Thursday, December 31, 2009

Somebody Prayed for Me...

Somebody prayed for me,
had me on their mind,
took the time to pray for me.
I'm so glad they prayed,
I'm so glad they prayed,
I'm so glad they prayed for me.

lyrics: Traditional African-American
image: Chester Higgins Jr.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If I had known then what I know now, I would have...

Today, as I lapped around the walking track built above the gym in the YMCA in Mount Vernon, I listened to and watched a group of boisterous (some might say wild) chocolate children having relay races. I watched them with awe, amazed by their energy. I watched them with envy, wishing I could sprint and laugh and leap the way that they did. I watched them with a sense of regret, mourning the loss of such moments in my own childhood where I was either too scared or lazy or insecure to do such things. Truth be told, I didn't learn to hula-hoop until I was 33 and I still cannot do a cartwheel. Anyway, as I walked and ran and looked at the children playing I found myself filling in the blank of this statement: If I had known then what I know now, I would have...

I don't condone or suggest living a life of regret. I am who I am. I did what I did. I did not do some things, and frankly I cannot change that. Perhaps, even, it wasn't for me to do. I mean, would I be the scholar (adult word for nerd) that I am had I been interested more in athletics than books? I don't know. But yet this statement still lingers, begging to be answered. Here are some of the things I would have done differently if I had the wisdom I have now. So, if I knew then what I know now, I would have...

Really committed my life to Christ the first time around.
Taken naps in kindergarten.
Given my all in gym class.
Saved my MJ pleather pocketbook from 2nd grade.
Taken notes everytime my grandfather spoke.
Told my truth a lot sooner than I did.
Done cartwheels without fear.

There is probably more. Even still, I know that every experience--every high place and every low place--has shaped me into the woman I am today. I am also grateful that I serve a God of second and third and fourth chances. In fact, although I'm not making resolutions (it is more like purposing to live life on purpose with purpose) I will do a cartwheel before 2010 comes to a close! Happy New Year!

image taken from

Monday, December 28, 2009

Think on these things...

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! (Proverbs 3:5-8 MSG)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hulkamania Workout Christmas Remix

Allow me to set the scene. It was Christmas morning of 1984....
Under the elaborately decorated tree I found a Get in Shape Girl Fitness Set (see below). I was so excited! I wish I could find the picture, but trust me when I say that I didn't waste any time putting it to use. I quickly changed into my workout clothes. (In the picture it looked like a leotard, but really it was my white undershirt, white panties, and one of my sister's net shirts over the top.) I opened the kit and placed the pretty pink and purple headband on my head followed by the weight bands around my ankles and wrists. I then proceeded to jump rope. I was in Heaven and, at the same time, I provided much fodder for my sister and her friends to laugh--guffaw is really the right word. (They still laugh at me to this day about it.) That get up became known as my Hulkamania Workout Suit.

Fast Forward 25 years...
This time I knew what was under the tree, but nonetheless, as I opened the gifts--Wii fit Plus, Nike+ Sportsband, and some funky fresh Air Pegasus (compatible with Nike+), I couldn't help but see that little (ok, chunky) girl in her Hulkamania Workout Suit in my mind. I laughed and thought to myself, "This is the REMIX!"

To add to the humor, after plugging in the Wii, I went in my room and put on green headband, green sports bra and my blue/green pajama pants ready to box and play tennis. The guffaw from 25 years past resurfaced, but this time it intensified by the minute. My mother, sister, and niece (who wasn't born at the time of the original Hulkamania incident) fell out and screamed and then laughed until tears rolled and no sound came out. But friends, I'll be the one laughing (and smiling and beaming and leaping) when I reach my fitness goals!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Below is a paper I wrote for my Ministry and Imagination class in January 2007. It was a class that had a major impact on my life. It continues to speak even now. The theme was generativity. We wrested with the following questions: What does it mean to be pregnant with possibility? What is the challenge and blessing of gestation? What might it mean to tend to ministries which magnify the Divine? What might it mean to gestate ideas, new life, possibility, options, opportunity? What, indeed, is a pregnant pause?


In preparing for this class, I experienced an incredible surge of ideas and questions, most of which made their way into my journal, and some of which are written below. Considering all of what was brewing inside of me, to produce a cohesive work, It was natural for me to write thematically. The bolded words are those that I just couldn’t shake. Here are my reflections.


The situation, or set of circumstances that allows for physical, spiritual, emotional, creative, and academic reproduction. It involves wholly giving of oneself as a vessel for the nourishment of a human being, dreams, and ideas, who bears resemblance to you. The process involves more than production, but rather it is reproductive, the creation of some form of life that may look, sound, act, or think like you in some way. It involves transformation, both for that which is being nurtured and the one carrying. It is exciting, scary, challenging, and beautiful to say the least. When I asked my friend, Liza, a thirty-five year old mother of two whose youngest is nine months old, what emotion was strongest for her when she first knew she was pregnant, she answered, “Security.” Nurturing and caring for her unborn child, both in the womb and when he or she made their way into the world, affirmed her purpose and made her feel secure. I feel much the same way when I am carrying works of art, dreams, ideas, and papers waiting to be birthed.

My spiritual and creative fecundity mirrors that of my maternal grandmother’s physical power to reproduce. She was a vibrant woman, and for the better part of her late teens, twenties, and thirties, she was pregnant. In a twenty-one year span, she gave birth to seventeen children. While I have yet to have physical children, I often have visual and written work, dreams, ministries and ideas living on the inside of me.

Although I don’t remember when I conceived, I remember vividly when the body of work for my MFA at Howard was in my womb. Conception was difficult. There are failed attempts that still live in my sketchbook. One day, I knew that the idea to be birthed, the one that would come out and make an impact on others, was growing on the inside of me. I felt different, like there was life inside of me. With this particular work, my angel came in the form of a dream where I had seen the work. I could not see everything, but I knew that it included photographs, but it was bigger than photography. I saw light, movement, and heard sound. After writing what I saw in my journal, my mind began to race. My first response was much like that of Ericka, a twenty-one year old mother of a bouncing nine-month old boy. When she first knew she was pregnant, she was scared. Her biggest fear was not being prepared to raise a child. When the grandiose ideas for the project began to grow inside of me, I feared not having the time, financial resources, space, or capacity (creative, spiritual, and emotional) to finish the work.

Radiance & Glow

I was not the only one who knew there was life inside of me. Claudia Gibson-Hunter, a professor, mentor, gifted artist, and friend noticed my glow. There was a radiance on the inside that oozed from my pores. When I wasn’t feeling fearful, I was so excited about the life that was taking shape inside of me. I poured over books, spent countless hours in the studio, wrote incessantly in my journal/sketchbook, and talked with other artists to get feedback and ideas. Like Mary, I was glowing. Also like Mary, my soul magnified the Lord.

I was excited when reading Luke 1:45-56. In an effort to get a clearer picture of the circmstances, I started my study with the first verse of Luke 1. My interest was peaked when I read Luke 1:41, “And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” Elizabeth, through the activity of her own child and the presence of the Holy Spirit, recognized Mary’s glow. Dreamers recognized dreamers, thinkers recognize thinkers, ministers recognize ministers, and so on. Elizabeth believed in the “fruit” of Mary’s womb and also understood that Mary believed in that which grew inside of her. Belief is key in the process of generativity. It was Mary’s belief that caused her to swell with joy. Pushing fear aside, it was belief in my dream that not only cause me to be filled with joy, but also guided my decision making. I did what was necessary, even commuting for two years between New York and Washington, DC to make sure my dream was nourished. I also love the idea that ministry, idea formation, dreaming, and so on does not happen in a vacuum. When Mary and Elizabeth connected, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb danced.

Instead of reading only one translation of Luke 1:45-56, I read five, four in english and one in french. I started by reading the entire passage in the New king James Version.

After reading that version, I did a verse study to note important translation differences. Because of the format of the text, the Message translation was not included in my verse study. The three english translations had similar language for verse 46, but the BDS versions had a slightly different twist, one that made sense for me as I thought about what it means for my soul to magnify the Lord. The french version reads, “Mon âme chante la grandeur du Seigneur.” Here, the soul was not simply magnifying or praising the Lord, but rather it was literally singing the Lord’s greatness. My soul often sings when I am nourishing and nurturing that which God has placed within me so beautifully, melodically, and loudly, that it naturally starts dancing as well. It floats, twirls, boogies, and grooves to the praise song. The song and dance are evidence of my grateful heart.

Mary knew that there was no ordinary life inside of her. Although she was not aware of the magnitude of the inspiration, influence and impact her child would have on history, she did know that her child would be a great person. Mary, a humble girl at the time, was honored that she was chosen by God to be a vessel, a source of nourishment, and a source of love for this child. It is from her personal humility, her trust in God, and her anticipation that her child was going to bring about a change that “her soul magnified the Lord.” Her soul sung and danced in great expectation.I also love the fact that Mary was not alone when she praised, but in the company of another. Our praise is not only for God and for ourselves, but also for the encouragement and inspiration of others around us. I believe that we should praise out loud and praise often.

Kicking, Stretch Marks & Scarring

When I’m grooving to my soul’s magnification of God, for the most part, it literally looks like I’m dancing. I can’t keep still, and when my body is still, my mind continues to move. Even when I am asleep, my dreams bear witness of the life inside of me. The life inside of me is constantly kicking. Kicking is a method of communication between mother and unborn child. At first, it can make you nervous. Once accustomed to the feeling, it feels good to know that your child is aware of your presence and to make him or her aware of yours. You develop a secret language. Liza and Ericka both shared with me stories from early in their pregnancy when only they could feel the child within them kicking. Liza thought she was going crazy, until she realized that the baby was having an intimate communication with her that no one else was privy to because their connection was so strong.

During the process of carrying and nurturing the body of work for Howard, I developed stretch marks in the form of challenging questions I had not considered (or ones where I thought the answers were obvious, but they weren’t) and sleep deprivation among other things. During the process they were annoying, but after the fact, I realize that not only was the work that would have some of my features growing, but I was growing as well. I am forever changed by carrying tat work. I think more deeply as a result and have learned how to function well on less sleep than I was used to.

Expectation & Seeing it to Term

Preparing for this course was a very intimate and sensual act. In fact, I’m pretty sure I got pregnant. During my first semester my classes went well, but I did not feel like I was actively engaging in ministry. I brooded over my lack of clarity, and tried some of everything possible to figure out what I would be doing in ministry upon leaving Drew. Interestingly enough, as I read When the Heart Waits and reread Go Tell it On the Mountain and Showing Mary that I was rushing to get pregnant, when it was time for me to relax and wait. When I began to relax, it became obvious to me that not only was I pregnant, but I was carrying twins. The most difficult piece for me it the act of waiting. After five months of carrying her second son, Liza was eager to give birth so she could see what he looked like and hold him in her arms, but she waited. Ericka was eager to give birth to relieve her pain and discomfort, but she waited. I am eager to know my ministry, but I too, must wait. I am excited to do God’s will, and therefore, I don’t want to give birth to a premature baby or induce labor because of my own desires.

In addition to reflecting on the posed questions, thoughts, and ideas, the following ideas surfaced during my thoughts of generativity either in dreams or through chance experiences.

Multiple Births

Last week I saw two sets of twins and each time my heart flutters. What happens when there are two lives (or more) growing inside of you? I’m convinced (as is my mother and older sister) that I am going to have twins when I do get physically pregnant. It is something I can feel. Maybe it’s the Gemini in me. Maybe it is the fact that we have had any multiple births in my family since my uncles Eddie and Freddie fifty years ago. Whatever it is, I’m sure I’ll be pushing around a double stroller when it is all said and done. I’ve noticed, in my other experiences of birth, including my thesis work, that there are always two lives growing in my at the same time. When I was developing my thesis work, I was also simultaneously growing campus-wide diversity initiatives at the school where I was teaching photography at the time. This time around, I’m not only carrying and waiting for my ministry, but also a book about my struggle with seasonal depression. They are fraternal twins. While they will not look exactly alike, they are both conceived from the same idea: a quest towards wholeness, deeper faith, and sharing those experiences with others so they, too, can taste of it.

Egg Donors, Surrogates, and Midwives

I was procrastinating. Some of my most creative work happens when I am avoiding other tasks. In this case, I took a break from writing my Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) applications to create a collage for the cover of my notebook for my Ministry and the Imagination class. I scanned the pages of an old issue of Glamour Magazine, tearing out words that I thought best described the journey I had recently embarked on: miracle, light, change, deep down, and breakthrough. As I was tearing, I stumbled upon the following quotation, “There are people who can’t conceive, and I can help them.” Physical child rearing aside, I thought about what it means to help others conceive and give birth to that which is inside of them. For me, that means anything from gently encouraging a friend to go to graduate school, processing the pros and cons of a change in vocation for another friend, creating a peaceful yet energetic environment for my best friend to write, or packing the apartment of a friend who was somewhat hesitantly moving across the country to follow her dreams.

Abortion, Miscarriage, and Stillborn

What happens when the life inside you dies? Metaphorically, what happens when the ministries, dreams, and ideas that we carry are aborted, miscarried, or stillborn? Should we mourn and then let go? Do you ever fully move on? This idea haunts me so. I had a dream on January 9th where I met face to face the unborn child of a woman I know. She had named him and carried him everywhere that she went. I was so overcome with sadness that ran away and vomited. When I woke from the dream, my heart was racing and I could still feel the sadness in my body. I feel the same sense of sorrow, grief, and despair when I talk to people who have had dreams, for whatever reason, that did not come to life.


inspiration |ˌinspəˈrā sh ən|noun1 the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative : Helen had one of her flashes of inspiration | the history of fashion has provided designers with invaluable inspiration.the quality of having been so stimulated, esp. when evident in something : a rare moment of inspiration in an otherwise dull display.a person or thing that stimulates in this way : he is an inspiration to everyone.a sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea : then I had an inspiration.the divine influence believed to have led to the writing of the Bible.2 the drawing in of breath; act of breathing in; an inhalation.ORIGIN Middle English (in the sense[divine guidance] ): viaOld French from late Latin inspiratio(n-), from the verbinspirare (see inspire ).

Here's what is inspiring me these days...

My Mini on Nike+
She motivates/guilts me into running. She'll be much happier come January 1st when I have my new Nike+ kicks and wristband to upload my workout information to the site. My goal is to get my self in shape to run a 5K by my 34th (gasp) birthday. It's been 3 years since I've entered and run a race, but I know I can do it! I'll keep you posted...

My Kindergarten Graduation Photo
That's me in the center cheesing! With 142 days until I graduate with a Master of Divinity degree from the Theological School at Drew University, I need some inspiration. Plus, I have a full final semester (Church History 2, Advanced Preaching, Ethically Responding to Violence Against Women, African-American, African, and Caribbean Biblical Interpretations) and I need to remember that if I did it before, I can do it again.


The situation, or set of circumstances that allows for physical, spiritual, emotional, creative, and academic reproduction. It involves wholly giving of oneself as a vessel for the nourishment of a human being, dreams, and ideas, who bears resemblance to you. The process involves more than production, but rather it is reproductive, the creation of some form of life that may look, sound, act, or think like you in some way. It involves transformation, both for that which is being nurtured and the one carrying. It is exciting, scary, challenging, and beautiful to say the least. (excerpt from a paper I wrote in January 2008)

And Last, but Never Least...Love
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 MSG)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

When I Grow Up... (pt 2)

Okay, so there are some fabulous folks that inspire the way that I desire to move in the world. But I have to admit, there are also some things that I'd like to not live without once I'm settled.
Like to hear about it? Here it goes...

A washer & dryer in my home...

A vanity & dressing area (with walk in closet)...

Kitchen Aid appliances...

Monthly massages (for body, mind, and spirit)...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When I Grow Up...

...I want to be just like—no, more brilliant and fabulous than—Nancy Lynne Westfield and Heather Murray Elkins. If that is humanly possible. But they continue to teach me, just like Mother Mary, with God all things are possible.

These two women are beautifully bold, beautifully creative, beautifully brilliant, and beautifully beautiful. It is beautiful to be in their presence—to watch and listen. They know things that I want to know. They be in the world in ways that I want to be in the world. They are Master Teachers. They embody what they teach. They are my teachers, in and out of the classroom. They make me think. They make me laugh. They sometimes even make me cry. They trust my voice. They trust my wisdom. They push me, hard sometimes. They do things like teach classes that do the work of mending the rupture that has been created between body, mind, and spirit. They have helped me to heal my ruptures so that I may usher others into spaces of healing. They write books that matter. They make me want to write books that matter. They are radically different, it seems, yet they—in spirit and in truth—are kin folk. They are cut from the same cloth—some beautifully woven tapestry with reds and purples and blues.

Lynne is a radical in the best sense of the word. She brings brilliant Black folk to Drew to engage us in the work of God-Talk with Black Thinkers. She is brilliant Black folk herself. She brings artists and healers to Drew to engage us in the work of Spirituality and Imagination. She is an artist and healer herself.

Heather Elkins is a storyteller. She not only writes and speaks poetry; She is a poem. She moves in verse. She is a collector of all things holy and can find the holy in all things.

So, when I grow up—rather, as I am growing into my self—I want to be just like them: brilliant and bold and free...

Image of N. Lynne Westfield shot by Jameel Morrison (taken from
Image of Heather Elkins sketched by Bon Jeong Koo (taken from

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Brought to You by the Letter "J"

Yesterday was a good day. It was clearly brought to me by the letter J—I was loved on by Jesus, transformed by Joy, and healed by Jenny.

The last couple of weeks have been interesting, to say the least, in terms of my mood. I've written this before, but winter is not typically a good time for me because in the past I suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Needless to say, I'd been fatigued and weepy for the last couple of days and was convinced the depression was setting in and there was nothing I could do about it. As a result, I was angry with God. I get angry with God from time to time, but hey, so did Job, the Psalmists, and Jeremiah. Anyway, through my anger I had managed to keep my devotional life intact. Well yesterday, after recognizing that what I thought was depression was really early and aggressive PMS, my anger with God dissipated. I was in a place to openly receive the love of Jesus again. My anger had not only shut me in, but it shut God out. The lies that I had come to believe about myself and my life were replaced with the truth—the unconditional and radical love of Jesus.

Now I'm not talking about the joy that comes after a night of weeping, but rather Joy—the fiercely amazing stylist and wise woman that does my hair. I walked in looking a mess (from the neck up) and left her shop looking brand new. Not only did she give me a fresh look, but she also massaged my scalp with the tingly tea tree oil shampoo that I love just a little bit longer than normal. Aaaahhh, talk about a slice of heaven.

And if that wasn't enough, I then made my way to see Jenny, the massage therapist on Drew's campus. We had an hour together and each minute, each second, was amazing. It was as if the Holy Spirit was guiding her hands as she worked the kinks out of my neck and shoulders. The stress in my legs and arms melted away as she gently massaged them. I could tell that she was listening to my body and my body (and mind, heart, and spirit) was indeed grateful. I sure didn't leave there like I had come in, praise God. Whereas I left Joy looking brand new, I left Jenny feeling brand new. Jenny has healing hands, I am convinced.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's the Little Things...

Today I planned to do absolutely nothing (and enjoy it)!

My plan was interrupted at 11:36am when I got a text from my chaplain/mentor/friend Tanya Bennett. We walked down to Soho33 for a fabulous lunch. It was a wonderful mix of tasty arugula salads and great conversation about the church, scholarship, and relationships (and the ways in which they overlap, or don't). For dessert we had coffee and nibbled on a piece of chocolate cake big enough to feed a small army. We walked back to campus and from there I walked home (through the forest by myself--no deer in sight).

My afternoon was spent hula-hooping while watching The Taking of Pelham 123. I have to admit, Denzel Washington gets more handsome every year. Grey hair suits him.

Now I'm going to curl up with the latest copy of Essence magazine, sushi (& moshi balls) delivered by Yuki Hana, and Law & Order reruns. It's the little things that mean much...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ooops, I almost forgot...

I updated the blog's design. The other was too something I cannot quite put my finger on. I appreciate the layout of Loverly Notions (I appreciate the writer and the content, too). Although Kem and I will often go shopping and buy the same pieces (we freak them in different ways), I couldn't straight bite off of her blog. But I did need a new look. After lots of arranging and rearranging and griping over not remembering html well enough to format this thing on my own (without templates), here goes...

Feel free to share your thoughts, but know that I love it and will not be changing it until I don't love it any more! (Which knowing me could be tomorrow or could be in the year 2049!)

Baby it's Cold Outside...

It is 29º and I am about to go walking. Why, you ask? (amid thoughts of "girl, are you crazy, it's below freezing" and "you must smoke that good CRACK.") Well, because among other things, I committed this year to taking care of myself in the midst of book reading, thought thinking, and paper writing. So far, so good. I hit a couple of bumps in the road when big papers were due, but for the most part I've kept my workout schedule even when I traveled to South Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee. I've lost 15lbs since September and I'm halfway to getting my body to feel and look like it did when I attended my orientation at Drew 2.5 years ago. I'm doing it slowly and surely. I am cooking more, and eating less (using a salad plate for dinner)but I haven't gone to any crazy extremes. I tried, but I love food—rich food—too much! (In fact, I'm still eating my Atlanta Bread Company chcolate chip cookies because I loooove them so much!)

Oh, I almost forgot...Back to being outdoors in the freezing cold. I could go to the gym. We even have an indoor track on campus. But the gym bores me. Plus I could be in the gym for 6.5 minutes and feel like I've been there forever. For me, there is something about being outside—beholding the beauty of God's creation, breathing fresh (albeit cold) air, seeing people, scouting out deer (and being afraid when I see them), and the change of scenery (even when you walk down the same block two days in a row). So, I will head outside. Perhaps the wind died down some from yesterday. That is my prayer. Also, as much as the gym bores me—it is my safe haven when it is raining and/or snowing. It will be the place to be when the winter really sets in. Plus, there are squash courts at the gym. Squash makes me happy (even though I look crazy playing and I play by my own rules).

And I'm into alternative exercise these days. I'm not talking pole dancing classes (which are all the rage, but the womanist and Jesus in me won't let me do it). I've taken to hula-hooping lately. I'm not talking about hula-hooping like we used to do it on the playground back in the day. (OK, maybe I was one of those Black girls who couldn't hula-hoop back in the day, but watch me now!) The motion is the same, but I dare some third-grade sassy girl with asymmetrical afro puffs to try to work with the hoop I have. For one, its giant. (But hey, I'm a big girl now. Plus experts say adults should use bugger hoops than kids.) Secondly, it is weighted and has these massaging/digestion aiding thingies (several advanced degrees later I still use the word) on the inside of the hoop (see image above). I hula-hoop while listening to my Rock Steady Radio station on Pandora. I hula-hoop while watching Law & Order reruns. I hula-hoop while visioning my future. I hula-hoop. In 2010—watch out world—thanks to a generous Christmas present from my momma (why my mom cannot keep secrets about gifts is yet another blog) I will be Wii and Wii Fitting it to good health.

But until then, I'm heading out to walk and breath. But first, let me put on my thermal underwear and headphone earmuffs. Baby, it's cold outside!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Think on these things...

I came across this Haiku written by Sonia Sanchez yesterday. It is from the book titled, Like the Singing Coming Off the Drums. Think on these things...

what is done is done
what is not done is not done
let it the wind.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Times of Refreshing... I just came in from an extended lunch date with one of my super/fabulous/amazing/inspiring women-folk friends and I realized just how refreshed I was from simply being in her presence, eating, laughing, and even, at times, holding back tears. This made me think about other times in my life when I have been refreshed. I find my greatest refreshment when I am in the company of women who aren't afraid to take off their masks and be real. It invites me to do the same. I find my greatest refreshment when I can stop being tense (aka crossing my legs like a lady) and I can sit back with my legs spread (like men get to do all the time). I find my greatest refreshment when I can look in the eyes of the people I am with and hear their silent affirmations of my being.

How about you? Who and what refreshes you?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Winter Time

(I'm writing this blog when I should be working on my 20 page Christology paper that is due tomorrow of which I have zero, yes I said zero, pages written)

Winter is here. It is official. And I hate it. With a passion. I know there is a reason and purpose for every season under heaven, but I have a hard time wrapping my brain around the bitter cold and bareness of winter. It reminds me of death. I fancy myself more of a life girl.

I went to DMV this morning. I put two hours on the meter because, well, I went to DMV this morning. To my surprise I spent all of 3.5 minutes in the DMV office. Not only was my visit short, but the clerk who waited on me was pleasant. For a moment I had to look around and make sure I was really at the DMV and not in a parallel universe.

I spent some good time with my mom this weekend. When I was growing up she never let me sleep-in or nap. In fact, she'd wake me up for phone calls. (Even calls from Courtney to talk about the same boy we'd talked about an hour before and were guaranteed to talk about an hour after.) But this weekend she cooked some good food (okay, great food), we watched movies, and she even let me sleep when out of nowhere my eyes could no longer stay open.

While talking about movies...we watched The Proposal. Another romantic comedy. I have a problem. I'm supposed to be laying off the the genre altogether, but I'm having a hard time getting clean. The sad thing is, I sometimes expect life to end like my favorite romantic comedy. I am usually (ok, always) sorely disappointed when that doesn't happen.

That brings me to where I started. The truth is I'm having a hard time writing this paper because I'm tired and disappointed and hating winter and feeling stuck. I know I won't stay here, but until I get up and out, if you know the words (and the worth) of prayer, I ask that you have a little talk with Jesus on my behalf.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's Time...

Airport delays are the best time to catch up on stuff you've been neglecting. Here goes...

Last week I spoke with a good friend of mine who reminded me that it had been a while since I last blogged. "No time, huh?" she asked. "No time," I replied. That, I thought was going to be the title of my most recent entry, but alas, in the time between then and now much has transpired and I feel led not to lament over the lack of time I've had to blog (which has been filled with much living) but to talk about the present time. The now time. The God time. The Kairos time.

It's Time is the title of a mix that my best friend put together. Today, I am hearing it with new ears. My heart is open to receive it like never before. I've had a hard/heart time recently. She reminded me this morning as she ministered to me through a mix of hysterical tears and hysterical laughter that I have one week to mourn the place where I had been. If I am to operate in Kairos--God's perfect time--then I must be mindful of how my Chronos--ordinary time--is spent. It's time to get up. It's time to make it. It's time to have strength, courage, and wisdom. It's time to choose. It's time to let my tears dry on their own. It's time to for a new season. It's time to be ok. It's time to learn how to love. It's time.

It's time to get up. I don't know about you, but every once and a while I'll get so focused (or fixated) that I get stuck in it. I am rendered paralyzed. Immobile. And so, starting with the wiggling of my toes, I am moving up and on. Like the man whose friends were about to lower him through the roof to experience the healing power of Jesus, I am taking up my bed and walking.

It's time to make it. I may get stuck from time to time. I may even have brief bouts of laziness (and/or procrastination). But I've always been super ambitious. And so, whether spiritually, academically, vocationally, or relationally, it is time to make it. Time to dream big things, do big things, and see big things! It is time not to survive, but to thrive! It is time to inhale the inspiration of the Spirit and exhale those things that can breathe life into the lives of others.

It's time to have strength, courage, and wisdom. No longer will weakness, fear, and foolishness guide my steps or determine my direction in life--whether my own or someone else's. Truth is, I cannot get up or make it if I operate in fear, weakness and foolishness. I'm so glad that God has not given me a spirit of fear. I'm so glad that when I am weak that God's strength is perfect. I'm so glad that if and when I ask for wisdom, that God will grant it to me. Ahhh, I feel a sermon coming on!

It's time to choose. With 165 days left until graduation, it is time to make some choices about the next phase of life. Where should I be? New Jersey? New York? Nashville? Chicago? Atlanta? What should I be doing? More school? Work? Church? Community? Non-Profit? While it is time to choose, it is important to choose carefully? It is important to be connected to God, to have my ear to his heart, and to be guided by His will. Choosing without discerning the will of God is risky business. Trust me, I've been there. I've done some things that I clearly either heard "no" on or either heard nothing at all. Impatience got the best of me. But this time around, I will wait patiently for my time.

It's time to let my tears dry on their own. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my hurt in my tears. My father, if and when he sees my crying, attributes the tears to my mother's side of the family. He sees tears as a sign of weakness. But even Jesus wept. Tears are a sign of passion and compassion. Tears are cleansing. Tear are liquid prayers. These days I will not be ashamed and try to hide my tears or even dry my tears, but rather I will let them dry on their own. I may even leave the salt stains on my cheeks as a sign that I do feel and that I feel deeply. Better yet, I will let Jesus dry my tears and comfort my heart.

It's time to learn how to love. I am reminded that great love takes great risk. When you venture to live a life of love--eros and philia--there is indeed a great risk. Your feelings can be hurt. You can be left disappointed. Your heart can be broken. Your heart can be broken. But I realized this morning, the artist and hopeless romantic that I am, that I'd rather live a life of fictive hope than to live a life of hopelessness. Although both are dangerous, at least with fictive hope there is something to look forward to. And so, even though it is risky business, I am daring myself to live a life of love--love of God, love of self, and love of neighbor.

What time is it?

Monday, September 21, 2009

You've Got a Friend...

This entry was prompted by a conversation and time of (effectual and fervent) prayer that I had with Courtney, my best friend of almost 20 years, this morning as I walked the streets of Madison (exercising, y'all).

I've been in a funk for the last week. How low I've been isn't important (not now--another day, another post when the full testimony can be told). What is important is the love of friends that has picked me up, helped me to dust myself off, and carried me through...

This love/support has come knowingly and unknowingly. It came in the form of the simple, yet timely, text messages from my prayer warrior Toya. It came in the form of email guidance and prayer from Tracy, a beautiful sister who has seen me through much. It came in the form of a message from Aloma, who sent love and encouragement across the Pacific Ocean and several time zones. It came in the form of a call from an old and dear and fabulous friend Kem (who I haven't talked to in ages). It came as I followed the tweets of VIP/Globetrotter Shannon (who is always good for a pick me up). It came on Saturday when I attended the birthday celebration for a new friend/roommate Narshonna (where I jumped double dutch and played the Udu in an impromptu drum circle). It came in the form of a good (delicious and nutritious) meal prepared by Yvette (in the words of N. Lynne Westfield, "she loved me enough to cook for me"). It came in the form of an amazing lunch with my teacher/mentor/chaplain/friend Tanya. It came in the form of an encouraging chat over coffee with my sister-from-another-mother, Kimberly (who really does share the same birthday as my birth sister). It came in the form of phone calls from powerhouse and mochalatte Princess, my blood-is-thicker-than-water sister, who, though we talk in spurts, really knows how to make me put things in proper perspective (and she makes me laugh hysterically, too). Most importantly, it has come in the form of being wrapped in the loving arms of Jesus—my best-friend and heavy load bearer—every step of the way.

So, this post is dedicated to all of my friends, named and unnamed, who have loved me, lifted me, chided me, supported me, prayed for/with me, cried with me, laughed with/at me, dreamed with me, traveled with me, listened to me. I pray I have/can/will be/do the same for you.

(image 1 from the 1991 Rye Country Day School Yearbook, photographer unknown and image 2 taken in Memphis Tennessee in June 2009, photographer unknown)

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Reality TV Junkie & Womanist Response to the Real Housewives of Atlanta...

(this has been brewing in my head for a week. it may not make sense. it may. it doesn't matter much to me. i just had to get it out of my head and onto the page...) (in fact, I wrote this weeks ago and never posted it, but here goes...)

I feel like I always start my blog with, "If you know me well, you'd know..." Well, today is no different. This time the blank to be filled in goes a little something like this "...that I am a reality TV junkie." From the New York City loft with Kevin Powell, Heather B, and Julie to Top Chef, I have seen (and probably love) it all. Ashamedly, I admit that I watched the Surreal Life and all of its spinoffs through the second season of Flavor of Love. (I got convicted when, at the end of one episode of Flavor of Love, I noticed that the company who produced the show was called mindless entertainment.) I drew the line at I Love New York and Rock of Love and Real Chance at Love, but somehow got sucked into Charm School. I don't know, there was something hopeful about watching ladies who embarrassed themselves (and kissed Flavor Flav) get a chance to transform their attitudes and behavior. (Though it took some time and some never got it, but with Mo'Nique as your coach, well...) Here lately, Bravo has had some of the best reality TV that television has to offer—Project Runway (before the move to Lifetime), Shear Genius, and Top Chef. I mean, how great is it when reality show "stars" need real talent to win. Despite my love for Bravo's reality line-up, prior to The Real Housewivs of Atlanta (RHOA), H/housewives never appealed to me. I've always had issues with privilege (my own included, but that is another blog for another day) so watching excessive materialism wasn't my thing. Plus, I don't get the whole socialite thing. But this time the housewives (at least most of them) were Black. So, I tuned in...

In order to justify watching RHOA I used the excuse that I was doing a cultural study. I wanted to...My cultural study quickly turned into an evening event complete with popcorn, girlfriends, and commentary. We laughed and scoffed and gawked and tuned in the following week for more. We (okay, I) were disappointed when the season came to an end. We (me, again) were not invested enough to watch the housewives from any other state. We (you guess it!) were thrilled when NeNe, Sheree, Lisa, Kim, and Candy (I admit DeShawn was boring, but I do miss her) were slated to be on again. But five weeks into the show, I have to turn in my RHOA card once and for all. After the third episode, I knew I didn't need to be watching anymore. So I (as I sometimes do) made a grand declaration that I would no longer be engaging in the foolishness. But two weeks later, as the keeper of the cable, I opened my home up to girlfriends, copped a squat, and took it all in again. I don't want to get all deep with it, but the truth is, my spirit was uneasy as I watched. One of my girlfriends will tell you, there were times on that Thursday night when it seemed like I was trying to do everything except watch the show. I cleaned the kitchen, rolled my hair and deep cleansed my face. I would have ironed my clothes, but I hadn't picked them out yet. Finally, I sat down in one place and as the time passed the show got worse and worse. It was like a train wreck. Not the kind where you are a bystander not able to turn away. It was the kind of train wreck where you are about to get hit but you are so paralyzed by shock you cannot move.

All of that to say, I can't do it anymore. I won't do it anymore. If I am who I say I am, then I cannot support RHOA.

I want to see a show with Black women loving themselves, loving each other, and loving the world. I want to see a show where Black women are content with what they have—where material things are not part of how they/we define ourselves. I want to see a show with Black women supporting one another—career moves, education opportunities, family transitions, etc. etc. I want to see a show where Black female bodies are not being exposed and exploited, by us or anyone else. I want to see a show where Black women speak kindly and compassionately and lovingly to one another. I want to see a show with whole and healed Black women. I want to see a show where Black women are successful because of who we be, what we know, and not because of who we are married to. This isn't to say that I support any foolishness that goes on with the housewives of Orange County, New Jersey, and New York, but as a Black women with a grandmother, mother, sister, a niece, cousins, friends and (prayerfully) daughters in the future, I care about the depiction of Black women in the media. Our lives—my life— are at stake here. Selah.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Breathe. Stretch. Shake. Let it Go...

If you know me well, you know that I quote Biggie, Kane, Salt-n-Pepa, and KRS-One as much as I quote Jesus, Paul, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Obadiah. Hip-Hop Culture has been as much a part of my foundation as an minister/artist/scholar as Church Culture. I open with this truth because someone may be turned off by my title. If it helps, Mace was/is both rapper and preacher...

On to my post. In the midst of finally getting my breakthrough on the homework front (I've been struggling to find/buy/lease/borrow/steal motivation lately), I had to take a break. My Pastoral Care and Counseling CLass is all about trauma and resiliency in children and adolescents. Needless to say, the reading can be a little heavy. OK, quite heavy. Like tears welling up and without your permission and streaming down your face before you can stop them—heavy. Like memories from five, ten, fifteen, even twenty years ago flooding to your minds eye—heavy. Like each page require more and more of you and with each page you feel like you have less and less to give—heavy. Today, as I dove into my homework, I found myself emotionally taken. Instead of plowing through, as I would normally do, I stopped to eat dinner I had prepared a few hours earlier (BBQ chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, and brown rice). After dinner, I read a few more pages. Then I stopped to watch a few minutes of NCIS. Then I read a few more pages. Sensing a pattern here?

So, I stopped again, but this time I did what I knew was going to work. I grabbed my house keys and my iPod, pushed play on my "Worship Walk" playlist, and went out to pray in the fresh air. I had to, in the words of Puff Daddy protégé and preacher Mase, "breath, stretch, shake, and let it go." But more than that, I had to give it to Jesus. As I walked, I was reminded of Jesus' invitation to "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." I had been laboring, over a textbook about talking with children about death. But my labor wasn't a recent development. I had been laboring for a few weeks. Laboring to pay bills, laboring to find the strength to read, laboring to write, laboring even to pray sometimes. I was heavy laden with memories of DJ and Grandma and George and Neville—family and friends who had passed away all before I turned 14. I was heavy laden with the anxiety that comes with not knowing your next steps. Heavy laden with GRE Exam and Doctoral Program Stuff. Heavy laden with feelings of inadequacy, indecision, and isolation.

So, I walked and I talked with Jesus and somewhere between Vinton and King and Green Village Road I rested. I rested in the care of my Savior, who indeed cares for me. I rested, knowing that as I gave Jesus my hurt and grief and frustration and anger, that He exchanged each one for His love, healing, support, and joy. I rested knowing that even though I don't know what is next, God has a plan and a purpose for my life. I rested, knowing that God's grace will carry me (and equip me) anywhere God's will take me. I rested knowing that with Jesus, I am and never will be alone. I rested, and then I came back home and finished my reading.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

It's Not How High You Jump on Sunday Morning...

It is amazing how you can hear something over and over again, but one day it just clicks. It makes sense. It doesn't go in one ear and out the other, but rather it lingers for a while and has a way of changing your mind and heart. My God!

My pastor, Rev. Dr. Allen Paul Weaver, is a wise man. I am blessed to be a hearer of his preaching, a student of his teaching, and his daughter in ministry. He is a real teacher. His preaching is didactic, but not boring. He can jump with the best of them, but he reserves the jump for when it gets real good. In fact, he doesn't plan to jump. The Spirit moves him to jump. He doesn't put on a show when preaching, but rather he lets the Word of God excite him. And when he gets excited, it is genuine and contagious. But I'm not blogging/bragging about my pastor today, but rather I want to lift up something he said on Sunday morning...

Now, don't get me wrong, I love to have church. You know—hand-clapping, foot-stomping, hallelujahs dancing in the air, tambourines clanging, somebody just might break out in a run—church. I love when people are excited about the salvific work of Christ, when folks are praising God for just how good He is, and when people are expressing their gratitude in body and voice. Here is where the wisdom of Dr. Weaver comes in. He said, "It is not how high you jump on Sunday morning; It is how straight you walk when you come down." Can I get an amen?

So many of us put on on Sunday mornings. We jump and shout and run and wail and sing about love and then leave the sanctuary without being changed. We leave without having had an experience with the living God. We leave with the same old mess we came in with. We leave walking just as crooked as when we came in. But, as Dr. Weaver would say in jest, "Chile, we sure did have church this morning."

I don't know about you, but I am tired of having church and playing church. I want to be the church. I want to be a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. I want to be one who daily is being conformed into His image. I want to be one whose life witnesses to the redemptive work of Christ on the cross. I want to have a renewed mind—renewed by the power of the word. I want my life to bring glory to God. I want to, in the words of the prophet Micah, "to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.(Micah 6:8). I want to, in the words of Jesus, "love the LORD my God with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my strength, and with all my mind,’ and ‘my neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27).

And, I want to jump and shout and run and wail and sing on Sunday mornings...but only if it produces a straighter walk on Monday morning.

(Amen Painting by Sheila J. Hall. Taken from

Monday, August 31, 2009

Beyond Expectation...

A few weeks ago I posted about expecting great things from God. I wish that was enough. Actually, I don't. On the other side of the "Expect..." arch was an engraving that read, "Attempt Great Things for God." You see, it isn't enough to have our hands out to receive from God. We must be in a posture of expectation, but we must move beyond that. I believe that we must also be in a posture of attemptation. (Preachers are allowed to make up words. At least that is what my preaching professor said.) We were created, in the image of God, to magnify and glorify Him. That means that we have to attempt great things for God—things that will ultimately point back to a loving and holy God. We may excel. We may fall short. But there is nothing worse than not attempting at all.

So, today's post is short and sweet. I invite you to meditate on the images and ask yourself, "What great thing am I attempting for God today?" I take that back. That isn't the best question to ask. The better question, and the one I hope that you will lift up is: "God, what great thing would you like for me to attempt for you today?" Selah.

(Images taken by Donna Olivia Powell, 2009 at the Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, TN)

Revelations from the Labyrinth

Today I was in retreat with my Summer Shalom cohorts. We spent the day together sharing stories—insights, challenges, gifts, shalom moments, etc. It was an amazing day of communion, with God and with one another. One of the most profound experiences for me was when, after we ate a hearty meal prepared by the sisters of St. John the Baptist retreat house, we walked a labyrith. The Labyrinth is an ancient spiritual discipline practiced in the medieval church that predates Christianity. It has been practiced by seekers and disciples in various religious traditions. It is a mystical experience mirroring the spiritual journey that we find ourselves on. One by one, we entered the labyrinth, modeled after that 11 circuit labyrinth found in the Chartres Cathedral in France, and walked toward the center. At first glance, a labyrinth looks like a maze or a Ms. Pacman game. But the difference is, in a labyrinth you cannot get lost and there are no dead ends. You are always walking to the center, always on the right path. There are times when the center seems so close and a few steps later you are back on the outside.

We were told, before we entered the labyrinth, to walk in an attitude of prayer. So, before taking my first step I gathered my thoughts and focused on the prayer of my heart. My prayer was simple: "Lord, what is it that you would have me to do?" And so I walked, and prayed, and walked some more, and prayed some more. At some point I started to sing, first in my heart and then audibly, "Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come."

That was it. God wants me to come, just as I am, to love and seek and serve Him. The answer was as simple as my prayer—at least on the surface. Come. But coming to God isn't as simple as it seems, especially with all of life's distractions and attractions. Lord knows, I've been distracted lately. I've also missed out on the sweet communion that is only found when one bathes herself—when I bathe myself—in the presence of God. And so, I will come.

After that revelation, I still had some walking to do. I hadn't yet made it to the center. And so I continued to pray. I arrived in the center and thanked God for speaking to my heart. I placed all of my emotions before God—fear, anger, anxiety and the like—and asked Him to remove them from me so that He would be magnified in my life. And then I left. It was time to journey back out to where I had started. As I walked I found my steps were hastened. I was rushing out. (Typical behavior for me.) And then the Spirit whispered to me: "The journey out is as important as the journey in." Wow. What a word. I've been focusing lately on life after Seminary, but the truth is, although I am on my way out, I am not done yet. We spend so much time on the what's next that we don't relish in the what's now. I mean, I've been counting down the days until I leave for Tennessee, graduation, and my birthday. Those days will be here when they get here. But until then I have now to cherish and be better. And so, as I journey out of this place called Drew, I will pace myself, remember to breathe, and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed my walking in.

All that to say, prayer is not limited to Sunday mornings or on one's knees. Prayer is for anytime and anywhere your heart, mind, soul, eyes, and ears are open to hearing a word from God. And, if you haven't walked a labyrinth, I would highly recommend it. Each and every time I've taken that walk of prayer I have heard from Heaven.

(image taken from