Friday, December 31, 2010

Thank you

I don't know who you are but according to my stats people are reading this blog all over the world! While I may not know who you are, you know a little bit about who I am. Maybe my story is one you can relate to, perhaps you have struggle in your life...things you didn't know you could get past. Perhaps you too have found the ability to find joy in the little things. Perhaps you have found a way to thank God for good and the bad in your life. Perhaps you have found a way to "count it all joy". Perhaps you know what it feels like to experience loneliness and the joy and hope of love. Whatever your story is, perhaps you saw a little bit of your experience in my experiences or perhaps my experiences have made you even more grateful for your own. Whatever your reason is for reading, thank you for taking the time. Blogging has been very therapeutic for me. It is helping me dig a little deeper and go a little harder on this journey we call life.While I started this blog just for me...the biggest blessing I get is when I receive messages from others who can relate or messages just to say thank you for writing that today, it blessed me...I hope you keep reading, I know 2011 will bring about some exciting times, growth, and experience...teaching me more and more each day that there is truly "beauty for ashes".

Happy New Year! Catch you in 2011!


Well it is officially the last day of the year...2010 is coming to a close! It's been an interesting close of the year, but I remain hopeful. My biggest hope is that in the next year strongholds will be released from my life and from the lives of those I hold nearest and dearest to my heart. I read somewhere that 11 signifies transition...well I feel my life is going through major transition. I also feel like my family is going through major transition. It seems like yesterday, my cousins and I were all playing at my grandmother's house and our biggest obstacle was what rules we would follow for UNO, or who had to wash, rinse, or dry the dishes (not my male cousin, his only task was the garbage!). I grew up in a family of women. There is only one male per generation, for the last 4 generations, so we are a family of strong women. We had to be! Our mom's take care of us, even now and we are all close to 30 or in our mid-thirties (hard to believe b/c we come from such great genes you wouldn't know Holiday dinners are always prepared by the "Momma's" as we call them with love, but they have started entrusting us to the side dishes...and we have gotten pretty good! However, now it is time for us to start making the main dish, the turkey,the ham, the's time for us to start taking the lead and let the "momma's" sit back and relax. It's time to pass the much as we hate it, it's a necessary part of life...we have to be prepared so that we can then pass the torch on as well. Change is not always easy, but it can be good. With change or transition comes the potential for failure but also the potential for our turkey may not be as good as our mom's but it will be in time...and if we cant make it, we know how to order it! (Most people get a fried turkey anyway now) The point is, it's TIME.

I am blessed to come from a family where my "extended family" is my IMMEDIATE family. My cousins and I are more like siblings and my aunts are more like second mothers. I didn't understand how "different" we were until I became an adult and realized everyone didn't do it like my family did. I come from great stock...great women, who come from a great woman...strong women, who come from a strong woman....god fearing women, who come from a god fearing woman...resourceful women, who come from a resourceful woman. Even still there are strongholds that exist...out of respect for my family I will not discuss those here. I am praying that my family will break strongholds and continue to walk in the greatness from which we were created. It's time to transition, it's time for the little girl inside of us to take a back seat, as my BFF says all the time. With that transition, comes great responsibility, and with that responsibility comes great influence. I am ready to walk in my greatness...I am ready to transition.

I'm the daughter of a great woman, 
who is the daughter of a great woman,
now I'm just trying to be a great woman....JPF

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 1Cor13:11

Sunday, December 26, 2010

L.I.P (Live in Peace)...Effective Immediately

Today we lost a musical legend, Teena Marie. Facebook lit up with lots of statuses giving her praise, links to her songs, and praying for her peaceful rest in eternity. I am sure her record sales will increase starting tomorrow. I remember when Michael Jackson passed away, I bought several cd's, t-shirts, dvd, and it seemed like I couldn't get enough of MJ. Now, I have to admit I want to get a best of Teena Marie cd (yeah I am behind on, but I have never bought her music before. I have always liked her but I never felt moved to buy her music. Why is we often see value in people and things when they are gone? This year I also lost two peers, who I considered friends. Facebook has been great for reconnecting and staying connected, but there is still nothing like the human connection. I recall one of my friends passing away the morning after I had spoken to him. We all know death is a part of life, but when it comes it always seems to side-swipe us. I am a spiritual person, so I believe that people (who are believers) are definitely in a better place when they leave this earthly place. Still, even the most spiritual person feels a sense of loss when our loved ones leave. I can only speak for myself, so I won't speak for you, but for me there is always a sense of unfinished business, unspoken words, things I should have, would have done...I remember when my friend passed, I thought about the several times we planned to get together when I would be in town, but for some reason it never was always "next time"...then it was too late.

As humans, we take tomorrow for granted. We assume tomorrow I will do this, tomorrow I will say that, tomorrow I will forgive, tomorrow I will stop this, tomorrow I will etc, etc...but tomorrow turns into days, days turn into weeks, weeks to months, months to years. There are 5 days left in 2010. This is the time of year when many people reflect on the past year and make plans and "resolutions" for the next year. We all have done it, "in january I will...." As the saying goes, why put off to tomorrow, what you can do today? Prior to hearing of the passing of Teena Marie today, I had been reflecting most of you, I was planning my "resolutions". Saying, "in 2011 I am...I will...I won't"...but 2011 is 5 days away...this is the mistake we make...assuming tomorrow will be here. I remember as a child, my grandmother would have me say a bedtime prayer "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take." This prayer gives reverence to God, acknowledges that tomorrow is not promised, and submits a request that God will allow us to rest with him when we leave this earthly place. There are alot of things in my life that must be resolved, effective immediately. I can't wait until 2011, I can't wait until tomorrow. Time to forgive, call a friend I haven't spoken to in a while, embrace those I love and that love me, remove toxic people and habits, have a little more patience with others, pray more, make the right people and the right things a priority, and find joy in each day. I am sure I will stumble along the way, but I will do my best to take advantage of today and not take for granted tomorrow. Still, I look forward to what is to come tomorrow and in 2011, if it is my will to see it.  When loved ones pass we often say R.I.P (Rest In Peace)...well, death is guaranteed but while I can I want to L.I.P (Live in Peace)...Effective Immediately. I pray for comfort for the family of Teena Marie and for all families who have lost a loved one, but most of all I pray that those who have passed on had found a way to live in peace.

R.I.P Teena Marie...L.I.P family and friends......

Jesus said
"I am he who supplies all your needs"
And you said
"I know, but tomorrow, ooh, tomorrow, ill give my life
tomorrow, I thought about today, but it's so much easier to say...Tomorrow, 

who promised you tomorrow,
better choose the lord today, for
tomorrow very well might be too late
.~The Winans

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:13-14

Monday, December 20, 2010

This Little Light of Mine

Around 2AM there will be a total lunar eclipse! How exciting! I had to google what actually happens during a total lunar eclipse, it is when the earth, moon, and sun are completely aligned, with the earth in the middle. I started to think about this, I saw an image of the earth between light and darkness...however both the sun and the moon provide illumination. Then I started thinking about the word "illumination", so I looked it up. Definition: an observable property and effect of light (per wikipedia). Then, something (I say God) told me to see if there was a lunar eclipse on the day of my birth...I couldn't believe it when I saw that there was actually a partial lunar eclipse on the month, day, and year of my birth. So then I really started thinking. What could all this mean? I started thinking about my I was born: to teenage parents, born with illness, my life: suffering with illness throughout my life, sexual abuse, my father not being in my home, great failures and great accomplishments, great loves and great heartaches, marriage and divorce, dreams accomplished, dreams deferred, dreams never to be adulthood: great friends, relationships ending, dependence, interdependence, co-dependence, and finally experiences: good decisions, bad decisions, happiness, depression, surrounded by loved ones, wilderness...darkness and light...night and day. I started to wonder what will be my "observable property and effect of light"? Then I looked up the word "eclipse" Definition: a temporary or permanent dimming or cutting off of light (one definition per wikipedia). Then I thought to myself, my light is God. I am so thankful that he is the creator of all things, therefore his light can never be eclipsed. So the sun and the moon (day and night/good and evil/lightness and darkness) have always continued to shine light on me, shine light on my situation, shine light on my growth, and shine light on who God created me to be. It's time to start walking in my light. Maybe that night on June 4, 1974 when I was born under a partial lunar eclipse it was to remind me that darkness will come (my light may be dimmed) but there is always going to be light (God, hope, love) over my life. So I am learning to walk in the light, to see the light, even when that light seems so small....I know it is cannot be totally eclipsed. My decision is that I will not let anyone, any situation or circumstance permanently dim my light. I will not be eclipsed. Whatever your darkness is, I encourage you to walk in the light! I pray that my "observable property and effect of light" (my testimony) will be that I am God's child. What will be yours?

"This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine"

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his 
light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the 
glory of God in the face of Christ. 2Corinthians 4:6 
*I encourage you to read all of 2Corinthians Chapter 4* 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Game Over

Competition is meant for sports, jobs, and other aspects of life, but it is not meant for love. If you have to compete in love, you have already lost. I am a single woman, and it is not easy. Last night I was having a moment and I called my mom, and she knew just what to say. The thing I appreciate about my mom is she is willing to share her own experiences, openly and honestly. I think if people were a little more transparent we could see we are not crazy, everyone makes mistakes, and learn from the lessons of others. So I will admit, I have shared a man, sometimes knowingly and sometimes not. We all make excuses, "everyone is doing it...this is just how men's not my problem...if she was keeping him happy he wouldn't be here with me...etc etc" The worst lie we tell ourselves, is that we can do enough, be enough, love enough that he will CHOOSE us. This is the very moment, when you have already lost the game. Once you become a player of the game, you become a loser of the game. Now I am sure there are some folks out there who can give a testimony of how their story didn't turn out that way, there are exceptions to every rule...but 9 times out of 10 you will lose. My mom told me last night don't be so desperate for companionship that you lose yourself or your integrity. Last year, I suffered a really bad hurt. I found out I was in a competition I didn't even know I was in. Honestly, I am still getting over it and the pain that came with it. I couldn't understand, how someone I loved so much, could hurt me so bad. My competitor and I talked and discussed the game we were both a part of it, and to be honest it was pretty sick. However, in the end I lost (or so I thought) because he was choosing her and not me. So through the pain, anger, and tears I have had a lot of time to reflect and evaluate. Often as women, we try to do things that we were not created to do. We try to play the games of "men" (who are really insecure boys) but that is not who we were created to while we try to play the game, we always get played.

Sometimes the competition is not another player, maybe it's a job, emotions, a parent, friends..etc, thing I have learned in my 36 years is people are always right where they want to be and doing exactly what they want to do. Well, I've played this game way too long, reached all the levels, and my last man has fallen off the over! Maybe I'm old school, maybe I believe the man chooses the woman, maybe I believe God created woman as a helpmate for man to cherish, maybe I don't believe in SisterWives (lol)...but whatever it is I know God didn't create me for objectification, degradation, humiliation, or disrespect. Like alot of my fellow sisters, I have a lot of love to give...I just have to give it to the right person...and the first person I must give it to is ME. So in the end, in my competition I didn't lose...I who entered me into lost. So however, you have to get out of the game, do reset..whatever you do make sure it's GAME OVER.

Why do I play? I’d rather play alone
I can’t play the fool anymore, no
No, I don’t need a game anymore, you could play the fool
I’ma play my hero, you gonna be a zero
I’d rather play alone, I can’t play the fool anymore
I don’t need a game anymore, you could play the fool
I’ma play my hero, you gonna be a zero
I’m playing the goodbye game
...Chrisette Michelle

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Kitchen Table

Like most homes, especially old homes, people always gather in the kitchen. Growing up in my home, people were always at our house and when they were there they were always at the kitchen table. I recall my mom sitting at the table with her friends talking, giving advice, or playing Bid Wist! Luckily, my mom didn't play eating all over the house, so we always ate at the kitchen table too. As a teen, there were many silent meals, but as I got older oh the conversations she and I had. Now, that I am an adult, I get to sit at the "grown folks" table and I cherish the many conversations that take place at the kitchen table. My mom is my best friend and I have received a lot of advice from her at that table and some of my closest friends aka her other "children" have also benefited from the blessings and wisdom that was given over that kitchen table. Dreams, hopes, fears, tears, laughs, and hopes have all been discussed over that kitchen table. So tonight, I'll just reflect on some of that advice and share some of it with you.

Like my momma always says...:

"Whatever choices you make, make sure you can live with the consequences."

"Trust God, not will let you down, God won't"

"What God has for you, is for you"

"Don't ever let anyone make you feel like you aren't worth it, you are!"

"Nobody has to wake up with your life but you"

"Nobody is perfect. Everyone has their s%*!...even you"

"Find something in life that you are passionate about"

"Sometimes you have to just look in the mirror and say I'm beautiful"

"You can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped"

"You can't take care of others, if you haven't taken care of yourself"

"People and things can't make you happy"

"Don't give so much of yourself, til you don't have anything left"

"When people show you who they are believe them"

"You are not the lamb"

These are just a few bits of advice she has given me over the years. I hope it blessed you as much as it has blessed me. Next to God, my mother gives me strength. She is the strongest woman I know. She raised me as a single parent and always makes me feel like I was the greatest gift God created. In addition, she modeled the type of woman I hope to be: humble, giving, compassionate, loving, beautiful, stylish, resourceful, and trusting in the Lord at all times. I didn't only get nourishment for my body at the kitchen table in my home, but I also received nourishment for my soul...thank God for my mother and thank God for the Kitchen Table.

Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.Proverbs 31:29

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What Do the Lonely Do At Christmas?

I know it has been a long time...I made one of the mistakes I often tend to make...getting sidetracked! Or rather not taking time for me. I guess a better statement is not taking the time to do the things I want to do or need to do, or not doing the things I need to do but don't want to do (i.e., going through mail).  My mommy tells me is there is always something that needs to be done (like that unopened, it's up to me to take advantage of those times when I am alone to be productive or to reconnect to myself or those things I blogging :-)

It's easy to get caught up with people or activities, then you become dependent on those things, neglect yourself, and then boom....all those people and activities are unavailable or gone. Then you are left alone and bored. I've come a long way, but I admit I am one of those people who hates being alone. I've adjusted to it, because I had to, but it is still one of my least favorite things to do. In the last year, I've felt alone more than I've felt connected. One of my friends reminds me that being in the "wilderness" can be a good thing, and it has in many ways, but it is still horrendously hard! I guess we weren't meant to be alone. I even read a spiritual devotional this morning and it talked about one of the four human weaknesses is fear of being alone. If you are like me, you are one of those person's that has to answer the phone when it rings or return a text as soon as it comes. Part of it is politeness and part of it is the need to feel connected. My goal is to get comfortable in being disconnected, to carve out a time in the day that is just for me (without interruption), and to find peace in solitude.

I am realizing that in the end, whether I am single or in a relationship, in a city with all of friends and family or a city by myself, I have to depend on myself and on God. In the end, that is all any of us have. My mommy used to say (at the height of my spirals of being alone) that man will always let you down, but God won't, so learn to depend on him. I guess I am still learning that. Being alone is also a great time to pray and reconnect with God. It is in these silent moments,when you can hear from God and commune with him. I believe there is a lot God wants me to hear from him, and a lot he wants to hear from me. I've been asking myself, "what do the lonely do at Christmas?" I guess, they do what everyone else does, put up decorations and spend time with friends and family, or as one my friends said "grin and bear it." In the end, we are not truly alone, for God is with us...How awesome is that?

A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me." John 16:32

Monday, November 8, 2010

for colored boys

So, I read a review about Tyler Perry's new movie For Colored Girls today that I had to respond to. The author of the article, a man, basically bashed the movie for it's portrayal of the black man.While I could provide an excellent rebuttal of some of the accusations and also point out the many negative portrayals of the black woman in the media, I can see the authors point. Unfortunately, the portrayal of black men and women in the media leaves much to be desired. Instead, as a black woman, I wanted to lift up my brothers. While there are many negative experiences I could recount, I must say I LOVE the black man...just like my Sisters, I love the diversity of the black man...from smart and clean edged, eccentric and poetic, athletic and strong, political and opinionated, spiritual and deep, even the one's with a little roughness about them. The black man is the love of my life! There are many good black men out here. For every negative experience I've had, I can name a positive experience with my Brothers. I know many black men who are excellent fathers, grandfathers, uncles,brothers and cousins, loyal and faithful husbands, constant and platonic friends, spiritual advisors and partners, etc, etc, etc....MOST black men are not criminals, on the down-low, fresh out of jail, addicted to drugs, abusive, uneducated, womanizers, etc, etc...Like most PEOPLE there are good and bad apples in every bunch. The first black man I ever loved was my Daddy.  Like alot of young black people, I was the product of young teenage parents. So I am not going to lie, there have been some trying and disappointing moments in our daddy/daughter relationship. However, one thing I could always appreciate was my daddy's presence in my life. The influence he has had on me and the memories I have are priceless. My love of music, my ability to laugh at myself, forgive myself, my shyness, my spiritual growth are all things I owe, in part, to my daddy. I was blessed enough to have a father who could be both strong and sensitive, laugh and cry in front of me, admit wrong-doing, has a strong faith, is spiritual, and who shows thanks for the relationship he has with his children. I love that I can count on my daddy to cook a meal for me, and when we sit down at the table to share the meal we have the best conversations! One of my favorite childhood memories is my daddy running up to hug me after playing basketball...this was a tradition...after each game, he would run up, all sweaty, and give his "baby girl" a hug (yep he took his little girl with him to his playground games!)...I would squirm and try to run, but all the while I couldn't wait for that hug...LOL...I also remember a bedtime game we used to play where I would hide under the covers and he would pretend to not be able to find me, once he did, he would lift me up and fly me around like I was an airplane and tuck me back in the bed and give me a kiss...I also remember, him trying to do my hair as a little girl...LOL...can we say disaster...or the one and only time I remember him spanking me (which was more like a pop on the hand) and he felt so bad when I cried we went to get ice cream...LOL...Like I said earlier, it wasn't all peaches and cream. I am also a product of divorce, so their are alot of sad memories that were created as a result of being the child of a young father, but life goes on and at the end of the day it is what you choose to focus on...Now, I focus on the relationship and friendship I have with my daddy and knowing that I always was and always will be his "baby girl"! Is my daddy perfect? NO! Is the black man perfect? NO! Like my daddy once told me, "I've got a lot of atoning to do" does the black man. Does this mean we should love the black man any less? NO...while we hold our brothers accountable, we should always remember to lift them up and celebrate them..To my sisters, if you know or have a good black man, make sure you do what our foremothers have done for years, hold him down (slang for support him), lift him up, praise him, respect him...and make sure he gets the big piece of chicken! LOL ....So to the author of that article, please don't commit homicide brother...the rainbow is enough!

He's misunderstood, some say that he's up to no good around the neighborhood
But fo' your information - alot of my brothers got education....

Black Brotha, I love ya, I will never - try to hurt ya
I want ya, to know that, I'm here for you - forever true-
Angie Stone

Sunday, November 7, 2010

recovering, undercover, overlover

So I had a great weekend! I was a little apprehensive about the weekend to be honest, because I was returning to Raleigh..or the scene of the crime, as I like to sarcastically call it. Raleigh is pretty much were I have spent most of my adult life..and experienced most of my love and heartbreak. There are only three men in my life who I can ever say I was "in love" with and they all live in this area. So coming here brings on a bag of mixed the past I would numb myself with lots of partying but now (Praise God) I've learned to sit (literally) in peace and deal with the ghosts and demons of the past. It's funny because my girlfriend with whom I am staying literally lives up the street from my old home...surprisingly, for the first time it didn't pain me to stay here. I didn't feel like I was up the street from my former home and life...I felt like I was visiting my girlfriend. Major breakthrough for me. I guess time heals all wounds. Another great moment of the weekend was going to see "For Colored Girls" with my friends. This movie was very emotional for a lot of reasons. It was easy to identify with the women in the film. Most women would not want to admit to being able to identify with the traits of these women, but sadly I would bet the farm that everyone could identify with at least one character. I found myself identifying with ALL but one. There were some great moments in the film, but my favorite was when Loretta Divine said, "Someone tried to take my stuff!" I realized in that moment that someone had tried to take my stuff too! Someone tried to take my trust, my compassion, my kindness, my weakness, my willingness to love unconditionally, my ability to see the best in people, my ambitions, my sense of self, my self-worth, my self-confidence, my fearlessness, my optimism, my belief in love, even my faith...yes, someone had seriously tried to take my stuff!   Not just one someone either! It was in that moment that I realized I had to admit my addiction, "Hi, my name is Jamila, and I am a love addict" LOL (it's really not funny but a defense mechanism...I blame this little character trait (laughing) on my daddy)...In my quest to detox myself I have turned the complete no one gets in, because no one is going to take my stuff!! Right?? Well, guess how that's been working out for me? So here I am as Erykah Badu proclaims a "recovering under cover, over lover"...the good news is I am in recovery..I am recovering all the things that I allowed people to take from me...and it feels good! In the movie, the women go around and complete the sentence "My love is be thrown back in my face!" Well my love is too "forgiving" to be thrown back in my face. So I realize I can't be an "over" lover but I cant be an "under"lover either. All I can do is love...but the biggest lesson I've learned is that I was created to be loved, I deserve to be loved, and I am loved...even if you (who try to take my stuff) can't. You well put together, emotionally stable, never been through nothing folks may not be able to relate, but this wasnt for you...
...So I am putting down my bags and picking up my stuff!

My love is deeper
Didn't you know this,
Or didn't you notice?
Jill Scott

Sunday, October 31, 2010


I had a great weekend with one of my best girlfriends. It had been a while since we were together, so we were looking forward to our girl time. The plan was to go to Asheville to the see the leaves change. All week, my girlfriend was asking me some specifics about the trip, and each time I never had an answer. I figured we could just be spontaneous. I enjoy a little spontaneity and plus it seems that lately whenever I make plans something always goes wrong. So perhaps there was a little bit of self-preservation going on too. Anyway, we embarked on this journey to Asheville and all of a sudden I see a sign for a Gorge.( I became enamored with gorges after a business trip many years ago where I saw my first gorge. It was so beautiful. If you haven't seen one definitely add this to your list of things to do.) I yell out, "a gorge!" My girlfriend looks at me and says, "wanna go?" off we went, taking a detour from our scheduled trip to Asheville to look at the beautiful fall colors of the leaves and for some shopping and lunch. Little did we know we were about to embark a great adventure, filled with all kinds of high jinks, amazing views, lots of walking, and experiencing the awesome wonder of God through nature. We had a great time! This was a planned detour, but a detour nonetheless. We really didn't know how it would turn out and as we started going further up the mountain and the roads became winding and narrow, we started to think "umm, was this a good idea?" Still, we pressed on to our new destination, sometimes laughing and sometimes in nervous silence. We tried to diffuse our anxiety on the mountainous roads with old school music and singing, but it was clear we were both a little afraid. However, getting to the mountain, traveling through the beautiful forest, and seeing water falls made it all worth it.

This trip reminded me of my life. It has been filled with some planned and unplanned detours. Like most people, as an adolescent I had a clear plan of how my life was going to go. I even remember filling out my Senior book and answering the questions, "where will you be in 5 years...10 years..20 years?" Let's just say, I am not where I thought I would be, but I'm still grateful because I know I am right where I am supposed to be. I've had some bumps and bruises, anxiety, ups and downs...but I've met some wonderful people along the way, made lifelong friendships, and had some great (and not so great) experiences. Like the trip, there have been moments when I wondered "What in the world was I thinking?" or where I felt anxious, nervous, or afraid. But, there have also been moments when I kept going towards my destination or goal and despite all it took to get there, it was all worth it. It was those moments that made me further appreciate the awesome wonder of God, because I knew he had a plan for me. If you really knew my story, you would really be able to appreciate where I am now, because of where I have been.  I pray that whatever detours my life may take that I can always see the beauty in the moment. I believe detours, planned or unplanned, can lead to roadblocks or great's up to me! As the old folks say, "I wouldn't trade nothing for my journey."

I definitely wouldn't trade anything for the trip my girlfriend and I took this weekend!

Because you never know where life is gonna take you
and you can't change where you've been.
But today, I have the opportunity to choose.

The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps. Psalm 16:9

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who do you think you are??!?

 Lately, I have been baffled by men, well let's just say some men...and especially the experiences with men some of my friends and I have been having lately. I was in an angry place yesterday, but the one whom offended me did see themselves and offered some version of an apology. So thanks, but that ship has sailed buddy! Anywho...the worst part was not the offense but that I let someone's actions dictate my mood for the rest of the day. I hate that. I call these moments and people "time stealers". The thing about time is you can't get it back and the thing about "time stealers" is they usually don't give a  *&%$@ (as my momma would say "excuse my french" LOL). It's amazing to me how selfish and self-centered some people can be in a "relationship" with a person for years and they will still look at you crazy when you have an expectation of them, or if they decide to explore their "options" they are quick to tell you that the two of you are not in a "relationship" matter that you supply the majority of their needs, physical, emotional, and otherwise (or so you think anyway) matter they have a key to your place, hang out with your family, say such special things to you, expect that you will be there for whatever and whenever...I mean these are all hypothetical of course! 36 years old no one is having a key to my place unless their name is on the lease or deed also LOL...but I digress.  I am talking about those things we do as women to say "I trust you" "I love you" "You can count/depend on me" "Choose me" feel me? From the simplest act of running an errand to the most cherished act of intimacy, alot of times we do these things for the wrong people and for the wrong reasons. Sometimes desperation, sometimes loneliness, sometimes hope, sometimes fear. Then Mr Time Stealer just skips off into the sunset, like they didn't do anything wrong. Or they reduce the relationship to a physical one. Or they manipulate you into staying into a situation only because it's comfortable not because they love and cherish you...or they play on your fears, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities, or the worst, they become apathetic..Before all the men starting biting their cheeks, this is not a male-bashing. This is just some commentary on some women's experiences with some men...NOT all men. I know some wonderful men who are wonderful fathers, husbands, boyfriends, brothers and this is not about those men! This is about the "time stealers."  The one's that leave me thinking "who do you think you are?" Who do you think you are that you can't honor the one's who are responsible for bringing life into the world?...The one's who know how to literally make a "dollar outta 15 cents"...The one's who raised your children when you couldn't or wouldn't be there...the one's with "hips, lips, and fingertips"...No diss, the female species is a beautiful thing, but the Black woman...well I'll let you finish that as I said, "who do you think you are?"
....then I had a light bulb moment..."who do YOU think you are?" was the question that I had to pose to myself and a few of my friends. Who do you think you are?...someone not worthy of commitment? someone not worthy of an honest and respectful relationship? someone worth only a phone call at some strange hour to do "you know what", only to roll over and see the back of someone walking out your door? someone who doesn't deserve to be in a relationship with someone you love? someone who has to settle? someone that no one will love? someone who is not good enough? someone with a generational curse?...again these are all hypothetical, but you feel me?

I know who you are...I know who I am...I am God's perfect creation. I am a daughter, a sister, cousin, auntie, niece, granddaughter, friend, godmother. I am love and I am loved by many.  I am a descendant of great queens, I am the product of fierce people who stood and died for something so I could have a better, more equal and just life. I must honor that. We as women must honor that. I really believe once we honor ourselves, men will have no choice but to honor us too. I was always taught to embrace self-responsibility. I can only control my actions. When I say "I", I mean "we"...I mean "you", for now I am single and that is it gets difficult, but if the options are "all of the above"...I'll take "none of the above"...however, I remain hopeful. If you are a spiritual person, I am sure you get very upset whenever someone defiles anything of God, so why do we allow others to defile us...are we not, his "workmanship"?

So, I ask you again...who do you think you are?

A rose is still a rose, 
Baby, girl, your still a flower
He can't lead you and then take you
Make you and then break you
Darlin', you hold the power... L. Boogie/featuring Aretha Franklin

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  1John 4:18

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tricks are for kids...

I had to write this before I went to bed. I usually don't have this much to say (hahaha), but I guess tonight is one of those nights. Alot of things have been on my heart and my mind....the thing is the mind is a tricky thing. I even contemplated shutting this blog down, because my mind was asking, "what will people think?...Maybe you shouldn't have told people about something so personal...what are they saying about you?...are you sure you want to share this with facebook?...will people look at you differently?" The truth is I've hidden my RA for years because I felt ashamed, but then I thought what the hell am I ashamed about? I realized this is a trick of the mind or rather a trick of the Enemy. Today I experienced anxiety after going after an opportunity that may or may not come to pass. A little anxiety is normal, but it kept building and building! Trickery! I have friends (myself included!) who have fears about all kinds of things...especially matters of the heart. Trickery! The fear of failure can be so paralyzing that you don't even want to try to succeed. Trickery! Shame and fear are two of the biggest tricks of the Enemy.

I am a "facebook" head and I know people have their opinions about it. However, one thing I like about some of my fb buddies is their transparency. Along with the tv show commentaries, political statements, artistic posts, and tons and tons of pix, etc. You see peoples ups and downs. You see people who are accomplishing great things and people who rejoice in the simplest things in life. When I look at some of my "friends" it reminds me of something a friend of mine told me, when I was anxious and fearful about returning to graduate school. She said, "people who get through graduate school aren't smarter...they just work hard." In order to work hard at something you have to believe in yourself and not be afraid to fail. Isn't that the key to successful entrepreneurs? Now, I am not saying air all of your "business" to everyone, but never let fear or shame prevent you from giving your testimony. You never know how it might bless or encourage someone. The thing is this was never intended to be a RA blog or spiritual devotional. It was intended as a therapeutic journey for me and an expressive outlet, but as one of my girlfriends says, "let Him use you!" by any means necessary! So whatever your opinions are, good or bad, this is my story... my testimony...take it or leave it (but I hope it blesses you).

In the Bible, Satan is referred to as the "accuser". I think this is so powerful! He "accuses" us of many things...not being good enough, smart enough, pretty enough...unloveable, depressed, lonely, shameful, fearful, and the ultimate accusation is that we cant be forgiven. Ha! Trickery! In the US Court system, we have the right to confront our accuser. In the spiritual realm, we have the POWER to confront our for me "Not Guilty"!

Take Me As I Am MJB

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down." Revelation 12:10

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Little Things...

I love the change of season..especially when summer turns to fall and winter turns to spring. Asides from hating how the winter affects my joints and the dangerous driving conditions, the reason I love the change to the mild seasons is because it is the time of year when I open my windows and let the fresh air in. As a young woman with RA there are many days where the little things mean alot. Being able to open a bottle of water, waking up without any pain, and just God's little blessing of allowing some fresh air in my home are all little things I appreciate so much. RA has definitely been a daily challenge but one thing it did was make me appreciate all the small things that we take for granted. Today was a pretty good day, but I woke up and it was raining. My first thought was here comes the pain! What the "old people" say about the rain is true! However, I got up and got moving without pain...see this is something that most people take for granted. Most people just get up and go and if it is raining their only thoughts may be,"let me make sure I get my umbrella and give myself a little extra time to make it to work on time". Don't get me wrong, I am not looking for a pity party. There are many things that I take for granted. When I pick up a book, turn on the tv, or start my computer I don't think about my being able to see, because I don't have vision problems. When I pick up the phone I don't think about being able to hear the other person on the other end. When I take a deep breath of the fresh air or walk up a flight of stairs I don't think about being short of breath or needing oxygen because I don't have respiratory problems. These are all things that I am blessed to not have to think about, but I am grateful for them. Oprah has talked about "gratitude journals" in the past. In my short life I have learned to keep my own "gratitude journal". Matter of fact, this blog is my public "gratitude journal". What are you grateful for? Whatever we walk with we have to learn to take the good with the bad, the bitter with the sweet, and focus on what IS and not what is NOT. If only I had truly learned this earlier. Oh well, you live and you learn.

(It's the little things) It's the little things
And the joy they bring, it's the little things
(The little things) It's the little things

...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1Thessalonians 5:18

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Having the patience of Chilean Miners...

I'm sure everyone is watching the amazing rescue of the 33 miners in Chile. I am not just amazed at the rescue, but at how they survived for 69 days, a half-mile under the earth! My goodness, what faith these men must have! And if there was one (or two, or three) who didn't have faith, what faith the others must have had to keep them encouraged and believing that help is on the way. I'm sure you have all heard sermons about, "He may not come when you want him to, but he is always right on time." Over the past 19 years, which is the extent of my adult life, I have heard that statement in church and from family and friends. Depending on the various trials, especially the RA, friends and family always encouraged me of the miraculous nature of God. Trust me I don't doubt the miracles of God, but I personally believe that God doesn't perform OUR miracles, but HIS miracles (ponder that). Also, I personally believe in order for God to perform his miracle or bless us, we have to do our part. When Jesus healed the Leper, the Leper had to approach him and ask. When Simon and Jesus caught an abundance of fish, Simon had to be obedient and go out deeper into the water. Even when Jesus turned water into wine, Mary had to urge him to first fill the pots with water. In order for the miners to be rescued, they had to be patient. In order for me to maintain my mobility and minimize daily pain and remain independent, I have to take care of myself and take my medicine. Whatever your need is, trust me you have to do your part too. A year ago, I moved to a different city, my marriage had ended, and I started a new career. People ask me all the time, how did you end up THERE? LOL...I always say I guess this is where God wanted me to be. I didn't even apply for the job I came here for, I actually applied for the job in another city. However, it was the perfect job for me to get the training I wanted, so I moved. It hasn't been easy, I am just starting to make social connections and I spend alot of time alone. Yet, this has not been a bad move for me. I have reconnected with alot of my cousins on my father's side of the family, unbeknownst to me I moved literally around the corner from my aunt and uncle, and my daddy is now right up the road. Anyone who knows me, knows I am a daddy's girl (for better or worse), so our relationship has continued to strengthen. The best part of all of this is I have learned how to enjoy my time alone. To paraphrase a character from Eat, Pray, Love, I've learned the "pleasure of nothingness." Also, I am starting to explore interests that I have ( I bought a camera to begin a photography hobby, I've visited art galleries, poetry events, and art festivals, I attended a Toastmaster's club, I am planning to go horseback riding for the first time, and I plan to try Tai Chi!). In addition, I've met some pretty cool people! It hasn't been easy, but I knew if I wanted to be happy here I had to do my part...but trust me there are still days when I am like, "I'm outta here!!" One of my "auntie's" (friends of my mom who LOVE me) told me "don't move too fast baby, you might miss your blessing!" So here I am evolving yet again, growing spiritually, finding new interests, meeting new people, and learning patience (definitely not my strong suit). Now, if I could just get a man! Ha (just kidding, kinda sorta lol)! Luckily, I've learned to trust God in all my circumstance and on the days when my faith is wavering I am blessed to have family and friends whose faith is strong enough to encourage me to remain faithful and to keep moving forward...God Bless the Miners!

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. Psalm40:1-3

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer Romans12:12

Monday, October 11, 2010

There is a Balm in Gilead!

Let me tell you something...I LOVE music! I grew up in a musical house. While my parents were divorced I couldn't escape either of their musical influences. My daddy used to put me to sleep on Earl Klugh and Grover Washington Jr and as a little tot I had an "air guitar" which daddy and I used to play together while listening to B.B. King! If it wasn't the Elements (Earth, Wind, and Fire in case you grew up under a rock) playing, it was Stevie Wonder, Patti LaBelle, the Parliament Funkateers, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, or some other R&B, Jazz, Funk, Rock great playing in the background of my life. My daddy's musical influence was so heavy I even did a college paper on The Last Poets influence on the civil rights movement (If you don't know who they are google them). My mom exposed me to greats such as Al Jarreau, The Whispers, Aretha Franklin, Bobbi Humphry ( I ended up playing the flute because of this one!), Chaka Khan, and Stephanie Mills to name a few. See I'm a 70's baby of young parents, so I was exposed to alot! My exposure to secular music came from both of my parents, but exposure to gospel music was all momma! In my house when we would get ready for church, clean the house, or whenever my mom would get up music was playing. I admit we were not regular church attendees, but that didn't mean that momma didn't teach me the power of God, the power of prayer, and "who and whose I am." See, I also grew up in a single-parent home, so at times it was nothing but family and God who pulled us through. So I knew who God was, I believed in God. I went to summer bible school, sunday school, and if I stayed with my daddy's momma, oh I was going to church! However, music has always ministered to me! It's something about the soul-stirring sounds of a man or woman who knows God spiritually. The ministry I have received from music has not always come from gospels or hymns, but even from what people would consider secular music (we will get into that later). However, in 1997 when I heard Karen Clark-Sheard sing "Balm in Gilead" it was like I heard the song that would be my own personal anthem for the rest of my life. At this time, I had been dealing with the RA for 5 years. At 22 years of age, this was NOT a good time in my life. Despite, all that I knew about God, my 22 year old mind could not wrap itself around this idea of having a crippling disease. Depression was setting in heavy! Just when I was supposed to be starting my life, it seemed as if my life was ending. Doctors were telling me that this disease would just progress, I would probably have all kinds of surgeries due to my joints becoming deformed, and that I would be on some form of medication for the rest of my life. One doctor even mentioned eventually having to use a wheel chair! Can you imagine??  I was seriously like OMG! I would cry, pray, and sometimes scream "Why God? Why?" I remember my daddy's answer, "why not?" I couldn't appreciate that response at the time. Matter of fact I was pretty pissed off! LOL However, now I understand why he said that to me. "Why not?" indeed. See, we all face various challenges in life. Some are things we can't control, others are the result of choices we make. Regardless, we have to face the challenge we are confronted with. My friends and I face our challenges through sisterhood, friendship, and spirituality. I tell you I have been blessed with some wonderful friends. I'm so thankful for them. Most of all I am thankful they are my spiritual warriors! I'm thankful for my mother who is the best mother in the world, my friend, and my prayer partner. I'm thankful that she knew in 1997, that I needed to hear that Karen Clark-Sheard song. I'm thankful for my dad's musical influence on me that made me appreciate the jazzy sounds of the song enough to pay attention, and my mom's musical influence which made me listen to and appreciate the lyrics. When Karen Clark-Sheard belts out "Jesus is a balm in Gilead, He's a healer! Jesus is a balm in Gilead!" you can't help but feel it in your soul!....So, it is 2010 now. I have been on many medicines for my RA, and will continue to be for the rest of my life, but I am now on some great medicine that has slowed the progress significantly. I am not in a wheelchair and I have only had one surgery. Most importantly, despite my challenges, I am doing better now than I have ever done before. I don't have a crippling disease. I am just like you, I have personal challenges to which I must adapt and rely on my faith and perseverance. Since 1997, I have completed two degrees and I am more independent than ever. And guess what, I don't have any plans of slowing down! So, while I am thankful for the advances in medicine that have allowed me to maintain my independence, I am most thankful that there is a "Balm in Gilead"! He's my healer!! Tomorrow 10/12/10 is National Arthritis Day, make sure you *gently* hug someone you know with arthritis (feel free to send me a virtual hug, if the only person you know is me!). XOXO

If you have never heard "Balm in Gilead" go to

"Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases" Psalm 103:1-3

Paint Your Nails Anyway!

So, I thought I would jump on the blogging bandwagon and see if this is as cathartic for me as it is for others. First, I owe the title of my blog to my bestie. Through the many trials of my life I can count on her to counsel me with scripture and I can still remember her telling me, "He will give you beauty for ashes!" I am not the best writer so I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors that are sure to occur. So, let's begin. I am 36 years old and for the last 19 years I have been living with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). It's a painful disease that has affected me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. For many years it was a source of shame for me, but over the years I have learned to accept it (on most days) and embrace my "new normal." As a woman, I must admit I have vanity issues. I am a "girly girl" and I love to adorn myself with beautiful things and the latest fashions! I used to be one to get my hair done weekly (not anymore because I am natural now, but that is for another blog) and I love to get a mani and pedi. I especially love getting a design on my big toe! For many years I did not want to wear sandals because of the effect the RA had taken on bones and joints. RA is a disease that causes changes in your joints and bones, sometimes making things crooked that should be straight. As a self-proclaimed vain woman, I didn't want to show my less than perfect feet, even though they had the perfect pedi and a cute design. My pedicurist and I were the only ones to admire my ten little piggy's. Until one day I had a friend, who shall remain nameless, who had less than desirable looking feet. Yet she wore sandals all the time! She didn't have RA like me, but I will assume the condition of her feet came from wearing ill-fitting shoes. Anyway, I recall her saying, "these are the only feet I have so if you don't like 'em, don't look at 'em!" LOL...I immediately started wearing sandals! Now, I hate for winter to come because I know I am going to have to enclose my feet in socks, boots, and the like. I have so many sandals in so many colors and styles that I can't count them! This was the first of many steps that I have taken towards self-love and acceptance. A small step for some but a huge step for me! Now everyone can admire my fabulous pedicure and cute design, or not, it doesn't matter to me because, "these are the only feet I have so if you don't like 'em, don't look at 'em!" I am so proud to see, companies like Dove tackling self-esteem with young girls and women. Our society attaches so much meaning to outward appearances that teen-age girls are having plastic surgery to correct what is "wrong"...well I say God made me just as he wanted me to be...flaws and all.  There are so many women who struggle with self-esteem and unfortunately there are so many women who have RA as it tends to affect women more than men. I hope this speaks to those women. I hope it encourages someone to come out of the shadows and embrace themselves for who they are and how they look. Whether it's a weight issue, a skin color issue, a physical deformity, a hair issue, etc., we must remember God created us as a masterpiece. There's no one like me and there's no one like you...How beautiful is that? So even if you have tiny crooked toes like me, Paint Your Nails Anyway! If you want to learn more about RA visit

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:14