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The Tale Of Two Women

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I was having a conversation with a friend whom I’ll call Linda. Linda was sharing with me how she had to go back into her past and make amends with her younger self. Linda wanted to apologize to her younger self for allowing her to die every time life showed up. Linda shared that her younger self was vibrant and full of energy. She was outgoing, fun and the life of the party. She had big dreams and was raised to go after those dreams. But with every heartbreak, every setback, everything life could attack Linda with, a piece of her would die; until eventually Linda did not recognize who she had become.

Linda encouraged me to take a journey into my past and make amends with my younger self. Linda said the person she sees in my photo albums is not the person that she sees today.

I pondered that for a moment and then began to look through my many photo albums. I looked at the 20 something year old staring back at me and asked myself the question, “Where is she? What happened to her?” Linda asked me at what point did my younger self leave and my answer was hurtful but truthful. My younger self left when my long term relationship ended. That revelation brought tears to my eyes. But it didn’t stop there; life would eventually cause her to pack her bags and retreat.

I’ve given careful consideration to that conversation. I’ve played it back in my head over and over and over again. I’ve stared at the photos and remembered those moments in time. I’ve considered that 20 something woman and the woman I am today and drew a firm conclusion: I don’t need to find her. She’s not lost. She just grew up.

Twenty something Shannon was something alright. She was fly! She was cute! She was free! She was wild! She was outgoing and loved to party and have fun! Twenty something Shannon also did not have a shortage of admirers. There were many who yearned for the opportunity to cross her threshold. Oh yes, she was hot, and she knew it.

But twenty something Shannon can’t hold a candle to 50 year old Shannon. Sure, she may not be considered fly by today’s standards, and she’s more of a homebody than a party girl, but fifty year old Shannon is a woman of substance. Fifty year old Shannon has been saved, sanctified and redeemed. She loves God and has a personal relationship with him. She’s no longer trying to discover herself. She knows who she is and who she’s not, and she’s comfortable with both. She has a faith that is unshakable. She’s strong and resilient. Though she makes mistakes at times, she handles her business. When life tries to break Shannon, she stands flat footed, stares life in the eye and says, “no weapon formed against me shall prosper.” Since twenty something Shannon packed her bags and retreated, fifty year old Shannon experienced job loss, she buried her parents, she was homeless, she was evicted, and she’s had her heart broken…again. But she handled it all with grace. Fifty year old Shannon knows how to love. She knows how to forgive. Shes a prayer warrior. She’s open to new experiences. Fifty year old Shannon is passionate and compassionate. She’s settled and she’s fine with who she is.

The tale of two women is about one woman who has grown through the storms of life. Twenty something Shannon, girl you were the bomb! But you are a moment in time. A fond memory; strong in your own right. But, fifty year old Shannon, girl……you are God’s masterpiece, his calling card. You are fine as aged wine and graceful to boot. Keep shining girl! Because God is not through with you yet!

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A Scripture For Every Season

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The inspiration for most of my blog topics come from life experience.  However, every once in a while I’ll hear something on television or in a conversation that sparks a blog topic in my mind.  But the subject matter for this blog was inspired by my pastor’s sermon.  It was not the sermon title but rather something that my pastor said that caused me to put pen to paper.  Pastor Wesley said, “Certain seasons make certain scriptures rise up and anchor us.”  As I let that quote permeate my mind, I began to think of seasons in my life where the infallible word of God anchored me in the storm and gave me the strength to continue on.

For example, when I gave my life to Christ, God immediately began to deal with me in the area of  forgiveness.  More specifically, God wanted me to forgive my father.  And so God led me to Matthew 6:14-15 which says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.  But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sin.”   The Message bible puts it another way, “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”  Whoa! God was telling me that in order for him to forgive me I had to forgive me father.  And so, Matthew 6:14-15 became the catalyst to letting go of the baggage of unforgiveness that  I had carried for more than 20 years.

When my friend John went into the hospital to have what was thought to be routine surgery but never woke up, I struggled with how God could allow that to happen. John was a young husband and father to three beautiful girls. He was extremely excited about the pending birth of his first son who would be his name sake. But instead of John being present for the birth of his son, John’s widow was now planning his funeral. That was a hard death to accept. I remember sitting on my bedroom floor crying and asking God, “why John?” But it was what I said next that led me to 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about is promise to return, as some people think.  No, he is being patient for your sake.  He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.”  As I sat on my bedroom floor that day grieving over the loss of my friend, I told God that I could name at least five people that he could take instead of John.  But what God showed me was that John had accepted Christ and was now present with Him; my list of five had not yet accepted God’s gift of salvation and because God loves them to, he was giving them more time to repent and accept his gift of salvation.

Then of course there was the death of my mother.  Psalm 23:4, “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me,” was the glue that held me together as I learned to live in a world where my mother no longer existed.

When I found myself jobless and borderline homeless, not knowing at times what I would eat, there were several scriptures that I held on to.  I would pray these scriptures every day, especially on those days when the enemy tried to make me believe that God had forsaken me:

Deuteronomy 31:8, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose.”

Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.”

Philippians 4:19, “And my God shall supply everyone of my needs according to his riches in glory.

1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

In life, each of us will find ourselves in one of three places: (1) going into a storm; (2) already in a storm; or (3) coming out of a storm.  Where ever life has you at the present moment, know that there is a scripture that will anchor you and give you the strength to continue on.

Hotep

Gracefully Broken

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My church recently celebrated Women’s Day. Part of the worship experience was a performance by the liturgical dance ministry. The women of the dance ministry worshipped God through dance to Tasha Cobb’s, Gracefully Broken. The song was new to me but almost instantly my spirit was in a posture of gratefulness as I thought about the title of the song, Gracefully Broken. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? How can something be gracefully broken? In the human sense it can not. When something is broken it becomes useless to us. We may attempt to fix it but soon learn that it does not function the same. And what often happens is we discard it and seek out a replacement. Those times my heart was broken, I’d venture to say it was not done gracefully. It was painful; sometimes so painful that it was numbing. It felt as though all of the breathe in my body had escaped. I had no strength and wanted to curl up in the fetal position until the pain stopped. Nothing graceful about that.

But then there are those times when God broke me. The times when I had veered off course and in order to get me back to the place where he needed me, a breaking was required. However, unlike material possessions or being broken at the hands of another human, when God breaks us he does it gracefully. When God breaks us he does not cast us aside. When God breaks us he does not see us as useless. When God breaks us he also loves us through the process. When God breaks us his intent is not to harm us but to make us better.

“God will break you to position you. Break you to promote you. And break you to put you in your right place. But when He breaks you He doesn’t hurt you….When He breaks you He doesn’t destroy you. He does it with; grace.”

I’m reminded of a friend whose prayer was, “God, break me.” I thought my friend was crazy for praying that prayer. But my friend wasn’t crazy at all. My friend recognized that a breaking was necessary that they may become better. I respected my friend. And I admired my friend for their courage.

“Here I am, God
Arms wide open
Pouring out my life
Gracefully broken
My heart stands in awe of Your name
Your mighty love stands strong to the end
You will fulfill Your purpose in me
You won’t forsake me, You will be with me”

It Doesn’t Affect You Until It Affects You

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It Doesn’t Affect You Until It Affects You

It doesn’t affect you, until it affects you. I’ve said this a lot over the past ten days. I’ve recounted the number of times I have seen parents on television pleading for the publics help to locate their missing child. My heart hurt for them because I could not imagine one day having to report my child missing. Nor could I imagine receiving a telephone call that one of my nieces or nephews was missing. That is until September 19, 2017.

This isn’t a blog about me. But rather a plea for the blogging community to share this flyer across your social media platforms. My niece, Ashanti Billie, is missing and her family and village are frantically searching for her. When sharing please use the hashtag #bringAshantihome.

Thank you for sharing.

Fitness Goal

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Fitness Goal

Growing up I was not into fitness. Physical fitness and healthy eating were not something that was talked about at home or in school. My first real introduction to physical fitness did not come until I entered Air Force Basic Training. Every morning myself and the other airmen, affectionately known as “Rainbows” and “Pickles” were rudely awakened to the sound of the infamous trumpet call. At the sound of the trumpet we had less than 10 minutes to get dressed and outside for PT.

Morning PT consisted of varying calisthenics and a mile and a half run. The struggle was real! But thank God I survived. At the end of the six week training, I had not noticed a difference in the shape of my body, but my mother definitely did; and she immediately brought it to my attention.

Upon entry into basic training, I was a tall thin girl weighing approximately 115 pounds. Post basic training I was a solid and toned 150 pounds!!!! I actually had a stomach and waistline that Janet Jackson would be envious of! Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but I was giving her a run for her money! My mom loved it….I did not. I was use to the tall thin girl.

As I’ve gotten older I yearn for the commitment and discipline to achieve those results again. Some would say it’s not possible but I disagree. My shero, Mrs. Ernestine Shepherd proves that it is vey possible.  I do however think it’s much harder and will take consistency and dedication on my part.  But I tell myself if Mrs. Ernestine can look like she does at 80, then surely I can do it!

I share this because I’ve set a new goal for myself. By months end I’m pushing to be able to do at least five pull ups. By years end I want to be doing a minimum of 10. I have never been able to do a pull up. Not a single one. And it’s something I’ve always wanted to be able to do. I know it’s a little harder for woman because we typically lack the upper body strength to do one. But that does not mean it’s impossible.

So armed with some pointers and suggestions a friend gave me, oh and Mrs. Ernestine’s picture on my refrigerator for inspiration, I am beginning tonight. Of course I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Stay tuned!

#fitness #fitchicks #strong #ageisonlyanumber #Icandoit

A Rainy Saturday

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A Rainy Saturday

Life can be very demanding. It doesn’t matter if you work a traditional 9 to 5, or are an entrepreneur, your work can be demanding. It doesn’t matter if you are married or a single parent, family can be demanding. And it doesn’t even matter if you are single, simply being single can sometimes be demanding.

But in those demanding moments of work, family, and to do lists, it’s good to just stop and relax. It’s not only good, it’s needed. In those moments when we stop to relax, we can be restored. We can clear our minds of the “stuff” that has been so demanding of our time and energy, and regain focus. We can gain clarity and be reminded of our purpose.

Writing helps me to relax. Music helps me to relax. My crayons and coloring book are helping me to relax after cleaning my home and doing laundry. And later today, an at home spa treatment will help me to relax. What you do to relax is your personal choice; as long as you are taking time to slow down so that you can be restored.

What do you do to escape the demands of life and relax?

Hotep

Unwanted Touching

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I had the pleasure of attending the 2017 Summer Spirit Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I enjoyed musical concerts by some of my favorite old school artists such as Bell, Biv, Devoe; SWV, Babyface, and En Vogue. And learned about new artists like The Internet and Trombone Shorty who was phenomenal!! Also, representing the sound of DC were GO-GO legends EU and my all time favorite Trouble Funk. It was a great two day event that had the thousands that attended dancing, singing, and reminiscing. It was the first concert I had attended in almost five years and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

But of course there was that brief moment when I thought I was going to have to introduce one of the male concert goers to my alter ego. And this is really the point of this blog.

Let me begin by saying fellas, not every woman is open to being randomly touched by a man that she does not know. It may seem innocent enough to you, but I find it intrusive and would prefer that your hands be kept to yourself. I apologize if that sounds prudish or arrogant. I’m really none of those things. I do however find it disturbing that some men feel a sense of entitlement and thus think they can just touch and/or grab on a woman without being invited. As though the female body was designed for him to do as he pleases.

One male concert goer clearly had that sense of entitlement. Or maybe it was the alcohol he had obviously consumed. Whatever the case, there was about to be a situation at the festival that was not going to end well for one or both of us. Initially I thought his random touch was simply a gesture that connected us as we shared a laugh at a funny moment. However, his hands found their way to my body again, even though the moment had passed. I said nothing nor looked in his direction, until he touched me again. After the third time I glanced at him, looked down at his hand and then glanced back up at him. I thought (or maybe I was hoping) that my look would inform this gentleman that his touching was not welcomed. I was sadly mistaken. Said gentleman touched me yet again. At this point I could feel myself becoming perturbed. I don’t like to make a scene but I quickly saw in my mind this situation escalating to the point of security being notified and me and said gentleman being escorted off the premises. So I thought to myself, “Self, there are a few empty seats, just move.” Problem solved.  I continued to enjoy my evening and no arrests had to be made.

Maybe I’m different, but that really is a turn off for me. Afterwards I thought about a time in my 20s while at 32nd Street Plaza, a nightclub in Baltimore. I was with my girl Renee and we were doing what we do; dancing and having a great time. The music must have gotten real good to the gentleman I was dancing with because before I knew it his hands were on my body from my shoulders, stopping to cup my behind, and down my thighs and legs. And before he knew it I had dropped kicked him dead in his chest.  He was, as you can imagine, caught off guard.  But he also had the audacity to be angry at the fact that I kicked him.  My argument about his hands not belonging on my body fell on death ears.  He saw absolutely nothing wrong with it.  And so here we stood, in the middle of the dancing floor, toe to toe, going word for word because I was not backing down.  Eventually security came to deescalate the situation.  But it really just got me to wondering why do some men feel that they have the right to touch on a woman’s body without her consent?  Fast forward many years later and sadly the mentality still seems to be alive and well.

I continued to enjoy the concert.  I had no more problems out of said gentleman and I was thankful for that.  I really wish some men would have a little more respect for women and lose the mentality that our sole purpose in life is to pleasure them.  Wishful thinking I guess.

 

Hotep