We are pleased to offer you an advance glimpse into Litefoot’s new book, “The Medicine of Prayer”. For your reading pleasure and compliments of Litefoot, please find to follow Chapter Four of “The Medicine of Prayer” by Litefoot.
– Changes –
“Never stop, don’t quit and rise above all life’s challenges.
You really do have the ability to accomplish all you can imagine.
PRAY & watch!”
The new year of 1985 did not begin with beautiful fireworks. But there was an explosion of change in my life. Between the ages of 15 to 16 everything in my known world changed drastically. It only took one year. Until that point, I lived in a comfortable world, what you might call a normal, American dream. Like any other teen, I was looking forward to the experience of high school, playing football, having a social life. I wanted to advance my education, prepare for college. Everything in my life up to this point indicated that this was the path I would take. But things got real serious real quick. The new house my parents had built was no longer ours and had been foreclosed on by the bank. We were forced to move in with my grandparents in their little house in Claremore. On the one hand, it was wonderful to be with my grandparents. And on the other hand, it was a huge time of tension within my family.
It was frustrating and heartbreaking to see it all go away like smoke. My father, although surely devastated by the events of the past year, continued to push forward through his own anger and sense of betrayal that he had experienced from his own brother. He found work where he could. My mother had to find work as well. The strain on their marriage would soon lead to divorce. And although they split, they still worked hard so that things would be good for their children.
My Mom would always say: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. As things began to unravel with my fathers businesses and in my parent’s marriage; my mother and father separated. My mother went to stay with a friend in Tulsa and in search of work she began working for a maid service called Merry Maids. My mom kept our home spotlessly clean and it always brought her great joy to keep our household in order. After working at Merry Maids for a short time, my mother started her own housecleaning business. It seems the entrepreneurial spirit has always run strong in my family. Many of my mothers first clients were friends of hers whom she had known before our world came crashing down. I know it must have been hard for her to know these people as peers and within a short turn of events; now cleaning their homes. In fact, the very same people my mom went to church with when we still lived in our home my father had built and had the businesses, now she ended up cleaning their houses. But she taught me to never be ashamed of your circumstances; never be afraid to start over or to move forward. To other people it may not even look like you’re moving forward. Crawling may be embarrassing to others, but to you it’s better than laying there to die. No matter what got thrown at my parents, they never stopped. And that was something that I had to learn then. My mother personified to me the “whatever it takes” mentality that so many people say they are willing to put in place to achieve their goals but never actually do. My mother actually did what she had to do in order to achieve her goals and because of this I looked at her with an even greater admiration. She refused to let her pride get in the way. Soon she moved into her own apartment and grew her business into one that provided her with a comfortable income and allowed her to take care of not only herself but she was even able to help support me and my sister. My mother’s actions during this time in my life taught me to keep moving forward and that the WILL to survive is a powerful WAY to achieve your goals. My mother showed me by example that you can positively change your situation with hard work and perseverance. But it was always clear to me that the strength that my mother drew from was her relationship with the Creator. The Creator was the WILL that gave her a WAY to overcome adversity and keep moving forward. The Creator allowed her to be humble yet gave her the self-respect that she needed to not let the nature of her work determine who she was as a person. The medicine of prayer can strengthen your resolve and provide you with focus to overcome all adversity even if it seems that those obstacles are insurmountable. Nothing that you do when you are in compliance with the Creator is demeaning. When you pray and seek out the Creator; doors open for you and the darkness of your path becomes lit by the light of your faith and hard work. You become confident in moving forward upon your journey and intimately familiar with your guide, The Creator. When you experience this and know the power of it in your own life; the opinions of others aren’t able to distract you from your path, nor influence you to stray off course. The focus you receive and the sensitivity you begin to develop from the Creator are the corner stones to the foundation of your purpose. You will always rely upon these attributes no matter how high you build your house.
For as long as I can remember my father has been and example to me that hard work and determination equate to success. These were the attributes that I was seeing in my mother as she started her own company. Growing up I never remember seeing my father being a worker for someone else’s company. My father was always the owner of his own companies and had people working for him. I pretty much spent my childhood hanging out at his businesses and “helping” him. I am sure that I was often times more “in the way”, than contributing to the success of his companies. But hanging out with my father provided me a real time classroom from which to learn. I sat in all of his meetings at the bank, with suppliers and even with clients. I saw business being done and how he conducted himself in doing business. I also watched how he handled adversity when things didn’t go quite as he had planned. One of the things my father taught me came into play during this time of hardship I was experiencing. Dad always spoke about never being afraid to stand alone or be apart from the norm. He was always a real time example of this to me. I would watch him walk into a meeting and just by using his physical presence; control the room and the direction of the meeting to communicate his thoughts and agenda. He always knew beforehand what he wanted to walk away from the meeting with and he didn’t leave until that was accomplished. I watched him execute this important business skill to perfection in multiple settings and on more occasions than I can recall. I would watch different people sit with him in a negotiations and initially tell him “no” or that they were “not interested” in whatever he was selling or trying to convey to them and often within half an hour -see him shake their hand and walk away with the sale or the deal closed. My father taught me to be a better listener than a talker. He would say, “Listen to what people say to you, that is the key to communication. Because if you don’t listen to their objections and really understand their position is; you will never be able to know what to say to get them to understand yours. Don’t argue, communicate.” When I saw him deal with an adverse situation, he taught me to be still and not get caught up in everything else that is going on around you. He would say, “The answer to your problem is often right in front of your nose. When you panic or let the problem overwhelm you, it is almost impossible to find the solution and resolve the issue”. I learned to respond to problems and not to react to them. All of the life skills my father taught me and the experience I gained by watching and listening to him throughout my youth; are priceless. Not that my father was without his faults, no man is perfect. There were many times I wished he was able to spend more time with me throwing the ball or being home and not at work till all hours of the night. But, he was doing what he had to do in order to provide the best way he could for our family. It is hard to be two places at once and I am sure my father would have rather been home and spending time with his family, but his businesses did not allow him the time for that. I now understand why he always took me with him to his businesses whenever he could. That is how he was able to be in two places at once. Even though it wasn’t ideal, “father and son” time, it was time together that he was able to be “present” with me and in my life. I would never replace those days for anything and because my father made room for me during even the most hectic of business schedules he was able to be more just my dad, he became my business teacher and mentor. I owe him much for the abilities and the skills that he taught me and that I have used in my career to achieve success. He also showed me the burden of responsibility and more importantly accountability is integral to the success of any endeavor. He would say, “It is impossible to be responsible unless you can be held accountable.” I apply what he taught me then in each and every day of my adult life.
And so, I started the New Year doing my best to be both responsible and accountable. At 16 years old, I left school and got a job bussing tables. The immediate priority was to help my family…I’d have to finish my sophomore year of high school at a later date. It was a time when I had to learn how to survive, how to understand what was important and getting a real strong dose of life. It was a critical time for the survival of my family too. I knew education was important and I would be able to complete school eventually, but the moment called for me to pursue a means of giving back to support the family. That was the immediate priority and my response to what life had brought my way.
A friend of my mother and father owned two very exclusive restaurants in Tulsa. I went and applied at one of them and got the job. I am sure my mother had something to do with my quick hire. As part of my job, I was required to wear a button down shirt, a necktie and slacks with a long apron to cover the front of my pants. I remember feeling very proud to work at such a nice restaurant and at the proposition of receiving cash tips after each nights work. The pocket money I earned every night allowed me to feel like I was contributing each day toward easing the financial hardship that my family was enduring. I would come home and share my earnings with my family and it made me feel so good. I was able to ease some of the pressure that my parents and grandparents were under to help them buy us all groceries or to pay a bill.
Even though I was beginning to help the family unit and contribute to our dilemma, I was feeling the weight of change. Each night at work I would see tables full of people who were financially and emotionally on the opposite side of the world in which I was living. I would see families eating dinner together who seemed so happy like they had not a care in the world while my family was in the midst of being torn apart. My family dinners had been replaced with the free meals that the restaurant graciously offered its employee’s if you came early for your shift. The restaurant’s day old bread was also served with meal and I don’t think I have ever eaten as much bread in my life as I did then. Even though the employee meals wouldn’t be considered elaborate dishes, I felt like I was eating better than my family each night. I often felt guilty eating the fettuccini or prime beef with noodles that the chef whipped up. I would think of my family while I stood and ate my food alone in the wait station each evening. They would remain in my thought’s as I would make my rounds thru the restaurant pouring water or cleaning plates from tables. Even though I was just a bus boy, I took great pride in my job. I was confident and always polite. I refused to let my job title define me and I would smile at the patrons enjoying their dinner. But many times I would get a smug look in return and instantaneously I felt very much like a lowly bus boy. In those moments I felt pretty alone. But, I would think of my mother who never let people make her feel “less than” and my father who taught me always to be proud of who I was and to never be afraid to stand alone. So as I stood alone doing my job; I refused to let someone else determine who I was or how I should feel about myself or my job. Something else came to me at that time that helped me tremendously. I recalled my mother always telling me that life is a series of seasons. Much like we have the actual seasons of Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter; life has seasons too. In life we have times of birth and growth. We have times of abundance, harvest and of reaping the rewards for our efforts. There are even times when things slow down and we have to be patient and wait things out. It never crossed my mind that I would be a busboy forever. I knew that this was but a season in my life.
Many years later, I was eating at a restaurant in Tulsa and saw a Native American teen working as a bus boy. He must have been new to the job as he seemed pretty flustered when pouring water or clearing the plates from a table. As I was watching him, I was instantly taken back to my days of being a bus boy myself. I then saw one of his co-workers get onto him for something that he must have done wrong and his shoulders dropped with discouragement. When I finished my meal and was leaving the restaurant I went up to him introduced myself and told him to follow his dreams. He recognized who I was and smiled. I then put a one hundred dollar bill in his hand and told him I wanted to give him a tip for doing such a great job. I told him to never quit and never give up and to never let others determine how he felt about himself as I had seen the exchange between him and his co-worker. I told him that I used to be a busboy and sometimes co-workers and patrons tried to make me feel bad. He couldn’t believe I had worked a similar job to him and said, “You were a busboy?” I shook his hand and told him, “This is but a season in your life and a new season is right around the corner for you. Be ready for it.” I felt so good to be able to extend that act of compassion and encouragement to him that day. There were many times that I had wished someone would have done that for me when I was a busboy. But, we all have to experience the seasons of our lives to become the people the Creator gave us life to be. We need to learn from the lessons and the teachings in each season. We have to be present and a student during all of life’s set backs and disappointments in order to appreciate the blessings we have and to prepare for the tests that are still ahead of us. Sometimes things are taken away from us and we are stripped of our possessions to see if we are able to know that the only thing we need to sustain us is our prayers and our faith in the Creator. Even though we feel as if we are alone and our world has been turned upside down; are we still able to be still and know the Creator is with us? My father always taught me to be still and calm and not get caught up in all the energy of adverse circumstances. There is incredible truth in that spiritual teaching. Another way to say that would be, “Stay in balance and centered on your path- no matter what challenges you encounter that try to pull you off course.” Hurricanes are a perfect example of the truth in this teaching. Hurricanes are powerful and violent storms of nature that include rain, tornados, hail and winds that reach hundreds of miles per hour. Their destructive force is unimaginable and those who have witnessed their sheer magnitude and force can attest to it. However, in the center of any Hurricane it is peaceful and calm, the skies are blue and the sun shines bright. It is the “Eye” of the storm. But if you step out of the eye of the storm in any direction you will immediately be thrust into a frenzy of energy and chaos. It is the same in life. When we stay in the eye or the center of life’s hurricanes; we do not allow the circumstances or seasons of life to control us and spin us into a frenzy of chaos. It is only when we move away from our path that we run the risk of getting thrown into the upheaval that is always whirling around us in life. The Creator wants us to stay centered with our focus upon Him so that we are not distracted and become off course. Our prayers are the tools with which we accomplish this. Through the medicine of prayer we are able to make sure the compass of our purpose reads straight and true so that we are always navigating life accurately. Focusing on our prayers and exercising our faith ensures that we will always respond well to the challenges we face in life and gives us the ability to keep things in context.
But, when we get caught up in other people or the circumstances of the day; we find ourselves reacting not responding to the seasons of our lives. Because of the challenges I have faced in life, I now understood better what my father meant by teaching me to respond and not react. It is only thru the medicine of prayer that we are able to find the cure for our frustrations, anxiety and fear. We begin to understand that we are never alone nor without the Creator and thru the medicine of prayer we come to know compassion, resilience and peace in times of change. We become people of compassion and resilient because of the compassion we experience from the Creator each time we are resilient and have faith our prayers will be answered. Thus peace is brought into our life and we see the beauty of living in the eye of all life’s storms. When you are blessed to be the recipient of compassion in your time of need; you can’t help but give that compassion away to others when you see them in need. Even if that moment comes several years later in a restaurant just like the one you worked at in a much earlier season of your life.