Thursday, August 15, 2019

Perfect Attendance

Growing up I've always heard the term 'Experience is the best teacher.'  During those years, I didn't take that quote to heart.  When I surmised ‘teaching’ I automatically referenced it to school or books.  Sure, relatively teaching is about school and in my family we were really focused on education.  School was mandatory! I remember how we would compete to see who could achieve the most perfect attendance awards. But in this statement, the subject matter is ‘experience.’ It is the teacher in the school of life.

Those who knew me then recognized that I had a joyous, happy, and excitable attitude about everything. I was dubbed Miss Positive. I saw the glass half full, instead of half empty.  Some seemed to think that I didn’t have a worry in the world. Maybe it was because I was always there for the other person. You know the type you can count on for a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, and a sounding board. And to boot, I was trustworthy and a confidante. Sounds amazing, right? That was and still is my character, but “oh the experiences” I’ve endured.  Visibly I was the pillar of strength.  Deep down I HID. But, I had an escape!

Let me give you a peek into my upbringing.
I had a STRONG single mom who took care of all six of her children. From the outside, you didn’t see the struggle. Her statement to us was “Never let’em see you sweat! Be steadfast and stand tall in what you believe.”  I understood that completely and carried it into my adulthood and family. Yes, just like the next person, I had problems but just didn’t show it. I didn’t carry everything on my sleeves. I didn't have a permanent print of a frown on my forehead. It seemed I always wanted to portray a zest for life, renowned strength, and the epitome of positivity. That was the person I wanted to exude-- to be visible to my peers.

But, deep inside
But, hidden within
But, to only my best friend
But, my bad experiences
But, to the only One
whom I can depend
But God
The key that unlocks the door
to my escape-
He is my refuge

I said all of that to relay this message. As our children and grandchildren return to school and classroom settings, we know that peer pressure will be very impactful. But keep in mind that even the bad experiences will help to mold and make them into who they will someday become. Of utmost importance is endurance and how they handle the pressure. Admit it. Life as some of us knew it, is quite different now. And like us, they must and will go through things we cannot shield them from or put a band-aid on. Yes, school and perfect attendance are important, but life experiences will be the ultimate lessons. So teach them something they cannot grasp at school. Teach them Jesus! He has perfect attendance. 

PJ Payne

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Who do you depend on when it seems everything you touch and do goes wrong? What do you do to keep yourself motivated? When do you realize you need help or a backup plan? Where do you find hope and inspiration? Why would you say enough is enough-- I can’t do this anymore?  I GIVE UP!

Some of you may remember the five W’s in school … Who, What, When, Where, Why and then there is How. Usually, they apply to writing and journalism. We were taught that they are the research and building materials to getting answers to a story. But this application can also be about life’s story!

In many aspects of our lives, at some point, we hit brick walls, get knocked off our feet, dumbfound and have no obvious explanation or answer for the dilemma in which we find ourselves. Is that when we throw our hands up in despair? “Uh, yea, we’re human”.  But just when you think you have no answer and you’ve hit rock bottom, you relinquish, release, and let go. Then you find the ‘HOW’ of your story.  

HE is the 'how' in your life! He knows how to relieve the pain. He knows how to give you strength. He knows how to take your burdens. He knows how to put the right words in your mouth when you don’t know what to say. He is your answer when you’re faced with what you consider unanswerable questions.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I remove ‘self’ out of the way as I seek answers, my path is so much clearer. My daily walk reminds me of how sweet it is to know that ‘God can’.

God can pick you up when you’re lower than low.
God can fight your battles in struggles against the foe.
God can renew that hope when the little you had diminishes.
God can complete the order and flow of things, from start to finish.
God can allow you to exhale when you can’t breathe and exhaustion overtakes you.
He can mend the pieces when disappointment tears apart and breaks you.
He replenishes and renews your spirit, when you’ve fallen and cannot stand.
All this brings back to remembrance and it’s good to know God can.

We literally live ‘who, what, when, where and why.’ But when we truly let Him write our story, we need not ask, ‘How’?

PJ Payne

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Leave Your Mark!

Think about it! What have you done or what is it that you do that impacts another person’s life or even his or her day?
Some years back, I worked in an environment in which the air was so thick with negativity, you couldn’t cut it with a knife. Even my coffee-breaks were ‘broken!’
I am a happy go lucky person, 90% of the time. I LOVE TO LAUGH!  Now a lot of it may have a li’l bit to do with my coffee habits, but I am a Very positive person. Kinda 'outta the box!'
One day I walked in to work and spoke in my cheerful manner. I gleefully said “Good Morning!” Nothing’s wrong with that, right? Well, of the 5 to 7 individuals who were in ear reach, only two reacted. I think every bit of energy I had in my body was immediately drained from me.  I felt as though I needed to check my breath. I was positive I bruised my teeth, even ‘after’ my morning coffee. And then my second cup of coffee had no immediate effect on my demeanor. For at least an hour, I was very quiet.
I understand that we ALL have ‘stuff’ going on in our lives—some unimaginable. And it stands to reason as to why ones persona may cast bits of quietness, anger or sadness. But NOT all the time!
That day I had had enough! I wanted my actions to ‘make them’ and not let them ‘make me!’ I could not and would not work in that type of environment for the rest of the week. It was at that time, I resolved for the rest of the day that I would find something positive to say to, or about each individual that I personally encountered. Not only that, I would throw an irresistible infectious smile. LOL.
Needless to say, my efforts were received very positively. I was even asked in which department I worked. It made me feel better about myself also.
So to all of you, do this for me. Take time for the rest of the day, or even begin on tomorrow, to say or do a positive deed…  There’s no better feeling when you've made a positive mark.

Be distinctive,
make your mark
no matter what
others say
They can't see 
your vision
don't know your thoughts
or your way

You're set apart
from a rigid format
the natural scheme
of things
Unique, relative
but not the same

'Outta Tha Box' 
When you
Leave Your Mark!

PJ Payne

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Fix Me, Coffee

Seems like the faster I go, the further behind I get!  There are Never enough hours in the day; enough days in the week; or enough weeks in the month. “A schedule? What's that?"
I used to pride myself on being organized. Yeah, I was the one who had all of the organizational skills that were down to the ‘T’. My kids can vouch for the fact that they had duties each day.  There was a time for this and a time for that... I even scheduled 'play times!’ Needless to say,  I was the organizational guru!!
Our lives were full of paste-it notes and sticky-notes.
I think it all derives from the fact that I was brought up in a mid to large size family. And we did have organization because my mom worked outside the house as well as at home when she was home…  
At that time, people didn’t have a title for a person who basically did what it took to make ends meet. it was just
‘survival’ for a single mother with 6 children.  Now we call ourselves ‘Multi-taskers or Entrepreneurs. 
But do you realize that coffee has been around forever, as the ‘Fix It’ drink?  It was, even then, the Go To drink. But as I can recall, mostly the older folks drank it. They wouldn’t give it to the kids- saying we couldn’t have any. LOL. I chuckle now as I think back to those days.
Yes, they really thought of it as an ‘adult drink!’
Let me recount their reasoning—

You are too young.
Coffee is gonna make you nervous.
You can’t drink that! Git outta ‘grown folk’s business.
Coffee drinkers smoke cigarettes too, so you don’t need to smoke.
People drink coffee to sober up.
Black coffee is a Man’s drink.
Coffee is gonna stain your teeth.
You can’t drink coffee. It will keep you up ALL night!
It’s only for us (adults). It’s too expensive.
Coffee will burn you.
Coffee will make your breath stink.
Boys (men) don’t like girls (women) who drink coffee.” They’re fast!”

The list can go on….
My how times have changed! Now we LIVE for this ‘drink of choice!’ And it is ageless, literally, from teenagers to adults. It comes in all types of strengths, flavors, caffeinated or decaf, crystalized—any way you can think of, with a million and one uses. You can do ‘shots’! Shoot, people even use it as cures and remedies.
I definitely need it to fix me in every aspect of my life! Had a bad day? I indulge in a cup of my brew. Can't do without it;  mornings, noonday, or evening, The day just goes better when you've had your fix! Is that why parents didn't want children to 'drink of the bitter cup' so to speak?  I guess the age-old secret was 'it was the FIX,' even back then!
And now... Coffee Has Arrived!

So, “Fix Me, Coffee and Jesus!” Not necessarily in that order.

PJ Payne

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Simple Things

We never know from one day to the next what type of day we will wake up and see. Questionable still is if we will wake up at all. Nothing is in our control, yet we take for granted the little things we enjoy without the tiniest bit of effort on our part. But today miraculously came anyway. What did you do to make it happen? We know the answer to that question… nothing whatsoever.
I speak of ‘hands-off’ blessings we are awarded because we need to wake up and smell the roses. Some of us are very fortunate to sail through the storms in our lives unscathed; others are not. A prime example is the fact that we have been inundated with rain- physically evident storms. Some people were not affected as others encountered having to be rescued, losing vehicles, and even homes flooded.
Metaphorically speaking, we all sometimes wake up to the rain in our lives. Whatever you are going through, someone else is going through something greater. “Concentrate on the rainbow after the storm.” This was my awakening one afternoon ‘after the rain.’

Just riding along one day, singing our little song
My grandson exclaimed, "Look a rainbow! It is sooo long!"
I glanced up to the sky, as I drove against the wind
"Let's follow it, he exclaimed, and see where it ends!"
Of course, I looked at him and said
"I don't think so, my son.
The end of a rainbow? Sweetie, there is none!"
Then the beauty of its colors
made curiosity get the best of me
As we drove I took pictures
and really wanted to see
Just where this rainbow might end
And of course, I knew we’d never find it
But the excitement on his face
made me feel adventurous, yet dumbfounded
To think- a child has this type of curiosity
And I've seen rainbows, many times over
I took its grandeur for granted
Never thought twice about it
Then I reminisced the childhood song
'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'
I knew it all was only fantasy
But my goodness, who knows?
Just where does this rainbow end?
So I told him about 'the pot of gold'
But that just made him even more excited
And said, "Let's go, let's go, let’s go!"
Through all of this, I was laughing
and delighted to know, as we sang
That this little escapade was our adventure
Free at will... The Simple Things

PJ Payne

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Test

We go through tests each and every day of our lives.  Whether hard or easy, life teaches us. When things get really hard or stressful, don't wonder or feel you are all alone. He's unseen but speaks loudly! Listen and look for the signs!
When you are going through
something hard and wonder where is
...remember the teacher is
always quiet during a test.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Wake-up Call

Do you sometimes wonder why things are happening to you and you don't have any answers? But then after everything happens you look back and say, “But God.” I did not realize that storms that I’ve been going through were going to allow me to help someone else.
Without any notification, I found myself having car issues that I was NOT ready for.  After a recent accident, which I won’t elaborate on ‘whose fault it was, I found myself becoming complacent. You know when things are going great for you and you settle your mind, your spirit—just get comfortable in your own little world.  Well, my little piece of ‘Heaven on earth’ got infiltrated by a few disruptions.
A warning light had been coming on in my vehicle. I initially ignored it, but it became progressively worse and began to interfere with different functions such as the speed dropping as I drove.  After trying to brainstorm it with my ‘mechanically inclined’ son, we were able to reset it. To say the least, that did not FIX the problem and I had to do what I dreaded doing… take it to be serviced. You know how we are always trying to get around the obvious; not wanting to disrupt ‘routine.’

So I finally had it towed in and found myself having to Uber to get around. Well, poor, poor li
l ole me, right? Through all of this, I had to get off of my ‘high horse’ or ‘majestic throne,’ and deal with others… My world was NOT my own, because I needed to be patient and depend on someone else for something as simple- to me, at least to me, like a ride to a grocery store...
To say the least, for the past few days I have been an ear for people who have been going through some issues. From a semi-homeless family to a father who JUST found he had a daughter, after 33 years, who had been put up for adoption. And I must also add the young gentleman whose wife had kidney failure and doctors pronounced her dead after she blacked out. His fervent prayer and pushing the medical team to revive her was miraculous. After revival, they said she would not function because her brain was without oxygen too long… she is now out of the coma but during that time he found she had been cheating for a year and a half.
When I look at their situation I think to myself I am not going through anything in comparison. I thank God for where I am now because I don't know if I would have the strength to endure what they are having to endure. And guess what they just needed a listening ear. But, their issues and problems have given me an eye-opening experience. This is not about me or them this is about God working in all of our lives. The Uber drivers, the wrecker towing person, they all had horrific stories. And mine may not have been what theirs was, but God was allowing me to see that what I'm going through somebody else is going through much, much worse.
MY question. To whom do we trust? When was the last time you had a wake-up call?