Jesus in the Key of St. John

Everybody wants to know Jesus. Jesus in the Key of St. John, is targeted to be a tool for that express purpose. To know him. To know him more intimately. To know him more better, as some might say. John distinguished his own relationship by calling himself the disciple who Jesus loved. How tremendous …how audacious! How wonderful of him! He expressed his love in space and place, always indicating himself as the disciple with his head on Jesus’ breast.
I love this John principally because of his love for Jesus and his desire for everyone to experience that love. It is evidenced in this gospel as well as the smaller books later in the New Testament and even in the Revelation of Jesus Christ that was given to him.

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Lent: Day Eighteen

For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, But my kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed
Isaiah 54:10

Kindness is the act of putting another’s need before your own, but also doing the least or most thing that will make a huge difference in someone’s life. Random acts of kindness. People drive through a fast food establishment only to find when they arrive at the pay window that someone has already paid for theirs. Likewise at the toll booth or the coffee kiosk at the mall. How good does it make you feel that someone took the time and effort to consider something that might make you feel good? Feel cared for. Feel loved.
No one is required to make extra effort on your behalf, especially those who have no relationship with us. They reach out because they can. They reach out because they are in no way diminished by the giving. They reach out because it makes them feel good. They reach out to plant a seed that promises to change the atmosphere in a sometimes unfriendly world. They reach out…and you are touched. You are changed. Your heart is warmed as the object of their generosity. And your first thought is to find someone else to treat likewise. It’s a chain reaction that goes on as long as it goes on. No one can resist the impulse to do the same for the next person. Or for some person they encounter along the way.
Are we not the same when we are touched by the kindheartedness of God? Don’t we want to share the feels with the next person we meet? Or maybe with someone we already know? Don’t we want to pass it along? With the hope that the chain is never broken. Random acts of kindness provoke more random acts of kindness. Intention acts of kindness with people we know have the same result.
Be kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:32

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Lent: Day Seventeen

Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
Isaiah 49:15-16

Can you even imagine that God is so intent on giving us his attention that he’s inscribed us on the palms of his hands? Keeping us ever before him and making our names ever in his sight. The Message bible says, “I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands. The walls you’re rebuilding are never out of my sight.” The Amplified bible says “I have inscribed [a picture of] you on the palms of my hands.” Think about the number of times in a day one glances at the hands. How accessible are the hands? They’re right in front of us most of the time. Glancing at the hands is an easy thing, not that God could forget us any way. Exciting right?

No matter the imagery, the fact is the same. God loves us so much he keeps us, as well as our borders, in close proximity so he can watch over us and protect us. 

All is known and all is forgiven

All is known and all is forgiven.
This pronouncement of grace is attributed to Mother Frances Graves, co founder of Faith Chapel in Philadelphia, along with her late husband, Bishop Eugene Graves.

It’s the way she has assured congregants of their salvation for more than 56 years and the power of this salvo is inescapable.

All is known and all is forgiven.

All is known by God and all is forgiven.

All is known by God and yet…

All is forgiven.

By. God. 

I don’t know about your first all, but mine is pretty awful and I find no comfort in anyone knowing it.

Let alone the wonderful God of a universe our minds can’t even comprehend

The same wonderful God who knew me and had intimate relationship with me before

The same wonderful God who formed me in my mother’s womb

The same wonderful God who, with intention, knit me together, including in the pattern of my fabric every ALL I would need to become the magnificent person he intended me to be

I’m not that cool with that God knowing my ALL

Except for the mind blowing fact that in spite of the fact that he knows me ALL

He, with foreknowledge of my ALL, put a plan into place to permit my continued participation in his family because

With full knowledge of my ALL, he is fully committed to forgetting and forgiving, even before the fact of my guilt, with the fullness of his grace

ALL is known and ALL is forgiven.

Thank you, Mother Graves.

Thank you, God.

Happy New Year!

I’m grateful to God for his loving, gracing, keeping power in my life. As much as I love words and how they work together to compose a design, I can’t fathom a combination that is adequate to express my awe and appreciation for who God is to me and the wondrous ways in which he operates on my behalf. I love how he fills me with love so that it overflows into my sphere of influence; how he fills me with his grace and mercy so there so much available for everyone I meet. I love how he overflows his presence in my life so that there’s enough to attract those who are on deficit. I love. I grace. I show mercy. Because. He loves, graces and shows mercy to me.

Thank you.

I’m grateful to my family members who take time and put forth effort to show me love, respect and even some admiration so that being surprisingly close to 70 is not a chore but a joy. I’m grateful to be in blissful association with people who love God, who love God’s people, who love to give and make sure others have basic needs met on a regular basis. I’m grateful to be in glorious relationship with people who don’t take themselves too seriously and know how to throw back and let laughter roar until breathing is a chore. I love you back. I loved you first. I love you always. You make me proud.

Thank you.

I’m grateful for you people who read my books. Talk about being surprised by life. Who knew that retiring would open the door for a brand new thing, as promised by God. Writing books. Blogging. Getting my friends on board – friends I’ve had for so many years. Book signings. Self publishing.

For every visit to this website. Thank you. For every post you’ve read. Thank you. For every post you’ve shared. Thank you. For every mention to a friend. Thank you. For every book purchased. Thank you. For every review written. Thank you. For every site subscription. Thank you. For every invitation to speak. Thank you. 

Thank you.

My prayer for you is that you enter 2019 with your mouths opened wide so God may fill them, with your hearts opened wide so God may love you, with your hands opened wide so God may use them, with your mind opened wide so God can fulfill his purpose for your own well being for the world’s blessing.

Let’s go in together!

Happy New Year!

Christmas on Barclay Street

Preparations began long before Christmas with the detailed cleaning of the house. This was when we brought out the toothbrushes and attacked the floor boards, nooks and crevices along the stairway and the higher shelves over the living room mirror. Singular punishment on every level.

Being the youngest and the smallest in the house, much of this duty fell to myself; little enough to climb the ladder, small enough to kneel on the floor, smart enough to keep my grumbling to myself. These chores occupied the Saturdays leading up to Christmas and I did this while my aunt made cookies. Tons of cookies. Every kind of cookie imaginable. And they were carefully and skillfully layered in huge Utz potato chip cans, nestled lovingly between sheets of wax paper. The cans were perched on high shelves in our walk-in dining room closet so they couldn’t be accessed before Christmas.

The tree went up about a week before Christmas. Seeing it come in the house made me cringe at the countless pine needles it would deposit in various places throughout the coming Spring. It also made me shudder at the minute instruction and correction that would ensue concerning tinsels that were not hung individually with perfection. Tinsel’s first. Then the lights. Following with the balls and other ornaments; some older than dirt. Did I say we also had to replace the tinsel in the original package with precision so it could be used the following year?

We always got toys, never a bike, always a book and the obligatory doll. I loved dolls. I took exquisite care of them, down to their wardrobe that I made with help from my cookie-baking aunt. I gave my entire collection to my little sister when I got married. Thought later I should have saved them for my girls. We also always got clothes and a new coat. The coat was for church and the former coat could now be worn for school. Same process for the new shoes.

And the house was filled with smells. And food. And cakes and pies to add to the cookies. Another aunt made the best coconut cake under the sky and it shared space with all the other baked goodies on the buffet in the dining room. When company came they were always bombarded with egg nog and dessert, including the fruit cake. Fruit cake. Never quite understood it. But it was always there, long after the holiday was over.

But it was the best time of the year, especially when cousins came and stayed and played and the day was warm enough to go outside and play. On Christmas. The laughter was heartier. The love was lovelier. And everyone was happier. Filled with more joy. With more hope. With more goodwill toward others. With more enjoyment of each other and determination to carry all this into the new year.

Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday Jesus!

Tales from the Sweetheart Gang

If you want to know why Plooney called some people “yick minded,” or you want to know the power of “Blessed Assurance;” If you want to now what raising 9 children looks like or the key to southern hospitality, you must read “Tales from the Sweetheart Gang.”

It really is pure fun. It’s the result of women with sometimes questionable relationships with their mothers suddenly hearing their mother’s voice and words spewing from their own mouths, toward their own daughters. Mothers and daughters.

These authors have each written a chapter to remember the love and genuine affection their mothers had for them and the wonderful, quirky, sometimes downright strange ways the proclamation of that love came forth. Some basking in that love takes place. Some sudden realization of a love that neither looked nor felt as expected.

Tiffany Christina, the youngest author, celebrates while her mother is still with her, and yet her realization is the same; she is her mother. Another original Mini Me to Theresa Ginyard.

All of these authors are my friends and have been for some time. We went to high school together. Or we played in the neighborhood together. Bettie Crest Durant and I lived just a few houses apart on Barclay Street. Brenda Alford came from further east than I just to meet up at Booker T. Washington Junior High School and continue to Eastern High, where we added Barbara Green Hope to our terrific trio. Brenda and I sang together with the Gospel Harmonizers at the first Baltimore City Fair. Barbara and I played together in Eastern’s orchestra.

Rev. Doris Gaskins and I met a million years ago as we began our mutual journeys as urban pastors. We prayed, studied and prepared sermons in the hopes of spreading much of the same love we’d received from the Lord.

Talibah Chikwendu hired me as an entry level reporter at the AFRO American Newspaper more than 20 years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. 

Dorothy Rowley is another AFRO alum who, like myself, has recreated herself during her semi retirement. She loves all things lively and spreads her joy and faith wherever she goes.

Rev. Bertha Borum is my newest friend and we came together as a result of mutual parishioners telling us how identical our personalities, our temperament and our love for the Lord seemed to them. It was all true and we pastored together for eight years after our initial encounter.

Our hope is that these stories will inspire our readers to recollect their own stories and share them with the young’uns who may not have stories of their own. They’re great ice breakers for gatherings and bread starters for telling new stories. Read. Enjoy. Share. Retell. Have a celebration for the “Tales of the Sweetheart Gang.”