Publisher’s Notes

Linda Jackson Crocoft
Linda Jackson Crocoft

I’m old enough to know that regardless to outward appearances, everyone has their turn for inexplicable hardships, feelings of isolation and some despair. Well, it’s my turn.
Recently while contemplating my situation, I was struck by the fact that I love to read. And, as a result, I’ve been able to snatch moments of absolute peace in the mist of my turmoil.
Wow. Yes, I love to read. Reading broadens your thinking. It provides an intimate glance into the lives and perspectives of others and transports you to exciting new places. Reading the right stuff also affirms personal strength unearths courage and dignity. Such was the rewards of reading William Ernest Henley INVICTUS.

Invictus

William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Create Your Own Holiday Traditions and Memories(November/December 2010)

It’s that time again. Time to come together with those we love and repeat the valued traditions that affirm who we are, who we belong to and what is genuinely important. African-Americans have always honored the traditions of family, food, song, and spirituality during the holidays – memories connecting our past to the present. Sure, we remember the rough times. But, it’s those positive experiences and memories that we treasure most.

Traditions bind families and friends, creating a connectedness that transitions even life itself. Experts say that it is during these activities that family beliefs and values are transferred as children witness the importance of sharing, friendship, and unity. Social scientists also report that the real value of completing the same rituals year in and year out are the feelings of stability, identity, trust and security participants receive. Traditions are essential pieces of our mental and social balance.
The love and spirit of Thanksgiving 1989 is forever embedded in my heart. It was weeks before he died. Emphasizing the importance of this particular gathering, Mom prefaced every conversation about dinner with “Daddy’s going to pray”. My grandfather, Daddy Sanford, was born in 1902. He grew up during a time when life and death for black folks was determined by common sense. Church was community and, for many, the bible was the only book in the house. As a result, he was solid in his knowledge of scriptural values, promises and expectations. Daddy Sanford was also a gifted / respected speaker. Threaded with biblical concepts, sound judgment of basic life principles and soaked with fire and authority, his prayers reduced even the most cynical to tears. Weakened from cancer, he had moved from the family farm in Tennessee to live with Mom. When that sacred day finally arrived, knowing this would be the last time, everyone crowded into the room to be washed by his blessings.

Even after I married, since my husband’s mother was deceased and his father remarried and relocated, holidays were still spent at Mom’s. The focus was never gifts but the joy of each other’s presence. She often said, “When I was a child I got fruit, nuts, maybe a doll and a pair of shoes for Christmas. Mama baked pies and cakes for the relatives and friends that would come by. Once you get older your life centers around your children.” Therefore, she and her husband Honey (Odie Tucker) made every effort to accommodate us all.

Some referred to Mom as the Christmas lady. She had an infectious almost child-like excitement about the season. Even after Honey died, she still managed to get someone to frame the house with twinkling lights. Something delectable was usually cooking or awaiting whoever stopped by. A pot of soup, molasses cake, chicken and dumplings from scratch, black-eye-peas, teacakes, sweet potato and chess pies, strawberry peach cobblers, and, of course, pineapple coconut cake were my favorites. My daughter remembers mac and cheese and the Dutchgirl cookie jar that was always empty by day’s end. My feeble attempts to duplicate these aromas by boiling pots of wassail (a spiced apple cider drink) are inferior at best but I try.

Establish your own family traditions. These occasions may be the only times we see some relatives.Include friends and people who are alone. Welcome contributions but remember, regardless to appearances, it’s impossible to judge anyone else’s financial situation. So, allow people to decide what they will bring. Plant the seeds for warming memories. You will look back on these moments with thankfulness and joy.

Songs in Key Life
That’s What Faith Can Do
Lyrics by Kutless
(September/October 2010)

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise
From the ashes and make a new beginning
Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you’re stronger, stronger than you know
Don’t you give up now
The sun will soon be shining
You gotta face the clouds
To find the silver lining

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try
Everybody’s scared to death
When they decide to take that step
Out on the water
It’ll be alright
Life is so much more
Than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way
If you keep believing

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do

Overcome the odds
You don’t have a chance
(That’s what faith can do)
When the world says you can’t
It’ll tell you that you can!

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end
Even when the sky is falling
And I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new
That’s what faith can do
That’s what faith can do!
Even if you fall sometimes
You will have the strength to rise

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