They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Recently, I read this quote by Nikita Gill, and it reinvigorated my sense that God has given us all a purpose in life. She wrote: "Some people are born with tornadoes in their lives, but constellations in their eyes. Other people are born with stars at their feet, but their souls are lost at sea." I believe I was born with stars in my eyes and found my soul at sea. For it was at the age of 18, serving my country at sea when the hand of God spoke to me.
             Although my journey started the year I was born, 1944, way before I could walk, these were years of innocence and darkness, as it were in the beginning. In 1949, I stepped into the life of my very first best friend. This, of what I wrote in chapter one of my book. Unbeknown, in real-time that my journey had already begun. Baby steps were being taken into the realities of conscious and unconscious bias— into the evils of humankind. From 1949 until 1961, there came trickling's of light as the hand of God spoke in tandem with my heart, and my journey became known in my soul.
        I share these thoughts from the seat of my soul because I believe it is a way of letting people into your heart and into your world. Shared passion, fear, guilt, a shared longing, or joy are gifts to the beloved. Places where people share their happiness, guilt, anxiety, and love are where the gospel will flourish. 
            Finally, I share a recommended read to the avid reader: ---"Revelations on the River: Healing a Nation, Healing Ourselves," by Matthew Dowd.         Revelations on the River visits key topics like love, fears and trauma, forgiveness and reconciliation, faith and science, interconnection, and legacies. It is an examination of values that bind us together, in turn, which may lead us as a people to a more enlightened place.
       September 21th, 1917                                                                                        March 12, 1996

                                                               "Life in reality, is an open Book"

       In recognition of Rena Hurt Faulkner for this upcoming Mother's Day, my mother's words be told as self-evident. Motherly advice, words she spoke that will live in me for infinity. "Occupy your mind" go read a book." Words etched in stone, accentuated by love. Love that empowers the heart to share, to give in a non-braggadocious manner. One person's passion may not be another person's desire. But what binds one's heart to another is the sincerity in its sharing. The depth of empathy that migrates from the Seat of the Soul. A trait reborn in me, year after year from her legacy. The repetitiveness in the belief that it's far better to give than to receive. There be 14 Bible Verses in replication. One of her beloved verses was Luke 6:38. 

       Except for interpersonal feelings, life itself is an open book. How we live it in the word of giving determines the epilogue, the salvation of the soul. Another passage she would quote to me was 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. In that as much, I've grown to understand that love is not an acronym, simply spoken at will. It can be a verb, a noun, or an adjective; all in all, a persuader. Love is one of the most intense, most powerful emotions we will experience as humans. Therefore, I'm showcasing my mother this Mother's Day for what she has inspired in me through love.

      Besides the love for life, in marriage, love for family, my home, it is also the love of a book that completes the foundation. As with life, a book is divided into three parts. In life, we are born, we live, and we pass. How we live will be our legacy, as our souls are forever. Books are divided into three main parts: front matter, body matter, and end matter. The epitome, the matter of life. Based on its title, an unread book can be only speculative in nature, in the growth of the mind. Giving conjecture a chance to grow like weeds in a garden, inhibiting the fruit from being all it can be. We all have a purpose in life, as in Bishop T. D. Jakes' book "Destiny." I believe in destiny.

        It was long ago at sea when God's hand reached out to me, along with my mother's enduringness, empowering a need in me to give inspiration through sharing. Her legacy has empowered my accumulation of a library of over 500 books. Two hundred and one are listed on my website http://www.bookmystory.net/MY-LIBRARY.html with 136 being from Audible. The rest are in print, book-covered form, a part of the aesthetic bookcase philosophy of my home. This is not a brag but a dedication and recognition of her indelible love. Some may discern the purpose when there are free libraries available. I say to them. It accentuates the "me," a point of reference, embellishing the fact of discipleship, cultivating a path to generational knowledge.

       If you have read thus far, you are in the back matter of this reading. Hopefully, the front matter caught your interest, as the fruit was in the body. In an era of banning books, and equal rights put in jeopardy, I come with gifts from Audible. The first eight family member email addresses with full name sent to hlf072244@bookmystory.net   will receive an invitation to receive an audible book of choice.  A gift from the legacy of Rena Hurt Faulkner, a seedling from her love.  The gift can be for self or for someone else.  To be fair, the first 8 emails received between 9am - 12 noon on 5/7/22 will receive redemption by 5/8/22. All over eight, one by one each month until complete.    

Peace and the Glory Of God be with each upon all with the fertilizer of love!

                                                                                                             JULY 2023

          Man in the Mirror" was written by Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett and produced by Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones. Listen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9NYDgbKsBE   It was released on February 6, 1988, five turbulent years after my retirement from the Navy. I was attending college, having two pre-teens. And dealing with the culture shock as a black man requiring a lot of soul searching and humble isolation to survive. So many times, I felt like giving up. But it was my mom, my dad, and my grandparents' direct and indirect teachings that I could reflect upon, giving me what I call the fuels of wisdom. The role model I have endeavored to emulate, "Against All Odds," as a grand and great granddad. Survival and instincts are synonymous. Any instinct that helps us survive and thrive can be considered a primal instinct. It's been in place for thousands of years. Miniature instincts are in place the minute we are born. To cry, to smile, and as we grow, to walk, to run, to read, to learn, to set goals, and even create generational wealth, even on a rocky road.

           In 1974 I was a Facilitator in Race Relations for the Navy's UPWARD Program (Understanding Personal Worth and Racial Dignity). Standing in front of a class, which many times was hostel and closed-minded in their cultural views. Reflecting on my childhood gave me the strength to push on. The phrase, "A child should be seen and not heard." In those days, it was not an oxymoron but intrinsic. Giving way to learning to be a good listener systematically, having to leave the room when the conversation reached adult level was endemic.

        In 1972 UNCF, formerly known as United Negro College Fund, rolled out a campaign. The group introduced the tagline, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." That tagline carried me back to my grandpa Charlie Hurt. His words about man, God, and God's green earth resonated. A closed mouth and a listening ear had personified. I had unconsciously learned how not to take negativity personally. Maturing into understanding that mind control is a powerful weapon against humanity's pessimism, which is the devil's gun, the world's worst enemy, when we don't communicate soul-to-soul with God in the mix. I don't have to agree with you, but I will give respect where respect is given. 

Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. Psalms 119:6

       On the day of his book release, Harry Dunn, the author of "Standing My Ground, " was asked by Nicole Wallace on Dateline White House how do we fix it? She was referring to the level of hate in America. He struggled to answer. Saying, "I don't know. I don't know. Nothing works. I wish I did know. But I can't just do nothing." His words brought melancholy to my heart as I related to his sentiment. In a matter of hours, in just one day, he received a booster dose of hate. Hatred which has been normalized to many people of color in America.
               Extremism and Partisanship in our government have become, representationally, resembling the plot of "The Silencing of the Lamb." The depiction of good in a struggle with evil from the point of both the hunter and the hunted. The seed planting of hate and divisiveness. In the last seven years, I've come to feel like a gnat sitting on an elephant's rump, writing, emitting from the top of my vocabulary. Emphatically, sharing references from Bible verses, creating quotes, and reaching back to Aesop's Fables like "The Gnat & the Bull," but without the notoriety of being heard or taken seriously. As a child, I was taught to read analytically, share feelings, and give from the heart. While serving 22 years as an adult in the United States Navy, with accumulated training and knowledge, I became a trained Facilitator in Race Relations. As an elder, my aggregated experiences culminated in my writing "Guidance Against the Odds." It is an autobiography about 39 years of navigating the minefields of non-poetic justice, hatred that has masked itself in tokenism in America for hundreds of years.
October 2023 Recommended read....