“Thanks For Riding With Me…”

Thanks for Riding With Me…

How exciting it is to be at the threshold of another new year. For many of us 2010 was quite an amazing experience filled with some triumphs…and a few troubles. Yet, we made it through. Hopefully, we are changed in at least some small way. Maybe you finally stopped smoking. Or you lost those unwanted pounds…and kept them off by employing a new way to enjoy food. Some of you have that book written and out for the public to embrace.

What will be the driving force for your 2011? Let’s acknowledge that we can have a different life. It starts each day when we choose consciously. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Drinking more water and less soda. Telling your loved ones…”I Love You.” Before they become the dearly departed…

I am grateful to those of you who kept me in your inbox as I wrote my blog posts. There were times I had that old tape playing…why am I doing this? No one is reading…Crap!

But, I kept going, determined to honor my commitment to sharing my life and thoughts in public view. Some people dropped out…more dropped in. And many of you gave me encouragement to keep going. I thank you.

As I did last December, I would like to know what it is you deem important going forward. For it is true that when we have people to whom we are accountable, we are less likely to quit. Something about knowing that someone cares gives us even more of a reason to press on. So, forward one or two of your 2011 goals…and I will do the same.

A year ago I challenged us that when we looked back at 2010, we would see a new path created. And, thus, a new life experience. I am pleased with what I can see looking behind me. I pray that you are encouraged as well…let’s make 2011 an even better year.


2Ply or not 2Ply…

2 Ply or not 2 Ply…

For those of you who have had the experience to hear a sermon by the Rev. Frederick D. Haynes, III of Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas, you know what I am about to do is straight out of his playbook. For those of you who have not witnessed how this master theologian can weave everyday inanimate objects into a message and make them come to life to tell a story…I will do my best impression.

I was having an experience last week while just making a few groceries at the local supermarket, when I pushed my cart into the isle where one can ascertain the vast array of lavoratory paper…bathroom tissues…toilet paper. Needing to restock my house with this basic staple, I began to wonder about the differences in the size, price and effectiveness of these items. I mean there are literally hundreds of choices to make on this product. And before today, I had not given much thought to the purchase.

For most of us men, trying to understand the need for a 2 ply versus single ply roll of toilet paper is like trying to grasp the difference between a 100 thread count sheet and a 300 thread count…it’s just sheets. Or, in this instance, toilet paper.

But the toilet paper started talking to me…and expressing itself in such a way as to educate me on the need to purchase this multi-layered brand, which also informs me on the packaging that it has “A difference I can feel…” Really?

As the rolls of tissue and I continued to banter back and forth about the importance of “knowing” that my butt is really clean, and not just assuming that it is…my thoughts would drift to other instances in our lives where we think we are doing just enough (single ply tissue paper), in our relationships, jobs and business. Or when we really give more (2 ply paper) than our competition and gain the longer-term trust and respect because we invested more time and sweat into the endeavor.

As my hand reached toward the cheaper, single ply brand, it hit me…that it is better to invest more today into what is going to be the same process, but insuring a smoother, cleaner outcome versus spending less time and money, but having to clean up a mess that could have been avoided with more forethought and self-love. An epiphany in aisle 12…

So, like Pastor Haynes might say, I got my sermon that day from a most provocative and perfunctory participant. Put more effort and thought into what we really need and want and the outcome will be better in the end…literally and figuratively.

Now be my guest, and squeeze the Charmin…


I REally Went to CHURCH Last Sunday

The following is a guest post from my sister, Rev. Cheryl D. Ward…EnJoy

I REALLY went to church last Sunday

Last Saturday night, we held a gospel concert in commemoration of World AIDS Day. The guest artist included some of San Francisco Bay Area’s best soloist and choirs and we had a great time in worship. My long-time friend, colleague and sister, Bishop Yvette Flunder, served as the worship leader and her anointed words and singing took the program over the top.

The next morning, my spirit longed for more worship and word, so I decided to attend her churches Homecoming celebration. It was great to see so many people I had not seen in years and to find out the wonderful things they were currently doing in ministry. In fact, I began feeling quite nostalgic as I reminisced about the many years of friendship that many of us shared and the things we’ve seen each other through. The other feeling that took me by surprise was a physical weakness that made me fear that I was getting ready to pass out in the middle of service. My blood pressure was rapidly dropping low and my body was getting weaker by the minute. I had experienced this a few days earlier and realized that I had not eaten or taken my morning medications. This day was different because I made it a point to eat before I left home, so my glucose levels would not drop unexpectedly. I am not a diabetic, but sometimes this happens as a side-effect of other medications.

I sat through half of the worship service but felt as if my symptoms were worsening, so I beckoned to Bobbi Jean – the usher seated directly behind me – and asked for some water and salt. (Sea Salt raises the blood pressure). When Bobbi Jean returned with the salt and water, I thought it best to see if there was someone available to actually take my blood pressure. She quickly escorted me out of the sanctuary into a private room.

As I sat down, three people entered the room to be of assistance. Sugar Bear – whom I had known for many years – said, “Pastor, sit down, we’re going to take good care of you.” She quickly pulled out a Blood Pressure monitor and proceeded to check my levels. Jeremy, – whom I was meeting for the first time – took my other wrist and began to check my Heart Rate. Deacon Traci – another longtime friend – brought a glass of water and told me to drink all of it. She has such a commanding presence and a real gift for taking care of pastors, I dared not to question her. Janice – another longtime friend – entered the room and said, “I was watching you in service and I knew something was wrong.” In that moment and in the surrounding presence of each of them, a calmness began to settle inside of me.

In a matter of minutes, we discovered that my Blood Pressure had dropped to 72/60, which explained the symptoms I was experiencing. They continued to administer the water and had even sent someone to the store to purchase Sea Salt.

My body suddenly got very cold and I was shaking in an uncontrollable manner. This caused a sudden sense of panic inside of me and Sugar Bear wrapped her jacket around me, while Jeremy sent for Pastor David – whom I had never met – a professional nursing instructor.

I was sure they were getting ready to call 911 and I was going to the hospital – something I hate to do. Sugar Bear handed him a Glucose Monitor and determined that my Blood Sugar was also low. By this time, five people were checking my vitals, giving me water and feeding me to expeditiously raise my levels. It was as if Angels had been dispatched all around me. At that moment, an overwhelming sense of gratitude arose from within and I began to thank God, and each of them, then began to weep. I was very clear that this story could have unfolded very differently! And I was grateful that I was in the right place, with the right people, at the right time. Not long after, getting my levels back to normal, they escorted me back in worship service, then afterward to the dining hall to share a meal with the other pastors. Janice took my car keys and had her son drive me home to Oakland, while she followed in her car. (Mind you, she was headed home to Sacramento – but took the time to do this for me).

I missed the entire sermon and some of the songs, but I certainly did not miss worship. In fact, all five of them were my own personal ministers. I REALLY went to church last Sunday and I REALLY saw THE church for the first time. It was nothing like I had ever imagined it or how I was taught it looked. Five people – Angels – took care of me and it didn’t matter if they were white or black, same gender loving or heterosexual, bi-sexual or trans-gender. If I had been in the emergency room, I would have never questioned the nurses or the doctors taking care of me, so why do we do it in the church? What mattered most in that moment, was that they knew that Jesus never said what his people were supposed to look like, he said “you will know my people by their love – and the greatest among us would be the one who serves.”

Rev. Cheryl D. Ward
Cheryl Ward Ministries

Are YOU a Cell Out…

Are you a Cell out…

Funny how the more things change, the farther away from the past we get. Now I know you were expecting a different conclusion to that old cliché, but I had another thought.

Some of us are seasoned enough to recall a time when you were told by a parent to always keep a dime, so you could make a phone call in an emergency. Great advice when you had pay phones on almost every other block. Then along came cell phones. They were these big deals…literally and figuratively. My first cell phone weighed about 6 pounds, as it had the battery block attached to it. Something you would see in an old army movie. Big rubber antenna. Left it sitting on my car seat in Oakland’s Chinatown one afternoon in 1992…came back to the car and it had been stolen. Oh snap. Do I have a dime?

Here we are today, and almost everyone has a cell phone. Small enough to fit in your pocket, purse or other grandmotherly hiding place. And to see how we have been programmed to where we feel lost without it is a sad state of affairs. I even heard a friend say recently that if he had left his briefcase at home during the morning commute, no problem. He could just wing it that day at work. But, if he had left his cell phone at home, he would have turned around and headed back home. The risk of being “out of touch” superceded the fact that he would be late for work. I shook my head in disbelief.

The next time I see a person riding a bike, pushing their child in a stroller or standing at the checkout at the store and talking on their cell phone, I might just scream at the top of my lungs…LET IT GO! I mean do we have to be connected to someone all the time? Can we have a few minutes of alone time? Must we be at the end of the tether and available at every moment of every day? During your bath/shower? Meals? Prayer?

As we ramp up toward 2011, I just want you to consider how we might become a bit freer when we can put the cell phone down, and spend time really engaged in a conversation with our fellow brother or sister. No sneak peek at your device when it buzzes, rings or sings the newest Beyonce song. Show the person with whom you are talking that they matter when the next digital interruption occurs. It just might make them feel important to you.

More importantly, you might find that life is pretty good without that incessant interruption. By the way, if you do not hear from me for a few days, call and check on me. But only after 10:00 PM and before 7:00 AM. It’s a free incoming call for me…