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Looking back to move forward

August is a month of reflection and celebration. All this year I’ve been looking back. Mostly at the history of America as it relates to descendents of the American slave trade, including legacy systems, and Black Women. I’ve returned to old homes and old jobs. I’ve committed to finishing unfinished work. Now my mind and heart are on the loved ones who have left already.It seems I’m in a whole season of looking back, but in the sense of a rock being pulled back in a slingshot. I’m not sure if my future is ready for me, but I know I’m ready for the trajectory I’m being prepared for.

#life #change #death #growth #lovedones #rip #onward #grief #newlife #newhope #keepmovingforward #realestate #milwaukee #wisconsinbadgers #chicagobulls #represent #familytime #memorylane

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Marriage & Relationship: Dorina’s Testimony & Baptism

For those who followed the Marriage & Relationship Series, you’ll remember my friend Dorina. She joined the #Zoom discussions from Madrid, Spain where she’s been living for the last few years. The discussions did not focus on our personal relationships by design. However, in this recorded YouTube livestream, she shares some of her story before her baptism. Take a listen. Each of the four testimonies shared are encouraging.

Feel free to wish Dorina well on her faith journey in the comments.

 

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Kingdom of Heaven (ACAD: Matthew 8)

When Jesus[a] had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper[b] who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy[c] was cleansed. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one[d] in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you according to your faith.” And the servant was healed in that hour.

When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes,[e] two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go!” So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighborhood.

 


Source: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+8&version=NRSV

Footnotes

  1. Matthew 8:1 Gk he
  2. Matthew 8:2 The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases
  3. Matthew 8:3 The terms leper and leprosy can refer to several diseases
  4. Matthew 8:10 Other ancient authorities read Truly I tell you, not even
  5. Matthew 8:28 Other ancient authorities read Gergesenes; others, Gerasenes
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Complete in Christ (ACAD: Colossians 2)

For I want you to know how much I am struggling for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for all who have not seen me face to face. I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am saying this so that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Fullness of Life in Christ

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.

Warnings Against False Teachers

Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.

If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.

Colossians 2:1-23 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Colossians%202:1-23&version=NRSV

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Video MR2.0: Marriage & Relationship Series Intro

This first video for the Marriage & Relationship: Modern Concepts vs. Biblical Principles series is an introduction of me (LaShawnda), my company and the study series. I also begin to explore the importance of naming. Each meeting is focused on one or two Biblical couples. We explore the main theme, elements, issues and lessons of their marriage and dominant relationships. For the longer discussions, the videos will be cut up into parts. Video Part 2.1 is a larger discussion of Abraham/Sarah and Hosea/Gomer. The proposed discussion questions for these couples are posted in Discussion Questions: Marriage & Relationship, Part 2 .

 

Marriage & Relationship: Modern Concepts vs. Biblical Principles Bible Study Series Part 2:

  • Topic: Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah + Hosea and Gomer
  • Text: Genesis 12-13, 15-18, 20-22: Abram/Abraham and Sarai/Sarah
  • Text: Book of Hosea: Hosea and Gomer

Video Part 2.0

  • Series Intro
  • Importance of Naming

We meet bi-weekly. Join the conversation! Subscribe to Harvest-Life-org. Feel free to post comments and questions below.

#bible #biblestudy #discussion #learningwithfriends #adamandeve #manwoman #humanspirit #humanity #spirituality #genesis #harvestlife #harvestlifer #harvestlifeorg

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Discussion Questions: Marriage & Relationship, Part 2

Naming and Storytelling

Of the four stories we’re reviewing (Pt 1: Jacob/Leah/Rachel, Naomi/Ruth/Boaz; Pt 2: Abram/Sarai, Hosea/Gomer):

  • Which two names and meanings resonate with you and why?
  • What does your name mean?
  • What is the root or history of your name?
  • How does your name relate to your overall story?
  • What does your name tell you about yourself?
  • What drives you?

Relationships Tell a Story

What are the primary and secondary relationships in the four stories and how do they impact or drive the story?

What principle [a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief] stands out to you from the stories we’ve read? Do you see this principle exhibited in relationships you have a view of?

Is polygamy a violation of the principle of oneness (Genesis 2:24-25)?

  • Does surrogacy (as done in the Bible) violate the union between husband and wife?
  • If man and woman are to join together in marriage, what issues do you see with adultery and surrogate mothers (ex. Hagar, Bilhah and Zilpah)?
  • How do these issues seep into the larger family and community?
  • How do they impact what becomes culture and tradition?

Here are some resources I’ve been digging into.

The Bible Project creates excellent topic and book video summaries (all under 10 minutes).

Name research

Principles

The next Zoom discussion will be November 3, 2020, 7:00am MST/9:00am CT/10:00 ET/4:00pm GMT

Email harvestlife2020@gmail.com for Zoom connection link.

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Poem: Trauma of the unseen by LaShawnda Jones

Many traumas ripple through a life
Remembered forgotten long ago feeling like now
How to tell what’s real or simply
Perception from trauma tinted lenses
Impossible to know if the
Traumatized have no awareness of their state
One revels in solitude because loneliness
has become a way of life
Quietness broken by occasional conversations
with strangers labeled as friends.
True friends don’t allow friends to rot
Unseen. Unheard. Unfelt. Unknown.

~ LaShawnda Jones, May 2019

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Living without permission

I’ve been feeling like a rebel in recent years. Marching to the beat of my own orchestra. Listening to the voice whispering to me through the wind. Choosing to grant myself permission to live on my own terms. Deciding to embrace the fear of doing such even as I continue to forge ahead. For a spell now, I’ve been bombarded with examples on why living without permission is so important for our overall well-being.

Guy

I have a male friend who has had an extremely hard time in New York City since he moved to the city fifteen years ago. We have periods of connection when we check on each other before falling off again. Shortly after I returned to New York City to relist and market my apartment myself, we spent a day together in my empty Harlem apartment. We caught up on years of missed conversations and hardships. By the end of the evening I became frustrated with him. The common theme throughout his constant hardship was his undying belief that others would look out for him and his interests therefore there was no need for him to take precautions for himself. He repeatedly put himself in situations that were not only unfavorable towards him, they were often dangerous and left him at the mercy of people who had no stake or concern for his well-being. Alternatively, when he was blessed with good work environments (perks, benefits, kind managers, etc.) he abused their generosity. My strong admonition was that he needs to make better decisions for himself.

It astonished me how much power he gave others over his life, livelihood and well-being. It sounded as if he didn’t make a move unless someone with no responsibility to him was ok with what he wanted to do.

He became a real estate agent a year before I did. He stayed with that agency for a whole year without doing anything, not even an open house, because they wouldn’t help him or answer his questions or give him his pocket card (proof of profession and associated agency in NYC). When we first spoke about this, I was in Arizona and had been a licensed agent for four months. In my first month, I hosted no less than ten open houses for other agents, most of whom I still haven’t met. I was genuinely perplexed by Guy. When I asked him why he didn’t simply change agencies if help was so important for him, he responded, “I didn’t think I could.”

Real estate agents are independent contractors. The only agents who may have difficulty switching firms are those who have property listings. Listings belong to the agency, not the agent. Sometimes agencies will allow you to pay a fee for your listings to take your clients with you. If you have done absolutely no business for an agency, you could literally walk out the door in the middle of a conversation and nobody will be calling to check on you. So for Guy to not even have this minimum amount of initiative to look after his professional interests as well as his ability to provide for himself sort of blew me away.

Colleague

Last week, I met up with a former corporate colleague for dinner. We last saw each other the day I thought I had finally moved from New York City for good in February 2018. We had a good catch up. I shared some of my recent hardships concerning the delayed sale of my NYC apartment and how being in limbo through a long transition between two lives in two states has really shaken me loose from people and things I had long resisted letting go of. I shared that one of the ways I plan to commemorate the end of my life in NYC and the beginning of my life in Southern Arizona was by cutting off my hair and starting from scratch. I viewed it as a way for me to free myself to let go and grow.

Colleague immediately said, “No! Don’t do that! As a friend, I’m telling you that won’t be a good look. Don’t do it.”

I bit my lip, but the words on the tip of my tongue were, I’m not asking for your permission. I wasn’t even asking for your opinion. Instead my head tilted to the side and with a bemused look on my face I told her, “This isn’t a beauty decision. It has nothing to do with how I will look.”

“Still – don’t do it.

“I’m doing it.”

“Don’t do it.”

And around we went for a few rounds until she convinced herself that I didn’t mean cutting everything down to a buzz cut. A short cut was fine, but a buzz or bald look wouldn’t do. I hadn’t really thought about how short I would cut so I let the conversation fall off there, but it amazed me that a casual work acquaintance felt comfortable telling me what I could and couldn’t do with my own hair.

Grandma

Over the holiday weekend, I received a call from one of my aunts. She shared a story about my Grandma who has been suffering greatly from various health issues for the last decade. A few years ago, she was diagnosed with early onset dementia. Around that time she lost the home she had been living in for over thirty years which led to her being bounced from relative to relative. She is now in the fifth household in as many years. Grandma is a very strong-willed woman with a violent streak and a horrendous (though funny-to-me) potty mouth. When I visited her a couple of summers ago, she was completely subdued and scared to speak openly in front of her then “caretakers”, her youngest daughter and son-in-law. They had been abusive towards her which was the reason for my visit. My intention was to take Grandma home with me but she didn’t want to leave her hometown or her great-grandbabies. However, I let her know the choice was hers and it shouldn’t be made in fear. She chose to stay. A few months later she chose to move in with her oldest living daughter, the one who called me. They didn’t last long under the same roof and grandma was soon packed up and moved next door to my cousin’s house where she’s been for the last year. It was this cousin who received a call from senior day care informing her, “Your grandmother got into a fight today. You have to come pick her up.”

Sometime before the fight, Grandma had reported to her daughter and granddaughter that another woman (who is also suffering from dementia) in senior day care had been slapping her and pulling her hair. Both my aunt and cousin were horrified to hear this and both adamantly told her the next time that woman put her hands on her she could hit her back. Who knew Grandma would ever need permission before hitting someone back!? But she did. The day my cousin got the call, my grandma’s bully had pulled her hair hard and slapped her across the face. According to the day care workers, the next thing they saw was grandma slapping the woman back and choking her out. I’m told it took two workers to separate them.

Grandma is dependent on a walker. She’s had several strokes, she wobbles when she stands and half of her body has to be maneuvered by hand. I had picked her up from day care on my last visit and know what the set-up is. They seat everyone at a long table in the middle of the room. My questions to my aunt were, how was Grandma choking this woman out? Were they both on the ground or was Grandma balancing her weight against the woman’s throat? She can’t move without her walker. How long did it take for her to turn around, get up and get to the woman? Sadly, my aunt didn’t have my desired details.

All that said, Grandma has obviously been experiencing a great deal of abuse. My comfort here is that she tells people about it and so far we’ve helped her to help herself a bit. On the other hand, I’m extremely saddened that she has loss her voice to a great degree and her sense of autonomy overall. The woman I grew up knowing and whose roar mine mimics would have never waited for permission to defend herself.

Me

Though I’m able to identify instances of permission expectations now, I’ve lived most of my adult life seeking permission like so many others. Permission in the form of acceptance, understanding, appreciation, acknowledgement, support and validation. We live in a global society where people think they have the right to minimize others and keep them in boxes for no other reason than their own experience of privilege. Privilege via hierarchy, status, appearance, position, proximity, birth order, relationship, etc. I can’t count how often I succumbed to the preferences of others to my own detriment, but I know I began fighting that conditioning before my tenth birthday. Thirty-four years later I’m still fighting to understand what it truly means for me to live as I believe, as I want, as I plan, as I hope and as I am able to provide for myself. As many lessons as it takes, I will continue to seek only my own permission to live my best life as my best self.

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Sermon: Why Marriage? by Nik Godshall

Nik Godshall’s sermon titled, “Why Marriage?” is an excellent message about the beauty of maintaining sexual purity for marriage and continuing with faithfulness in the relationship. I love that as a young pastor, Nik confronts the entertainment, media and societal lies promoting sexual promiscuity. He shares how he himself struggled with what he was seeing in the world vs how he wanted to use his body.

Listen here and share.

Be blessed.