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!