Reflections from Akeelah and the Bee

This past weekend we gathered together to celebrate my husband, Justin, and his sister, Taneshia’s birthdays.  A day filled with fellowship and love and an evening filled with a special request from Taneshia.  Taneshia asked if we would all join together and watch a special movie, Akeelah and the Bee.  I have heard of this movie numerous times, Taneshia references it almost on a daily bases.  Although I am not a movie buff, out of love for my sister and her birthday request, I obliged. 

 I watched intently as this tough little girl, who the world had forgotten, pushed her way to be all that God said she could be.  When the movie ended, I reflected on different aspects of life lessons that were taught by this film, and although I thought some were very revelatory, I didn’t feel as “touched” by the film as I thought I would have been, that is, until this morning.

While standing in my kitchen, I was thinking about old elementary school pictures that a friend of mine, Chrissy, had posted on the ever so infamous face book.  And just like that, God pricked my heart and gave me a revelation about a scene in Akeelah and the Bee.  I will admit I was so overtaken; I began to sob uncontrollably at the goodness of God and His master plan.

Akeelah, for those who have not seen the movie, was striving against all odds to win a National Spelling Bee.  Pressure from her community to represent them was strong, and an unsupported family did not help her cause.  A fatherless little girl from Crenshaw meets Lawrence Fishborn, a retired college professor who himself had a suffered loss when his own child died.  The bond they formed was strong, she depended on him, and he on her.  This teacher taught her hour after hour, day after day, month after month, until there was nothing left he could teach her.  With four boxes, full of five thousand new words to learn, he sent her on her way.  Heartbroken, she pleaded that he continues to help her and insisted she could not learn these words on her own.  She found no comfort in his words when he said she would be ok, “there were people all around to help her,” but despite her efforts to convince him otherwise, he would not agree to continue.  Boxes in tow, Akeelah walked out of his house that day hurt, discouraged, and afraid.

Sometimes people think that God is going to step out of heaven, walk into our house, and say “thus say the Lord.”  Although He is able to anything He desires to do, God often speaks to us by touching our hearts and taking our minds into revelations that we have never seen quite the way He shows us. 

 Today, this is what He did for me.  God took me on a journey right here in little Owings Mills Md.  While my mind was thinking on Chrissy’s old treasures that she posted of us from long, long ago, I lovingly thought of how blessed I was to not only have her as a friend, but to have parents like hers in my life.  I was a child that watched my parents go through a painful divorce in a time when divorce wasn’t quite as normal as it unfortunately has become.  Chrissy’s house was at times, the only normalcy I had.  God showed me how His hand reached down and surrounded me with others to teach me of His ways.  Chrissy’s parents, Sandy and Herm, never once turned me away when Chrissy asked if I could stay.  And although my mom raised me in a Methodist Church, which I praise God for; Chrissy’s family would tote me off to Mass with them any time I was there.  My mind was taking God out of a box, even at that young age, without ever knowing it. 

I began to think of my best friend Lori, and her parents, Judy and Tom.  There are so many dear memories I have, and continue to make with the Hurliman family, that it is impossible to narrow down the most monumental, but this is one example of who God surrounded me with when I needed someone the most.  I gave birth to my daughter, Chanis, it was a time when “mixed” babies brought an aspect of shame on a family.  There were no flowers, balloons, well wishes, or visitations from my family.  I sat in the cold hospital room, nineteen years old, afraid and alone.  And then, the door opened and in walked Lori and her mom.  Judy Hurliman had the love of Christ oozing out of her very pores...  I joked for much of our teen years that if there was ever a human being that I was sure would get through the gates of Heaven, it was Judy.  God began to remind me of all this family has been, and continues to be for me.   And again, another example of a Christian marriage, as well as unconditional love that can only be compared to the love of Christ.

After divorcing, my mom remarried a wonderful man we call “Husky.”  I don’t think even the internet has enough space for me to say all that this man is to me and my children.  Raised in an orphanage in Nebraska, called Boys Town, Husky learned that blood has nothing to do with family, and he blessed my family with that gift.  He has given up himself to raise us, and for that I will be eternally grateful.  Meshed families come with many challenges, but I can tell you that I have never, ever, felt anything but the love of a father from this man.  His sacrifices are immeasurable. 

 My mind continued to reflect on the hardest moments of my life, like when my ex-husband and I divorced and I came home from work and fell onto my bed and just sobbed.  It was like a death, and the grief was almost enough to overtake me.  But I looked up and saw a tiny folded up piece of paper on my pillow.  Through the tears, I unfolded the paper and out of it fell a children’s rainbow cross necklace.  Written in this treasured note was, “Mom, I know it is hard, but if you ask God, He will help you.”  I was ready to check out, but that’s when God checked in.  He had placed people in my children’s path that invited them to Assembly of God for “Missionites.”  God used my children to minister to me, and to take my feet and place them back on the path that led to Him.

See, Akeelah, didn’t understand why her beloved instructor would turn his back on her, when what he truly did was turned her face to others.  All that we need will never be found in just one man.  One man is too small to contain all of such a big God.  This teacher taught her one of the greatest lessons of life, that “there are people all around you to help you.”  Akeelah then turned to the people in her life, her family, her friends, her classmates, even the postman helped her to prepare for what was before her.

 God is good, and His plan for us far exceeds anything we could ever think or dream.  He has known our end before our beginning, and in His infinite wisdom, He has orchestrated the greatest symphony of all, the symphony of life, full of friends, family, and even acquaintances that have been strategically placed in every season of our lives.  Take time today to reflect on the people God has placed into your own life.  So many times in our search for God, He is simply found in the eyes of others.


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