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I recently had the amazing opportunity to sit down with my friend Lisa Nicole Bell for a very interesting conversation. Lisa has a podcast called Behind the Brilliance (BTB) where she talks with her guests about art, culture, technology, business, lifestyle…basically the awesomeness of life. I think Lisa is truly amazing, and was honored when she asked me to be apart.

In the episode we are really just having a great conversation. You get to hear how I got into mission, the complexities of my adventure in the Philippines, and about my joys and struggles there. You will hear some thoughts on race, gender, and media…It chock full of realness.

When I listened to the conversation again (after recording it that is) it still feels very authentic to my feelings. The conversation is very honest and personal. I even wish we had more time to dig in…but until next time. Check it out.

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Good Morning :-) #fromthewestsidewithlove (at San Bernandino, California)

Good Morning :-) #fromthewestsidewithlove (at San Bernandino, California)

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My latest article on young adult missionary Joy Prim. Learn about her work to end a system of modern day slavery. 

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572 words- medium length read- 2 ½ mins

About two weeks ago, I had the sudden urge to re-read Phenomenal Woman, my favorite of Maya Angelou’s poems. I’m not sure why this sudden wanting came over me, but the desire was strong.

Mother Maya is one of my she-ros, as she is to so many other women (and men alike). Her influence transcends young and old, black, white, and brown. I can’t help but calling her mother because that’s what she feels like to me. She possessed a mothering power and presence that not even death can disband; what she taught us  through her intimate dance with words is far too strong. She was a mother to me, to a bunch of other little black girls, to the nation in which she fought against racism and racist policies for so long, and to the world.

I remember being introduced to her work as a little girl by my own mother, who insisted that I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. My mother also encouraged me to recite one of Angelou’s popular poems, Still I Rise, at my 6th grade recital.

I’ll never forget practicing in my living room for weeks, begging my mom and dad to listen as I tried to recite every line perfectly. My mother coached me not to read such a dynamic poem in such a dry tone. I remember the floral dress I was wearing, where I was standing, and the hot lights shining on me as I boldly (or as boldly as one could in the 6th grade) recited the poem in front of an auditorium full of elementary school children and their parents.

As much as Still I Rise meant to me in my childhood years, Phenomenal Woman was its counterpart as I continued to grow into a young woman. At 26, quickly approaching 27, I’m  so thankful my mother introduced me to Mother Maya as a source to draw and learn from in my impressionable youth. Thank goodness Destiny Child’s Bootylicious and Can You Pay My Bills weren’t the only messages I was retaining as I was blossoming into a lady.

Mother Maya taught me about a woman’s confidence, without explicitly telling me how to be confident. It was in the way that she put her words together that gave me the example. She was very open about the importance of faith in her life and in her journey. That it was necessary. That Christianity is not a destination, but a life-long walk.Such truth, I find myself on this walk today.
Yet I’m still not sure about the sudden wanting to re-read Phenomenal Woman after all of these years, and even more interestingly is this desire coming  just two weeks before Mother Maya’s transition. Maybe this feeling was a reminder, to bring me to where I am right now  in this very moment reflecting over the power of her words in my life. Maybe I’m not yet that phenomenal woman I so strive to be? Certainly not by the unreachable standards I can sometimes place on myself that is. Or maybe I am?  Maybe it’s a reminder to not be so hard on myself, to realize and give into the process of life— the walk. To know that thanks to my mother, my grandmother, and so many other loving female influences that I am a woman phenomenally made and molded. A Phenomenal woman, I guess that’s me.  Mother Maya, thank you.

572 words- medium length read- 2 ½ mins

About two weeks ago, I had the sudden urge to re-read Phenomenal Woman, my favorite of Maya Angelou’s poems. I’m not sure why this sudden wanting came over me, but the desire was strong.

Mother Maya is one of my she-ros, as she is to so many other women (and men alike). Her influence transcends young and old, black, white, and brown. I can’t help but calling her mother because that’s what she feels like to me. She possessed a mothering power and presence that not even death can disband; what she taught us  through her intimate dance with words is far too strong. She was a mother to me, to a bunch of other little black girls, to the nation in which she fought against racism and racist policies for so long, and to the world.

I remember being introduced to her work as a little girl by my own mother, who insisted that I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. My mother also encouraged me to recite one of Angelou’s popular poems, Still I Rise, at my 6th grade recital.

I’ll never forget practicing in my living room for weeks, begging my mom and dad to listen as I tried to recite every line perfectly. My mother coached me not to read such a dynamic poem in such a dry tone. I remember the floral dress I was wearing, where I was standing, and the hot lights shining on me as I boldly (or as boldly as one could in the 6th grade) recited the poem in front of an auditorium full of elementary school children and their parents.

As much as Still I Rise meant to me in my childhood years, Phenomenal Woman was its counterpart as I continued to grow into a young woman. At 26, quickly approaching 27, I’m  so thankful my mother introduced me to Mother Maya as a source to draw and learn from in my impressionable youth. Thank goodness Destiny Child’s Bootylicious and Can You Pay My Bills weren’t the only messages I was retaining as I was blossoming into a lady.

Mother Maya taught me about a woman’s confidence, without explicitly telling me how to be confident. It was in the way that she put her words together that gave me the example. She was very open about the importance of faith in her life and in her journey. That it was necessary. That Christianity is not a destination, but a life-long walk.Such truth, I find myself on this walk today.

Yet I’m still not sure about the sudden wanting to re-read Phenomenal Woman after all of these years, and even more interestingly is this desire coming  just two weeks before Mother Maya’s transition. Maybe this feeling was a reminder, to bring me to where I am right now  in this very moment reflecting over the power of her words in my life. Maybe I’m not yet that phenomenal woman I so strive to be? Certainly not by the unreachable standards I can sometimes place on myself that is. Or maybe I am?  Maybe it’s a reminder to not be so hard on myself, to realize and give into the process of life— the walk. To know that thanks to my mother, my grandmother, and so many other loving female influences that I am a woman phenomenally made and molded. A Phenomenal woman, I guess that’s me.  Mother Maya, thank you.

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Bike Fridays

Bike Fridays

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Holman UMC at #Assembly2014 #UMW

Holman UMC at #Assembly2014 #UMW

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Last week I got the opportunity to attend the Black Methodist for Church Renewal (BMCR) national meeting in St. Louis, MO. I’ve heard of them though my friend and mentor Pastor Gary, but with not much exposure to the actual organization. It was an amazing experience to be at the event and learn more and more about the organization through casual conversations. BMCR was birthed out of the civil rights movement in the 60’s. The organization is a long-standing advocacy channel for black clergy within the UMC.
While there I was able to attend the black clergywomen luncheon. Talking amongst ourselves I heard the story of one fabulous woman, who’s name I sadly don’t remember, about her struggles within the system of the church to find a place for her to serve in her rural, mostly white conference area. I sat and listened amazed. It reminded me of my time with Rev. Perla while I was still in the Philippines, who was the first woman to graduate from seminary in her area of the Philippines, and who also struggled in finding a church to pastor because of her gender.
The parallel between the struggles of these two women became crystal clear to me. I had somehow unconsciously become detached from the reality of the struggles that women who look like me had to go through only a few years ago. Hearing the stories and accomplishments, but also the struggles and hardships of these beautiful brown women was a reminder of hurdles that still need to be crossed. 
I can remember someone I admire asking me not long ago, ‘so what are you going to do about it?’ …I’ll leave it there because I’m still working on figuring that out.

Last week I got the opportunity to attend the Black Methodist for Church Renewal (BMCR) national meeting in St. Louis, MO. I’ve heard of them though my friend and mentor Pastor Gary, but with not much exposure to the actual organization. It was an amazing experience to be at the event and learn more and more about the organization through casual conversations. BMCR was birthed out of the civil rights movement in the 60’s. The organization is a long-standing advocacy channel for black clergy within the UMC.

While there I was able to attend the black clergywomen luncheon. Talking amongst ourselves I heard the story of one fabulous woman, who’s name I sadly don’t remember, about her struggles within the system of the church to find a place for her to serve in her rural, mostly white conference area. I sat and listened amazed. It reminded me of my time with Rev. Perla while I was still in the Philippines, who was the first woman to graduate from seminary in her area of the Philippines, and who also struggled in finding a church to pastor because of her gender.

The parallel between the struggles of these two women became crystal clear to me. I had somehow unconsciously become detached from the reality of the struggles that women who look like me had to go through only a few years ago. Hearing the stories and accomplishments, but also the struggles and hardships of these beautiful brown women was a reminder of hurdles that still need to be crossed. 

I can remember someone I admire asking me not long ago, ‘so what are you going to do about it?’ …I’ll leave it there because I’m still working on figuring that out.

Finger Peace Sign