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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This Week’s Winners: It’s Easier to go to Jail Than You Think!

  1. Swimsuit model accused of drug dealing, arrested in Australia (Jumping bail by accident, I think she said.)
  2. Funeral guy molesting a dead body (No comment)
  3. Nigerian lady smuggling heroin inside her belly/stomach (Pepto, anyone?)
  4. Lady jailed for jaywalking (Here’s a tip: never smart-mouth a cop [excuse me, police officer], especially if you’re in the wrong—ever-so-slightly or ever-so-ever)
  5. Fish store guy downgraded from a felony to a misdemeanor for selling endangered fish in Virginia (Good law/Bad Law – something’s fishy. [I like fried fish, though.])
  6. The School bus stealer (led the police on a chase – and not an O.J. chase)
  7. Florida Millionaire charge with DUI manslaughter, also for leaving the scene without calling for help. (You’re above the law, and a personal concern for your fellow human being, really?)
  8. Whitney’s ex-hubby,  for talking on his cell phone, while driving, and a little tipsy (Oh Lordy)
  9. Girl, for a shooting at Ihop. (Why?)
  10. The Blonde bank robber or maybe they’re calling her the Blonde Bandit (Bonnie, is that you, girrrrrl? [I like “blond with an ‘e’. My black, without.])
  11. A parent beating up on a High School student because of a food fight. Think the Father’s daughter is going down, too. (Smile for the camera!)
  12. Disrupting the Pope’s visit (something about down with the revolution or up with the revolution—something. Either way, he won’t be there)
  13. Funny girl during a Rick Santorum campaign stop on the shooting range. Her joke voiced a threat toward the President. Last check the Feds didn’t laugh and they’re looking for her. (Let’s have some respect and decorum, huh. Is no one minding their manners anymore?)
  14. Policeman, irate in a restaurant because his chicken nuggets were under cooked. (uh oh. You ever had a day where you just couldn’t take, not one more thing? Well, go’head, take it. Then go home and take a nap.)
  15. The woman who lied and said she was crazy—that’s why she couldn’t do jury duty. Then she bragged about it on a radio show. The judge was listening. Now, she says she really is crazy. (Ooh, wait, did the jury come in on that? Last check, the Judge wasn’t buyin’ it.)
  16. Batman got pulled over in his Lamborghini for not having any license plates on his car. (But I think the police were too stunned to arrest him. He was close, though—like the time I got into argument at the car dealers.)

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      I could go on and on, but I’ll stop right there. Of course, I consider these examples serious and scary, and I’m not judging (‘cause that’s really scary, and dangerous).

I’m just sayin’ don’t get so uppity about going to jail/prison—‘cause the crime’s not different just because it was you! Know-what-I’m-sayin’? 

So slow your roll, think stuff over. Anger, hurt, misunderstandings—out-of-control, and snap emotional decisions can land you in strange consequences.  And remember—there, but for the grace of God; go I. Sadly, I’ve been there, too, and I was given grace. Whew! (I’m still living and learning.)

If you think you’re slick, why don’t you get slick enough to use your slickness for good, not evil. The ultimate return is much greater. Together, let us live to change a heart and a mindset for the good of mankind, from the inside out. That’s my goal, and the mission of The Prison Plumb Line. 

*** www.yvonnejmedley.com

It’s Easier to go to Jail Than You Think!

  1. The Soccer/Hockey mom turned Madam. (Whaaaaat?)
  2. The college student leveling lethal online threats to the entire campus. Now the student says something like, “Oops. I didn’t mean it.” (Really?)
  3. The middle school teacher allegedly having sex with a 16-year-old student.  (OMG!)
  4. The Frenchman deciding to have a little fun with a hotel maid—whether or not she wanted it.  (Say-what-naaw?)
  5. Parents forgetting their children in too hot/cold cars. (The punishment is the unthinkable loss.)
  6. The elected officials accruing and/or flushing bribe checks down the toilet and elsewhere. (Huh!)
  7. The elected officials spreading erroneous flyers about voting requirements to affect the election outcome. (My lips are poked out!)
  8. Overzealous parents shining lights in the eyes of the opposing players during their children’s sporting games (Whoa!)
  9. Overzealous parents taking a chunk out of the ear of an opposing team coach.  Or plotting to kill (I mean really kill) the competition. (Get-a-grip, a real grip!)
  10. Elected official driving over 100 miles on the Beltway because they were late for a meeting. (I’m late all the time, and alive.)
  11. Elected officials using donations earmarked for youth programs. (What the H…!)

     I could go on and on, but I’ll stop right there. Of course, I consider these examples serious and scary, and I’m not judging (‘cause that’s really scary, and dangerous).

     I’m just sayin’ don’t get so uppity about going to jail/prison, just slow your roll, think stuff over. Anger, hurt, misunderstandings—out-of-control, and snap emotional decisions can land you in strange consequences.  And remember—there, but for the grace of God; go I. Sadly, I’ve been there, too, and I was given grace. Whew! (I’m still living and learning.)

     If you think you’re slick, why don’t you get slick enough to use your slickness for good, not evil. The ultimate return is much greater. Together, let us live to change a heart and a mindset for the good of mankind, from the inside out. That’s my goal.  

*** www.yvonnejmedley.com 

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!