Thursday, May 28, 2009

Balance... (Accountability pt. 2)

balance |ˈbaləns|


1 an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady: slipping in the mud but keeping their balance | she lost her balance before falling.

• stability of one's mind or feelings : the way to some kind of peace and personal balance.

• Sailing the ability of a boat to stay on course without adjustment of the rudder.

2 a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions : overseas investments can add balance to an investment portfolio | [in sing. ] try to keep a balance between work and relaxation.

I want balance in my life--I am tired of living in extremes. During the past two years, I have managed to be a scholar/student par excellence while totally abusing my body. Truth is, I am either a junk-food junkie or a health nut. I am either like Jackie Joyner Kersee or like Mr. Potato Head. I was thinking about India.Aire's song "Back to the Middle." I don't know if I've ever been there, but I certainly want to be there in the middle. Look at the definition of balance above. The words that jump out to me are upright, steady, stability. The sentence that caught my attention most was, "she lost her balance before falling." My God—I don't want to fall, and Lord knows, somedays I feel my foot slipping. 

Folks are talking about sustainability when it comes to the planet (and I get with all that), but right now I am more interested in sustainability when it comes to me life. The truth is, if doctoral work is in my future, if I am going to be a student for the next 5-7 years after I leave Drew, then I have to figure out how to stay on my "A" game (engaging the mind) while being a good steward of my body and spirit. I want to be the "me" that God created and called me to be. I want to know who I really am, and embrace it. I have come to terms with my body—my fleshy, womanly body. I've tried it, and size 10 is not for me. My optimal self, my humble self, and my healthy self is a curvaceous size 14. I want to live a long healthy life for God, myself, my future husband, and our future kids. I want to be a preacher/scholar who cares for her temple. So, below is a plan for what I think balance looks like in my life now, and some elements that I would love to look up 50 years from now and still be doing.

Operation Balance (Summer 2009)

Mind: Prepare daily for GRE exams by studying vocabulary and math before bed. Make time to play while in Gallatin/Nashville: swim, visit museums, parks, and eat great food!

Body: Sleep 8 hours each day, take a multi-vitamin daily, eat 5 fruits/vegetables each day, and walk 45 minutes at least 3 times per week.

Spirit: Open my ears to the word and direction of God by adding journaling and meditation each morning to my daily routine. 

Again, I type all of so I can be held accountable. Ask me how things are going? Lovingly encourage me. I promise to do the same for you...

Change of Tune...

            The tune to which my life plays out has always been do be do be do...  In other words, I am a doer. Anyone who knows me, well or peripherally, knows that I am a doer. I won't go into all of my doing here (my head will start to hurt), but let's just say in the last year I've had seven or eight simultaneous jobs while carrying 15 credits at school. I am a doer. Sometimes I wonder why I do so much. Perhaps it is people pleasing. Perhaps it is restlessness. Perhaps I do not know how to say no. Perhaps it is the way I understand my value as a child of God/human being. Perhaps I need a change of tune.  

            In fact, Dr. Heather Elkins would say that I need to change my tune, so "be-ing" comes before do-ing. Be do be do be... It sounds awkward. It seems out of step. I'll have to learn a new dance, but  apparently, that is the memo that God has been sending me over the last two months. God has been whispering and shouting, in the day and night, through written word and song, in my heart and from the mouths of others that I need to be still and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10). I am fully aware that I am moving into a new season in my life, where being still and knowing God is the order of the day. It is a new thing for me, but I am confident that it is the right thing for me. So, I've pared down my class schedule, my jobs, and my extracurricular activities. I am going into the Fall just be-ing, so I can discern what God would have for me to be do-ing.

            Here is where God's wicked sense of humor comes in...Yesterday, my roommate and I were running errands. On our way back into our apartment, we stopped in the foyer at a box of books. Being the book junkie that I am, I had already scavenged the box for good finds. (one such find was Loving the Body: Black Religious Studies and the Erotic edited by Dr. Anthony Pinn and Dr. Dwight Hopkins.) She wanted to stop and take a peak, so we did. As I looked through again, I noticed a book that I had not seen on my first hunt. I picked it up and chuckled to myself. Thoughts danced in my head: Ok, God, I get it! OK, God, I'm going to slow down. OK, God, you win! OK, God, be-ing, be-ing, be-ing! The book that I held in my hands (that is now in the suitcase I will take with me to Tennessee) is Mediations for Women Who Do Too Much by Anne Wilson Schaef.  

Just in case I did not get it, God sent a message loudly and clearly—a message that I can meditate on 365 days of the year. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I still believe... (Accountability pt. 1)

I wrote the following two weeks ago in my Communities of Shalom Training session. We were discussing prophetic imagination:

I still believe that…all human beings, including the least of these, would know and walk in their value as chosen, royal, holy, and cherished children of God. I still believe that the gray cloud of despair that looms over cities worldwide will be lifted so the people of God will be warmed by God’s light. I still believe that education is a right for all and not a luxury for some. I still believe that our differences are what make us unique, and that our differences will be points of connections and not divisions.

I thought I would share this, not so you could be impressed with my thoughts or words, but so that I could be held accountable. Accountability is a lost art in our churches, communities, and societies. I cannot speak for the ancient or recent past, but I know that I have witnessed people's disgust, whether in the political sphere or on my block, when others try to hold them accountable for their actions. Folks don't want to be responsible for what they do or say. They want to be free to do as they please without any consequences or question. I believe that true freedom comes when people love you enough to question what you are doing and why you are doing it.

So...hold me accountable, please. Make sure that what I am doing is in line with my vision. If I'm acting crazy, call me out on it (with love, of course). Allow me to hold you accountable. Don't call me a "hater" if I call you out on something. Let us reason together, and help the other grow into the people that God would have for us to be, doing His will.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Musings: Flu, Celebration, Shalom, & Kendra

Much has happened since I last blogged. I got the flu. You know the kind. The "end of semester" kind of flu. The "my body thinks it has permission to shut down" kind of flu. The "take a box of tissues to your ethics exam" kind of flu. The "I don't care if you have to preach 900 miles away" kind of flu. 

But the flu has flown, so I need not dwell there. There is much to celebrate: I finished my second year in Seminary. (Yeah!) I delivered the message at the Esther/Jeptha youth service in Albemarle, NC on Saturday. (Yeah!) I hung out with my best friend who I haven't seen since March. (Yeah, and see picture!). I had a fabulous time traveling with my mother. (Double Yeah!) 

I'm switching gears from spring to summer, which for me means packing up my room and getting ready for my time with the Shalom Zone in Gallatin, TN. I packed up my books last night, so the majority of my packing is done. I received my Shalom books in the mail. I bought some dresses to keep me cool in Gallatin. I made it through Shalom training. I booked my air travel to Nashville. I also reserved a rental car. My summer is moving full steam ahead.

But until then, I have some celebrations around my niece's college graduation. I cannot believe how fast she's grown and how amazing she is. I remember being in fourth grade, days before she was born, telling Neville Gibson (RIP) that he could be her godfather. Who would have known that Neville would only live long enough for her to turn 3 years old. Who would have known that she would have grown into such a gifted woman, especially after dilk and bites (that was Kendra talk for milk and grapes). She is so fresh that I look forward to our collabos, where words and art intersect to transform the world.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


More than ever, I realize just how important the percolation phase is in sermon preparation (and paper writing). I have a sermon brewing in me, that is being informed by other life experiences. I know that driving through the streets of Brooklyn yesterday was important. I know that viewing my niece's artwork, and that of her classmates at Pratt, was important. I know that me being sick with a cold that came out of nowhere is important. Perhaps not all for this particular Word that is doing its thing inside of me, but for another sermon, at another time. Percolation is not easy. It can be frustrating. It can feel like procrastination. It can even feel like the Holy Spirit isn't on speaking terms with you. But friends, if my last preaching moment was any indication, God works best in the percolation phase--when we allow the text to marinate, sit a while, and do its good an perfect work in our lives. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

It was a good day...

In 1993, Ice Cube released the song, "It was a good day." For Cube, a good day included waking up to quiet, a pork-free breakfast, gettin' with a girl he's been feeling for a while, no car jackers, no police, no murders, you get the point. For me, a good day leaves me feeling the same way as Cube, but the details are different. I guess good days are relative.

All that to say that yesterday was a good day. I got up and made my way to church. I pinched hit in Sunday School with the primary group and we had a great time learning about what it means to be children of God. Morning worship was awesome! The new music minister played all the songs that remind me of home. He also had the choir sing one of his original songs, "Be Still" which is based off Psalm 46:10. At one point my eyes were closed and it was as if angels were singing to me. I was physically sitting in Imani, but I was spiritually transported to the feet of my Lord. After church I had a meeting that could have gone sour, except I told my truth. The truth really does make you free. After the meeting I had an early dinner out with a beautiful family. These folks love God and each other. My food left something to be desired, but the company made up where the food lacked. I then had a one on one with a beautiful and mighty woman of God, over coffee, where we talked Bible, church, family, vocation, and clothing! This was followed by the final HoneyComb Hideout for the year with Ayanna Brown. The show was awesome! We talked about healing, both on air and off. I was blessed. Then I went home and went to sleep. The perfect day was capped off with much needed rest. 

While different than Ice Cube, I have to say, it was certainly a good day!

Saturday, May 2, 2009


It is 4:56am. I haven't been awake this early (on purpose) in a while. I delivered a resurrection message in my preaching class on thursday where I started with the movement that happened early on Sunday morning.  It was early, for the text tells us that it was still dark outside. Early. Mary was making moves before daybreak. Early. While some folks in Jerusalem were still sleeping.  Early. Not wanting to conflate the Gospel messages (I was working with the Johanine account of the empty tomb found in John 20:1-10), I did not assume that Mary Magdalene was going to anoint Jesus body or keep vigil. In fact, I wondered what business Mary had at the tomb. 

I cannot help but be reminded of that morning on this one. It is early, like that morning in Jerusalem. Early. These birds, as always, are making moves before day break. Early. While most folks in Green Villa sleep. Early. Well, early this Saturday morning, I wonder what business these birds have outside of my window. 

More than that...I pray that today is as life changing and hope filled for me as it was for Mary Magdelene and the disciples early that Sunday morning some 2000 years ago. I am going to walk in Resurrection power today--on purpose! Will you walk with me?

Friday, May 1, 2009


I'm feeling some kind of way. Using that turn of phrase is usually a bad thing, but tonight it connotes a feeling of fullness. As the Psalmist says, my cup runneth over. The presence and move of God is overwhelming. I am full. This isn't a feeling of fullness like eating too much at an all you can eat buffet. It is the kind of full that you experience after eating a meal that was made with love and tastes better than anything you've ever had before. It isn't the kind of fullness where you can't get up from the table because you cannot move, rather it is the kind of fullness that leaves you not wanting to get up from the table because you are meditating on just how good the meal was. It is the difference between being stuffed and being satiated. Friends, I have tasted. I have seen. The Lord is indeed good!

If you had told me, some 25 years ago when I was a 2nd grader in Ms. Holiday's class, that this is what my life would be like, I wouldn't have believed you. Who am I kidding--five years ago I couldn't have imagined myself here--scholar, preacher, teacher, artist. I am persuaded that surely goodness and mercy shall follow me--has followed me--all the days of my life. 

Image taken by Donna Olivia Powell, 2004.