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POEM: I Am from…

I am LaShawnda, sister of Kim and Nicolette.
We are daughters of Terry Ann, the daughter of Bessie Mae,
The daughter of Lizzie, the daughter of Mae Emma, the daughter of
Many Unknowns.

I am from coconut oil and bergamot grease
From pinto beans and bananas.
I am from the light.
From home-cooked meals and shadowy corners,
From Thanksgiving feasts are for week-long leftovers.
I am from the iris;
The majestic maple tree,
Whose thick trunk I remember climbing and falling from.

I am from nowhere and everywhere.
From many mothers and no real fathers.
From silence, violence, solitude and perseverance
From hard work tempered with spots of joy.

I am from share-croppers and life-long toilers,
Farmers, gardeners, strong women, and providers.
I’ve been formed through the oppression of my ancestors
The generational resilience of my grandmothers and
The unruffled pragmatism of my Mama.

I am from lies and “keep it in the family”
And God is trying to tell me something
and do unto others as you… well, just do as I say.
I am from stardust and grace, refined in the fire of supernovas.

I am from Gary, Indiana by way of Mississippi and Arkansas
By way of Virginia, South Carolina and Louisiana
By way of Cameroon, Nigeria, West Guinea, and Britain
By way of One Africa seeding the World.

I am from the beginning and the end.
From all that is and all there will ever be.
From salvation and damnation, prophecy and legacy
I am from abundance and sufficiency. I am existence.

~ LaShawnda Jones
from I AM WOMAN: Expressions of Black Womanhood in America

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Kingdom of Heaven (ACAD: Matthew 20)

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’

When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.


Matthew 20:1-34 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Matthew%2020:1-34&version=NRSV

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Kingdom of Heaven (ACAD: Matthew 18)

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

“If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!

“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than to have two hands or two feet and to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into the hell of fire.

“Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one. But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.

“For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his {subjects}. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


Matthew 18:1-10,12-35 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Matthew%2018:1-10,12-35&version=NRSV

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Harvest Update – Book Release – Desert of Solitude

Harvest Update
Book Release

April 21, 2018
Volume 3, Issue 1


This book is a must read.

Desert of Solitude really helped me understand some things in life that I struggled with. It’s very refreshing to see someone overcome so many obstacles I’ve struggled with. Thank you, sincerely.

~ Kayla, April 10, 2018

Amazon Verified Purchase 5.0 out of 5 stars


Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace

One month ago, I published my fifth book and seventh overall print project. One would think by this time, the process would be smooth and effortless. Unfortunately, that was not the case for this project. Desert of Solitude: Refreshed by Grace developed into a painfully personal devotional exploration of all the ways I felt like an abject failure in life. It began as a video log with the intention of providing in-the-moment face-to-face commentary on topics in the book. The videos remain a tough editing task. Even knowing what I said, wrote and how things worked out, the first few videos are filled with so much sorrow my heart still aches when I watch them. Fortunately, I know I needed to experience the full range of my emotions in order to move through that space fully and honestly. On the other side was a deep well of joy waiting for me to dive in.

Thank God a good woman can’t stay down for long! My story has evolved into a testimonial of God’s everlasting grace and love for those who depend on Him. Refreshment. Renewal. Rejuvenation. It’s all possible. It’s all within reach. It’s life altering in an wonderfully amazing way.

I invite you to journey with me to where I am now: At peace within my purpose and fully open to what comes next.

Peace, light and love to you!

LaShawnda


“Desert of Solitude is totally different from LaShawnda’s other books. It’s really a good read; a different read because now you see the maturity that has come with all the other books, why they were [written]. If you put them all together, there’s a line that led to this. That’s what I see: all of that led to this and this is where I’m at right now. I can see the maturity, the growth as a person and as a writer. And reading it, I was like whoa! Whoa! Whoa! To me it’s one of the better reads to be honest. It kinda gets you.”

~ Carmen, March 17, 2018



From worn and torn to whole and sufficient

We all want what we want when we want it. What happens when we don’t get what we’ve been hoping and praying for by a certain age in life?

Desert of Solitude is for those of us who have achieved nothing, something or a great deal but are no closer to that “one thing” we most desire. What do you think you’re missing? What do you believe will complete your existence?

Whatever “it” is doesn’t matter. You are enough for your life.

Desert of Solitude follows the journey of  a forty-something year old woman as she shakes herself loose of youthful ideals, and releases herself from expectations formed by family, culture and society. It’s an exploration of her determination to view her life from a position of abundant grace rather than disappointed hopes. Desert of Solitude is about finding satisfaction in God’s grace and provision in the valleys of life.

Available in Kindle, Nook and Print.

Purchase on BN.com


Excerpts from Desert of Solitude

Preface: A Note About Desert of Solitude

Introduction: Wonder-Filled Living

Verdant Valley/Faith Challenges

Love Anyway: Things I Learned During My Harvest

Set Fire to the Rain…

Supporting Multimedia Links

Contents & Themes

Soundtrack & Sermons

Referenced Bible Verses

Video Messages


Author Bio

LaShawnda Jones is a simple woman who is content with her Creator’s design choices for her. She is a woman who eagerly embraces the process of her personal evolution and the results of her choices.

LaShawnda Jones is the independent author and publisher of Spirit Harvest Publishing Company. She maintains several blogs which focus on spiritual growth, social justice and photography. She speaks nationally on self-image, self-esteem, and identity in Christ and living the life you envision for yourself. Prior publications are Love & ForgivenessMy God and Me(Jazzy Media), Cliches: A Life in Verse (Jazzy Media) and Go, Tell Michelle (State University of New York Press). She holds degrees in marketing management (MATC) and political science (UW-Milwaukee) as well as a Master of Arts in International Affairs (The New School).


Purchase on Amazon.com

         

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Praying for Refugees

Their plight is in the news–let’s pray for them

temporary ban on refugees being admitted to the U.S. has put the spotlight on their plight. Few of us know what it is to lose our homes, our friends, our land, our belongings, and any sense of security. To lose identity, and dignity. Let us pray for the refugees—men and women, boys and girls—wandering the earth…

A PRAYER FOR THE POOR AND DOWNTRODDEN (from Prayers for Our Lives: 95 Lifelines to God)

[download a PDF of this prayer here]

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:18-19

Gracious Lord in heaven,

When we consider the misery and suffering of so many millions of people in the world today, we are overwhelmed

May we not turn away.

Help us to see these realities. Open our ears to the cries of the multitudes. Give us the courage to know the pain of others.

And so we pray, though with a great sense of our limitations.

We pray for the poor. May the battle against extreme poverty go on without pause.

We pray for the oppressed. Help them to survive the corruptions of governments and the evil of criminals who prey on them.

We pray for the enslaved. Bring them rescuers who will break them out of their bondage. Give them the hope for spiritual freedom.

We pray for those who suffer the indignity of discrimination in any form. Help them find justice, and protect their hearts from bitterness.

We pray for the courageous people who are bringing release and relief to the poor and downtrodden in our world. We pray they would have resources to do the job and that they would sense your wisdom to know what may be done.

We are overwhelmed by the needs of a suffering world, dear God. Protect us from paralysis. Help us to proclaim the liberating gospel of the Lord Jesus, and to live out that gospel.

In Christ’s name, Amen.


Source: http://www.thebrooknetwork.org/

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Quote: Justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other.

None of us can or should expect a transformation in race relations overnight. Every time something like this happens, somebody says we have to have a conversation about race. We talk a lot about race. There’s no short cut. We don’t need more talk. ….

But, it would be a betrayal of everything Rev. Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again. Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on to go back to business as usual. That’s what we so often do… to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudices that still infects our society. To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change. That’s how we lose our way again. …

Clem understood that justice grows out of recognition of ourselves in each other.  That my liberty depends on you being free, too. That history can’t be a sword to justify injustice. Or a shield against progress. It must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. How to break the cycle. A roadway for a better world. He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind, but more importantly an open heart.

~ President Barack Obama, from Eulogy for Reverend and Senator Clementa Pinckney, Charleston, NC, June 26, 2015

Obama on justice


Read President Obama’s full remarks here:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/06/26/remarks-president-eulogy-honorable-reverend-clementa-pinckney

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Eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney by President Barack Obama

An excellent message on grace, forgiveness and social change.

We talk a lot about race. There’s no short cut. We don’t need more talk. …. It would be a betrayal of everything Rev Pinckney stood for, I believe, if we allowed ourselves to slips into a comfortable silence again. Once the eulogies have been delivered, once the TV cameras move on to go back to business as usual. That’s what we so often do… to avoid uncomfortable truths about the prejudices that still infects our society. To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change. That’s how we lose our way again.

Justice grows out of recognition… of ourselves in each other… then my liberty depends on you being free too. History can’t be a sword to justify injustice. Or a shield against progress. It must be a manual for how to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. How to break the cycle. A roadway for a better world. He knew that the path of grace involves an open mind, but more importantly an open heart.

~ President Barack Obama

from Eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney

Charleston, NC, June 26, 2015

Top: Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney 2nd Row: Tywanza Saunders, Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr.,  Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson CHARLESTON, S.C. — Nine people -- three men and six women -- were shot and killed during a prayer meeting Wednesday night at Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Top Row: Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney
2nd Row: Tywanza Saunders, Rev. Daniel Lee Simmons Sr., Rev. Sharonda Singleton, Myra Thompson CHARLESTON, S.C. — Nine people — three men and six women — were shot and killed during a prayer meeting Wednesday night at Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Click here for biographies and fund information.

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A Fucked-Up Life and God

It is one of the deep blessings in life to realize that our imperfect lives and experiences can be used to offer hope at the perfect moment. God is so good. Continue to turn to Him and surrender your heart and spirit – repeatedly. {Click the link to read this post by Cyndy Lavoie.}

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What really matters in the end…

I am not one to admit to having favorites within my family. There’s a great deal of jealously on both sides and I learned early on that what I did for one person, I had to do for others. Most especially for my two grandmothers, who had the wonderful foresight (or cunning) to be neighbors for the majority of my life. From the age of five, I have been a visiting granddaughter “from out-of-town”, and as such, my grandma time has been split almost consistently down the middle during my visits to my hometown. Morning at Grandma B’s, evening at Grandma S’s. First night at Grandma S’s, second night at Grandma B’s. If I needed a tie-breaker (or just a break!) – I ran to my aunt’s house for relief. Don’t get me wrong, the reason I was so diligent in dividing my time between my grandmothers was because of my love and respect for them both. I had no desire for either to ever think they weren’t a priority to me. I don’t remember the content of all our conversations, but we always talked. My time with both of them consisted of me just sitting with them in their space, sharing conversation, watching their TV programs with them, me reading and them doing their own thing. I was also their occasional errand girl, driver to doctor visits, personal shopper, etc. I did whatever was needed during my time with them.

Grandma S passed away in mid-December 2012. The last time I had visited with her in her home – when it was just her and me – was sometime in 2004. After that, it was mostly urgent visits to the hospital with family and doctors telling me it was her “last days”. Thinking of it in this way, for nearly eight years, we were in her last days…. I received another such urgent call the last week of November. My aunt told me through her sobs that my grandmother was asking for me and I had to come “now”. I managed to get across the country to her bedside within 36 hours or so. I will tell you, we had been in a nearly fifteen-year stretch of urgent calls and emergency hospital visits for Grandma S. Part of me didn’t think this would be the last time I would see her alive; she had continued to live despite what her doctors predicted time after time for so many years. But my spirit knew better. My spirit wanted to share Jesus Christ with her. I can’t recall ever discussing faith or religion with Grandma S. That wasn’t one of our topics. We talked sports, we talked school, we talked work. In more recent years she wanted to know if I had met someone. I would teasingly respond that she had to keep holding on because my man hadn’t come for me yet.

When I got to her bedside, I could only look at her, kiss her repeatedly and tell her over and over again that I love her. After a bit of that and concern that the attention was a bit much, I sat with her until she fell asleep. Then I took out my journal and my box of Christmas cards that had been in my bag for over a month. The first card went to her. This is what I wrote:

December 1, 2012

My Dear Grandma Stuart,

I can’t remember the last holiday season we shared time, but I certainly never thought the next holiday season we came together would be in a hospital – you in bed & me at your side praying for the peace of Jesus Christ to fill you and the breath of the Holy Spirit to soothe and comfort you. We’ve never spoken of spiritual matters, but I asked God to take you in hand and hold you close. I now ask you to receive His Grace, receive His offer of Salvation, receive His Son Jesus Christ into your heart – welcome Him with your voice. I love you so very much. It’s a comfort to me & it should be to you to know that God loves you so much more. He is here for you & He brought me to your side.

Love you always,

‘Shawnda

Grandma S

When she awoke, I read the whole card to her – the pre-written message and my personal note. I asked her if she understood and she nodded. I didn’t want to push her beyond that, but I did feel confident that I had delivered the message I was meant to deliver. I sat by her bed most of that day praying, journaling, writing, and thinking. Paramount in my thoughts was the fact that I couldn’t remember much from a lifetime of conversation with my grandmother, but I knew the one thing we had never talked about was the only thing I wanted to share with her before she departed. It is truly well with my soul that I was there to do so. She passed away two weeks later.

In the end, all that mattered was that I was able to hug and kiss her one last time and tell her that all my love for her was nothing compared to God’s love for her.

May she rest in eternal peace.

Related posts:

“Beloved, your life matters to me.”

I Love You, But God Loves You More

What if today were your last day on earth?

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The Grace to Receive

There’s a fundamental difference between receiving and taking. A receiver is someone who accepts something that has been freely offered. A taker is someone who claims possession of something that doesn’t belong to them nor was it freely offered to them.

The first couple of years I lived in New York City, God put me in situations where I had to learn how to accept people’s offerings with His grace. I had grown up on the tough lesson that no one could be trusted with my well-being. So I sought for many years (teens and twenties) to become more independent and self-sufficient. As I entered my thirties, I stopped asking people for help because no one had ever really shown up for me. It’s a sobering thought that was enflamed by self-pity. Gratefully, in more recent years, as my faith has strengthened through testing, my spirit has rested in the assurance that all my needs are met and my God is sufficient for me.

Perhaps the most difficult and yet the most necessary lesson has been to learn to receive God’s grace. From there, everything truly abounds.