Snapshots of My Mind


A 60's kid

Yea, I was a mishmash of everything. Look at me. Trying to find identity.

This picture was from 8th grade and I still can’t believe I let my friend Ann, chop off my hair like this. I went with my friend, Carol and her, to her house, and she pulled out the scissors, to do her work.Even at that time, I was adventurous. Always willing to experiment.

She was sharing the story about her stepmother, finding this green stuff, called, ‘marijuana, in her brother’s bedroom, and flushing it down the toilet. Then she told us he was into taking, ‘orange sunshine’ (LSD) Hmm, they made it sound so much like a dessert. Kind of like Tang. Don’t even think that stuff is around anymore. I mean, Tang, of course. However, we knew it was taboo, even then. But the stories, were exciting to listen to. We were the next generation.

Then one day we came over for lunch, and her mom gave my friend, Miriam, and me liver! That is the ultimate kiss of death! I mean come on. You know a person’s parent is giving you a pretty clear message with a meal like that.I was almost tempted to ask if they had any of that Tang, around, to doctor it up! My friend Miriam kept telling me, “just cut it up in small pieces and eat it with milk.” Well, I also hate milk. So that was a problem. Yea, I know. I’m from the dairy state, and that should be against the law. But so far, they haven’t charged me. But, I just couldn’t do it. So Miriam, ate mine. But, as much as I insisted, Ann’s mom couldn’t possibly like us, she said, “Oh sure she does. She just loves liver, and assumed we did too. “Yea, right. Cause we all know. Kid’s just love liver.”

Anyway, these were my  friends, at this time in my life. But a few years before, which are like decades, in kid years, it was Romaine Reed. She was my best friend. She was black. Well, of course that wouldn’t even need to be a statement, now, but we were in the midst of racial tensions at that time. But as children, our worlds, didn’t know anything but friendship.

I met her  after I had just moved into Parklawn. This was the project down the street from my school, Atonement Lutheran. She was in my second grade class. I lived on Sherman Boulevard and Congress. My house faced Sherman Boulevard, and I had some vivid memories of those days.

We had a whole cast of characters, living in that project. Although, Romaine was my best friend, I would say, Kathy was also another, best friend, if you could have two. I never liked saying, best, because it always kind of excluded someone. But you seemed to have people for seasons in your life.

Kathy became a best friend by my own stupid actions. I was sitting on a dumpster with a girl, Georganne. Georganne, clearly had a rivalry with Kathy, which I didn’t know about, and I was the new girl. And as Kathy approached, Georganne said, “here come Kathy, she think’s she’s so cool.”so. I really don’t know what it was she said, but she inspired such evil in me, that I took a rock I had in my hand, and I threw it. Never thinking I would actually land it. But land, it did. Right in her eye. I was mortified.

She turned around running into her house, crying. I had never been so mean. I left and ran into my own house to tell my mother what I had done. And my mom, made me go over to say I was sorry. I was scared. I thought she may look like a pirate with a patch or something.

As her mother opened the door, I realized how sweet an soft-spoken she was. There I saw, Kathy laying on the couch with an ice pack on her eye. Her eye was black and blue and swollen. Now I really felt terrible. I couldn’t believe I did that. I had always been extremely shy and compassionate. Yes, I could see how easy it was to swing, from the timid to the bully on the flip of a coin. I was precariously balancing on the need for this girls approval, and I didn’t like the way I was manipulated by her little voice in my ear. I learned a valuable lesson that day which I carried with me. I didn’t need to be liked by someone that much, that I would hurt someone else.

Now all I wanted to do was make it right. I felt so bad and just a little angry that I let Georganne get the best of me. Of course she was long gone and I’ve seen a lot of people like her in my life. Those kind, create trouble. They’re divisive and run at the first sign of trouble. They’ll leave you hanging when the storm begins to blow.  Kathy forgave me, and her and I became very good friends  after that.

I became friends with Georganne too, but always felt she was somewhat insecure, and kept her at arm’s-length Knowing that she couldn’t be fully trusted. I’m sure everyone has friends like this in their lives. And I’ve kind of used this as metaphors in my own. I see them come and go. I’ve been able to assess relationships in this way. The ones you know are keepers, and the ones you know are just around for a good time. But I am very cynical about those, who seem to call when they only need something.

But my friend Romaine and I never had such drama. She didn’t live in Parklawn either. She lived on the other side of the creek. She would come over to visit and I would visit her. I have some vivid memories that I recall and as my cousin was asking a question on Facebook the other day I had to think of one in particular. He said, he had memories of things like pictures in his mind.

I have always thought of one memory with Romaine, which seemed like a picture which should have been on the cover of Time, or some such magazine. I thought of this the other day, when my cousin brought up the vivid memories we carry with us during our lives. I’ve always had this one for some reason. The Snapshot. Frozen in my memory. A piece of history.  Her and I had no idea of what we were experiencing. We were so close. We were sitting on the corner of Congress and Sherman Boulevard and down the street were rumbling army tanks. One after another. We were two little girls. One black and one white. “Wow!” I said. “I wonder what is happening.” We were in awe. But many years later as I learned we were witnessing the National Guard on their way downtown to try to squash the ‘race riots.’

I had to think of the snapshot of that moment. What a picture of us on that corner from up above. And even the names of the streets. A Sherman tanks, and an act of Congress to call out National Guards. All of it a play on words.

This was our favorite corner to play on and once she told me, “Girl, you need to get you some soul! On that corner, she taught me how to dance. She showed me how to do dances of that time. Right before Soul Train had it’s beginnings. Don Cornelius, rest his soul.  There was ‘The Popcorn. The Mother Popcorn, The Hesitation, The Meditation, and who could forget the Funky Chicken? Well, actually how many of you are old enough to remember this? But man when the Bump came along, we were in heaven. That girl taught me everything.

The music was divine. A beautiful mix of love, peace, soul and political activism with,  The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and even Bob Dylan. Songs like ‘Eve of Destruction,’ which, I might add, would be very timely for today. So many artists responsible for the birthing of this great movement.

It was the generation which brought about change.A torch which has been passed down to the next generation. The snapshots were indelibly burned upon my mind and I did ‘get that soul, my friend Romaine talked about. But it was more than the dance.

She inspired so much more in me. I have always loved those who are the underdog. The beaten down. The forgotten ones. My friend Romaine and me, were friends no matter what color our skin.

I can still hear her laugh. I remember our trip to Capitol Court. It was an outdoor mall, before they had indoor malls. We would all go there to hang out when we were kids. We were about 10 years old and I probably was about 80 pounds. I tried on a pantsuit. It was cute. I remember thinking I liked the print. As she watched me put it on I looked down and asked her, “what the heck is this square thing in the front of the pants?” We both started laughing so hard. Everything seemed to fit, but there was this huge panel in the front of the pants, and we were cracking up at this very strange defect.

A saleswoman heard us and started yelling into the dressing room, for us to get out immediately. “Stop fooling around in there right now!” she said. I came out with Romaine, and we were both still laughing so hard, and the woman snatched the outfit from me. “What are you doing with that?” She said. “What is this?”” I asked her. “You know darn well that’s a maternity outfit. Now get out of here!” She said. “Oh my gosh!” Now we started laughing even harder.

Neither Romaine or I had any idea what this thing was. And it’s not like, even with all the kids my mom had, that she had ever worn something like this. That’s what made it even funnier. We were crying by the time we left this store,and the saleswoman made it all the funnier.

The thought of Romaine’s long legs in fetal position, laughing til she was in tears, in that dressing room, leaves me with just one more ‘snapshot,’ for the archives.

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The Sword of the Spirit


We don't war against flesh and blood!

We don't war against flesh and blood!

My brother and I were talking about the difference between the times that we had grown up and now. All the bloodshed today.  We grew up in rough neighborhoods too, but we knew how to handle ourselves. It was mostly a intimidation factor. People standing in the middle of the sidewalk and refusing to move. You were to cut right through the middle if you were bold enough. I was.

I had lived in a project for the majority of my life and taken it for granted. It was the loss of my father and our house when I was only five. Then the death of my baby brother and my mothers breakdown that left us in the care of her sisters. They in turn, placed us into a children’s home and we were all separated from each other. All of these events shaped us. They forced a toughness in us. My oldest brother, who is mentally challenged, was then placed into a home and that was the final separation. I was the next oldest, so I had to accept the fact that I was to curl up and die, or accept adult responsibilities at a very young age.

It was at this age that I started to experience supernatural strength. Something above and beyond the natural and a voice that started to speak to me. Arms wrapping around me in comfort and shielding me from the horrors that were all around me. I was to continue to experience one trauma after another, yet, I still heard Him speaking and He would let me know that He was with me. There was a purpose for it all.

I remembered sitting on the busy street in front of our little brown brick home with my best friend, Romaine. She was black. We watched the army tanks rolling down the streets in preparation for the race riots in Milwaukee and had no idea what was taking place. All we knew was that we were best friends. She told me, “girl, you need to get you some soul!” She taught me every dance that a black girl knew how to dance. The Popcorn, the Mother Popcorn. The Chicken, Funky Chicken, the Hesitation, the Meditation,Mashed Potato, and she was solely responsible for teaching me everything Motown. We would sit for hours and listen to everything that Motown had to offer. Romaine did not live in the project, but a very nice house across the creek. She would only come and visit me. I was a kind of combination of soul and hippie. I loved Bob Dylan and Motown. His song , Blowin In the Wind, was in full swing and so was all the great hits by James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

I had another, white girlfriend, Kathy, and she sounded like a black girl. She would hang out with us sometimes. She lived directly across from me in my court in the project. The first day I met her, I gave her a black eye. I threw a rock at her and had to go and apologize. We became good  friends after that. I guess I earned some respect. lol I didn’t know that at the time, I was just showing off, after all, I was just a little girl. I was sitting on a dumpster with another little girl and being edged on, with rock in hand by a malicious voice next to me, I clearly was not thinking . I had the advantage and this girl must have been jealous, so I took my shot and bingo! The rock hit its target. Geesh! I could have taken  poor Kathy’s eye! I didn’t even know her and to the other girls delight, I blackened it immediately! Of course the other girl claimed I was just horrible! At any rate, it didn’t work it’s poison for long, as I said, we became fast friends.

All the boys loved her because she developed early. She had soul and she could dance. I finally was learning how to dance and it wasn’t too long that my friend Romaine was not embarrassed that she could present her prodigy to her black friends as an official “soul sister.”

Now when I finally moved to a house and it was in the inner city, there was a group of girls  that would start to walk around my home and call me out. It was funny to me, because one of them was a white girl and the others were black. This was a territorial rite of passage. They assumed I was intimidated, however, they had no idea that I had grown up in a project and had been fighting for years. I didn’t walk away from fights and sure didn’t cross over to the other side of the street when I saw a group of girls hanging out.

These girls came around every day with their chants. “Oh Carrie, come on out!” I would just laugh. I was watching and waiting. I knew sooner or later we would see each other, but it wasn’t going to be like this. You don’t just walk into a group. It would be at my choosing, not theirs.

One day, I was returning from the store and I saw the group. There they were standing on a corner. Much bigger than the small group that circled my house and I thought. I’m not crossing the street and I will take the girl that keeps calling out my name. She’s the one that seems to have the problem and I’m getting tired of her tirade. Then if the other two want a go at it, they will be next. Her name was Stacey. She was cute. I came walking up the street and as I approached they started with me and I looked at her and said, “you wanna start, cuz I’m ready to knock the mess out of you!” At this her eyes were as big as they could get and I pushed her back. When the other girls heard me speak for the first time they realized, I didn’t sound like a scared white girl that was going to back down. I know this is funny now, but this is how we talked back in the 70’s. lol Yes, we were called “white hunky’s and we didn’t care! Those were the days. We fought with our fists and we had mixed neighborhoods. Of course, mine was way more black than white, but we did have a lot of fun. And after I established that I had moved  in from the projects, I was now accepted. Now even esteemed. I was hanging out with these girls and we all had fun and talked about that day on the street when I was about to kick Stacey’s a**.

A few years later, I was in an alley with my brother and his friends. He was telling his wife the story about a gang of girls that had come after me. I had pulled a pliers out of my back pocket and they took off running. I said, “yea, what was I doing with pliers in my pocket anyways?” He said, I don’t know but all my friends thought that was hot!” We cracked up at that!

Now that I’m older and Christ has reminded me of that toughness in me, I look back at all of the things that I have experienced. I remember my brother and I hopping trains together. The first time I learned how to do it, I wore all white. I somehow knew I would not get a speck of dirt on me. It’s just hilarious when I think of the picture I must have been. I never fit the mold. I was like the model, learning how to jump a train. I remembered my brother telling me, “now look, you have to have your feet running before you hit the ground or you are going to slide and fall.” Ok, I thought, that sounds easy enough.” As I jumped up and grabbed the rails, it was so exhilarating. The train started speeding up and going faster and faster. I was so excited as I was riding along. He had told me, “jump off before it picks up too much speed or you’ll be in the next county!” I started to get scared, so I thought, this is time to make my jump. I watched the ground and got my feet in motion as if I was running. Closer and closer to the ground, as if my feet were running and I remembered they were running along as I gently touched down. I was feeling as if I was accomplishing something that very few people in a lifetime could ever say they did! Rather like skydiving. We also would climb to the top of grain cars and go into them. It was an incredible experience. you would feel like you were in a bounce house, but the grain would be like quicksand. Of course we heard the stories of kids that had been buried alive in this stuff. That only it more intriguing to us.  We would get the M80’s from the caboose and put them on the tracks and unhitch the cars and push them over them to watch them explode. Now I know you wonder what fun this could be, but this is what poor kids did. We would find all kinds of things in our neighborhoods that rich kids didn’t have and our friends didn’t have and it amazed us that they all wanted to come over to our neighborhoods to visit. It may be the tough factor that intrigued them.

We had friends that came from the suburbs that had wanted to hang out just to come to the tracks with us. One was my girlfriend, the pastors daughter. Her and I had gotten into so much trouble, because we had all gone to the railroad tracks that night and gotten taught her how to hop a train. Then we had gotten chased by a security guard with a gun. What a thrill that was! We had stayed out all night and when the cops had chased us, she had hidden under the mud flaps of a truck and I had hidden in the back yard of someones house. Her mother had called my mother and we had gotten in a lot of trouble, but man, the stories we had last a lifetime! Especially since I watched as the cops walked right by her hiding under those mud flaps. That was one of the funniest things I’d ever seen. For a pastors kid, it doesn’t get any more exciting than that! She’s now in the military and thanks me for introducing her to the most thrilling moments of her life! haha! Well the Lord is the one that protected us. I have to thank Him for surrounding us in our foolishness!

Now, I know that I do not war against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities. I am always reminded of this very thing when dealing with these spirits. I was at these very same railroad tracks when a very evil boy from our neighborhood tried to rape me. In broad daylight, he grabbed me. My brother and his friend were with me, but they were so terrified of this guy. We called him Scarface. He terrorized the neighborhood. He once beat this boy so bad on the street that he stomped on him until he went into convulsions. Here he was this day and he had grabbed me. He started to molest me and told my brother and his friend to leave immediately. He started to scream at them. We didn’t have cell phones back then and I was terrified. Nothing around but what I thought were empty warehouses. As my brother and his friend looked at this guy with fear, and started backing away, I hear a voice from far away scream, “Get your hands off of her, right now!!!” It was like an angel spoke from heaven. I looked and saw a man running from far away! He was coming closer. At the sight of this man running, this guy took his hands off of me and started to run. I saw a man coming and I couldn’t wait. I just wanted to run home. I took off running. I ran all the way home and never looked back. I always wished that I would have thanked this man, but for all I know he was another angel dispatched from heaven.

Years later, my mother was attacked in our home. I arrived home right after this happened and I was so distraught. I made her move and I slept with a knife under my pillow. Furious at the thought. She told me that this man went into my room and I sensed that it was this same guy. I would pray that this guy would return so that I could give him his final curtain call. But the Lord would not have that. He reminded me that He would deal with him.

This man was evil beyond description. He was sent from the pit of hell and the Lord reminded me that this was not a human battle. So a knife would not be a way of battling this, but we wage warfare with our prayers. These are wicked spirits. To see this man do this to this poor boy in the middle of the street and then to my mother, made me ill. I’ve seen other spirits like this at work. Now I know, it’s not a pliers in my pocket, nor a knife under my pillow. It is the sword of the spirit, which is the WORD of GOD, which is going to defeat all the power of the enemy!

Each time we speak the word, he is a defeated foe. He hates it when we know the word, but he hates it even more when we speak it!

So now, this is how I fight against the wiles of the enemy! Make Gods words your words. Learn them and speak them!