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Reflection Friday: What Faith Is by Frederick K.C. Price

Apostle Frederick K.C. Price (I still call him Pastor Price) is one of my first and best teachers. I began watching his televised services nearly twenty years ago while living in Milwaukee, WI. Quite honestly, I was interested in the Word – I wanted to read and understand the Bible – but my direct reading was doing nothing for me. Nothing was clicking.

I was baptized at the age of six and have been communing with God since then in the form of my journal writing — Dear God: It’s me again! Yet and still when I wanted to read the Bible in my teens and twenties, I couldn’t quite get it. I had a King James Study Bible, which I still occasionally reference here and there, however the language still trips me up.

As far as church attendance goes, I’m a professional visitor. I visited the same church for eight years with a friend in high school and college. Never joined. Wasn’t interested, but I enjoyed attending. To this day, whenever I travel, I look for a church to visit as part of the trip. Having sat in on services across the United States, France and Israel, and having walked through ancient religious edifices in Egypt, Ethiopia, England, Italy, Mexico, Poland, and Vatican City, I know we are not dissimilar in the way we choose to display honor and glory for God around the world. The human need to erect monuments in as palatial a way as possible is on display wherever humans are. Yet and still, I have rarely felt moved by the Spirit in any of these spaces. Except for one memorable time in a small town in France. After visiting Chartres Cathedral, a 12th century architectural masterpiece, I withdrew to a bathroom stall in a nearby restaurant to weep and pray.

My mother had died about three years prior. I have no linear or practical memories of those in-between years. I don’t even know what triggered me. I was studying in Paris that spring. Even though the written placement tests put me in the second tier at the Sorbonne, which was near fluency, I felt like a charity case. It was hard for me to speak the language. Nerves. Embarrassment. Whatever. The knowledge was there, but my tongue wasn’t cooperating. That is, until the day I had an epiphany in a small stone restaurant in the rural French town of Chartres. I prayed aloud in multiple languages that day. I’m not clear English was a part of that communication. I’m certain of French and Tongues. Yet I understood every word that flowed from my month. That night in my dreams, God answered my prayer.

Even having had this pivotal, emotional and spiritual experience, reading the Bible remained a difficulty for me.

A couple of years later, I began watching Pastor Price on TV. Through his sermons, the Word began to marinate in me in such a way that it became tender enough to digest. I still wasn’t getting it on my own, but I was understanding enough to continue to try.

A few years after finding Pastor Price on TV, I moved to New York City. Pastor Price operated his ministry from his Faithdome in Los Angeles, CA. As a televangelist, he traveled the world. In 2001 he started a sister church, CCC East, in New York City at 96th St and Central Park West. I first visited CCC East shortly after my arrival to the City in 2005. I lived in the Bronx my first six months and the commute was too convoluted for me. Some time after I moved to Manhattan, I began visiting the church often. A year after becoming a regular, I felt the urge to answer the altar call but valiantly resisted. During my second full year in NYC, I made a deal with God during one of Pastor Price’s visits. “I won’t join today, but the next time he comes, I’ll answer the altar call.” Based on his routine, I was certain I had a month before committing myself. The following Sunday was Easter and Pastor Price decided to bless us with his presence. As I walked down the middle aisle to my seat, I raised a side-eye to God and acknowledged His checkmate. “Ah! You got me!” CCC-East became the first and only church I’ve ever joined.

Pastor Price preached the below “What Faith Is” series a few months before I joined CCC-East. I’m sure I heard a version of it in person. This is the teaching style I sat under for a number of years. Listening to him developed my ears, discernment and understanding. He helped contour my faith.

One thing he said often was eat the meat and spit out the bones. We didn’t have to agree with him, but don’t miss the message! He had his dogma, but he didn’t teach in a way that forced his perspective on his congregation. For that, I’m eternally grateful because I could have certainly become a blind sheep loyal to a man instead of the Word.

Apostle Pastor Dr. Fred Price taught the four part “What Faith Is” series at Faith Christian Center in Arlington, Texas beginning February 25, 2007. It’s a welcome refresher for me. I hope it blesses you as well. Listen and take notes – you won’t regret it!

What Faith Is, Part 1

What Faith Is, Part 2

What Faith Is, Part 3

What Faith is, Part 4

Reflection

  • How do you think of faith?
  • Is faith a part of your life, the way you live life or an unexplored idea?
  • What came first in your faith walk: knowledge, experience, language or belief?
  • What was the catalyst that broke open your understanding of the Bible or spiritual teachings?
  • What has been your favorite lesson from your best teacher (of life, spirit, Bible, all/any things)?
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Reflection Friday: I’m taking you back…

Prompt: What don’t you want to go back to?

“I’m taking you back to the very place you suffered shame and defeat and you will have victory.”

A couple of years ago, I came across this old journal entry. At the time I wrote it, it spoke to me about my return to Arizona in 2018. Heavy, profound, life & family altering changes happened during my first stay in Arizona in the 1980s. When I stumbled upon this message a couple of years ago, I had just returned to Milwaukee after sixteen years away. This time, a return to all the places, people and things that  have impacted my life seemed to be the warning and lesson. 

I don’t know what the victory is, but I know the promise is that I won’t die in defeat. My end won’t come while I’m low. If I’m not shouting for joy now, I need only hold on because the morning will certainly come.

The first time I left Arizona, I vowed never to return. I was thirteen. It’s now a place I think of as an ideal home for myself. A place I want to settle in before retirement so I can build a community to age with before old age keeps me in place.

The last time I left Milwaukee, I swore I was done with it. I was thirty. Yet when I came back in 2021, Milwaukee was the most promising city for me as a new real estate investor. Among other cities, my top considerations were Atlanta, Baltimore and Detroit. Anywhere may have been a profitable choice, but I knew none of those cities intimately. However, I understood Milwaukee – it’s markets, culture, neighborhoods and its people. It’s biases. I remembered where it was  twenty and thirty years ago. I was beyond excited about recent, current and future development projects.  More importantly, I could afford to buy in a neighborhood that was one minute from the interstate, ten minutes from most major points in the metro area, and adjacent to a neighborhood I wanted to work myself into. 

When I left New York City, the mantra that drove me was, “I’m not going to die here!” I was forty-three. New York is where I first became my most authentic self. I was able to push boundaries, explore concepts, sample possibilities, and dismantle walls boxing me in identities I wasn’t sure represented me. It’s where I was most alive even when the City began to feel like a gilded cage. Six months after selling my co-op apartment and completing my relocation to the Tortolita Mountains in Southern Arizona from East Harlem, the Covid-19 lockdown began. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be a shut-in during a global quieting.

How we begin our journey is no indication of how we will end it. How we leave a place, people or situation doesn’t mean we will return the same way – stuck in our hurts, frustrations, disappointments or soaring on triumphs and memories of greatness. If we are open to change, not only will we evolve but the way we interact with the world will bring opportunities we never could have imagined the first time around. As our perspective expands, life forms everywhere we look and joy becomes an expectation.

Reflection

  • Where is the one place you are determined never to return to? Why? Is it fear based? Shame? Regret? Whatever the reason, have you confronted and explored it? 
  • What is the best lesson learned after you returned to a place you didn’t want to go back to?

#live #life #covid_19 #chooselife #getup #go #newperspective #newchoices  #newday #newmercies #live #woman #womanhood #iamwoman #harvestlife #reflection #doover #keepmovingforward #onward #whatsnext #rethink #restructure #reflect #build #reapingmyharvest #Iamtheharvest #joy #peace #selfawareness #chooselife

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Reflection Friday: Do you practice self-reflection?

Kicking off self-reflection for Reflection Fridays!

Self-reflection is a huge part of changing, growing and maturing. Recently, a colleague shared some great year-end reflection questions. Her prompt has inspired me to do a Reflection Friday series.

self-reflection: meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives

Prompt: Do you practice self-reflection?

  1. What did you accomplish in 2022 that make you proud?
  2. What challenges did you overcome during the year?
  3. What mistakes did you hold on to throughout the year?
  4. Why are those mistakes hard for you to let go of?
  5. How did you take care of yourself (emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually) in 2022?
  6. What character trait(s) did you rely on or practice the most in 2022? (Examples: patience, forgiveness, courage, hope, joy, gratitude, grace, honesty, compassion, etc.)
  7. Where did you start the year compared to where you ended the year? How do you measure your progress/change?
  8. What do you wish you had known at the start of 2022? What would you have done differently if you had known?
  9. What did you learn about the world in 2022?
  10. What did 2022 teach you about yourself? 
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Poem: What are you getting in exchange? 

What are you getting in exchange 
for access to your body, mind, spirit? 
your energy, presence, time 
your knowledge, skills, and resources? 
 
What are you receiving? 
for pieces of you? 

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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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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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Be Your Own Best Present

2020 year-end reflection and message for those of us used to putting everyone else first and feeding into situations that don’t nourish us. Just as we try to be available supportive and our best selves for others, we should be equally, if not more so, for ourselves.

 

Related posts:

Everything I Thought I Knew About Diabetes Was Wrong

The getting-overness of it all.

 

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When did you become radicalized?

A Self-Reflection Exercise.

 

radical
1: of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: such as
a: of or growing from the root of a plant
b: designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue

2: of or relating to the origin
3a: very different from the usual or traditional
b: favoring extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions
c: associated with political views, practices, and policies of extreme change

When did your radicalization begin?
December 2014, following a series of non-indictments of police officers and white-thinking people who killed Black men and boys. Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice were the straws that broke me open.

Where were you radicalized?
Freddie Gray. New York, NY, April 2015. On a Union Square to Times Square march route decrying the murder of Freddie Gray who was illegally pursued and arrested with force. My second march. Before then, I believed the news reports depicting protester violence. Being a crowd of a permitted demonstration that was attacked by police before we even began marching was an eye-opener. In America’s strong-hold of freedom, independence and self-expression – New York City – no less. It was astounding. And the media reported none of aggressive police tactics from that night.

How were you radicalized?
Watching police push the crowd around, listening to them curse at us. Learning that they were trying to separate people from the crowd to do harm. Knowing they were armed and the crowd was not. Free speech didn’t feel like free speech. The right to protest didn’t feel like a right. They treated it like a challenge.

Do you know you’re radical?
Yes, I know now. I want to scrap the whole country and begin from scratch. Burn it all down. Beginning with the Constitution and every law based on it. We continue to operate from fruit from a rotten tree and wonder why we can’t move forward. We need to start over with voices from every demographic in this country contributing to our democracy or whatever governing society we collectively agree upon.

When did you first see yourself in the struggle?
Sandra Bland. Houston, TX, July, 2015. Everything about her is me. I do solo road trips. I’ve been followed by police cars in isolated and unknown areas and didn’t want to stop. I’ve traveled for new opportunities and fresh starts. I know my rights. I am a Black Woman who speaks her mind and will tell you what you can do with your false superiority. Sandra was like seeing myself in the aftermath of my own murder. Seeing how she was attacked, killed and then labeled as a suicide simply because someone wanted to feel superior and others didn’t speak up to check him.

When did you become unapologetic?
Chikesia Clemons. Saraland, AL, 2018. She wasn’t killed but she was brutalized and violated in a public space because she asked for utensils at a restaurant she had just paid for food in. Police were called. Two male officers threw her to the ground, tossed her around like a rag doll, exposing her breasts, then flipped her face down to cuff her. Bare breasts and face to the floor. Everyone in the restaurant continued to eat as if nothing egregious was happening. That stunned me. People wouldn’t have sat around if a white woman was being abused like Chikesia was in that restaurant. It’s one thing to see something and not say something. It’s a whole next level of denial to see something, turn your back on it and continue to act as if that something isn’t happening.

Chikesia was my catalyst to begin working on I AM WOMAN: Experiences of Black Womanhood in America, an upcoming photo essay book sharing who we are in our own words.

When did you know you wouldn’t turn back?
Pamela Turner. Houston, TX, May, 2019. She cried out for mercy for her unborn child. She was shot and killed anyway by a Latino police officer. Whether or not she was pregnant is irrelevant. In that moment she was reaching for a humanizing drop of mercy from her killer. The depraved indifference of the officer who shot her five times proved an alarming lack of humanity in him.

When did you acknowledge your trauma?
Me. Tucson, AZ, March, 2020. When my neighbors threatened me through a houseguest by warning them that “neighbors were discussing throwing rocks through my windows and burning down my home” because they didn’t like the fact that I had added a backyard studio to my property with upscale landscaping and stone walkways. They didn’t like that I was using my home as an Airbnb. So they threatened to burn me out, destroy my home and business. In my mind, my neighbors became a lynch mob. It was difficult to process how very American this interaction was. I had enough strength to get an order of protection, but afterwards, with the help of quarantine, I retreated into deep hibernation, where I essentially remain knowing there’s nowhere in this country I can go to feel safe in my home.

When did you acknowledge your helplessness?
Walter Scott. North Charleston, SC, April 2015 was running away when he was shot in the back by a police officer who tried to claim he feared for his life. All caught on tape by a neighbor from their yard. Walter Scott’s killer was charged with murder and sentenced to twenty-years. Very grateful for the video.

When did you acknowledge your rage?
Eric Garner. Staten Island, NY, December 2014 when I began to understand that the media deflected from the murder of Black People by bringing up property during times of protest. How the fuck are property rights in the same discussion with the right to breathe?

When did you acknowledge your grief?
George Floyd. Minneapolis, MN, May, 2020. I had no more words. I didn’t speak for several days. I didn’t want to speak. I couldn’t put my finger on my exact feelings, but I knew I was overwhelmed. When I was ready to communicate, my first three words were GRIEF, RAGE, TRAUMA. My rage is too much to confront and embrace directly. My trauma reaches back through centuries of dehumanizing brutality for hundreds of millions of ancestors. My grief cries out from the first betrayal of brotherhood to the abduction and transportation by violent co-conspirators to the most racist “post-racial” society any one could have imagined.


When did you become radicalized? (Feel free to answer in the comments.)

When did your radicalization begin?
Where were you radicalized?
How were you radicalized?
Do you know you’re radical?
When did you first see yourself in the struggle?
When did you become unapologetic?
When did you know you wouldn’t turn back?
When did you acknowledge your trauma?
When did you acknowledge your helplessness?
When did you acknowledge your rage?
When did you acknowledge your grief?

 

 

#tamirrice #michaelbrown #ericgarner #sandrabland #chikesiaclemons #pamelaturner #walterscott #georgefloyd #breyonnataylor #ahmaudarbery #blacklivesmatter #icantbreathe #policebrutality #statesanctionedmurder #stopkillingus #righttolife #humanrights #whenwereyouradicalized

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Vlog: Reflecting while moving forward

For several years now, I’ve been creating video logs while traveling and for new projects. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to editing and posting them. For my I AM WOMAN Portrait & Essay Project, I occasionally video the women’s introduction. The desire to get these short clips about womanhood posted has led me to figure out the basics of editing video on my mobile devices.

This video message is about the movement and transition of life and the importance of reflecting on where you come from but not getting stuck in the past.

Be blessed,

LaShawnda

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Starting off fresh.

For the last five years or so I’ve taken a two week vacation straddling the last week of the year and first week of the new year. I don’t often travel during this time. If I do, it’s only for a few days in the middle of my break. My initial goal for the time off was to enjoy my home and local attractions because vacations and weekend trips always took me away. After years of using all my time off traveling, visiting, or generally moving around and realizing very little to none of my limited time was spent being still, resting, refreshing or reconnecting with myself, I began shutting down at the end of the year.

During this years’ break I’ve been much busier than I wanted to be, but it is also a pivot time in my life. That being said, a few days ago I simply stopped the busy work, picked up my Bible and allowed myself to sleep in.

This last year has been all about being enough for my life, refreshment and grace. What does it mean to be enough? What is refreshment? How does one embrace grace?

For me, being enough for my life means everything I need to function, grow and excel in my endeavors is within me. I am complete. I am equipped. I able, capable, ready and willing to do what needs to be done to move forward in life.

Refreshment comes from rest. It’s not just about doing nothing. Resting is willfully stopping and choosing to be still. Breathing. Recalibrating.

Embracing grace is about accepting your vulnerabilities, shortfalls and weaknesses. In relation to my year-end shut down, grace is present when I reflect on last year. How have I fallen short on my goals? What did I want that wasn’t achieved? Did I do what I am able to do and let go of the things out of my control?

There’s also grace in planning for the next year. How can I progress on last years goals? How can I move any ball forward? Do I still want what elluded me last year? How have my priorities changed? How do I allocate my time, energy and resources? What do I let go of or put on the back burner?

Reflection, self-evaluation and goal-setting have long been part of my year-end process. What’s new is showing myself some TLC while allowing myself time and space to process my life.

Here’s to hoping you’re giving yourself time and space to recalibrate and start of fresh in 2018.

Continued blessings to you all.