Saturday, February 27, 2010

Some Women Have a Thing for Shoes...

Yesterday, as I was doing something in my room, I looked around and started thinking about the fact that in the next couple of months I would have to pack up. And then it dawned on me. I probably have close to 200 more books in my library than I had when I started at Drew. I came here with quite a collection to begin with.

Some women have a thing for shoes, but I have a thing for books...I blame my parents. Let me rephrase that, I thank my parents. I have always had books in my life. We kept the latest dictionary and encyclopedia in hour home. There were volumes on science and sports and child development. I had my own Value Tales series and Disney Encyclopedia. My favorites were the stories of Harriet Tubman, Ralph Bunche, and Marie Curie.

Some women have a thing for shoes, but I have a thing for books...Last week, I finished the office makeover of preaching professor par excellence Rev. Dr. Gary V. Simpson. Part of making over his office included organizing his bookshelf. Well, he was so pleased when he saw his office for the first time that he gave me every book on his shelf that he had duplicates of. There were books by Teresa Fry Brown, Samuel Proctor, Ronald Allen, Walter Brueggemann, and Henry Mitchell. I could hardly contain my excitement!

Some women have a thing for shoes, but I have a thing for books...Why so many books? Well, you never know when you are going to need them. I have used books from my undergraduate studies in papers for my work here at Drew. All of my art books from Howard have been used repeatedly, both by me and by classmates who needed to support their ideas with visual work. Then there are books that I bought either because I liked the title or the author, that I never got around to reading, that I've been able to pick up, read, and use to support my work. There are books that I've read over and over and over again like Ntozake Shange's Lilliane and Carlyle Fielding Stewart's Black Spirituality & Black Consciousness: Soul Force, Culture and Freedom in the African-American Experience. Then there are books that make me proud: my bell hooks and Howard Thurman collections. There are books I want to go back to when I finish at Drew: Sisters in the Wilderness by Delores Williams and Creative Exchange by Victor Anderson.

Some women have a thing for shoes, but I have a thing for books...My thing for books is so deep that, in the midst of hundreds of books, I know when one is missing. A few weeks ago I was in a dry and weary land and needed to reread Renita Weems' Listening For God: A Ministers Journey Through Silence And Doubt and I couldn't find it. I searched and searched and didn't give up. In the midst of my relentless search, I was reminded of the parables of Jesus about the lost coin and lost sheep that are recorded in the Gospel of Luke. Just like God doesn't stop searching for us when we go astray, I did not stop searching for the book. Thanks be to God my roommate had it.

Some women have a thing for shoes, but I have a thing for books...I am also reminded of the time when I stumbled upon books in the hallway in Seminary Hall (during my first year) and the books in the laundry room (during my second year). They were books that someone had (gasp) thrown away. They were books that I needed for class. On Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 in a blog entitled "Must've Been an Angel or Two", I wrote:
In the midst of working on my World Religions midterm paper, I needed a break. I moved my laptop from my lap, asked a classmate to watch my stuff and preceded to walk towards the vending machine. I took a detour into the ladies room (been drinking lots of water) and then stopped at the “free stuff” table that lives in the basement of Seminary Hall. Usually the table is filled with junk, but today there were books, and lots of them, that I would need for future classes. I grabbed a stack and then walked over to the vending machine for peanuts. On my way back, I passed the table again, met by another classmate who noticed my stack. She surveyed the table and pointed out other books that I would need for future classes that I wasn’t even aware of. No kidding, I saved about $300 in one trip to the vending machine...God is good!

Some women have a thing for shoes, but I have a thing for books...And maybe, just maybe, that is why I am sure that when I leave this place that I, too, will write books. It is my prayer that they are books that matter, books that change lives, books that speak to people in ways that the books I have encountered have spoken to me.

Some women have a thing for shoes, but I have a thing for books...Now, don't get me wrong, I like shoes, too!

Morning Inspiration...

They were supposed to be playing Morning Inspiration...

But instead there was a commercial from Time Life Music for the Sweet Soul of the Seventies Collection. I don’t know if I’m feeling especially sentimental this morning...Lovin’ You by Minnie Ripperton. I don’t know if love is doing its thing in me... I’ve Got Love on My Mind by Natalie Cole. Perhaps I’m just tired and vulnerable... For the Love of You by the Isley Brothers. Maybe the cold of winter is getting to me...Always and Forever by Heatwave. It has been a minute since I’ve been in a relationship...Reunited by Peaches and Herb.

Where is the Morning Inspiration???

Wherever it was, as the snippets played, my heart grew heavy. There was a deep longing present that words cannot describe. Admittedly, tears were welling up. And then it happened. They played, La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, means I Love You and I was done. DONE. I got up, walked into my room, grabbed my phone and called the 800 number. I never call 800 numbers. Ok, maybe not never. I used to when I was a girl. I’d see something on TV that I wanted, call the number, and cajole my father into sending a check to the P.O. Box. The best score was the Hey Minnie album. But I digress.

Here I was, on the phone with Janet and I was getting got and I had no way to stop it. That was, of course, until the woman on the phone told me that 11 CD’s could cost me $180 bucks. And then, my bubble was burst. I was down off the cloud. For a moment, at least.

Ahem. Morning Inspiration, where are you?

I wanted to cry. Instead I laughed. It was pretty funny. I called my mom and she laughed with me and assured me that she had most of the songs on the collection and that I could burn them from her. I also realized that I could make a list of the songs and slowly but surely build up my own collection on iTunes that would cost far lest than $180 bucks. That part of the crisis was averted...but there was still the issue of my heart.

Is this your idea of Morning Inspiration?

Even as I am writing this, I recognize that the Sweet Soul of the Seventies commercial was indeed morning inspiration. To make a long story really short, I lost the love of my life about three years ago—we are both alive and well, just not together. When I started my theological education, I buried myself in theology and books and papers and ideas. My heart was inactive. As time passed, I buried myself deeper, and my heart grew a thick skin over it: perhaps to protect it; perhaps to preserve it. The skin grew so thick that I could no longer feel my heart. I didn’t know if it was still capable of fluttering. I didn’t know if it was still capable of giving. I didn’t know if it was still capable of receiving. I didn’t know.

Over the past few months—after years of engaging my mind and attempting to re-engage my body—my heart has been making its presence known. It started with a third grade type giggly girl crush in Tennessee over the summer. I could feel the layers being removed. But now, with more going on than I care to blog about at the moment, the layers that had built up around my heart have been completely removed.

My mentor teaches that “body is soul perceived by the senses.” I believe that heart is soul. Zora Neale Hurston once wrote that, “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.” Heart crawling out from its hiding place. Heart making itself known. Heart giving and receiving. Heart beating.

And yes, I am especially sentimental; Love is doing its thing in me; I am tired and vulnerable; I am ready for the warmth and life and newness of spring; and in the words of India Aire, I am ready for love. The Sweet Soul of the Seventies commercial woke me up and breathed into me.

Ahhhhh, Morning Inspiration...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow Day (pt. 2)

The above picture is from a snow day last year. I was reminded of it when I went out this afternoon.

I spent the better part of this morning working. It's kind of funny. Once I am honest with myself, and others, about my capacity and my limitations, I turn into a working machine. So, this morning I caught up on work for my Arts & Theology Internship and God-Talk with Black Thinkers Assistanship. At around noon, I paused, and realized that it had been two days since I had a decent workout and, with the impending snow over the next couple of days, if I wasn't careful, a week would go by without getting it in. So, I put on my Patagonia Dry Wicking Thermals (which I love, love, love), layered up in sweats, laced up my snow boots and went out for a walk. (btw, I cannot wait for my Nike+ band to return. I am so ready to start training for my 10K.)

The sun was shining for most of my walk. The air was crisp. Adults were shoveling. Children were making snow igloos. Squirrels were nowhere in sight. And I was walking. I walked on clear ground and it was easy. I walked in mounds of snow and ramped up my heart rate (at times it felt like running in sand). It was a beautiful day. It was even beautiful when the clouds rolled in and the snow started coming down. At that point I was about 3/4 of the way into (or out of) my walk and all I could do was press on.

As I approached my building the snow stopped. So I decided that before I would head up to the apartment that I would clean off this snow. This is a BIG deal. I must admit that I am one of those folks who take full advantage of snow days (and delays) by relaxing inside. Never have I been proactive about cleaning off my car. But, thanks be to God, there is always room for growth. I cleaned off my car and, I must say, I did a good job. Usually I am rushing and I clean it enough to see out the windows (and annoy other drivers). But it is clean, and when it is time for me to motivate, I will be ready to go.

But until I am ready to go I will eat lunch, catch a nap, sermonize, and maybe, just maybe, work on my art project....

Thursday, February 25, 2010


It is 7:55 on Thursday evening. When I noticed the time, something strange kindled within me. I thought about the joy and laughter and closeness that Thursdays meant for my family. We would order Chinese Food from Friendship (or Hing Fat) and watch the Cosby Show. Here I sit, in 2010, missing those Thursday nights, but ever grateful for the way they shaped me. It is my hope that when I have children, that TV will have returned to some measure of wholesome/ethical/responsible/funny programming and that we can enjoy takeout—one a week—while we watch and discuss.

images taken from: and

Sometimes I crack myself up....

This morning I woke up at 7:00am. It was another one of those days when I didn't feel like getting out of bed. This time I knew what it was. The snow was falling and my head was hurting. I am connected to the earth, my biological systems are tied to her weather systems. When the barometric pressure changes too quickly I can be assured that a migraine will ensue. Needless to say, my head was hurting and Church History, no matter how much of an intellectual crush I have on Dr. Davis, was not the place I wanted to be.

But I got up, and checked my email to find that Dr. Davis cancelled class because the weather was bad and streets had not been plowed in his neck of the woods. So, I praised and thanked God that I didn't have to use an absence or sit through class with a headache and I laid back down.

Of course, when you don't have to go to school, when you have the option of getting more rest, you find yourself wide awake. So I got up, played on the Wii Fit, ate breakfast, and proceeded to finish my sermon for this evening. I couldn't guarantee that class would be cancelled this evening. Just when I was on a roll (Shout out to the Holy Spirit!), I heard my telephone vibrating. I picked it up, "Hello." There was silence followed by something along the lines of, "This is the Drew University Weather Emergency Line..." At that point, I stopped paying attention to the message and started dancing! I did the snake...I did the wop...I did the running man...I did the butterfly...I did dances that have yet to be named...all while listening to the recorded message. And then, I laughed at myself. Hard.

(But now I will get back to work. Despite not having class, the sermon is still due.)

Image taken from

Think on These Things...

I find, in being black, a thing of beauty:
a joy; a strength; a secret cup of gladness.

Words: Ossie Davis
Images: Chester Higgins, Jr.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Today I...

...woke up at 7:00am,
...didn't feel like getting out of the bed. up anyway,
...contemplated not going to work.
...went anyway,
...but not before I went to Whole Foods, two times, for fruit and lamb and barley and eggs.
...went to work.
...went for a walk.
...heard a sermon in my head as I walked,
...then wrote the sermon when I got home.
...cooked some more (mushroom barley soup, lamb chops, and broccoli).
...did some homework.
...wrote this blog and thought about how much more the day would hold.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Nothing Like a Little Sunday Morning Conviction...

They say confession is good for the soul. I don't know who they is, but I'll own it as my truth. That said, I have to make a confession. This preacher/teacher/minister/woman of God has not made it to church very many Sunday mornings during this school year. I could rattle off a list of reasons why—frustration with the church, laziness, lack of connection when I visit churches, temper tantrum when God doesn't come through the way I'd like—but they would all be excuses, so they really don't matter. What does matter is that I got up and made my way to Calvary Baptist Church in Morristown today. And it was good...

The worship was good, and best of all, the word was good! But in the midst of all of this good stuff, the Holy Spirit was doing a work on me, in me, and around me. This morning the male chorus was leading worship. Before the preaching they sang "Praise is What I Do." Some of the lyrics go a little something like this:

Praise is what I do
When I want to be close to You
I lift my hands in praise

Praise is who I am
I will praise Him while I can
I'll bless Him at all times

I vow to praise You
Through the good and the bad
I'll praise You
Whether happy or sad
I'll praise You
In all that I go through
Because praise is what I do
Cause I owe it all to You

First, I must admit that there was something heavenly and encouraging about hearing the voices of Black men lifted up in song. It was strong. It rocked my soul. And in the midst of this soul rocking, as I sang loudly with my heart lifted to God, the Holy Spirit came with an earthquake of sorts. Praise is What I Do...hmph, is praise really what you do? Praise is who I am...hmph, is praise really who you are? And then the big one praise your first response? Ok, God. I'm just trying to sing this song. I'm just trying to worship you. Do we really have to go there this morning. Yes, we did and sadly the answer to the questions that the Lord placed in my heart were no. First I complain. First I grumble. First I cry. First I get exasperated. First I scream. First I wave my fist. But praise first? When good stuff is happening, sure. But in those moments when all hell breaks loose, or when things don't go as planned, or when I'm exhausted and have no idea how stuff is gonna get done, or when there is .78¢ in my checking account and payday is seven days away, praise is not my primary or even secondary response.

And so, during this season of Lent I will be mindful of the priority of my praise so that one day soon my song will truly be, "Praise is what I do..."

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Ain't Neva Scared...

ok, maybe sometimes...maybe a little bit, but nevertheless, this morning I had an encounter that proved to me that I have increased in courage and fearlessness over the last two years.

It was the deer again.

At 7:15am I set out for my daily walk/run. I am grateful that the sun is rising earlier these days so I can get out early. As I made my way up Green Village road, towards Woodland, right at the edge of the Drew Forest, I saw several thin twig like things--aka deer legs--moving around. I had not heard them because I was listening to Erykah Badu (btw, Danger is a great album, in general, and a great album for me to run to, specifically). But they had clearly heard me. While I had not heard them, I saw them—and in a moment—I had a decision to make. Would I punk out and cross the street? Would I put on my big girl panties and walk past them? Would I let fear rule me and turn around only 5 minutes into my walk? Or would I walk in the confidence that they are more scared of me than I am of them?

And so it goes, I kept on going. I didn't cross the street. I didn't take an alternate route. I didn't run. I walked past them and continued my walk. And I was proud of myself. I don't know why I kept going. Perhaps it was because I was still filled up from reading Psalm 27 this morning, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?" Perhaps it was because I was tired of feeling silly everytime I told someone about my fear of the deer. Or perhaps, I'm not afraid anymore. Only time, spring leaves, and walks through the path will tell. That said, I thought I'd end this post by bringing it back to the beginning. Below is the first (of many) blogs about my encounter with the deer in the Drew forest. This entry was entitled, "How I made it Over" and was written on Wednesday, September 19, 2007. Laugh, it's OK. I promise!

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”

The above verse of Scripture is from Genesis 1:26. I placed special emphasis on “let them rule” for a reason. I have a really hard time with this directive from God. I’m a city girl, born and raised in an area where squirrels and pigeons rule the universe, with an occasional raccoon or skunk making an appearance. In all honesty, I’m scared of most animals including cats. In recent months I’ve moved from dog-liker to dog-lover (thanks to Snowy, Harley, and Widget) but that is as far as I go. I’ve had to navigate my way around squirrels all of my life, so they don’t scare me as much as they annoy me. That was until Hudson Park....

On a beautiful Wednesday in August, my best friend and I went to Hudson Park in New Rochelle to sit by the water and calm our weary souls before heading to Bible study. We were relaxing until a kamikaze squirrel had the audacity to roll up on us as we laid out in the grass. I won’t type the whole story, but after two run-ins with this squirrel, we gracefully (really, it was clumsily) grabbed our blanket, got in the car, and left before the squirrel inflicted any harm on us. I know, you think I’m crazy, but the squirrel got within 3 feet of us on our blanket, chased around, didn’t run when we threw full Poland Springs bottles at him (why couldn’t it be a she?), and went into a Jackie Chan type position as if he had a debt to settle. I haven’t looked at squirrels the same since.

This blog isn’t about squirrels. I refused to let one squirrel change the way I interact with the rest of his species. However, on Monday I encountered an animal that really made me call into question the whole dominion thing. To get to class (or anywhere on campus), I can either drive, or I can walk through a path in the forest behind my building. I usually walk....only driving when I know I’m going to be on campus after dark. The forest is full of critters (squirrels [that run from me], chipmunks, and rabbits), as it should be.

Back to Monday. I worked on campus, went to the gym, and was heading back home to do homework. As I walked through the forest, minding my own business, I saw a deer. It was big. Not sure if it was bigger or smaller than most, but I knew that it was certainly bigger than me. I stopped. He stopped. We stared at each other and I turned back toward campus. I proceeded to call my mother who didn’t know anything about deer (as if I assumed that even though we lived around the corner from one another that her block had deer and mine didn’t). I then called one of my cohorts from RCDS who I know has deer in her backyard, but she wasn’t available. When I couldn’t get her, I called another RCDS friend. She comforted me, encouraged me to walk through the forest, laughed at me, and talked to me as I made my way home. When I walked through the forest again, the deer was still there but it had crossed the path and was on the other side. It stopped, stared at me and let me walk. I was grateful to have made it over.

It sounds silly, but I haven’t walked through the forest since. I miss my daily exercise, but I’d hate to have a not so pleasant run-in with a deer. If a squirrel in New Rochelle had the cojones to approach me being 1/64th of my size, what could a deer that is bigger and probably do? What happens if a whole deer family comes out and perceives me as a threat? Does the deer know the Scripture? If I was sure that they knew about the whole dominion thing, I’d probably walk without fear, but since I’ve never seen the New Deer Translation of the Bible, I’ll pass...rather, I’ll drive.

So God, if we are truly given dominion, please give me the courage to walk through the forest to get to campus. Until I hear from You, I’m gonna drive....

image taken from

Sunday, February 14, 2010

No Greater Love...

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another. (John 15:9-17 NKJV)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Graduation Days...

Yesterday I was going through some of the "stuff" I've collected over the years: journals, photos, fliers, art pieces, and I came across the following photos. The first one is from Lincoln School's kindergarten graduation in 1981 (that's me, Bruce, and my cousin Priscilla). The second flick is from Rye Country Day School's High School Graduation in 1994 (posing alongside Courtney and Rosa). The last photo was taken the morning of my graduation from NYU in 1998 (although I technically graduated in '99, I walked in '98 thanks to the compassion of Dean Linda Vega). I'm missing flicks from my 6th grade graduation, 8th grade graduation, and my Howard U graduation. I'm sure they are floating around somewhere...

These photos remind me that no matter how tough the next few months are, no matter how uncertain I am about what happens on May 16th and beyond, that not only can I make it, but that there is a work for me to do when I am done here at Drew.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It was the Best of Times; It was the Worst of Times...

I began this week with my toughest (and best) run since starting my program! I was pumped! I was on a high. And somewhere between Monday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon, I flat-lined. If you look in my planner, you'll notice that I had the worst workout week since September. I am a tracker. In other words, in order for me to lose or maintain weight I either need to keep a food log or an exercise log. In fear of becoming obsessive (again), I have opted to put cutsie little stickers in my date book on the days I work out. On my best weeks, of which there were many, I worked out five times. On my worst weeks, of which there was only one, I worked out twice. (Not counting the week of Christmas where I worked out a whopping zero times.) Anyway, the week that started out sure to be PURE FIYAH quickly sizzled out. Unless something major shifts in my energy level and enthusiasm, I am sure to spend tomorrow morning in the bed (and not on the track). In fact, I'm not even going to front like I'm going to be 'bout it. Monday's flower sticker will be all by its lonesome.

It was the best of times; It was the worst of times... But watch out, next week I'm sure to get back in the swing of things.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More to Think About...

Sometimes the only thing keeping you from accessing the sermon on the inside of you is a good cry. (Donna Olivia Powell)

Think on These Things...

Truth tellers are not always palatable. There is a preference for candy bars. (Gwendolyn Brooks)

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Don't Feel No Ways Tired...

There is a hymn that I love, by Rev. James Cleveland, called "I Don't Feel No Ways Tired." Well, when I was in the middle of my run today—six-5 minute runs with 1 minute rest in between each—this song echoed in my heart. I mean, I'm not an athletic girl and 18 days ago when I set out on this "3 Weeks to a 20 minute running habit" program designed by Christina Luff on, I was huffing and puffing my way through 1 minute runs. Today, I ran with ease. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't sprinting...I'm no Jackie Joyner Kearsee, but I also wasn't out of breath or watching the clock. In fact, today, running was like breathing—second nature. I'm so glad to be able to sing, "I don't feel no ways tired. Come to far from where I've started from. Nobody told me the road would be easy, but I don't believe He's brought me this far to leave me." Selah.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Blessing in the Press?

For the past couple of days I have been suffering from a major case of the Idon'tfeellikeits. Major. Anyway, for the most part, I have managed to do most of what needed to be done, giving myself permission to skip work, cancel my hair appointment, and reschedule a few meetings. What helped yesterday was that it was a day off from my running program (and an unexpected visit from a friend with whom I had a girlie day in the Short Hills Mall). So, whether I felt like it or not, I didn't have to go to the gym yesterday.

Today, however, was a different story. I managed to make it through the day alright--alert in class, semi-alert in chapel, attentive to my readings, and engaged in theological discourse with Rev. Dr. Gary Simpson about Black church culture and the high devilology (I made that word up, but essentially it refers to a doctrine of the devil) that has been racking my soul these days. I even managed to be alert and participate in my preaching class. But, if I can be honest, the Idon'tfeellikeits began rising up halfway through preaching class. From about 5:30 to 7:00pm I was scheming, trying to figure out how I could rearrange my schedule so I wouldn't have to run tonight. After some encouragement from my classmates and the realization that it would be nearly impossible given my busy weekend (without another running day off until Monday), I decided to go to the gym. But friends, I purposed in my heart not to enjoy it.

An hour later, I was feeling much better. It wasn't my fastest run, nor did I have my best form, but I was there. I was there! The Idon'tfeellikeits did not get the best of me! I was there! I completed my second week of training toward establishing a 30 minute running habit. I was there! As we say in church, I pressed my way. And friends, though I may not know yet what it is, I am sure that there was and is a blessing in the press.