When Grief Drops: A Post for “Circling The Story”

(Hey, hey! Happy Friday, y’all! Over the last few months, I have discovered some wonderfully  written blogs! I found Ashley Hales’ blog, Circling The Story, through another wonderful writer/blogger, Lindsey Andrews.  I was blessed with the opportunity to share a guest blog post about my grief journey on Ashley’s site. Please read the snippet below! Thanks, afrotasticlady)

“I’ve never had a full appreciation of snow. Last year, it snowed frequently in New England. We trudged through snow castles. We struggled to dig out our cars.

Grief reminds me of a heavy snowfall.  Trees are strewn with the white chunks. Sidewalks are buried in it. Folks are crammed in their houses. They demand a return to their daily activities. Still, the snow continues to drop.  Grief dropped into my chest when I was a teenager. The doctors had informed my family that my sister, Wanda, had only six months to live. Yet, Wanda lived longer than the time frame that the doctors gave her. While she lived with multiple sclerosis for over fifteen years, I wrestled in snow. I gasped in the wetness. I willed the tears back into my eyelids.

My parents were her daily caregivers, and we’d figured out that we could communicate with Wanda through facial expressions.  A grimace showed us that she was in pain. A twitch of her head displayed that she’d heard us call her name.”

Please read the rest of the post here!

 

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January’s 6 Grateful Things List

Grateful Things List

Hey, hey! I wanted to share with y’all that I am starting another semester of grad school, so I will be posting on a biweekly basis. Three classes and an internship, but God is my strength. If I happen to have time to spare, I may post more often. But I wanted to give y’all the heads up, because I appreciate you! Check out the VLOG!

What are you grateful for this month?  Feel free to let me know in the comments section.

“The Ice Cream Prayer:” A Sequel to “They Preached With Fire”

(Hey, hey! So, I debated about writing a follow-up to “They Preached With Fire.” With some encouragement from fellow blogger, Lianna of  Sunflower Sojurn , I decided to go for it. Thank you Lianna! 🙂 This sequel is a flash fiction piece that’s from Simon’s perspective. Of course, I posted one of my favorite songs after the conclusion of the story. Please feel free to let me know what you think of the characters: “Amelia” and “Simon.“)

Flash Fiction _2

An assembly line. My two sisters and my mom did each other’s hair in this way. Every couple of weeks, they brought out the relaxers. They combed the white smooth substance throughout their hair, which would take them from what they called “nappy” to “straight.” When they saw the slightest curl popping from their scalps, they would complain and plop gel onto the stubborn strand. Once, I texted my sisters a picture of Amelia’s thick curls and encouraged them to get rid of the chemicals in their hair. Yet, they argued that natural hair was “too much” and that only certain women looked right with it. They referred to Amelia as “naturally gorgeous.”

Amelia and I stood outside of a locally owned ice cream shop. Amelia often ranted to me about how we should support local businesses, as they contributed positively to our community. The usual statements about how these businesses improved the economy and gave people jobs. I agreed with her.

Amelia looked different. She’d explained that she had her hair layered. I didn’t really like this look, but her hair was still natural.

“Maybe, I can pawn the ring. Or something. I don’t know,” I stated.

“Oh…I hate that you have to do that,” Amelia responded.

“Well…too much time passed by. I’ll look at the receipt again. See if I can return it.”

“I hope you’re able to return it.”

The ice cream shop was busy. It was a popular hangout for college students. A large and racially mixed group of young men and women, laughed and trampled into the shop.

“I guess I’ll have to talk to Pastor and let him that I won’t be at church anymore. Revoke my membership. I wish I didn’t have to,” Amelia said.

“Then don’t do it, Amelia,” I grumbled as I hit my cardboard bowl with my plastic spoon. Amelia arched her arms, and her bowl flew into the garbage can.

I was tired of explaining to the church kids on why Amelia wasn’t at church. I had an assortment of excuses. There were a few younger girls at church that pretended they didn’t admire her. But they sat behind her pew each Sunday and played with her hair. Now, I had to tell these girls that Amelia and I broke up. I wasn’t excited about “taking a break” when she suggested it at our last meet up. But I hoped the distance would make her rethink things. Maybe even decide to marry me.

“I’m sorry. I told you that I didn’t want you to deal with my stuff. Daddy is driving me up the wall right now. He’s chasing Mama all over the city. He just needs to stop, “Amelia exclaimed.

“He still loves her. That’s why he’s chasing,” I tossed my cup into the trash.

“Well..that’s love. Uck..she’s a mess.”

I exhaled and squinted at Amelia. “I think you forget that’s your mom. That she’s struggling and needs your love. She needs you to pray for her.”

“I do pray for her. You don’t get it!”

“Okay, I don’t get it all. You got a point. But I do think I try my best to understand parts of the situation.”

Amelia glared at the red walls and the black and white checkered floors of the shop. She loved vintage designs and classic movies. Her favorite actor was Sidney Poitier, and she forced me to watch nearly all of his movies. She was so bewildered when I confessed that I hadn’t seen his Oscar winning performance in “Lillies of the Field.”

“Yeah, you do try. You’re much better than other people,” Amelia answered. Her eyes scattered from the hipster male cashier to the group of students we’d seen earlier.

“Well..I had to try. It was important,” I answered.

Amelia rubbed her eyes. “I’m not going to be able to come here anymore.”

“Why?”

“Didn’t mean to say that!” Amelia looked away from the shop and then looked at me. “Umph..I can’t come back here. It won’t be anything. Won’t be good anymore. Just the place where we broke up.”

“Or the place you broke up with me. I mean, I didn’t want to break up. But I agreed. You wanted this,” I exclaimed.

“Simon, you don’t have to get all loud about it. We had to break up. Nothing else that could be done. Really!” Amelia flared her arms.

I moved to the edge of the sidewalk. I wanted to go away. My old Honda was across the street. But I also wanted to grab Amelia’s hands and pray. I didn’t know what prayer request was the most important: her parents, us, or the girls at our church who’d miss her presence. I could see the girls saying something flippant when they heard about Amelia’s departure. They would say something like “She wasn’t all that anyways.”

Amelia’s arm wrapped around my own. Her face was forlorn. I pulled away and sat down on the sidewalk. I scratched my full beard. The older church members barked that it was “out of control.” They preferred “the other thing.” My goatee.

Amelia’s eyes scattered again. From the people bustling out of the shop to others who walked down the street, she watched them.

“I’m goin’ to leave, Simon, “Amelia spoke in the other direction, as though one of the pedestrians were involved in this conversation instead.

“Okay..take care!” I huffed.

Amelia wiggled her foot around her blue TOMS shoe. Her light, flowy dress stopped at her knees. I arose and patted Amelia’s back. Then, I embraced her.

“I’m sorry again. Please keep up the preaching. You’re a great preacher. I liked hearing you,” Amelia quickly released her arms from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Blog Post: Single and Fabulous?

By: Kelly

There are some girls who enjoy being single. They use lines like “I am just enjoying my freedom right now” or “It’s so good not to be tied down.” Let me clear one thing up right now…I am not one of those girls. At the ripe ol’ age of 31, I am no longer loving the single life. Truth is, I don’t think I ever have loved it. Maybe, my lack of ever having been in a relationship is the reason. That’s right friends, you read that right. I have yet to ever be in a relationship. Now, that’s not to say I haven’t been on dates and even regrettably have had “friends with benefits” as the cool kids call it, but that is about the extent of my experience with this thing called love. The older I get, the harder it seems to find the elusive “one.”

As if it isn’t hard enough to date as you get older, I am also a fat kid. Now I realize there are lots of people out there who are overweight and are in happy, healthy long lasting relationships, but for me it has always been a huge barrier in my love life…or lack thereof. It causes me to be self-conscious and feel as if I am not good enough for the love I so badly desire. So instead of pursuing relationships, I sit back and wait for them to find me which is completely out of character. In other parts of my life I am outgoing, loud, and will always talk to anyone.

Over the years, I have tried to lose the weight hoping that it would give me the boost that I would need to get out there and find my soulmate. That however is easier said than done. Whether I had lost 60 pounds or gained 30 I felt the same way: inadequate and afraid of rejection. What I have determined is that it’s not an outside job, it’s an inside one. No matter how much I weigh my distain for myself is what holds me back from meeting “the one.” How can I expect others to see the woman that God created me to be if I am hiding her?

Then, there is the old myth that you can find your soulmate at a wedding. Why not? This is literally a night that puts love on a platter and shoves it in your face. Leslie Knope, a character, from one of my favorite shows Parks and Rec says, “Every time, a couple gets married two single people die.” Well, I have been in four weddings and haven’t quite died.

However, I can tell you that it’s nothing like the movies either. I have never been pursued by a good looking groomsman or looked across the dance floor to find a gorgeous pair of eyes staring into my soul. And I have never once met Hugh Grant. Instead it’s a lot of awkward moments like being escorted down an aisle by someone you probably just met while hundreds of people most you don’t know are staring at you. Or holding a ten pound bouquet of flowers at attention in front of said people trying not to let the beads of sweat that are pooling on your brow fall onto them.

You see as much as I love being in my friends’ weddings and am honored that I am chosen to be a part of such a special day, I am not exactly at the top of my game either. Bridesmaid dresses are not made for my physique at all. It could be the prettiest dress, and I still will not be comfortable in it. You try flirting with the hottie best man while your thunder thighs are bulging out. Not exactly an ego booster. So, I have given up on finding Mr. Right at any and all weddings.

I tried the internet dating scene. Let me clarify: I tried the free dating app that I downloaded on my phone. While I did talk to a numerous amount of guys, I found that very few were looking for the same thing I was. However, I did go on a few dates and even acquired a stalker. So that was a fun experience, but needless to say I don’t think I will be trying a free dating app again. The biggest problem I ran into was telling these guys that it wasn’t going to work out. I always felt obligated to add on the “we could be friends” line. The problem with this was the things that made us not compatible for a romantic relationship were also the things that made friendship impossible as well. Before long I had a handful of “just friends” that I just couldn’t get rid of. This is not what I was looking for at all. I have friends. I want a relationship.

Really, I have no answers and no clue as to what I’m doing. But really do any of us? Isn’t love that thing that happens when you least expect it? From that unlikely source or place? Maybe, I don’t need to be an expert. Maybe I can be the inexperienced, small town, loud and chunky girl that I am and when the time is right, the moon will align with the clouds and he will magically appear to sweep me off my feet. Or something much less fairy tale but much more realistic than that will happen. And maybe I need to love myself first. Figure out who it is that God has created me to be and pursue that person so when “Mr. Right” comes along I am ready. Maybe instead of making this year be about finding a soulmate, it can be about finding me. And in doing that who knows what doors will open up.

So to all the single ladies out there looking for someone to put a ring on it: keep up the good fight, my friends. Don’t give up hope. But in the meantime, live for you. Go adventure to where you have always wanted to. Take that dream job you love. Go out dancing with your friends and heck eat that pint of Ben and Jerry’s while binge watching your favorite TV show on Netflix. Make yourself happy and believe that God created you to be the amazing, beautiful person that you are. He has a plan for your life.

Kelly is a 31 year old single gal living in small town USA with her cat Benny. 🙂

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They Preached With Fire: A Flash Fiction Story

(Hey y’all! I am experimenting with different kinds of short stories, and I decided to write a flash fiction story. Usually, a flash fiction story is considered to be anything under 1,000 words.  And please listen to the music video after you have read the story. Thanks!)

Flash Fiction

On the second Sunday of the month, Simon preached. He married real talk with humor in his sermons. He was relatable to the young people without being too corny yet he appealed to the older folks with his Old Testament teachings. Simon preached how Daddy used to preach.

Daddy told jokes and left the pulpit so he could see the laughter. The congregation exploded at his jokes like they had watched a scene in an Eddie Murphy movie. Once, the laughter softened and left the sanctuary, Daddy asked the congregation to stand up and open their Bibles. Daddy used to preach so hard that a church nurse would have to wipe his glistening forehead.

Simon was like my Daddy. When the sweat dripped into Simon’s mouth and down into his neck, he wiped his face. The older folks said, “Lord, this boy can preach.” When I heard their words, I tried not to smile. I bit my lips, but they curved. “Miss, your boo is preaching,” the teenagers pointed at me.

As Pentecostal as I was, I liked to be at the church when it was empty. I took my mismatched socks and black Chuck Taylors off. Simon walked to me and softly tugged my nose.

“You’re always trying to hide that smile, pretty lady!”

“I’m not smiling.” I placed my hand on my mouth and watched Simon rub his goatee. I loathed this addition to his face before, but I realized that it made him extra handsome. Simon’s almond shaped eyes focused on my bare feet and then my afro. My lion’s mane was getting larger, and I needed to find a patient hairdresser to explore my dense, black curls.

Simon held the ring in front of me, and I looked at it again. I forced myself to examine the simple, golden band. The ring was as simple as my jeans and sneakers

“I’m still thinking, Simon.”

“Thinking? Have you prayed about it?” Simon squinted at me.

“Yeah, I’ve prayed and I don’t have an answer.”

“I’m just confused, Amelia. I thought you wanted to get married. You talked about how you wanted your dad to marry us. You wanted to walk down the aisle with no shoes.”

For two weeks, I ignored Simon’s texts and phone calls. Simon’s handwritten note in my mailbox made me meet with him. Simon’s persistence reminded me of Daddy. Before the divorce, Daddy bribed Mama with fish and chip dinners, so she would take her medicine. He read Bible verses to her during her times in the hospital. Daddy constantly called my Mama’s family to figure out where she was.

Daddy never wanted to divorce Mama, but the church leaders were concerned when his sermons became choppy. His light jokes transformed into snide remarks.

“Simon, you should leave me alone. Find someone who doesn’t have a crazy mama,” I walked over to the pulpit. My back was turned to Simon, but his dress shoes banged towards me. Simon pulled a strand of my hair and stared at me.

“You’d want your mom to be at the wedding too. It makes sense. She’s not crazy though. Just going through some stuff now.”

I swatted Simon’s hand. “She’s schizophrenic. You wanna marry the daughter of a schizophrenic?’

“Yeah, I wanna marry you. But don’t talk about your mom like that. I don’t think she wants to deal with all of the confusion in her head. I wouldn’t want to,” Simon shook his head.

“I know she doesn’t want to deal with it. We don’t want to deal with it either. Don’t take this mess on! It’s too stinking much,” I huffed.

“Amelia, its fine. I’ll take it on. I believe that God heals and restores. I pray for you and your family. All the time.”

“Goodness. You’re such a preacher, Simon.”

“Hope so. I’m spending a lot of money on seminary,” Simon laughed. He pulled my face towards him and kissed my cheek. Daddy used to kiss Mama when she carried on. Daddy sung to her, off key. His ragged notes covered the tears he would not allow to pour out.

Simon was a singing preacher. I joked with Simon, because he and Daddy didn’t have a lot of differences except the singing. The older folks at our church talked about Simon’s anointing. His voice directed the congregation to praise God. Our own raw voices and our spinning bodies moved into the aisles. After such services, both the teenagers and older folks saluted Simon or shook his dark, brown hand. But Simon pointed at the ceiling and stated, “It’s God.”

I didn’t want Simon to have to leave the ministry. When Daddy told me that the church leaders asked him to stop preaching, he didn’t cry or yell. He guzzled creamy coffee in the kitchen of the house that I was raised in. Then, he dipped a ginger snap in his cup and asked me if he should get something for Mama for her birthday.

Simon kissed my cheek again, and I twitched. Simon frowned, and he dropped his hands into the pockets of his wine colored slacks.

 

 

 

 

Guest Blog Post: The Potter and the Clay

By: Naomi Noel Trevino

Clay #1

While I was reflecting on the past year, there was one audacious resolution that took precedence for the New Year. It was a sincere prayer from my heart, “God mold me and shape me into who you want me to be.” What is so bold about this prayer is the depth and the meaning behind it.

In the Bible there is a passage of scripture that describes a beautiful analogy where God is the Potter and we are the clay (Isaiah 64:8). It is an analogy of what takes places in our lives. All pottery begins as simple clay. In order for clay to be used in pottery making, it must first be prepared. Clay is prepared with methods such as kneading to smooth out the clay body. The greater the plasticity of the clay, the easier it is for the potter to work with. In this state, the clay is most vulnerable and can be easily deformed when handled.

In our own lives, that are moments and sometimes seasons when we feel vulnerable because of things that have happens to us, hard times, disappointments, grief, and loss that can leave us fragile and hurt. For most people, being broken is the worst state to be in. But for clay, being in a fragile state allows the potter to do their greatest work.

Only after preparation, is the clay ready to be shaped into whatever form the potter needs it to be. Once the clay is shaped, it is ready for the most crucial step in the process; firing. In the firing process, the clay is put in a kiln, which is a massive oven with high temperatures. Firing produces irrevocable changes to the body of the clay. But without the firing process, the clay will never become pottery.

What is so profound still about the firing process is that the atmosphere in the kiln affects the appearance and the outcome of the clay body. The atmosphere must be right. In our prayers when we are asking God to help us through hard times or asking him to show us our next steps, have we done our part? Have we created an atmosphere to receive what God has in store? For me, if my spirit and my heart are full of doubt and bitterness when times are hard, then I will not be able to fully become what I was shaped to be when I come through the fire. I will come out broken down. That is not God’s best. But we have a choice. Just like all clay reacts differently in the firing process, how we react to fire in our lives determines the outcome of the situation.

Clay #2

The final stage of pottery making is the artistic part. The pottery is decorated, painted, fine tuned and glazed. Most people when they see pottery, they are only seeing the finished product. Most people can appreciate the beauty of pottery when it is done but not everyone would be willing to go through the long process of making pottery. When pottery is glazed, that is still not the last step. Pottery often goes through one last firing process called glazed firing. Glaze firing ensures that the pottery will continue to undergo chemical changes into what it truly needs to be.

The prayer I started with audacious, because it is raw faith. It is a total surrender to God’s will and His plan. It is throwing my life on the Potter’s wheel. It is humbling myself to the shaping of His hands. I want to be like clay that undergoes permanent and irrevocable changes to the appearance of my heart and countenance. The process may be messy. There may be times when I do not understand. But I rest in knowing that the one who spoke the worlds into existence, the one who threw the stars across the sky, and the one who painted the heavens, has more than capable hands. “Indeed, I have inscribed a picture of you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16 (AMP)

Naomi Noel Trevino is a published writer who loves to encourage people.  Keep updated on her future projects through Instagram: @naomi.noel  and Twitter: @naomi_noel_. Inquiries can also be sent to naomi.n.trevino@gmail.com.

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