A Cherished Compliment—Weird, But Wonderful!

Living the Dream at Busboys and Poets 10.20.13   The other day, I was doing my thing—Prison Ministry. I’m in jail two Fridays a month, conducting Bible study, which means for me, a myriad of things. So I made it through the pat-down, the Sally Port, and the steel door to the classroom, bolted, with me inside. I sat there preparing in prayer, and awaiting those, whom I affectionately call my girls.  On this particular day, I could see that the ages of the ladies ranged from early twenties to at least mid-sixties. It’s also important to note that I had spied some new faces. The ladies rushed in with a buoyant buzz about them—like they had been conversing amongst themselves and the subject had been left suspended in the air. Mind you, I ascertained this observation in delighted hindsight. As they scurried in, passed out Bibles and claimed their seats, one young woman announced to the others, “Yeah, I told you. She’s just like us!” Her statement caused her to stand and swish her arms in a swag move.  Shocked, my gaze fixed on her like a statue’s. My mouth reflexed an opened smile. My innards mused joyful. Some in the room nodded their affirmation.  In real-time, I began to realize that her statement was a continuation of a prior conversation to which I had not been privy. That’s also when the hindsight began to wash clear. Okay, lemme go deep.

You see, they had all read my novella, The Prison Plumb Line. My novella and my novels are included in the detention center’s library. Some major reading had been going on, and a behind-the-bars debate had ensued. Folklore—if I may be so humbly bold as to use such a word in reference to something that I composed—a bit of folklore was crowning. Okay, I’ll take it down a notch—a rumor had arisen. Rumor had it that the author of The Prison Plumb Line (me), had indeed served prison time, had pulled herself together, and post-incarceration, she had penned and published her story!

Usually, whether or not I’m conducting a Bible study or a writing workshop behind bars, for men or women, as they parade in, it’s customary for me to say, “We’re on holy ground.” It sets the tone before we proceed (even if what we discuss is edgy) and it sets things straight because God is holy, and the written word can serve up blessings and empowerment—if you learn to work it right. That’s my thought, anyway. But on this day, I held back my declaration. I decided, instead, to take in the debate that was being lobbed back-and-forth across the table. Some said that in the novella, I was the main character, Evie. She journeys her way through her jail sentence, her struggle to survive, and through the internal enlightenment that eventually guides her to miracles. Others in the room declared that I was the Church Lady character—one of the vessels, God uses to push the process.

Well, after a while (and before a fight broke out), I clarified, but also, I affirmed. “Wait,” I said, throwing up both hands, using them to cosign, “I am just like you! Because though I have not lived through your particular experience of incarceration, many times, such fate has lingered near.” I went on to explain how at times, I have been unlovable, misunderstood, mistreated/abused, weak and uncertain in my flesh, and in turmoil. I have been both, unfairly and fairly accused and criticized. I have been mean, mad, frustrated, and way too often, I have been powerless. Also, sadly, my mind and heart have been imprisoned. I have been on the ground floor needing to push the button pointing to the not-giving-up mode. However, through it all, whether or not I realized it, I have always been loved. “It’s the same truth for you,” I said. “Today, I am grateful.” I continued my assertion to them, “I’m here, and my love for you inspired me to write this book.” Their looks on me fell nourishing.  I continued, “I know you love me because you read the pages of my heart, and saw me as being a part of you.” I think that’s the biggest compliment a writer can receive.

As a mere volunteer trying hard to live God’s Word in John 13:34-35 (it talks about loving one another), I pray to become purposeful at it. For two or three hours, we pass back-and-forth, the Word of God, enlighten, impact, and uplift as best we know how. In the midst, I might also shoot the Holy Ghost breeze, up-in-there, or share pivotals of my personal testimony—accrued back-in-the-day. I might share a mainstream film, a documentary or colorful prose—all thought-provoking—to hone in on a God-inspired point. Next week, I’m bringing them Get On Up, the James Brown story. You figure out why.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day, Lovers!

But remember—lasting love can shine through in many ways!!!!!!!

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God Used Books to Save My Life—in more ways than one!!! Ouch, I feel like I’ve been hit by a School Bus—Because I was!

Hit by a School Bus      So, on my way home from a meeting at my church, I stopped at DSW to purchase a pair of purple pumps to wear to an upcoming event dedicated to Domestic Violence Awareness Month (I had a pretty good DSW coupon, BTW). The Life Journeys Writers Club, Inc. (LJWC) hosted a Relationship Forum/Book Launch for one of its authors. Though all that is dear to my heart, it’s no longer the new news!

     My new news is the week-long revelation and renewed thankfulness for still being above ground living in my passion for the Literary Arts—whether or not all I can do is sit, think and revel in it!

I was on my way home, that afternoon, when a school bus crashed into the back of my car. The impact knocked me out of my shoes, and sent me off the road into a farmer’s crop of something (sorry, I was a NYC kid), trying to avoid oncoming traffic. Reportedly, heard-tell, the Medley Mobile will not survive the crash. However, Charles County’s Finest—EMTs, The Fire Department and The Sheriff’s Department are the best!!!!

And so, last Thursday, I was comforted by those around me, and transported by ambulance to the hospital. This Thursday, I’m here, reaching out to you. That’s a Blessing, and another chance to be wholly focused on what I love doing—writing and encouraging others to do the same! It’s about safe and effective, validating and lasting, and empowering Literary Creative Expression!

[This is just speculation/my opinion as well as the shared opinions of a few others; and if it helps others to rethink deceiving opportunities to drive and multi-task, well then, okay!] It’s allegedly suspected that the bus driver might have been…

Hey Writers—Books Can Save Lives! The Sheriff commented that my book crate (also a casualty) probably kept my trunk from landing in the front seat. The trunk did, however, travel to the back seat And thank God that the LJWC Banner survived. I didn’t find that out until a day or two later when my husband found the vehicle cemetery housing our car’s cadaver.  But, God is good—I have a second book crate at home.

Heartfelt, I thank God because all that could have happened did not happen (such as the loss of life) to anyone in the vicinity of the crash.

Well, darn it, though (a.k.a. $#&^$@#), I will not be wearing my purple pumps for a while, yet, they do look nice in my closet. Oh, and, I’ve been given a second chance for donning, too.

Rock on, Domestic Violence Awareness Month—You, and me (of course, I humbly include myself, heavily adorned in respect due to the dire need for DVA) are still needed in this world to make a difference!  What about YOU!

Remember: Life is Precious — Exercising your Passion, in the Tangible, is Promised to no one. So The Time Is Now!

www.prisonplumbline.com // www.lifejourneyswritersclub.com

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Finding Inspiration from Everywhere, Everyone — Every Pain and from Every Pleasure!

On Friday, I received inspiration and encouragement about my writing from an old friend (who will always be in my heart).
On Saturday, I enjoyed and received inspiration experiencing icon singer and songwriter Smokie Robinson at the Kennedy Center. The night’s show doubled as a fundraiser for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. The young Duke Ellington students and alumni who performed made my heart glad (and that’s an understatement!). I often see some of those students on their way to school in the morning, behaving and kidding around like the high school students they are. On stage they looked like mega stars. And Smokie Robinson, 72 years old, performed and let-it-do-what-it-do flawlessly! His energy and perfection entertained me, sure, but it inspired me. It told me that it’s not, yet, over for me–that I can still reach my mountaintop. I just need to not give up. I should continue to work and dream! It’s okay–not foolish, or fruitless!
On Sunday (last night) all of that caused me to think about how old friends (who really are my friends, still, just friends I haven’t seen in the flesh for a while) — they still inspire and fuel me.
I thought about how my novella, The Prison Plumb Line, grew out of the pain of incarcerated women struggling to keep going and my heartbreak of having to meet them there — behind bars, conducting Bible study. But that now, through it all, I have the pleasure and dream of inspiring and uplifting so many others.
I thought about how if, at the time, when I began to write my novel, God in Wingtip Shoes, if I hadn’t been so hurt, in so much pain about how I felt the church had hurt me, perhaps the novel would have never entered my soul. And perhaps I would have never healed or rekindled my love and gratefulness for the church (deeper and wiser). What a pleasure!
Today, as I drive around to run my errands, I will no doubt spy the likeness of the person who served as the inspiration for the main character in God in Wingtip Shoes (the likeness is posted throughout on signs hammered along the landscape). I’ll just smile.
Because inspiration comes from everywhere, and God!