In honor of National Poetry Month, I made a goal to share a poem or spoken word piece each week. Well, last week, I feel off the rocker, so I’m posting one tonight and another on Sunday!
The piece below was written exactly one year ago in February while contemplating the past and present sacrifices made in my culture. Thanks in advance for reading it!
I SALUTE YOU
For every elder that was asked “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?” before casting their vote
I stand for you.
Hold my head up high and walk into work every day for you. Go to class and flash my smile and say “Yes, I’m here” for you.
For my sisterfriend on the verge of killing cancer dead in its tracks Intelligence questioned by White men, assuming her competence is thin and porous For every train car that clickety-clacked with Pullman porters, chins up and hands out in superior service
I stand for you.
This isn’t just Black History to me. This is a perpetual ceremony where you are the guests of honor.
I get the privilege of cooling in your shadows, walking in your footsteps, glowing in your Sonlight, basking in your love for my future.
For every lash received with outstretched arms and naked backs I proudly stand for you.
Clap my hands, hoot and holla any day for you, because you did what so few could do. You kept clocking in when they spit on you. Breastfed their children when they wouldn’t feed you. Sang and danced like a beautiful Black angel when they wouldn’t even pay you. You lived when they tried to kill you.
I stand for you.
Grandma, washing clothes of White families over the mountain, feet filled with fatigue In fatigues, Grandpa called “boy” while lacing up his combat boots getting ready for war Fighting for rights that didn’t see the light of day… back home
Accepting substandard pay and being told to comb your hair Swallowing your pride and pushing down your voice Diluting who you are to match someone else’s choice Being a superhero for your children when you were just treated like a child Making me smile after a long hard day Washing my socks on your hands before Sunday morning Dressing me like a chocolate doll and telling me I’m beautiful Even though you couldn’t afford to buy your food
You will never be forgotten. I appreciate you. I stand for you. I salute you. Forever, and ever… Amen.
The Magic City Poetry Festival is going strong here. Check out their events and read about the founder of the festival who is also first Black and youngest poet laureate of Alabama. How cool is that? I salute you, Ashley M. Jones.
While I do “love me some you,” I wrote that phrase as an example of how you should talk to yourself. Here’s a short stop for your week.
When was the last time you spoke kind words to yourself?
If it’s been a while, try these truths.
I am a masterpiece.
I am a blessing.
My breath has meaning.
Tonight’s post is a quick reminder that being kind to yourself is vital to your health. Like a relaxing shower, speaking love over yourself is what you need after defending your worth in various arenas. It’s the medicine you can’t depend on anyone else to give you except God.
Maybe you’re wondering why I said “some.”
The colloquialism “I love me some you” is expressed when you can’t get enough of someone and you love to swim in their presence. The truth is most folks need a little time to love all of themselves. All of the ugly parts. The unfinished places. The scrapes and bruises. The dark corners. It takes the unmatched Love of God to love all of that and multiply that Love among others. Until that time comes, I encourage you to look in the mirror and say positive things. Start with one sentence if you have to – one word even. Say sweet words your soul can eat. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, but it needs to be real. A real step in forming a healthy habit.
Look at yourself and speak the Truth to you. That you were made by an incredible Love this universe can not contain but left undeniable proof in the form of your awesomeness.
Here’s to you smiling at you. Sooner than later.
Peace & Thanks for listening. I love you and stay well out there. Inside and out. 🙂
What’s a truth that you can or would like to speak to yourself?
How’s your side of the planet? How was/is your day? I snatched a nap under a pretty tree that made me smile, so that’s a win. We made it to another week, so that’s a win too. 🙂
This week’s wind down may sting a bit, OK? Cool.
Remember when you finally completed a math problem only to hear “Check your work” from the teacher? Math wasn’t my strong subject, so I checked my work repeatedly to the point of obsession. As for the “check your work” mantra, it’s applicable in more than academic arenas. I believe God is encouraging us to do that very thing during this pandemic season.
What do I mean? I’m glad you asked. 🙂
Sunday is a fellowship day for many Christians. We sing songs of praise, ask the love of Jesus to saturate our lives, and pray for expedited miracles. We exhort, cry, and pledge to be more like the One who saved us. We review teachings of Christ, catch up with fellow church members, and proceed into the week after a hearty Sunday dinner (which really happens at lunch time, but I digress). Unfortunately, the rest of that week brings a slew of words that do not exemplify the very thing we commemorated on Sunday. I’ve heard the following commentary while frolicking in the public on a Sunday afternoon or during a workday:
“That’s what’s wrong with America… they just let anybody in.” “The Mexicans are taking over.” “They need to go back to their own country.” “They come here illegally and get away with it.” “Well, I did it and so can they. We got to stop giving handouts.”
Sidebar: That’s one of my pet peeves when discussing social issues. Say who you mean instead of shooting “they’s” and “them’s” around folks like stray bullets.
Now, I could dissect those statements better than a frog in a high school biology class, but I won’t. My point is that we have ethereal (or ritual) experiences on Sunday and barrage a group of people with the same tongue that blessed God. We can’t possibly think that is OK.
Here’s how God sounds in my creative mind –
“So, you don’t like them, huh? You don’t want them to live next to you? They’re fine until they date your son or daughter? That’s right… you don’t see color and love everybody. Yeah, I heard that line last week. Prove it. Love them like you love yourself.”
You know I believe the Word of God applies to real life, so check out James 1:26.
“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”
James 1:26, The Holy Bible, New Living Translation
That’s straight from the brother and former mocker of Jesus. James, who saw his resurrected brother, says your claims of faith are worthless if you don’t control your tongue. Since the tongue expresses what it is in the heart, there lies the reason to “check your work.” To check the work of your hands and make sure it matches the beat of your heart… the heart that celebrates Christ on Sundays.
It’s Hispanic Heritage Month and I’ve been reflecting on the grit it takes to be Hispanic and Latinx in America. To be born here and assumed to be born elsewhere. To be bilingual or to speak broken English the best you can. To navigate homogeneous spaces where you may not be welcome. To be stereotyped as being less than a contributing member to society. To be mislabeled as a non-citizen when you have your credentials. To serve in this country’s military while waiting on citizenship approval. Remember that commentary up there? Does that sound like Sunday? Does that sound like the love of Jesus?
If you need a starting point, here are three quick items that may need a checked.
Everyone that “looks Mexican” is not Mexican. Beware of this assumption.
Everyone that “looks Mexican” is not beneath your social class.
If you can appropriate it, you can learn about it and honor it properly (food, music, holidays, etc.).
When we say we want Jesus to be in our lives, that means all of it… especially our habits. I know they’re comfortable, but they aren’t traits of Who we worship.
Check your words. Check your work. Check your heart.
I hope you’re doing well out there. I’ll pick up on the birthday shenanigans next week, but first, I have a confession to make. It’s a little lengthy, but it’s what we need to hear.
I’ve been in an unapologetic thuggish mode lately. In a good way, I believe. For example, I was in the grocery store with an arm full of items (the I won’t need a cart/basket phenomenon got me) and I paused to the side to let a tall man pass me. He was on his phone and didn’t look at his path. He headed straight toward me and almost knocked me down. I firmly said “Excuse you.” He kept going. Under usual circumstances, I would have shrugged it off, but I wasn’t game for being invisible and disrespected simultaneously that day, so I spoke up.
In another instance, I wanted to tell a fellow Christian to change Saviors because she obviously wasn’t interested in serving the one she chose. I wanted to abruptly end the conversation because I saw no point in continuing it. I was annoyed that she professed Christ’s Love over her life but was missing the beams of bias in her eyes. I listened and nodded and let the conversation naturally dissolve. This leads me to the “For Real” meaning of the blog post title… and the conviction behind my spiritually thuggish season.
We can’t say we love Jesus and desire be like Him but not allow Him to change us for the better. Remember that Vouchers post? We can’t sing songs like “Fill Me Up” and “Reckless Love” then cement the door on the parts of our hearts that need that prayer, e.g. bias, bigotry, addiction, abuse, etc. We can’t raise our hands to the heavens, but then mow over the hurt of our brothers and sisters? For some reason, we can let the Holy Spirit work on areas of disbelief, pornography addiction, drug recovery, and even murderous thoughts but if the flashlight of the Lord hit in the other dark corners we stand in front of it and say “That doesn’t apply.” Let’s take a brief look into our faith-filled fishbowl.
We are still telling brothers and sisters in Christ that racism and discrimination are not real and all they have to do is love Jesus to transcend it all.
I’ve watched Christians be more loyal to their political affiliations than to the Word of God.
I’ve observed Christians respect the American flag and the President more than their neighbor.
I’ve witnessed Christians speak vile things to each other, but separately speak kindness to their like-minded/similar-faced friends.
If we proclaim to be the children of God, we should look alike even we don’t agree. We shouldn’t have so much sibling rivalry where entire classes of people feel outnumbered. Right now, we don’t look alike and frankly, it makes the name of Jesus look bad to those seeking refuge from the chaos.
I have a prickly question for you Sweethearts — Are you allowing God’s Word to examine your heart in this season of quarantine? The hideaway coves. The cozy places. The rock-hard political stances. The back porch rhetoric. The no-holds-barred approaches to changes… are you letting the mirror of God’s Word create transfiguration in you? If not, why did you say Yes?
That’s where I am. It’s where I’ve been for a while.
I have a holy annoyance with members of my faith community because we’re arguing over simple topics and opposing the very thing God sent His Son to die for — equal access to Him. But we set His pillars on an isolated hill like the one in the featured photo, never to touch again. We go to church. We do the things. But we don’t let the transformative power of Jesus into our lives. We let the Cross stay there as a relic on the lawns of our hearts. We rant on social media, sip and talk smack at the water cooler at work, and all the while remain indignant about what God said about brotherhood, loving your neighbor as yourself, exercising the greatest commandment of Love, being a whole body made up of many parts, doing good unto others, bearing one another’s burdens, etc. It’s like something my mother said one day — there’s something wrong when a supervisor is eating steak and the employee has to eat bologna everyday and better be happy about it. In other words, we profess Christ’s Love for all, but we don’t exercise it as we should. We live in a culture where the norm is to maintain a gap of intangibility. Are there opportunities for all, sure! We see it every time another minority group breaks a ceiling to be the first to do something. Nevertheless, there is a pressured thumb on certain individuals while others reap the benefits of their labor. And it doesn’t take an expert to see it. Let’s take another dip in the fishbowl one more time.
What is the rationale of having a minimum wage that barely taps the poverty line for the basic standard of living?
Where is the recompense when journalists, humanitarian workers, and missionaries are captured and/or killed overseas?
How can we boast in providing the best opportunities in the world yet not provide adequate resources for the homeless/transient community?
Why were we accepting of athletes receiving a season off with pay to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but government officials strong armed educational workers to teach in person?
Some things simply do not make sense, Family, and we can’t lay a blanket of faith on it and call it well. We have to acknowledge, accept, and acquiesce to His Way. The problems have been here; we were finally still enough to see and feel it. This year brought the mirror and we can’t let it go to waste.
As I exit, I want you to reassess why you accepted Jesus as your Savior and if you are allowing Him to do what needs to be done in you. We can’t ask for His likeness if we aren’t ready for it. When we accepted Jesus into our hearts, that wasn’t a period. It was just the beginning. It was the starting point to transfiguration. If you think that the only thing the Holy Spirit was sent to work on was your patience and hope, think again. He works on it all and it’s our season to get out of the way and let Him do it. For the better.
Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and Love well too!
In both intake processes, we learned that certain behavior was not allowed while wearing paraphernalia. The reason? People were likely to refer to the organization when they saw us instead of remembering our names.
I always think of the sorority sentiment when I read this verse. We are representatives of Christ and we wear His name across our chests. His Love beats in our hearts. His stripes are balms of healing for our wounds. He is our Lord and Savior; we represent Him more than ourselves.
When we are around other members of faith, it is easy, but we sometimes forget to keep our badges clean in other circles. It could be us that causes others to turn from God, to stew in anger, or remain hurt for years… all because of how we represented Christ.
“…giving thanks through Him to our Father.” That’s the remaining part of that verse. “Through Him” sticks out to me. What a blessing to have a liaison like Jesus.
Represent, Family. Represent.
The sad part is there are members of society that think other members are inferior, incompetent, unintelligent, whining about nothing, etc. and they also profess to be Christians. Can you imagine wearing a name badge and every time you clean it, someone flings mud on it? You take a deep breath and shine it up again. You smile at its beauty and BOOM… another ball of mud. Fellow Greek Family, can you fathom the thought of someone doing that to your lettered jacket or jersey? That’s what bigotry does to the Faith.
“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
As I always say — You can not be a bigot and follow Christ. It is a blatant collision of ideals. So, I ask you today… how salty are you? How seasoned is your speech? It’s not easy — I know, especially when passion steps in the way. You’re not alone. Seems like the whole world is working on this one together.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there!
Prayer:“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.“
Water bottle ready.
Attendance sheet set.
Everything could be in place but right before my class began, I prayed this prayer. I knew I couldn’t teach those souls on my own. Regardless of my training, nothing could prepare me for what I could run into any given day as a high school and adult education teacher. It was a gift to be trusted with their vulnerable season of learning. Some of my adult students were transitioning from careers or life events that caused their worlds to tailspin. I knew that, with one word, I could either make their days better or worse. I definitely didn’t want to do the latter.
Words are so much more powerful than we give them credit for. In a classroom, in a boardroom, on a sports field… we have the opportunity to let God’s Love flow through our lips. I pray you’ll do the same this week. That prayer up there… it’s from Psalm 19:14, by the way. Say it everywhere you go. Through every threshold. In every family meeting. I guarantee He’ll help you with your words.
Peace and Thanks for listening, Sweethearts. I love y’all!
Prayer:“Lord, please cover my words. I didn’t mean to say it like that. Just cover all of that, please. I’m so sorry. Let them know I didn’t mean it.”
I’ve said plenty of things that I didn’t mean. It may have come out of my mouth with a little more heat than I expected or it wasn’t as clear as the thought in my mind. Either way, I was put in a position where I couldn’t take it back or I couldn’t reach the person to fix it. Like a muddy pig, my words slipped out and there was no redeeming the moment.
One time, I was at an event where my team donated water. I mentioned over the mic that our water was cold and my team later tapped me on the shoulder to let me know that it could have been taken in a negative way… as if to throw shade at other water donors. That thought was the furthest thing from my mind when I said it and I couldn’t run back on stage to fix it. All I do was pray that prayer above. It may be small, but I never want to hurt anyone in word or deed — knowingly or unknowingly.
Sweethearts, it’s inevitable that your words will not adequately reflect your intent one day if it hasn’t already. I pray that you’re wise enough to own it and ask God for forgiveness. I’ve run into people that recalled me from an event and they had no clue what I was apologizing for. God always knows the heart. Remember that. And you’re not perfect. Remember that too. Just do your best to have a clear highway in your heart for God’s Love to always land.
Peace & Keep Praying, Sweethearts. May God direct the words of us all and clarify our intentions toward each other.
Hello, Sweethearts! I know it’s Thursday, but this one took some simmering… and you may be wondering where I’m going with those two letters. I’m going exactly where you think I am.
In the world of social sciences, there’s a term called emotional dishonesty. Various definitions exist for it, but in essence, it is when someone does not own up to their feelings or needs, yet s/he holds the other person accountable for the offense. This can manifest itself as passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive behavior.
When I taught adult education communication courses, we would always engage in authentic and lively dialogue about relationships (platonic, professional, romantic, familial, and social). Every quarter, someone would attribute a lack of intimacy to dysfunctional communication. Every quarter, someone would tell me how lack of trust was the undercurrent in their relationship deterioration. After my first year of teaching, I learned to carve out two days in my lesson plan to discuss the conflict chapter because it always birthed the fruition of self-discovery among my students. The chapter also landed in the middle of the textbook, so by that point in the course, they usually displayed sharpened self-awareness and reframing skills. They were not only able to professionally assess and verbalize the conflict but also express ownership of its escalation which was often via emotional dishonesty. You can bet that made me one happy educator. 🙂
To listen to a man say “I see it now. I’m not helping the situation.” To hear a woman say “Yeah, I don’t really listen to my kids. I need to do that more.” That was what kept the blood flowing in my teaching career. That is what produced life within those four walls and fortified adults to engage in healthy relationships of all kinds.
Speaking of blood flow… let’s talk about that ED.
When a man experiences erectile dysfunction, it can be emotionally crippling. He may not be able to communicate how emasculated he feels and his behavior can be misunderstood and misdirected toward his partner. Multiple factors can cause ED and one of them is decreased blood flow.
How interesting it is that a lack of life in one area can be the cause of death in another? If blood is not allowed to flow and recycle through our bodies, we experience death. Then again, there are two types of death… two organs that are vital comrades in the cessation of life – the brain and the heart. I believe the effects of dysfunctional communication resemble the intimacy breakdown that can occur from ED. Emotional Dishonesty can lead to Emotional Dysfunction. One deters the physical production of life while the other deters the flow of spiritual exchange. In both instances, there’s a broken piece – trust.
And let’s be real… What good is a relationship without trust? How can a relationship survive without the trust that all valves are open… that the flow is free and clear? After all, there are 4 valves in your heart – two for incoming blood and two for outgoing blood, so obviously God knew that circulation and regeneration were vital in keeping you alive in both your head and in your heart. Why don’t we give it a try in the spiritual realm as well? Why not gift that freedom to each other and to ourselves? Be emotionally honest with yourself and with those you love. When you don’t, it hurts yourself because you’re blocking healthy intrapersonal communication, and it hurts the other person because it creates a disconnect from the intimacy you desire from her/him. As I mentioned to some friends this year –I’m in the business of having real conversations with real people that want real relationships.Sweetheart, can you say the same thing?
This doesn’t mean that you need to bleed your heart 24/7 to everyone you meet. As in physiology, that could leave you spiritually drained and unable to function effectively.
Ask God to balance this spiritual flow as you learn to communicate truthfully in HIs Love from one person to another. It can be done; I promise. I have witnessed and experienced it. You may have to be gentle or set some ground rules, but allow truthful communication to flow between your lips. Cherish those in your circle who provide opportunities for that to happen. No matter how messy or how awkward it may be, it is worth the trust structure. Letting communication flow between two hearts creates freedom amidst two people… and that’s the pinnacle of God’s Love toward us and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Freedom in mind, body, and spirit. The kind that can only come from the Prince of Peace and the Author of Love.
For more information about emotional dishonesty, check out this article. It’s one of my favorite classroom references.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week and I love you all!
#28 – I performed spoken word pieces at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
There’s something you should know. I don’t like to share all of my words. Yes, I’m a writer and public speaker, but sometimes I hoard my words like a squirrel stores acorns. I know why I do it too. It’s because I don’t want to be disregarded and misunderstood. That residual flaw still lives in my bones when it comes to sharing spoken word pieces. Well, this year, I decided to begin the extraction process by accepting the opportunity to perform at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for a social justice event. One piece commemorated the Children’s March of 1963 and the other addressed the water contamination in Flint, Michigan. My friend was supportive and the best part was having my mother there to witness my nervousness and my courage when she had the same emotions living through the Movement. I won’t lie to you, it was difficult to stand there and perform as museum attendants waited for something profound to fall from my lips… but I did it and I walked out of the BCRI 7-feet taller knowing that I was standing on the backs of those of which I spoke. Many people of different colors said how much they enjoyed my craft and who wouldn’t feel the Good after that?
You have a voice and it’s worth hearing. You don’t have to scream and shout if you don’t want to, and to the same degree, you don’t have to be quiet either. Just use your voice in the capacity that God gave you. That’s how the world gets better, feels different, and becomes an enriching place to live. Your voice may be through your pen, your tablet, your sewing, your outreach, your teaching, your janitorial work… speak up so everyone can have the opportunity to better than they were before they joined your company. In light of everything going on locally and nationally, it would behoove us to speak up in as many ways as possible and not judge the sound of each other’s voices. I learned that my voice is light, but it is strong. It is assertive and it is compassionate. However I choose to use it, I have nothing to be ashamed of and neither do you.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Don’t worry… I’ll share them online in February 2019. See you then.