Thank You!

Thank you! This is what I and my husband pray to God before going to sleep every night. It is a simple prayer, a reminder to us to be grateful for even the smallest of things. Our world today is up side down and often there are little reasons to see things to be appreciative of. I get it! But I also know, and yes, there’s that word, “but”…… I have the opportunity on any given day that is presented to me to be a positive force in this world. On any given day, I can raise my voice to call out hate. On any given day, I can write a letter to representatives to call out senseless gun violence. On any given day, I can choose to love my neighbor as myself. On any given day, I can choose to make a difference to build a better world. For that, we say “thank you”.

Today, say a simple prayer of “thank you”, to your Creator. Now go and bring peace to a place that so desperately needs it. They are waiting on you!

Be Bless My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

The Beauty of A Soul

Today I experienced the beauty of my soul.

I grew up as most Christians with the belief that my soul is not worthy and is need of saving. Sitting on the pulpit on a Sunday morning, with songs of praise echoing throughout the sanctuary, I sat in wonder about my journey in ministry. My journey is leading me to a path of self discovery and I must admit that I am a little frighten of what my soul is aching to push out. I am finding that I no longer relate to a Christian thought or belief that Christianity’s main function is only to save souls for heaven, where we will all suffer no more. This thought has allowed a selfish agenda that patterns capitalistic thinking, rewarded with getting that big mansion in the sky. In this thought we have missed human relationships and connections with each other. So busy trying to change each other that we have not seen the beauty of the soul in our path. We have missed opportunities to free a world from abuse and hatred. We have missed opportunities to love. We have missed opportunities to be a better nation, all because we have deemed that somewhere we must get people in a “right” relationship with God when we have not been in “right” relationships with each other.

This change happening within my being and soul frightens me. I must admit that I am struggling to join in with Christians who preach a Gospel that is not of love but instead of one that seeks opportunities to preach that we are all sinful and unworthy. Don’t get me wrong, of course there is evil, white supremacy, sinful systems that deny people their fundamental rights, these are the things we must preach against. These are the things that must be eradicated. Yes, this change happening within my being and soul frightens me, but oh so much of it is also beautiful and freeing. Of course, I am only sharing my new discovery on my journey in this space, because I feel safe to do so.

I wonder have any of you experience the beauty of your soul yet? Is there something about your faith that has led you to a place of enlightenment that steers you to know there is more than waiting to get to a heavenly place, and that God uses us to bring heavenly places here on earth? I believe in God. I believe that Jesus shows us and has provided examples to us how to love each other. There is a change that is happening within my being and soul and I am embracing it. I am a Christian. I am a Christian who loves myself and my neighbors. I am a Christian who stands for the rights of others, that be a woman right to choose, a right to marry who you love. I am a Christian. I am a Christian who believes that everyone should have housing. I am a Christian. I am a Christian who believes that there must be equal pay for all and $15 as minimum pay is not even enough. I am a Christian. I am a Christian who takes care of the environment because God trusted us enough to do so. I am a Christian and I believe your soul is beautiful.

Be Well My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Sophia (Wisdom) offering The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine is bold and pleasantly frightening.  Sue Monk Kidd questioning her spiritual journey and wondering if her Christian faith actually recognizes her womanhood and speaks to her directly, is a question I believe many women have asked, including myself, and what is so surprising is this memoir written over 25 years ago,  is still very relevant today.   Sue Kid Monk’s tenacity to deal with the question is one of bravery and begins the process to heal what she calls, “feminine wounds.” 

In all honesty, reading this book was difficult because it tugged in those neglected spaces women usually just settle for, and at the same time, there is liberation taking place.   Kidd gently forces women to truly focus on what roles they play in their faith journey and reminds us not to just accept the status quo as is, but that it is quite alright to search for a place that includes you and includes your worth.  This book is for women who are ready to heal wounds caused by a Christian faith tradition that has stifled the voices of the feminine  sacred divine.   This book is for women who are searching for a rebirth in becoming who their authentic, beautiful and holy selves truly are. 

There is a warning though that comes when you begin to open your mind to the The Dance of the Dissident Daughter.  Don’t be surprised as you read Kidd’s memoir, that you soon remember a moment when listening to a sermon you didn’t agree with and secretly screamed out loud but kept the facade of a smile on your face to show your loyalty, or when participating in a women’s conference that somehow managed to include Adam’s rib into their description of women, and yet you kept that silly grin on your face, that you as well have participated in patriarch oppressive systems.  You will come to the realization that you too might be ready to start a faith journey you can claim your own, but be further warned,  with that comes labor pains that may take longer than expected, but the stretch marks will soon tell the story of a journey worth taking.  

Be Well My Friends,

Rev. JacquiP

God Is a Black Woman (Book Review)

God Is a Black Woman, written by Christina Cleveland, PhD., is witty, courageous and empowering to Black women who are searching for the image of God that is within herself. Dr. Cleveland is a social psychologist, activist and theologian who has provided to us permission to experience God on our own terms. In her memoir she shares her stories of her struggle growing up in a Christian culture dominated white male patriarchy system, “whitemalegod,” that refuses to comfort her and love her unconditionally but soon discovers the Sacred Black Feminine that identifies with all of her being.

God Is a Black Woman is real and raw, setting you on a spiritual journey, to walk along with Dr. Cleveland, experiencing sometimes discomfort but making your way to a place of wholeness. Dr. Cleveland’s ability to express her childhood memories growing up in a faith riddle with an oppressive theology that is controlling, unkind and unloving, and then as an adult working with white organizations, seeking to eradicate racism, but instead reverting to status quo, Dr. Cleveland finds a way to break free, with no apologies, through the power of several Black Madonnas.

God Is a Black Woman is brave and bold, speaking up against the power and authority of established patriarchal systems and institutions. Dr. Cleveland invites Black women, and all women, to find their liberation and I am here for all of it! God Is a Black Woman is a must read that will have you crying, rejoicing and hugging the very essence of your Sacred Black Feminine.

Be Well My Friends!

Rev. JacquiP

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’Oréal 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

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

Preparation

As we prepare for a new week, my prayer is that whatever lessons we needed to have learned, that we trust we know the lessons well.

As we prepare for a new week, my prayer is that whatever mistakes we made, we will forgive ourselves and trust that we are worthy.

As we prepare for a new week, my prayer is that whatever you misplaced, you will find it exactly where you left it.

As we prepare for a new week, my prayer is that whatever lie that was told to you, that you will see that your truth reminds you, that you are loved.

Be Bless ya’ll!

Rev. JacquiP