Columnist: Faith sustained me through good times and bad

Sunday was a very significant day in my life. Fifty-six years to the day, I became a bride. And although my groom has been dead now for nearly 51 years, I still remember the day as though it were yesterday. I was 19; he was 21. We were too young, emotionally, to take on the responsibilities of marriage and later a family. But nobody could tell us what to do.

It’s funny how we look back over our life and wonder if we would have done anything differently. I can’t say that I would have changed a thing. I’d had a crush on Jimmy since I was about 14. He never noticed me until I was out of high school. We were reacquainted at a Valentine’s Day dance. I felt in my heart that he was the one. My mother felt differently and told me so. We were too young, she said. And what about college? But like many love struck girls, I told her she didn’t want me to be happy. And so, we got married.

So today, I’m looking back on the past 56 years of my life, and the twists and turns of the roads I have traveled on this journey. I can say, with all honesty, it has been a great ride. Along the way, I became the mother of two sons. I went to work as a house maid to support them after Jimmy was no longer in my life. And I learned the power of prayer and how to actually lean on the Lord, consulting Him in everything I attempted to do, including getting the job at the Miami Herald.

Having a real relationship with the Lord was the best thing that ever happened to me. As a young, single mother, the soft voice of the Lord, instructing me when I didn’t have the answers, helped me to make the right decisions. It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes my decisions were challenged by one or both my sons. But we managed.

We had great times around the dinner table, especially after church on Sunday nights, when we’d have a bedtime snack. That’s when I’d tell them stories of my growing up days and the silly antics I was often involved in. They loved my stories and would laugh so loud, especially Shawn.

They weren’t the only ones who laughed. I laughed, too. I remember when Rick, my older son, was getting ready for his junior prom and wanted his tux to match his date’s dress. He had the white dinner jacket with black pnts, and he chose a light green, ruffled front (remember them?), formal shirt and white bow tie. He ’d also had white pants made for the after-prom party.

Then came prom night. I got off work a little early so I could help him get dressed. Good thing I did. When Rick pulled on the black pants to the tux, they were a good six inches too short. He panicked. it was too late to get to the tux-rental place. After having a good laugh (behind his back), "Supermom" went into action. I took his green shirt to a notion store that was nearby and matched it with yards of light green ribbon. Back home, I took his white after-prom-party pants and sewed the ribbon, tuxedo style, down the side. It was a race against time, but I finished in time for him to pick up his date. His outfit matched hers perfectly. And according to Rick, all his friends wanted to know where he got his tux. Supermom had saved the day - again.

Then, there was the time when Shawn, my younger son, had a band concert. True to fashion, he told me at 5 p.m. the day of the concert that he needed white shoes to wear with his uniform.

"Too late," I told him. "I'm racing against the clock now, to make it to your concert. You will just have to let your band director know you told me too late that you needed white shoes for this concert."

After work, I drove too fast (sorry officers) to make the concert on time at Carol City High School. I made it just before Shawn’s oboe solo. He saw me when I came in and smiled my way. He was halfway through the solo when I looked down at his feet. He was wearing white shoes. But there was grass and other street trash stuck to the outside of the soles. I couldn’t stop laughing. Shawn has found some left over white spray paint in our utility room, and had sprayed his black shoes white. The shoes didn’t have time to dry, so as he walked to school wearing the wet, freshly sprayed shoes, picked up trash along the way.

I’m blessed to have wonderful memories of the growing up days of my four granddaughters and my only grandson, too. And I am blessed to still be around for the antics of my little great-grandsons, Jaylen and Varie.

There you have it... a short glimpse of the past 56 years of my life. And as Gladys Knight sings, “If anyone, should ever write my life story, for whatever reason there might be, You (the Lord) will be there between every line of pain and glory. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me."

Free health screenings

Valley Grove Missionary Baptist Church, where Elder Johnnie L. Robinson is the pastor, will sponsor a free Community Health Fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday on the church grounds, 1395 NW 69th St. in Liberty City.

"The health fair," said coordinator Patricia Robinson, "is to get the people in the community to become more concerned about their health , and to provide basic health screening to those who may not have seen a doctor in some time."

There will be several health care providers onsite to do health screenings for AIDS, STDs, cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and more. In addition to the distribution of health care information, there will also be fire safety demonstrations, referrals for free mammograms, activities for the children , free refreshments, gifts and prizes .

Everyone is invited. For more information, call Patricia Robinson at 305-298-8937.

Movie night at the shul

Temple Beth Tov-Ahavat Shalom will present another of its Movies Series at 3 p.m. Sunday with the movie, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The movie series will present films with a Jewish content and Spanish sub-titles.

If you go, you are invited to come earlier, at 2 p.m., to participate in the official ceremony of affixing three new mezzuzot, as reminders to "be a link in the chain of Jewish life" at the temple.

There is no charge for the movie but a drink and popcorn is $5 per person. The temple is at 6438 SW Eighth St. in West Miami. Call 305-205-3846 for more information.

New deacons at Shiloh

On July 9, I was one of many who filled the sanctuary at New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church to witness the ordination of the church’s newest deacons. One was a childhood friend, Pasco Walker, who was born in Overtown, graduated from Booker T. Washington Junior-Senior High School and attended Southern University. He is single and has been a member of Shiloh since 1993 and sings in the Lead Servant Male Choir and the Mass Choir, while also serving with the Mission Ministry.

The other new deacons are:

• Calvin Cornelius Joyner Jr. He is the son of the late Rev. Calvin Joyner Sr. and Evangelist Henrietta Graham-Joyner. Born in Miami, he has four sisters. Joyner is a 1982 graduate of Miami Central Senior High. He has been a m ember of New Shiloh since 2010. He and his wife Beverly Williams-Joyner, are the parents of three — Keneesha, Andrea and Kory.

• Elonza Morris, III, is also a native Miamian and is a graduate of Miami Northwestern High, Florida A&M University and the Dr. E.V. Hill Bible College. He currently attends Liberty University. He has been a member of New Shiloh since 2010 and serves as the church’s youth pastor and lead servant of the Mimi Ministry. He is married to Kristina P. and they are the parents of Jaylen, Joshua, and Alani.

• Roland Clark, also born in Miami, is a graduate of Booker T. Washington High school and attended FAMU. He has been a member of New Shiloh since 1998 and serves in the Parking Lot Ministry, the Male Choir, and the Marriage Enrichment Ministry.

• Samuel J. Crist is a native of Stuart, and has an associate’s degree in mortuary science and a bachelor’s in Accounting. He is single. He has been a member of New Shiloh since 2003 and serves with the Mission Ministry and is a Junior Boys assistant Sunday school teacher.

• Timothy Archibald Dean was born in Freeport, Bahamas. He is a graduate of Carol City High School and has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in criminal justice. He is married to Gina and became a member of New Shiloh in 1997. He serves with the church’s Parking Lot Ministry.

• Larry Fickling was born in Miami and is a graduate of Miami Edison High school and Miami Dade College. He became a member of New Shiloh in 1998 and serves with the Mission, the Kitchen, the Men’s Bible Study, the Male Chorus, the Parking Lot and the Media Ministries.

• Eugene Junior Howard was born in San Francisco and moved to Miami in 1948. He is a graduate of Booker T. Washington. Married to Lillie L., he is retried from the Carpenters Local #225. He has been of member of New Shiloh since 1998 and serves with the Parking Lot, Usher Board # 1 and Marriage Enrichment ministries.

• Curtis A.C. Robinson is a native of Miami and a graduate of Miami Dade College He is a pharmacy technician and is a mental health counselor. Married to Davida M. Matchett, he has been a member of New Shiloh since 2011 and serves with the following ministries: Male Chorus, Mission and Men’s ministries.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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