Happy Valentines Day, ft. Crys

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Every once in awhile, I get the chance to share some wise words, witty quips or entertaining interjections written by some truly talented writers. You all know my style by now. I’m not one to use super-duper dictionary language. I like to keep it simple, and that’s what I look for in talent.

Today, while scrolling through Facebook, I came across a heartfelt post written by my sister’s best friend–Crystal–to here husband. It was brilliant, so I told her I planned to share it with my reading/writing friends. With that, let me introduce you all to the work of Mrs. Crystal Nickson.


“Let’s talk about Marriage.
It’s pretty great. 👍🏾
It’s also pretty damn hard. 👊🏾

Like forreal it’s simultaneously the most beautiful–yet humbling experience I’ve ever been a part of…if that makes any sense. 🤔

It’s so easy in this day to say ‘To hell with it,’ whenever something doesn’t go the way you think it should. But we don’t.

That’s the humbling part.😔

It’s hard being who and what I am in this world, knowing that I’m part of a group that is pretty much last on the list to be genuinely cared for, nurtured, respected & listened to.

Sometimes I get angry at–and agitated with–my husband (and the world at large) because of this.

But we reset. We always seem to reset.
So:

To the man who still says ‘Excuse me; I apologize baby,’ whenever he slips up and curses in front of me…🤬

To the man who has never once sent me a ‘Good Morning, Beautiful’ text, because he instead chose to be able to slide in the bed next to me, kiss me and say it to my face every morning…(okay 4 outta 7 days ain’t bad, hell)…💋

To the man who still asks me to dance whenever an old school jam comes on (even though his rhythm is questionable😁)🕺🏾💃🏿

To the man who supports every BIG & small decision I make in life…and is still there, loving me, after the smoke clears…😫

To the man who literally thanked me for never leaving him (like, forreal y’all, that one got me last night) 😭

To the man who has always chosen faithfulness over fickleness; patience over pride & benevolence over bullsh*t…

🗣TO MY STRONG, KIND, QUIET, BEAUTIFUL, BLACK MAN….✊🏿

HAPPY 15TH ANNIVERSARY, BABY.
I LOVE YOU & I LOVE OUR LOVE.❤
Marham Nickson”


Beautifully said, Crys.

Happy Valentines Day, all.

Truly

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The turkey was eaten. The stuffing was awesome. The green-bean casserole, mashed potatoes, collard-greens and baked beans all went down easy, fulfilling my vegetable requirement. The old home movies took center stage, invoking laughs and cherished memories. And…my Lions lost another Thanksgiving game. By all accounts, another successful holiday celebration has come and gone. And now, many are already out braving the chaos of the annual Black (Thursday) Friday shopping experience.

At the day’s end, I’m comfy in my plaid pajamas, Marvel T-shirt and Nike flip-flops typing away at the keyboard. My wife is tucked away sleeping peacefully, in preparation for another day’s work. It’s the first time today that I’ve taken a serious moment to think about what I’m truly thankful for.

  1. I’m thankful for the last 10 years of marriage to my Misty. A decade ago, we were both far from God and on the brink of divorce. John 6:44 (NKJV) says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” I really do believe the Lord drew us both into Himself. I see so many of my own friends struggling through tough marriages, and often forget what a blessing it was for God to not only grab hold of one of us; but both at the same time. 
  2. I’m thankful for God’s mercy and grace. I came from a good family and never had to want for anything, because my parents worked hard and sacrificed for their three children. But, in my young-adult years, I made poor decisions that could have easily landed me in jail or the grave. I realize God always had a hand on my life. He’s always been watching over me. The bible teaches that even though I never knew Him, and blatantly disrespected Him, Jesus willing went to the cross and died…for me personally. He did it because He loves me more than I can ever fully comprehend.
  3.  I’m thankful for my dad. Gathering at 4269 12th Street has been a tradition for the Smith family. Over the years, we’ve lost family members: cousins, aunts, uncles, my mom. But my dad keeps the tradition alive. At the end of tonight’s celebration, my wife and I washed dishes at my Dad’s house. She searched for a drying-towel to wipe and store the clean dishes. Without thinking, I instinctively made my way to a hall closet where the towels were stored; just as they were when I was a kid. In that moment, I realized how much I loved my Dad and the house I grew up in. I haven’t lived there in years, but the important things are still right where I know to find them. Relatives thanked Misty and I for cleaning the kitchen, but it really took me back to a time long forgotten; a time when it was my job to wash dishes in that house. It didn’t seem like such a special job tonight. The fifth commandment teaches us to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”
  4. I’m thankful for our children. Throughout the celebration, I watched my children eat, laugh and even dance with their extended Smith family. One day, their grandfather will be gone. The house on 12th Street may be different without him. But for now, they enjoy the family get-together celebrations. They love their Poppa, and it shows. I’m blessed to have them. I’m blessed to have my dad be a part of their lives. I’m blessed to be able to watch them grow day by day and year by year.

My marriage, God’s grace & mercy, my dad and my children. Tonight, these are the most important aspects of life…for me.

 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, friends.

 

 

*always*

Will You Still Love Me?

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Always is a powerful word. I think it ranks right up there with the likes of “Infinity”, “Exponentially” and “Forever”. It has no finite end. That’s a pretty bold statement to make, especially considering someday we all have to move on. Who’s to say things won’t change? How do we know feelings will remain the same? How do you know your heart will still hold enough room for “always” even as it continues to make new room for new relationships? What if your heart dumps cache like your brain..or your cell phone? Heck, I can still remember my grandma’s phone number even though she’s been gone for over 20 years, but I can’t remember the password to my email accounts half the time. So, maybe the cache dump is random. If that’s true, will you still love me when I’m 50? How about 60? That’s a lot of time for me to make mistakes, backslide, forget about your face, or forget how close we once were. What if “always” doesn’t mean the same for me, as it does for you? Will you still love me even if I forget about you?

Why would you do that? Why would you continue to hold special room in your heart for a man who doesn’t deserve your love? Maybe on some level, you’re crazy. Maybe you’re a glutton for punishment. Or…just maybe I really don’t understand how deeply your love for me actually goes. Maybe I’ve never understood it.

I do know this, though. Lately, you’ve been on my mind almost everyday. That special bond we share has really been pinging my heart. It forces me to think about what I’m thinking about these days. Are you watching me somehow? Keeping an eye on me from a distance maybe? Is that why I can’t shake the thoughts of you throughout the day?

Maybe you will continue to love me, in spite of my faults, failures and forgetfulness. Maybe you are calling me, to someplace deeper that makes no logical sense. Maybe what I think of as imagination is real.

 

Love Purposefully

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1Corinthians 6:18-20 (NKJV) – 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Let’s talk about sex for a moment. At a young age, I found a copy of Playboy Magazine containing nude photos of a well-known beauty pageant queen. Those images would shape my perception of sex for decades. I would eventually grow up believing women were to be revered as objects of sexual fantasy, and whenever the physical encounters did not measure up to the fantasies, I moved on to the next woman.

As bad as that sounds, our culture actually promotes this behavior. Sex is everywhere. The culture is telling our young girls to dress provocatively, to get ahead in the world. It tells our young men to treat women as slaves instead of delicate queens. Throughout the history of our culture, sex has dominated our purchasing power, and children learn this at young ages. Power Rangers are not fighting crime in robes. No sir, their attire is fashioned to complement their physiques.

Yesterday I read an article on the recent terrorist attack at the Ariana Grande concert. The caption picture depicted her in a form-fitting cat suit with cat ears, posing for the lens. This young lady has vehemently advocated against portraying the “sex-kitten” role in her career, so I felt like it was totally dishonorable for the editors of the article to choose that particular photo to represent her, especially given the content of the article. Even in tragedy, sex sells.

Satan stays busy corrupting and attempting to corrode God’s original plans for humanity. It makes sense to me that sex is as powerful a force, as it is within our culture. The enemy knew the urges of the human body, and thus turned God’s plan for marital pleasure into an excuse to defile ourselves. Even within the sanctity of the Christian marriage, sex is corrupted. Paul knew this, which led to him having to remind the Corinthian church of the dangers of sexual immorality. In our culture, sexual purity seems like a dull outdated way to live. Yet, even in its indulgence of adultery, the culture does not have a problem with the divorce rate sky rocketing, even among Christian marriages.

Paul wanted to remind the Corinthians—and by extension, us—that our bodies do not belong to us. Believers need to understand that our bodies belong to the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Sexual immorality grieves the Spirit, and defiles us. Paul taught that sexual immorality is a direct sin against the body. It ties you to someone else, creating soul ties. That type of connection was never meant to be shared between multiple partners. But in today’s sex-crazed society, that type of connection is encouraged.

Couples have to get to the place where it becomes important to fight for marriage, again. Marriage was meant to be sacred and long lasting. It was designed for spouses to enjoy one another, thereby eliminating the sinful urges to be with anyone besides your own spouse. We have to remember the importance of Jesus paying the price for us. Christians engaged in sexually immoral behavior dishonor the sacrifice of the Lord. Conversely, we honor Jesus by honoring and loving our spouses.

Today I encourage you to take a look at the world surrounding you. Take notice of the things, events or circumstances designed to subtly cause you to diminish the sanctity of your marriage. Take notice of your own feelings toward your spouse. Then choose to love that spouse on purpose, just as you purposefully choose to drive your car. You don’t reach your daily destination by autopilot. Why would we float through life allowing our marriages to operate on autopilot? The way to fight against sexual immorality is to purposefully love our spouses.

This Valentines Day

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Love is in the air; or is it really? Valentines Day is traditionally the time to get close to your sweetheart, and remind them of how much they mean to you. But what about those couples–particularly longevity couples–who look at it as just another work day? You know who I’m talking about. Maybe it’s Mr. and Mrs. Jones down the street, who have been married for 30 years. We always see him or her, but never him and her together. Perhaps we’re talking about Mr. and Mrs. Smith who have seen 20 years of marriage, and now only pass each other in the hallway on their separate ways to another one of their kids’ activities. Maybe we’re thinking of Mr. and Mrs. Bailey, over on Peach Street, who have been married for 11 years now. Everyone in the neighborhood admires their big house and flashy cars. But, everyone knows that while Mr. Bailey works crazy hours, Mike the mailman visits the Bailey home frequently. How much mail do they receive in a day?!

Marriage is work folks. Tonight, I’m not talking about the kind of work required to avoid confrontations. No, I’m talking about the kind of work needed to remind your spouse that he or she is still important to you. Deep down, we all want to be desired. In the beginning of our relationships, it’s easy to be desirable because everything is fresh and new. As time marches on, we have a tendency to become distracted by everyday life, and it’s unwavering demands. Moms, once hot little numbers dolled up specifically for our attention can wake up to find themselves the sweatpant-and -hoodie bus driver for the kids. Dads, once the sexy masculine-suited hero with eyes only for you (lady), overnight find themselves relegated to wearing that favorite yet horribly faded and frayed college T-Shirt, plaid shorts and flip flops to every place you two go.

Don’t get me started on intimacy. What’s that anymore?

(Okay, we’re all adults here, so I can go there…)

It used to be that special time you both looked forward to sharing, where your bodies were each other’s personal playgrounds, and there were little to no boundaries. Yet, as the years of marriage glide by, the intimacy for some couples morphs into a job for one partner, and a simple means of sustaining an otherwise boring existence for the other. And we wonder why infidelity is destroying marriages everywhere.

We have to fight for our marriages. Sometimes that fight takes place in the safety and security of our own homes. We have to fight the world around us, to save and secure our marriages.

  • Date Nights
  • Planned Dinners
  • Impromptu Getaways
  • Midday Lunches

We need to do these things with our spouses to keep the love strong, and to let them know thy are not only desired but needed. It’s important to date your wife, or to cater to your husband every one in awhile. Don’t give them any reason to look for attention outside of your arms.

And for Pete’s sake, have sex with your spouse! Be involved and remember the first time. Christian folks wanna get all uppity and prudish, when it comes to this subject. You better make love to your spouse, and quite regularly! And it better NOT be a one-sided deal, either. If you think I’m being crass, then you need to read your bible:

1 Corinthians 7:5 (NKJV)

Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

I know a brother in Christ–yeah a brother in Christ–who struggles with pornography, because he and his wife are not intimate. Satan will find a way to wreck our marriages, if we refuse to fight for them.

So this year for Valentines Day, I challenge you, dear readers, to take a good long look at your spouse. Remember that first look into their eyes and rekindle the flame. It may take effort for some of you, but it’s worth the work.

 

 

Always Love You

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Hey there,

I’ve been pretty busy lately. The new job is going well and my family is enjoying a season of humble prosperity. Things are good. My oldest sons are growing into fine young men, and my daughters are both growing into beautiful young ladies. My lil guy is at that special age where I simultaneously want to wrap my arms around him in a protective bear-hug, but also seal his mouth shut with duct tape. He’s mostly the cause of my blooming gray goatee. My wife likes the silver. She thinks it’s sexy and wisdom looks good on me. I’ll take that. Everyday, I see more of the woman she’s destined to become and it brings me joy. We’ve been through some things over the years, but by the grace of our father, we’re about to celebrate 15 years of marriage. I wouldn’t trade her or her special brand of crazy for all the money in the world. She was made special for me. I see it all the time now. And I’m thankful for them all. They are my family.

There are days when I feel as if life has become so busy that I’ve placed you on the back burner, as some afterthought. But you know my heart. And even though I probably don’t need to say it, I will because I know you like to hear confession from the lips. I think about you all the time. No matter what I may be doing in my busy days, you’re always there. Sometimes I can hear past conversations and then marvel at how things have turned out. Sometimes I imagine your voice answering a spontaneous question. Sometimes I smile when I think to myself that its perfectly fine to love someone else the way I love my family. But then, you are family, aren’t you? I can’t exactly pinpoint when you officially became family to me, but I know it’s true.

I wanted to write this to you, just as a reminder. I know its a big world and you’ve got things to do that don’t necessarily involve me. But, I also know that you still love me. I know you’ll love me forever. I know you think about me often, because I can feel it from time to time. It’s that special bond we have. I hope I make you proud as not only the man I’ve become, but as the man I am becoming.

Some folks may read this and have no clue what it means. Others may read it as a misconstrued cryptic message. But you know exactly what it all means, and you know it’s straight from my heart. In time, people may turn away from you; maybe even close loved ones. That’s gonna hurt something terrible. But I want you to remember this truth: I figured out a long time ago that I’m going to always love you. Do you understand that? I’m going to *always* love you.

Good night.

 

 

 

One Last Time

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Where did time go? These days, I look in the mirror and see the evidence of its subtle passing: gray peppers my goatee, a constant receding hairline and extra pounds round my waistline. But, one day I rounded the corner and saw her sitting quietly alone. All at once, time not only stood still, it rewound.

There was my old friend, just as I had always remembered her. Despite time’s undaunted march, she hadn’t changed a bit. Suddenly, all the love I had stored inside—love I thought had long since faded away—came back in a spectacular explosion that left me dumbfounded. She never saw me hesitate; too busy entertaining her smartphone. She didn’t see my smile, didn’t see me choke back emotion at the mere sight of her again. I couldn’t believe how happy I was to see her after so much time had passed. Yet, it was as if no time had passed at all.

By the time I walked to her, my façade was in place: a light joke; a gentle hug; a quick glance into her eyes, just to let her know I was really with her. Her eyes were still just as beautiful and deep as I remembered, but…but…something…

I met her children; each one just as beautiful as their mother, with a hint of their father in each innocent face. We watched them play as we talked. I watched them cling to her in their own individual ways, and saw her easily and instinctively love them as a mother should. The love in my heart multiplied. I was so proud of the woman she had become; the mother and wife I imagined she would someday be.

Suddenly, I remembered a scene from a lifetime ago; and yet it seemed to be just yesterday. My friend, kneeling down in a flower bed, planting. I watched her from the window of her apartment and saw the woman she would someday be; the woman she is now, sitting here in front of me, loving her children. She didn’t notice me whisper a silent prayer of thanks to God, for watching over her, for the past 15 years. She didn’t know I praised him for giving her the man she’d asked for, and her beautiful babies.

Our small talk was just that. I loved my friend enough to respect her new life. There would be no professing how much I missed her presence in my life; how deeply I still loved her, though the love I harbor is far removed from lust. The fact that I can’t talk to her whenever she crosses my mind, sometimes seems unfair, but it is a price that I accept, if only to know she’s okay. It is the moment I’ve prayed for a hundred times.

“Please God. Bring us back together one last time. Let me look on her, and see her happiness.”

Something in her eyes. My façade faltered and I showed my worry. I gazed into her eyes, but she looked away, trying to convince me a dozen times that she was fine. My heart hurt for her. There was nothing I could do but pray that God would fix whatever was broken. In my humanity, I wanted to pry; I needed to know if there was anything I could do. But this was not my place, and I knew it. I had been on the road she was now traveling, and knew what bumps lie ahead. My friend; despite her blessings, she was sad inside.

As we parted ways, I casually told her I loved her, and she responded in kind. And as I walked away, I could feel my age and my world return to their rightful place in my life. Yet, every day since, I pray for my friend and her entire family. I pray that God would work a miracle to bring joy and happiness back into her everyday life. And I pray that she knows, someone outside of her everyday world, an old friend will always love her.