You have permission.

Writing can be scary, at least for me.  I’m usually nervous about what people think…yep, still trying to get through that awful feeling.  I’m really learning how to put out in black and white how my mind works.  I know that itself may be dangerous.  I mean once you open yourself up to the world, you never know what kind of response the universe will throw back your way.  And to tell you the truth, that can be quite frightening when you expect the worse response.  Case in point, I started writing a small piece a month ago. I wanted to stop after typing the words , “I’m struggling.”  Fearful on what someone would say or fearful that someone thought I may need saving which the only thing I wanted to do was just write and have a fist fight with my thoughts.  So I stopped typing because what you think (not you really) of me was unfortunately winning.  Then  I received a note from a friend telling me she had not seen anything I wrote lately, like what happened??! Where did you go?  I just got scared to share.   But hearing the news of the suicide of Kate Spade (I have these adorable Kate Spade eyewear) and Anthony Bourdain (love this guy) I really should not care what response the universe gives me.  This is my healing, not yours (of course I’m not talking to you in an embarrassing voice) so here goes.  This is what I started to type a month and 6 days ago.

“I’m struggling.  No.  Not with an illness.  Not in my marriage. Not with finances. Not in a way that I need for friends and family to drop whatever they are doing to come see about me.  I’m just struggling.  It’s not a serious matter, of course, though what is serious to one person can be detrimental to another.  But I assure you, I’m just struggling.  Can’t really explain it.   Things don’t come as clear to me as they do for other people, I’m guessing.   I exist.  I  get up.  I try. I know I’ve been called to do more than just exist.  And there lies the issue.  That’s it!  I’m not struggling!  I’m not living!”

I was in a funk. I found so many reasons to pick an argument with myself.  Why did I gain so much weight?  I was doing so well!  Why is my hair still thinning, I’m taking my Vitamin D!  Damn!!!  Why am I still at this freaking job for 36 years?? You know the feeling sorry for yourself that you can’t even see your worth.  But I just realized something in vomiting my mess and insecurities.   I was living!  I was actually living!

Doing life involves all of this, days when the sunshine is so bright you don’t ever want it to end and days when the clouds consume you, you scratch to get out.  I was scratching to  get out from under the clouds…if I didn’t scratch to get out, then life, living does not happen. Experiencing the pain was living!  Getting out from under dark clouds mean that I scream, kick, pray and sometimes even curse.  Those actions and sounds are visible and loud.  I didn’t need to hide getting out in fear or others, I scratch to get out because of others!  My husband, my children, my friends, myself.  Because I’m worth living, even when life can be painful. I’m worth living all of it.  I’m worth living the happiness and I’m worth living the pain.

If you find yourself in a funk and someone tells you not to be there, don’t listen!  If you’re struggling and afraid to even say the words, “I’m struggling”, say it anyway.  And say it proudly!  It is not a moment to be prideful on what people will think, or how people will assume that you are not grateful that God is blessing you and you should be continuously happy!  There is a scripture that comes to mind, “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17 NRSV).  You have permission to scratch through the dark clouds, permission to cry, permission to scream, permission to live.

I’ve learned that I never stay in the struggle.  I go through, but I don’t stay!  Tomorrow is a new day!  You have a new day!  But if you want to scream today…. go ahead!!!

Mental illness is not a crime!  Mental illness is not a sin!!!  If you need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  1-800-273-8255.

Rev. Jacqui

 

 

 

 

Show Up!

The Royal Wedding was a delight!  Such  a positive and happy moment for a lot of people who just needed to feel comfort. Just to be able to sit in front of the television with no hearing of killings or rudeness that spews from the mouth of those who sit in powerful positions yet lack power in love.  Thank you Bishop Michael Curry for preaching to us today, reminding us that it’s not a fairy tale or just in our imagination that love,

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God’s Agape love can truly happen when “we all show up”.

Be a blessing to someone today!

Rev. J

 

 

 

 

 

Lilies & Daffodils

About twice a month I buy fresh flowers and place them throughout our Philly twin.  Lilies and daffodils are my favorite.  The flowers just seem to add a sense of  peace and they make me feel like I can take on every corrupt thing in this world and beat the hell out of it!  Yes, the lilies and daffodils give me that kind of power; like I can conquer and defeat all evil! I understand that vibranium from Wakanda is the precious stones we are all dying to get out hands on, if just in our imaginations, but right now lilies and daffodils are easier for me to put my hands on.   For moments, with the vase full of God’s peaceful creation, I can dance around the living room as the sun comes across the windows, hitting the daffodils and a streak of yellow curves and adds comfort and warmth.  For those moments, everything is alright in the world.  For those moments, there is no danger.  The lilies and the daffodils offer me a smile and provide me with a beauty that my soul apparently needs to view and believe that such beauty still exists.   These moments bring to light that life is still good and dreams are still right around the corner.

How do we stop and breathe and believe and dance and dream and admire and love and just be, again.  I know, it’s been awhile for all us.   Talks of wars, disregard for children, hatred which is normalized, evil which is confused with patriotism.    Yes, this period of time in our history is definitely a frightening one. Some of us may feel like there is something we should be doing to save it.  We just don’t know how.   We have closed ourselves off from each other, fearing one another.  We’ve unfortunately adjusted to the same ugliness that we despise; adjusted to smell of rotten bodies; our hearts are hardened.  We’ve closed our doors, turned off the lights, pulled the covers over our faces and dread for the tomorrow.  The tomorrow which we have already decided to be the same ugly day, tragic day, hard day, can you kick be any harder day?!! Yes these kind of days; these “freaking” normal days can not stay as “freaking” normal days.  Therefore, lilies and daffodils are required.  Lilies and daffodils are required to remind us that there is still beauty in the world.   God still allows beauty to grow among us.  God still allows inspiration in nature when God know longer can depend upon the heart of humankind.

Lilies and daffodils grow and gives to us intentional beauty.  Intentional to make one admire and feel great about the world in which one lives.  Intentional about providing happiness when we walk by a field of sunshine on a dreary day.  Intentional to make us notice it’s strength that they are here to serve us and give us an appreciation for God’s wonders and to let us know that God can still grow beauty in the midst of chaos.

Yes, simplicity of lilies and daffodils humbles us.

I don’t know what your favorite flower is.  Maybe you don’t like flowers.  But don’t you agree that we should remember how to dance?  That we should remember how to speak and smile at each other?  That we should remember how it feels to show kindness? That we should remember how to see beauty and even more important to relate to God’s wonders? That even the smallest beauty can give us the nod we need to know that God still need for us to believe that God is still believing for God’s greatest creation, humankind, to grow and shine in a dark and dreary world and help save it from it’s ugly demise?  There is time.  God is waiting.

So what kind of flower vase do you have?  Crystal, glass, ceramic?   Any will do!

Rev.  Jacqui

 

 

 

 

My Pearls

You raised your children in a hostile environment.

You found hope and comfort in your Bible.

You worked in places where you were treated unfairly.

You registered your people to vote on your day off.

You provided food for your neighbors when they could no longer pay on credit at Mr. Charlie’s store.

You always walked with dignity and grace wearing fake pearls and owned one fancy dress worn so perfectly just above the knees.

You danced only on special occasions but would hit the juke joint when your whole hood felt a wave of liberation.

You stood firmed when police officers pushed against your raised voice. You even smile when they believed they silenced your roar.

You baked the best pound cake and cooked cornbread on top of the stove.

You worked in your garden making sure that your family would be nourished.  You believed in getting food from the land, even if it belonged to your oppressor.

You collected greenback stamps just to get a fan for hot summer days.

You made sweet ice tea and snapped green beans on the front porch creating the first neighborhood watch.

You gave life.

You saw greatness in your children and prayed that they also saw the beauty of themselves.

You never asked for recognition nor did you ever think you were worthy of it.  You are.

You dreamed that we may have the right to dream.

You are loved.

 

 

 

 

 

Tea Time

Seven months now since moving to Philadelphia.  I don’t like the cold and snow.   I don’t like the squirrels who have stored their winter nuts in my attic!  But I do like the idea of waking up every morning and discovering a new part of me in this new place.  This new place forced me to, let’s say,  reconcile with myself.  I had this very bad habit of mentally beating up on myself.   I’m too fat, my alopecia is getting worse, my teeth are crooked!  But a new place is forcing me to get out of my comfort zone.  I can’t complain anymore… I have no one to complain too!  There isn’t my personal trainer from the Atlanta Carver Y or any of my peers at work.  As I was figuring out how I would fit into this new place I discovered my dear friend….me and she was not having any of that!   I realized that the place may be new but the journey is the same and yet I am ever evolving.

“Almost 60” has me slowing down, not physically or mentally, but slowing down and becoming more aware of …well life.     Now before someone blurts out and scream, “How could she not be aware of this evil political climate we’re in?”   Not that kind of awareness.  I grew up in the segregated South in early 60’s.  I was born aware!  There is a serious discussion one has with oneself when friends your age are passing away; when you feel you have forty more years in you and not ready to go anywhere.  This awareness comes from a place that’s within that is sometimes ugly. Yep, it wreaks of low self-esteem and shame…it’s not pretty.   But I got my mirror up and taking it all in.  It’s taking all of who I am, my strengths and weaknesses, my successes and failures, my insecurities and assurances, my good hair days and bad ones.  I meet myself everyday with all of it.  And I’m freaking loving it!!  I can spin my wheels to create  what the world may admire or I can choose to appreciate the person whose daughter shares her days with and whose husband greets her with the warmest smile every morning.  I can appreciate the person at church whose young folks have allowed her to share in their friend’s birthday cake and dance with them even if her dance moves are to 1977 disco sounds…don’t hate!

It doesn’t take physically moving to a new place to discover how awesome you are, it just takes being able to be real with you and move into a new place that at first doesn’t feel all that great but once you’ve busted out your cocoon, you relax and enjoy the rest .  I’m living and learning in this new place; open to all possibilities and ready to receive.

Don’t be afraid to take inventory of yourself.  I bet your best friend is waiting for you and will be so glad when you finally show up!  Sit down with her or him and have some tea!  I will join you.

Take care of yourself and your dreams!!!

Rev. J

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Different New Year

 

Here we are again. A sheet of paper with numbers 1 to infinity, listing everything we want to accomplish in the new year. I don’t know how many times I’ve written down the same old things, lose 20 pounds (now 40), run a half marathon (last year it was a full marathon). Nope, I didn’t accomplish that; but definitely finished a 3K. Of course, I must pat myself on the back for at least doing that!!! What are the other things? Oh yes, read more, refresh my skills in Greek and Hebrew, keep a clean house, plant beautiful flowers, sit on a beach, curve my wine intake (that one I may just have to give up on) and the list goes on and on and on and….well you get the point.

Advertisements from Weight Watchers are piling up in my email offering discount prices to join and Deepak Chopra and Oprah are sending me beautiful messages about how I can receive peace and harmony in the new year by purchasing their podcast for only $49.95. I do like Deepak, but I must not give in! I’m having an anxiety attack just thinking about what goals I should be writing down to accomplish in 2018! Seriously?! Don’t you hate people who seem to have it altogether?! Ok, hate is strong word! But they are so excited about the new year, have their black dress ready for the New Year Eve ball, their vision board all dazzled and placed in an area of their bedroom, sitting like a shrine to be admired, so that when they wake up every morning, it’s the first thing they see. Hmmm, come to think of it, that does seem doable. I’ll probably have panic attacks as to which corner of the vision board I should put the cutout convertible Mercedes Benz I see myself styling in.

Ok, yes, I can get through New Years Eve without struggling to put on a face that says, ‘2018 is my year, all the things I ever hoped for will happen because God says it’s MY TIME”. Oops! Nope! I can’t get through New Years Eve with a false perception of saying, this time it (whatever it is) will happen for me, this year. I can’t dance into New Years Eve without studying my failures from 2017, not loathing in them, but learning from them. I can’t dance into New Years Eve without acknowledging that my preparation for 2018 has been somewhat slacking. I especially can’t dance into 2018 knowing that 2017 has caused pain for those who didn’t have a place to lay their head, food to eat; knowing that 2017 brought weather disasters that left folks without power and water for weeks and still at the end of this year, there are still those without power and water. I can’t dance into New Years Eve with the accomplishment of self and with God so concern about my vision, that I don’t see God in the one that has lost their home; in the one that has lost their job; in the immigrant that is scared; in the child whose sexual identity is being threatened. Oh how I want to see through the eyes of God, to participate in the lifting up of humanity.

My prayer in 2018 is to live that God can use me. Not get caught up on trying to get to the next level….really never understood what that meant.

I like the prophet Habakkuk because I complain just as much as he does to God about the things happening in our nation.  I get angry, kick and scream and yeah even cuss.  I’m a good cusser!  I really hate to say that….but hey I’m working on that….too. But this is how God response to the prophet’s complaint.

Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;
 make it plain on tablets,
 so that a runner may read it.
For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
 it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
 it will surely come, it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:2-3 NRSV)

I like especially the part where the Lord says make it plain so that the runner can read it.   It’s not a vision that we only understand, it’s not a vision that we only get to carry, it’s not even a vision that we can only control.  Of course, I’m having difficulty with “tarry” “wait for it”; but that doesn’t mean I get to be only concern about living it up in life while I wait for the Lord to deliver! Why is it that we don’t want to be the runner?  I know doesn’t seem like a cushy job does it? There is still a vision, there is still a place where the runners must speak truth to power….there is still a vision where the runners must be the hands and feet of God; there is still a vision where God looks to use us to lift up this broken world.

Vision boards are good; getting into shape is good; reading and running a marathon, all wonderful things to do. And I will get to do those things and that should read half marathon….but I won’t make those the focus.  There is something bigger, but it’s not for me alone.  It’s not selfish or materialistic.  It won’t make you rich or make you great!  Love is strange like that.  Sometimes you get nothing for it and other times you realize what you’ve been missing.

Let 2018 open our eyes to see each other in all our failures and successes. Let 2018 open our hearts to receive all of God’s creation. Let 2018 open our mouths to speak against the pain and hurt caused by an establishment of greed. Let 2018 open our ears to hear from God. Let 2018 give us courage to run the path of God because this won’t be an easy path, it never is. But I promise, it’s more rewarding than the convertible Benz.  Are you a runner or just looking at your vision board?

I’m putting on my extra large black dress and I’m going to dance regardless, but after the party is over the vision is still there.  Have a Happy New Year and make sure you keep your running shoes close by!

Rev. Jacqui

 

 

I’m Breaking Up With You

Everyone wants to be accepted.  Some of us though have a NEED to be accepted.  I fall  into this category and I’m working on digging myself out.  The need to be liked and accepted outweighed my ambitions and goals.  In fact, I placed my goals and ambitions completely on the side.  I’m not sure when the need started, but I would say since high school.  This need is a terrible thing, it places you in positions you didn’t ask for or aspire to and it makes you feel like you’re always searching….for something….you just don’t know what that something is.  The need to be accepted is always looking for accolades; always looking for someone to say that you did good, always wanting to please, always wanting to be recognized…even if you didn’t do anything spectacular.  Weird right?

Am I needing acceptance right now while typing this blog?  Probably so.  But I hope not.  I hope not to seek accolades but write words that will release me to see my gifts.  I hope not to go after recognition but instead believe that I am good enough to give inspiration.  I don’t want anyone to like me because I’ve forced myself to laugh at their jokes, believe in their values or gave less of me for others’ benefit.  Needing acceptance is tiresome and I don’t have the strength for it any longer.  I’m making my way out of needing your acceptance, but just having your acceptance is enough.  In fact, by needing I’m really giving you too much power you can’t live up to….sorry about that…that’s just way too much responsibility for you.

IMG_0180.jpg  I am brave.  God has given me everything I need to believe in me.  I no longer need your acceptance, so I’m breaking up with you.  The little girl who longed for you to tell me that I’m good has finally believe she’s good enough.  The little girl who always wanted to make those around her happy is telling me, “Lady, we gotta go, ain’t got time to wait to see what they think!  Woman, you’ve been created to share love to those who don’t know their self worth; you’ve been created to show what God’s love look like.”    Gotta love that kid!

If you find yourself needing acceptance from others and it’s getting just too tired to keep trying to feed that need, my prayer is that the little girl or boy in you will awaken and the kick butt you experienced at age five when you rode your bicycle for the first time, fell off, got back on, kept on peddling until it became natural…. I pray that kind of tenacity fills you again, knowing that you are already great!  I pray that you are able to share the gift God has planted inside of you, not for accolades, but to bless the world.  The world has been waiting on you…. and me.

Go head on….. ride your bike!  I’m riding mine!  See you on the road!

Rev.  Jacqui