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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Gratitude Journal

 

My mom lived in a small apartment in White Plains, NY. My biological mom. Remind me…one of these days to tell you all how my mom and I met. It’s a beautiful and insane story.

A week after my mom’s funeral my family and I went to clean out her apartment. My mother loved her small apartment. She kept things in a certain order; her favorite chair had to be in the right position to watch TV; her phone close by so not to get up from that favorite chair (it would depend of course who would be calling for her to answer the phone). We only had one weekend to move everything out of her apartment. My mom accumulated a lot of stuff in this small apartment. Not knowing where to start, we threw items all over the place…my gosh, if my mother saw what we did she would’ve kicked us out..of course not before she said a few choice words.

Cleaning her apartment was difficult. Everything we touched was her. All of her stories. There were stories in her coffee cup, her stuff animals, her glasses, her sofa. As we gave away items to people who came by they each went home with her stories. Her stories are ones of hope and redemption. Her stories are ones of survivor and strength. Her stories are ones of love and friendship. Her stories are ones of grace and gratitude. We found journals where she wrote about what was going on in her life after she found out she had cancer. She was a fighter! Yes, I mean that both figuratively and literally.  You never wanted to cross this woman, ever!

I found a journal called the “Gratitude Journal”. In it were notes she expressed of how grateful she was to God, to friends and even to me, her daughter. We didn’t always see things eye to eye.  This was a surprise that I even made I cut.   I cried. She loved me.  She was dying of cancer and at times what I saw was her anger of the disease. What I saw was her anger of doctors telling her what medicine she needed to take and how miserable she was . But all she wanted was to be in that small apartment where her stories were created, where she shared love to those who, if they were allowed, to walk through her doors. I imagine that each day she found things to be grateful for and those things gave her life even in the midst of knowing she would leave us, she fought to continue to write her stories of gratitude.

I write in her journal now. Not everyday. I promise my mom I would look at my life and find those things to be grateful for and add my stories to hers. I’m grateful to have met this most wonderful woman when I was 15. This woman, my biological mom, who didn’t have an easy life, who struggled at times with herself, who told me, “Remember, you can always start over”.  I’m grateful because now I get to continue her story while I also continue living my story struggling at times with myself but finding even in the hardship of life to live for the things that I’m grateful for.

What are our stories of gratitude?  Where are your stories?  Close by or hidden?  Some of our stories are beautiful , some ugly, some we rather not even talk about.  My mom taught me to be grateful for all parts of my story, the good, the bad and the ugly.  I’m smiling….

Thanks mom!

I hope you look for the things you are grateful for.  I hope at the end of our lives, someone will be able to see our stories in the simplest of acts.  I have a favorite coffee cup.  It holds my story.

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Doubt

How often do you self-sabotage? How many times do you doubt your abilities? I can’t count the number of times I’ve doubted my abilities. It’s been many and even as I’m writing this blog, I’m doubting myself writing this right now. Geez!!!!

That word has caused a lot of us to throw in the towel and just give up. It’s a freaking five letter word that seems to have some type of power! I don’t like it’s feeling when it makes me wonder if I am doing the right thing or not, believe in the right thing or not, eating the right thing or not, living the right way or not, learning the right thing or not, oh my goodness, this word just gets on my nerve! Can you go anywhere without it always rearing it’s ugly head? People usually don’t talk about weak moments in their lives. We all want to look like we have it together, don’t we? It is important to us how people see us, what they say about us, if we will be accepted. But doubt creeps in and can cause us to second guess ourselves and put us on this downward spiral of trying to climb out before we are caught by our make believe admirers. Well, guess what? Everyone has doubts! Everyone! So why is it that we feel so guilty when doubt shows up if everyone is affected by it? Why is it that we are told never say that we doubt something? I know, we are never supposed to doubt God. Or ourselves. I don’t know about that.

Thomas, a disciple of Jesus, doubted that Jesus was resurrected. Folks call him “Doubting Thomas”. Thomas wasn’t being disrespectful. He was asking questions that many of us would ask. Really Jesus? You mean to tell me it’s really you, back from the dead? When Thomas didn’t believe and began to question his doubt, Jesus showed up. Even with Thomas doubting, Jesus showed up. And even in Thomas doubt, Jesus showed himself to Thomas and said let me prove to you that I’m alive! Of course we will immediately go to the statement that Jesus made… “blessed are those who have not seen but yet believe.” Yeah, so you gonna have the perfect ones. 🤷🏾‍♀️ Thomas continued on his path, probably still having questions, but Thomas continued on his path and I believe God’s presence was still there with Thomas.

We will doubt. We will question those things that are even good for us. We will doubt that we are good enough, we will doubt our talents, we will doubt even God at times. This is the thing…. Even in the doubt, God is there, even in the doubt, God shows up. So this five letter word may hang around, but we continue on our path. We continue on the path with our questions, continue in our fragility, continue on the path with our doubts…..God shows up anyhow.

Yep, still doubting about this blog….but continuing on my path..… Be Bless!

Rev Jacqui

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The Johnny Carson Show

I grew up in a small town, Dalzell, S.C.  Some of you have probably never heard of it!  Dalzell had one caution light, a post office and one gas station.  Everyone knew everyone, and blacks and whites got along as long as blacks stayed in their place and didn’t cause any disturbance or acts of looking for civil rights. In this small town everyone wanted to get along, even if that meant that the community had sins of injustice.

My household was a vibrant one. There was always music, church and food, in that order.  I was an adopted child, but adopted among other siblings as well.  My adopted mom had so much love that she raised four children that she didn’t give birth to plus the two she did give birth to.  Music was a very big part of our household.  I grew up in the house in which Bill Pinkney, a member  of the Original Drifters, was raised so if you didn’t have any musical abilities, you were destined to have some by the time you left that house.  Music was engrained into your soul!  But I was born with music in my soul!  I loved singing!  I loved playing the piano!  Did I say I was good at it? Oh yes, I was good at singing, not so much playing the piano.  I didn’t like my piano instructor.  So let me jump to that story quick….but I didn’t like her because I was playing the song, “Knock On Wood” by Sam and  Dave one day.. you guys remember that, right?  Well anyway, I was playing that song.  I was so proud of myself, picking up the tune by ear and she had the nerve to tell me that kind of music was not allowed in her house!  What?!  I was eleven years old…wouldn’t that show you how much talent I had to play that song without sheet music?!!!  Oh well, I quit after that.  I was a rebellious child!

I wanted to be an actress!  So freaking much!!!  I would pretend that I was on the Johnny Carson show and he was interviewing me. I would go into my room and put a red light into the lamp, use my hair brush as a mic, sing a song and sit on Johnny’s couch.  It was wonderful. Johnny would ask me about my career and family and I would tell him about all of my awards and how wonderful it was to be married to Marlon Jackson (yep, this was my fine Jackson Five)!  Of course in my second interview with Johnny I would tell him that I and Marlon have divorced but my acting and singing career had never been better.  My gosh, I was a kid with that thought going through my brain???

I acted out my dream.  I was on the Johnny Carson show!  In my mind!  But I was there.  No barriers!  No obstacles!  No one telling me I couldn’t.  I believed Johnny sat behind his desk, sipping from “something” in a coffee cup and I looked fabulous! I’m sorry, I can’t describe exactly what I was wearing.  I didn’t know designer’s names plus Woolworth was the only fashionable store I knew at that time.  But, yes, I looked and felt fabulous.  I didn’t think about the injustices of my day, at least at that time, shucks I was dreaming this phenomenal dream.  Wasn’t I allowed to dream?

At almost 60 I dare to dream.  To again imagine, to again to believe that I”m sitting on Johnny’s couch.  At almost 60 to again to be fabulous. And yes, I still don’t know designer’s names so Target will suit me just fine.

I’m on my way to the couch. But this time I can’t sit so long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting Over? I’m almost 60!!!

So I think I’m going to start a blog.   Yep about getting old and starting over!  I am now 58 years old and I’m kind of scared that 60 is just around the corner.  I know…. 60 is supposed to be the new 40.  But does that also mean I can start over at 60?  I mean, I can look 40, physically have my body look like its’ 40 (I’m working on….been working on it all my life)!    But starting over in a different place, career, home, at 60?!

30 was ok. 40 was a freaking life crisis. 50, huh! At 50 I thought I finally made that pivotal moment of life where joy abound and the world was all about me! My life was together at 50! I was divorced, graduated from seminary (yep, that’s what I said), had a one bedroom loft apartment, in such a not so nice part of Atlanta, but it was mine. Between 51 and 56, I was living life!!!  Bought a house, got married, at 57, sold the house, moved to Philadelphia, bought another house, buried my mom, gained all of the 20 pounds I lost. What stayed consistent? My job. Nope, not pastoring. But working for a corporation for 36 years…that stayed consistent (sad face emoji here, nothing to be excited being loyal to one company for 36 years…okay but I’m grateful that I was able to raise a child, who is now 36).

At almost 60 I’m scared. There I said it. I’m freaking scared! Sure I could say the other “f” word but I don’t think that would be very kind. At 60 I should be settling down, getting ready to relax and experience the fruits of my labor ( I didn’t save money like I should). I’m in a new place, learning the city, wondering if new neighbors will ever knock on our front door and say hi. Finding a new place of worship. Almost 60. I know I should be excited, getting ready to experience new things with an amazing husband.

So here I go. I’m about to step into a faith I would only talk about. Now faith has knocked on my door and pushed me to by saying….”let me see what you got woman”!!!

Here I go! I’m about to finally really jump into life. Now… about that job that is so consistent….nope, of course I’m not letting it go yet… not yet…. But watch…. I’m coming out of my box!

Here I go… almost 60.

Signed “me” 😳IMG_1233.jpg