I thank my God upon every remembrance of you
Today is Thanksgiving Day 2019, and this blog is the last segment of my 4-Part series on giving thanks.
On today I am giving thanks to the two men that God used over this last decade to not only propel me into my purpose, but also move me into a new career path. Let me explain.
In 2002 when I left Verizon in pursuit of my dream to become a published author. I wrote "Memoirs With Seniors" in a journal I had with all of my plans for the next chapter of my life, and put the notebook away. This turned out to be a prime example of that often-quoted scripture in Psalm 37:4, “He will give you the desires of your heart.” First, God gave my heart what to desire, then He gave that desire to me.
Nine years later, I received an invitation to a senior living facility through my Uncle Sonny (Felix Nicholson pictured here) shortly after the publication of my first book of poetry, A Time To Write. I was invited to conduct a poetry reading on Wednesday August 31, 2011 at Elm Terrace Gardens Retirement Community in Lansdale PA.
Ever the poetic historian, to the surprise of several of the attendees, I mixed in some readings by Early American and Modern Poets like Helen Steiner Rice, Ben Burroughs, Maya Angelou, and Frances Ridley Havergal. The evening was a total success, but as much as I enjoyed reading poetry to the seniors that day, I was very hesitant to seek out another, closer facility, or even to contact that same facility again. After that night in Lansdale, I taught a poetry workshop at a recreation center for inner city youth and I recited poetry at several open mic events, but it would be another two years before I would find myself working with senior citizens again, this time by way of another invitation.
On March 6, 2013, I received an email from a close acquaintance of mine named Frank Falzone. At the time he was the Enrichment Coordinator at Yardley Commons Senior Living & Retirement Community in Voorhees, N.J. He was looking for programming ideas for the residents and invited me to conduct a book signing and lecture. I spoke on the topic "My Life in Rhyme: Nine Writers Who Moved My Heart and Pen." Needless to say, the event was a success, and I was asked to come back quarterly to continue reading poetry to seniors.
Over the next three years my presentations transitioned from quarterly poetry readings to a monthly poetry writing class. Then, in 2016, Frank asked if me could teach a memoir writing class. I said yes right away and on June 23, 2016, fourteen years after I wrote it down in my journal, Memoirs With Seniors was born.
This blog is a huge “Thank You” to my Uncle Sonny and my friend Frank Falzone. God used both of them to help me achieve something that began as a dream back in 2002 and is still going strong today. Because from those two invitations, God moved me into a new career as a book editor. To date I have assisted in the publication over one dozen memoirs, poetry collections and short stories mostly written by senior citizens. (Click on the Books/Current Titles tab for more information).
This was a fulfillment of the scripture that says, "For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry." (Habakkuk 2:3)
As I close out this series on Giving Thanks, I encourage you take time out to thank the people behind the scenes in your life that God used to help you accomplish your goals, realize your dreams, and propel you into your purpose. They deserve it.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
During this month, I am giving thanks to some of the people that God used to push me into my purpose, help me meet goals and plans made over a decade ago, and were instrumental in my new career paths.Today I want to share an open letter of thanks to Author JoAnn Schehr Fashina. i also wish to extend my thanks to Shawn Morrison and Angella Middleton.
God used Shawn Morrison, member of the gospel group The Spiritual Souls, to cause our paths to cross in 2013 when she organized TAPS, The Apostolic Poets Society’s. We had an event in Boston, MA. You had a book signing, I taught a writers workshop, and together we mentored the young poets that were in attendance.
But before we even met, I went online and purchased your first book, My God, My Song, My Praise. I was in awe of your testimony, your gift, and your work as an author. You agreed to be a guest on my radio show and read from your three books, plus the fourth one that you were working on at the time.
To say that you were a real life hero in my book would be an understatement. Woman of God, mother, grandmother, retired teacher, poet, and Christian author. I soaked up everything you shared, both during the interview and at the event in Boston later that year. You encouraged me during that session and afterwards. I shared with you that I had several manuscripts of poetry that I had yet to publish. You told me how God had blessed you to publish one book per year since your retirement, and that if you could do it, so could I.
I left the conference energized to get back on the wheel and continue my assignment from the Lord. That was 2013. Once I got back home, I tried to follow the advice you gave me on how to do it, but at the time I couldn’t understand the online website you told me about (CreateSpace). I was so embarrassed and disappointed I let defeat win and promptly gave up. "I can’t" became my inner motto.
Two years years later, my daughter Angella Middleton, had finished writing her book, Life Lessons I Learned in Law School, and used the same website you told me about. When she said, "Mom you can do it", it was like everything you told me came back to my mind, and I said to myself, ‘Yes, I can do it’. I went back online to the CreateSpace account that had laid dormant for the past two years and got to work.
That was January of 2016. By November of that year, I had uploaded my sixth book to CreateSpace.
JoAnn, God used you to encourage me and to remind me that I can indeed, do all things through Christ. Your example of sharing your road to salvation in your preface/foreword still gives me chills to this day. It was a stark reminder to me that in all that I do, never forget to share the gospel. Since then, I have followed your example and each of my books includes the message of the gospel and God's love for humanity.
Shawn, thank you for your vision. It brought us all together. You are the epitome of the example that our purpose is never just about us. JoAnn, thank you for the seeds you planted. Angella, thank you for the watering you did. And most of all, God, I want to thank You for giving the increase!
And thank YOU for visiting. Stayed tuned for Part 4 of this month's blog series, A Time To Give Thanks.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
During this month, I am giving thanks to some of the people that God used to push me into my purpose, help me meet goals and plans made over a decade ago, and were instrumental in my new career paths. Today I want to thank another such person, Deacon Dan Murphy. We grew up in the same church, Greater Refuge Church in Philadelphia, PA, and years later he was instrumental in God propelling me into the world of radio broadcasting.
As I've shared in previous blogs in this series, after almost 21 years at "Ma Bell" (Bell of Pennsylvania/Bell Atlantic/Verizon) in early 2002, I put in my papers, took an early buy out package, and resigned on April 13, 2002. I was ready to begin “Life After Verizon.” In addition to my dreams of becoming a published author, I two other other dreams. One was to have a poetry radio show. I even had a name for it: “Voice the Vision” (a spin on the name of my publishing company at the time, “I Write the Vision”). I wrote the down the dream about the radio show in a journal, put it away, and shifted my focus back to my dreams of becoming an author. Later that year I opened an online store with CafePress, Inc. and created a line of poetry products including calendars, post cards, greeting cards, and journals.
In 2006 I began looking for a part time job because I needed supplemental income. Wherever I went I always had resumes with me (I kept them in my car). By that same time, I had relocated to New Jersey and moved my church membership from Philadelphia to a church in Camden, New Jersey that several of my former church members also attended, including Dan Murphy.
One Sunday we were all congregated in the parking lot after church just talking like saints do, when I mentioned that I was looking for a part time job. Dan perked up and said, “My manager is looking for someone to work a shift on Saturdays at the radio station.” You see, Dan had been working at 800 AM WTMR “Where the Master Reigns”, a local religious radio station for years. I gave him one of my resumes, and the next Sunday he told me that his manager said whenever I was ready, I was welcome to join the team!
Eventually I said I was ready and began training right away. Lo and behold, Dan was my trainer. During the evenings, after my full-time job, I would stop by the station for training to be a board operator. It was very challenging for me because although I had been behind the mic practically my whole life, I had no former training on the technical side of broadcasting.
I will never forget the night I came home from work and fell to my knees in prayer crying to God because I just couldn’t seem to retain what I was being taught about the studio equipment, the board, which knobs did what, etc. I was crying out to God in frustration wondering if maybe I had made a mistake. Maybe this vision wasn’t for me. I asked God what I should do. He spoke right back to me and said, “I opened the door.” That was all He said, but I knew what He meant. He had opened the door, my job to walk through it. And walk through it I did. I returned to the station determined to succeed. And with God’s help, I did just that.
This blog is another trip down memory lane, and “Thank You” to Dan Murphy. God used him not only to give my resume to his boss, but also to train me for that job. God turned my dream of having a poetry radio show (where I would have to pay for the air time) into having a job at a religious radio station as a board operator where I had the freedom to create and host any kind of Christian programming that the station manager approved. From 2006 to 2015 I created and hosted several shows, including three poetry/spoken word shows. I interviewed and showcased many Christian poets, spoken word artists, authors and even a few singers.
Dan, thank you for being the brother in Christ, co-worker and friend that you have been down through the years. God truly used to to answer a prayer that was "exceeding and abundantly beyond what I could ask or think." And even though He has now moved me into a new chapter, my time in broadcasting will never be forgotten. And neither will you. God bless you my brother!
Stay tuned for next week's blog on Giving Thanks and thank YOU for visiting!
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Iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
During this month I will be thanking unsung heroes who God used to propel me to my purpose, People who pushed me past my comfort zones, who helped me meet goals and plans made over a decade ago, and who were instrumental in new career paths. The first person is my dear friend and Sister in Christ, Sue White.
Three things have always been constant in my life: my family, my faith, and my poetry. This blog is about faith and poetry. With the exception of a Christmas party at work in the mid 90's and online poetry group in the early 2000's, church was the only place I shared my poetry.
In 2005 a dear friend of mine (Sue White), who happened to be the Program Director of a transitional home for HIV+ homeless women, asked me if I would come read poetry to the residents during one of their group sessions. I quickly declined.
The next year, 2006, when she asked me again, I had a change of heart. Mostly because of how much she believed in me. She would say things like, “You can do it. Your poetry heals. They’ll love you.” I had written her wedding poem and her confidence in me was stronger than my own. I finally said, “Okay, I’ll do it.”
To say that I was terrified is an understatement. At the time, all I had was a common knowledge of HIV/Aids and even less knowledge about homelessness. I felt very inadequate. But then I remembered everything that poetry had been to me, and its benefits to mankind throughout history. From poetic Psalms, to Shakespeare, to the Early American Poets, to the Harlem Renaissance, to the Beat Poets of the 60’s, to the influence poetry had on the birth of rap and hip hop, to the powerful Spoken Word Artists of the new millennium - poetry has inspires people of all ages and all backgrounds.
With all of this in mind, I got ready for my first poetry reading outside the four walls of the church. This was four years before I published my first book of poetry, so at the time, all of my poems were typed and organized by subject into 3-ring binders. I grabbed one of the binders and headed out. When the reading was over, I was on cloud nine. I remember whispering a little prayer right there in my car on a little side street in South Philadelphia, “Lord, if I could this every day for a living, I would. Lord, I would even do it for free!”
That was the beginning of me connecting my gift of poetry with volunteering and community service and I have never looked back. I stayed at that facility until 2008, and after that, I looked for a new organization volunteer with each summer. I still accepted engagements within the church but I was always careful to carve out some time for poetry readings in the community as well. Thank God I never have to sacrifice one for the other.
I am forever grateful to my friend Sue for allowing God to use her to bring me in to her facility. It was the push I needed to launch out into the deep, to go beyond the four walls of the church, and to truly, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). I just happen to do that through poetry.
I encourage you to seek God for direction on how to share the gospel through your gift in your community. You may not sing, preach, or recite poetry, but there are nine fruit of the spirit - pick one and share it with your community today!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this month's series on Giving Thanks and thank you for visiting!
"I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please'." Isaiah 46:10 NIV
Club 31 is a Facebook Ministry for women founded by Lady Angel Davis, of COOLJC, Inc.
Club 31 is a group of women knotted together for the purpose of REVIVING, ENCOURAGING, AND EMPOWERING WOMEN all over the world.
This year Club 31's theme is "Join the B.E. Movement: The Butterfly Effect with God.
This month Club 31 & Friends is Presenting "B.E. Lifted Morning Inspiration: 31 REASONS TO TRUST GOD"
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from today, "Trust God Because He Knows Your Ending From Your Beginning." In it, I share the testimony about the time God reminded me that like Joseph, my gifts were being perfected in my wilderness season. I pray it blesses you as it blessed me!
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Today is National Back to Church Day. Twenty nine years ago I returned to my church home after being "AWOL", "MIA", and a "POW" for pretty much the entire decade of the 80's. But on Sunday September 16, 1990, I not only went back to church, I went back to GOD! I was reclaimed, refilled, restored, and redeemed by the blood of the lamb!
Ye were redeemed . . . with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world.1 Peter 1:18-20
Two decades later, one of my spiritual daughters (I only have two) asked me to write something on the topic of Redemption for her Women's Group on Facebook. I said yes, 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
The synonym 'coupon' caught my attention and gave me a great frame of refernce to proceed. Just about everyone from all walks of life can understand 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, to the Free/No Purchase Necessary (my favorite), we all understand coupons.
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, redeemed.
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.” The coupon is just one creative way to explain how we have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. There are as many others as there are those whom Christ has redeemed.
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
The 'Day of Pentecost', which is celebrated annually 50 days after Easter Sunday by Christian churches all over the world, commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost) upon the Apostles (Disciples) and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, as described in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts Chapters 1 and 2).
Some years ago, I was asked to minister a poem for the last service of an annual Pentecostal Weekend Celebration. This was during a particularly dry season for me spiritually. I was filled with resentment, confusion and hurt over some serious church matters and I really didn’t know how to handle it. The pain and anger ran so deep that I did what some wounded sheep do. I retreated. Not from the church, but from God. My spirit went on autopilot and began going through the motions of worship and service unto the Lord and nobody knew the difference. Nobody but me. Nobody but God. The fact that leadership and peers seemingly couldn’t tell the difference only worsened my attitude and deepened the wedge between me and my deliverance.
Recently I read up on what sheep do when they face fear, hurt and danger. “¹When they are faced with danger, their natural instinct is to flee not fight. Their strategy is to use avoidance and rapid flight to avoid being eaten. A sheep that is by itself is vulnerable to attack.”
I was ripe for the devil’s pickings and didn’t even know it.
I was blaming God for the wrongdoing of others and running
from the very one who could console, comfort, heal me and show me what to do. But even in my rebellion, God reached out to me through the request to minister a poem that weekend. My heart remained hardened up to the very day of the service. I had made up my mind to just minister one of my old pieces, but the Holy Ghost just wouldn’t let me be. After morning service, I left to go get something to eat but never made it out of the parking space. I sat in my car weeping and pouring out my heart to God in repentance and despair. And as I did, He refilled me once again. As I came out of the spirit, I asked God which old poem should I minister and He answered “Tell them the truth.” I picked up my and wrote:
Today marks the 4th 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. This time though, I'm sharing the background that still amazes me to this day.
Three years prior to 'the incident', 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'."
One 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.
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 (AP is capitalized as a way to remember the group's former 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 to were those two songs - over and over and over again.
Four days later on Thursday May 14th, at approximately 5:40 p.m. I suddenly began experiencing shortness of breath. For the next 50 minutes, as I struggled to breath, I prayed, I cried, I sipped cold water, I took my hair down, and even loosened my clothes, but it was still a struggle to breathe. Finally at 6:30 p.m. 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 appeared to be damage to the right side of my heart. But it was later confirmed that I was suffering from acute BPE's (Bilateral Pulmonary Embolisms) or, multiple blood clots in both lungs. Later that night I was admitted to room 505 on the Cardiac floor of Jefferson University Hospital. It was a private room with machines that beeped all night and specialists who visited all day. I was there for five days and five nights while my body was nursed back to health.
When I think about those 50 minutes from 5:40 pm to 6:30 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 ‘Fifty 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 (Every breath you take is Grace); through the theme I was asked to speak on (I am Still Standing. I am Still Strong. I don't look like what I've been through); and through the lyrics of the two songs that had ministered to that whole week (He thought I was Worth saving, and I Gotta Testimony).
Yes, God's Preceding Word had gone out of His mouth, and just like Isaiah 55:11 says, "it did not return to Him void but accomplished the purpose that He intended".
God has led me share my testimony in spoken word, here on this blog, and in an upcoming anthology titled "Fifty Minutes of Grace: And Other Testimonies of Survival". Keep checking the Events tab for the release date and continue to keep me in your prayers!
To God Be The Glory for the things that He Has Done.
Grace: The Undeserved Favor of God
Poetricia Publishing © 2018
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The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
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 it had 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 I 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 and on Monday March 30, 2009, Poetricia Publishing was officially born. (Prior to that, from September 1996-2002, I published a poetry newsletter for single women called THE COMPANION under the business name I WRITE THE VISION.)
Initially my vision for Poetricia Publishing was that it 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 this goal was “all about me”.
As time went on, fellow poets began seeking me out for advice on how to publish their poems. My vision expanded to “specializing in publishing services for the Christian minded poet.” My goal was to assist other Christian poets in creating print ready manuscripts of inspirational poetry, while still carving out time to work on my own projects.
As I recall those years, I am reminded of the biblical account of Joseph and his dreams (Genesis 37:5-11). In his first dream, Joseph and his brothers were 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 Joseph's second dream, the sun, moon and stars bowed down to him. Based on his father’s question in this passage, we know that symbolically the bundles of wheat and the stars represented his brothers and the sun and moon represented his mother and father. At 17 years old, Joseph’s dreams of greatness seemed to be all about him.
Many years later – after he was betrayed, falsely accused, imprisoned, set free, and had forgiven his brothers – those two dreams were fulfilled. Joseph was almost 40 by that time. He was promoted second in command over 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 had come to realize that it wasn't all about him. I did too.
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 such joy. The last expansion of Poetricia Publishing in 2016 sums up it up like this: “I’ve written my vision. Let me help you write yours.”
Poetricia Publishing © 2019
Nine years ago today I published my first book, A Time To Write. Below are the pictures from my very first book signing and an article later that month about my journey to becoming a self published author.
I remember Saturday March 20, 2010 like it was yesterday. It was the first day of Spring and the temperature was 72 degrees in the Camden/Philadelphia area. It was first day of a new season for me as well. It was the day I became a published author.
I chose the date March 20th even before the location was confirmed. Someone who worked as an event planner told me that was "not the right way to do it", that I should "always secure the venue first". But the previous November (2009) when I looked at the calendar for 2010 and I saw that the first day of Spring fell on a Saturday, I knew right away that would be the day for my book signing. The first day of Spring fit perfectly with the theme of my book, which is based on Ecclesiastes 3:1, "To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." I felt that nudging in my spirit that you sometimes feel when you know God is trying to tell you something. So I set the date for March 20, 2010, and then set out to secure the venue.Once again, I did this in a rather unconventional manner.
Even though the location wasn't confirmed at that time, I also knew exactly where I wanted to have my book signing. Two years before that divine nudging about the date, I felt that same nudging when I first walked into The Walt Whitman Arts Center in Camden. It was early 2007 and a poet friend of mine invited me to an Open Mic at "The Walt". I had never been there before but the moment I walked in and started walking around, I felt something. When I sat in my seat, I felt something. When the poets started coming up on stage, I felt something. I remember looking around at the stage, the audience, the balcony and saying to myself "I'm going to have something here one day". I went back a few more times after that to sit in on poetry group meetings on the second floor and I was even more sure that someday I would have some sort of event in that building that had to do with poetry. So I wasn't surprised when I called the Walt Whitman Arts Center in December of 2009, and they told me that the date I inquired about (March 20th) was available. It may not have been the right order to plan an event, but I had no problems reserving the first floor for my book signing.
The day went off without a hitch. There's a saying "It takes a village". Well, it's true. My family and close friends helped tremendously with this event. After listening to me talk about my dreams of becoming an author for years, they helped make that dream come true. They manned the tables, took pictures, worked as hostesses, and even helped with finances and security. It was my daughter's idea to do the day in "rounds" consisting of signing books, taking pictures, and reading from my book. When I wasn't on stage reading there were "rounds" of a slide show presentation, live music, and performances by the other poets. The weather was so nice that after some people purchased their books, they went outside to read, take pictures and just enjoy the sunshine. The presence of friends and church members who have supported me throughout the years made the day complete. My son couldn't be there because he was recuperating from surgery, so as soon as we wrapped things up we went to see him. As he laid in his hospital bed he was introducing me to all the nurses who came in his room and showing them my book.
As the day came to a close, I was both overwhelmed and excited. Three people had already asked me to come to their church to do a book signing. Others kept asking me what was next. My next dream was to see my book on the shelf of my favorite bookstore: CLC (the following year that became a reality). Also, I have a few more books to publish, but once I've published all of my books, I want to help other people publish their books (that eventually became a reality as well).
March 20th will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the first time I realized that God not only answers prayers, He also makes dreams come true.
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Poetricia Publishing © 2017
For some singles, Valentine's Day is annoying, painful, or sad. Memories of the past, prayers for the future, and the 'weight of the wait' make it difficult for some to be happy in the state they're in, let alone content.
My singleness journey taught me about the sacrifice of praise through the humanity of the Psalms. One study states that over 40% of the recorded Psalms are laments (expressions of sorrow and regret). My favorite example of this is Psalm 13:
A PSALM OF DAVID (A plea for deliverance)
v1 Lord, how long will You forget me? Forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?
v2 How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day? How long will my enemy dominate me?
v3 Consider me and answer, Lord my God. Restore brightness to my eyes; otherwise, I will sleep in death.
v4 My enemy will say, “I have triumphed over him,” and my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
v5 But I have trusted in Your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in Your deliverance.
v6 I will sing to the Lord because He has treated me generously.
Just like we do when it comes to our singleness, David begins this Psalm by asking God “How long?” four times in the first two verses. He follows with a request in verse three, and a worry in verse four. What first struck me was how honest he was with God about his fears and his impatience. But more than that, I was encouraged by how he ended the Psalm. The last two verses, like many of the lamenting Psalms, ended with praise. In spite of all the inner turmoil, fear and doubt, David sealed it all with a praise. In doing this, David paints a literal picture of the sacrifice of praise (Psalm 116:17).
As singles, we are called to do the same. That begins with being honest with ourselves and honest with God. Like David. Bearing everything in prayer. Confessing not only our sin, but our doubts, worries, and struggles too. God doesn’t want us to deny, hide, or suppress our feelings. He wants us to give them to Him. He wants us to empty ourselves of all that baggage until nothing is left. And there, right there in that emptiness, He wants our praise.
That’s the purpose of Poetic Praise: For Seasons of Singleness. It's a collection of 35 poems I wrote in various seasons of my singleness. Some of the poems will make you laugh. A few might make you cry. Several will give you a Selah moment - a moment of quiet introspection. But most of them will lead you into praise, because no matter what our marital status is, we should always “Give unto the Lord the glory that is due unto His name” (Psalms 29:2).
Order your copy HERE
Poetricia Publishing © 2018
As the Sunday school classes made their Christmas presentations this year, like many adults in the audience, 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 - the wise men followed it from the East all the way to Jerusalem, with one intention in mind: to worship Him.
Later that day I was moved to review 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 acts of worship by the shepherds after witnessing His birth (Luke 2:20). And this all happened before the biblical account of the wise men.
After Jesus was born, the scriptures state that the wise men "saw His star" and followed it until it rested over the place where Jesus lived. 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. But more often than not, the images you will find of the wise men either show them on camels traveling across the desert or standing at the nativity scene each with a gift in his hands.
It's very rare that you'll find an image of the wise men kneeling or bowed in worship. I was able to find a few images online where one wise man is kneeling, but the other two were always shown standing. And even then, they’re each holding a gift in their hands. Some would say that their giving is also an expression of worship, but let's take another look at Matthew 2:11.
When the wise men arrived at the house where Jesus was, “When they saw the young child with his mother, they fell down and worshipped Him. Then, after opening their treasure chests, they presented gifts to Him”.
Although the wise men brought precious gifts with them to present to the King, their first thought was to present themselves to the King and to 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. Not for long life, or wisdom, or favor. But just to worship Him.
A present day 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.
This year is almost over. Before the clock strikes midnight, let me ask you something: Have you carried let go of all unforgiveness in your heart? Have you been betrayed, lied to, cheated on, abused, belittled, offended or worse? You're not planning on carrying it over into the new year, are you?
If so, your healing, deliverance, and breakthrough are moments away. I'm going to let you in on a little secret: it's the most valuable lesson I learned about forgiveness. It's not a feeling. And it's not based on whether or not you ever receive an apology. Forgiveness is a choice. Nothing more, nothing less. It's making the decision to stop the angry, resentful, vengeful feelings, thoughts and actions towards the person(s) who have cause you harm.
Below is an excerpt from my memoir Words Will Never Hurt Me: Overcoming Childhood Memories of Domestic Violence.
"My father died at 1:40 am today. No, actually, he died two days ago when he passed out on a South Carolina side walk. I’m told the paramedics worked on him for 15 minutes bringing him back to life only to be put on a ventilator for 36 hrs before I received that call in the middle of the night telling me he was gone. But he was already gone. Hours before, days before, decades before. For many years I planned to publish a sort of tell all after he died, cloaked in a self help book for survivors of domestic violence of course. But in the hours after I received that call, the most amazing thing happened: The love of my heavenly Father flooded my soul until the truth stood out like a sore thumb: My father was not a perfect father, but I wasn’t a perfect daughter either (to him or to God)."
"The next time I looked up, Father's Day was approaching. Unexpectedly, each time I saw a glowing social media tribute to a deceased father, a wave of emotions I couldn’t understand would flood over me. But again, God sent revelation to me, this time through a song called "Good, Good Father" by Chris Tomlin. The line that hit me like a ton of bricks is “And I’m loved by you, that’s who I am, that’s who I am.” For so long I allowed my childhood to define me as “the child of an abuser and the child of the abused.” But the song referenced above made me realize that my identity lies in the fact that I am loved by God. And the truth is that I both loved and resented my father. But that day I decided to let it all go. The final step in the forgiveness I thought I had already given him. I’ll miss our calls, his jokes, and his visits. But I won’t miss the bad memories. Because I’ve decided to let them die with him."
If you are reading this, I want you to know that there is no time like the present to forgive and there is no one who deserves forgiveness more than you. Yes, you. You deserve the peace and the freedom that comes when you forgive those who have hurt or offended you.
And in exchange for that you are guaranteed forgiveness from God for your own offenses towards Him.
Poetricia Publishing © 2018
Click HERE to order a copy of Words Will Never Hurt Me.
Click HERE to listen to Good, Good Father by Chris Tomlin and HERE to find out more about his ministry and music.
If you are being abused call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or (800) 787-3224 (TTY).
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 issues I was still suffering from 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).
If you have a testimony of survival and you're ready to write about it, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Since 2016 I have taken joy in helping others also bring their stories to print. It would be an honor to help you do the same.
And remember, GOD is just a prayer away, and I'm just a phone call away [856-553-POET(7648)].
I DIDN’T KNOW THE SIGNS* (by Patricia Middleton)
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 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.
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.
*Excerpt From THE WRITING WAS ON THE WALL
Poetricia Publishing © 2013
Enjoy the poems below in honor of National Poetry Month
I wanted to write a sort of theme poem for The Apostolic Poets Society (TAPS). I've been a member since its inception in 2010. I wrote this little poem during one of our events. As a poet for Christ, it speaks the sentiments of my heart.
THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH
Let the words of my mouth,
The rhythm and the rhyme,
Be in sync with Your spirit,
Praising You all the time.
Let the words of my mouth,
The meter and the beat,
Never cease to tell someone,
What you’ve done for me.
Let the words of my mouth,
My style and my stance,
Tell the world that You are
The God of a second chance.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
After my prayers and meditations one morning, I reached for what I thought was an empty notebook and found an old poem inside that I wrote while on an cruise in March of 2014.
The poem was inspired by a book of Caribbean songs written by Calypso Composer Larry Armony (Alamoulou). It was the best souvenir I bought on that trip.
Sitting on the balcony
I lift my eyes for a morning view
Of God’s creation:
The sky, the land, the sea.
Inhaling a deep breath of island air
I close my eyes, lean back in my chair
And rest in the nothingness
That all vacations should be.
Moments pass, and with opened eyes and lowered lids
One hand reaches for a sip of morning dew
And the other hand turns the page
Taking in more and more of you.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the skies shows the works of His hand." Psalm 19:1
One of the hardest things I've had to do as a Christian woman was to end a dating relationship in my mid 40's. He loved me and I loved him. He put marriage on the table and I wanted to say yes. And, we had history. However, he did not have Holy Spirit. He was a believer in word only, and for me being a believer is an action word. It requires you to do something. Apostle Paul drew a distinction in Acts 19:2 that cannot be denied when he asked a group of believers, "Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?" They had not. Many may disagree with me, but when it comes to relationships, we all have 'deal breakers', right? Well so do I. And so does God. With a broken heart, and much regret, I finally said No to that relationship and Yes to the word of God. This Christian life is a journey and there are many bumps along the road. That was a big bump for me. And this little poem is one of many that was born out of it.
Yes, I may be hurting,
But the victory is mine.
I've learned to be obedient,
I've learned to sacrifice.
Yes, I'm disappointed,
But I still have the victory.
I've traded in what I want,
For what God wants for me.
And yes I may be crying,
But my victory is won.
For mingled with tears of what could have been,
Are tears of joy for what's to come.
"Do not be joined together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness
and unrighteousness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14
I sent this text message poem to a few sister friends that God has placed in my life. Iron sharpens iron and each sister has made me just a little stronger and wiser in my walk with Christ. And for that I am eternally grateful.
SISTERS LIKE YOU
I am so blessed,
To have sisters like you;
To talk with, to laugh with,
And to pray with me, too.
The bonds that we share,
Are bonds for life;
As women, as friends,
And as sisters in Christ.
Your encouragement and love,
Has helped me to grow.
I love you all dearly,
Just wanted you to know.
"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." Philippians 1:3
"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
This is the very first couplet I ever wrote. Carefully following the rules of a standard couplet I wrote it while sitting the audience at a local poetry event. I read it later that evening during the open mic segment. Many were astounded that I wrote it in one sitting. So was I.
Unmet goals fill my soul,
With painful tiny little holes;
That seep into bones and sinew,
Polluting all He once made new.
And now I find thoughts so unkind,
Have taken over heart and mind.
Like a knife both sin and strife,
Have cut into this Christian life.
It won’t be long, 'til all that’s wrong,
Will be the lyrics of my song.
So from the root, this rotten fruit,
Must be replaced with love and truth.
The task is surely no small feat,
But with His blood t'will be complete.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:8-9
Not being able to see the forest for the trees is an expression used for someone who is too involved in the details of a problem to step back and look at the situation as a whole. Spiritually speaking, we can never become so preoccupied with trials and tribulations of today that we forget that our life is like a beautiful forest created by God. Doesn't matter if all we can see are a bunch of trees. Like my pastor often says, it's all about your perspective. The poem below was my Heavenly Father's reminder to me of just that.
THE FOREST FOR THE TREES
Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees.
The big picture of our life is often hidden behind the leaves.
But if we step back and take a look again,
Through the misty forest of our lives we'll see our Savior's hand.
Leading us through the rocky paths of life,
Guiding us as we travel down the bumpy roads at night.
Sometimes the forest mist,
Is so dense, heavy and thick;
That we can't see His hand, or anything at all,
And we blindly stagger as though we're about to fall;
When we feel a firm but gentle tugging of our arm,
Our Master's hand still holding us, protecting us from harm!
So we will not fear! We will not fall! We will not flee!
When we cannot see the forest for the trees.
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight." Hebrews 4:13
".....He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5
Poetricia Publishing © 2016
Finally, in recognition of National Poetry Month I want to spotlight a poetry anthology called Images: Women in Transition. This book originally belonged to my mother who gave it to me along with a couple of other books when she was downsizing to a smaller place. The cover is tattered and the pages are worn but it's one of the best poetry books I've come across in a long, long time.
Let me pause to give some background. The poems in this book were compiled in 1976 by now retired Janice T. Grana. She was the executive editor of Upper Room Books in Nashville Tennessee and served as world editor and publisher from 1984 to 1996. She said "we sensed a need among women to write about their personal experiences from a context of change, struggle and sometimes frustration." So, "a news release was printed which invited Christian women to share their own stories" and it was "circulated ... through newspapers and special mailings." Not long after "manuscripts from across the country poured in .... from more than six hundred women."
The poetry in this book is revolutionary. The fact that I'm blogging about it 40 years later is a testament to how good the poetry in this book really is. It's moving and quiet and powerful and gentle. It screams and it shouts and it whispers. It sings. It makes you laugh and cry and wonder. You agree with it. You question it. You shake your head at one page and reread the next page five times. At a point in my life when the image I had of myself was becoming obscure, this book helped me see myself clearly again. As a woman and as a writer.
I love the words in this book. I love the women in this book. If only I could meet them. Sit with them. Talk to them. Listen to them. Hear their words in their voices. See them and the images they have become, their transitions now complete. If only I could see their now after being so affected by their then.
Here is one of the two poems I wrote after being inspired by this book. The book my mother gave me.
IMAGES IN TRANSITION
With literary leftovers
Hand me downs
Of decades old images
Washed clean the
Murky vision of self
That had started
To set in
Sang life to
Inside of me
And whose cries
Woke up my
Back to myself
Poetricia Publishing © 2017
Images: Women in Transition is available on Amazon.com. Just click HERE.
For Upper Room Books click the following link: www.upperroom.org