Archive for the ‘Prose’ Category

Hours to Write a Paragraph

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I am working on my next devotional book, Watering Flowers in the Rain.  I am approximately 30 pages in.  Below is a paragraph I have revised  about 5 times this week.  After the paragraph, I explain why it sometimes takes me hours to write a few sentences.


Excerpt from Watering Flowers in the Rain:

It was the first time I had ever been frisked.   My husband was next.  Neither of us said anything.  Then about fifty of us were jammed into a small area where guards, holding semi-automatic weapons, stood above us on a balcony. I would call the area a room, but it didn’t have a ceiling.   At first, there were three walls, battleship gray.  Then the fourth wall, a steel door, came thundering down, “SHUMP!”  I really didn’t need that.  I was already nervous.


 Why does it sometimes take me days to write a paragraph?

1.  This particular paragraph is non-fiction, so it took me awhile to retrieve the details.  For me,  recollection is  the most difficult part of writing because it can be emotionally exhausting.   At first I do more thinking than writing, and I also do more thanking, thanking God I have moved away from a place I now only have to revisit for the purpose of writing.

2.  I read my paragraphs aloud several times.  Each time, I listen for the sound.  Writers are like musicians in that sense.  They have to have a good ear.  The rhythm and flow of the words have to be right.  That goes for poetry and prose.

3.  Lately I have been writing more non-fiction, so I have to make sure I am telling the truth about my thoughts and feelings and the thoughts and feelings of other people who are involved.  This sometimes takes a little research.  I have to make sure I am completely honest with my readers.  I cannot bend the truth to make the paragraph work.   I have to figure out an interesting way to convey the truth.  The truth has to work alone.

4.  I have to check my grammar.  This is often very tedious for me.  Sometimes  I don’t want to word a sentence correctly because it messes up my flow.  However, I have to remember that, unless it is dialogue, incorrect grammar is an eye sore to skilled readers.

5.  I need a break from the paragraph.  Sometimes the break is 24-hours.  If I sit hours on end, revising the same paragraph, my eyes get weak and my mind scatters.  If I take a long walk, dance, or even fold clothes, I focus better when I go back to the paragraph.  Breaks build up my mental stamina.

6.  I repeat the first five steps.

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Am I Disturbing My Own Peace?

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My daughter studied English at Cambridge University this summer, so my husband and I decided we would vacation in England the last week of her stay.  While there, my cell phone was inoperable.  I could not text, make calls,  get on Facebook, send e-mails or tweet without paying for it or traveling to the nearest establishment that had free WiFi.  I decided to put my cell phone up for the week.  It is one of the most profound decisions I have made.  Without the many distractions that come along with social networking, I discovered that most times I am guilty of disturbing my own peace by being so readily available to everyone 24 hours a day.  If that revelation were the only thing I got out of my trip to Europe, it would have been well worth it.  However, I immensely enjoyed every second of our stay.


I have included a few photos below.  I hope you enjoy them:


Pembroke College at Cambridge University:



 Westminster Abbey:

    Kings College at Cambridge University:

Pounds and pence:

My daughter on Mt. Killin in Scotland:

My husband and I in London:

My daughter at Cambridge:

To see more photos, visit:

Right Where You Are

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*I started this prose piece 2 weeks ago.  It is the revised and extended version of a piece I wrote a couple months ago, titled,  Nine Stitches and a Limp. When I wrote that piece, I had no idea how long I would have to take this journey by foot.


I seldom write about a trial while I am in the middle of it.  Today I am, just to see how it all pans out.  Eight weeks ago I injured my foot.  I guess it would qualify as a freak accident.  My husband and I had just gotten home from a dance recital.  It was one a.m. and we hadn’t eaten dinner.  I decided to whip something together quickly.  After dinner, I washed a plate and put it in the already full dish rack.  The plate fell out of the rack, hitting the metal edge of the trash compactor on its way down.  It shattered into several pieces.  The largest piece ricocheted down and sliced the back of my left foot like a knife.  It was gross enough to make me feel faint.  I felt like Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind.”  I automatically put my hand on my forehead  like I had rehearsed the gesture over and over again.  Prior to this, if someone had asked me how I would react to the sight of blood gushing from my ankle, I would say it wouldn’t bother me at all. How wrong that response would have been!


My husband came running over and looked down at my foot.  I felt sorrier for him than I did for myself when I saw his face.  He froze for a second before he got something to stop the bleeding.  I told him I was fine.  I lied for his sake.  I felt so badly for him because he felt so badly for me. His voice was very reassuring and he was calm, but his eyes looked fearfully concerned.  I knew then that I would probably end up at the hospital.  At the advice of my husband, daughter, sister, and finally my physician brother-in-law, I went to the Urgency Care Center in my neighborhood. Yes, it took that many people to convince me to go.


When I got there, hours after my injury, the doctor explained that my cut was in the same area as my Achilles tendon and would have to be stitched up immediately. As my husband watched the doctor and nurse gather tools for the procedure, I tried to think of a gospel tune that would calm me. My husband’s gaze averted from them to me and he said something like he needed me to be strong. I thought, What in the world am I in for now?   I figured he saw something on the table that looked like it would inflict great pain. I braced myself, forgetting the words to every gospel song I had ever known.


While I lay on my stomach, holding my husband’s arm and expecting the worst, they gave me a few needles in my foot to numb it before they stitched me up.  It wasn’t that bad actually.  Just the idea of someone sewing a piece of my flesh back together was enough to disturb me a bit. Since I didn’t have a better option or medical degree, I didn’t object to anything they did, even though the doctor admitted, “In all my years of practicing medicine, I have never stitched anyone on this area of the body.  This is a first.”


“I’m a dancer,” I told him in a panic, realizing how such an injury could change my life. “I’m a dancer,” I repeated, remembering how I had just told someone that teaching dance was not a job, but a ministry. Like writing, I taught dance to change lives.


The doctor continued, “You know, you really should have come in earlier, right when it happened. You may get an infection, but I had no choice.  I had to stitch it up, but I’ll prescribe an antibiotic, just in case.”


The nurse gave me a tetanus shot, and the doctor wrote me a prescription for Cephalexin.  For the next two weeks, I did everything I normally do.  I went to my speaking engagements and I taught my dance classes.  However, I mostly taught dance from a chair.  After awhile, my wound turned red and irritated, so I went to my primary care physician and she told me to use Neosporin.  I followed her instructions, but my foot continued to worsen.  What used to be smooth skin evolved into something that resembled multiple volcanoes.  Each pore swelled and emitted either a clear fluid, blood, or both, and you could clearly see each miniature volcano erupting.  I know it sounds gross, and I am so sorry if I have offended you, but  I figure, if I could live through it, you can read through it. At least you have the option of skipping to the next paragraph or turning your computer off.  This thing was on my foot; I could not get away from it. It was the most frightening thing I had ever seen on my body.  I instantly went into Scarlet O’Hara mode again; I looked at it and cried. Then I covered it in a glob of Neosporin and wrapped a large bandage around it as quickly as I could.




Instead of going to the doctor right away, I tried to take care of it myself.  I took a hot shower and neglected to cover it. I poured peroxide over it a few times a day.  I used Neosporin when the peroxide dried it out, and I used Benadryl when it itched.  I know I should be too embarrassed to write this, but I have to just in case there is someone else out there who is just as dense as I am when it comes to first aid.  I wrote this to help that person specifically.  My other readers will probably just get a good laugh out of my idiocy.


I finally called the doctor and they called the pharmacy.  The nurse told me they were treating me as if I had a Mercer Staph Infection.  I was prescribed Bactrim, a much stronger antibiotic.  So, here I am now, over eight weeks after my injury, discouraged and disgusted.  I am on my third round of antibiotics and I do not see a whole lot of progress.  I still have 6 pills left, so maybe this wound will crust over a bit more by the time I take the last pill.  It is, without a doubt, the slowest healing I have ever witnessed on my body.  Then, of course, there is the anxiety that goes along with it.  Maybe there is something else wrong with me.  Why isn’t my immune system kicking in?  I had blood work done a few months ago.  The hematologist told me I was fine.  I don’t have any diseases that could lead to a wound that won’t heal.  Well, I must admit it is difficult to accept that I am mostly responsible for the freak accident and the slow healing.  Ugh!  Why did I decide to cook so late?  Why didn’t I use the dishwasher? Why did I keep the dish rack full of dishes?  It was an avalanche waiting to happen!  Why didn’t I go to the Urgency Care Center right away?  Okay, so they didn’t tell me how to properly care for a wound…I could have looked that up on the internet.  And why didn’t I already know?  Isn’t that in the common sense category?  Everyone else around me seemed to know what I should not have done.


I am going to fast forward a bit, since I am continuing this piece a week after my rant.  After I finished the Bactrim, my foot still looked infected.  I sent a picture of my foot to my physician brother-in-law, and he told my sister, “It does not look good.”  I called my doctor’s office.  The doctor on call, returned my call.  I described my foot to him over the phone and he said, “It sounds like herpes.”


“Herpes!  Herpes! on my foot?” I said, thinking of every place my bare foot had been.  I am a dance instructor.  My bare foot had been all over the place, especially lately because I was not able to wear a jazz shoe on my injured foot.  “Herpes?” I repeated.


“Now, herpes are just cold sores,” he explained.


“Oh my goodness,” I mumbled.


“Come in and see me tomorrow afternoon at two.”


I went in to see the doctor the next day.  He doctor examined my foot.  “Well, it’s not herpes and it’s not Mercer.  It’s not even an infection.”


“Well, what is it?” I asked.


“I don’t know,” he said, staring at it strangely.  “I have never seen anything like this before,” he looked up at my husband.  “Isn’t this something?”


“Well, at least it’s not herpes,” I said, relieved.   I still couldn’t get over the idea of someone having foot herpes.  I still couldn’t believe there was such a thing, but I looked it up on the intenet and there it was.  Oh boy…


“Well, I would rather you have herpes.  At least we would know how to treat it.”


I could not believe the doctor had just admitted that he had no idea what was wrong with my foot.  I kind of thought it would have been better if he had just lied to me.  All sorts of crazy things went through my mind like, Great…I am probably the first person to have this rare foot disease and they’ll probably name it after me.  What a way to get famous. While I was lost in my thoughts, I almost feel off the exam table.


“Now move over,” the doctor chuckled, shaking his head, “before you fall off the table.  You have to watch her,” he looked at my husband.


“You have no…idea,” my husband laughed, getting a real kick out of the doctor’s personality.


The doctor decided to send me to a dermatologist in the area.  In the meantime, he gave me a prescription for Cortisone Cream.  While he was writing the script, he said, “And don’t wrap it up so tightly. As a matter of fact, you don’t have to cover it anymore.  Let it get some air, and if you feel like you have to cover it, make sort of a top hat out of the Band- aid when you put it on.”


“Well, maybe I should cover it on the way out ,so I don’t scare the patients in the waiting room.”


“Good, scare them off,”  he said, “Maybe they’ll run out of here and I won’t have to treat them today.”


My husband and I laughed, and I tripped on my way out the door.  I looked back at the doctor and he said, “Be careful,” shaking his head.


In less than twenty-four hours, after using the Cortisone, my foot improved.  The little volcanoes faded.  I put a small amount of Neosporin on the edge of my wound, to see if I were allergic to Neosporin as I had suspected.  It started to itch so much I wanted to rub it across sandpaper.  In a very short period of time, the volcanoes started to erupt around the edges.  I know this sounds insane, but this is the truth.  My sister, who had been praying with me throughout this whole foot ordeal, googled “allergic reactions to Neosporin.”  There were pictures that looked similar to my foot.  There was no pus because there was no infection.  However, when you are allergic to Neosporin, a clear milky white fluid emits from swollen pores.  Again, I am embarrassed to mention that my brother-in-law told me to stop using it weeks prior, but I didn’t listen to him. I listened to my primary care physician who stated condescendingly, “I do not think you are allergic to the Neosporin,” after I tried to convince her that I really thought I was allergic to some ingredient in that topical ointment that so many people swear by.


I am fine now, but my foot has an ugly scar.  I can deal with the scar, though.  At least I still have a foot.  The most difficult thing for me this summer was not being able to write.  I had planned on completing the rough draft of my second devotional; book, and I was unable to do so because I was so distracted by my raw, grotesquely disfigured left heel.  However, I was able to write something.  At the advice of my sister, I wrote this.  In saying that, I have awesome advice for any artist who is reading this:  If you are too distracted to write, write about the thing that is distracting you.  The same thing goes for painting, singing, dancing, etc.  Write, paint, sing, and dance where you are.

1 in 4 people are allergic to neosporin:

I Nurtured a Relationship with Fear

 By Shawn R. Jones  


 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  -Hebrews 2:14-15


My four -year-old daughter flopped over the nurse’s shoulder like a cloth doll.  Her plats dangled helplessly towards the floor.  I hated seeing her like that, loopy with medication.  She tried to point at the small tank, but as she slurred, “Fish…,” her brown arm flopped down.  Then her next slur was, “Mom…my.”


“Yes, Mommy’s here, and so is Daddy and Tumbles.”  Tumbles was her favorite doll.  They suggested she bring her favorite toy with her the day of surgery.  The nurse had even given Tumbles some medicine to make her loopy, too.  I was too worried to be amused, but the professionals were right;   Tumbles was a comfort to my daughter.


“Tell Mommy and Daddy you’ll see them later,” the nurse sang.


 This is her job, I thought.   She’s used to this, I observed.  She carries children to the operating room every day.


My husband and I followed the nurse down the hall as he massaged the back of my neck.  When the nurse walked through the double doors and my daughter waved and smiled weakly, I lost feeling in my knees, sank to the floor, and collapsed in my husband’s arms.  I wept like I had just buried my daughter because, since the day she was born, I had been afraid she would die.  It was my biggest and most debilitating fear.


My daughter was born two months premature, and we had had so many scares since her birth.  Our very first scare came when a nurse called us from the neo-care unit.  She told us our daughter may not make it through the night because a few babies on the unit had died from a highly contagious respiratory infection.   That phone call disturbed me for years.  Many nights thereafter, I tormented myself with the thought, she may not make it through the night.  Instead of internalizing the nurse’s message, I should have quoted some scripture or at least said something positive back to her.  The Bible says, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).   I don’t think I was familiar with that verse at the time.


I am sure you can imagine how grateful I was when I found out my daughter had made it through the night. I praised God for it all day long. Yet, I had subconsciously stored the nurse’s message in my mind, so when my baby came home from the hospital on a heart monitor, I replayed the nurse’s voice every time I put my daughter down to sleep.  Every time the heart monitor went off, I thought, she may not make it through the night. Most times it was gas, a cough, or a loose lead, but with each false alarm I became more nervous.  My mind was as jittery as my body, and most nights I stayed awake because I was afraid she would die in her sleep.


I lived with that fear for years, until I realized I could not fully enjoy anything with her hypothetical death prowling around.  For example, whenever my husband and I would be on a vacation, having a wonderful time, I would catch myself and think, I should be worried about my daughter, and then of course, I would worry even though she was safe at my mother’s house.   If my daughter even cleared her throat or coughed while I was on the phone with my mother, I would panic and ask my mother if she were okay.  As the years passed, my fear of her dying did not wane.  After pneumonia and a second surgery, I became even more fearful. Instead of realizing she was strong, resilient, and purposeful, I sometimes visualized her in a casket.  That was when I realized my fear had turned into something much more debilitating than I could have ever imagined it could be.


My fear was affecting me and each member of my family.  Even though I did not verbally express my feelings to my daughter and son, they could sense my gloom. My husband, on the other hand, had the difficult job of trying to get me back to the fun-loving free-spirited woman he could only reminisce about– the wife who used to laugh and smile most of the day.  I tried to explain to him that I could never again be that woman, full of love, full of life.  I tried desperately to explain to him that harsh circumstances had changed all that. While I was giving multiple explanations for this new creature I had become, and while I tried to convince him that the old one was gone and would never return, I secretly missed her, too.


I couldn’t reach her because I didn’t know how to get help.  I tried to conquer my fears on my own because Satan had convinced me that I was alone.  See, Satan will make you think you have to handle all your problems single-handedly.  Even when you are in a room full of loving family and friends, he will make you feel like you are all by yourself.   He will have you thinking that no one, including God, cares or understands what you’re going through.  At the very moment you feel that way, beware.  Satan tested Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), so he will certainly come for you (1 Peter 5:8).


Satan came for me, and I believed every negative thought he put in my mind.  I thought, no one cares about my daughter as much as I do.  My best friend doesn’t because she’s preoccupied with her own life. My husband doesn’t because he’s not a mother. My mother doesn’t because she has her own children to worry about, and God doesn’t because He sacrificed His own son, so death apparently isn’t that big of a deal to Him.


Yes, those were my thoughts, and for a long time I didn’t really want to talk to God about it because I didn’t want to talk to someone whose thoughts were higher than my thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).  I wanted someone right there, feeling what I felt and thinking want I thought.  I felt that way for a long time until I realized it wasn’t getting me anywhere. I had to try something different, so I decided to tell Satan the same thing Jesus told him, “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’ (Matthew 4:10).  With that, I stopped serving my fear.  I no longer gave it what it needed to survive.  Instead I gave myself what I needed to survive-God’s living word.


I prayed often and read my bible consistently.  I talked to Jesus, and He taught me how to encourage myself just as much as I had discouraged myself in the past.   I was becoming the woman I used to be, but better because I had learned to seek God in the midst of my adversity.


I spent hours reframing my thoughts by studying my faith more deeply and reading Christian books.  Not only did I read more, I began to write and dance more.  I started doing more of the things I enjoyed most—things that did not include my family. I know that may sound selfish, but I had to train myself to enjoy life away from my family.  I needed to know my life still had meaning without them.  We live in a world where people die all the time, children included.  We cannot stop living because people die, and we cannot worry ourselves to the grave.  Death is not going to change, but our perspective on death must change.  We cannot live our lives worried about something Christ has already given us victory over (1 John 5:11).


The multiple times I worried about my daughter when she was sick, she lived.  My worrying did not accomplish anything positive.  I was not allowing her to enjoy life because I was afraid something horrible would happen to her. I felt like she and I were both walking on a tightrope, she on one end and I at the other.  Now that I have overcome that fear, my daughter and I are both free to live.


Apparently, my mind was the only thing walking a tightrope.  I spent years consumed by thoughts of tragedies that never happened.  Today, my daughter is a wise, healthy and strong twenty year old junior at Princeton University.  She has studied abroad while I have remained in the states.  She was in Germany during the most deadly E-coli outbreak ever recorded, she drove through the flood waters of Hurricane Irene, helping restore the lives of those affected by the storm, and she climbed  up a mountain in Killin, Scotland, where she saw mountain sheep grazing on its summit. Yet, I worry about her less now than I did when she was younger, sleeping a few feet away from me.  Thank God I am free from that debilitating fear and have learned to focus on the beauty of life.


Dear Lord, I have already missed so much of life worrying about death.  Thank you for giving me peace “which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  I am grateful for Your word that has taught me to value the present and not be afraid of anything negative that may happen in the future (Psalm 112:7).  I trust you for today and tomorrow, and I am leaving the issues of my heart and mind in Your divine care.  Amen.


  Related post:



The Brown Crayon

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This is the first draft of a piece (non-fiction) that will be included in my next devotional book:

…Love your neighbor as yourself.   – Matthew 22:39


“Mommy,” my four-year -old daughter spoke from the backseat, “today the teacher snatched the brown crayon out of my hand.”


We were on our way to Atlantic City to visit my mother.  My husband was driving and my son and daughter were in the back of the truck. I wasn’t happy to hear that the teacher “snatched” something out of my child’s hand, but I figured it would be best to respond calmly.  “Why did she snatch the crayon from you?”


“I was coloring a picture of Jesus.  She said I had to use the peach crayon.”


“So, she snatched the brown crayon out of your hand?”


“Yes, and she gave me the peach crayon, and said I had to color his face peach.”


Thank God my daughter did not tell me about her day as soon as I picked her up from school because I would have responded immediately without thinking.  It was truly a blessing that she waited to tell me Friday evening on our way to the shore.  That gave me Friday night, a talk with my mom, Saturday, Sunday, and a church service to cool me down.  Thank God, because by Monday morning, I was all prayed up when I confronted my daughter’s teacher at the little Christian School that sat on the corner in a very quaint neighborhood.


I walked in the classroom and looked up at the students’ artwork.  Peach Jesus crown molding lined the ceiling of the room, and there was one with my daughter’s name on it.  I walked over to the teacher.  “Can I speak to you for a second?”


“Yes, sure, Mrs. Jones.”


I told her what my daughter told me in the truck Friday evening.


“Oh, she made that up.  I don’t remember that at all…” she looked down at my daughter.


“Ms. Eagle, I know my daughter is very creative, but she is not that creative.  She did not make that up.”


The teacher sighed deeply, “Well, where did she get the idea to color Jesus brown in the first place?”


I really could not believe she asked me where she got the idea to color Jesus brown.  At that moment I knew she had an attitude with me, but I continued to be diplomatic. “She’s brown.  Her mommy’s brown.  Her daddy’s brown.  Her older brother’s brown.  Why wouldn’t she color Jesus brown? She should have been allowed to color Him whatever color she wanted to color Him.  She chose brown, and that was a healthy identification for her.


“Look, I am not accusing you of being a racist, Ms. Eagle, because I don’t really know you, but you definitely need hours of cultural sensitivity training. What you did to my daughter was damaging to her self-esteem, and she will probably never forget it.”


“I’m sorry,” the teacher sat down and rested her forehead on her palm.


I put my hand on her back gently.  “It’s okay.”


I was angry at the situation, but I was no longer angry at the teacher. She was a small contributor to a much larger societal problem with which we had both become victims-racism.  She was no longer my focus.  My past and my daughter’s present had collided, and I was having a difficult time separating the two because I was confronting an identical beast.  It was the 90s, and I could not believe my daughter was dealing with the same giant I had to deal with in the 70s.  At twenty-eight-years old, I was still on fire about the injustices I had to face in middle school 16 years prior.  I thought I had gotten over it, but the offense was still there.  It left me wondering how many times I would have to relive it through my own children and how many times I would have to call on God to help me conquer a similar Goliath (1 Samuel 17).  With those thoughts, I left the classroom.


“Mrs. Jones?” the teacher called after me, but I was already on my way to the Principal’s office.


The principal’s comments shocked me even more than the teacher’s.  “Well, we try to do be… uniform here.”


“I don’t understand.  Your student body is culturally diverse.”


“We just want all their pictures to look the same when we hang them up and-”


“I should have taken my children out of this school as soon as I found out you didn’t celebrate Marin Luther King’s Birthday.”


“Martin Luther King, Jr.  was a communist, Mrs. Jones.”


“What? Can I use your phone?” I asked, while picking up the phone on her desk.


“Sure,” she spoke with no emotion.


“Yes, I am in the principal’s office and I need you to come down here.”


“Is everything okay?”  My husband asked from the other end.


“Yes, I just need you to help me pack our kids stuff up.  We’re taking them out of this school today.”


“No problem.  I’ll be right there.  And, Babe, stay calm.”


“I will,” I hung up the phone.


“But your children are doing so well here.  And your family is just the type of family we want here.”


“Look, I sent my children here so they could get a Christ-centered education.  That’s what I thought I was paying for. I refuse to pay for racism. I can get that free almost anywhere in America.”


I later discovered that minority children were being treated similarly in other classrooms in that same “Christian” school.  Another student was told she could not color her angel brown because “there are no brown angels.”  The more I listened to stories from other parents, the angrier I became, and I knew God did not want me to feel that way.     I realized I could not continue to be that angry every time someone treated my children unfairly.   I knew we were not inferior to anyone, but I did not know if I would be able to successfully convince my children of that when so many people would teach them the very opposite in both blatant and subtle ways.


I knew I had a daunting task before me because the world consistently confirms the point my daughter’s Pre-K teacher made, and at four-years-old, it only took a rude gesture and a few seconds for it to sink in.  After that encounter, my daughter  got the message: Peach is the preferred color.  God is peach.  You are brown.


So, what did I do after I took my children out of the school?  I went out and purchased a framed print of black Jesus and hung it on the wall in my home.  When my friend Tammy came over she asked, “Shawn, who is that supposed to be?”






“Yes, Jesus.  You see he’s hanging on the cross.  Who else would it be?”


“Well, he has a six pack!  He looks uh…sexy.”




“I just think it’s kind of sacrilegious.”


“I wasn’t looking at the picture like that.”


“Well, Girl, if Jesus looked like that a lot more people would be saved,” she laughed.


My girlfriend and I laughed about it for awhile, but I found myself in a struggle.  I really didn’t think anyone should have prints or paintings of Christ, but since there were so many blue-eyed blond haired pictures of Jesus, I felt I had to create a balance for my children.  At the same time, I knew God did not want color to be my focus.


I eventually packed the “sexy” Jesus away in the closet when my children got older, and I told them, “No one really knows exactly what Jesus looked like when he walked the earth, but He loves everybody and He does not care about skin color.”  I also told them we all came from one person, and no matter where we live or what we look like, we are all related (Acts 17:26).


Focusing on color and disrespecting our differences stunts our Christian growth.  Sometimes we get so caught up on color that we find it difficult to worship with people who are not like us.  However, we should welcome everyone into the church with a sincere smile and open arms because the bible says, “There is neither Jew or Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:28-29).  We are ALL equal in the body of Christ.


Ask the Lord to teach you to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).  Harboring anger and plotting and scheming to get people back who have hurt you takes entirely too much negative energy.  It spoils your insides and damages your spirit. Remember Christ asks, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get (46)…and if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others (47)?  They are very simple, yet powerful questions and contemplating on them seriously can change your life brilliantly.


Dear Lord, I desire to love everyone, but it is so difficult sometimes.  Anger is often the first emotion I feel when I suspect I am not being treated fairly. I no longer want love to be an afterthought.  I want to love like you love and live like you live.  Amen. 








Trapped in Your Basement

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Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. – Philippians 4:6


“I forgot my keys.  Wait right here.”  My feet pounded down the basement steps.  Midway, I heard the door slam behind me and lock!  I had no idea my two-and a half-year-old knew how to lock the bottom lock on the basement door. I ran back up the basement steps and told my daughter to unlock the door.


“Mommy, I can’t.”


“Yes…you can.  You locked it, so just slide it back the other way.”


“I can’t. It stuck.”  I knew she couldn’t because I could barely unlock it myself half the time.


I heard my daughter crying softly.


“It’s okay.  Mommy will get out,”  I assured her, even though I had no idea how I was going to get out.  There was no other door, and there was just a very small tightly sealed window that led to an alleyway between row homes.


Just when I thought, it’s a good thing she’s a very calm child, I heard her little footsteps run back and forth across the living room floor in a panic.  Then, I started to panic because I remembered the gas fireplace was still on in the living room.  I instructed my daughter to stop running and sit down by the basement door.


“Jade,” I talked to her through the door, “don’t move.”  I decided not to mention the fire.  “Mommy’s going to get out through the window.”


I walked in the basement bathroom and stared up at the small window that was blocked by a piece of wood.  I thought, You‘d have to be anorexic or on crack to fit through that window. Still, I unhooked the alarm wires, moved the slab of wood and yanked and pulled on the mess screen. It would not budge.  In between pushing and pulling, I ran up the basement steps to reassure my daughter that I was okay and would be out very soon.  The more I pushed and pulled the more discouraged I became, thinking, I’m going to be trapped in this basement until my husband comes home from work, and there is no way my daughter is going to stay in one spot for hours.


I began to pray, “God, you have to get me out of this basement.”  I knew it was more a command than a request, but I was terrified, even though God’s word says, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).  At the time, I didn’t mediate on that verse.  My heart beat wildly in my chest, and I just did not know what to do.  I knew there were many scriptures where God promises to help you in your time of trouble, but I didn’t know any of them off the top of my head.  The only thing I knew was that I needed God’s help before my curious toddler found something harmfully interesting to do, like examine the blaze in the front room.


Suddenly, I got an idea to get out of the window by cutting through the mesh.  I put my keys in the pocket of my sweatpants, so I would have them to unlock the front door once I got out.  I ran to the back of the basement and got a hammer out of my husband’s toolbox. I ran back to the window, stood on the toilet seat and started tearing the mesh apart wildly with the back of the hammer.  I worked insanely; there was no time to be cute about things.


I finally made a hole just big enough to get my shoulders through.  I hiked myself up on the ledge and wiggled through the small window.  Mesh scratched at my shoulders, but I didn’t care; I was almost out.  Then, I got stuck.  I cut the hole just big enough to squeeze my shoulders through but it was still too small to squeeze my bottom through.


I struggled, grunting, groaning, and wiggling.  I knew if I really forced my way out, the mesh would tear into the skin on my behind, but what other choice did I have?  My toddler was upstairs alone.  With my hands on the red brick ground of the alleyway, I scooted my lower body through the window. By that time, my sweatpants were down by my ankles!  They had gotten caught on the mesh.  I laid on the dirty brick ground of the alleyway in a t-shirt and drawers with my sweats scrunched up by my ankles, praying my neighbors were not looking out their windows.


I laid there in shock a few seconds before pulling my pants up.  As I pulled them up, I noticed my legs were scratched and bloody.  I laughed and exhaled, thinking, This is unbelievable. I ran to the back of my yard and climbed over our brick wall.  I felt like a stray cat, scaling walls, dodging trashcans and running down alleyways.


When I finally reached my front door, I jammed my key in the hole.  When I ran in the house, my daughter was still sitting at the door of the basement.  When she saw me, she jumped up, still in a panic. “Mommy! You haf to get youself out the basement!”


I asked, “What? What do you mean?”


“Mommy, hurry up!  You haf to get youself out the basement!”


“Jade, Mommy is out of the basement, I’m right here,” I said, pointing to myself.


“No…” she cried, “You haf to get youself out the basement!”


“Fine, fine,” I gave in, thinking, she can’t be this dumb.  I wish I could say those were not my exact thoughts at the time, but they were.


I unlocked the basement door and walked down the steps.  Then I had a scary thought.  I yelled up to my daughter, “Do not shut the door!”


“Mom, you get youself out?”  My daughter whined from upstairs.


“Yes.  Yes, I am getting my-self out!”  I walked up the basement steps, hoping she didn’t expect to see two of me. “See,” I smiled at her, “I got myself out the basement.”  She smiled back.


During that time in my life, I was filled with more anxiety than word.  I am almost too embarrassed to tell you there was a fax machine the basement.  I wish I could have recited a verse back then that would have kept me calm, but I didn’t know one.  I only knew bits and pieces of verses.  However, today, I have a verse that may keep you calm when you are locked in a situation that doesn’t have an easy way out.  Isaiah 41:13 states, “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”


Every now and then, you may find yourself locked in your own basement.  Sometimes it is a comfortable area. Other times it is dark and dingy.  Either way, it’s your basement—a place that is familiar to you, and as long as you can come and go in and out of it at your leisure, you are okay being there.  However, when you least expect it, you may get trapped in a familiar place you no longer want to be.  In those times, if you pray and study God’s word, He will help you get out of a seemingly impossible situation even if it is not the same way you came in.  However, don’t get discouraged if you get a few scratches and expose yourself along the way.  Pull your pants up, climb over brick walls and “run with perseverance” (Hebrews 12:1) because the door you need to go through is just around the corner.


Dear Lord, I can look back now and see how blessed I am to have made it out of so many difficult situations.  I am certainly grateful for the number of holes I have had to crawl out of in order to appreciate the blessings on the other side of the door.  




Say, No, to One Person a Week

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There is always something new to deal with, but you have to keep moving forward steadily and carefully.  Lately, I  have learned how to juggle a few things at a time.  I honestly have never been great at multi-tasking.  I even had a rule where I used to refuse to do more than one thing  a day.  I know that sounds crazy to some people, but you have to know yourself.  Let me clarify.  When I say one thing, I mean one sizable event a day.  If I plan to attend a luncheon in the morning, I am not going to attend a dance show that same evening.  I need time to breathe, reflect, write, or just sit down and have a cup of hot tea.


Sometimes you have  to say,  “No, I’m sorry, I’m not available, but thank you so much for the invitation.”  Before one of my closest friends invites me to something, she asks laughing, “Oh, are you already doing something that day?”  She knows me. She knows my limitations and respects how I am, even though she and I are complete opposites.  She owns a dance studio and teaches high school, so her days and evenings are always full!  I would just fall out from mere exhaustion, and I would probably lose my mind.  You have to know you.


For ten years, I tutored and taught dance in the evenings and went to school a few days a week during the day.  I also tutored most of the day on Saturdays.  I went strong with that schedule for a decade and then I fizzled out.  I ended up in the emergency room.  I had no idea how tired I was.  Now, I refuse to get that tired.  Besides, I have to be honest.  I am older now.  I am not claiming frailty or Alzheimer’s, but I have to be aware of my physical and mental limitations, and I have to make my family and closest friends aware of them, too. For example, I can’t do 8 pirouettes across the floor, a  jete, and back handspring.  Nor can I study from 11pm till 5am.  I’m okay with that, though.  The things I must accomplish now require more wisdom than physical and mental stamina.


Some folks may not understand because they can go go go around the clock.  My husband and daughter can get four hours of sleep and keep on moving.  My son and I need our rest or we turn into people you really would not like to deal with.  My family knows, respects, and understands this, and it is not something you can fully explain to people outside your circle.  And folks will try to work you to death for their benefit!  Sometimes you have to say no to some things, and you don’t have to give an explanation.  Remember, you’re grown!  You’ve been waiting for this moment your entire childhood!  If someone asks you to do something that is not right for you, pull out your grown card.  It is more than okay to say, “No.”


Great exercise for folks who are being pulled in multiple directions by multiple people:  Say, “No,” to one person a week.  Let me know how you make out ;  )











Nine Stitches and a Limp

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When I told the nurse and doctor at the emergency care center what happened, they looked at me strangely.   The nurse even asked, “Are you sure you weren’t partying?”  I explained to her that it was just another one of my “Lucy” moments.  The only difference between this “Lucy” episode and my past episodes is that I actually got hurt this time.   This recent accident resulted in nine stitches and a limp.  It really would not have been that big of a deal, if I did not have book signings, speaking engagements, and extra dance practices scheduled the upcoming week.


So, how did I manage?  As I write this I’m still wondering if I should even take the time to tell you how I cut up my foot.  Yeah, I might as well.  Somehow I feel you may trust my story more than the doctor.  I’ll try to be as concise as I possibly can.  My husband and I went to a dance performance.  The show was great.  It was well worth the late outing.  I went to support my two friends pictured below.  I teach with them at Halliday Dance.  They are amazing dancers and brilliant choreographers who both gave an awesome performance!


                        Anthony Rhodes                                                                                                                                  Takreeya Hawkins












I took the photos right after the show.  I always have my camera on me.  I believe a writer should always carry her camera.  Actually, I believe all artists should always have their cameras ready.  Inspiration can be found in every photo.  Tony and Takreeya were kind enough to pose for me after dancing for hours!  I adore them both.


Anyway, my husband and I were both very hungry after the show.  I didn’t want to eat out, so I whipped something together at home.  I washed the dishes and put a plate in the already full rack.  That plate knocked another plate out of the rack.  It fell, hit something on the way down, and shattered.  A piece came down on the back of my left heel, slicing it like a knife. Just in case you are easily sickened by gory details, I won’t describe my injured foot.  It was gross enough to make me feel faint.  I felt like a woman in one of those old movies, hand on my forehead all dramatic.  Unbelievable. You can just call me Scarlet.  Really.  It’s actually a more accurate nickname in this situation than Lucy now that I think about it because I automatically put my hand on my forehead on cue like I had rehearsed the gesture over and over again.  Prior to this, if someone had asked me how I would react at the sight of  blood gushing from my ankle, I would say it wouldn’t bother me at all.  Sometimes we know ourselves a lot less than we think we do.


My husband came running over and looked down at my ankle.  I felt more sorry for him than I did for myself when I saw his face.  He froze for a second before he got something to stop the bleeding.  I told him I was fine.  I lied for his sake.  I felt so badly for him because he felt so badly for me.  I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but that’s how I felt at the time.  His voice was very reassuring and he was calm, but his eyes were filled with overwhelming concern .  I knew then that I would probably end up at the hospital.  At the advice of my husband, daughter, sister, and brother-in-law, I went to the Urgency Care Unit in my neighborhood. Yes, it took that many people to convince me to go.


When I got there, I was shocked to learn that I had to have stitches.  My husband said something like he needed me to be strong.  I am laughing now because I was thinking, What in the world am I in for now?   He knew because he has had stitches before.  They gave me a needle in my foot–a few needles actually.   I held my husband’s hand like a baby, expecting the worst.  It wasn’t that bad actually.  They stitched me up and I limped on out of there.  Getting stitches is not the most horrible thing in the world.  Just the idea of someone sewing a piece of your flesh back together is enough to trip you out a bit.


So did I make it to the book signings, extra practices, and speaking engagements?  I sure did.  I taught dance from a chair and sat during my other functions.   In the next day or so, I will write a post about the book signing and speaking engagement with photos, of course : )   I met a lot of great folks last week when I was limping around.  I even managed to limp down my mom’s.    She cooked a great dinner for my husband and me, and it turned out to be a pretty wonderful Sunday after all.


Blessedly, I no longer walk with a limp.  I still can’t dance, run, or do the MJ Wii Experience, but I am very grateful that I did not damage my Achilles tendon.  What did I possibly learn from that accident?  I  learned to slow down, get plenty of rest, stay out of the kitchen at night,  and keep my dish rack empty.

What was Your Favorite Doll when You were a Child?

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Dolls, like most forms of art,  have always inspired me to write.  Some people do not think of dolls as art, but they definitely are.  Whenever my mother would buy me a doll when I was a child, I would not only do its hair and change its clothes, I would study its face and give it thoughts and emotions.  After awhile, I had a small collection of dolls, and they “interacted”   with each other.  Their lives were full of drama!  I was writing back then, not as much on paper,  but my dolls had stories that included a past, present, and future.  As I got older, my best friend, and I played with Barbies. I had a huge wooden doll house where they all “lived” and boy did my girlfriend and I have our very own soap opera going on with those dolls.


Do you remember your favorite doll(s)?  Were they just dolls or did they have “lives?”


Below I list a few of my favorite dolls from my childhood, and following that I have a few photos of dolls from my current collection, and no…I do not give them thoughts and emotions : )  However, I believe the doll artists did a wonderful job making them life-like.


My Three Favorite Dolls


Baby -That- Away was definitely my favorite and most memorable doll.  She used to crawl.  I thought she was the coolest thing. I can still see her crawling across the floor in my memory.  I remember asking my mom almost every day before Christmas, “Did you get me Baby That Away?”  Just in case you are wondering, I didn’t believe in Santa Claus, so I pestered my mother for about two weeks before Christmas, every Christmas.  She probably would have been better off telling me there was a Santa Claus, but there was no way Santa was going to get credit for the toys she purchased.  Can’t say I blame her.  She was a single parent, too.  Shoot…


Baby Alive was my second favorite doll.  I am pretty sure there is still a Baby Alive out there on the shelves.  She used to eat, drink, and go to the bathroom.  I used to change her pamper.  If I remember correctly, her mouth moved slightly when she ate–real cheap like, but it was definitely cool for the 70s lol  I bet the Baby Alives they have out there now chomp down on their food like real babies, smacking and all, real life like lol-probably even throwing food across the room.


Tamoo was my third favorite doll.  She was a doll that was supposed to boost the self-esteem of little black girls across the country.  She had dark skin and a tight afro.  You would pull her string and she would say, “I can dig it!”  She also said, “My name is Tam…moo.”  However, “Sock it to me baby!” was definitely my favorite line of hers.  Well, what can I say?  It was the 70s. lol


Today I am an avid doll collector.  Dolls that are well done and full of character inspire me to write.  I am particularly inspired by antique dolls and dolls from different nations.  I have included a few photos of some dolls from my collection.



And your favorite doll was…





The Results

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This is a prose piece I have been working on. It is a work of fiction, but it is inspired by my visit to the hematologist.


I walk hard, like my mother, moving as confidently as I can across the porch.  My boots pound the wood loudly.  No one is watching.  No one is listening, but I need to convince myself that I’m okay.  Maybe if I don’t act sick or look sick, I won’t be sick. I wrap my sweater around me and rub my neck, feeling insecure without my scarf.  I turn back toward the house and remember all my scarves are dirty.  The washing machine’s broken, and I’m still waiting for that darn part to come in.


I move down the walkway and look back at my house.  There is a vulture sitting on the roof.  That can’t be a good sign.  I laugh to myself, shake my head, and keep moving.  I get in my car and drive past the bank, the elementary school, the Quaker Meeting House, and a field of wild turkeys.  Everything is the same, but it doesn’t seem the same because my thoughts are different.  I make a right into the driveway.  I park, get out the car, and move slowly towards the entrance of the small building.  I read the words on the door, “Oncology/Hematology,”  and my muscles turn muddy and the brown welcome mat sinks beneath my feet.


The patients in the waiting room are old and very pale.  A few of the ladies wear scarves on their heads.  I am used to wearing one around my neck for style.  One lady is crying softly.  I cannot see her.  She is sitting behind me. “They hurt me,” she whispers.


“It shouldn’t hurt,” says a man with a shaky voice.  I assume it’s her husband. “It never hurts when I have it done. I’m going to talk to them about it.”  I imagine they have been married for years. I imagine he feels helpless.


I watch patients come and go.  I cannot believe I am sitting in the waiting room for over an hour-an hour, just long enough to become more anxious.   I hear nurses in the back say words like “chemo” and “marrow.”   I tell myself to think positive.  I tell myself to pray.  A young lady opens the door that leads to the back.  She calls my name, searching the room.  She smiles when she sees me rise from my chair.  Not a sincere smile, but the tight lip kind that tightens even more when her eyebrows raise. It’s that smile that lets you know she’s just doing her job.


In the back, I am instructed to have a seat and pull up my right sleeve.  It’s a process I have gotten used to.  It is the fourth time I have had my blood drawn this winter.  I don’t feel nervous at all until the phlebotomist says, “Hmm…I don’t know why I’m having trouble with this.  It’s not coming out.”  She jiggles the needle a bit while it is still in my arm, and I give her a dirty look.  Then I swear I hear air and then a slurping sound. “Oh, there you go.  Now, it’s coming through.  It’s tough because that vein is right near a small bone.”  It is the first time in a long time I have wanted to smack someone.


In the back I wait another hour for the doctor,  my thoughts growing darker with each minute and with each conversation I hear through the walls.  The hematologist walks in smiling.  She extends her hand.  I extend mine, wanting to skip the formality and ask, “Am I dying?”  Instead, I compliment her on her shoes.


She sits at the computer.  We chat like old friends, and I wonder if she is just trying to relax me before she gives me the results.  In the few seconds after she says, “I have your results,” I review my life.   I am surrounded by love.  I am deeply satisfied, and I no longer care   who is responsible for the the dime that got caught in the pump of the washing machine.


“I’ll give you the good news first.  You do not have lymphoma or leukemia,” she folds her hands and continues, “but you do have a platelet disorder and severe anemia. My mind searches through a string of definitions from Biology 101.    I must look a bit clueless because she further explains, “Your blood does not clot properly. That’s why you had to have the transfusion six months ago.”


“I see,” I nod.


“Well, I am going to put you on an iron supplement and, ”  she removes her glasses and rubs her eyes, “I will be in contact with your gynecologist so we can start you on hormone therapy also.  We can’t transfuse you every time you have your menses, that’s for sure. That would be ridiculous.  But… you are a relatively young woman, so if you decide to have more children, we are really going to have to sit down and discuss the risks first.”


“How come no one has ever picked up on this?  I’m thirty-one-years old.”


“I’m not sure, but we know what’s going on now, and we will have you back in great shape in no time.”


“No more blackouts?”


“No, no more blackouts or days in bed unable to lift your head from the pillow,”  she scribbles on a small blue sheet of paper. “Here’s your script.”


She follows me to the front desk and hands the receptionist my folder.  “I’ll see her in four weeks.”


After I make my appointment, I walk through the waiting room pass  a new group of women, wearing scarves wrapped  tightly on their heads.