Posted in book, faith

Out of the River, Onto the Raft – My “Heart Bible”

Where I’m From

I’ve divided the rest of the book into 5 parts: An All About Me, Meet my Mom of the Last 3 Years, Unveiling the Mirror of My Life, My Relationship with my Mom before August 2016, and Lessons I Learned Along the Way.

During World War II, many soldiers carried a heart Bible. The Bible was not in the shape of a Bible. Instead, they wore in their uniform pocket above their heart. My grandpa had one of those Bibles. He was a scared 19 year old tail gunner. That Bible helped him during his missions.

Instead of an actual heart Bible, I carry around a verse that saves me during my troubled times. As with a lot of my life, there is a story behind my heart Bible.

All the windows had bars on them. These bars were not to keep people out but not to allow people in. Graffiti covered the exterior of buildings, overpasses, and other public spaces. Litter was all over the ground. The Over-the-Rhine area was not the mecca of the hip bar scene of the current time. Thirty years ago, it was a down and out part of Cincinnati.

          It was there my pastor decided to take a group of youth ranging from 11 years of age to 16 years to help with some of the revitalization. None of the youth were allowed to walk the streets without an adult escort for safety reasons. Doors were locked the moment you entered the building we were staying in.

          Not only did our pastor decide to take our youth group but another youth group joined us for our week of mission work. Memories were made during that week from having a boyfriend for a day, first kisses when the adults weren’t present, singing Bell Biv Bevoe’s Poison at every meal, and watching a Reds Game.

          It was there that I had an encounter with God. Once again, I didn’t realize it at the moment because I was a 15-year-old stuck in the human part of existence. Boys, music, and how others perceived me were number one and my relationship with God had not been developed yet. Church had always been a part of my life and continues to be that way now. God has always led me, but I never knew it in the moment.

          A few of us were given the job of painting this dirty unkempt hallway. Paint was peeling and there was a rank smell permeating throughout the building. As I began painting, a song popped into my head and I began singing it. “This is the day the Lord hath made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

          I sang that song repeatedly that week. In all that grunginess and lack of safety, God found me and said, “It’s okay. I made this day. You just need to be thankful that you are able to be here and help these people. These are my people.”

          That song has become my life verse. The verse I hold on as a life preserver when life gets difficult. Twenty-nine years after that day, I lost my mom suddenly. My aunt traveled from New York to help me with the funeral plans and to clean out my mom’s apartment. The day after her death, we were wandering through a local market when we came across a vendor selling charms. It was there I found the charm that read Psalm 118:24. After I bought it, I wore it for the first few months after her death.

          On the day of her funeral, I mourned but also rejoiced because the fall leaves were changing color. Mom always said to me, “I wonder when the leaves will change color this year,” right before her death.

          So please, always find time to rejoice no matter what your circumstance.

“This is the day that the Lord has made.

   let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24


To be continued . . .