So my son just turned 15. Yes, I am still letting that fact sink in. God answered a deep desire of my heart and afforded me the opportunity to receive the title of "Mother" to this gift. But in exchange , I took on a personal burden to raise him perfectly.
When my son was a baby, I had to call my Sister-In-Love, Staci and my Mother over quite often to learn how to do simple task such as bathe him, dress him and swaddle him. I always thought I was doing something wrong. I was afraid to just trust my own motherly instincts. As time went on, I quickly learned that I had to get over that fear and just take care of my son even if I didn't do something perfect the first time. I had to show up and give it my all.
As the years have passed, like most parents, I would doubt my ability to give my son exactly what he needed at that phase in life. I was speaking one day to my Godmother, Polleye Selectman before she passed away. I was expressing my doubt in my ability to be the best Mom to my son, and she simply said, "But God trusted you with Him, that's enough." I was suddenly released of this burden of perfection and empowered to trust myself and this little boy to God, completely.
Although we still have hiccups and have growing pains, I know that my son is not mine. He is God's. I have simply been given to the honor to help him through this life with the help of our heavenly father and the village He's surrounded us with.
A few years ago, Nate asked me if I would record a song for him. I did. It was the song of my cry to God on behalf of my son. I cry every single time I hear it. The words touch the innermost parts of my soul. If I feel this way about my son, how must God love me? Wow! I hope you enjoy the video and I pray that the lyrics bless you too.
You know, everyone always compliments me on how much I look like my mother. Yes, it’s true, I absolutely share her physical attributes, however my personality, grit and entrepreneurial spirit comes from my Daddy.
For a long time I thought my Dad was mean. He seemed so unreasonable sometimes because when he believed something, he BELIEVED it. Once he grabbed ahold to something there was never a moment of waiver of where he stood on a matter, on what was right and what was wrong and how we would operate as a family unit. He would shut nonsense down in a minute and could put the fear of God in you with a stare. There wasn’t a whole lot of talking with my Dad when a decision was made. As a child I did not have the capacity to understand this characteristic. As I have grown older, I realize I am just like him and he and I can be like two bulls in a china closet!
At the same time, I would see my Dad be so incredibly tender. Riding home from church, we would see people laying on the street in a drunken stooper. My Dad would take us home and say “I’ll be right back”. A few minutes later he would have that same person who couldn’t hardly walk coming in the front door. My Dad would personally bathe them, wash their clothes, offer them his clothes and then welcome them to our table for a hot meal. As a kid, I would turn my nose up because the person stunk or I didn’t understand why they were acting like that. But what I remember most is my Dad showing kindness and love to a complete stranger and my mother supporting him and making their small budget stretch to feed one more. We didn’t “talk” about the person, we just accepted them as they were and gave them what we had.
My Dad was a penny pincher. All loose change had to go in a jar. Once it was filled my brothers and I had to sit at the kitchen table and help count it out, then roll it in the bank papers. My Dad would always take me with him to Citizens National Bank to turn in the money. I would be amazed at how just tossing change into a jar could turn into so much “real” money. In these moments my Dad taught me about giving back his 10% to God and we would count out together how much we needed to set aside as a tithe. I didn’t quite get that as a kid, but I remember my Dad’s faithfulness to God and always gave his first fruits.
He and my mother would go to the grocery store and before anything could be put away, it had to be set on the table and he would take out his calculator and add everything up to make sure that we were not overcharged. I can’t tell you how many times I rolled my eyes at this process, but it made me conscious to be sure what I know where my money was going and how to stay on budget, reconcile my bank statements and save up for what I wanted. My Dad taught me delayed gratification. We just didn’t run out and buy stuff because you had $2 in your pocket. We had to get the newspaper and look at the sale ads to see who had the “best deal”.
My Dad taught me how to save money. He taught me to stick to my guns. He taught me ask questions. He taught me to be kind. He taught me to get an understanding. He explained the definition of a “jive turkey”, LOL! But most importantly, Delvin Nelson, Sr. taught me how to love. My Dad to this day still protects me like I was a baby. As a master event planner, I keep long hours and late nights. I can guarantee at some point in the night, my Dad is going to walk in just to check on me. At 2am, when I am about to head home, I will see his truck in the parking lot just making sure I get to my car safely. By 3am, I will get a call to make sure I am home and in the bed.
Out every disappointment I have ever had in my entire life, I received an overflow and abundance of love and knowledge that made up for it in my Daddy. I know that not every girl/woman can say that they share this relationship with their Fathers and that makes me sad. Every person deserves to experience this type of love. As each day passes I am made more aware of how blessed I have been to experience a Father’s true love, guidance and protection which in turn deepens my understanding even more of how much God must truly love us.
Thank you Daddy for loving me endlessly. Happy Father’s Day.
I witnessed a beautiful moment while loading up my groceries into the car. A woman, her mother, her daughter, I'm guessing around the age of 6, an older woman, maybe her grandmother (80 years +) loaded their groceries into the car, got inside, rolled down the windows and enjoyed ice cream sandwiches while they laughed and just chose to be present in that moment. There were no rules, no timelines, just those four choosing each other and being silly in the Walmart parking lot. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Their joy made me smile and their presence made me pause. I don't want to be soo busy that I forget to be present, playful and pure. I love how God blesses and teaches me as the same time.
I have sang for a handful of people and for thousands. No matter what the occasion or the crowd size, my Mother, Etta Nelson was the one who believed in my ability more than I. Music is my safe place. When I open my mouth I feel like I am transported to this space where God kisses my soul. He works through me, using music and my voice as a healer to the broken and the a restorer to the weary. Music is a bridge that connects our hearts together with no filters or prejudice.
From weddings, baby dedications and funerals to prison cells, sporting events anworship during church services and celebrations, I've done it.
Six years ago today, the photo that you see above was taken. My Mom and I were attending a Mother's Day Luncheon that was being hosted by a group of lady's from Sunrise Missionary Baptist Church. It was a beautiful time of sharing. This photo was taken as we had arrived and grabbing our seats. The event was at the Northwest Community Center and I remember it like was yesterday. Being from a small community where everyone knows everyone else, it was not uncommon to be put on the "program" impromptu.
One of the organizers asked me if I could share a few words about my mother. This should come easily, however public speaking is a HUGE fear of mine, so I opted to sing a few lyrics of "You Are So Beautiful" to my Mom. I started singing acapella until something that I had never experienced happened to me....I couldn't sing. When I connected the lyrics of what I singing while looking directly at my Mother, my heart exploded mid-song and I choked. I was soo captivated by the realization and acknowledgement of her sacrifice for me that all I could do is weep.
I have sang many times where others were moved to tears, I have sang where I was so connected to the Holy Spirit that I felt physically weak when I finished a worship service. I have sang at the funerals where I could vividly see the tears of loved ones streaming down their faces. I have sang where I heard the roar of thousands of people applauding and clapping. BUT..I had NEVER sung a song directly to my Mother before. I have always adored my Mother, but this day I really realized how much I did. I realized how much God loved me because he gave me such a phenomenal woman to emulate. I understood in that moment, how much time I had wasted taking her love, wisdom and knowledge for granted. But in that same moment, I made a decision that I would not go another day without loving her not just with my words and deeds, but with my TIME.
I am blessed that my Mother is still here with me and I treasure the time that we do get to spend. And although I may not be able to render a perfect song to her, I hope she knows that she truly is the music of my heart.
As a girl one of the things that I have always loved is pens, paper, notecards, stickers and STAMPS! I am not quite sure how the love began, but I remember being excited when it was time to go to school and I wrote on my BIG CHIEF TABLET with my oversized pencil! I have always loved going to the card and stationery section in any store and marveling at all of the beautiful designs and feeling the different textures of the paper. I loved to test different pens and learned which pen/paper combo complimented each other. I would choose pens and paper over clothes and shoes any day. Yes, I was weird and was okay with it.
My grandmother, Dolores Sanders Alvarado, fed my addiction of stamps by purchasing a roll at a time and letting me take as many as I wanted to mail letters to people. I accompanied her one day to the post office and saw that there were more stamps than just “flags” and asked her if she would buy some with hearts on them. And, she being loving, obliged. I loved going to her house and sitting in her back room at her little desk with markers and whatever new pen my Daddy bought me at TG&Y and I would draw pictures, make hearts and say “I LOVE YOU”. I would then be so proud to walk to the post office in El Reno and give them personally to the post master for delivery.
What fueled my desire to continue writing notes was getting a letter in return from someone or seeing a recipient at church or in the community who would be so grateful that I “remembered” them. At age 9 years I mailed 100 letters in one month including to people I didn’t know at nursing homes and hospitals. I didn’t care if they knew who I was, but as a child I knew there was something about the feeling of getting a letter in the mail that had your handwritten name on the envelope. I knew how much I loved getting birthday cards in the mail and I wanted other people to feel that way too.
I learned at an early age that no matter what your ability, there IS something you can do to lift someone else up. I didn’t have money. I didn’t have a phone. I didn’t have transportation, but I did have a grandmother who was more than willing to help me by simply asking her. I had a Daddy would supply my paper and pens in bulk because it was a good deal! But most importantly I had the will to want to help.
As I got older, life changed, shifted and evolved, I sent less and less letters and cards. I became more caught up with myself and my aspirations. But, the desire of that simple act has never left me, but I pushed it to the side because I was “busy”. I do now have money. I do have transportation. I have more phones than I care to admit to and I have still have the desire to help…but, what’s is stopping me from fulfilling it? Answer: TIME.
God has expanded my territory and I am helping in other ways, but this one simple act still beckons me. We live in fast world where pausing even for five minutes to think of others seems taxing. We’ve converted from snail mail to email, text messages and emoji’s. All of those tools are wonderful, but my soul desires more. I want to truly connect with another person and give them something tangible as a reminder they are remembered and loved. I know to create the connection with another human being, I must stop, think and become intentionally present to remove myself from my “busy-ness” and slow down to be a beacon of light and hope to someone else.
God says in His Word:
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works” (Revelation 2:5 NKJV). Soooooo…. I am. I am sending a note to a couple of people today, just because.
Question: Is there something you used to do in the past that you’ve fallen away from that God is calling you back to? If so, what’s stopping you from fulfilling it?
Question: When is the last time you paused long enough to tell someone, “thank you”? I don’t mean in passing as a pleasantry. But, really stopped what you’re doing and thought about the people in your life who truly support, help, pray for, listen to, engage, show-up and love you? The people who love you with no hopes of getting anything in return? Have you made an effort to tell them thanks?
I had the great fortune at one time to be be apart of Organizational Development which opened my eyes and my heart of the power of THANK YOU. Human beings simply want to feel accepted, have a sense of belonging and know that they are needed. Everyone doesn’t necessarily desire formal recognition or “need” to have a public pat on the back, but they do want to know that what they are doing matters in the bigger picture.
Simply telling someone “thank you” is a powerful gift that forges relationships together so when you have to do hard things, the foundation is firm with trust and respect serving as the pillars of strength. Thank you is a necessary component to moving missions and visions forward. Thank you is a bridge builder. Thank you is a heart connector. Thank you is not something we should just say to say it. We should really strive to let others know how much their efforts, friendship, collaborations and prayers mean to us. Saying thank you is a priceless gift with endless effects.
Challenge: Make an effort to personally tell someone THANK YOU today from your heart. We live in a fast world, but can you stop for a few moments and get someone in your mind that has given of themselves to you in some capacity? How can you tell them THANK YOU in a meaningful way? What small gesture can you offer them (this does not mean spend tons of money) to let them know how appreciative you are? Being intetional about saying thank you will bless them and in turn, bless you.
Photo Credit: Stephen Nelson, Photography by Staci