Why I Love You by Major (Cover)

The Parable of the Talents is story in the Book of Luke in which a king leaves on a journey. He gave three servants talents (money); one servant received five, the second received two, and the third received one. The first two through effort doubled their talents. For their stewardship, they were rewarded handsomely. The third hid his in the ground. For his laziness, he was dealt with harshly.

God has blessed us with many talents. They are to be used to multiply the love he has given each believer. Are you aware of your gifts?

I know my talents. I am a writer. I write love stories. So, many readers have shared how Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story mirrors their own struggles with church, familial obligations, and unrequited love.

I am also a singer. I was on the Praise and Worship team and sang in choirs for years. The lesson of the talents is that our gifts are meant to be developed and shared. Sharing multiplies its value. I felt led to share this song. You never know who needs to hear that they are loved.

You. Are. Loved.

When the Lights Go Off

When I went a way to college, I wanted the “college experience.” I am a first generation college graduate. My only exposure to college life was via the “A Different World’ TV series. S college life goes, I made some friends and we went out from time to time.

One night we got all dressed up to go to a house party. I remember wearing this brown marbled velvet dress. Yes, the 90s fashions were poppin’ lol. We happened to get there early or everyone else was late. I am not sure which. With the lights on, the scene was unimpressive. About 20 or so college age kids sitting around a house waiting for something to happen.

On queue, someone turns off the lights, the music starts, and everyone gets up and starts dancing. The party had officially begun for everyone except me. I felt like Dorothy hoping for the wizards favor only to find a man behind the curtain orchestrating the special effects. Was the party not a party because I had seen the scene with the lights on? I don’t know. It was the instinctual behavior change of everyone around me that got the gears in my mind tuning. Why do we do what we do? What makes something cool versus not cool? What makes a party a party?

So, I never became the party girl. I never frequented the clubs. I was no longer curious about what was behind the velvet rope. I had witnessed the magicians slight of hand and was left unimpressed.

Have you ever experienced this phenomenon? When did the mystery end for you about a thing?

A Pillar Of Salt

Salt is good. It flavors. It preserves. It prevents spoilage. It was once used as currency, it’s value was deemed so great.

Did you know the body is designed to desire salt in smaller amounts but as sodium levels increase the flavor changes from salty to bitter to prevent you from consuming too much? SOURCE

Maybe that’s what really happened to Lots wife.

As the biblical story goes, Lot, his wife (not named in the Bible), and family, are allowed to escape Sodom and Gomorrah before it is destroyed by God with fire and brimstone. Two angels warned them not to look back. They are well into their escape when Lot’s wife looks back. For her disobedience, she is turned into a pillar of salt.

Why salt?

Looking back to a past God has rescued you from is dangerous. Like salt, looking back in small reflective doses is good; to see how far you’ve come, to learn the lesson, etc. Nostalgia is a tricky feeling tho. It is a rose-hued cloud that filters out the negative of past experiences. That relationship that nearly destroyed you emotionally, financially, and/or physically, becomes a reel of only the good times. While in Sodom, Lot’s home was surrounding by townspeople threatening to assault him and his guests. His entire family was in danger of being destroyed. Pretty bad stuff, huh? Yet, she looked back.

Bitter Betty

No matter what you thing you may have lost, if God told you to move forward, do that. Your best days are ahead of you.

Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things;  do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

If you believe your best job, relationship, or any experience is behind you risk becoming bitter. Like too much salt.

What say you?

God is Greater than . . .

These are trying times. Social unrest in the middle of a pandemic sounds like the plot of a dystopian novel. Yet, here we are.

Ironically, three months ago, prior to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, I had a vision board party entitled, Vision Forward. God’s plan for your life is not changed by earthly circumstances. He can and will bless you in the midst of the storm.

I was asked to bring the message for Valley Baptist Church Women’s Mission 5th Sunday Program. This is the first time I have been asked to bring a message during my whole stay in Texas. I am beyond honored that I was asked. This was supposed to be an in-person even but due to COVID-19 the event took place via conference call. The plan had to be altered but NOT aborted.

Who am I speaking to today? Do NOT abandon your plan. If it is God-given, push ahead. These are trying times but GOD is greater. He exist outside of time. God is eternal.

What are you working on now that you have had to reevaluate due to COVID-19, social unrest, or some other unplanned circumstance?

Below is a recording to today’s message.

Short Story – Part 5

Freeway driving at night with the sunroof open and the windows down is a religious experience. The crisp night air are baptismal waters washing away the stain of the past while propelling 65 miles per hour toward a future destination. The rhythmic drum of the tires against the asphalt became Savitri Pranayama as Brenda relaxed into its flow. The sight of Martin Johnson’s name had begun to weave itself into her brain and her stress level rose with every thread.   A growing ball of entwined what-ifs had occupied her mind for the past few days.  With the rhythm of the night, she began to untangle her thoughts. Why was she driving across town to meet with a man that had broken her heart 10 years prior? Was she hoping for closure?

She was doing it again. What her therapist called ‘rosy nostalgia’. Rosy nostalgia happens when one remembers the past as a series of great moments without the truth of the thorny times to being gravity to the memory.

She found a parking spot in the lot across from Books, Brews, and Coffee and sat with herself. She grabbed a pen and notebook she used to make her grocery lists from her glove compartment and began to write. Brenda stared at the list she had written. On the left side were the good things Martin had done for her. On the right, the bad. She assigned a value of 1-3 to each item, 1 for least emotional impact to 3, highest emotional impact. Brenda drew in a deep breath and exhaled a loud sigh.

She pulled down her sun visor and clicked the button for the mirror light. She was no longer a 20-something love puppy. She stared at a woman who had accomplished goals and faced fears. She had purchased her own home and gone to therapy to heal childhood wounds. There were tiny wrinkles on the sides of each eye that burst into existence every time she laughed or cried. This strong, beautiful woman did not need the past. She was creating her own future.

Thirty-three. She tore the page from her notebook and folded it into a neat square and started the engine. Heading home on that same highway, she rolled down her window and let the paper fly.

I’ll Name This Short Story Later – Parts 1-4

Part 1 – A Cup of Nostalgia

Brenda was dutiful in all she performed. Church, work, friend, she could always be counted on to show up smiling and performing. She was exhausted. She carried her groceries, bags, disappointments, alone. She knew her routine and awaited the applause. On queue, she pulled up to Starbucks, ordered her caramel macchiato, and sat at the table in the corner by the posted flyers.

“Martin Johnson,” she read the name aloud as if announcing him before an anticipatory crowd. She hadn’t seen him in over 10 years. Hmm, I guess New York was a bust. Here she sat on a regular Tuesday morning and Martin Johnson should appear, unveiled on a poster board flyer. It read, ‘Book signing March 4th, 2020.’

Part 2 – The Friends

“Brenda, Brenda, Brenda. It’s been 10 years already. Let it go. Let it go,” Carmen began to imitate Elsa from the Frozen movie.

“I don’t see anything wrong in going to the book signing. I would simply be celebrating a friend’s success.”

“Friends? Friends communicate. You guys had a bad fight, broke up, and haven’t spoken or seen each other in 10 years. Besides, what would you even say.”

“Hi?”

“Girl, forget that. And forget him. Let’s go to Portia’s birthday dinner tomorrow. I know it’s a workday but that will get you into celebrating the now and not reminiscing about the past.”

“Wow, when did you become so deep?”

“I’ve been watching Iyanla. Plus, I need a ride.”

“I really wanted to attend.”

“And, I really need a ride. My car is in the shop. I took an Uber to work.”

“Fine,” Brenda relented.

“Okay, see ya tomorrow.”

“Bye.”

Part 3 – Portia’s Perfectly Petty Party

Portia has a lot of teeth, Brenda thought. And she smiles as if she needs to show them all, even the molars. She looks great though, Brenda added to her silent discourse to prove to herself that she wasn’t a hater.

“Heeyy, Bren Bren. Heeyy Carmen. Glad y’all could make it.”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Carmen added.

“Happiest of birthdays, Portia,” Brenda chimed.

“Y’all come sit next to me.”

They sat at the head of the extended table that was draped in a shiny black and gold covering. Portia introduced each person seated but Brenda never remembered names on first intro. So, she smiled and said hello to the strangers she would soon forget.  She sat enduring more small talk, food, and beverages.

Her Fitbit showed 7:23 pm. She could eat and mingle and be out by 8:00 pm and maybe make the book signing by before the 8:30 end time. Shoot, she forgot she had to drop off Carmen. It was an evening event at Brew’s Coffee and Books. Sometimes the poetry slams held there lasted past 9:00 pm. Maybe she had time.

“You got somewhere to be? Somewhere more important than my birthday party.”

“No, Portia. You are truly the most important person in the world to me at this moment.”

“Ooh, the sarcasm, the shade, on such a happy occasion.”

“Don’t mind her. She’s trying to go see Martin Johnson,” Carmen drawled.

Portia laughed with her teeth.

“Ol’ Marty Mar. How is he doing? You used to love you some Martin Johnson.”

“I don’t know. Haven’t seen or spoken to him in years. He moved to New York when he got that screenwriting internship.”

“Translation, when y’all broke up,” Carmen interjected.

“There was more to our relationship than a break-up story.”

“Well, no one wants to hear it.”

“I do. And it’s my birthday.”

“I do remember it all. The highs and the lows. But, in the midst of that tumultuous relationship existed a little sphere of perfection. Sometimes, I find myself staring into that ball and imagining a future, a perfect one that exists only of the highs.”

“It’s an illusion. Get over it,” Carmen interjected.

“Maybe you should get a ride home with Portia,” Brenda snapped back.

“Fine. I will.”

“Happy Birthday,” everyone shouted as the hostess brought out the cake.

There goes those teeth again.

Part 4 – Déjà vu.

It was the summer of 2010, a drought. Forty days and no rain. Brenda was sweating bullets underneath her dress standing next to the stage at Brews, Coffee, and Books. She had finally worked up the courage to read a piece. She had chosen Midnight Moon.

“Next to the stage, we have a newbie, Brenda Jones. Let’s show her some love.”

Finger snaps filled the room. Brenda stood in front of the microphone, hands at her sides, eyes on the floor.

“This piece is called, Midnight Moon.

Juxtaposed against the inky midnight

He greeted me with a crescent smile

I awaited his fullness

I awaited his return

I waited. Because.

I wanted something beautiful

I wanted something whole

Like the full moon.

I mapped its phases

Watched it grow

Until the fullness of

All that is light

Greeted me, hello.

 

She looked into the crowd and saw his smile. He stood and raised his hand as a conductor raises his baton and began to snap. A chorus of snaps followed.

She sat down and exhaled. She had finally done it. A shadow fell across her table. She looked up to see him, dark light midnight.

‘Hello.”

Short Story Part #4

Déjà vu.

It was the summer of 2010, a drought. Forty days and no rain. Brenda was sweating bullets underneath her dress standing next to the stage at Brews, Coffee, and Books. She had finally worked up the courage to read a piece. She had chosen Midnight Moon.

“Next to the stage, we have a newbie, Brenda Jones. Let’s show her some love.”

Finger snaps filled the room.

Brenda stood in front of the microphone, hands at her sides, eyes on the floor.

“This piece is called, Midnight Moon.

 

Juxtaposed against the inky midnight

He greeted me with a crescent smile

I waited for his fullness

I waited for his return

I waited.

Because.

I wanted something beautiful

I wanted something whole

Like the full moon.

I mapped its phases

Watched it grow

Until the fullness of

All that is light

Greeted me, hello.”

She looked into the crowd and saw his smile. He stood and raised his hand as a conductor raises his baton and began to snap. A chorus of snaps followed.

She sat down and exhaled. She had finally done it. A shadow fell across her table. She looked up to see him, dark like midnight.

‘Hello.”

Awaken My Love

I used to awaken in the middle of the night, turn on the TV praying that the sound would not wake my mother and watch old black and white films. It would not matter the title. I discovered a fondness for musicals, Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire. I became enamored by the love story. I imagined such a life of beauty, love, and music. I became engrossed in the story until I would fall asleep or the national anthem would start playing.

Funny thing, I never saw anyone like myself in those stories. There were African American movies and characters but they were in the throws of struggle, poverty, or slaves. Where were the brown girl love stories? It was a question I put on the shelf in my young mind and went about life being a kid. As a preteen, I discovered Zora Neale Hurston stories. Their Eyes Were Watching God centered around black love before it was a hashtag. I craved more.

If I were this hungry to see women like myself fall in love, surely there were others. Mahatma Gandhi and, later, Barack Obama said that you need to be the change you want to see. So, I became a writer. I wrote Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story to illustrate a young black woman’s journey to love. Ironically, I have had non-black women and men write me or tell me how much they relate to the story. Love is truly our universal language.

As I write the sequel, I have to remind myself to remember the love. The desire for it, the euphoria in it, the hope of it and transmute that on the page.

Take the journey with me.

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Short Story Part #3

Portia has a lot of teeth, Brenda thought. And she smiled as if she needed to show them all, even the molars. She looks great though, Brenda added to her silent discourse to prove to herself that she wasn’t a hater.

“Heeyy, Bren Bren. Heeyy Carmen. Glad y’all could make it.”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Carmen added.

“Happiest of birthdays, Portia,” Brenda chimed.

“Y’all come sit next to me.”

They sat at the head of the extended table that was draped in a shiny black and gold covering. Portia introduced each person seated but Brenda never remembered names on first intro. So, she smiled and said hello to the strangers she would soon forget. She sat enduring more small talk, food, and beverages.

Her Fitbit showed 7:23 pm. She could eat and mingle and be out by 8:00 pm and maybe make the book signing by before the 8:30 end time. Shoot, she forgot she had to drop off Carmen. It was an evening event at Brew’s Coffee and Books. Sometimes the poetry slams held there lasted past 9:00 pm. Maybe she had time.

“You got somewhere to be? Somewhere more important than my birthday party.”

“No, Portia. You are truly the most important person in the world to me at this moment.”

“Ooh, the sarcasm, the shade, on such a happy occasion.”

“Don’t mind her. She’s trying to go see Martin Johnson,” Carmen drawled.

Portia laughed with her teeth.

“Ol’ Marty Mar. How is he doing? You used to love you some Martin Johnson.”

“I don’t know. Haven’t seen or spoken to him in years. He moved to New York when he got that screenwriting internship.”

“Translation, when y’all broke up,” Carmen interjected.

“There was more to our relationship than a break-up story.”

“Well, no one wants to hear it.”

“I do. And it’s my birthday.”

“I do remember it all. The highs and the lows. But, in the midst of that tumultuous relationship existed a little sphere of perfection. Sometimes, I find myself staring into that ball and imagining a future, a perfect one that exists only of the highs.”

“It’s an illusion. Get over it,” Carmen interjected.

“Maybe you should get a ride home with Portia,” Brenda snapped back.

“Fine. I will.”

“Happy Birthday,” everyone shouted as the hostess brought out the cake.

There goes those teeth again.

What About Your Friends

I heard Desmond Tutu state that we need other people to be fully human.

“None of us comes into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human. I am because other people are. A person is entitled to a stable community life, and the first of these communities is the family.” Source

I extend that to friends. We need them. We need community. I’m sorry but Vicki Winans was wrong when she sand, “As long as I got King Jesus, I don’t need nobody else.”

On the surface, that may seem correct. A relationship with Jesus is the most important one you will ever have. However, is it the only one you need? Let’s delve a little further into the lyrics.

“I’ve been lied on, cheated, talked about, mistreated
I’ve been used, scorned, talked about sore as bone
I’ve been up, down, almost to the ground.”

Now this sounds like emotional trauma. That is a danger of becoming close to someone. They have the proximity to hurt you. The opposite is also true. Letting someone know the real you can be a mutual enjoyable relationship. Great conversation, a safe place to vent, someone to cheer you on when you doubt yourself. Friendship has its benefits.

The bible has many verses on the value of friendship.

A friend loves at all times,
and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Eccl. 4:9-10

I never really noticed this part of the verse until writing this post. ” . . . because they have a good return for their labor.” We work so hard to accomplish things solo when we could achieve exponentially more working together. 

There are people who prefer solitude. There is scientific evidence that loners become overstimulated in social situations or in crowds. I postulate something different. Individuals thrive in authentic community. Past experiences with betrayal or disappointment can sour someone on the idea of friendship.  Solitude in this instance is a trauma response. I believe this is why social media is so popular. It allows people to connect while simultaneously maintaining distance.

” . . . there seems to be a cap on the number of friends a person’s brain can handle, and it takes actual social interaction (not virtual) to keep up these friendships. So feeling like you’re being social by being on Facebook doesn’t work. Since loneliness is linked to myriad health and mental health problems (including early death), getting real social support is important. Virtual friend time doesn’t have the therapeutic effect as time with real friends.” Source

Herein lies the rub. Friendship takes effort. You have to care about another’s well-being. You have to call them. Make plans for lunch or to workout together. Each friend serves a different role in your life and that is okay. Not every friend is someone you can call at 3:00 am when you are in a crisis, but maybe you have one that is. Not every friend is a spiritually-rooted, prayer warrior, but if you have one that is, you are blessed.

Make the effort. Say hello. Share a bit of yourself. Make a friend.