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Showing posts from April, 2018

There's Still An Ounce of Joy

Tonight 
I fought back tears 
as someone affirmed a joy 
that I didn't even know was inside of me. 

I'm so grateful that, 
amidst the sorrows and the unsettling turbulence of this year, 
an ounce of joy 
was able to ooze from behind 
sometimes forced and painful smiles--
that my joy overcame my sorrows 
and was able to meet someone where they were. 

I remain confident in knowing 
that I have seen and will continue to see 
the goodness of the Lord 
in the land of the living.


A Reflection on Caring for Black Men

I posted a video that I didn't really like upon watching it. I took it down. I plan on writing a much more sustainable reflection on this matter as soon as the semester is over. It has become the core of my thesis research and I'm excited about unpacking the ways in which black women can care for black men and people in a way that is not damaging or deadly.
Thank you for you patience.

I'm hungry

I had this idea that making a crockpot dish affectionately called "Kitchen Sink Chicken" would be symbolic of what it's like to build and sustain community--using all the resources in "the fridge"--all the resources that the community has to offer--to feed and nourish each other. However, as I get deeper into this journey, I'm realizing how naive and superficial that can be at times. As a leader in ministry (clergy or otherwise), this road can be very lonely. You can invest a lot of energy in building a community that you will inevitably be left on the outside of. In my ministerial experiences, we build community with the expectation of always being able to be an integral part of the social life of that community; yet, I'm learning more and more, that as the community grows and the responsibility of being a minister deepens, the ability to participate in the social life of the community that feeds and nourishes diminishes. It's almost as if you'…

I am bold. I am beautiful. I am courageous.

Finding Love after Sexual Assault

Disclaimer: For mature audiences only
I was sexually assaulted on a first date when I was 24. The events of that evening landed me in Harlem Hospital at 2 am with a concussion and a bruise on my forehead (among other things). During the hours in which I took up residence in a private emergency room, I was coached by a nurse on how to proceed--to take legal action immediately or to not take legal action...to complete a rape kit or to not complete a rape kit. It was overwhelming. I also had to take 17 pills, mostly anti-viral meds. It was intense. There was a moment when I looked up to the ceiling and silently bemoaned. "Really God?" I said, as the quick air from a painful chuckle slipped through my lips. I felt like I was in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. I felt defeated. I felt stupid. I felt isolated. And all because I said, "yes." The details of what transpired that evening are not important to this post. What is important, however, is how the lingering trau…

Water Weight

Today was rough. I cried real hard tears. I felt like I shed 10 lbs of water weight--the hurt, the bottled-up pain, the heartache came right off. I mean, it's still there but, I let it drip for the first time in months. I let the waterfall run it's natural course. It hurts but I feel lighter.I keep wanting to make sense of this season of my life. I keep wanting to wake up from this nightmare. I keep wanting to fight the tears and that fighting has inevitably drowned me. This water weight has caused such congestion in my life. Today I got to release that.I'm looking forward to the shedding of more weight this weekend. I don't know how, but I believe God will make a way for my breakthrough.In bed early tonight. Cheers.

Be Encouraged

Encouragement for the final stretch of the semester:Today, I sobbed in Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary.
I'm not ashamed.
I am emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted.
I share because:It's okay to be overwhelmed.
It's okay to breakdown.
It's okay to recognize your burn out.
It's okay to wanna throw your laptop across the library (Not if you broke tho😢)
The release is necessary.Take care of yourselves.
Air hug someone.
Tell them to keep pushing. Be encouraged.

She Is Not Broken

I wish I could tell
every woman who's holding
bottled-up tears
to stop apologizing for her emotions.We are human. And we are whole.
We are woman. And we are not broken
because we cry so heavy
or laugh so loud.We are not broken
because we have emotions--
because we dare to express our
emotions--
Because we've made the choice
to feel.I wish I could tell
every woman who's silencing her wail
and putting makeup on her weariness
to let it out!--
to scream to the top of her lungs
and let the world know that
She is not broken,
like a cracked porcelain doll,
but that she is BOLD!I am not broken,
I'm bold!I am not broken,
I'm bold!I am a not broken!I
Am
Bold!

Let It Go

It's Not Me, It's You

When people continually misinterpret your loving actions for hurtful actions, you have to take a step back, breathe, and realize that you are not speaking the same language, and that it's not all your fault.I recently wished someone well, told them I loved them and that I was praying for them. They told me that I was basically telling them to "f**k off." Huh?
Where'd ya get that from.That's been happening a lot lately. When misinterpretation happens, I always evaluate myself first. But I'm tired of beating myself up over the fact that my spirit-language unnerves you. I will no longer punch myself for being able to be the bigger person, yet having that misconstrued as aggressive behavior or hostile language. At some point, we have to take a deep breath, step back, and say, "it's not me, it's you."

I Will Live

I can't keep letting people kill me.Every wound, every fracture, and every puncture feels like the end.At some point, we have to take responsibility for the ways in which we allow some people to injure us, over and over and over and over again. We deserve better. We deserve more.Tonight, I've decided that amidst the tears and the wailing and the palpitations and the bruising, I WILL LIVE. I will live. I deserve to live.

Am I Your Youth Pastor? ☠️

I'm figuring out what works for me in ministry and what doesn't-- what I'm called to and what I'm not (at the moment). People are so quick to throw the "Under 35" crop of ministers into Children's or Youth ministry. They want us to be Youth Pastors sooooo bad. Let me tell y'all something: Youth ministry is a very specific calling, okay!

You got to know that it's where God is calling you because it's a very specific and intricate line of work. You are caring for the souls of 3-year olds on up. The wide age range is taxing and forces you to embrace a plethora of modes of explicating the theology of whatever place you're working in. It is not for the faint of heart and you will not be in worship service much (at many churches). You'll need to develop a spiritual life outside of Sunday mornings because the work is too demanding for you to actually be able to worship during that time.
I'm at a place on my (short) ministerial career whe…

Ministry Things...

I. I sometimes feel as if I've mistepped--as if I've offended someone or embarrassed myself. I'm constantly working through that as someone new to ministry, but also as someone who has a strong idea of what they desire and the will to stand my ground. II. I try my best to be open to the newness of this divine assignment and all that it comes with; yet, I'm also trying to embrace all the parts of myself that I've laid aside for this calling.III. I'm trying to figure out a way to live all of my dreams. I feel like I'm failing at this. It is painful. IV. I wonder, often, if I'm making the right decisions in my personal life--if I'm being intentional enough about my desires and if I'm honoring my body's visceral reactions to things that bring me joy and things that cause distress. I feel as if I have a grip on this, professional, but am struggling with this on a more intimate level.V. In terms of preaching, I'm trying to embrace this newfoun…

Hey Mama!

Hey mama, πŸ‘ΈπŸΎ
I want to scream so loud for you πŸ—£️
'Cause I'm so proud of you, πŸ€—
Let me tell you what I'm about to do
I know I act a fool, πŸ™„  but
I promise you I'm almost done with school 🀞🏾
I appreciate what you allowed for me,
I just want you to be proud of me 😘

I'm Under...

Drowning. Behind. Under. Help!

When the Lilies Are Gone

Excerpt from  "When the Lilies Are Gone" :: a sermon given by Mia M. McClain at Fort Washington Collegiate Church, NYC, on April 15, 2018. 

It appears that we are all coming down from the Easter high—the exuberance that surrounds celebrating the one on whom many of us center our faith. I know I am. Whew! Holy Week almost took me out. I didn’t recover until last Sunday. LOL


But we’ve come down from the wonderful high of Resurrection Sunday— ·Your seer sucker suits are in the dry cleaners now.  ·You've weaned your children off of peeps and jelly beans and chocolate eggs. ·Many your lilies have survived thus far—maybe not (if you're a poor plant owner,        like me, your lilies are probably on their way out.)
But what happens when the lilies are gone? When the beautiful fabric that once draped this sanctuary has been taken down?  When the warmth of Spring is upon us, and our worship takes a backseat to other activities?
What happens when the lilies are gone? When our siblings…

Love Is Complicated

I was watching a trailer for the new season of Black Love [OWN] and I was reacquainted with the reality that love is complicated. We keep trying to un-complicate it. We keep trying to make it fit into a neat box that is one-size fits all, but that's simply not how it works. I've been thinking a lot about this lately--about how love makes us confront who we are, daily. Love provides us a mirror that shows us everything that is beautiful and ugly about ourselves. Love is hard--loving oneself is hard; thus, loving others adds complexity to that difficulty. 
I want to hold space in this year of life for the complexities of love--for the gut-turning and heart-wrenching unexpectedness of love. I want to be surprised by love--by how it can stretch you and expand the realm of what you thought was possible--emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Even amidst the disappointments that come along with loving others--because humans are imperfect--I want to embrace a grace that can accom…

A Break from the Bruising

Pastor Michael A. Walrond Jr. says, we "need to celebrate the breaks in the bruising."
Everything is not as I'd want it to be in my life right now. The past few months have been physically and emotionally exhausting, and I am just now catching up on mental and physical rest. I spend as much time in bed at home as possible to make up for the rest that was lost in January and February. I am also very mindful of what I choose to spend my energy on. In order for me to take advantage of this break from the bruising of life, I need to allow myself to heal. This means saying my favorite word:
                            "No."
"No, I can't make that meeting."
"No, I can't help out in your midday chapel service." 
"No, I can't stay in this class because there's an energy that's upsetting my spirit." 
"No, I can't come out tonight."
"No...Because I am celebrating the breaks in the bruising!"
In t…

Dreams

I don't know everything 'bout where I'm going
But I know I'll never get there
if I don't start moving
In the direction of my dreams

There may be highs
May be lows
It's uncomfortable
To not really know
But I gotta start moving
In the direction of my dreams
I'll take my seeds and plant a harvest
Become a tree or even a forest
Aim for the sky
And maybe I'll fly
In the direction of my dreams


Grief is Necessary

You ever hear a song that you know but you can't remember how you know it?I've been listening to this Tramaine Hawkins album and a song came on and I don't remember how I know it or when I sang it but it struck something in me. It reminded me of something my Leo would've put in one of his Christmas shows. I've been in my feelings about it and I can't diagnose the origins of those feelings so I'm in a mood of nostalgia as I creep back in time to find when and where I first encountered this song.Grief is strange. I've written about it several times on here. It strikes when you least expect it and calls forth dusty memories that you'd never have dug for on your own. It is a frightening and blessed experience. I'm learning to take it for what it is and to not dwell on the missing links. Grief is necessary.

Walk Away

Sometimes, we choose to put ourselves in spaces where we are of much use to it but it is of no use to us. As spiritual leaders, we often chose where to serve before thinking about how we're being served. We are taught to give without asking for anything in return AND to be joyful about it, for "God loves a cheerful giver."  Sometimes we're so focused on serving--on giving of ourselves so freely "in the name of Jesus"-- that we run the risk of being spiritually depleted. Our wells run dry. Our gas tanks are on E. At the end of service, there's nothing left for us. Our spiritual exhaustion forces rest upon us while others ingenuinely and even rudely inquire about our absence. Self-care is overlooked in sermons about service and we are made to feel guilty for walking away.Today, I was affirmed in my decision to walk away from a toxic space that depleted my spiritual resources so many years ago. I'm grateful for what that space offered me during my tim…

Holding My Breath

Mostly,
I feel as if
I've been holding my breath
For 3 months.Yesterday,
I breathed.
Today,
I breathed again.I'm still alive.
Everything that tried to destroy me
Failed.I'm grateful
that Jesus still breathes on me--
that God still speaks to me--
that grace is sufficient.

On Death: Dealing With "Da Body"

I had a congregant pull me aside at church a few weeks ago to ask me a very urgent question. The senior pastor was out sick, the associate pastor was busy, and I had just preached. This urgent question was about her concerns for those who are cremated.
"In the bible," she said, "it talks about Jesus coming back for us and raising us from the dead to ascend with him to heaven."
"Okay," I replied, bemused and nervous about where this was going.  "But what about those who are cremated? How can Jesus raise them from their graves if they've been cremated."
I wanted to laugh so hard, but I guess I'm a minister...or something. I replied to this concerned congregant with a carefully curated question.
"I don't believe that the author meant for that to be literal. Jesus' return and the raising of the dead from their graves is a metaphorical synopsis." What I wanted to say is, "We will all be ashes to ashes, dust to dust some…

Tired of Proving Their Worthiness

It's exhausting trying to repeatedly convince somebody that they are worthy of your love. Almost as exhausting as it is to try to convince them that you are worthy of theirs. What crossing over into my 29th year has shown me is that I have little patience for people who feel they aren't worthy of my love in their roughest moments. What's the point of life--the point of friendship or relationship--if you can't give yourself over to your closest comrades without fear of being vulnerable or being perceived as weak? Proving to you that you are worthy of my attention, my time, my prayers, my comforting is ROUGH.

I've always been in situations where I had to convince people that I was enough for them. This is the first season of my life where I've had to constantly tell someone that they were enough for me--for this world. Is this what God feels like?--frustrated and bemused with us?--having to constantly reassure us that She is there for us through the ups and the…

Unapologetically Me

Many people don't have the courage to walk away--to stand up to a boss or a professor, to convict a room full of people...to confront their abuser. Those women who do get labeled or called: "angry black woman," "emotional," "aggressive," "too much," etc. Truth is, most people can't handle a woman who knows who she is and stands firmly in that knowing. 
I'm learning to be okay with people being uncomfortable with me being "aggressive." I'm learning to be okay with people finding me "unapproachable." I'm okay with being labeled if it means having my freedom from the boxes people try to put me in.
I am unapologetically me, and I'm grateful for the discernnent that led me to this moment.
Follow me on this journey.


Blessed

I missed posting yesterday because my friends surprised me with a karaoke birthday party last night!


I love them. I am so blessed to have great people surrounding me. Even amidst the chaos that has been infiltrating my life over the past couple of months, my friends have carried me. They haven't left my side. They haven't forgotten about me. They have carried me to Jesus and I am so full of gratitude.

I will be posting my regularly scheduled blog later on this evening!

Cheers

Breaking Up With NYC...

BDAY

Today's my bday.
I'm exhausted.
I left my class in the middle of it, caught a cab home, and got in bed.
I missed my night class.
I have no regrets.29 is the year of total self-care and self-love.

Pre-Bday Anxiety...

I'm currently in the library (not) studying and (not) effectively writing this paper that was due 3 days ago. I got an extension because Holy Week took ya girl out, but I'd hoped I would be done with it today so that I can try to celebrate my birthday this week. However, I'm having an anxiety attack that has been in effect for about 3 hours now and i don't know if it's because

A) my birthday is tomorrow and I'm feeling old AF and not where I thought I'd be in life,
B) I'm exhausted from Holy Week, 
C) I really just don't wanna write this paper that I was so excited to write only a few days ago.
I also don't know how to make myself feel better but I'm gonna give it a try and leave this library before I blow it up. 
I think I'm going to go get a burger from my favorite spot, order dessert (which I rarely do), drink an Old Fashioned, go home, curl up in bed with a glass of red wine, and binge-watch something until I fall asleep.
Tomorrow w…