Saturday, June 08, 2013

In The Words Of Ozy...............

Last night, I was blessed to add a new experience to my life resume'. I've preached weddings and eulogized at funerals. I've even given commencement addresses on two occasions for high schools.  But on Friday evening, I was afforded the opportunity to make remarks at a high school graduation celebration. The evening was for the purpose of honoring Ozy, a young lady who had received her diploma several nights before from one of the large Houston high schools. The amazing thing is that the last time I had seen Ozy was four years ago, on the last day of her eighth grade when she was a student in my Bible class at Westbury Christian. I was so impressed with her as we talked and I met some some of her high school friends and family. She was always brilliant but as the evening progressed, I witnessed how Ozy has blossomed into even more of a beautiful, well-spoken, caring, and charismatic young lady. Howard University- LOOK OUT!  

The celebration was unlike anything I have ever attended. Most of the blessings were delivered by her adult relatives who are from Africa. Their words and thoughts were part spiritual, part humorous, part touching, and all riveting. As I pondered what to speak about leading up to the reception, I asked Ozy if I could use her own words to tell the attendees about her. You see, they view her as a daughter/niece/cousin/friend while I have known Ozy as her teacher. Each year, I have my students write about various topics relating to the Lord and with permission, I use their words in my nightly Internet devotionals like the one you are reading right now. I have easy access to all my previous blogs so it was easy to pull up her thirteen year old writings of wit and surprising wisdom for me to share with those who love her the most. Here are her entries with the subjects in quotations:

(They had to make a list of MUSTS and MUST NOTS in qualifications for the person of the opposite gender who they would consider marrying. After listening to her aunts and uncles, this won't be an issue!)
"He must go to church willingly and not fall asleep." 

(They were required to rewrite the Beatitudes of Jesus in the terms of their own lives and what they were seeing around them.)

"Blessed are those whose families are torn apart for God is a tailor who will sew them back up."

(They were given the assignment of retelling Jesus' Parable of the Good Samaritan, setting it in modern Houston. You can tell she had a romantic streak even then!) 
"One day, a single mom was returning home from work. She stopped by the grocery store to pick up some food for her kids. On the way back to her car, her bag of groceries spilled. As she started to pick them up, it started to rain. A store employee with a raincoat on walked by and seeing her cart was empty, added it to the carts he was taking back inside. The woman had left her car unlocked and a suspicious man noticed. He looked at the woman to make sure she did not see him and he stole her car. After all this, a man who had just been laid off from his job walked by. He was not in a good mood but when he saw the woman, love filled his heart. He helped her with her groceries and offered her a ride home. One year later, they got married and lived happily ever after!"

(Each year, we memorize The Blessing Of Aaron from Numbers 6:24-26, better known by its first line, "The Lord bless you and keep you." Each year, my students write a blessing to their unborn child who they will love in the semi-distant future. What Ozy penned here was mentioned in more than one of the blessings by her kinfolk.)
"Hello, my sweet blossom. I am most blessed to have a bundle of joy like you. May God bless you one hundred times a day and keep you safe from those who wish to do you harm. I pray to God that when you grow up, you will uphold yourself your like a queen. I pray that you will have the strength and the courage to overcome whatever obstacles the devil decides to concoct. I believe that you will come to know Christ early as I did and talk to him like a best friend. I love you more than gold, silver, or money. When I was young, I was foolish, insecure, and worried about petty things. I sought appreciation from boys and chased after them so I could feel accepted. Let me tell you something; no one defines you except the Lord our God. You are priceless and can never be replaced. Remember Christ Jesus died for you and is your prize in heaven. To the butter on my bread, the sugar in my tea and the best thing that happened to me . I love you so much. Mama."

And so, these are the words that I used to bless Ozy with twenty-four hours ago. But the reality is, she blessed me and every one who has ever walked into her path or shared the  orbit that is her young life. One of her friends last night told me that, "No one has ever said one bad word about Ozy." What a tribute from one who spent countless hours with her because high school years can be harsh and filled with drama. Obviously, Ozy rose above it as she has all the other common distractions for teenagers. Her future is incredibly bright and believe me, she is a world changer. Thanks for letting me be a part of your memories, Ozy. I was honored.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Education is not filling a pail, but lighting a fire." 
William Butler Yeats

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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