I took this selfie one year ago today in my doctor's waiting room.
Three days earlier while leaving church, I went to greet a sister when she said, "Don't hug me, I'm getting over something." In protest, I countered with, "Aww, come on Sis, it's okay, gimme a hug!" I should have listened to her, but as they say, "Hindsight is 20/20."
Twelve hours later, in the middle of the night, I was suddenly stricken with a dry hacking cough, a severe migraine, body aches, and a very high fever.
After feeling twice as bad the following night, that Wednesday morning, January 29th, I called my doctor and was given a 3:00 pm emergency appointment. When I arrived, I noticed that there were signs everywhere stating that if you have a fever, ask for a mask. When I told the receptionist my symptoms, she handed me a mask and asked me if I had been to China in past three weeks. I responded, "Unfortunately, no." (I've always wanted to go to China. Still do.)
I tested negative for the flu and strep throat (no other tests were being administered at the time). My doctor said I had a "viral infection" and that no antibiotics could be prescribed. He told me to “go home and let it run its course.” Go home? Let it run its course? Not only did I feel absolutely horrible, I was terrified. All of the symptoms lasted for a week, except for the cough, which remains to this day.
As the weeks and months passed by and the stay-at-home orders were put in place, the world (well, most of it) adapted to a new normal. I don't know if I had the coronavirus or not (apparently I'm now ineligible for the antibodies test), but with each Covid19 news briefing, as I prayed (and still pray) for the patients, their families, and those on the front lines, I am always reminded that, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”
[Excerpt from my book Fifty Minutes of Grace: And Other Testimonies of the Undeserved Favor of God]
If this year has taught us anything, it has taught us the principle of the phrase “stop and smell the roses.” A quick online search reveals that the exact quote came from The Walter Hagen Story, an autobiography published in 1956. The famous golfer’s full quote was, “You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” The passage was soon paraphrased to
“Stop and smell the roses.”
Despite the pandemic of Covid19, being quarantined, and adhering to the many social distancing practices, I have somehow managed to smell quite a few roses along the way.
The first and most important rose I smelled this year was the fragrance of goals accomplished. Namely, the publication of my eighth and ninth book. FIFTY MINUTES OF GRACE is a testimonial that’s been in the making since 2015. IT IS WRITTEN is a collection of old poems I’ve been working on since the late 1990’s. Both books reinforced the biblical principle I learned with my first book, A TIME TO WRITE, and that is, “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
I also learned – and mastered – technology in 2020. I went from not knowing anything about Zoom, to using it every week (sometimes more than once). Teaching Sunday school classes to the young adults in my church; teaching writing classes for the local library; conducting poetry readings; and attending virtual family get togethers.
Now don’t get me wrong, 2020 also gave quite a few “shook” moments. From the rapid global spread of Covid19 to the protesters marching and rioters looting; from worrying about my “essential” son to the more than 10 people that I knew personally who died from this horrible, horrible disease.
But in the words of a seasoned church mother, I’m grateful for 2020, too. God blessed me and my loved ones to live through it without being infected with Covid19, although we have all been affected by in one way or another.
So like the golfer Walter Hagen six decades ago, as this year comes to an end, today I stop to smell the roses. And they smell divine.
Today marks the 5th anniversary of God miraculously saving my life. I wonder if some people are tired of hearing me talk about it. I wonder if they wish I'd just shut up and "move on." But when you almost die and live to tell the story, then that's what you do: you live and tell the story. So, I am here to tell my story once again.
On Thursday May 14th, at approximately 5:45 pm I suddenly began experiencing shortness of breath. For the next 50 minutes, as I struggled to breath, I prayed, cried, sipped cold water, took my hair down, and loosened my clothes, but it was still a struggle to breathe. Finally at 6:35 pm I called my brother to pick me up from work (yes, I was still at work) and take me to the hospital. As soon as we arrived at the ER, I was given oxygen, an EKG, and several tests. At first they thought I'd had a mild heart attack because there was damage to the right side of my heart. But it was later confirmed that I was suffering from acute Bilateral Pulmonary Embolisms or, multiple blood clots in both lungs. Later that night I was admitted to a room on the Cardiac floor of Jefferson Hospital, connected to machines that beeped all night and specialists who visited all day. I stayed there for 5 days and 5 nights while my body was nursed back to health.
God has led me share this testimony in spoken word, here on this blog, and in testimonies in church.
Today, He has blessed me to share the full testimony, along with five others, in my newly released book titled "Fifty Minutes of Grace And Other Stories of God’s Undeserved Favor."
Click HERE to find out more.
Thank you for reading my blog. Don’t forget to leave a comment.
For information about Blood Clots click HERE
For information about my church click HERE
For information about Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy click HERE
For information about Ambassador Seed of Love Church click HERE
I started Poetricia Publishing 10 years ago today, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I had just purchased a new car and had decided this time I wanted a personalized license plate. I can still see myself writing down variations of the word poet: Poet4Him, HisPoet, HisPen, Poetess, Poetress. Then I wrote my name next to the word poet and there it was: POETRICIA. How perfect. But one too many characters for a personalized license plate in the state of New Jersey. So, I put away the scraps of paper and life went on. That was April of 2006.
A few years later, in 2009, I had decided I was ready to publish my first book of poetry (A Time to Write). Prior to that decision, I’d done a lot of research on self publishing. When I was in the early stages of preparing my manuscript, I remembered reading that one step in self publishing included choosing a business name for your publishing company. Almost immediately POETRICIA came back to mind Poetricia Publishing was born.
Initially Poetricia Publishing would be the vehicle through which I would publish all the manuscripts I had been sitting on for the past 20 years. In my excitement I didn’t realize that my goal was “all about me”.
As time went on, my vision refocused and “specializing in publishing services for the Christian minded poet” became my focus. My goal became assisting other Christian poets in creating print ready manuscripts of inspirational poetry.
My journey sort of reminds me of Joseph and his dreams. In Genesis 37:5-11 we read of Joseph’s divine dreams. In the first dream he and his brothers were out in the field, tying up bundles of wheat when his bundle stood up and his brother’s bundles gathered around and bowed down to it. In the second dream the sun, moon and stars bowed down to him. Based on his father’s words we know that symbolically the bundles of wheat and the stars represented his brothers and the sun and moon represented his mother and father. Joseph’s dreams of greatness seemed to be all about him. He was 17 years old.
Many years later – after he was betrayed, falsely accused, imprisoned, set free, and had forgiven his brothers – those two dreams were fulfilled, and Joseph was promoted second in command over all the land of Egypt. He said to his brothers, “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20). Joseph realized it was not all about him. I did too.
Today my vision is even sharper. While a few unpublished manuscripts of my own remain on my to-do list, working as a freelance editor, writing coach, and publishing consultant has brought me so much joy. My company’s tagline sums it up like this: “I’ve written my vision. Let me help you write yours.”
As the Sunday school classes made their presentations this year, like many adults who were in attendance, I sat back smiling and taking it all in. Once I was even moved to tears. Our theme this year was WISE MEN STILL SEEK HIM from Matthew 2:1-12. After the fourth or fifth presentation, I noticed a reoccurring theme developing. Sort of theme within the theme. It was WORSHIP. After seeing “His star” - the proof that the King of the Jews had been born, wise men followed it from the East all the way to Jerusalem, with one intention only: to worship Him.
That revelation made me look up other events surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ in the scriptures. I was looking for more instances of worship, and I found them. Mary’s song of worship after receiving the prophecy of His birth (Luke 1:46-55); the sounds of worship by the multitude of angels as they announced His birth (Luke 2:13-14); and the shepherd’s acts of worship after witnessing and testifying about His birth (Luke 2:20).
All that happened before the wise men began following the star. But after Jesus was born, the scriptures said they saw His star, followed it to Jerusalem, and after a meeting with King Herod, they continued following the star until rested over the place where Jesus was. Historians say that by that time, Jesus was about two years old and scriptures bear proof of this in Matthew 2:11, referring to Jesus as a young child, not a baby, and the location where they were as a house and not a manger.
More often than not, the portrayal of the wise men is usually centered around the gifts they presented to Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And much has been written about the spiritual purpose behind each gift: gold - a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense (an incense) - a symbol of deity, and myrrh (an embalming oil) - a symbol of death.
Whenever the wise men are portrayed - whether on Christmas cards, film, or figurines - they're either traveling on camels or standing in a nativity scene holding gifts to give their King. Very rarely are they portrayed bowed in worship -and few times they are, only one is bowed. The other two are standing nearby holding gifts. Some would say their giving was an expression of worship, but take another look at the scriptures.
When the wise men arrived in Jerusalem and stood before King Herod, they said, “We have come to worship Him.” When they arrived at the house where Jesus was, the bible says, “When they saw the young child, they fell down and worshipped Him”. The next verse begins, “Then, after opening their treasure chests, they presented gifts to Him.”
Although they did bring precious, costly gifts with them to present to the King, their first thought was to present themselves in worship Him. They followed the star from the East, through Jerusalem, all the way to Bethlehem for one purpose: to worship Him. Not to receive a blessing. Not for fortune or fame. Not for healing, long life, wisdom, or favor. But just to worship Him.
A subtle reminder to us that regardless of what gifts we have to offer Jesus, our primary reason for coming into His presence should be to worship Him.
Earlier today I was part of a panel discussion at an event called SAVE MY SISTER PART 2 sponsored by PATHWAY TO GREATNESS, a mentoring program for youth in Philadelphia founded and directed by Lavon Howard.
Women from all walks of life were invited to share with middle and high school girls on the topic "I OVERCAME."
Equipped with the diary from my teenage years and my memoirs on overcoming both domestic and dating violence, I headed out to the event. I focused on the difference between surviving something and overcoming it. Below is a summary of what was presented:
I remember it like it was yesterday. Being threatened in private and slapped in public. Being punched repeatedly because I said "No." The night I tried to fight back but gave up and ran all the way home (over a mile) - from 21st & Van Pelt to 32nd & Euclid Street. The time he came to my job at the phone center store, threatened me in front of my coworkers, and how the elderly security guard, Mr. Smitty, came to my defense. Being threatened with a knife when I tried to break up with him and being stalked and harassed when I finally did. It took my uncles and my father to make him finally leave me alone.
Thankfully my horror story ends there. But if not for God's grace and mercy, it would have been different. Though my heart was far from Him, God was watching over me, and protecting me even when I rejected Him. Is it any wonder I love Him so?
Years later, I realized that although I had survived dating violence, I had not overcome it. There were things I was still suffering as a result of that relationship. Inspired by God to write about my experiences, I published The Writing Was On The Wall (Recognizing The Warning Signs of Dating Violence). My mission is to spread awareness about dating violence by sharing resource & referral information, as well as my own story of survival through poetry readings, workshops, lectures, and one-on-ones.
If you are experiencing dating abuse text “loveis” to 77054,
or call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at (866) 331-9474
or (866) 331-8453 (TTY).
Don't forget about these organizations:
Women Against Abuse
Break the Cycle
Stop Abuse For Everyone
*I DIDN’T KNOW THE SIGNS
He was big and dark like a teddy bear
I fell for all his lines
I thought he really loved me
I didn’t know the signs.
He showered me with affection
I was wined and I was dined
Jewelry, trips and all types of gifts
I didn’t know the signs.
He was jealous of all my friends
He checked up on me all the time
I just thought he was a little possessive
I didn’t know the signs.
The first time that he hit me
He quickly apologized
He even cried and his tears were real
I didn’t know the signs.
When I finally tried to break up with him
He threatened me with a knife
I really didn’t think he’d use it
I didn’t know the signs.
Next time around I’ll be careful
I’ll be patient and I’ll be wise
I’ll think with my head and not my heart
Because now I know the signs.
From A TIME TO WRITE by Patricia Middleton © Poetricia Publishing
When I was asked to write something on the topic of redemption I readily agreed, thinking I’d write something quickly and be done with it. Much like we prepare for a workshop, I began with looking up all the definitions of redemption. The Archaic definition is “to buy the freedom of”. The Old French and Latin is “to buy back”. Listed among the more modern definitions is “to exchange (a coupon, voucher, or trading stamp) for merchandise, a discount, or money.
"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence." Ephesians 1:7-8
Just about everyone understands the concept of coupons. From the ones you cut out of circulars to the ones you download online; from those that are 50% off, to the BOGO (buy one get one free) offers. Not to mention the Free/No Purchase Necessary ones (my favorite). No matter who we are, we all understand how coupons work.
"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood the forgiveness of sins." Colossians 1:13-14
Over the days that followed I prayed and meditated on redemption until two weeks later when God showed me a ‘visual parable’, so to speak. In my mind’s eye, I could see Jesus limping into the world’s grocery store on His nail pierced feet, clutching at the gaping wound in His side, slowly reaching down on that sin filled shelf for me with His nail scarred hands, lifting His head, still fresh wounds from that thorny crown to say “I have a coupon for this soul – My shed blood.” He then picks me up and once I am in His arms, He carries me out of the store, covered, comforted, and clean.
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Titus 2:13-14
A creative description yes, but one that stirred my soul. Sometimes we find ourselves in the position to share our testimony of redemption with a lost soul. I believe God sometimes shows us different way to fulfill the latter clause of Proverbs 11:30 which states “he that wins souls is wise.” As #5Wise Women, the coupon is one way to explain how we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. If God has given you a creative concept for redemption, please share below. We would all love to hear it.
“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” 1 Peter 1:18-19
I remember the first time I posted a Valentine’s Day poem declaring my love to the world. Well, not really the world. It was more like the city. You see, decades Myspace, Facebook, Instagram and twitter, every year in February, the Philadelphia Daily News allowed you to ‘post’ a Valentine’s Day ad in their paper for all the world to see. It was the early 90’s and I was excited about reconnecting with this guy I had broken up with in the 80’s. It was all my fault, too. I had trust and commitment issues and they drove us further and further apart. But the year before, we ran into each other at a youth service and realized we both still had feelings for each other. I was so surprised that after all those years and how I had done him wrong, he said he never stopped loving me and that wanted us to get back together. He didn’t care that I was a single parent of twins, either. He said he’d accept them as his own and love them like a father. I was so overwhelmed. And realized I still loved him too, and had gotten over my issues of the past and was ready to settle down and, well, the rest is history. We’ve been together ever since. Anyway, below is an excerpt of that poem. I pray it touches you as it does me, even after all these years.
I’ve found a love I cherish,
Far more than words can say,
A sweet, kind and precious love,
That takes my breath away.
This love I can depend on,
No matter what I’m going through,
This love guides and directs me,
So I’ll know just what to do.
This love is an ageless love,
It’s been here since the beginning of time,
From everlasting to everlasting,
It will live on even after I die.
This love is a true love,
It’s the love that saved my life,
This love is unconditional,
It’s the love of Jesus Christ.
"It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23
One year ago today a had a near death experience, but because of the grace, mercy, and faithfulness of God, I lived to tell the story. So that's what I'm doing, I'm living and telling the story.
About a year before "the incident" my pastor, Bishop Isadore Grant, Jr., preached a sermon on the topic "God's Preceding Word." It was all about how our tests and trials are often preceded by a prophetic word from God of warning, direction, faith, comfort, or instruction. Often we don't realize at the time why the particular word is being given, but as circumstances begin to unfold, it becomes clear why. I never forgot that message.
Two years prior to that message, on January 25, 2012, I posted the following words on my Facebook wall: "This morning as I meditated on grace, and all that grace is, the spirit of the Lord whispered to me, 'Every breath you take is grace'."
Fast forward to Mother's Day Weekend 2015. On Saturday May 9th, I'd been invited to serve as the guest speaker at a Pre-Mother's Day Luncheon at the Ambassador Seed of Love Church in Philadelphia. The theme was "Still Standing, Still Strong: I Don't Look Like What I've Been Through." I shared what the Lord had given me to share on the topic and we were blessed. On the next day, Sunday, May 10th, my daughter Angella took me to a Mother's Day Concert at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, PA. That night was the first time I heard the group Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy (they capitalize AP as a way to remember their previous name, Answered Prayers). I was so moved by the lyrics in the songs they sang, Testimony and Worth, that I immediately purchased and downloaded both songs. For the next few days, all I listened were those two songs - over and over and over again.
Four days later on Thursday May 14th, at approximately 5:45 pm I suddenly began experiencing shortness of breath. For the next 50 minutes, as I struggled to breath, I prayed, cried, sipped cold water, took my hair down, and loosened my clothes, but it was still a struggle to breathe. Finally at 6:35 pm I called my brother to pick me up from work (yes, I was still at work) and take me to the hospital. As soon as we arrived at the ER, I was given oxygen, an EKG, and several tests. At first they thought I'd had a mild heart attack because there was damage to the right side of my heart. But it was later confirmed that I was suffering from acute Bilateral Pulmonary Embolisms or, multiple blood clots in both lungs. Later that night I was admitted to a room on the Cardiac floor of Jefferson Hospital, connected to machines that beeped all night and specialists who visited all day. I stayed there for 5 days and 5 nights while my body was nursed back to health.
When I think about those 50 minutes from 5:45 pm to 6:35 pm when I did everything but call for help, tears well up in my eyes. I was told by the cardiologist that "you shouldn’t be here". That usually a patient like me "wouldn’t have made it". That I was "pretty lucky". But rather than luck, I like to call it my ‘50 Minutes of Grace.’ During those 50 minutes, even though I was anxious and afraid, I never stopped praying. Even though I didn't realize it at the time, God's preceding word had already answered my prayers ("Before they call, I will answer" Isaiah 65:24).
His word had already gone out - God's preceding word - through the words the Lord whispered to me two years prior; through the theme I was asked to speak on; and through the lyrics of the two songs that had ministered to that whole week. Yes, God's word had gone out of His mouth - just like my pastor preached and just like the scripture says - His word "did not return to Him void but accomplished the purpose that He intended" (Isaiah 55:11). And three years later to the day that word is still true. Every breath I take is Grace. I am Still Standing. I am Still Strong. I don't look like what I've been through. He thought I was Worth saving. And I gotta, I gotta, I gotta Testimony.
God has led me share my testimony in spoken word, here on this blog, and in an upcoming book entitled "Fifty Minutes of Grace: A Testimony of Survival". Keep checking this blog for the release date and continue to keep me in your prayers!
“O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:1-26
For information about Blood Clots click HERE.
For information about my church click HERE.
For information about Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy click HERE.
For information about The Ambassador Seed of Love Church click HERE.
About This Blog
This blog is inspired by my first book, A Time To Write: Inspirational Poetry for All Seasons. Thank you for visiting!