressed that he’s not physically around, and falling short of the greatness that he challenged himself and them to reach each day. David always wanted the best for his family, and flaws and all, David did his best to provide what he could when he could to his family.
 
 I hope by sharing David and Carman’s life and experience, and by sharing my own, that each of us take this time to rejoice, pray, and give thanks. I hope that we make this a natural habit each day. Life as we know it has a time limit, and we don’t know when that time will end, but what we can do is live our lives to the fullest each and every day, forgiving ourselves and others, shaking off depression and guilt, pushing ourselves to greatness, so that we and our families are better prepared for the day when we too are promoted.
 
 Carman I love you and your family. You all are a part of my extended family and I want you to know that you can thrive and shine brightly because God has equipped you to do so, and your dad gave you many examples of how to do it here and now. Don’t let the enemy convince you that life can never be good or better because David isn’t physically here. David is in each and every person that he encountered, embraced, and spent quality time with. Just as we are to look for Jesus in others, look for your dad in others—then smile, laugh, and say, “thank You!”
 
 I share these same words with and for all of you reading this. We must be selfless during change. We must embrace the change in order to grow and see the rainbow after the storm. The longer we resist the longer it takes for us to breathe and be free.

 
 Rejoice. Pray. Give thanks.
 
 
 
 Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.
 
 
 

Listening and Responding to the Still, Small Voice Within: My Recent Experiences

By Natasha Foreman Bryant
 
 I’m not sure what you call the Creator, or even if you believe that you were created by a higher power greater than humans. I call the Creator: God, Father, Father-Mother God, Lord, Love, Light, and Good.
 
 Since I was a small child I can remember my dad telling me to always listen to, answer, and obey the faint voice within me. He used to say, “Tasha you can never go wrong when you obey that voice“. You can call it intuition, your gut feelings, or “something” that told you to do or say something. I believe that all of these things are God speaking to and through us. Now please don’t confuse that with the battle of multiple personality disorder, etc.
 
 Why and what else could have easily swayed me to pull over and rush to the aid of two drivers, and one passenger involved in a car accident Saturday afternoon off I-75 southbound between the exits for Zoo Atlanta and Atlanta Technical College?
 
 I didn’t know any of the individuals involved, but the voice inside said, “pull over and go help“. So I did. I didn’t think twice. I didn’t contemplate that I was in my business wear, coming from the Women 2 Women Conference that just wrapped up at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel, and that I just wanted to get home and relax. I obeyed and pulled my car over and jumped out.
 
 What I saw moved me. I saw a dark-colored (possibly burgundy) Monte Carlo with damage to the front and rear of the car. I saw the road signs it had ran over, now underneath the car. I saw a young African American girl (maybe 11-years-old) and her father with a look of panic on their faces. I saw another vehicle parked several yards back, a smaller white car, missing the front end, and the driver, a young white woman in the driver’s seat looking frazzled.
 
 I approached the father and daughter and asked them repeatedly if they were okay and if they needed medical attention. The father told me that they were okay, and that his daughter said she was okay. The young girl confirmed that she was okay, but her eyes said something else. I knew that look. It was pure fear. The father was on his cell phone, so I told him I was going to check on the other driver.
 
 As I approached the driver who at first was in the driver’s seat, had gone to the trunk of her car (when I approached the father), then the passenger seat (before I finished speaking with him), and was now quickly approaching me with her hand inside of her purse. She looked infuriated and very focused. That’s when the small voice said, “stop her and calm her down” so I did. I verbally reassured her that I was a concerned driver who wanted to make sure that everyone was okay. I put my hands up slowly and I told her that I knew what she was going through. She then said, “he called the cops and he’s going to lie on me and say this is my fault“. I could see the panic in her eyes and it was coming through clearly in her voice. At that point I knew that I needed to spend more time with her. She was alone with no one to comfort her and tell her it would be okay. The father had reassurance coming from the other end of the phone line, and his daughter got reassurance from him.
 
 I asked the woman had she called anyone, and she said that the other driver called the police. So I asked her again had she called anyone, someone she knew who could console her, and help her through this. She started crying and said, “no“. So I did something without thinking about it. I obeyed the next two words that came to me. I saw her name tag said, “Carrie Ann” and that she worked at Zoo Atlanta, and I said, “Carrie Ann right now you’re in shock and what you need more than anything is a hug. So I’m going to hug you Carrie Ann.” I leaned in and gave this total stranger a hug on the side of the highway. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t contemplate what her reaction would be. I obeyed that voice that said, “hug her, comfort her“.
 
 As I held her in my arms I told her, “I know what you are experiencing and it’s fear and gratitude. Fear in knowing that you just experienced a trauma, and gratitude that you are alive and unharmed. Carrie Ann you survived this and no matter what you are thinking and feeling right now, you will survive the aftermath of this crash. There could have been serious injuries even death, but all is well and right. You are okay Carrie Ann, the father and daughter from the other car are okay….” As I spoke Carrie Ann embraced me tighter and at that very moment I told her it was okay to cry and let it out, so she did, and hugged me tighter. Once we could both sense that small ‘release’ we let our arms down and looked at each other.
 
 A tow truck pulled up and I said, “see, it’s almost over” and as I directed her to sit in the passenger seat of the car or on the guard rail, a fire truck pulled up. Carrie Ann sat on the guard rail, and even though still shaken, she was better than when I first approached her. She was no longer looking like the panic-stricken woman who thought she would be blamed and found guilty of causing an accident. As the first responders approached I thanked them for getting there quickly (lovingly ignoring the rolling eyes of the first guy who approached), and I gave Carrie Ann another hug and told her she would be okay. As I began to walk away she burst out in tears. I think she was having that big ‘release’ we all get when it hits us that we’re being ‘saved’.
 
 I approached the father and the tow truck driver, and asked the father again was he okay. He said yes and thanked me for helping. The tow truck driver asked how was I involved, and I said that I was a concerned citizen who just pulled over to help. He thanked me and said that we need more people willing to stop and help. After checking on the little girl and gaining reassurance that she was okay, I left the drivers with the fire fighters. I asked the tow truck driver to slide the sign that was crushed under the car, off the highway on ramp so that other drivers wouldn’t hit it and possibly cause more damage to the father’s car or to theirs. The tow truck driver agreed and slid the sign out of the pathway.
 
 Even without knowing how things would turn out, or if the drivers would turn their fear and confusion on me, I was filled with such peace the entire time. As I walked to my car I just kept repeating silently, “thank you“. Inside my car I looked through my rear view mirror and saw a second fire truck pulling up. I had done what I was supposed to do. Be there for people in need, and bring some calm during a time of chaos.
 
 I think of the multitude of cars that drove by before I got there, the large number that drove by while I was there, and the countless others that drove by after I had left. There were tons of looky-loos but no one pulled over to help.
 
 How many people considered for a brief second, “should I pull over?” but didn’t. How many people said, “that’s not my problem, it’s not me or a loved one”? How many people saw a black male driver and a white female driver, and thought to themselves, “that may turn into a volatile situation and I don’t want to get caught up in that mess”? How many people were torn with their decision to keep driving even when they saw the little girl with fear all over her face?
 
 I’ve done it before. Matter of fact I couldn’t even tell you how many times over the years when I said a prayer for those involved in car accidents or seemingly stranded on the side of the road or highway, but out of fear, preoccupation, or convincing myself that it really wasn’t my issue, I didn’t stop. I’ve called 911 when I’ve seen accidents, even in real-time, but I haven’t always stopped to check on those involved.
 
 Heck, Saturday evening (maybe 3 hours after helping out the three in the car accident) I didn’t stop to help a man in a black SUV with his hood up. I obeyed the voice that said to check to make sure he was okay, so I visually saw he was and that he had a passenger (although I couldn’t see their face) but I didn’t stop and ask if they were okay. I didn’t verbally confirm that they were okay. Maybe it was the area that I was in and that it was dark outside, that he hadn’t turned on his hazard lights, I was with my mom, and I couldn’t clearly see their faces, so fear and self-preservation overruled everything else. It happens to all of us. But when those variables (of safety) aren’t present, and that faint voice tells you to act, we should act.
 
 No matter what you call God, no matter what you call the voice you hear that tells you to do or say something in love, no matter what your gut tells you, just obey. You could be the very presence someone needs at that very moment. You could be the balance needed to create or maintain calm, peace, and order. You could save someone’s life. Your presence could prevent someone from being victimized. Maybe your act of care and kindness will be returned to you one day. Let’s pay it forward in advance!
 
 Remember your ‘gut’ keeps you out of harms way, it’s ignoring it that draws you in to drama and danger.
 
 Oh, and if anyone knows Carrie Ann from Zoo Atlanta, tell her that Natasha is thinking of her and praying for her. If anyone knows the father and his brave daughter who were involved in the car accident, tell them that I’m thinking of them and praying for them. Tell the father that I commend him for keeping focused on his daughter and getting help, and not feeding off the energy that was trying to grow from the situation.
 
 
 ~Natasha
 
 
 Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.
 
 
 

Dealing With the Disruptive and Dysfunctional Family Member—Or is This Person You?

I just posted to my Breaking Bread blog a prayer and reflection that I felt could also be shared on my other blogs. It doesn’t just focus on our family members who lie, cheat, steal, and get high. It focuses on you, on us, and how we deal with that person. It also focuses on our lives and those frequent moments when we betray God with as much or more intensity and intent as the family member who betrays us. It’s such a crazy cycle.
 
 How do we heal from our self-inflicted “crimes” and how do we heal from heinous acts committed against us? How do we go through the steps needed to forgive ourselves and others? How do we factor in the person who hurt us? Do we disown them or slowly begin to allow them back into our lives? When do you let them back in? After they are “healed” from their “infliction” or during the healing process? Below please read the excerpts from this post and then share your thoughts.
 
 Excerpts from Breaking Bread:
 
 

Has a loved one ever stolen from you? Blatantly lied to you? Been abusive towards you? Coldly disrespected you? Manipulated you into believing that they were a certain type of person, or lived a certain type of way? Have you suspected that they were stealing from you and others but your interventions fell short of any real results?
 
 Do you have a loved one who is abusing drugs and/or alcohol yet you keep ignoring the problem? How many times have you known that this person has been behind the wheel of a car? How many times have you witnessed the aftermath of their binging behavior? How many times have you bailed them out of jail or financial binds?
 
 I just spent the past hour reading forum threads about family members, young children and adult children, who stole from their family, were abusing drugs and/or alcohol, were blatantly disrespectful and sometimes abusive, and their family didn’t know what to do. I read of parents and other family members who just couldn’t take the betrayal any more and they kicked the perpetrator out of their home and forbid their return for any reason. Then I read of instances where people continued to forgive and let “slide” the offenses even when extremely valuable and sentimental items were stolen.
 
 Have you ever experienced this phenomena? Are you experiencing it now? It’s painful to have a stranger steal from or betray you. But it feels like your insides are being gutted when it’s done by a loved one….

 
 

…I think that just like God lovingly allows us to stumble and fall into valleys, yet never completely cutting us off, we too must lovingly let our perpetrator-family member go so that they can stumble and fall—-because we can’t go farther down when our faces are on the ground. We can either stay there or get up, and we can’t get up without God.
 
 Lovingly keep those who are inflicted with the thieving, lying, abusing/abusive “bug” at a safe distance, so that you can allow God to have complete access without your interference. Every time we interfere and think that we can do God’s job and fix something faster, we end up being the victim. There’s a big difference between an intervention with tough love, and trying to “fix” someone. Set and stick by boundaries and rules to protect yourself and other family members, and let God handle the details. The perpetrator will only get and accept help when they want it and see the need for it. Until that time they are like a nonstop tsunami that will destroy anything and anyone in their path.

 
 If YOU are the perpetrator then you will either deny wrongdoing (and continue spiraling out of control until you hit a hard enough force that stops you) or you will get professional and spiritual help, and make right your wrongs.
 
 
 Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved. Natasha Foreman Bryant.
 
 
 

Jay Leno Quote: Removing God from the Pledge of Allegiance

“With hurricanes, tornados, fires out of control, mud slides, flooding, severe thunderstorms
tearing up the country from one end to another, and with the threat of swine flu and terrorist attacks. Are we sure this is a good time to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance?’- Jay Leno

Conditional Believers

We have a lot of conditional spiritual people out there who praise God in good times and then doubt him in bad times.
What kind of jacked up relationship do we have when we expect EVERYTHING from Him and give him little to nothing in return?

-Natasha L. Foreman

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Spiritual Quotes of the Day: Hope

“You may be experiencing an extremely painful or difficult moment in your life right now, and you aren’t sure what to do, what to say, where to go, or who to turn to—I encourage you and pray that you would turn to God for strength and restored hope”- Natasha L. Foreman

“In those desperate times when we feel like we don’t have an ounce of strength, He will gently pick up our heads so that our eyes can behold something—something that will keep His hope alive in us.” -Kathy Troccoli

“The choice for me is to either look at all the things I have lost or the things I have. To live in fear or to live in hope…Hope comes from knowing I have a sovereign, loving God who is in every event in my life.”- Lisa Beamer (her husband Todd was killed on flight 93 on September 11, 2001).

Copyright 2012. Natasha L. Foreman. Some Rights Reserved.