The Struggle is Real

There is a struggle as you embrace your authentic self. To “Be” causes one to look inward and not only deal with the awesomeness of you but also deal with the “ugly stuff” that has been placed in your mind, body and soul by others and yes, also by you. Often, to get along in this world means there are things we have embraced knowing that those things don’t feel right or set right in our spirit. Inwardly we know what is good but instead we choose what is not. It is even crazy that we choose what is not good because in actuality, we choose what is not good to be accepted and loved, until it no longer becomes our choosing but instead becomes a demand to be who we are not.

So how do you break out of a cocoon without the struggle? Sweetheart, you can’t without the struggle. The struggle is necessary because it is the push that keeps you moving everyday to love you. We struggle in relationships with our partners, our children, our careers, making ourselves fight for the people and the things that we love. It is not always pleasantries coming home from a long day of work to put food on the table or listen to our partners’s complaint of their day, but in this struggle, we find that dinner is served and we listen to their complaints. It is in this same way, that we must struggle to be and see that beautiful authentic self, because we love and care for ourselves the way we love and care for others. Because you are worthing fighting for; because I am worth fighting for. You are worth the struggle.

Learning to “Be” is taking the time to listen to your body, mind and spirit. Getting real with yourself; taking inventory of yourself; purging what needs to leave and watering the beauty that requires growth. The struggle will not always last because as soon as you realize how much you love yourself, baby, your walk becomes lighter, your head is raised higher and your arms sway with a stride that hits the ground and leaves behind glitter from your soul.

Are you loving yourself yet?! I am!

Be Well my Friends!

Rev. JacquiP

“Walk Together Children, Don’t You Get Weary!”

There is a new rising happening, not just in our country, but globally. We are beginning to hear new voices, new songs that resonate love and freedom. There are more people who are not afraid to stand with the vulnerable and ones that so-called Christians have deemed to be unworthy. In fact, we who are followers of Jesus the Christ, are taking back a religion that has been categorized as un-just, unloving, unkind, and just down right hurtful. We are working together for a just society, where all of God’s children are free, where all have enough to live, where all are loved and have a right to be loved.

I am a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus who stood before the hierarchy of his day and demanded health care for all to be well and enough food for all to eat. I am a follower of Jesus who spoke and stood with women whose society called them prostitutes and shun them when they were unmarried. I am a follower of Jesus who allows children to share their ideas with community, making room for them to lead. I am a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus who stands and speaks truth to power before a Roman Empire and the church that supports a government that bows down to the highest corporate bidder. I am a follower of Jesus who cries when black boys and girls, women and men, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Walter Wallace, Jr., so many more, are killed by police. I am a follower of Jesus who shows love and compassion to all, not based on their religious ideologies, but based on only love! I am a follower of Jesus the Christ. I am a Christian.

So in my voice to all of you who have the audacity to believe that health care will be provided to all, food will be plentiful for all, jobs will pay livable wages so that all mothers can take care of their children, there will be places that all can live and be happy, there will peace among nations, my children can love who they love, that we are endowed by the Spirit of our Creator to do all we can to make this world a more loving and safe place. I say to you, keep walking, don’t get weary!

We can do this y’all! I know there are moments, shucks, there are months, years, where many feel like we are constantly going around in circles. Reminds me of the Exodus story; Moses trying to lead folks who were complaining about nothing ain’t happening. Well, I got news for you. We still complaining, but we still walking, we still moving! Don’t give up now. It is better to love than to bow down before a wicked, unjust system. Keep moving, keep fighting, there is a great camp meeting in the promise land!!! That promise land is just around the corner!

Listen as the Fisk University Jubilee Singers (2020) uplift their rendition of the song, “Walk Together Children”, by Moses Hogan. (*I do not have rights to this music)

Happy Juneteenth! Happy Pride!

Be Bless My Friends!!

Rev. JacquiP

Why?

I recently received an email from a group I am a part of, asking me to participate in taking a Myers-Briggs personality test and share it at our next gathering, so we can see how we can “effectively work” together. The group, I believe, is an advocacy group. I think. The group is still trying to figure out who they are; yes it is complicated. I am not knocking Myers-Briggs. I believe it is a handy tool for personal growth. But I am struggling with participating and coming back to a table with a description of my personality that dictates to you how I will fit into the group or dictates to you how you will better control my actions to fit into the group. I am feeling this is all about judgement and I am having a tough time accepting this request. Should I be struggling with this?

There is something about being isolated for over a year. Over the past year, I have reflected on my self-worth. I realize that I no longer will tolerate anyone or anything that believes I must first prove myself to them to fit in. Not gonna happen! There are lessons I gained and maybe others gained as well, that as awful as this time is or was, we found a piece of ourselves that we had hidden beneath a pile of debris so deep, that we thought we lost all site of our beauty. But because we found time to breathe, to be, forced to deal with who we always were, this hidden beauty rose up out of the burial ground and reminded us of our worth.

This is the thing for me here…I am not afraid of the personality test. I am afraid of sharing the personality test with the group. Why? Because now I wonder how the group will perceive me going forward. How do they view me now? What actions would they allow me to lead or not lead because under the personality with my name on it, they have power to decide how we can “effectively work” together.

Why do you say I am struggling with this? I am reminded when this group first started. One person came up to me and said, “We were wondering what type animal you are, whether you were a lion, a bear, or some other type. It’s hard to pinpoint who you are.” I took offense then. I’m taking offense now. Why do you need to pinpoint who I am? For those who have worked on your self-esteem and are still working through rough patches; for those who have gone through the pain of breaking the cycle of always being down on yourselves; for those who are still climbing out of the spaces that tried hard to keep you hidden from your glorious selves; keep going, even in the midst of asking the question, “why?” Y’all I need to be my best self and unfortunately this group will never get to know the best of me. Oh well!

You are. I am. And that’s all that matters!

Be Blessed my friends!

Rev. JacquiP

Ten Years!

This is us, attending a protest rally in Pennsylvania to fight for fair and equitable education for all children!

I found love late. But hey, I found it!! We are celebrating ten years of marriage. I know for some couples who have been together for way over 10 years, this is just a drop in the bucket. Ten years for us is triumph. Both of us coming from places of hurt and finding each other when we doubted that we would ever experience someone who could love someone who is broken. Somewhere in the universe, we were drawn together. Okay, we were drawn together via MATCH.COM! This is not a plug, it just is what it is, this is how we met and we are perfect for each other.

My husband is White Midwest German and Lutheran. I am Black Real Southerner and Methodist. We grew up in different worlds. My husband grew up ice fishing. I grew up running behind chickens. We both grew up poor. But in his poor and white world, he had privilege and opportunity; in my poor and black world I had hope. In his world he could walk in his neighborhood without the thought of someone yelling at him a derogatory name. In my world, well sometimes walking was a risk. My husband and I ask the questions, “Would we have noticed each other in our twenties?” “Could he bring me home in the early seventies to meet his family?” “Or could I?” We both said, “Probably not!” We were too busy living for others’ expectations of us. But thank God for breaking out of a world that would not be able to define us.

There is something about Love! You can’t stop it. At every turn, Love always finds a way to shine among decades of oppressive systems that stifle and control your being. Love wins at every single corner, every single day, every single moment.

Ten years y’all! I found love and you know what, it wasn’t late! Love was right on time!!

Be Bless my friends!

Rev. JacquiP

A Different Path

I walk at least three miles, three times a week. I enjoy walking, attached my EarPods and listen to something meditating or walking to the stories of amazing Black women in history, offered by GirlTrek, “a national health movement that helps Black women to be change makers in their lives and communities, through walking”; I love this organization started by two powerful young Black women! I always walk the same route, simply because I know the path will get the mileage results I want. One day, I extended an invitation to my daughter to join me on one of my walks; I did not think she would accept because in reality I really enjoy walking by myself, but when she said yes, how could I say I was just joking, right?

We started walking my route, me leading the way. I turned my EarPods off so that I can be present with my daughter. Turning off the sounds in my ear to hear someone, something else, was difficult. I was so concern about getting my three miles in and I’m pretty sure this is all my daughter heard, me constantly saying, “I try to do three miles”, “Am I walking to slow?”, “We doing three miles okay?” Somewhere on my path, my daughter says to me, “Hey Mom”, let me show you the path I take. Me, “Will it get me my three miles?” My daughter responds, “It might.” Me, still worried her path will not get me where I needed to be.

Our view of life can sometimes lead us to stay on a path that is safe and one only we control. We allow no changes, no risk taking, no amusement rides. We experience the same environment, the same smell, the same routine, because it is easier. Or is it because we may be afraid to walk a different path because different makes us uncomfortable. Maybe it’s time to venture out and check out a different path, still moving towards your results, but just being open to a universe with so many possibilities that leads you to where you believe you need to be.

On the path my daughter charted out for us, in our same neighborhood, I discovered a street layered with trees that draped like canopies. I saw homes a block away from ours, that had amazing windows where the sunshine sparkled against them and sent a ray of gold down the middle of the street, making us feel like we were were walking down a yellow brick road. I was not aware so much beauty lived just around the corner. On this different path, I discovered something new about myself. I learned that I can’t do life alone. I must share my path with others, as they share with me, walking sometimes in different directions, but appreciating the path we all have chosen. Yes, I got the result I needed. We walked three miles, but that day, I experienced my daughter’s path and it was beautiful!

Take a different path, even in your own backyard. Discover something new about yourself, about your love ones, your neighbors, about this world. We are all trying to get to that same place – a place of love, a place of acceptance, a place of belonging.

Happy Trails! Be blessed my friends!

Rev. JacquiP

She calls me Mom!

My daughter surprised me by coming home for Mother’s Day weekend. I screamed at the top of my lungs with excitement when I saw her standing in our yard. My husband picked her up from the airport and his story was that he was on his way to pick up a piece of art as a Mother’s Day gift. I did not expect to see my baby girl and I did not realize how much I was missing her. For me the thought of my daughter wanting to surprise me as a gift of offering herself to me was unexpected. I had no idea that my daughter held me in such high esteem. I say this because I don’t believe I was a fantastic Mom.

I was only nineteen when I gave birth to my daughter, not married, which already sentence me to be an embarrassment by some, and truth be told, I believed this sentence myself. So for me, getting by was enough. Finding a job that would support both of us, a place to live, making sure she ate and attended school everyday. I did just enough, because I did not know anything else. I did not know how to be creative in baking cookies, doing art on rainy days, playing peek-a-boo games, making crazy Halloween costumes, jumping in a puddle, cutting construction papers into butterfly shapes, singing lullaby songs, being president of the PTA, asking the pediatrician to talk in layman terms, being funny and silly. I did not know I had a right to motherhood. I wasn’t aware I had the right to be a Mom because I had associated what others deemed to be an embarrassment and attached it to being a mother. But I’m so glad my daughter is now teaching and showing me that I am and always have been fully capable of being a Mom and all that comes with it, the hugs of a child, the love of a child, and hearing their voice say, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

So to all the Mothers out there, we all have different paths. We all can finds things that causes us to believe we are not doing motherhood well. Our world makes us feel that we have to be the very best of doing it all. Mothers are not perfect and they will never be. The only thing that is perfect is hearing that voice that calls you by your rightful name, Mom, Mama, Mother. Whatever is that beautiful name your children call you, own it!

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Rev. Jacqui P

My Apology

“Beginning Again” started out to be a blog about me finding the what next after retirement and could I possibly still dream after turning 60 years old. I am grateful because I am still dreaming. The dreams are not what they once were. The dreams are much better. Because my dreams are not just for me but I realize that my dreams are connected to something bigger than I. My dreams are connected to a better humanity. A humanity that uplifts all, treats all with dignity and grace, stand for the rights of all, ensure that all have enough. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it has taught how much we have hurt each other. We cannot return to a normal that is abusive mentally and physically. We must seek forgiveness. We must apologize. So, here I am, with a dream that offers an apology for those who have been hurt, especially by the church.

To the gay youth at church who stopped coming because we called you a sin. 
To the single parent who only wanted to belong but instead we gossiped about your clothes. 
To the immigrant who only wanted to worship but the church refused to protect you.  
To the homeless person who joyfully expressed his voice every Sunday, only to be shush. 
To the trans person who boldly walked in the sanctuary as themself and told they could not be.
To the once incarcerated who comes back and no one greets you with open arms. 
To the children who are told to sit, not talk, because their voice is not valued. 
To the black boys and girls who scream as we sit by, saying nothing, seeing them murdered.
To all who have never felt the unconditional love of God's hand,
I am sorry.

God is love. God commands us to do better, to be better, to be who God has created us to be. We, who are created in the image of God. God shows up in the gay youth, the single parent, the immigrant, the homeless, the trans, the incarcerated, the children, all of us. God makes God self present in all of us.

This is my apology. I pray you come and dream with me. I pray you find your apology so that all good dreams will be fulfilled. So that all we see in each other is God’s image. What a beautiful sight to behold!

Be well my friends!

Rev. JacquiP

Laughing Jesus!

My home is a happy, funny and spiritual place. Two pastors in the home can be quite entertaining, especially when you hear broadway tunes being belted out and our neighbor so graciously smiling instead of telling us to stop the madness! We can be a handful! But that is what I so love about us! My husband grew up Lutheran and I grew up Methodist. Both of those denominations come with liturgies, prayer books, catechisms, books of worship, crosses, banners, and so many other items that make up our religious tradition. We have some of those religious findings in our home, but there is one thing that we did not see in the churches my husband and I grew up in. A portrait of Laughing Jesus!

Laughing Jesus greets us with his squinting eyes, head tossed back in the air, mouth wide open, inviting us each day to join him in the laughter. Laughing Jesus is the joy of watching children run in the playground, swinging and hugging their friends. Laughing Jesus is the being of a young man who snags his first job, swags as he walks down the street, his headphones, slightly turned down, listening to the sound of his generation, greeting everyone he meets. Laughing Jesus is the couple who is now planning that wedding and getting the news that the venue of their dreams is available for the date of their nuptials. Laughing Jesus is the old man in the nursing home who now gets to sit outside in his favorite spot and smoke his pipe, without the staff knowing. Laughing Jesus is the high school senior who will experience a graduation this year and will beam from the podium as they try to quiet the noise from their parents in the balcony who are celebrating to the point of embarrassment. Laughing Jesus is the thrill of being able to see our grandchildren soon and hugging them, never wanting to let them go. Laughing Jesus is breaking free to simply breathe.

Laughing Jesus tells us to love boldly, to fly with no fear, to dream that impossible dream. Laughing Jesus gives us permission to have fun, to run, play and laugh so loud and so hard that the universe shares in the laughter. The humanity of a Laughing Jesus should tell us that laughing is divine. So maybe you don’t have a portrait of Laughing Jesus; you don’t need one. Just raise your head back, open you mouth wide, close your eyes and let out your loudest laughter! Keep that image of yourself locked in your wonderful brain. There you have your Laughing Jesus!

Be well friends! Love ya!

Rev. Jacqui P.

It’s Complicated

I may have written this before. Somewhere I am pretty sure I have used this same title. For that, I will not apologize. It’s complicated. So here we go…

As a black woman of faith, I am taught to seek joy in time of trouble. I am taught to experience gladness in time of sorrow. Sunday comes and I am reminded that whatever was or is troubling me the day before, my countenance should be as a holy glow, not a droopy woe. I am to clap my hands in praise and shout with joy before my God and be humble and thankful. Do not get me wrong, please. I love extending my hand to my God in praise of all the many blessings. But after one more child being killed by police, it’s complicated.

It’s complicated for me to smile and not show the trauma that impacts my body. It’s complicated to sing a song of triumph when my voice instead wants to moan. It’s complicated to lift up encouraging words when you know darn well the words are falling on ears that just want to hear, “Can we be real before God for a minute, please?” It’s complicated in our preparation that we clothe ourselves in an armor that is tough and hard to break, when in reality we are breaking. It’s complicated that we plan for the future with the past still in the back of our minds and the present showing up with past pains. It’s complicated that still we rise in the mornings and must meet the day like there is nothing wrong, like all is just a terrible dream and we must just get through it.

Just get through it, as we hear of another son’s death. Just get through it, as we hear of another’s son’s death, just get through it as we hear of another daughters death. Just get through it, as we notice the anger and violence that we are facing and the anger and violence we do internally to ourselves as we just get through it. I can’t get through it.

So now, God. Can I be real with you? No, I present myself before God with sadness, not joy. With anger, not gladness, with lament, not a smile. Not clapping my hands to pretend that all is well. Not walking with my head held high so others will feel comfortable. Not making a joyful noise for others who refuse to see my tears or hear my cries. No! For me to do otherwise is just too complicated.

Hear my prayer God. It’s complicated!

Amen