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SPEECH THERAPY As a rapper or an emcee, you have to be quick with the tongue and fast on your feet.   When I was 3, I wasn’t much of a talker. In fact, if you knew me in grade school, you’d probably consider me weird, quiet, or just plain old shy.

I wasn’t always so poetic or smooth of a talker.

I remember driving to Oakland often for this speech therapy class. Dad used to take me in his jeep, if I recall correctly, which reminds me of a time he let me get behind the wheel while in his lap. Haha. I was too excited to drive and almost took out a neighbor’s mailbox. Oops. Anyway, we traveled up to Oakland for my classes. I don’t remember much of this place, but I do remember this woman working with me on using my “bumpy”.

Your “bumpy” is the part of your inner mouth where your tongue touches before created an “L” sound, such as love. No wonder I never talked, I couldn’t even create the basic sounds of speech. I was the best three-year-old wallflower.

The reward I got for completing the correct sounds of speech was scratch-n-sniff stickers. I had a folder with all of them on the front. Inside was my homework, which Dad always helped me with. I was often embarrassed though. I was quite an awkward kid in the 80s. Thinking of it now I look back and just shake my head. I can’t believe how different I was. It’s almost shameful. It saddens me to think about it.

Somehow, probably with practice, I was able to overcome my differences and lacking abilities of speech to become a smooth, slick, and somewhat sweet-talker. Once I figured out how to talk I felt like I could vocalize anything and every thing. Even if it meant I would be embarrassed or laughed at. I wanted to get that attention I didn’t receive when I wasn’t able to articulate my thoughts and feelings.

Look at me now. I use my speech and verbiage to reach the generations with love through music and my poetic skills. I can be considered a rapper, or an emcee, a lyricist, yes. Maybe not the best when it comes to spitting rhymes, but I can hold my own. My father guided me through those struggles and now I am triumphant.

ASTHMATIC

When I was three years old, I remember playing under my “funny blanket”. My dad called it that because it had laughing characters on it. I would play in the hallway of our house hiding inside and my cocker spaniel – Merlin would play along and even tug at the blanket and try to pull it off of me. With me being so small sometimes Merlin even pulled the blanket along with me in it.

This activity was all fun and games until I had my first huge reaction. I began wheezing, then coughing. It got so bad that I couldn’t breathe. All I remember is being in the hospital for three days. It’s one of those atmospheres that seem so unreal, that it has to be a dream. Because, that’s how it feels.

I remember them (the nurses) trying to put me in a bathtub of ice to calm me down, but all it did was make me more upset. I recall them drawing my blood, over and over. It was bad enough to create this fear in me. The fear of needles. Or at least having my blood drawn.

My dad wasn’t happy with how many times they poked me and he wanted to get me out of there. I’ve came to the realization that I was hospitalized for asthma. Which probably was a result of the dog (and being under the blanket). That created another new fear in me. The fear of breathing or suffocation. The funny thing is, I wanted to be an astronaut until I knew that your air was somewhat restricted and you’d have to go through some extreme training of holding your breathe. I guess I’ll pass on that dream.

I had my first asthma attack when I was three and the doctors wanted to find out more, so they did an allergen test on me. They poked me with these needles of different things that I could have an allergic reaction to. After a while, you can see the parts that became red on my skin were the things I was allergic to. Those things included; dog hair, cat hair, feathers, dust, grass, pollen, & eucalyptus.

As a result of the tests, I had to start getting allergy shots every week. This continued until I was 12. I also had to use the nebulizer every time I had what my dad called “a mouse”. Once I got all worked up I began wheezing and coughing. I had to use “the breather” to calm me down. The machine had a mask to breathe it all in, so my dad would ask me if I wanted to wear my fighter-jet-pilot’s mask.

 

Funny to see how far I’ve came since that first attack. I was an underdog to breathing, but that never stopped me from playing sports. Praise God for the air He breathed into my nostrils to fill my lungs.

FAILED ENGLISH

One of my favorite classes in high school was English.

I didn’t like reading, but I really enjoyed writing. I loved being able to twist up words and creating a story based on how I could interpret it. It was a joyous feeling. Besides the reading part, I did pretty decent in English class throughout high school.

That was until my senior year. I had a new teacher and she wasn’t going to allow me to use my method of writing and creative thinking. The funny thing is, I was taking a creative writing class at the same time and I was passing with flying colors. In fact, the teacher wasn’t ashamed to call me a lyrical-writing-genius. He said even my rhymes were on beat, even when it was simply poetry. The only beef he had with my creative writing skills was that I used too many cliché’s and archaic phrases.

I struggled with the thought of being so great in once class, but not that smart in another. The teacher went on to fail me entirely in her class. Perhaps I didn’t meet her standards or ace her tests. That is fine with me. But the part that hit me most was when she told me I was a failure and I could never go to college, nor could I ever be any type of writer. That was harsh. I was devastated. I had triumphed speech therapy and now this teacher was telling me I was going to fail in life as a writer.

I was determined to prove her wrong. That essentially pushed me to be a better writer. Not to mention my creative writing teacher influencing me to push myself and be a better writer.

I went from writing poetry to songs to stories. I have had to change my writing style over and over throughout the years. Consider writing what you think. Easy. Then you want to make the words rhyme. Okay, a bit of a challenge. Now consider writing songs that have a purpose and a meaning as well as a chorus that sums up your entire song. What is harder is writing to a beat or on beat. Once I began performing live, I had to re-write my lyrics so I could muster up enough breath to get them all out.

Nevertheless, I was challenged and questioned when it came to my writing ability and I overcame all those roadblocks and distractions.

Now, I am a writer of lyrics. A poet. A lyricist. A hip-hopper.

VALENTINE’S

Oh, Valentine’s Day. How bitterly that rolls off the tongue. I guess it only takes one person to ruin your whole lovey-day-experience. Mine was ruined in 2005.

I was dating a girl from Stanford in 2003 and she was pretty cool. I wrote a majority of my album ‘Landscape of time’ while visiting her. She inspired me to learn more. She inspired me to be a better writer and artist. But it got to a point where she was hindering me from hanging with my friends, going to church, & performing at shows.

We had a pretty decent give and take relationship. Whenever holidays or birthdays came, we got something for the other. And sometimes we would try to one-up the other by getting a gift that was bigger or better than the other’s gift. One time, she bought a cd deck for my car and replaced the two front speakers as well. Of course, I bought her almost every season of Friends. So it wasn’t like I didn’t give her gifts.

I say this to tell you about Valentine’s Day 2005. I bought her another season of her favorite tv show and I got her chocolates and a nice card. I even bought a gift card for her favorite clothing store. I was set. I drove about 80 miles to visit her at Stanford for Valentine’s Day. When we exchanged gifts she opened hers first and kind of threw a fit. She handed me a card and some candy. I’m looking for more. As she saw me look she said, “yeah, I got you something else. Speakers for the rear of your car. But, I’m not going to give them to you. I don’t think you deserve them. They cost a lot of money and you only got me a DVD set. So, I’m going to keep them.” I was so confused and distraught. Where did I go wrong? Was my gift really lacking? I guess she wanted more out me. More gifts. Or at least more expensive gifts.

We had a nice heated discussion and I basically drove back home as a single man. She had ended the relationship on V-Day. Wow. I was surprised. I was upset. I was disappointed.

I was… relieved.

I might be the underdog, but I always bounce back. I might fall down but I always get up and return to pursue love again. Unfortunately, this earth has fleeting beauty and a lack of true love. Only God can show true love. Only God can give love that is unconditional. It is best that we as finite beings look up to Him and try to replicate his ways and give His kind of love. That is our success story. Our testimony is in Him! I would not have found my wife. The woman God created for me. To balance me out. If it weren’t for my mistakes, my failures, my trying, my being number 2.

Being the underdog. Sitting on sidelines. God has blessed me through my trial and tribulations and after pursuit and dedication I have surpassed my pride, my ambition, my swagger. I have found reconciliation through realization and humility. I am humble now.

Thank you God for testing me. Thank you God for blessing me. Look where we are now. We are becoming AnchorMEN. We have more than a hope; we have a truth, a design, and a purpose. Let’s continue what Jesus has started.

We all need an S.O.S.
 We can’t continue to be Sitting On Sidelines. If we’re playing to win, then let’s Win The Day!

FOSTER PARENTS #TeamTreborn

My idea of life was traumatized when I was 14 years old. Most importantly, my baby sister stopped breathing after 87 short days of life. Not even three months old and she was gone. My world was shaken and turned upside down.

As I began dating a few years later, girlfriends always wanted to talk about having kids. I was afraid to have kids. I didn’t want my baby to die of S.I.D.S. like my sister Samantha. My fear prevented me from even thinking of having kids.

It’s not that I don’t like children and it’s not like I don’t want to raise children. I might be a natural parent / father figure after my experience of being an older brother to 3 other siblings and being a youth leader. The thought that stayed in my head was adoption. I always thought there were too many homeless kids out there. There were too many orphans. There were too many children without parents or a home. If I wanted to be a parent, I knew I’d better raise a kid that needed a dad and/or a home. Help the kids that are living first. Don’t be selfish and make your own kids. This was my thought process. I felt that almost anyone can make a baby, but it takes a real person to be a parent. I decided as a teen I would take care of a kid that needed it, instead of bringing a new life to this current world.

As I became an adult, I began meeting single mothers with boys and girls that had no dad at home. Some had no dad in the picture at all. I felt if I wanted to be a dad, I could easily marry a woman with a child. That would fill my need to be a parent and I would be more than pleased to take care of a child that needed to be taken care of. Be a dad. Be a father figure. Even if they throw a ‘step’ in there somewhere. I knew what I wanted to do.

Eventually, I realized that my procrastination to have a child of my own would only disappoint my parents and prevent them from becoming grandparents. I came to the conclusion I would adopt a child before I created my own. That became my plan. Now, I had to find a mate, a suitable mother to help me raise a child. I had to find someone that wants to adopt as well. Put an orphan’s needs before their own wants. That’s the woman I desired.

I met Courtney. Two years ago we had an impromptu date on February 20th. This date was filled with discussion about our goals and what we wish to accomplish. Obviously, we didn’t want to date to just date, but if we dated, we wanted to know what our plan was when it came to children.

I shared my point of views and we instantly clashed. She wanted to get married and have kids soon after the wedding and I thought that was just out of the question. She didn’t want to adopt, she wanted to have babies with her husband. Create a big family. I guess it was only going to work if we gave way a bit.

God took his time and reconstructed my way of thinking. I slowly began to overcome my fear of having kids and I knew I loved Courtney, so if I wanted to marry her, I’d have to be willing to have kids soon into the marriage. I gave in to love. My wants took the back burner.

Before we were engaged, we had pre-marital counseling sessions. This allowed us to discuss our future family and what we planned on seeing in two years, five years, ten years, and so on. We both shared our initial views of what we expected before we had became a couple. We both decided the other’s idea was better. Together we decided we would wait 3 years to have a child. That’s our plan. Don’t tell God your plans because He might laugh and show you His plan instead.

Two years ago when we first chatted about all this, we didn’t realize we would be where we are today. 6 weeks after we were married Courtney’s brother came back into her life and so did her nephew Jayden. This meant they both got introduced into my life, being her newly wedded husband. Next thing I know, I have a brother-in-law and a nephew in our home. Never did we imagine we would have a 6-month-old baby in our house 6 weeks into the marriage.

We remained in our nephew’s life because his life at home wasn’t the best and my brother-in-law wasn’t prepared to take care of his son as he got his life back on track. We were happy to watch & babysit Jayden whenever we could. Our goal was to keep him away from second hand smoke to help his lungs develop. Since we first met him, we’ve taken him to the doctor’s just about every other week. He had croup and developed what was beginning to look like infant’s asthma.

Our new plan was to watch him as much as possible and help his lungs develop and get back on the track they should be on. Once the mother stopped caring we knew we had to step in. We knew we could offer the care and support he needed to survive so early in his little life. This meant we were going to fight for custody.

Next thing we know, the mother is out of the picture, she didn’t call or txt or anything. She disappeared to be off the grid. As another month and a half goes by we decided to get a lawyer and fight for custody since the mother has abandoned the child. It was our responsibility and duty to meet his needs and help him survive, by any means necessary.

Of course we prayed and prayed throughout the entire process that God would provide and He has never let us down. We’ve been able to meet every need and pay every bill. Our Church blessed us and so did our community, from clothes to food to toys and other things a baby needs, even a place to sleep and bathe and get dressed. Everything needed was taken care of. And all we did was be obedient to God and take care of our nephew like he was our own child.

We were prepared to go to apply for financial assistance to help pay for the lawyer to get custody. It took a lot of prayer and a lot of unselfishness and a lot of help from our friends and loved one. But we were ready to what is right for this child.

Out of the blue we get a phone call. It’s DHS asking to talk to us about our nephew. This could be good or bad. I mean, extremely good, or extremely bad. This could change everything. Again.

Next thing you know, DHS is on our nephew’s side, which meant they were on our side. Because we were taking care of him for over a month, they knew it was in the best interest of the child to stay at the safe-haven his was at. This kid had a fighting chance. We were right there by his side to do the right thing and do what ever it takes. DHS had to approve us before they would allow him to stay with us. In fact, they wanted us to become his temporary foster parents and they would help assist his financial needs each month. Again, he had a fighting chance, and an aunt and uncle to fight with him and fight for him. On the 7th day, we were approved and certified foster care parents.

So here we are. Looking back to two years ago. Even if you look back one year ago, we never imagined this being our outcome. We never saw this coming. Being newlyweds. We didn’t expect or plan this. But God knew all along. He had a plan. He had an expectation of us. It’s funny because Courtney (before meeting me) wanted to have a child early on in marriage and create a family right away. It’s funny because I said I didn’t want to have kids right away, I wanted to adopt instead… that was before I met Courtney.

And even though we both changed our minds and were willing to give up our selfish needs for the other’s wants and desires, we both essentially got what we wanted all along. Holy God. Seriously.

God is beyond amazing.

Just look at this underdog story. He took the death of a baby. He took a fear of a teenager. He took a motherly instinct. He combined it all, and made a testimonial gumbo of goodness and grace and triumph. He made it all through two babies and a married couple. This was all apart of His design. He knew it would come to this. He knew this would happen. The scenario is so unique and abstract; the only intervention possible would have to be divine.

Praise GOD Amen!!!

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