If Jesus healed, why can’t we heal with creativity? 

There was a time that I could draw a fence by hand. I was really proud of the fact that I could. It looked like it was real- it didn’t have the lean looking like I had picked the pencil up the day before with no knowledge of drawing. I really thought I had something going until it was time to draw horses. I gave up because my horses were more like cows. It was one of the times in youth that I realized that in that season it was about me finding my way as a creative.

I read a great deal as a child. I believe most of my large imagination came from reading so much. I was always amazed at the wonders of Jesus through the stories told in the Bible. Those stories grew my faith and encouraged me to continue my journey and not give up.

I found God, then music in junior high school. It was there that I began to find my way and breathe. Sounds were a medicine of sorts. I wanted to play the saxophone so bad. I didn’t know it, but at this time, my mother discovered she had breast cancer. We couldn’t afford to buy a saxophone. I was fortunate enough to borrow a friend’s snare until I could buy my own. Playing the drum game me rhythm and an ear for certain sounds. I grew in my knowledge of who God was and is and I learned to march to the beat of my drum.

When everything else in the world seemed to fail me, I found great comfort in my drum. When I was stressed, when I needed to focus, that drum was there. When I found out that my mother had cancer, the drum and choir became my outlets. These things along with a scream every now and again. I became really good with the snare drum in junior high and in high school. My senior year, I became drum captain and made all state as a drummer. I received band scholarships to the Berklee School of Music, the University of Memphis and Gambling State University to march in their band. Through it all, I had my church choir and my school band to keep me busy.

Focusing on music became a balm and a release for me. It was as if it kept me busy from the troubles that some teens around me had- pregnancy, issues with the law and bad grades amongst other things. For that I’m grateful. Jesus healed a blind man, told another to get up and walk. There was a woman with the issue of blood that was healed and so many more stories of healing and teaching. Those stories were healing for me because it strengthened my beliefs in the healing power of Jesus.

When I remember my time as a teenager, I remember when everything seemed so wrong and unfair, music calmed me and kept me. Without it I’m sure that many of the things and experiences that I had would have been vastly different. I believe that Jesus has a way of hiding us to keep us from harm or danger. I am thankful for that in hindsight. From that time frame, I have been able to draw from my musical experiences in band and on the radio as well as my travels as a backdrop when discussing issues with others in the midst of their challenges for understanding. I am appreciative for the healing through Jesus and for the creative seeds that have been sowed in my life.

The Power of Addiction

Many people struggle with some sort of addiction. Drugs, relationships, food, money, sugar, power, and the list goes on. Some people never rise above the power and are able to let go of what they are addicted to. There are others who work their steps or even enter rehab to aid in recovering from the issue. A few people can stop “cold turkey” and never look back. There is a certain power that the addiction has over a person and it can be a strong one. I find that addictions to some degree are like the battles that some have with being in alignment with God.

There are many who fall prey to this condition due to societal pressures. The pressure to conform, the pressure to achieve certain milestones, the pressure to remain in a certain group amongst others. One of the biggest steps in addiction is in admitting that there is a problem. Until that acknowledgement is made, it is hard to develop a path for recovery. This is like an acknowledgement of God or the higher being that is takes place in many spiritual frameworks around the world. Being able to admit there is something that has a stronger hold on you that has an adverse effect on you is freeing and can give a person the momentum to break free of the effects.

One of the things that is similar of between addiction-recovery and our spiritual relationship with God is the continued ability to “begin again” with no judgement. When we sin and ask God from forgiveness, we start afresh and continue to work the relationship with God. We work to stay in alignment with God to keep us. If we fail, we can start over. This is like the steps that are worked in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It’s interesting to find the similarities between working a step and being active in practicing faith.

One must be appreciative that each day is an opportunity to begin anew. Even when the opportunity appears to be challenging, the goal is accomplishment for the hour, half-day and day. This all while living in the moment and working to make the best of the moment. When issues arise, keeping the goal in focus to not fall back into the old or negative habits would be the goal. In religion the focus and some of the processes would still be the same.

There is something that is more powerful than an addiction. If you allow it space and become in sync with it. The opportunity to grow and to become fully free of the restrictions and confirming abilities. This thing will allow you to be one with your full self in an honest and real way. Clearing out distractions and unnecessary noises bring about focus on what really matters in your life. It’s not an easy walk however, but it nice to know that there is someone who hears every cry, plead or whisper. His name is Jesus and I believe that faith in him is always a setup for success. Addiction is very real. Being able to overcome the effects of addiction is a lifelong battle for many. To start or to be able to even remember again, is a conversation and re-focus. This is why many people connect God to their faith walk. This is the option that I would choose over and over again.

Honoring God Wherever You Are

Whether at home, your job or through your interactions with others at social events we are representations of whom we serve.  Think about it.  Are you respectful of others?  Do you offer support to those in need?  Do you share and collaborate with others, leaving a great experience with them?  There are some that can say yes to these questions.  I will be honest and say that I sometimes struggle with being a person of continuous positive impact.  Over the last year or so, I’ve been learning the art of silence instead of having unnecessary non-positive moments.  Morning meditations and prayer have helped me.  Over the last 5 years or so, the extrovert in me has become an introvert.  I have needed this time to grow and evolve for a better me.

I am finding that peace is everything.  How is that peace extended to the workplace?  Especially when you don’t want to be there.  I’ve learned that the expectation is gratitude.  I begin the day with “I get to awaken and see the day.  I am allowed to have this job that pays my bills and keeps a roof over my head.  I am healthy and have a mind that is grateful.  God is my ultimate keeper.  I am a winner because I am God’s”.  The goal is to speak life into myself so that others will see that life and be poised to step into their greatness as well.  This has positively been great in the evolution of where I am headed next in life.

You don’t have to quote Bible verses for 6-8 hours a day to be a witness of our God.  The life you lead is that witness.  In this season, I am reminded of the gentleness we should use in approaching others.  The last two years have been filled with so many things.  Many have had to endure many things like losing loved ones and experience major life changes on their own.  Speaking life over another person breeds an unexplainable joy.  Romans 15:13 states “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  If your job allows plants in the building, bring in a bouquet of flowers and let the scent of the flowers enhance the space.  An acknowledgement for a job well done by a counterpart is always appreciated.  We spend more time with our co-workers when we are in the building with them than our family members.  Why not let the best in you reveal itself?

It’s never too late to change.  Life is full of change and pivoting is necessary.  It’s also good to note that baby steps are still “steps”.  Keep it moving in life to enjoy all that it has to offer.  Remaining stuck prohibits growth and that is not what we want.  Making a list of positive goals for yourself and actively pursuing them is a great start.  Becoming a seminary student was on my list of goals.  Becoming a graduate of a master’s program at Emory was another.  One down and one coming.  The feeling of accomplishment when reaching goals reaches into other areas of your life.  Why not let the best you pour into those around you in the office place?

The hardest and the easiest thing to do is to show up as the best you.  At home, at work and in life, the ability to show the light of God within as you live your life is the best thing you can ever do for yourself and for all of those that will interact with you.

The Collaborations of Faith

As a little girl growing up in Little Rock under the Baptist tradition, I grew up around different denominations.  However, the Baptist church was the one that I found endearing. My church was like home for me.  I felt loved and nurtured. When my mother transitioned, the church allowed me to grieve and simply be while finding my way.  

The fellowship among other churches outside of our faith were always positive and well received. There was always a discussion on the things that connected us- our love for God, love for our fellow man and enduring faith.

One of the many great things that I have learned from my interactions with others thus far is the ability to lean into what you know.  We must always work to remain open to better understanding the things that you don’t know.  When people speak about the Civil Rights movement, many times White and Jewish people marched and struggled with Black people. They brought along their faith and tenacity to stand with those who were being marginalized.  It is an example of how different faiths work together.

Again and again, we are being reminded of how the world is dependent on each other.  Navigating through Covid and the issues in the Ukraine can become a catalyst in the world being in a possible recession over the next year or so.  Food supplies could be severely diminished.  The more that time progresses, the more there is a need to show up as Jesus would outside of the traditional walls of the church.  One group can do so much.  Several organizations teaming up together can make an impact.  

When Covid became prevalent in the United States, many churches provided food and supplies for many who could not work.  Many due to sickness and death, had to sustain more because of additional family members in their homes.  New Birth and Toco Hills Community Alliance in the Atlanta metro are examples of working to meet needs of weekly food distributions and other supplies like diapers and clothing for those that need it.  Toco Hills has many volunteers from different denominations that work to assist with the creation of food boxes for the clients.  It’s a matter of filling a need.  They come together for the greater cause to ensure that a family has some food to eat on any given week.

It is good to be in fellowship with others of different faith traditions.  One has the ability to talk about the things that are important to your faith for better understanding.  Better understanding strengthens partnerships.  From the viewpoint of humanity, we seek to learn from others to grow our knowledge base and to better understand our fellow man.  We find common interests and concerns and work to collaborate for a better world.

The Spiritual Leader 

Being called to ministry and accepting that call is a big step. You are allowing all that you are to be made available for everyone to see. Your loves, your great highlights, also your opportunities and brokenness. All of these things are what makes you uniquely you, designed to be the light to those that you are purposed to. In knowing this, there is a preparation that takes place, that includes for some education and training, some sort of practice or utilization of skills pertinent to ministry and perhaps a discussion about gaining a personal therapist for the healing that you will need.

A big item has been realizing what some call “spiritual leader”. For me it is really “servant leader”. At least that is the approach that I take as well as many around me. We lead by example. We are in this together. We will get there. Key word WE. Being a leader means we show up for background, behind the scenes work as well as the work in the forefront. People see the work that is being completed and want to be a part of it. I can’t be there all the time in every space, however, I’m not one to shun doing the work based off my commitment to God.

We must do the work to be our best for the people we are assigned to. If that means more study or using all of the available tools to deliver messages that enlightened those we serve, we do that. We are not only representing our selves but our God. We are mature enough to to know what people are needed around us to make the church successful. We are smart enough to know that sometimes we may need to include others. As an example, if I am not good at finances and I know that there is someone that can oversee that aspect and are good with numbers, I’m leaning on that person. If I expect great and positive personality from the greeters, I want to have someone to lead that team with the sensitivities that will make them successful. I don’t want to put them there and simply forget about them. I want to work with them when possible because we are serving the church together.

The issues in the black community concerning therapy are long and unpopular with many. Old stigmas seem to die hard in this area. There comes a point where any issues from the past or things that are new that are causing conflict can keep a person from growing. That is where therapy comes in. I’d strongly encourage it at least once to see if it helps. For those in ministry, it gives you a safe space to vent about issues and be able to talk about things that are affecting you. It’s hard to help others when you are not helping yourself. I have learned that if a parishioner is having an issue in an area I’m not well versed in, it’s always great to have a listed of licensed counselor’s that I can recommend them to. Healed people help heal people, I believe.

There is also the concept of rest. There is a commandment in the Bible on rest. How many of us can truly say that we actually follow that commandment? Even in duties at the church, there is a time for rest for everyone, even the pastor. How can one have a whole minister, elder and deacon board and the pastor never rests? The whole concept is wrong. Develop a training program if there is a standard in the house. Find two or three in the fold that you can rotate in as others are trained. If you can’t trust in good faith that the ones in place can’t step up to the standard, find new people. There have been many pastors to commit suicide, or have health ailments that could have been prevented in getting enough rest. Burn out is real. However, being prepared to continue the journey with good balance and continued faith in God will remain our beacon.

Three Words

The words “I love you” never came from the lips of my parents.  They simply weren’t those types of people.  The showed love to me in how they cared for me.  It was there when I was sick or hurt in how they nursed me back to health.  I knew it in what was provided for me in our home and clothes we wore.  I think back sometimes and imagine how different my life might have been had I heard those “three words” one time.  In a discussion about love, I began to think about how different I am from them in that respect.  I have no problem from using those “three words”.  The people that are a part of my life know that I love them with actions AND words. I think it’s important for both.

An example of this are the people that have regrets when loved ones transition because of things that were left unsaid.  In order to live life fully, we must show up.  Love tied with spirituality builds on the foundation of self to grow exponentially.  God’s love grows our love even more.  God covers the things we see plus the things we cannot.  I’m realizing that God starts sending people to you to help them heal from what I’m supposed to be delivered from.  That realization helped me more than I could imagine. That is why I try to be intentional in saying the “three words” when necessary.

It has been easier for me than some that I’ve discussed this with because I’ve always had a strong sense of self.  I like myself.  I love God and because I’m in relationship with our creator, I am in a great space.  I believe in the power of words. I believe in the possibilities created when the “three words” are said and meant. 

There is a certain level of fellowship when love is in motion. I can appreciate action and intent of love.  Even when we as humans love to our fullest capacity, it’s astounding to know that God loves us even more.  In each breath there is God. Knowing that God knows our beginning and end, every challenge, every victory, and every move is amazing! Our goal is alignment to God’s purpose for the win. To be loved by God and to be connected through spirituality is fulfillment. The bonus for me are all the relationships and connections that we encounter on this earthly journey. It is a blessing.

How do we bring the light of love to those that are in darkness?  I believe it’s our faith walk. This would be the ins and outs in our daily life with God. The people that we encounter should feel love and compassion through our words and actions.  Those interactions should continue to bring the light of Jesus to them, encouraging love.  

Love and spirituality are intertwined.  They shape how we live and interact.  They are a part of us and show up based off how we have been handled.  We work towards getting better daily.  Our hearts are filled with love for God and our love of man. The “three words” are a part of us in words and action.

Reimagining Rituals

Before March, 2020, my life was very different than what it is today.  There was more of the hustle and bustle of life. We would get up and get ready to navigate through the day.  There would be work and classes along with the interactions of the people surrounding my life.  The weekends consisted of getting caught up on classes and house work, spending time with family and friends while enjoying church on Sunday’s.  There was focus, but busier to a great degree.  A never ending race to get through the week, yet to start it all up again Monday mornings.

My last time within the four walls of the church that I had been a member of was March 1, 2020.  It was a first Sunday filled with all of its rituals.  At this church, my ritual was in set attire- all black unless we were told otherwise.  We served communion and followed a normal progression as in many previous Sunday’s.  Then came the stay at home protocols that started to uproot everything we knew.  “Wash your hands” and “wear your mask” outside of the home became constant reminders for us all.

There are many of us who have not taken communion since that first Sunday, March 2020.  There are others who have been able to without much disregard to the pandemic we are in.  Some have died in their attempt to go back to “what was” and have meetings and services that have been the beginning of the end.  As an example, many leaders in the Church of God in Christ had a meeting and 10-20 leaders were infected with the Covid virus and many of them died.  There have been some that have found options such as outdoor services with distanced protocols in place.  There has been some success in communions provided in this instance and other protocols that have worked.

Outside of communions, other functions and services that have been provided by the church may need to be reimagined.  Items like caring for the homeless, providing counseling and the ongoing fight for social justice concerns.  Recently I’ve learned that in the greater Atlanta area between Emory and Stonecrest, there are several areas considered food deserts.  Toco Hills Community Alliance and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church are the only consistent sources of providing food to those that need it.  How many other churches are between the two locations that may have resources or means to help those that need food?  How do churches with less pivot to be able to be of assistance to those in need during the time we live in?

How do we evolve the ritual of church in today’s world?  How do we become more like Jesus and be a good disruptor and work to benefit the society as a whole?  Evolution doesn’t mean dismantle everything about the church.  I do wonder though, what good is an empty building when there are still people living on the streets without a home or adequate health care?  What happens outside the four walls of the church matters just as much as the walls inside of the church.  If those said members of the church are to be the light of the “world”, how is that accomplished when the light isn’t seen or heard from once those members leave the sanctuary?

One of the great joys I was able to experience pre-Covid pandemic was my church in Houston, when every year they would open up the church for the homeless and anyone that wanted to come to see the NFL’s big game.  They provided some snacks and aired the game on the big screen in the sanctuary.  It may seem like a stretch, but imagine something as normal as being able to watch the game and be a part of something seen around the world by millions.  Something that even for a moment makes you feel normal or to take thoughts away from something sad or lonely.  Thinking of out of the box items whether short term or long term are items that should be thought about.

I believe that Jesus wouldn’t recognize many of the rituals that routinely take place in church.  I also believe that Jesus would have many thoughts as far as the lack of what happens outside of many churches.  There has to be stronger tie-ins between those in leadership in our churches. Our world has shifted since March, 2020.  What happens over the next 5-10 years will set a tone for things to come.  There will be more homeless people. There will be people fighting issues and other items that will need that “light” to show up. I pray and hope that those who carry the light will show up.

A Baby Can’t Define Love

They can however, feel the emotion for them through the care that is shown for it. As that child grows, the love in action or lack thereof plays into the development and life of the child. Based off the actions and the things you have been taught, you project certain things that attract or appeal to others. As I thought about the ”baby”, I began to think about our intentionality with others as it pertains to exuding some sort of love to them. A kind word, a positive affirmation or conversation, or gesture to bring positivity to another human.

The world can be cold and cruel. I believe our intent can change the world. Words and actions can change a spirit. I am reminded of an episode on the tv show “Grey’s Anatomy”. Dr. Christina Yang’s character had a scene where she was in an elevator with a man who was about to create havoc and fear in the hospital. She had no clue at the time. Before leaving the elevator, she paused and told the man ”have a nice day”. Later as the episode progressed, I had to wonder if her kind words spared her life. Of course I realize that it is a tv show. I do however imagine in life how many times our love in action has aided us or those that we come into contact with. Intentionality matters.

A child that is told that they have value and that they can accomplish anything has a greater sense of accomplishment than the child that is consistently told that they are dumb or slow. Words have meaning and power. I used to interact with someone and would sometimes get frustrated when they couldn’t see what I saw in them. Years later, I got a call from them thanking me for speaking positively over their life. I didn’t know it, but they told me they had been in a dark space and had considered suicide. The one thing that kept them from following through was my being intentional in giving positive affirmations to them. Even when I wasn’t where I wanted to be, I always shared the goodness of life in them. I now realized they were seeds of life. The tears that they shed were the water that enabled those seeds to grow.  My elders would always talk about me being a work in progress.  A grandmother would say that I was a work in time versus pressure and that something was growing in my purpose for a specific reason.  Those conversations enabled me to seek great things even if the road would be hard.

What will we do as Jesus did to be the epitome of love?  What items can you put in place to work towards this?  What may be some of the hardest items that you have to be more intentional about in your road to growth?  All of these questions are things to consider in your areas of growth in your walk with Jesus.  Being intentional in everything can only make you stronger.  When comparing the mustard seed and its place in all of this, consider small items that may be on your checklist and grow them into bigger things as time progresses.  A walk around the block today may turn into a marathon a year from now.  It all begins with the intent to complete a task in love for yourself and health.  We all have items for improvement.

We can be intentional in all things. We can be happy. We can do all things good and well. It all begins in our words and actions.

Looking Inward

We begin our spirituality in a contemporary world classes with a 3 minute meditation.  It is short but fulfilling.  It is a reminder of time and how it is fleeting and to find joy everyday, even if it is only for a moment.  If I can experience the joy in the days, there is no way that I can have days that are not worth being a part of.  

I started this year off making sure that I work to include more positive affirmations in my life.  I think about the parable with the fig tree found in Luke, chapter 13.  The end of 2021, I felt that my life was being pruned and covered. The pandemic that we are living through is causing a shift in how I think.  This is in terms of who I interact with, and the level of stress I want to be involved with. It’s also about how I want to focus on my future. Many people had been to some degree cut out of my life.  I know that sometimes after harvest, we are in a season where we are pruned.  At times we are covered to a degree to prepare us for the next season.  We should be as thankful in the times of covering as we are when we can see our next steps on our path.  

I have also been reminded that my race is my race.  At times it can be easy to see someone else’s growth and make comparisons.  I’m appreciating my path and what it’s showing me.  Learning to appreciate the lulls and times that are slow in life are for a reason.  I am reminded that I sometimes cannot realize growth on a daily or on a weekly basis in some things. But when I see growth over three to six months or a year, there is happiness in following the process to get me there.  This has been a constant reminder to me as I realize the ebbs and flows of life.  Everything is in God’s time.  I simply must make the most of my moments.  In living life under these descriptions, it is a definite way to grow to receive everything that is due me from Yahweh.  The walk is intentional, purposed and driven.  Meditation is a tool to allow me to walk that path in the best purest way.

The beauty in meditation for me is in the ceasing. Clearing the clutter out of my mind and gaining stronger focus has been a real game changer. It’s like a comparison of getting a higher grade of gasoline at the pump. The higher grade of gas gives a better ride. In meditating, it allows the things that hold little value or weight to fall away. In doing so, it brings a lighter load to carry.  We are creating alternate societies (the Metaverse) and alternate reality tools are everywhere.  Something around us is in constantly in action.  Being able to find quiet time, disconnected and centering ourselves centers us and gives us the focus we need to win in life.

What is “Georgia Whole”?

Georgia Whole (GW) is a blog. It is an ongoing work to build more peaceful and holistic life practices.  In the quest for more joy and peace, the goal is to fill my life with more prayers and meditation.  I also want to surround myself with more affirmations of self and a deeper appreciation for those around me.  I believe that God is growing a new thing within me and I want to explore from an expression level involving joy and peace.  I hope that you will visit and comment on things that move you.

I want to expand spirituality through a more holistic lens from the “mustard seed” faith concept.  The society that we have evolved into is one of short attention spans.  I want to develop the small bursts and comments to inspire bits of positivity and joy to all that may come upon this.  GW is her own character evolving.

Spirituality is broad and covers the globe in various forms.  Some of those forms will be developed here in poetry, and meanderings of bible verses and positive and uplifting pieces.

Georgia Whole is the name of this creation. She feels, inhales and exhales because she is a movement. The mustard seed grows under the right conditions. Let’s see what this seed grows into.

This blog is from the state of Georgia. Focusing on things “whole”some and good.