Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Site Has Moved

I am so excited to announce that I have a new address for my blog! Please visit me at http://www.niecytaylor.com.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

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It Takes a Baby To Make a Man

Leonard Pitts – Syndicated Columnist

“…And – which is more – you’ll be a man, my son!” – from “If” by Rudyard Kipling

Lena had a fever.

It had spiked to 104 degrees and brought with it seizures, spasms of movement that terrified her parents. They called 911.

But paramedics could not reach their door; the epic blizzard raking greater Washington had rendered their hillside street impassable. So Lena’s parents bundled her up and walked her down. They rode with her in the ambulance through a city leached of color – no more vibrant reds, blues or greens, just the stark gray of the sky and the brilliant white of the snow.

Snow changes the world. It muffles sound, softens hard angles into graceful curves, drives people inside. Snow imposes a stillness. As they crossed this desolate new landscape, Lena’s parents had plenty of time to worry.

Thankfully, doctors were able to bring her fever down. But then, Lena’s parents realized a new problem; they were stranded at the hospital in a city that had ceased to move.  Worse, they were stranded without diapers and baby food., which, in their rush, they had left at home. Nor could they borrow any from the hospital, which said its own supplies were low. So Lena’s father had just one option.

I happened to catch him on his cell phone a few minutes later. His breathing was ragged and I asked him what was wrong. He was hiking through the storm – it was a mile or two to the nearest store, the snowdrifts already up to his knees – hoping it would be open and that it would have diapers and baby food for his 11-month-old daughter.

I have seldom been prouder of any of my children than I was in that moment of my first-born son.

We – and here, I mean both he and I as father and son and you and I as a society – have talked a lot in recent years about the meaning of manhood in an era of women ascendant and cracked glass ceilings.

Some of us insist that meaning is found in a man’s toughness, his imperviousness to slings and arrows and feelings like pain or love.  Some believe it is found in a man’s violence, his capacity to hit and kick with force, to shield and defend what matters to him.  Some argue that it is found in a man’s strength, his ability to lift and carry, to push and to break.

I’ve always felt none of those things matters unless they are in service to something that matters more. Like going for diapers in a horizontal snow.

I don’t mean to mythologize or overpraise something that is, after all, just a father’s duty. But it is hard not to feel a certain satisfaction when I consider how many fathers fail that duty, having been liberated from obligation by social mores that exact no price from the man who plants a garden, then disappears before the first sprouts show.

And when I wonder how many women were slogging through that same snowstorm, having bought into the lie that holds fathers as optional parents who contribute nothing to the family a determined woman can’t replicate.

And when I remember the times I preached exasperated sermons to that same son for posturing and preening like something he saw in a rap video, walking with an unearned swagger and acting as if this made him a man. Growing older has changed him. Lena, I think, has changed him more.

Owning responsibility for that vulnerable little life has forced him to reconsider manhood itself.

We used to have a saying: It takes a man to make a baby. I’m beginning to think that, at least for some of us, the opposite is true: it takes a baby to make a man.

Lena, by the way, is doing fine. I saw her the other day and, as usual, she climbed on me like a jungle gym. Then my son walked into the room and held out his arms. Lena forgot all about me. She grinned, both teeth on full display, and reached up for her dad.

Copyright, The Miami Herald; e-mail to lpitts@miamiherald.com

A Servant’s Prayer

This prayer is taken from the daily devotional “Called to Conquer”. As I go out each day to increase my service to all of mankind, this is the perfect prayer to guide me.

Lord, I tremble every time I sense You calling my name. Speak, Lord, I am listening. If someone is hurting and You want to heal his pain, send me. If one person, family, village, or nation is struggling in darkness and You are ready to send light, use me. Only know from the beginning that I know I am weak and that You are strong. Speak to me, lead me, send me; but send me in Your strength. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Do Better: How many more children must die?

Last week, while skimming a few posts in my inbox, I read a headline titled “Denver boy, 9, died after state-benefits error denied him asthma medication“.  As I gasped, I felt like I was reading a repeat story from 2007.

(Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

In 2007, 12 year old Deamonte Driver died because of a lack of adequate dental care.  I can remember making the numerous calls to dentists in Prince George’s County who were listed as Medicaid dental providers.  I can remember hanging up the phone time after time completely frustrated. The response I received from over 60 dental offices:

“No, we don’t take that insurance”.

In the meantime, a little boy was suffering.

So when I read the headline from last week I became furious.  How many more children must die in America, yes AMERICA, because of systemic failures?  The state of Colorado FAILED this little boy, just as the state of Maryland failed Deamonte.

After Deamonte’s passing, advocates got pissed.  The Public Justice Center refocused its Health Rights Project to raise awareness  of the realities poor children face in accessing dental care. Dentists and advocates came together to work out solutions to keep an atrocity like this from ever happening again.

So how does the grief and outrage felt in Maryland three years ago help prevent other tragedies like Zumante Lucero?  How many more children must die in vain before we hold state governments accountable for their failure to deliver safety net programs they are required to deliver by law?

I get even more outraged when state officials come out with their insensitive remarks, as in this:

“the death of any child is a tragic loss,” said spokeswoman Revekka Balancier. “And our department tries very hard to prevent these kinds of tragic accidents.”

Yes Ms. Balancier, Zumante’s loss is tragic. You know what else it should be? Illegal. His death was 100% preventable if your department had not failed him.

Story of Inspiration: A 3 year old serves

Posted at: 02/01/2010 9:20 PM
By: Misa Maruyama, Eyewitness News 4; Taryn Bianchin, KOB.com

It’s a gift from the heart.
Three-year-old Mylyn Beakley told her mother she wanted to help people in Haiti after she saw children without limbs on television and jumped into action.

Her mother Heidi Beakley was shocked. “She just went flying into her room and pulled out her leg… which I was keeping for a keepsake.”

Her father is a soldier in Afghanistan and recently learned Mylyn wanted to give away the leg she had outgrown.

“(Mylyn) told him on the telephone and he was just in tears crying,” recalled Beakley.

On Monday, she and her mother went to Active Life Orthotics and Prosthetics to donate the limb so it could be shipped overseas.

The staff there considered the offering unique because a lot of children are undergoing amputations in Haiti, but there aren’t as many children donating little prosthetic limbs.

Mylyn was the first child to donate a prosthetic limb to Active Life.

If you want to help, you can drop off a donation at their office on Alvarado near Central, Monday through Friday, 8 to 5 p.m.

http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s1395534.shtml?cat=504

Doing Your Part to Serve Haiti

Ever since January 12th,  my heart has been beating for the people of Haiti. It has been beautiful to watch the wave of love outpouring for this resilient nation. I have been moved by the strength of the people and inspired by the prayers, activism and hard-work many have been doing on the ground and at home.

It has been beautiful to watch people take regular activities and turn them into activities for good.  A friend mentioned that her normal salsa class is holding a fundraiser tomorrow night, and all proceeds will be going to relief efforts in Haiti. We’ve seen the amazing Charlie Simpson (above) ride his bike and raise more than $160,000 in a single day.

So what is it that you enjoy doing that you could use to serve the people of Haiti?  Now is the time to reflect on all you have and to realize you are your brother and sister’s keeper.

“The voice telling you that you cannot do something is always lying.” (unknown)

Photo: Associated Press

How Do You Serve?

I am inspired by the beautiful people I connect with every day.  Whether they work for a non-profit organization, blog about politics, tweet about their love of Christ or are just cool by nature – I am inspired a million different ways.

Please comment on this post and share how you serve.  We all must pay our “rent” so whether you think your service is big or small – please share.  I look forward to being INSPIRED by you.