The Women

This picture hangs in my home and always returns me to a place of peace. Unfortunately the artist is unknown.

I like to dance. I am not good at it, but there is a freedom that overtakes me when I move my body to the music of 70’s funk. I dance to release stress and it is also a means of exercise for me now since the weather is cold and snow is on the ground. One day as I was dancing across the room, my arms rising in the air, my hips swaying, my knees aching and my face gleaming with joy of content, I realized that I was not alone. Present with me in the dance was Katie, Pearl, Yvette, Millie and Eliza. All women who are gone from this earth. These beautiful souls who touched me in ways that instill the person who I have become and who I am becoming. I felt their whispers in my ear, saying to me, “Close your eyes and dance until you get every worry, every disappointment, every sadness, out of your soul and mind. Dance until your feet can’t move any more. Then know, that everything is alright.” Y’all, I closed my eyes and danced until the sweat of insecurities, sweat of exhaustion from trying to be so many things for others, sweat of doubt, dripped heavily on the floor. And I didn’t even try to clean up the mess. I left it there to evaporate.

Everything is gonna be alright!

Be Bless My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

$1.99 Tube of Lip Gloss

March 2020, I stopped wearing makeup during the early days of the pandemic. To be honest, all the cosmetics I had in my dresser drawer were way too old and I should have thrown the products away a whole lot sooner than I did. I only used mascara to look fully awake in all of the ZOOM events that required that I show my face. Wearing no makeup was quite refreshing! Plus why would someone put foundation on to only get it all smeared on a face mask any way? And why wear lipstick when no one could see the your lip color? Wearing no makeup, I was a new woman, a natural woman, and the mirror showed off my new found freedom proudly.

One day, bored out of my mind, I started searching YouTube videos on something ,I don’t even remember now what it was. But makeup tutorials caught my attention and for two hours I sat and watched women change their entire appearance, looking nothing like the person that I stared at in the beginning of their instructions. It was fascinating! It was pure art! I admired them for being so detailed in how to apply eye shadow and how to make their nose keener (still don’t really understand that part). Of course I wasn’t going to try this myself. First I am too lazy and second, I really don’t have that kind of time. But, walking down the Rite-Aid beauty aisle, I could’t help but pick up a tube of L’OrĂ©al face foundation that begged me to just remember what it felt like wearing makeup before the pandemic hit. So I took the bait. Baby steps. Today getting ready for church, I wore foundation, Number 8-10, for my skin complexion and mascara, along with my face mask. I felt pretty. So why am I writing about this?

We discovered in this pandemic that we had choices in how we presented ourselves to the world and even to ourselves. We discovered new things about ourselves and brought forth the hidden things we so loved about us to the surface for others to see. We were open to let go of our idiosyncrasies, not afraid no longer of what others thought of us, no longer afraid of our unique abilities. We discovered a freedom that introduced us to ourselves because the gift of time demanded from us a sit down with self. The videos I discovered were makeup artist in their bedroom, bathroom or kitchen, with sounds of their children playing in the background, in the midst of their homes where toys and clothes are thrown across the room, sharing cosmetic products bought from their neighborhood Walmart. Their videos brought joy to me as I watched how one makeup artist was excited to introduced a $1.99 tube of lip gloss. How pure is that? I discovered that I am not a makeup artist. I can wear makeup or do without, but what I discovered that when I take the opportunity to see others shine in their own unique sort of way, when I take the opportunity to experience their freedom, I too experience my freedom. I too, experience my sparkle. We are all INSPIRATIONS! What is that you are offering that puts a sparkle to someone’s day? $1.99 tube of lip gloss can be a great start!

Be Well My Friends! Love Ya!

Rev. JacquiP

Somewhere, A Place for Us

You would think that as we get older, we really would stop trying to fit in, right? Or am I just talking about me? As teenagers we wanted to belong to the group of kids that fascinated us, rather that be the smart group that had life figured out, the cool group that was just way to cool to care about anything but themselves or maybe the group we created in our minds, just to have a feeling of belonging. And still here I sit, still pushing and scrambling to be noticed, to hear my name called, to be recognized, to be accepted, to be me, in a place I don’t fit. Why am I still trying to fit in? Why am I seeking among those who have decided I don’t belong and why do I constantly seek their blessings to matter so much.

We all want and need to be accepted and loved for just being who we are and if we are desperately fighting to received the love and acceptance, that is rightfully deserved and not getting it in the places we sit, then there is nothing wrong with us, with me, with you. It simply means our belonging, our breath, our gifts and talents are needed some where magical. Somewhere that is not afraid to hold us and hear us, somewhere that is not afraid to cry and laugh with us. Somewhere that community happens around us and in us. Somewhere that looks like love and smells like love.

I love Westside Story, the original and the new one. When I was little, after church on Sundays, I would rush home hoping that Westside Story would be on our black and white TV. We only got a few channels. Old movies, Elvis Presley and beach movies, were showed a lot. But when movies like Imitation of Life and Westside Story came on, I somehow related to these stories, even as an 8 year old girl, seeking to belong somewhere.

My sharing with you is not meant to be a sad one. I still look to a place and wonder why they never chose me, even as I get older. Oh well! This is what I know… if I continue to push in a place that does not want me, I miss experiencing the beautiful place God has for me. We can’t stay in the place that does not want us, we can’t grow in the place that does not want us. We seek the place God has for us, nourish it with all the love we have and settle in our place with gratitude, welcoming all who seek to belong.

“There’s a place for us, a time and a place for us. Hold my hand and we’re half way there. Hold my hand and I’ll take you there. Somehow, someday, somewhere.”

Be Well My Friends!

Rev. JacquiP

Year of Lazy

There are so many things we are trying to accomplish. For some of us, making up the bed in the morning is a big accomplishment, along with getting the household ready, up and off to work and/or school, which is probably located in a room down the hallway of our home that has become the sole place of our existence. Whew! Here we are, 2022!

My daughter asked me if I had anything new plans or challenges I wanted to do this year, any new goals I wanted to go for. Really? My answer was no. All I’m trying to do is do the best I can. I’m not trying to run a marathon, or accomplish something so absolutely spectacular that I would have to pinch myself to see if it’s really me that is doing all this amazing stuff! Sorry. Nope, not a new thing. Of course for those who are raring to go in this new year and shoot for the stars, I say hooray!! I know you will succeed and I will be there to pinch you and say, yes, you did that!!

So for those like me, who maybe moving a little slower these days, not because of age, but because we choose to do so, know that you are doing enough and you are doing life well. Please give yourself some grace and move when you are ready. We have all been through a great deal of trauma and just maybe, 2022, is the lazy year we need.

Be Well My Friends!

Rev. JacquiP

It’s Your Turn!

May you run with the wind to the place that calls your name.

May you trust your heart to follow your path.

May you plant seeds that bloom like sun rays.

May you be still when the storms arise.

May you laugh out loud with your head tilted back.

May you cry when sad and happy.

May you give hugs and not be afraid.

May you stand bravely before your oppressors.

May you share the very best of who you are.

May you receive all the love you deserve.

For the world is waiting for someone like you!

Happy New Year my Friends!!! Be Bless!!

Rev. JacquiP

Light of the World

My faith celebrates the One who comes into this world offering hope, peace and love. My faith teaches me that Jesus is light that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome the light. My faith also teaches me that as Jesus serves to bring light and exposes the injustices of this world, so must we who are followers of Christ do the same. We are also light.

Yes, we are plagued with pandemics of viruses, of gun violence, of poverty, of unaffordable health care, of education inequity, racism, sexism, too many others to name. All of this is challenging and it almost sounds impossible to do anything about. My faith offers to me that we can do more than we can even imagine. God actually believes that we can. Imagine that! God believes in us so much that God brings us a light through the Christ child that strengthens and guides us in making our world a place not of darkness, but one of love, of acceptance, of helping the other, of seeing the other, embracing and sharing our gifts with one another, of sharing light that overcomes the darkness. Light always prevails.

My prayer for all of us is that we shine our light so bright that the darkness will be totally pushed out and that God would say, “Hey, I knew you could do it!”

Be Bless My Friends, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2022!!

Rev. JacquiP

A Lesson from Squirrels

The Holiday season is upon us. This time last year, the Christmas tree was up, decorated with our favorite ornaments and the African nativity set was brought up from the basement placed on the mantle where it could be admired. As of today, there is no tree and the nativity set is still in the basement collecting dust. Maybe tomorrow I will unwrap the tangled Christmas lights? Maybe? There is no rush.

I listened to car horns blowing in traffic, irritated drivers trying to reach the places that held the items they need to buy for friends and love ones. Unfriendly walkers moving at a fast pace, head down, not making eye contact with anyone, because they are on a mission to beat time. It is wonderful to see people out again and yes we are still in a pandemic and yes we must still be safe. And yes, we have returned to a sense of normalcy; the normalcy of once again, not seeing each other and the normalcy of only being concern with our single agendas, the normalcy of rushing that we end up missing the most delicate things of life. Maybe the squirrels can help us recall what it is to experience what it feels like to be fully alive.

Walking with all the car noise and chatter around me, I heard a ruffling in leaves that were raked in a pile. Two squirrels were running and playing with each other; jumping in and out of the pile of leaves. When I got close, they stopped and got quiet until I passed by. Once I passed, the squirrels returned to their joy of running and jumping, chasing each other and being free. For a moment, I was a little jealous of the squirrels enjoying the unseasonal warm weather. For a moment, I didn’t want to return to normalcy as I remembered it.

There is no rush!

Be Well My Friends!

Rev JacquiP

You are Amazing!

As you prepare to lay down your head tonight, do me a favor. Hold your arms out wide, take a deep breath, wiggle your fingers, don’t hold that breath in too long; go ahead and exhale! Now take your strong arms and give yourself a great big hug. You’ve been through a lot this week. Tomorrow is a new day. Give yourself some grace. I’m praying you peace, joy, hope and abundant blessings with you and for you!

Be Blessed My Friends!

Rev. JacquiP

Hope: Again?

This is the first Sunday in Advent 2021 and today the word is Hope. I struggle with the word, hope. I don’t know if my hoping to have a better world or my hoping to complete my doctor of ministry degree really gets me motivated to create those possibilities, but I’m working my way through this thought. Here is why. About 4 years ago at a coffee bar, while this young man read poetry and played sounds on his folk guitar that made me feel like I could fly above the clouds, he said, “There is no such thing as hope.” Hoping for things in life or hoping to be something in life, it just doesn’t get you to the places you want to be. His thought was that hope is just a pipe dream that you can wish over and over again. I remember this night well. This was the night I realized and accepted that my Mom was not going to live for very much longer. She had stage 4 lung cancer and all I could do that night was turn to Hope.

Hope is breathing through the difficulties that life throws at you. Hope is walking through the storms, seeing the rain beating on your face, watching the hurricanes toss you around, but you move anyway. Hope is believing that there will be an end to this crazy pandemic! Hope is being vulnerable before something or someone that refuses to see you. Hope is praying for a sick friend or relative because they have no one else. Hope is loving a partner who is struggling with their own demons. Hope is reaching inside your purse and coming up with a few coins to buy a candy bar for your crying child who throws a tantrum and everyone looks at you like you’re crazy. Hope is praying that you will get up in the morning, ready to go to a job you don’t like, but it pays the bills, but one day it will get better, because you continue to hope.

I disagree with the young poet with the smooth sounding guitar. Hope pushes you to dream, to have vision, to imagine the possibilities.

Hope is where we start. In this season of Advent, my prayer for you is that you continue to hope for the very best for you and for others. Imagine us all hoping for the very best for and in our world. Imagine us now walking towards that hope.

Be Bless My Friends!

Rev. JacquiP

Mr. See Me

God finds a way to get your attention. No, I am not talking about a god that chastises you or is sending you to hell. I don’t know that god. Hope you don’t either! But God who speaks to you either with a whisper or a loud shout that tells you that you are so much more than what you think. You know, that God who created every fiber of your being and was proud of the outcome. Well, this week, God spoke with a loud shout, and I wasn’t sure and still not sure how to handle it.

Here is what happened. I work with birth parents whose children are in the foster care system. This job has its ups and downs. I have experienced children reunited with parents and I have experienced foster care parents who have loved on children for years and have to say goodbye to them at a moment’s notice. I have cried over court decisions that I felt in my heart was wrong and I have jumped for joy when the court decisions were right. I have watched infants come into the system and seen them grow into toddlers and elementary children. I have seen older children take on the role of a parent to save their younger siblings from the awful knowledge they are unaware of. I can’t say that it is all rewarding and I can’t say that it is all just. This week I spent two hours with a birth parent that can be quite intimidating. He curses everyone out; have a shouting match and will debate every last thing, even when someone is trying to help him. He does not trust anyone. He has experienced much trauma and when someone attempts to get close, he pushes them away by using hurtful words concerning their race and/or their gender. This does not make this person sound like a nice person, does it? Let’s call this person, Mr. See Me.

Mr. See Me has been abused for most of his life by systems that have landed him in prison and taken away his family. He has been fighting, seeking justice for himself for a long time and he is tired. He experiences bouts of rage because he is never heard, never seen by those who think him to be insignificant and that his life does not matter. He is unable to express his mental depression at the same time living in denial and pretending that he is well, because, hey, that is what black men were taught to do. Don’t be vulnerable. Man Up and don’t let them see you cry. But every now and then, Mr. See Me shows himself, this loving person who talks about his children with pride and how he listens to his mother even when he doesn’t always agree with her. Every now and then Mr. See Me doesn’t realize it, but he allows you in, if only for a few seconds. On our last meeting, Mr. See Me, with a stern expression on his face, turns to me and says, “Your gift is not meant for this place; your gift is not helping anyone here!” For the past few months, I have said out loud this very thing; this place is not where I need to be. Mr. See Me saw me. Could I take the time to see him?

You might ask, so what is so special about Mr. See Me statement directed to me. In his anger, his disappointments, his struggles through his own life, Mr. See Me saw a gift in me! How many of us have decided that we have all the answers because we believe we are the only ones that can save someone but that very person we believe need our help, because we are so great and mighty, turns out to be the very one saving us?

Yes, I am still pondering on what Mr. See Me said and I am thankful that Mr. See Me decided to show his gift to me, if only for a few seconds. A few seconds that made me see him fully as a human being. For a few seconds who will you see differently, who will you not judge, who will you allow yourself to fully see?

Be Well My Friends!

Rev. JacquiP