Thursday, April 18, 2019

Peripheral


I saw this today…
A man on a corner
The man had a sign
The sign said, ‘Need Help,
Please Help!’
Tattered clothing
Raggedy boots; no strings
A dirty cup
Unkempt hair
A slothful walk
A seemingly dampened spirit
Broken
Many passers-by
Stares
Yet, he couldn’t reach some folks
A dismal outlook…

And as I slowly drove, I eventually got a closer look.  But it seems the closer I came, like those who were ahead of me, I didn’t want to have any eye contact with him. You see, probably like my ‘forerunners’, I felt that if I would look at him in his eyes, I would feel obligated to respond in some form or fashion. His appearance was a directive of the mindset society has attached to individuals on street corners. There are preconceived notions that they are all cons, thieves, druggies, and any other belittling label that can be an assessment of their character.
So for a minute, I stared straight ahead. My characterization was stoic; immobile. I continued to drive, but as I began to pass him by, from the ‘corner of my eye’, I saw his eyes.  I then turned and looked at him. Our eyes met.  I saw something deeper than his outer appearance.  Without realizing my actions, I pulled all of the change from my ashtray and a few dollars, from my purse.  I rolled my window down, as he turned and limped towards my car.  I dropped the money into his cup. He said “thank you ma-am.”
And then I saw…
A gracious nod
A toothless grin
Stark-white, bright eyes
A rigid, tall frame
A resilient stride
A glimmer of hope

My question to you all is what would you have done? How would you have reacted? Would you have followed suit and drove past him, as so many others had done? Would you have stopped and questioned him? Maybe you have already encountered someone like him. What did you do?
As for me, the very moment our eyes met, I knew it was not my place to judge him. My spirit would not allow me to pass him by with no thought of the fact that he really could be homeless, someone’s father, brother or uncle. Better still – I saw a child of God.
In its simplicity, “I thank God for Peripheral Vision!”

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Distinction


Comparisons-
In life, there comes a time when an individual has to just STAND out and stand alone! Life has given man so many 'lemons' and not everyone knows how or has the strength to 'Make Lemonade,' as the common adage goes.
Instead, there are comparisons made, like Apples to Oranges. We are a comparative generation! But when I think about it, we have been compared throughout our lives from birth... "Oh, she is sooo cute," to "Ummm, isn't he a little short for his age...?"  Judgment and comparison go on throughout adulthood. What about the distinction.

Why can't people just let well enough alone and let one just 'BE'? Well, my answer to that is, man has not been able, from the beginning of time, to naturally be proactive. As humans, we need an extra push, motivation, fuel injection, because a lot of us are not self-starters. We are basically on automatic pilot, so we need a  GPS from time to time. That's what comparisons, like apples to oranges is all about, so it is not ALL bad.

"Think about it." Pick one and see. Look for the difference or likeness; firm or soft, tart or sweet, small or large, green, red, yellow or golden... not measured by seed but weight and texture, indeed... Apples to oranges, comparatively; Apples and oranges' diversities. Apples and oranges are distinctively different.

No matter how much someone is told they are like someone else, they must choose to embrace individuality comfortably. What the 'apple to oranges' - comparison of two people or things that are irreconcilably or fundamentally different does for one is make Him/Her STAND out... No bad apples. Just distinctive, even if they carry the same name.

Be Blessed,
PJ Payne

Thursday, March 7, 2019

In Deeds

Have you ever wondered how it would feel to have someone do something for you ‘out of the blue...' just for no reason? No strings attached? Well, I have.
In today’s society, with all of the wrongdoers, making the headlines and outshining the ‘do righters,' it stands to reason why morale is so low and negativity prevails and is up in most cases.
And then out of nowhere comes a ray of hope that all is not as bad as it seems...
A few days ago, I was in a McDonald’s line seeking my ‘afternoon fix’ of coffee. When I don’t have my own ‘Coffee Fix” available, Mickey D is my go-to alternative. So there I was in this looong line and I would guess, this was rush hour, as a high school across the way, was just dismissing students. I had a long frustrating day, so my attitude displayed such. I thought I could get ahead of the barrage of thirst-quenching seekers, but no such luck.
It wasn’t a very cold day but to a coffee lover, does that matter?  So I crept along, contemplating getting out of the line. Only because of the two lanes, of course, I chose the slowest lane. And then I knew when I would finally place my order, I’d be the only coffee request at 3:30 pm.  So I pulled up to the kiosk and placed my order, requesting ALL of the bells and whistles of condiments I HAD to have, ‘inside’ my coffee.  And on top of that, I made sure they knew I wanted it FRESHLY brewed.  I thought to myself, the clerk would probably give me an irritated ‘worse customer I ever had look,’ when I got to the window to pay.  That expectant attitude, showed on my face as I drove up to pay. I was about to hand him my cash and he said, “It’s already paid for Ma’am.” Imagine the shock as well as total embarrassment on my face.  All I could respond with was WOW!
I can never adequately explain the emotional impact the gesture of unselfishness generosity from my anonymous ‘drive-thru’ buddy, did for me. I believe my whole demeanor changed.  My drive home was with a smile on my face. The bumper-to-bumper traffic had no bearing on me.  I had peace with my perfect brew. Thank you, God, for sending me what I needed, when I needed it. Revelations.  
I was in such disbelief of the generosity of that individual, I didn’t think to do the same- at the time.  The next afternoon, my ‘Pay It Forward’ felt liberating.

Blessings,
PJ Payne


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Rise Up!!

If you have followed my blog, then you realize that I'm an early riser.  I'm like that nosey kid at Christmas who wants to get a sneak peek at the gifts before his siblings get up! I'm like that about my mornings! I want that sneak peek. Consider me selfish, but I need my mornings ALL to myself! AND not without the boost of my fresh brew and the Word! I want to see the day breaking through my window; the sun coming up, just over the horizon; hear the hustle, bustle and the stir of life all around me; horns and whistles blowing from afar... and then I physically rise up, from my 'Me' time and start my daily do's.
This morning is no different, but as I physically arose from my coffee corner, I felt a bit sluggish and melancholy. Very tearful.  When I feel like this, 'I' try to figure out the reason why I'm having what I have dubbed 'emotional overcasts'. I don't want God to take these feelings away from me, just give clarity and show me how to endure.
I am very hard on myself sometimes. I feel there is a reason behind everything we experience. You see, as a whole, I'm a happy person.  I am pretty healthy for my 'numbers,' lol. I am not in financial straits, Praise God! My children are doing well. So what has me feeling this way? As a pattern, this familiar emotional overload shows itself at pivotal times of the year. I checked out today's date. February 7th. I realized it is one of my favorite niece's birthday! I MUST send her a Happy Birthday video or call. Sooo, what has me feeling so down? Think PJ, think!!
"Light Bulb!"
You see, having been married for many years, my late husband and I LOVED and cherished certain holidays. Valentine's Day was at the top of the list, right beside Christmas. I now realize that Valentine's day is right around the corner. Although conscientious is that most holidays are overrated and just money-making ploys. But when that time of the year comes around and you have had life-changing experiences, that void in your life is excruciating. You can never really duplicate it, no matter what! Memories are very hard to ignore. They become innately embedded. Bottom line is 'I AM HUMAN,' so what I'm going through is not at all foreign to many who have loved and lost in any capacity, whether a breakup, divorce, or death. Although many years have passed, time does not stop the heart from skipping a beat at the very thought of US.
My take on this is "To love and have loved someone with your heart and soul is immeasurable! But today, I must continue to move forward. So on this, and each beautiful morning God graces me with, "I Still Rise Up!"

Blessings,
PJ Payne


Thursday, January 24, 2019

Baffled?


We are more than halfway through the first month of this New Year and I realize as, in the past, time stands still for no one.  I revert back to a cliché I’ve heard most of my life, ‘Off with the old and on with the new.’ That should mean prioritize, right? New order; new beginnings.
Sooo, this means putting old things aside and starting fresh. Well, some people just don’t take heed easily. “Guilty!” I am beginning this year with the same BANG theory I have in the past, no matter what I vow NOT to do, or whatever my New Year’s resolution may be… (by the way,I have abolished over the past few years) I can’t follow through. That reminds me of that other old saying “Beginning is easy, continuing, hard.’
So here I am again, New Year old ways. A plate full with just so many hours in a day and these...

‘Feelings’

Ummm…
What is this?
What has me baffled?
What‘s in my head?
What is it there for?

I am living a life
Full of haste
So I thrive on
Keeping up the pace
Seem there’s so much
I can do
Seems there’s no way
To get through
I keep on searching
For the time
And keep on looking
For a sign
For what can and
What can’t be done
When one job’s finish
Another has begun

I seek with grace
Seek sublimity
Without a trace
Of obscenity
I can’t be still
I just can’t rest
Always searching
Trying to better my best
Seeking and striving
Tread roads intrepidly
Look to completion
But can’t let go indefinitely
Gotta keep moving
Keeping up the pace
Always a step ahead
No time to waste
Fulfilling wishes
Fulfilling needs
Feel it my duty
To intercede

When there’s always
A 'work' to be done
When I strive for success
My battle is won
There’s always another
Feat to be achieved
Never to finish
Always to cleave
Not endeavoring to
Defy or defeat
But encouraging me on
Cause I’m feeling
Incomplete


~PJ Payne

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Gift

Gifts don't have to come in the form of a beautifully wrapped inanimate object. Some of the most wonderful gifts are God's blessings bestowed upon you at a time when you least expect it.
He was not a Christmas baby and did not come to us in what some would consider idyllic circumstances; but, he is definitely a blessing to our family...

Approximately 12 years ago, our youngest son was excited about being accepted by a prestigious Christian college in East Texas. It was a dream that my late husband and I wanted for him, as well as our other kids, who had gone on to seek careers in their choice of fields. But this young man­- he was the one (it seems) whom we were on our knees for ALL the time. He was the one who ‘tried our patience.’ The one whose parents, the teachers knew by name because we LIVED at the school, for one reason or another. The one who was spoiled and got away with murder, as his siblings whined about him.  You know--that ‘one kid’ in the family. But he was also the child we thought we would never have because doctors gave up on him. The child they suggested, in so many words, we should abort. They said because of high-risk factors, I would not carry my pregnancy full-term. But God! 
Losing his dad at 15 was hard on him, on me, his siblings; hard on all of my family. And then one day, while he was still in high school, it was as though a lightbulb went off in his head. He said, “Mama, I am the man of the house now and I’m going to make you and Daddy proud!” Wow, my eyes teared up. He was growing up and he was determined. He graduated high school and initially went to a community college, as I’m sure he did not want to be away from home and me. Although in high school, he played sports, played piano and had other interests, his true passion was singing. So when he decided to go away to college, I was ecstatic.
He pursued and studied music. His siblings and I encouraged him to keep his focus. He was able to tour the United States with the college’s prestigious ‘Summer Tour Acapella Chorus.’ This group of talented students, from all parts of the US, toured, sang, and at the same time had to keep up their GPA to perform.  These were very proud moments for the family and me, to see him flourish.  One of his tour stops brought him back home to Texas, where he introduced us to a young lady from the East Coast, who sang with them. They were BOTH beaming!
Finally, that day came! He graduated from college.  It was the fulfillment of a dream. We celebrated because we knew his dad would have been very proud of him. The world was at his feet! Then, weeks later, with a bewildered look on his face, he made an announcement to us. “I’m going to be a father!”  I thought, WOW! I shook off initial shock and said “It’s going to be okay son. I know you are overwhelmed right now, but it will work out.” And it did. Through it all, even I had to find strength in my ‘go to’ scripture, Philippians 4:13 KJV- ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’  Finally, we were given a beautiful healthy baby boy. The blessing in ALL of this is that an extraordinary angel was watching over his young parents. This child was born on a very special day--his grandpa’s birthday, January 4th. How befitting!  As the only grandchild, he gives this family more reasons to remember him and celebrate the season with gratefulness, never forgetting he would not be here to carry on his grandfather’s legacy, had we listened to doctors and not trusted God.

And now at nine years old, when I asked him the question, “What should I write about this month Dominic? This article is supposed to be about the Christmas spirit.” He immediately responded, “Write about ME, Nemo! You always said I was a gift from God.”

Blessings,

PJ Payne

Thursday, December 6, 2018

'Glory'

I am thinking...
Everyone has or has had a special person in his or her life that impacted them forever.  That impact was so profound that you never forgot that individual. You wondered how they did what they did. They went through so much and seem to come out untarnished, unscathed, praising, shouting and giving God the Glory for even the hardships!
Well in my lifetime, I have met a few ‘Praising and Praying’ women.  But one sister, Gloria (Sally) Criswell, impacted my life deeply.
I met Sister Sally (as we all called her) a number of years ago when I was still a ‘babe in Christ’. We were both young women at the time, but she had, I know, a special gift.  She was prayerful and humble.  I was impressionable and ‘on fire’ for the Lord. I absorbed and gravitated to every little positive setting I encountered.   I desired to work in His Church in whatever capacity I could.

I loved to sing, but also soon became a part of a group of Lady Prayer Warriors, for lack of a better title. There were a number of us, as we would go to homes and hospitals to pray with the elderly, sick and shut-in. I recognized instantly that Sister Sally always prayed hard and fervently. I thought…  ”It’s as though no one else is in the room… just her and God.” Whenever she finished, I felt as though I had been cleansed and renewed spiritually! That’s how powerful her prayers were.
There was a mutual bond in this group, but for some reason, a few of us just ‘clicked.’  Soon we begin to take turns going to each other’s home, to fellowship and pray. I think Sister Sally literally taught me how to pray. We prayed for each other, as we were all married, had children, and had no shame in “Letting Go and Letting God!”  We allowed His Spirit to encompass, move and envelope our very being, remembering the scripture: Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst”. And it never failed, as we would each take a turn to pray, it seems Sister Sally would ALWAYS say the last prayer. And time was of no essence, as we let God have His way.  
I loved watching her when we would meet. Through our initial conversations, she would sometimes sit with her hands on her lap, a smile on her face, eyes closed and she would rock back and forth… a very serene vision.  It was like she was slowly gearing up; getting ready to exalt God through prayer. She would pray so passionately and unselfishly, we were automatically brought to tears. On many occasions, we could have easily used more than one box of Kleenex.  She would be crying and her nose would be red and runny (as did ours) and by the time we released hands and opened our eyes, we needed a shower.  “Ain’t God Good!” 

I can’t forget those days. This is for ‘The Praying Woman’ who is still in my life.  She taught by example, how a woman prays. “God bless you, Sister Sally!”
  
The Praying Woman

The praying woman has a prayer for every situation
The praying woman always prays without hesitation
She goes about as though her life is not one of her own
Her first focus is on others, knowing prayer changes what’s wrong

She deems ‘Too blessed to be stressed’
As a powerful endorsement
And prayer, a necessary
And essential re-enforcement 
The praying woman has no need
To keep problems on her mind
She automatically prays and heeds
To situations that she finds
She has a role in others’ lives
They don’t even seem to notice
She’s there without a visual concept
As she senses and can focus 
Without a doubt, she’s the praying woman
God has given to all indeed
In body and soul, she gives her all
Unconscious of what she needs 
She prays for you unselfishly
With a God-given gift of discernment
You see, the praying woman
Is grounded and rooted with positive refinement 
The praying woman has grace and gratitude
Not seeking praise or fame.
For she gives God ALL the glory,
Doing it all, in Jesus’ name!
Amen

PS: "In 2019, Find Your Glory." 
Blessings,
PJ Payne