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 pen and this is what I wrote:
Some time ago someone 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
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, 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.” 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
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.
During the holiday season, many singles find it hard to be thankful. Memories of the past, prayers for the future, and the 'weight of the wait; make it difficult to be jolly, 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, a collection of 35 poems I wrote in various seasons of my singleness. Some of the poems will make you laugh. A few may make you shed a tear. 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
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."
Have you been betrayed, lied to, cheated on, abused, belittled, offended or worse? 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.
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).
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, 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 and Poetricia Publishing was born.
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 © 2018
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).
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.
Don't forget about these organizations: Women Against Abuse loveisrespect Break the Cycle Stop Abuse For Everyone
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
After you have suffered a while, may the God of all grace perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
1 Peter 5:10
The Lord whispered to me while rolling over in pain in bed one night and said "Joseph's gift was perfected in his wilderness." All that week I had been studying Joseph's life between the pit and the palace, but my focus was on all the times the scriptures noted "And the Lord was with Joseph." Mainly because I'd been sort of in a wilderness of my own and sometimes it was hard to see, feel, or hear the Lord. Anyway, having found comfort that in all Joseph went through, the Lord was with him, I was pretty much done with my study of Joseph, or so I thought.
But that whisper in the night sparked a renewed interest in my Old Testament hero. After further study I realized that while in slavery Joseph's gift of leadership and organization blossomed. And while in prison his gift of interpretation of dreams matured to the point that he found himself called before Pharaoh. The act of exercising his gift for Pharaoh - interpreting Pharaoh's dream - was a blessing in disguise. In doing so Joseph saved a nation, gained his freedom, received elevation/promotion, found a wife, and his name went down in history for thousands and thousands of years.
I am sure that when he was betrayed, falsely accused, and forgotten, Joseph couldn't imagine that a brand new life would one day be his. A new life, a new job and a new family. All because of the gift God gave him. He was faithful over a few things - those few things being his gifts - and God made him ruler over many (Matthew 25:21. 23).
My own wilderness journey began when I lost my job on July 1, 2015. After the shock wore off, after the pain and shame subsided, I remembered that like Joseph, the Lord was with me. I went back to work part time that Fall, but was let go again the following June. The shock, pain, and shame quickly returned. So did depression.
But then I remembered the gifts that God placed in me. And I remembered regardless of where I am in life - on the mountain or in the wilderness - I must remain faithful to my calling, exercise my gifts, and not bury my talents. So I got to work.
First, I re-released two previously published chapbooks as full length memoirs. Then I published three of the many manuscripts that had been sitting on the proverbial shelf gathering the dust of the last two decades. By the end of 2016, I was the author of six books. Pictured below are a few of my wilderness blessings. Some are internal and cannot be photographed. Yet, even as I type this, James 2:17 comes to mind: Faith without works is dead.
Something else also happened in June of 2016. God shifted something in the atmosphere that I didn't realize the significance of until earlier this month. You see, back in May of 2013 I was invited to conduct a book signing and lecture at a senior living facility in Voorhees, N.J. Honored and excited, I spoke on the topic 'My Life in Rhyme: Nine Poets Who Moved My Heart and Pen'. It went over so well that I was invited back to conduct quarterly poetry readings. Two years later I was asked to include poetry writing exercises. I did. Then in March of 2016 I was asked to restructure those sessions into a Memoir Writing Class. I did. That was June 23, 2016, one week after I was let go of the part time job.
Pictured below is the first resident of that facility who published her memoir. (Nancy Korn Whomsley, Before I Became Your Mother).
As 1 Peter 5:10 states above, I now realize that God was perfecting my gifts in the wilderness. There was a plan and a purpose for my pain. There was pruning that needed to be done in order for my gifts to grow. And in order for God to continue to perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle me, I must yield to - and not resist - the process.
If you are in a wilderness season in your life, don't neglect the gifts God placed in you. Allow God to perfect your gifts in while you are in this season. Remember, even in your wilderness, God knows the plans He has for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, to give you hope and an expected end (Jeremiah 29:11).
All six books are available as paperback or e-book at www.amazon.com/author/patriciamiddleton
Click on the Store tab to place your order.
Click on the title to purchase Before I Became Your Mother by Nancy Korn Whomsley.
Thanks for reading my blog. Don't forget to leave a comment!
Poetricia Publishing © 2018
Today marks the 3rd 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 book entitled "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
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
Enjoy the poems below in honor of National Poetry Month (NaPoMo)!
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. Psalm 19:14
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
And whose lyrics
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
Eight 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.
Click HERE to purchase.
Poetricia Publishing © 2017
I remember the first time I posted a Valentine’s Day poem declaring my love to the world. Well, not really posted, and not really the world. It was more like the city. You see, decades before 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 He 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. I realized I still loved Him, had gotten over my issues of the past, 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 hope it touches you just like it touches me, every time I read it, even after all these years.
(For more poems like the one below, check out my collection of Inspirational Poetry for Singles on my Amazon.com Author Page just CLICK HERE).
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.
If you long for this kind of love
Just seek God out in prayer
And you will find the love I found
Waiting to meet you there.
Poetic Praise by Patricia Middleton
Poetricia Publishing © 2016
In my 50 plus years of living I've had many visions, but I can count on one hand the number I know definitely came from God. Flash back the mid 90's. I was in my bedroom watching something on television when I felt the presence of God fill the room and the power of God rest upon me. Suddenly I began speaking in that heavenly language known as 'other tongues.'
Then I saw a vision of myself on the screen, signing poetry before a very large congregation. When I came back to myself, I knew that I had just seen a prophetic vision of my future. However, at the time I was a single parent two children still in elementary school, I was working full time, and I was active in the church. So for me, learning sign language at that time was out of the question.
Flash forward 30 years later and the newest member of the Sign Language Team at Christ Haven Pentecostal Worship Center in Philadelphia PA. The moral of this flashback is that no matter how many years have passed, if GOD gave you a vision that hasn't happened yet, don't worry because "The vision is for an appointed time; at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it lingers, wait for it; because it will surely come, It will not delay." Habakkuk 2:3
For information on Christ Haven Church visit www.christhavenchurch.com.
For information on learning sign language visit www.lifeprint.com.