Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Good Trouble

I am by nature a quiet soul. I love the quietness of the morning, of the evening, and of the night. It was very noisy growing up but mostly in good memorable ways. I liked growing up with all of my brothers and my sister in the house. And when they were older, sometimes they came back home as they got their lives together. They were much older than my younger brother and I. That to me is good noise in memorable ways. I was shy. I was quiet. I could sit outside for hours on the porch or lay on a towel on the patio staring at the sky until I was told to come in. So, as I began to have to “speak” in front of people in church and in school, I began to develop my voice and muster up courage. As I was required to write essays or answer “what do you think questions?” in school, I was force to share my opinions. When asked to write short stories or poems, I was forced to share my true thoughts and opinions.

I was quiet but, I was a rebel. I realized I didn’t give typical answers. I realized I had some sort of wisdom that the teachers marveled at. I gave my Sunday school teachers something to think about. I read the Bible for fun and talked to God about some of the fascinating stuff in there and some of the scary stuff. I asked questions. I asked so many questions my dad was sometimes stumped and he had to look things up and get back with me an answer. “But why?” I would ask. “What if?” is another lead in. In church, preachers would visit to preach and if their sermons were boring, I would read the Bible or draw. Sometimes, a preacher would preach and I would say to myself, “Uh, I don’t think that’s what God meant, but okay. I’m just a kid.” And then there were those that were DYNAMIC. They came with research and insight. Those are the ones that honed their craft and studied to show themselves approved, not for clout.

As I grew up, I became more rebellious towards the norm. I wasn’t normal as a black child with natural red hair. I had to learn to live with that. I had to learn how to be seen and stared at. I was fashionably rebellious. If everyone was doing it, wearing it, I wore it different or not at all. As soon as it went out of style or trend, I brought it back with “my style” added to it. If the crowd went left, I went right or at least questioned why are we going left? I needed to KNOW. I needed to KNOW many things. What does that word mean? My dad, “Look it up.” READ. I love to read. I love to know. This rebelliousness, lead me down some twisted roads coupled with my stubbornness and I was met with some very, very BIG LESSONS. Until, I heard God say to me, “Use your rebelliousness for me.” And that is where GOOD TROUBLE began to grow. (Note: Even at work I was known as “Trouble” because I challenged policies, supervisors, managers, and even H. R. I hated the mistreatment of others and the misuse and abuse of authority).

I laugh when I think that this quiet girl by nature, was created to make some noise and to get into some good trouble. It’s funny as I am now coming into some confidence to SPEAK what I think and how I feel about Christianity and spirituality. I mean, men have been doing it since the beginning of time. I wonder how many women philosophers there were back in A.D. and B.C. that never got the exposure that men did. (As I type that, I am not going to research that lol). Maybe at the watering holes and rivers they could share with each other their TRUE thoughts and FEELINGS. The wisdom we will never know, yet I would like to think it was whispered to their daughters and sons.

I’ll never forget a minister telling me that I was “controversial” and I should stop being that way and just preach. I told him Jesus was controversial and he did more than “just preach”. He thought. He taught. He upset the scholars. He upset the religious. He shook things up. He healed. He delivered. Etc. He was crucified for being who he was created to be, yet he rose up from that death (darkness) and successfully completed his mission. Here I was thinking, that we should be like Jesus as a Christian. I wasn’t made to just preach. I don’t even like that word. I like teaching. I like speaking. I don’t like titles, either. I don’t like boxes and I’m not fund of rules that attempt to box me in. And let me say this, when it comes to the notion that we should be “like” Jesus, we cannot be like Jesus as in the sense of copying his personality and his exact mission. It was his. Being like him, should be understood as having the same or similar morals and values, doing what God has called you to do, and mirroring the God like, Jesus like characteristics. I have turning over table tendencies. I have drawing my sword and using it tendencies like Peter. I have war like vibes like David. I have Lydia goals. I have Vashti rebelliousness. I reach for Jael nerves if an enemy comes to the house.

Everyone is called to make some noise in their “own way” and to get into some “good trouble” and that takes guts for some of us timid by nature people. I don’t know if I could have done what those like John Lewis and Rosa Parks did. I do think I would have been who I am. Somewhere behind the scenes, strategizing and organizing. I don’t think I could have been Harriet Tubman. But I would have been one to follow her for my freedom. I think I would have hid slaves for sure if I was white. I think I would have use my privilege at the expense of the hatred and disowning of my family. Making noise and good trouble cost and I am willing to pay the price. I pay the price with side eyes of men and women in ministry. I pay the price by being called, “not a real Christian” and not being invited to speak at some churches (and I am good with that). I like my freedom to move about and to be among the people. I like service and to have my hands dirty in creating change. I don’t mind being Queen but, I don’t need to have my crown on 24/7. It’s for special occasions. Not for every day grit and grind. It’s not for construction work. Some just want to the crown for the jewels, power, and position to fulfill their egos or to band aid their bullet wounds of insecurity. I am mostly, wow, this crown is pretty!. I like it. Do I have to wear it every day? No. I like the crown of humility adorned with humanity, compassion, love, peace, empathy and sympathy. It’s invisible as it sits on the head and can only be seen through words and actions of the heart.

~Nikki

As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15)

Getting Uncomfortable with God?

Late yesterday evening, I was in a very uncomfortable mood. I thought to myself, “Why am I so uncomfortable?” As soon as I posed the question the answer came as “That’s me.” I understood this immediately to be God. I understood it as God was making me uncomfortable ALL THE MORE about my situation. I’m asking for signs and wonders and I had a feeling I wasn’t going to get many more signs, but the answer is in my FEELINGS. In my GUT.

Is this about growth? Not so much. It is more about unblocking my path. It’s about unblocking my crown chakra, heart chakra, and root chakra (I know I lost some of you with that lol). It’s not about the what, it’s about the who. It’s about not having someone slow me down. It’s about not having my energy (chakras) drained. Why? I am being urged to deepen my spirituality and also, I am on the path to manifest destiny. I know what I need to create and it’s not turmoil. It’s not annoyances. It’s not immaturity, foolishness, and irresponsibility. Oh, how important it is to be connected to the RIGHT people and in the RIGHT relationship!

I am uncomfortable and it’s not just me, it’s God. What do I do? I pray. I take action.

~Nikki

b1e5593685233d1971ac60c6cb91d825

bb83821e4fef2aa01b8f39779d0661ba

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: Time Well Spent

69867494_10158830262088266_1455388881301012480_n

My mom is the primary caregiver for my father. He has Parkinson’s Disease which is a result of being in contact with Agent Orange when he was in Vietnam. He also has other illnesses and diseases that have developed after Parkinson’s. Imagine you retire and you develop a disease that DRASTICALLY changes your outward appearance and your mental and emotional well being.

My dad has always been this strong guy with muscles. I remember him lifting weights and hanging from his biceps. I remember the big round weights that go on the weight bench. I remember the children in the neighborhood racing against him and they would lose. So, if it’s hard for me to see all of that, his mobility, his muscles, his strength disappear, it must be incredibly hard for him to deal with. He’s stubborn, but I think by now he realizes he needs help or assistance. Yet, he fights to keep most of his independence because he doesn’t like anyone doing anything for them. Especially, if they make it known they really mind doing it for him or that it’s a problem. I get that and the stubbornness from him. My dad has always had a sharp mind. He still has it. He is like a walking history buff and Bible. He is still pastoring and this is his last year as his health has really declined. Last week when he was in the hospital for rehab, we talked about poetry and just when I thought I knew it all about poetry he throws out poets I never heard of. He recites some lines. This is my dad.

This week my mom was out of town on church business and I was “hired” to take care of my dad. Even though my mom is the primary caregiver, all six of us children are there to do our jobs. We all chip in. Some more than others because some work full time and others have illnesses of their own (like me). We seem to take on our roles and fill in when needed of roles of the others. It just worked out that way. I took care of Dad this week and I got to see him in a different way. I got to see the struggles in a different way. I heard the yelling as he napped. It was something about war. I got to see the depression that he sometimes denies. I got to experience the moodiness and irritability that we rarely see. But, I also got to see the determination to wash his own clothes, put his dishes away, wash up, and put his clothes without my assistance a few days. I saw the sweat pouring down his face and the tiredness that followed those simple tasks.

My favorite part of the experience was getting him out of the house to sit on the porch as he likes to do and we listened to a famous sermon on YouTube by Reverend C.L. Franklin (Aretha Franklin’s father). He was unsure he could get out of the house or go anywhere with his new fancy walker (which he calls the Cadillac). I had to encourage him and he made it to the barber shop with his new walker.

Even though it was really hard work taking care of him all week from 7 am to 7 pm it was time well spent. The pain and exhaustion that I felt daily, the pain meds I had to take, the willing myself to get up, the swelling and the joint inflammation, the mental battle,  reminded me of why I had such a hard time working my last full time job.  By the time you recover, it’s time to work again and creates an endless cycle that worsens your health. However, all that I experience this week was worth the quality time spent with my dad. Care giving is a job. It’s a job for the one doing it all the time and the ones who do their parts regularly and the ones that have to fit it in. However, it’s rewarding knowing that you helping someone you love and it has it’s moments that will someday become memories.

~Nikki

Mother’s Day: Fish & Bones

60359100_10158476285428266_6601446780712255488_n

There is this saying: You have to learn to eat the fish and spit out the bones. It’s a secret to some and obvious to my bloggers, that my relationship with my mother can be described as turbulent. I am not ashamed of this. Many mother and daughter relationships are at it’s best, “complicated” and I speak on behalf of some of those women. Here is the post I posted on Mother’s Day about my mom and photos from my day as a mother.

My mom and I are like oil and water sometimes. Some say it’s because we are alike and some say it’s because we are different. At the end of the day we love each other. I get my strong value for family from my mom. I get my strong work ethic from my mom. I get my cooking skills, my creativity, my fashion sense & need to have a lovely home from my mom. The idea of the finer things in life yet making the most of your lot in life. I am a giver and will try to help everybody and will feed everybody. I get that from My mom. My mom has her own big personality and it gives us many laughs. My mom is the best because she’s going to put family first and she’s going to protect it. She’s going to come through and this is why we come through for her. I love it when I make her laugh and she says “Nicole, You’re so crazy.” That’s us. That’s family. That’s love.

 

AtoZ: Loving Authentic Me. Self Empowerment, My Personal Journey

47488373_10158027929213266_1566775611127496704_n

When I began the journey to excavate my authentic self I thought it would be fun and adventurous to discover who I really was/am. It was. It was also shocking at times. It was like re-introducing myself to a self that I vaguely remembered. I felt disoriented at times. The feeling of shock and disorientation often happened when I admitted to myself the truth about what I thought and felt about things I learned or was taught growing up. It really bothered me at times admitting the truth about how I felt about my religion. It was a going against the grain. It was fear that God would “strike me down” and keep note of all the thoughts and feels I had about some rules, regulations, and doctrine. I was like, “Oh, you really don’t agree with that. You never did like that explanation. Nah, that’s not what that means. No, I don’t believe that.” UH-OH, you’re in big trouble. You’re going to be called a fake Christian.

I had to sit with this uncomfortableness as I made a decision whether to walk in ALL of my AUTHENTICITY, or partially or to hide some parts. Nod my head and go along to get along with the masses. The first thing Spirit gave me was to LEARN TO LOVE this old/new part of me by accepting that it is what it is. It is what I think and what I feel. Right or wrong by others standards, it is what I understand on my spiritual journey. “LOVE ALL OF IT. Get so comfortable with it, when you are called too modern or too out there or FAKE, you’ll be okay with it because you’ll have a peace about it because of your own personal relationship with the CREATOR and yourself.” So, John the Baptist…locust and honey-ish in the wilderness, yet at home. (LOL)

Recently, I read Dr. Martin Luther’s King theory on Jesus and my mind was blown to pieces and put back together again. It wasn’t very “Christian-like” to say the least. But, I loved that he spoke “his” thoughts and theory. I don’t have to agree and I don’t have to call him fake or a non-Christian because he had his own thoughts, ideas, and theories. Even if it did go against the Bible and Scholars.

Loving my authentic self empowers me to keep growing and moving towards my own goals, dreams, and destiny. It gives me POWER to walk my own journey and not to worry too much about yours. Oh, and to stand the criticism. I’ll uninvite myself, thank you very much. I was feeling kinda’ trapped in there anyways…

~Nikki

A to Z. Jump. Empowerment, My Personal Journey.

20170430_164844

I had researched enough. I had practiced enough. I had thought about it long enough. I had stood on the sidelines watching and observing others. It was time to JUMP. TRY MY HAND AT IT. LEARN AND LIVE THROUGH THE PROCESS. RIDE THE WAVES. It was writing a book. It was putting it out there. It was learning to crochet, selling it, and doing festivals. It was working on a mini-series. It was taking sewing lessons. It was creating abstract art and putting it out there for the world to see.

JUMP. It’s scary. It’s nerve wracking. It’s exhilarating. It’s freeing. It’s fun. It’s faith building for sure!

~Nikki

A to Z:Good Health Choices. Empowerment, My Personal Journey

20181223_094119

Merging my G and H together for GOOD HEALTH choices. It’s always empowering to me in spite of having Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and other health issues/concerns to make as many good health choices as I can. It’s true that when you eat better you feel better. Plus, with all of the medication I take, I try to give my body a fighting chance to counter act the medicine.

I am not one for diets, trends, or gimmicks. I simply believe in making better choices, more positive ones than negative ones and getting some exercise. Also, what you eat can help your mental health as well. Too much salt or sugar doesn’t help your anxiety or depression.

~Nikki

A to Z Challenge: Becoming; Empowerment, My Personal Journey

Becoming. Allow yourself to become! We, that are doing the work on ourselves or just living our lives are all becoming something. The choice is yours. But, when you are trying to empower yourself, change, be a better person you can easily become frustrated. It takes time to become who you are becoming. Let it unfold and be patient with yourself. Numerous times I said yes when I wanted to say no and then found myself dealing with drama. There were times I wanted to say something, but I didn’t. I had to find my voice and then take the opportunities to use it! A decision to change overnight may come, but change itself won’t be overnight.

~Nikki

 

A to Z Challenge: Authenticity: Empowerment, My Personal Journey

The authentic self is the soul made visible. -Sarah Ban Breathnach

AUTHENTICITY. I took a journey to excavate my authentic self and it turned out to be the most POWERFUL tool in empowering myself. Who am I before religion, before all of the trauma and drama, before I was shaped and molded into the woman I had become to know, loathe, and then love? I had learned to love myself as I was, which was powerful, but when I remembered, dug deeper into who I was before all of this, before I admitted how I TRULY FELT ABOUT EVERYTHING I WAS TAUGHT in home, in school, in life, in church…that real honesty that can make you feel guilty because you know, they say it’s wrong…or it’s not lady like or it’s not part of our culture or God is going to strike you down. God’s going to write it down and he is reading your thoughts and recording them. Whew, child! I had to now accept my TRUE SOUL and love her all the more. I had to do away with some of my outdated thinking and programmed thinking. I had to move beyond the Black/African American-AMERICAN culture. I had to remember the free little girl in her free moments laying in the backyard looking towards the sky. The little girl sitting on the step of the front porch daydreaming. The little girl before being horrifically teased about being black with naturally red hair. Before prejudice and racism. Before, abuse and before the beat down of self esteem and the rip off of a budding fashion designer. I am more than a preacher’s daughter. I am more than a Christian, if I am that in fact. (Still discovering).

My authentic self is like this megaphone echoing throughout the universe. “Here I am! Here is the real me! Love it, like it, leave it, NAMASTE.” If you are mean, miserable, biased, rude, insensitive, lying to yourself about what you really think and feel, carrying the torch for known evil, etc.. I highly recommend EXCAVATING YOUR AUTHENTIC SELF. If you hate anyone in this world, if you love division, if you can’t see people for people, then you’re probably not as REAL as you claim to be. If you are about ZEN life, Yoga/Yogi, spirituality, but when a person of color walks in you ignore them and their knowledge or experience you probably need some excavating. But I must warn you that becoming your authentic self can be daunting and painful work. It may cause you to lose friends and family and to leave you lonely at times. It may make you feel funny and it may make others living a carbon copy life question your sanity. With that being said, GO FOR IT.

~Nikki

 

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: Hope for Tomorrow

IMG_20190130_082741_423

Today I had to speak at church. Some would call it preaching, but I call it teaching. I talked about Hope for Tomorrow. Romans 12:12, Romans 8:24-25. What is hope? Hope is a joyful or confident expectation for the future or the promises of God, or both however you chose to look at it or need it. Hope is a joyful or confident expectation for the unknown and the unseen. Who hopes for what he or she can see? We hope for what we cannot see and we wait for it patiently. In other words, you don’t hope for what you already have or what is already worked out. You hope for that which you do not have yet to manifest or be worked out.

Hope is a virtue, a good quality for the Christian life experience and in my own opinion, hope is a virtue we all should obtain. Hope makes waiting or walking in faith easier. When you have hope, you have joy or you have confidence that things are working out for your good. You don’t know how, you can’t see how, but you have this expectation that it will.

Without hope, we become bitter, sad, depressed, anxious, fretful, and perhaps angry. Without hope, you become desperate and take desperate actions. Many times these actions lead to making things worse than what they were. Without hope, a joyful expectation or confidence in the future or promises of God, people contemplate suicide or commit it. Without hope that you’ll be okay if the person leaves you, you do foolish things to get them to stay or even worse.

We need hope. Hope helps us to hold on while we patiently wait for the outcome. Hope, a joyful expectation, puts a pep in our step as we walk out our faith. Hope, a confident expectation in the promises of God to you, helps you to hold on until you see the life you desire to live unfold. Yes, we need hope for tomorrow. We need hope, for tomorrow in this world. The audacity, or the boldness of hope. Hope gives us boldness in the times of trouble. The nerve, the boldness to believe in our darkest hours that light will surely shine again happens when we turn on our hope. In the world we live in, particularly and personally me for, in the these troubling political times, I have HOPE that things will make a complete 180 and put us back on track to be greater human beings which will make a greater America and a greater world to live in for all people.

~Nikki