Emancipation

emancipationYesterday, many of us gathered in our places of worship to celebrate the new year.  But many do not recall that January 1st is actually Emancipation Day–a celebration of the day in 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted. This is not a history post, but I feel the need to share a different historical perspective of traditional new year’s celebrations based on my experience.

And while we’re on the subject of traditions, can we chat about Watch Night Service.  Watch Night Service has somewhat morphed into a New Year’s Eve Service. When I was coming up, Watch Night Service was more of a prayer service.  It lasted about an hour. No fancy clothes. No shiny things.  The congregation just gathered; worshiped; testified; and welcomed the new year on our knees.  After service, we would return home to eat our Hoppin’ John and collard greens.  Now, don’t get me wrong,  I think New Year’s Celebrations are awesome (and I can’t imagine a better place to bring in the New Year but in the house of the Lord), but a Watch Night Service is totally different.  On December 31st 1862, soon to be slaves gathered to await their freedom at Midnight.  Hence the name “Watch Night.” I personally think, that if you have been in a  “Watch Night” service the phrase “Watchman! Oh, Watchman! What is the hour?” was not uttered multiple times, then you have not been to a true Watch Night Service.  This traditional service is still practiced in the African-American churches that are nested in the Gullah-Geechee communities of the Low Country.

So, I wrote this looonnnng “quick” post just to say it’s a new year.  If there is anything that is keeping you in shackles,  I pray that you will take the necessary actions you need to break every chain that is keeping you back.  My chain is “fear”. Unfortunately,  I am a lifelong pessimist and my “fear” always forces me to choose the safe route in all aspects of my life.  My fear is often rooted in how others will react and in failure.  My grandmother always told me growing up “Nothing beats a failure but a try!” Though I listened to these wise words as a child, and I am going to take them to heart this year.  My word for 2017 is COURAGE.  I will do another blog post on my word later.

Sooooo….Back to the purpose of the post. After the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted, it took two and a half years for the last slave to find out that they’d been freed. TWO AND A HALF YEARS. This day was June 19, 1865.  We now refer to this day Juneteenth. I pray that in 2017 you choose freedom and not experience a “Juneteenth” in your life, i.e. wait two or more years to finally be free. What shackle will you break in 2017? Please share in the comments below.  Be Blessed!

 

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Don’t Nobody Bring Me—Black Eyed Peas!

 

D7CE30B3-1284-4DFD-A6A2-8639DD2B9DBB One thing about growing up in the south, and specifically in the Lowcountry of Georgia and South Carolina, a couple of things we do not fall short of are traditions and superstitions.  Heck, we start the year off with our dos and don’ts of the New Year.  One of the absolute and non-negotiable “dos” of the New Year is that one MUST consume a hearty plate of Hoppin’ John.  This brings me to the title of my blog.

NOW HEAR THIS:  Hoppin’ John is made with field peas (sometimes referred to as cowpeas), NOT black –eyed peas.  Honestly, I did not know that people consumed black eyed peas for “luck” in the New Year until I moved to Florida.  I moved to Florida in the summer of 1999.  As the year 2000 approached, I began to gather my “luck in the New Year” goods.  I searched every nook and cranny of every chain and corner store in search of red field peas to make a nice pot of Hoppin’ John.  Not one field pea could be found.  I even went to the Caribbean grocery stores and was offered a selection of pigeon peas–though the pigeon pea may be a cousin of the field pea, a field pea it is not. Lesson learned!! So now I either stock up when I visit home, or have my mom ship me an emergency Hoppin John Kit!

In addition to preparing and consuming Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day, there are a few other rules to prepare for the New Year:

  1. You must consume some collard greens if you want those “green backs” (i.e. money) in the New Year. I am not sure if that works, but it is good for your digestion
  2. Clean your house! In the words of my grandmother, “The way the New Year finds your home is the way it will be all year.” I always fail at this one as I never got my home in order and I lived in chaos.  This year, my home is “better” but I am fearful that I will not have a spotless home in 2016.  I think this is impossible with a 7 year old son…but I digress.
  3. Don’t wash clothes. This tradition/superstition freaks me out. The saying is that if you wash clothes on New Year’s Day, you will wash someone out of the family. In other words, you will be responsible for the untimely death of Aunt Mae, who happens to be 102.  I’m not overly superstitious, but I don’t take chances with this one.

Now, I have a friend (she’s from west Georgia, bless her heart), introduced me to a tradition about a man has to be the first to cross your threshold in the New Year. When she was single, she would go as far as to wake her neighbor’s grown behind son up to walk through her door at midnight. Hmmm….I think if a man walks across my threshold at midnight, he’s looking to bring more than luck (or a plate of Hoppin’ John)—I’m just saying.   My Peruvian BFF shared the tradition of eating 12 grapes in the New Year for luck–one grape for each month.  Not sure about this one, but I like grapes, so I’ll have a bowl.

But honestly, we are born with the blessings that God has in store for us. John 1.0: 9-10 (KJV) states:

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

To share John 10:9-10 from the Gullah Bible:

“A de gyate, Ebrybody wa go shru me fa go eenside, dey gwine be sabe.  Dey gwine be free fa go een an come out fa go find green grass fa nyam.  De tief jes come fa tief, fa kill an story.  Bot A come so dat dey kin hab true life, so dat dey kin lib a life ob joy wa heap op an ron oba.” (The New Testament in Gullah, Sea Island Creole, 1st ed. 2005, American Bible Society)

God has a life of abundance and joy for us. It is up to us to be open to receive what God has for us and use God as our guide to get us there.  In the New Year, indulge in your traditions and celebrations, but rely on God to bring you the blessings you desire in 2016.

Here comes “that”day again.

Full disclosure here.  Today is a day that I like to see come and go—My Birthday.

I don’t know if I ever “celebrated” my birthday, but I do remember when I made a subconscious decision NOT to “celebrate”. It was my 22nd Birthday. It was a Thursday. I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was the day that doctors at St. Joseph’s Hospital told my family that my maternal grandmother would not make it through the night. I was heartbroken…devastated…afraid.  I spent my 22nd Birthday on deathwatch.

My grandmother was everything to me. If Thelma and Louise could be 43 years apart in age, then that would be us. I think my grandmother’s spirit and will would not have allowed her to rest in peace if she would have made her transition on my birthday.

Thankfully, my grandmother made it through the night and within a few days appeared to be improving.  I remember the Tuesday evening following my birthday, she was talking more than she had in a long time.  In my mind, God was about to perform in modern day miracle; but in reality, God was giving her a chance to say “Goodbye”.  Thursday evening (a week to the day after my birthday, she went home to be with God.  That was December 22, 1994.  Three days later I would experience my first Christmas without her.  There was no joy. No presents. No family dinner.  Two days after Christmas her body was laid to rest.

Each year leading up to my birthday, I relive “that” night over and over again. I try to find joy in the day and in the thought of celebrating (don’t get me wrong, I always thank God for his grace and mercy and allowing me to see another birthday), but sometimes I feel my family and friends are more excited about the day than I am. I usually go out to dinner, but it is more so out of obligation to my family, rather than of celebration.  Today, I felt so much love from those who love me and for that I am grateful.  But just under the surface are memories of that night 22 years ago. I somewhat feel like a brat for not being over the top with joy in turning a year older.

Christmas is so hard too.  It was easier to get through the holiday season before I became a mother; but now I have to bury my feelings of sadness to make sure my son’s Christmas memories are filled with Joy.

This year, mentally, I did make (and still working at it) a conscious decision to celebrate…but the sadness is winning the battle so far. But as I write this blog, I just had a revelation…If my grandmother felt that my born day was so important that she would fight to live a bit longer, then why should I not celebrate the day God saw fit to give me life!  Wow!

So, I am writing this quick blog as a way for me to make a conscious effort to help me move from this “spot” of birthday/holiday loneliness and to celebrate the life that I am blessed to have. This post is not fancy. It may have typos. No pictures.  It’s just me getting some feelings out and if by chance someone stumbles upon my little blog and who maybe feeling ‘some kinda way’ during this time of year; know that I am praying for you and I ask that you remember this little girl who still misses her grandmother dearly.

Freeze Your Berries!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pick! Freeze! Share!
I have truly enjoyed my Winter/Early Spring excursions to Pappy’s Strawberry Patch in Oviedo, FL.  In Central Florida, strawberry picking is alivberriese and well through April…then it’s BLUEBERRY TIME!  As strawberry picking season comes to a close, I decided that I need to pick and freeze as many berries as I can–and fast!

One thing about a Gullah woman–she always has a freezer full of freshness! It may be some fresh collards from her garden…fresh seafood caught by cousin Joe…or an extra sweet potato pie ready for a impromptu visit from family out of town.

In a effort to preserve this sweet, fresh, taste of the winter berries, I am picking and freezing like Ca-Ray-Zee! Check out my quick steps to freezing your berries, and don’t forget to share some with your neighbors!

Demarra gwine hab e own warry

Good Evening Everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend 🙂

As the day comes to a close, and some of us prepare for the work week, allow me to leave you with a scripture of mediation:

“So den, mus dohn warry bout wa gwine happen demarra. Demarra gwine hab e own warry. Ebry day hab nuff trouble ob e own.”  Matthew 6:34 (Gullah Translation)

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Matthew 6:34 New International Version (NIV)

 Be Blessed!

I’m Too Perfect for my Blog

After 43 years of fighting it, I am finally ready to admit that I am a perfectionist. I have suffered years of making self-Head Shotdefeating statements and considering myself a “failure” whenever a project I am working on turns out less than perfect. It’s ironic that the projects that I feel reflect a mediocre effort at best, others greet those same projects with admiration and accolades. When confronted with this situation, I wish I could accept the well wishes of others with grace; but instead, all I can see are the things that I could have done to make it better—in other words “perfect”.
I know my blog has suffered because of this attitude. I have come up with awesome ideas and campaigns for my blog and set out a plan of execution; however, if I miss a day of posting or face “blogger’s block” I completely give up on blogging for a while. It’s amazing how a temporary issue derails my blogging efforts and the perfectionist in me throws the baby out with the bathwater.
We today is a new day! Admitting the problem is half the battle. So today is the first day of the rest of my blog life. Let’s do this!