Writing by faith

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The lyrics of Blessed by Jill Scott seem simple, yet profound.  Blessed is a reminder, an anthem, a personal “amen chorus”.  It sounds somewhat cliché but it is the little things in life that bring the most satisfaction; if we take time out to appreciate them. The more we acknowledge our gratitude, the more fulfilled we are.  Blessed like many of Jill Scott’s songs rings with testimony.  It was as if she just rolled out the bed and the brilliance of  God gleaming sunlight beckoned her name.  It was as if that sun anointed her “alive” and came down to kiss her sleeping child.  And suddenly her spirit spoke the words─so blessed. It was like she awoke in a familiar place; in a generous bed with an eyelet spread and once again her spirit utteredso blessed.  The smell of crackling bacon, strong coffee brewing, and thick buttered biscuits had her thinking again.  I’m so blessed.  And soon she sat barefoot at a familiar table anticipating a home cooked meal with homegrown friends.  At that moment she sighed and said, “I’m so blessed.”   And soon, the woman with the infectious smile paused to write infectious lyrics to an infectious song. Blessed was her “breath” of thanks.  Who knows when and how her muse really arrived. But Blessed is a life pause to inspire an “in the moment” account of one’s own blessings. When we sing the lyrics we confess, “Yeah, I woke this morning feeling fresh to death…”  Although we may not feel that way, by the end of the song we do!  Truth moment: We too can pull away the curtain to bask in our own sun drenched joy.  But often, “The greatest act of faith some days is to get up and face another day.”  (Amy Gatliff)   So thank you Ms. Scott.  For in a matter of 59 minutes and 18 seconds Blessed has made its way into our cars, headsets and homes. To remind us in song of a familiar verse:

…whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things Phil 4:8

xoxo Norma

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ImageWho does she think she is? It may not always be verbalized, but do you ever get the sense someone has said that about you?  Or, be honest.  Have you ever said it about someone else?  Most likely it happens when we get:

  • a new job
  • a new man
  • a new outfit
  • a new attitude
  • a new house or car
  • …a new revelation about who we are in Christ!

Why?  Often people think you shouldn’t get “it” because they think:

  • they are smarter, prettier or more talented;
  • they have been through more than you;
  • you haven’t played “the game”;
  • you haven’t gotten their “approval”;
  • you don’t have the right letters behind your name;
  • you aren’t a part of the right organization or clique;
  • you got it without their help.

Sad, but true.  It takes a mature, well balanced individual to celebrate a sister’s victory or a new and improved you.   If we’re honest we can all say we may have had some less than stellar moments.  The best shouting time is when a woman finally understands who she is in Christ!  Want to know a secret?  Sometimes God won’t allow us to get our breakthrough until we learn how to celebrate others.  There’s nothing like a woman of God walking in the light of her authentic beauty and calling.  Oh, you’ll recognize it when you see her:

  • She walks and talks more confident
  • Her head is held high
  • Her shoulders are back
  • She has a spring in her step
  • She wears more bold colors or tries a new do
  • She’s generous with that smile
  • Her presence is infectious
  • She sprinkles joy on others like perfume
  • And she shines, boy does she shine!

This sister has gotten her breakthrough.  She’s been ushered to the head table, taken her place as the chief cornerstone and she’s a heavenly and earthly princess.  If that’s you, don’t apologize.  If it’s someone you know, step out-of-the-way and let her pass!  God decides who He promotes, but if you are secure enough within yourself to genuinely celebrate…guess what?  You’re next.

Shine on…NJY

A powerful father and son, two women, one stronghold…deliverance costs.  Faith, Love, Mystery & Miracles

Vineyard Surrender 

by Norma L. Jarrett

Prologue

Another letter from the dead.

Sierra’s fingertips nudged the envelope slightly.  Finally, she held it up as if the words would seep from the paper.  The envelope was nothing like the quirky stationery from Deja Rue, her mother’s vintage boutique.  She really messed up this time…left me out here like a sheep in a pack of wolves.  Sierra winced, recalling the smack of the gavel that sealed her mother’s fate.  She’s innocent.  Yeah right, isn’t that what they all say?  A recovering alcoholic maybe…but a criminal?  No way.  Even if she wanted to believe her, Sierra’s spirit was only connected to disappointment.  The image of Maxine Sanders in a dark, musty room, curled up in the corner of a bed sliced through her mind.  Soon, her mother’s face as she wanted to recall it appeared; her bronze skin, flawless as a twenty-something boasted high cheekbones doused with persimmon blush.  Her amber locks drawn from her face with a silky scarf, exposed her copious earrings.  The more eclectic the earring the better, “because a woman simply isn’t present without them.”  Chunky bracelets and brazen colors announced her unapologetic place in the world.  Her ginger-gold lipstick tinged the fullness of her mouth to perfection.  How that lipstick remained after several cups of coffee baffled me.   Sierra bit the side of her lip and sighed.  Doesn’t matter now.  She rubbed her temples as the uninvited vision of her mother in a cell returned.   Her signature bohemian-vintage tops, airy skirts and quirky shoes traded for a jumpsuit.  Numbers replaced her eccentric adornments.  Sierra had designed original jewelry pieces just for her.    Just a number─not a mother, business owner, or someone clean and sober for five years…but just a number.  Air from Sierra’s lungs hurled itself up and out, as she plugged the gusher of pain pouring in her spirit. What now God?  SHE held all this together.  I don’t know how to do all this.  She sucked her teeth and shook her head.  I don’t understand your so-called plan.  I’m exhausted, out of ideas, money and any kinda faith.  I’m through, and as far as I see it, there’s nothing else left to do but…

Surrender.

© 2010 Norma L. Jarrett

Hello Fear

My dearest sisters & brothers:

Lately I’d been reciting the poem Our Greatest Fear by Marianne Williamson.  Consequently, I’ve had to truthfully acknowledge some of my own. There’d been times I’d stopped short of  a break through.  And other times I’d been  guilty of shrinking back.  To my dismay, my deepest fear had been of my own light, not the darkness as the poem so eloquently states.  I’d even caught myself playing small, but why?  Maybe because with “light” comes responsibility.  It calls for action, vulnerability.  As I wrestled with this revelation I asked God for help (as always).  I think he answered with a recent speaking engagement.  When I spoke to a group of students at Prairie View A & M University I experienced the true power of light.  It hadn’t been the first time but I think God needed to give me a reminder.  On the day of the event, I entered the campus and my eyes watered.   I instantly thought of my own alma mater North Carolina A &  T State University.  Upon my arrival  a beautiful older woman who’d worked there for thirty years greeted me with the warmth of a mother.   I instantly felt a kindred spirit (she was also my beloved sorority sister).  Her student worker, a very sharp, personable young woman introduced herself.  She had a sparkle, an “it” quality that let you know she was going places!  Once in the building they ushered me to the room for the event.  The chairs were neatly arranged theater style.  However, it was slightly  empty ten minutes before speaking time.  Within the next five minutes students, professors and staff piled into a standing room only crowd.  I was a little nervous as the program began.  However, as we sung Lift Every Voice and Sing my spirit became calm and serene! When the young woman introduced me, I thought, “Wow, whoever the speaker is sounds really impressive!  Oh, that’s you silly!”   Soon I stepped up to the microphone.    I joked that the students surely got extra credit for showing up! Then sailed into my topic:  Act and Think Like a Lady – Images of African-American Women and Girls in Contemporary Literature and Media.  I wasn’t quite sure I was going to pull it off, but I did!  It was a great exchange.  I engaged the students and they  and even laughed in the right places.  Afterwards, I signed books and talked with several young ladies.  As I walked off I overheard them quoting some of the information I’d presented.  They were excitedly sharing about the experience.  My heart was full of joy as I realized they truly embraced the message.  It was in that moment, part of the poem Our Greatest Fear resonated, “…and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  Because I was willing to let my light shine (use my gift of inspiration) I gave other young women permission to shine.   So that was it!  No more playing small, no more shrinking back.   So I invite you to join me in my new mantra.  Hello fear (in the words of Kirk Franklin – smile).  You don’t have to go home, but you got to get up out of here!  The world is waiting on me.

xoxo

Norma L. Jarrett

Author

I am not ashamed…

of being a Black woman…As a matter of fact I am very proud.

I am allowed to be angry; I know its place.

Strength does not equate to offensive or a violent disposition;

I am soft (and round) when and where necessary and vulnerable in my own private space.

I am smart.  I work hard.  I am a mother, wife, daughter and all that God creates a woman to be.

I have been an American citizen for centuries; although it took the rest of the country (and the law) to catch up, I understand the SPIRIT of forgiveness.

I chose to redirect any potential resentment to hard work and sacrifice toward the American dream.  It has arrived−with all its roses and thorns (mine to keep or lose).

I had no head start, no silver spoon, just happy to have a spoon.  With a few extra ingredients (like any real woman), I whipped up success (we’re used to making something out of nothing).

Oh, did I tell you I’m a lady? I am feminine, sweet, articulate, fashionable and understand all the rules of etiquette. 

I can have dinner at a Ben’s Chili Bowl and host a state dinner alongside my very powerful, yet humble husband…

The President of the United States.

I am Michelle Obama and I am every (Black) woman.  

My Name is Norma L. Jarrett.  I am an author and I approve this message (and I think Michelle Obama would too).

ww.normajarrett.net


This is NOT one of those annual letters detailing the year’s events; nothing against those who send them, but it’s not my style. I do have to say I couldn’t wait for the chance to send one of those personalized holiday cards with the photo in matching red sweaters.  But I changed my mind…maybe next year. 

This year I decided to send a simple message, with a simple holiday blessing.  You see, each year, there was one thing I could always count on…a Christmas card from my father.  Most of you know he passed away February 24, 2009.  There are many things I remember about my dad…he loved the little things in life, especially the holidays. 

Family and all that it represented meant so much to him.  He never wanted anything expensive; He was humbled and grateful for a card, gift or a simple phone call.  Even when we were grown, he’d talk about getting the tree up, lights on the house and making a fire.  He’d offer an explanation if his annual Christmas card was a little late; and he’s the only person I know that actually ate those dreadful fruitcakes. 

You see, the little country boy in my dad never left, although he’d put himself through college and had a great career as an engineer. His dad (Grandpa Jarrett) was a janitor at the courthouse up the road and his mother was a homemaker.  She baked, sewed and made sure everything was spotless; the house was warmed with love.  I remember my father sharing how he and his brothers were excited to get candy, nuts and cakes and pies around the holidays; on one particular Christmas he was happy to get a used bike because he knew it was the best his parents could do.   He rode it like it was brand new!

I tell you all this to remind you and I to focus on the simple things…not what you could or could not buy this year (what I want the most is not for sale anyway).   This is not just a holiday greeting, but a blessing to you and yours.    If you have received this letter prayers are going up for you: prayers for jobs, healing, restoration, joy and forgiveness. That is our gift.  Perhaps things are far from perfect; we have no choice but to trust the “Perfect One”.  And though my husband and I are a quiet pair; you’re never ever far from us in daily thoughtful prayer.

Season’s Greetings,

Norma (Lynn) & Clarence York

Wouldn’t it look crazy if a player for a losing football team started running plays for the other side?  What if a basketball player started handing the ball to the forward of the other team on purpose?  TIME OUT! When our circumstances look dismal or we’re in a battle that’s what we’re actually doing when we speak negative.  We join in with the opposing team and hand them the victory.  The Bible says we have what we say.   The enemy  draws to negativity.  He knows as soon as he can get you to start speaking defeat he has you.  Pretty soon you are in depression, with a hung down head.  The enemy has a stronghold on your mind, heart and spirit.  You are in a supernatural headlock.  You’re so busy wallowing you couldn’t see a solution if God threw it and hit you in the head.  When you agree with the enemy he infiltrates your camp; before you know it you’re defeated with little or no effort.  Now is not the time to stay home from church, shut out the world or have a temper tantrum with God.  Take up your mat and walk!  The winning team huddles, recalls the plays from practice, and stirs themselves up with a pep talk.  They return to the field re-energized and focused and come into agreement to execute a winning plan.  You must come into agreement with God and His plan for victory.  You must agree with what He says in His word about you and your circumstances.  You have to dig in with determination to overcome.  You are the head and not the tail, above ONLY and not beneath.  You may need to head to your “locker room” of faith and study the plays (scripture).  You may need to get help from your teammates (prayer partners) and get pumped up.  Get stirred up for victory. We can not afford to give the other team (the enemy) place in our lives.  The more you focus on God, the quicker the enemy will flee.  If you’ve been hosting a pity party and you’re the only one left, it’s time to get to work.  Put on some praise music.  Let it get down deep down on the inside.  Open your mouth and say:

  • I am not moved by my circumstances; so my circumstances must move in my favor.
  • I am a victor and not a victim.
  • I am the head and not the tail.
  • God is working things out for my good.

 As you draw near to God and eliminate negativity from your spirit God will turn things around little by little until the battle is won!  Peace & Blessings…Norma L. Jarrett

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