Healed: 35; 6; 3; 4; 1

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5 KJV

35 Years Living…Healed.

6 Surgeries Recovered…Healed.

3 Fractures Mended…Healed.

4 Years of Restoration…Healed.

1 Story of Me…Healed.

On the eve of my 35th birthday, I am cautiously elated. I take a deep sigh and breathe. At last! The climb from the bottom has been long, arduous, painful, and at times shameful. Suddenly, shame becomes self-pride. My test has become my testimony: I am HEALED! My mindset has shifted from victim to victor!

My swag is different. My boast and my confidence is in something greater. I move more gracefully. I proceed intentionally, forcefully and passionately. I am Healed!

Healed from sickness.

Healed from despair.

Healed from depression.

Healed from anxiety.

Healed from self-hatred.

Healed from self-loathing.

Yes, I boast in this HEALED thing.

Physically, Emotionally, Psychologically, Biologically, Genetically, Spiritual, Cognitively, Mentally, Absolutely, Positively…Healed.

That bragadocious, bold and audacious reclamation of my divine birthright: by his stripes type healed.

I tell my story boldly and courageously! Hoping that someone will know that God heals and restores. I wear many scars proudly. When I dress, I see many surgical wounds that are a testimony to God’s healing power.

This is not how the story ends. It’s actually, how it began–Healed.

Born June 6 @ 7:17 a.m. in a past perfect state of being. God has healed me. Baby, I was born that way! So glad that I have learned that along the way!

So when they ask how you’re doing. There is only one thing that you can say: HEALED!

Baby, I really was born that way!

We are God’s Masterpiece

The scripture tells us that we are “God’s Masterpiece”

I’m not sure what that means to you, but there is something very comforting in that scripture for me. The same God who crafted the beautiful flowers of the field and the snow-capped mountains, masterfully created YOU! Wow! You are a divinely created MASTERPIECE.

During my weakest hours, I would listen to Jazmine Sullivan’s song called “Masterpiece” I felt so badly about myself, if I can speak frankly. My health was not the best, my relationship was failing, I wasn’t able to thrive academically or professionally. But, I listened to this song on repeat one day realizing that it affirmed the scripture. Eventually, I truly believed that there was beauty in my eyes and that I was God’s “work art, a masterpiece”

Walk into today know that you are God’s own masterpiece. Affirm that! Remind yourself, “I am God’s Masterpiece.”

You are fearfully and wonderfully made!

Good Morning!
Are you getting ready for church? Getting ready for the work week?

Has anyone reminded you that you are God’s wonderful creation today? If not, I am! You are fearfully and wonderfully made my sister. God made you well my brother.

Enter this week meditating on: I am made well. I am God’s handiwork. How might your own actions, thoughts, and beliefs be different? How might you respond to the stimuli and stressors of life around you?

Have an empowered week! Remember you are made fearfully and wonderfully in God’s own image.

You Matter… (Suicide Awareness)

It was a Sunday morning in May 2002. I was on the 5th floor of Sulzberger, room 520 to be exact, contemplating whether a jump from the 5th floor would end my heartache and misery. While I was without reason, crying, hopeless and upset, the mathematical and scientifc reason in my mind told me that the fifth floor wasn’t high enough to die. I let the thought to jump pass because I didn’t want to end up with broken bones in physical AND emotional pain. I eventually called a friend.

After a tumultuous childhood, therapy was familiar, helpful and I readily attended, especially, while in college. My first exposure to suicide came in my pre-teens when I’d come to the aid of very close friend, who had attempted suicide. I was just 11 years old. It was traumatic! Growing older, I always had that picture as a frame of reference, whenever I felt despondent. I never wanted things to get that far…but that hopelesd day in May was different.

During my time as a hall director during grad school, suicide attempts happened much too often. The immediate response and aftermath is indescribable. Lessons I have learned along the way:

If only we could hear in the moment… “You matter”

If the words “It gets better” meant anything, I’d quantify them as priceless…

Perhaps, the ministry of presence is enough. There are times that the pain and depravity of this world seem to be comfortless, yet, presence, smiles, a hello bear witness to one’s humanity and suffering.

I’ve been there, too. I felt that the suffering of this present time wasn’t worth anything.

I’m glad that I didn’t jump.

I’m glad that I didn’t take that bottle of oxy

I’m glad that I didn’t…

I’m glad that I realized that I’m worth living

I’m glad that I realized that I matter!

I’m glad that I fought to live!

I’m glad that I got help!

Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.

If you or someone that you know has been having feelings of self-harm, or uncontrolled sadness, worthlessness, infatuation with death please reach out and speak up. There are resources and help available.

Suicide is a serious but preventable public health problem. If you or a loved one need help, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Sex is…

(Redemptive?!)

I am dismayed that I am writing this post from the seat of a wounded heroine. The “sex is…” is a sex-postive campaign developed by a health department in Washington, D.C. I bravely wore this shirt as clergy and sexual health educator today in Detroit knowing that I may face opposition but I also faced positive interaction. The negative dismays me, a tad bit.

My social location: (if I even need to provide that…) I am an ordained itinerant elder in the AME church. I became interested in sexual politics around 2004-2005 when the political climate was hot both church and state. Finally, the cover was pulled from sexual misconduct within the church and for several years even the AME church had to deal with allegations and legal battles.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and young seminarian, I began to delve more into sexual ethics, sexual politics and the looming public health crisis, especially for African American people. As I studied Kelly Brown Douglas’ and Margaret Farley’s work on sexual ethics and sexuality in the black church, I knew that there was a crisis at hand. How could the church only be responsive to negativity? Why aren’t we proactive about teaching healthy sexuality? Why aren’t we supportive to those who have survived sexual abuse or gender-based violence? Why don’t we promote whole, healthy, responsibile human sexuality in a spiritual Christian framework?

In short, as a woman who lived through sexual abuse as a teenager and sexual violence in adult relationships, it is a brave, courageous, feat to be able to assert anything positive about sex. It has taken years and work to reclaim ny physical, emotional, mental, sexual and sacred space.

So my claim that sex is healthy is situated in much more than promoting “loose values.”

Professionally, I talk to students who have been and are currently being victimized by creeps (who are often in church, sitting in pulpits–too be frank)–my job is to teach them about being boundaries and consent, and what a healthy relationship actually looks like. (I never really saw a healthy relationship until my late 20s, and finally did thanks to my pastor and his family).

All that too say… look past the term ‘sex’ because believe me you…its happening and many doing it! Then again look at it…God created human beings, sex is a part of life. We should actively teach a healthy, good and Godly sex.

The black church in particular tends to focus on sex in unhealthy ways–cheating, promiscuity, disease, rape, molestation.

What if we celebrated our bodies?

What if we were taught to understand the tingling and urges?

What if we provided safe haven for the wounded and the different?

What if we promoted HIV testing in our churches, rather than secretly burying those who die from the disease?

What if we taught negotiation skills and how to say no instead of “No, You’re going to hell!”?

What does healthy, holy, mutual, respectful, trustworthy, fun, safe sex look like?

To Sabbath, or not?!

“Remember the Sabbath Day, To Keep it Holy!” -Exodus 20:8

Whatever could this verse mean? In my days of youth, I remember citing the Decalogue Sunday after Sunday, not really understanding its meaning, or even necessity. Just what is the Sabbath, and why is it apart of the Ten Commandments?

God mandated rest–Sabbath.

The Bible calls for rest and rejuvenation of humanity and all of Creation!

During the 7th year, there is to be no planting of crops or yield, just rest.

On the 7th day, humankind are called to perform no labor, instead rest.

I am a self-professed busy body. I’m writing this while I ought to be resting. I usually spends weeks on end toiling day in, day out, without sufficient rest. Evenings, weekends, works days, I crowd my life going and coming with marginal time to rest or rejuvenate.

Oy mate!

To rest is to be rejenated!

To rest is to be revived?

To rest is to recover!

To rest is to be restored.

To rest is to be renewed!

To rest is to be refreshed!

Resting is a period of renewing and refreshing, an opporunity to commune and connect with the Source of all power and goodness in the Universe. Without Sabbath, we operate without fuel or power. We operate at diminished capability and capacity. Humankind alone cannot survive the toil, snare and darkness of this world, yet connection to the Great I Am equips and empowers us to know that “i am more than a conqueror through Him who loves us.” It enables us to profess, believe and act upon knowing that “I am Healthy! I am Well! I am strong!”

Sabbath! Remember the Sabbath, keep it Holy!…”

Into the deep…

Have you ever felt like God was leading you into deep waters?

Like the more you prayed for change and direction, God was leading you to take a leap of faith into the deep end of the pool?

You prayed for increase, and God led you to your God-appointed, vision-filled, talent-laden daydream?

You prayed for change, and God showed you a mirror and said, ‘Be the change’?

You prayed and even sang ‘Order My Steps’ and said ‘Where you lead me, I will follow…’ to only end up on the water’s edge, well that is the edge of the ocean!?

I am reminded of the Old Testament account of the Israelites being commanded after approaching the edge of the Jordan to go stand in the middle of the river. Joshua 3 reminds me of God’s promise to bring us through the waters unharmed, mightily and victoriously.

As I pray and discern and pray some mo’, I believe that the answer to our prayers are not always the easy or simple answers we want. The door of opportunity might be a vast undertaking that requires faith and work! It may require swimming in the deep end, going into uncharted territory and creating new paths. However, the amazing part of this call into the deep is that God promises to be with us every step of the way!

What does this mean for me? I will keep praying, but I know without a doubt its time to leave the edge knowing the waters will not overtake me!

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child…

Today is Mother’s Day! 😔

I promised myself that today I would live and function as normal being. Part of me wants to turn over get under my covers and cry–because of the sadness that the day brings to me. The other side of me wants to see the blessing of the surrogates God has given me and celebrate them, despite the sadness that I feel.

My mother is alive. She lives about 5 miles Southwest of my home. I have seen her once in 2018 and she ignored me. I reached to embrace her and said, “Hello, Mom!” She turned away. I ran after seeking her embrace like any 3 year, or even 33 year old year old woman would do. I wept sorely. Of course, this happened in my church–my home church–like many other painful memories. I’d hope people would understand that there are times when Rev. Butler simply needs to be Resse and sit to the side and just be.

This song, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” a negro spiritual speaks of the many children who were systematically torn away from parent as a means of terror and control. As a motherless child, who knows her mother and has had an off and on complex relationship with her, I often feel lost and alone. She is within arms reach, but always evades my love. She is a phone call away, but the unpredictable, less than savory response is anxiety producing and often hurtful.

For years, I internalized this and it manifested in how my body felt and how I felt about myself. I think I had lots of self-hate, low self-esteem and insecurity because I was not accepted by my mother. The more I looked like her, I had this loathing of myself. It was often very hard to look in the mirror. Rejecting the idea of her as a means of protecting my heart, meant rejecting myself. There is no easy answer. So I do not know what this post says in short…

It’s about grieving a living mother

It’s about feeling like a motherless child for 20 years

It’s about ever-present hope for today and tomorrow, yet the reality of my experience.

It is, in fact, about my being grateful for the MANY women who loved me despite my resistance…

I am okay! Actually, I am healthy, well and STRONG through it all! I, however, needed to acknowledge and release my feelings in order to overcome them, thus, this posting.

Be Gentle with ourselves, O motherless children. Find ways to embrace ourselves. Find ways to heal. Find ways to welcome “motherly love” in the myriad of ways that God smiles upon God’s children!

In closing, Rev. Belin would always remind me of a scripture Matthew 12:46-50. I pray that any motherless daughters find strength and comfort in it!

The True Kindred of Jesus

46 While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”48 But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Waiting on the Promise…

No body likes to wait!

Waiting in traffic…

Waiting in the grocery line…

Waiting on a late kid…

Waiting on a paycheck…

Waiting for your turn at Next!

I imagined that the disciples were growing weary in their waiting. The Bible states that after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus appeared to them and proved himself over and over. Yet, they were ordered to stay and wait for the promise. Yikes!

Reading this text in the context of a microwave, instantaneous society can be difficult. We want it and we want it now. Aside from selfishness, I also read this text from a lens of the suffering. The Jesus followers had been suffering for quite a while. They had been subject to persecution and injustice empire after empire, year after year. Waiting seemed almost cruel, especially since they knew of Jesus’ great power.

So why wait?

Waiting produces perseverance.

Waiting increases faith.

Waiting requires patience.

Waiting requires humility.

Waiting yields submission.

Waiting yields favor.

Waiting produces endurance.

Waiting strengthens character.

Isaiah 40:31 But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Lamentations 3:25 The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.

Micah 7:7 But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.

Strength Prayer:

Gracious God,

Help me to wait.

Help me to wait on your promise of comfort, peace, protection, power and love.

Help me to rest and stand upon your word.

Help me to trust and obey your heed to stay.

Dear Lord, when I can’t see the way and the promise feels far away, grasp tightly my hand. Reassure my feeble mind of your provision. Remind me of your never-ending love and protection. Guide me every step, every moment, everyday as I travel along the pilgrim way–trusting and waiting; believing and waiting, hoping and waiting, praying and waiting. Now and always, Amen.

No pain, No gain? (They Got it wrong!)

No one likes pain! At least I do not, not on this side of the journey, anyway. However, I do understand that such is apart of the process. I am reminded of the old saying, “No pain, No Gain?!” I reject that–most seriously and half-heartedly. Perhaps, this is just an ontological debate I need to have with the Creator, about the necessity of pain! (LOL)

I lived through over five years of severe chronic physical pain. Antidepressants, analgesics, opiates provided very little relief. I remember being heavily medicated on a host of medications nodding, drowsy but still hurting. In hindsight, I now recognize that I had a lot of untreated emotional pain. The imbalance of my emotions yield physical pain within my body. Anger and anxiety yielded intense abdominal pain. Stress will kill! My asthma remained erratic due to living on an emotional roller-coaster. Psychosomatic stress is real! As I began to detox and cleanse my body physically from the cocktails of medication, I had greater work to do in treating and healing the psychological wounds.

As I drove home today wounded and weeping, I was reminded of my little discussion that I have with my God. I’m not here for these tears, I’m not here for this soul hurt today. Then, I, too, realize that was a great thing. I found healing, surrender and peace in those tears–a weird, unexplainable grace. As one tear shed after the other, I felt less overwhelmed, less pain. Release.

Pain, grace, tears….

release of fear,

release of guilt,

release of shame!

I guess I will think of my pain, like these planks, I will overcome it! Sweat=Tears and guess what…

I am STRONGER! The God who dwells within me is ALL POWERFUL! So, MY PAIN is indeed MY GAIN! 🙌