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