Liberation Journey Log: I Don’t Apologize for Being A Christian that Reads

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“Only read the Bible and books by other Christians because you don’t want to become “led astray” or “confused.” I remember when I was in high school and one of my classmates was a Muslim. It was in various conversations I discovered there were many levels, simplicities, and complexities to exactly what that meant for him. It was one day in gym, a day where we didn’t have to dress out, when we had this conversation about some differences in our faiths. Two young people, discussing differences, without arguing, but to seek an understanding of “why” we see or believe things that way.

No insults were traded. No belittlement. Disbelief? Yes. Shock? Yes. Ah hah moments? Yes. Thought provoking and respectful. He said he would bring the Holy Koran to school since I had never seen one. I told my mom and she cautioned me as she had been cautioned. He brought it to school. I looked at it. I was like “Wow. Cool.” I mean what did you expect from a teenager. It was like an Indiana Jones moment. I came home and said, “Hey, Mom. Still Christian. Just letting you know.” She seemed to be relieved. I thought it was humorous.

The things is, I had been reading all kinds of books from Astrology to History. I am curious about almost everything and I lived directly behind a library.  It was only natural to seek more information and explore ideas about God outside of my faith. Was I confused? Sure about some things. But, many things only confirmed what I had always thought about God anyways. Thank goodness I read other books, spiritually led to them, taking what is true for me and letting things in the books that were not, go. When you read something, that you are led to, you must learn to EAT the FISH and SPIT out the BONES. You do not have to believe everything in a book. If it aligned itself to my core beliefs, if it aligned itself to my spirit, I was good with it. I never thought about leaving Christ. Yet, I have thought about leaving Christianity in a sense of how it is viewed by those in it and those on the outside looking in. I hate to be constrained in any way!

I read. I read outside of my faith and it has created a freedom in me I can’t explain. It allows me to be respectful to others who do not believe what I believe and it has given me a command to not be in company with those who cannot respect my beliefs. This includes other Christians as well. Who are we in respect to the Creator? We do not know it all. We do not have it all. NONE OF US DO. I have no need to put you in a Heaven or Hell. Though, I do believe there are just somethings that must be accounted for…

So, I don’t apologize for the books I read. God put the quest in me to discover what God means and who God is to me on another level than just what is between 66 books. We don’t have all of that either. How can anyone have all of God? You do not own Spirit.

One thing reading has done is allowed me to appeal to the spirit of a person. I have no qualms about what you believe or not unless it is used to harm others. It has taught me that I don’t have to understand you, to respect you. I don’t have to feel sorry for you because you do not believe what I believe. I don’t have to make you believe what I believe. I don’t have to change you. Heck, I don’t have the power to change you. Only you can change you.

Deep calleth unto the deep. If it hasn’t called you, don’t worry about me.

~Nikki

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RA Blog Week Day 4: TGF Hobbies

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Birthing Autumn by Nicole Jackson 

Are hobbies important? You bet! Especially, when it comes to having an illness or disease that can zap the life and joy right out of you IF you allow it to. I don’t know if my hobbies are hobbies, so to speak. I mean since RA has taken a turn for the worse in my life I would like to think what may be considered as hobbies are really my lifelong passions that have been buried underneath the hustle of life and the bustle of a job. Most of my hobbies center around things I wish I would have done a long time ago or pursued.

Hobbies not only occupy your time, but should expand your mind and it should be something you enjoy. When I tend to my blog, one of my hobbies, I enjoy it. When I thrift and put outfits together, I enjoy it. When I find odds and ends, repaint them or repurpose them, I enjoy it. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of my hobbies. The things I don’t consider hobbies are writing (author), painting, crocheting and sewing. These things are more than hobbies to me. I view them as possible way to establish a new life since I have been left with me the remnants of my old life. Life, before RA. The core of who I am is still there. And to be honest, if RA had never came along and blew my old life out of the water, who knows when these gifts would have been reborn.

~Nikki

 

 

RA BLOG WEEK DAY 3: PARTNERS

Partners  – Where would we be without our partners? They are often not just partners but caregivers. Tell your partner’s story. And if you do not have a partner what will your ideal partner be like, or do you even want one?

Partners. Well, from what I have seen in my lifetime and heard, it is very important if you are going to have a significant other or spouse, it certainly makes a major impact on your quality of life if you have a good person that is will to be by your side. Sickness, temporary or permanent will surely bring out the worse in some and I have seen divorces and just mean treatment. With those things in mind, I have decided to choose carefully because I know RA is not going anywhere and I would rather be with one that is compassionate and patient. These are just two of the qualities along with others I look for in a person.

As RA resurfaced in my life five years ago, I was devastated and really down about the possibility of being in a relationship decrease all the more. I believe quite a few singles who have RA or any other disease feels this way. I didn’t want to tell anyone I dated I had RA. I had to figure out if you should say it sooner rather than later. I figured it was best to say something depending on if the getting to know each other phase was going well. If not, then it was no need to go into detail. And also, details needed to come in phases, as necessary, and in small doses. They don’t need to know everything in an hour. That is overwhelming! Here a little there a little.

Yes, I want a relationship and then marriage. But, I do not want someone that will add tremendous stress to my life.

~Nikki

 

RA BLOG Week: RA/Rheumatoid Disease and Mental Health

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A Lot on Your Mind by Evan Sheline

If you get a cold or the flu, it’s okay because in a few days or a week, you will return to your healthy self. In those days, it will be physically and mentally draining. After all, no one enjoys being sick even if it for a week. Imagine the nightmare of becoming ill with something you can not get rid of. Imagine the pain comes in all variables to be described as nagging aches to excruciating to kill me now. You can’t do all of the things you use to do and what you can do has to be modified. How will you continue to survive and thrive in this world? How will you continue to provide for your family? Will you be able to do all of the things you planned? Will people think you are lazy or have given up if you can no longer work? What about your dreams? What about your goals? What is this new diagnosis? And another one and another one as a result of Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease. What the hell is happening here? Friendships and relationships change. Marriages change. You’re too young for this. You were thinking about enjoying your retirement…without pain. What do we do now? Why me? I am sick of hurting. Can I have a day of no pain???

The matters of the universe swirl in your head and the weight of the world is your shoulders. The impact of RA on your mental health can be devastating. It was for someone like me who was already an emotional human being who has lived through some very tragic moments. Now what? Another thing to hide. Another thing to deal with privately. I don’t want people to know I am depressed. I don’t want people to know I am anxious. I don’t want people to know I stand on the ledge of suicide. They will label me weak. And you don’t want to be labeled weak in the African American community. Or crazy. We associate mental health issues such as depression and anxiety as “crazy.” Ah, the stigma.

What do I do? How do I deal with the mental impact of RA? I try to take it day by day. I put on my brave face and walked boldly into the psychiatrist’s office, the one that has a brown face like me, and I said “I am sinking. Drowning in this sea of emotions and pain. Help me.” And then we went to work. Because seeing a therapist is WORK. A good therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist, knows the tools you need to cope with life’s tragedies. It does not, DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE WEAK, it means you are smart to seek help. And those who say you are “weak” or “crazy’ are the ones who are in need of help and don’t even know it. I use the tools my therapist gives me. Daily.

I practice yoga to help mind to focus on what is right in front of me.  It helps me to control my breathing. It helps me to control my thoughts. It helps to keep me in the now.

Meditation. Get you some. It helps me to see into myself. I can assess myself. I can create my future. I can pinpoint in my body my issues.

Prayer. It is my lifeline to my Source. It is how I talk to someone, when I can’t talk to anyone.

A personal relationship with the Creator (yes Source, yes God and not the God of this or that religion, but GOD). A deep, committed relationship, a bond, a sealed union. This relationship gives me strength. It empowers me. It serves me. It is my refuge. It is my stronghold. It is a friendship, a parental relationship, that has stood the test of time with unconditional love…mostly on God’s end. God has never wavered in love for me. Even as I tossed and rolled like a raging sea.

All of these things keep me grounded and honestly, above the ground.

~Nikki

#rablogweek2017

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Hello Fall! Easy Fall Wreath

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Fall has arrived! Even if it’s by calendar only because it’s a summery day here in Memphis, Tennessee. Decorating the home for fall or any other season does not have to cost a fortune. Decorating the home for any reason does not have to cost a fortune in my frugal, but fashionable opinion. The cost to make this wreath was $5. Each item was a dollar from the dollar tree. Also, the other decorations below were from dollar tree (and I stayed on budget!)

To make this wreath is as simple as it looks. I wrapped the burlap a little more than halfway around the wreath and secure it with a few drops of glue with a glue gun. I am sure you can use any craft glue. I just wanted to be extra special 🙂 The flowers I cut and weaved through the spaces of this wreath. I secured them by winding them around. You may want to add some green tape tape for added security. This took me less than 30 minutes!

~Nikki

I love Autumn!

RA BLOG: Just Not Tonight

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Sciatica nerve, joint pain, fibromyalgia and pinky finger falling asleep along the side of hand up to the elbow, makes for a “hades” of a night. I had to get up and get an ice pack for my back. I did get up and I made it to church. There were some hard hitting pains there, too and in RA Warrior fashion I answered “I’m fine.” The pain for me has been on off today but now it seems like I am going to have a fibro and RA flare. They both move around the body. So, as I prepare to wrap up my night and prepare for a bumpy ride, I hope you know that in those nights, midnights, early mornings, you are not alone in your suffering. Some warrior, of some illness is suffering, too. Someone is praying for the subsiding of pain, too. I pray for them, too.-Nikki