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Relics of My Imagination

Returning to a former hometown has been revelatory in a profoundly impactful way. We remember people as we were last with them. Memory is faulty. It leans towards rosy hues and comfort connections. If prior interactions were positive, or what we may have considered to be warm, friendly, or loving at the time, memory will serve rosy images of comfort. If prior interactions had been overwhelmingly negative or emotionally damaging, memory will bar any images of comfort attaching to lingering thoughts. If the relationship was a mixed bag of all life has to offer, the love, admiration and esteem you held for the person will overshadow everything. Until it can no longer stand up to the truth of character and time.

shown me more of. Releasing my thoughts release their hold on me.

Since the turn of the century 😊 (the last twenty years or so), I have been trying to understand myself in tandem with my core relationships. I have chiseled away the elements I didn’t want to be a part of the woman I am becoming. Likewise, I began holding my relationships up to the same harsh light. I saw they all needed infusions of Spirit, Love and Truth. Only then was I able to see people as are, rather than as my imagination remembered them.

Even as my relationships collapsed and wasted away one by one, there were a few I genuinely believed would survive close scrutiny. The friendships I thought were based in truth and mutuality of intent. The friendships I built on shared belief in the Word and compatible spirits. The family members I loved more than myself and would have laid down my life for… until my life became an expected forfeit for their ease. I thought some relationships would survive the fire God was purging my life with. For many years, I held on to some stubbornly. Refused to let go. Kept doors open. Maintained lines of communication. Fanned the flames of hope. All the way up to my return to Milwaukee last year.

Returning to a point of beginning has shown me like nothing else, how much I’ve grown – how much I’ve BECOME. In many ways, all the people I’ve been holding on to are in the same places emotionally, mentally, physically and/or spiritually as they were when I left. Effective sharing has been impossible because I’m not able to be fully who I am now in conversation. My current troubles, concerns, hopes, goals, views, ideas are nothing close to what they were twenty years ago. And yet they speak to me as if twenty years have not passed, even though we’ve been communicating throughout this time.

Twenty years ago, I subjugated myself in every arena of life. Everyone I encountered and interacted with were treated with great esteem. So much so, that it may have appeared that I esteemed myself less than I esteemed them. This is true to the point that I chose to leave home – family and friends – for a faraway place (New York City) to explore who I am without everyone else’s demands and influence on my personhood, time, and resources. That was the beginning of me chiseling my identity out of the narrative I was born, and repeatedly placed, into.

I’ve been gone from Milwaukee for as long as I’ve ever lived there, yet it remains the place I’ve lived the longest. As such, it has a deep impact on my early worldview and life expectations. These ingrained perceptions transformed into re-writable code during my fifteen years in New York City. A whole life recalibration in the Southern Arizona desert followed my time in New York. Living in quiet solitude allowed me to gently revisit core family and friend relationships. The tranquility of my environment provided space for honest evaluation and the ability to listen with an uncluttered heart.

During that time, I learned I wasn’t important to any of the mother and sister figures in my life. I was useful, but not valued as a whole person. What I could do for them kept them in contact with me. When I let their words and actions reveal their hearts, I was able to see how they viewed me as only a fraction of who I once was. They kept me in a mental space of need, lack, silliness, and inferiority. Easier to exploit if they thought they were doing me a favor with their attention and demands.

Painful revelations to be sure, but from the distance of a few years, I now appreciate not misunderstanding my place in people’s lives. They held a special place in my heart, but now what I thought we were has become fond memories. I’m no longer burdened with a desire to be present, to perform or to even communicate. When I stopped buying into the performative nature of our interactions, they began giving up the performance as well. This unmasking has been a great process for repositioning relationships more appropriately according to their nature rather than what I imagined they were.

Returning to Milwaukee has cleared away fog, doubt and shaken the stranglers completely loose. I’ve been looking at this period of my life as the end of an autumn season. There’s been vibrant change, amazing color, and opportunities for joy, but the whole season has been about transition. From changing leaves to winds of change. The shaking loose of the dying leaves from trees can be traumatic with its suddenness. Sometimes, all it takes is one good storm to leave you shaken, naked and barren. Ferocious gusts of wind to take away the glory of your foliage. An overcast darkness to usher you into a season of dormancy.

As we transition deeper into winter, we lose light and heat. We become grateful for the few leaves that weren’t shaken loose when one storm became many. We cling to those resilient leaves for as long as we can. Until the light becomes brighter and the heat starts to warm our roots again. Transitioning from winter to spring reminds us that adorning ourselves with dead things hinders growth. That storm we hated for shaking our beauty and comfort loose was necessary to prepare us for new life, new possibilities, for our next season of blossoming. The storms also deepen our understanding and sharpen our sight.

I still don’t know the full purpose of this extended return in Milwaukee, but I recognize the need for purging, clarity, and rejuvenation.

There will always be questions. What if my past hadn’t been what it was? How different would my life be? What if I had made different choices? What if I had stayed and not sought to chisel my identity from the harshness of the world? All those what ifs would still be what ifs with the addition of “who am I” – the question that sent me out into the world – if not for the path my life has taken.

One thing my solitary existence has taught me is the firmness of my identity. I’m not fluid. I’m not unsure. I’m not scared to ask hard questions. I know I’m created in glory as a Child of the Most High. I know my will and moral compass bends towards the Word of God. I know I will achieve all the purposes I’ve been created, prepared, and positioned to achieve. I need not chase or worry. I need not torment myself about who is with me or for me. It is only me and My God as it has always been – even when I wasn’t aware. I am confident in proclaiming my name, and my determination to fully develop into My Creator’s purpose for me.

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Breathe. Release. Repeat.

There was a time when I held on to everyone and everything

for dear life. Periods when life was defined by the people I craved
relationship with, things I strove to acquire, and status I worked hard to achieve. All these were cultivated by family and societal culture.

This current stage of transition and transformation doesn’t accommodate such baggage well. It’s taken away my appetite and done away with most of my desire.

Over time, relationships have disintegrated, things have
lost value, status no longer has meaning. Contentment has come with releasing them all.

Learning to simply be is a joy. Embracing my breath. Learning its pattern. Knowing without it, I am nothing. Breathe. Release. Repeat.

Today I choose to release yesterday’s hopes, plans, and disappointments.

Right now, I focus on my breath. It’s softness and it’s power.

In this chain of moments, I honor my cycle of inhaling and exhaling. The pleasure of simply being.

Wherever I am is where I choose
to be present, so there I be.

Selah.

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ACAD – Women & Truth: 1 Esdras 3

Now King Darius gave a great banquet for all who were under him, all who were born in his house, and all the nobles of Media and Persia, and all the satraps and generals and governors who were under him in the hundred twenty-seven satrapies from India to Ethiopia. They ate and drank, and when they were satisfied they went away, and King Darius went to his bedroom; he went to sleep but woke up again.

Then the three young men of the bodyguard who kept guard over the person of the king said to one another, “Let each of us state what one word is strongest, and to the one whose statement seems wisest, King Darius will give rich gifts and great honors of victory. He shall be clothed in purple and drink from gold cups and sleep on a gold bed[a] and have a chariot with gold bridles and a turban of fine linen and a necklace around his neck, and because of his wisdom he shall sit next to Darius and shall be called Kinsman of Darius.”

Then each bodyguard wrote his own statement, and they sealed them and put them under the pillow of King Darius and said, “When the king wakes, they will give him the writing, and to the one whose statement the king and the three nobles of Persia judge to be wisest the victory shall be given according to what is written.” The first wrote, “Wine is strongest.” The second wrote, “The king is strongest.” The third wrote, “Women are strongest, but above all things truth is victor.”[b]

When the king awoke, they took the writing and gave it to him, and he read it. Then he sent and summoned all the nobles of Persia and Media and the satraps and generals and governors and prefects, and he took his seat in the council chamber, and the writing was read in their presence. He said, “Call the young men, and they shall explain their statements.” So they were summoned and came in. They said to them, “Explain to us what you have written.”

Then the first, who had spoken of the strength of wine, began and said: “Gentlemen, how is wine the strongest? It leads astray the minds of all who drink it. It makes equal the mind of the king and the orphan, of the slave and the free, of the poor and the rich. It turns every thought to feasting and gladness and forgets all sorrow and debt. It makes all hearts feel rich, forgets kings and satraps, and makes everyone talk of extravagant sums.[c] When people drink they forget to be friendly with friends and kindred, and before long they draw their swords. And when they recover from the wine, they do not remember what they have done. Gentlemen, is not wine the strongest, since it forces people to do these things?” When he had said this, he stopped speaking.

Footnotes
3.6 Gk on gold
3.12 Or but truth triumphs over all things
3.20 Gk talents

[Note: The books from 1 Esdras through 3 Maccabees are recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Greek and the Russian Orthodox Churches. They are not so recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, but 1 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh (together with 2 Esdras) are placed in an appendix to the Latin Vulgate Bible.]

Resource: BibleGateway.com, New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

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Barbershop Theology

Rebutting Black Men on the Woman King

It’s disappointing & infuriating to see Black Women constantly attacked by black men. The common theme is: a strong Black Woman erases the Black Man. i.e. there’s no need for a man if a woman can live in her own strength & purpose. This line of thought usually leads to what a woman’s role and place are (spoiler: obedient & beneath a man).

One IG poster started in on Wakanda Forever. He was outraged by all the powerful Black Women in the trailer. Where are the Black Men, he screamed! I would rather they replace Chadwick Boseman than put a woman in the panther suit, even though that’s how it happened in the comic book!” Ok, bruh. He went from outrage with Wakanda Forever (we all know it hasn’t even been released yet), to outrage with Woman King. He loves Viola, of course he does, but how dare she call herself a king! His Woman King post is at the end of my video commentary. Pause/screenshot it to read.

Part 1: Rebutting Black Men on the Woman King https://youtu.be/PwKgb5PDAL4

For those who have seen the movie, what are your thoughts?

For those who don’t want to see the movie, what are your reservations?

Threat of Equal Partnership

I was able to verbally rebut this idiocy in a barbershop. The loud and wrong men called me sexist for insisting that Black Men are not the only ones in danger. “Why you gotta keep bringing up Black Women,” they yelled. They called me a bougie Christian for saying I want an equal partner in marriage. “What, you think you’re white? Talking about a partner… why don’t you want a HUSBAND or do you mean you’re a lesbian,” they laughed uproariously. They kept repeating in different ways that men and women are not equal as something ordained by God. I asked for scripture, they had none.

The thing that choked me into a stutter was that each of them claimed they were good men. Truly stunning to me. Nothing they said represented goodness. How can you be a good man when you don’t even see the goodness you’re claiming for yourself in the woman God created? What’s good about inferiority? You think women are less than – how is that honorable? How is that praiseworthy?

Part 2: Equal Partners

#womanking #thewomanking #ruler #advisor #vision #leader #violadavis #hollywood #men #women #gender #politics #moviereview #igtv #reels

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Watch “Adam Arron at the Metreon SF 9/23/22 Avatar $ AMC” on YouTube

During the pandemic, I began investing in the stock market. I was slow to act and extremely timid at first, but my nature leans towards high-risk, high-reward scenarios.

In January 2021, I began investing in AMC Theaters to combat the short attack by which hedge funds were attempting to bankrupt AMC for their gain.

Retail investors (non-institution) of AMC are called Apes. Not sure how the moniker came about but it’s now proudly worn by millions of people around the world.

In this video, Adam Aron, CEO of AMC, speaks to his army of Apes about our mutually beneficial relationship. This is a great share from @CEOAdam
on the love affair between @AMCTheatres and #retailinvestors. It’s also insightful regarding business finance while in survival mode.

#AMC #APE #AMCApe
#AMCsqueeze

https://youtu.be/gysdIzjM4qQ

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Poem: Attention Seeker

You have my attention

never lost it, despite

trampling it with dismissive ridicule

What will you do with it now

What have you ever done

To keep my focus and hope

other than laugh and brag with friends

while keeping me in perpetual limbo

Indeed, have you ever given me

your purposeful attention

Focused your energy on me

Strove to be more than

a nice guy liked by all

Did you ever envision yourself

as a man of integrity standing by my side

A man of purpose joining his strength to my vision

Unlikely, as your form of noncommunication

layered with emotional hiding

seduced me into the shadows

I can think all the thoughts or not one,

do nothing, say nothing

and get the same wide-eyed,

“I’m a nice guy” non-response

received when I did everything

to look like a fool out of my depth

A foolish woman

who gathered all my available courage

to speak all my known words

of admiration, love and desire

To a being who sparked the light in my spirit

yet could not comprehend the nature of my offer

Now I understand my vibration

was beyond your frequency

You couldn’t perceive me

beyond the physical appearance

you considered unworthy of your commitment

My attention meant nothing when it was all I had to give

Even though it’s what you wanted most from me.

You were attracted to my light but had no respect for it.

Yet here we are orbiting still

What are your intentions?

Do I willingly enter your rabbit hole

of emotional grief with no hope of any satiation

To allow you to feast off my energy

Watch you eat

As I starve

You bask

I wither

You soar

I drown

You chose someone else

I grew in grace, seeking understanding

from a God who would put you

in my spirit, yet keep you out of my life

Maybe you were never the one

I was to commit my future to

Perhaps the real test is trusting God to provide

beyond what I sense in a life set on orbiting you. 

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Harvest Photo Brochure

This summer, Harvest Life partnered with Visit Milwaukee, the convention and visitors bureau for Milwaukee, WI. On their Milwaukee 365 social calendar, Harvest Photo’s Photo Walks are available for booking.

After several unsuccessful attempts in both Arizona and Wisconsin, Harvest Photo finally got approved for AirBnB Experiences this summer as well.

When Experiences first became available, I proposed a desert walk and shoot on Dove Mountain in Marana, Arizona. I was hosting in my home at the time and thought it would be a great add-on experience for guests. Airbnb declined my proposed Experience, stating it was too much of a personal service. They wanted something that anyone could participate in in a group setting.

This summer I had two requests for Milwaukee photo shoots by travelers via Airbnb. I explained to both requesters that I had submitted photo experiences prior and why they were declined. The second requestor sent me screenshots from around the country of other photographers doing exactly what I had been asking to do. I sent links to those Experiences to Airbnb and asked what wording they required for my experience to be accepted. I basically plagiarized descriptions from other Experiences, resubmitted my experience, and was approved within 24 hrs.

I share this because I was discouraged. I wasn’t interested in resubmitting my proposal when the first traveler asked me for Airbnb booking info.

I had become so comfortable with rejection, I anticipated it. That hurts to say, as I hadn’t really thought about it like that before.

The Milwaukee Photo Walks have been well-received and I know this format is something I can do wherever I am in the world. That sparks my joy.

All this being said, it was certainly past time to update my Harvest Photo brochure from real estate to more personal offerings.

If you find yourself in Milwaukee, WI while I’m still roaming the city, feel free to look me up for a shoot or walking tour.

If you should encounter me in another city, I’m sure my offerings will be the same or similar. Look me up there.

Should you need a photographer for a life, community, or company event somewhere I am not, remember me. Travel is part of my lifestyle. Branding session needed? I got you!

Please view, like, and share my Harvest Photo brochure below.

Thank you all for your support in the visible, invisible, spoken, and unspoken ways. Though I must say, I respond far more eagerly to what I can see and hear. Feedback is fuel.

Be blessed as you go.

LaShawnda

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Poem: This is a test

this is a test

and only a test

if I do nothing

what happens

if you do nothing

what happens

if I do something

or anything

perhaps one more thing

what happens

if you do nothing still

what happens

if I do everything

all things

reach down to move your feet

or up to puppet your lips

what happens

and if at the end of it all

you still do nothing

what could have possibly happened

your heart and will

are yours to control

mine are mine to protect

for every level of effort

I perform, the outcome remains

no forward motion

no synchronicity

no reciprocity

so I’ve learned to do nothing

like you ….  

flirt with the air

deny responsibility

through inaction

save energy

stay where I am

move forward on my own

momentum with no

expectation or disappointment

after, it was only a test

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Sermon: Giving God the Glory by Dewey Smith

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. ~ Romans 11:36

Key: God kept my mind.

Allow God to make your mind new

Glorify God with:

  • Upward presentation
  • Backwards from conformation
  • Inward transformation
  • Outward demonstration

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, on the basis of God’s mercy, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~ Romans 12:1-2

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ACAD – Faith & Pleasing God: Hebrews 11

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable[e] sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death, and “he was not found, because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would approach God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance, and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith, with Sarah’s involvement, he received power of procreation, even though he was too old, because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.”

All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better homeland, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac. He who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom he had been told, “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” He considered the fact that God is able even to raise someone from the dead—and, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked blessings for the future on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, “bowing in worship over the top of his staff.” By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions about his burial.

By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months after his birth, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called a son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king’s anger, for he persevered as though[k] he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace.

And what more should I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured, refusing to accept release, in order to obtain a better resurrection. Others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death; they were sawn in two; they were killed by the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, persecuted, tormented — of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains and in caves and holes in the ground.

Yet all these, though they were commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better so that they would not, apart from us, be made perfect.

Reference: New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

Footnotes
11.1 Or reality
11.1 Or evidence
11.2 Gk by this
11.3 Or was not made out of visible things
11.4 Gk greater
11.4 Gk through it
11.11 Other ancient authorities read By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered
11.22 Gk his bones
11.23 Other ancient authorities add By faith Moses, when he was grown up, killed the Egyptian, because he observed the humiliation of his brothers and sisters
11.26 Or the Messiah
11.27 Or because
11.28 Gk would not touch them
11.31 Or unbelieving
11.37 Other ancient authorities add they were tempted