When You EMBRACE Your Shame, You ERASE Your Shame: Using the discomforting moments in your life to give honor to God!

Excerpted from the book by Lena Arnold entitled “Scenes From the City: Poetic Pictures of Urban Life” available on Amazon.

Several years ago I found myself in a very uncomfortable situation that resulted in three of the most humiliating hours of my life!

For months, I wouldn’t talk to anyone about what happened, because I was afraid of what people would think when they found out.  Surprisingly what I discovered was an appreciation for my honesty and candor; as well as a God ordained moment to minster to someone with similar hurts and pains.  Our discussions initially brought on tears of release, followed by laughter and joy as we found new ways to giggle about what had previously injured us.


“Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

How often have I repeated this scripture without a clear understanding of its meaning?

For me, the joy came from the confession.  The Bible also states that when we “confess our sins; God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   Please know, that the sin has already been forgiven, so the confession is not really to forgive the sin, but to provide us with absolution from the guilt we often feel within ourselves.  Confession further purifies the mind from the enemy’s thoughts of condemnation.

For example:  Let’s say, in your previous life you were a person who liked to drink.  As a result of too many drinks, you engaged in some very embarrassing, dangerous, and/or illicit acts.  You have since been sober for 5 years, but your friends constantly find new ways to report your past sins to people you didn’t really want to have that information.

What do you do?

I have found that when I talk about myself, I leave no room for people to talk about me.  People cannot whisper in the shadows what I have already shouted from the rooftops.

What were once embarrassing occasions now become opportunities for testimony!

“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn away from them, they will receive mercy.”-Proverbs 28:13 (NLV)

When my husband and I were going through the trial of infertility, we spoke to no one about the secret shame we felt regarding our inability to conceive.  For years we walked behind a veil of sadness and shame.  We masked the shame well, but inside we were bound and broken.  But when we began to confess our feelings and share the struggle, we realized that there was a whole community of wounded people who felt the same way we did, and who also had no one to talk with about their feelings.

As we spoke to one another and opened up our hearts, we were all emotionally and mentally healed in the process, and many were physically healed as well.  The discussion prompted all of us to take stock of our physical conditions and seek the medical treatment we didn’t know was available to us.

“You cannot make me feel ashamed for what I have chosen to embrace.”


BUT suppose it’s not a sin that bothers you, but rather something you consider being a frailty.  Before we had children we had one of the cleanest houses in North America!  Friends always commented on how neat and orderly our house was.  Three children within two years later, and it’s a whole different story.  While my house is not nasty, it is often cluttered and unkempt.

These same friends, who have been my rock, never fail to remind me of how clean our house was before we had children.  Initially their comments bothered me, and made me feel inadequate.  Then one day I realized that our house wasn’t messy because we were slobs, it was messy because our values had changed.  My husband and I value happy, healthy, mannerable, and well adjusted children, and our house reflects that.

It reflects that I, as a stay-at-home mother,  have chosen to embrace my messiness; because for me toys on the floor means my kids play happily, books strewn over the table means my kids are learning well, and dirty dishes in the sink means my kids have plenty of food and are eating properly prepared meals.  Today, thanks to another friend who understands, there is now a sign over my door that reads, “My house was clean last week.  Sorry you missed it!”

Now when people comment on the condition of my house I tell them thank you for the kindest compliment you could ever give.  No one can make me feel ashamed for what I have chosen to embrace.

 So today, as you go forth worried over your sins, concerned about your faults, or overly troubled regarding your frailties; I ask that you consider all of your challenges as an opportunity to bring glory to God, bring about your own healing, and provide therapy to others who are being tested by many of the same problems.

Now I understand that there are some things you absolutely cannot talk about with everyone. And there are things you can talk about with everyone, but just not right now.  For those issues, I urge you to find a support group and prayerfully consider seeking a compassionate and encouraging network of close friends who will partner with you in prayer and even fasting if that is what it takes to break the chains that are keeping you bound.

Once you have been healed, seek God regarding how, when, and in what manner your confessions to others outside of that network will take place.

It might be on the bus, the church pew, or a prison cell, but God is able to take what once was a source of shame and pain for you, and make it a starting place of witness.

I challenge you today to embrace your shame, for in doing so; you will erase your shame and cover a multitude of sins.




Leadership Lessons I Learned from Princess Leia and Tanka Challenge

by Lena Fields-Arnold


I was at work today when I heard the news of Carrie Fisher’s death.

I was sad.

I have officially reached the age when the icons of my childhood are dying.

Much too young.

Michael Jackson-my first love!

Prince-much respect for the sheer musical genius!

George Michaels-who could not love Careless Whisper. Seriously, there is something wrong with you if you don’t love this song.

But today it’s all about Carrie Fisher aka Princess Leia and the leadership lessons I learned from both Carrie Fisher and Princess Leia.

Princess Leia was my first official SHERO.  Sure before her there was Wonder Woman and Supergirl-but they were nothing compared to the bad-ass space princess that was Leia. See because Leia was real. She had a dysfunctional family, she started the movie with a really bad hair day, (what girl can’t relate to those two crazy buns on the side of her head,) she was emotionally insecure despite her bravery, bravado and beauty.  She was relatable. Plus she had blasters, droids, handsome dudes in love with her, and she traveled through space!

princess-leia-1Sure she may have come from family that had “The Force” but Leia was all grit! Her true power came from the courage she displayed in the face of cruelty. Leia came from a wealthy family and could have been content to live in comfort, but she chose to pursue the cause of justice and righteousness even to her own detriment.  She made you believe a girl could do anything and she made it look good.  I’m telling you George Lucas called it right when he created her character, but it took the acting prowess of a Carrie Fisher to pull it off.  Think about it-I defy you to name one actress-living or dead who could have pulled off the role of Princess Leia other than Carrie Fisher.  Maybe you can do it, but I can’t and frankly don’t wanna.

Real Leaders are willing to fight for truth, liberty, freedom, and justice!

With regard to the real life persona of Carrie Fisher, she was quirky, honest, transparent, and emotionally vulnerable, but like Leia-she also had grit.

I learned from her the importance of admitting and acknowledging your frailties.  It took a series of hard knocks for her to learn this lesson and her past mistakes are probably what led to her untimely demise-nevertheless when she shared her stories we embraced them.  We did so, not because we believe she made the best choices, but because she owned them. That is a lesson we can all take to heart.  When you mess up-own it!  Sure she could have blamed it all on the addictions she struggled with, but she didn’t. I like her for that.  I would not want to have lived her life.  There are times when she didn’t want to live her life.  But she did it-and in doing so, she taught us the importance of having the courage to wake up one more day and try one more time.  Just when she was finding herself again, and giving us a “New Hope” she is gone.  I will miss her.

Real Leaders Embrace their Shame and in doing so-ERASE IT!

So-here’s the challenge.

I have started a Tanka in honor of Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia and I challenge any willing Carrie Fisher fan to add to the tanka so that together we can create a tanka train. If you write poetry you already know that a tanka is a type of Japanese poetry similar to a haiku. It consists of 5 lines in the following pattern.

5 syllables

7 syllables

5 syllables

7 syllables

7 syllables

Tankas use simile, metaphor and personification and are typically written about nature, seasons, love, sadness or other strong emotions.

I invite you to add to the train by writing your tanka in the comments.  At the end of the week I will put them all together in one post as one poem.  All writers will be credited for the final piece and their sections within the piece.  I claim no ownership to those individual sections and the final piece will be available to anyone via the creative commons license-free to use and share.

All participants will be entered into a drawing to receive a free copy of Carrie Fishers book The Princess Diarist.  By drawing I mean I will put every name on an index card, throw them in the air and the first card my dog steps on will be the winner.  That’s about as fair as it gets around this house.

So I hope you will take the challenge, not just for the prize, but for the fun of remembering two cool characters-the fictional Princess Leia and the very real Carrie Fisher. Be sure to include a link to your blog.

The Princess Tanka-A Poem by Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia Fans

bulletins blaring

stinging news of bad tidings

Princess Leia lost

Carrie gone to walk with sky

star wars will not be the same


Leadership Lessons I Learned from Peanuts: Lesson #5 Franklin

Photo PeanutsClub.com

Got Drums? ‘Cause Franklin Marches to the beat of his own.

FRANKLIN-is clearly the token black, but news flashFranklin doesn’t care! Neither does anyone else in the Peanuts world. This cast of characters lives six out of seven days of the week in a colorless world.  Maybe they don’t even know Franklin is black.  Maybe Franklin doesn’t know either, at least until Sunday when the color cartoons are printed.  Either way Franklin seems to walk through the Peanuts world oblivious to the fact that he is a token.  Perhaps because Franklin has decided that the world doesn’t get to define him.  Only he gets to decide what he is. Just because his creator ultimately in the great scheme of creating decide to make him a different color doesn’t make him any less a member of the Peanuts universe.  He may not appear as often, but when he does he pops off the page like a shooting star.  I like that.  He’s cool too.  He’s the perfect complement for that big round headed kid he hangs with. Is it just me, or does he coolify Charlie Brown. Yes-I just made up a word and I want credit for it.

Coolify-the state or process of making someone cooler just by being in their presence!-Lena Arnold


UPDATE-Someone beat me to the word-AW Man and I totally thought I had coolified this page!!!!  Learn more at http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=coolify

Next Lesson-Woodstock

Leadership Lessons I Learned from Peanuts: Lesson # 4 Pig Pen


PIG PEN-Dusty and dirty, Pig Pen storms into the scenes like a tornado and leaves a boatload of dirt behind.  He tries to care but he just can’t.  He’s not trying to be dirty.  He’s not trying to hurt anyone.  He’s not trying to offend anyone. It’s who he is and he makes no apologies for it-not because he’s selfish or doesn’t care; it’s just that he recognizes there’s nothing he can do about it so why should he apologize for what he can’t control. He’s cool about who he is.  He takes this inherent frailty in stride and it is his acceptance of himself that makes it easier for everyone else to accept him too. My favorite strip with Pig Pen was when Peppermint Patty fell in love with him-proving that even a boy as dirty and dusty as Pig Pen can find love.


Next Lesson: Franklin

Leadership Lessons I Learned from Peanuts: Lesson #3 Lucy

Photo Credit ClipArtHut.com

LUCY-Ah Lucy! Of all the characters Lucy is my favorite.  Like me she was a middle girl sandwiched between two boys, but make no mistake Lucy called the shots! Lucy is confident, strong, fearless, bold, brash, and says exactly what is on her mind.  Even when Lucy is being insulted it never fazes her. On the rare occasions it does, her response is to slug you!  She is sooooooooooo me! She defies every convention of what it means to be a girl while managing to still be girly. I love it! Yet even in her crabbiness she has a caring side that slips out from time to time. Not often, but enough to see that within the painted lines Lucy has depth.  The best thing about Lucy is that she is authentic. She is confident. She is never afraid to be Lucy.


Lucy gets two photos ’cause she’s a BOSS!lucy-2

Next Lesson: Pig Pen

Leadership Lesson I Learned from Reading Peanuts-Lesson # 2 Linus

by Lena Arnold

Photo Wikihow

Day 2-Lessons I learned from LINUS-Enter Linus, the super intelligent kid who could quote scripture like an old country pastor. Who dispensed wisdom like a sage, and who dragged around a blanket while sucking his thumb.  Some say religion is a crutch for the weak.  Well, you know what, Linus wasn’t afraid to acknowledge his weakness.  He understood life is tough and sometimes you just need something to make you feel a little better about being in it. He did not care what anyone thought about his choice for a crutch either.  It made him feel better and that was that.  We can take note from Linus that if you need help-go get it!  If you need comfort seek it from something other than a bottle or pills or something that can hurt you.  Go to church, read your Bible, or other holy books, see a therapist. Do whatever you need to feel better.  Or you can be like Linus-grab a blanket, find a cuddly dog, and a safe place to suck your thumb.


Next-Lessons I Learned from Lucy

Leadership Lessons I Learned from Reading Peanuts Lesson # 1

by  Lena Arnold

November 22, 2016

Like most Americans my age I grew up reading Peanuts and watching every Peanuts special that came on TV.  On a recent library trip with my family I rediscovered the world of Peanuts and came to understand just how much of a genius Charles Shultz was.

Even more exciting was unearthing the golden leadership lessons to be found within the pages and within the hearts of the characters created by Schultz. For the next few days I will be sharing some leadership lessons I learned from reading Peanuts.

Photo: peanuts.wikia.com

DAY 1-Lessons I learned from SCHROEDER– Okay, so I like all kinds of music.  But I grew up in a neighborhood that would barbecue you if you admitted to loving anything other than R&B. Seriously I mean I was weaned on James Brown and fell in love with music because of the Jackson 5. So when I received a Barry Manilow album as a Christmas present one year I refused to play it. C’mon man-BARRY MANILOW!  Frankly I was insulted by the gift. Eventually I broke down and played it out of sheer curiosity and to both my surprise and horror-I liked it.  At first I wouldn’t admit it, but then I remembered Schroeder who unabashedly loved everything Beethoven. It was a weird passion, his friends didn’t understand it, but they accepted him for who he was and in his own way he gave strength to the rest of the gang to be who they were created to be.


Next Post Lessons I Learned from Linus

Top 5 Reasons Why I Don’t Teach my Kids to Believe in Santa Claus

by Lena Arnold

Krampus the Demon of Christmas

Before you read any further, I’d like to offer you the following alert penned by Lydia McGrew on her blog—Curmudgeon alert: If the title of this entry offends you, read no farther. I wouldn’t want to upset anybody. (Right? I’m always very careful not to offend anybody…) Seriously, I’m not implying that anybody is a bad parent for teaching their kids to believe in Santa Claus. To be sure, in giving one of my own chief reasons for not doing so, I mean to present this as a reason for others to consider not doing so, either. But I’m not trying to give anybody a hard time. –Lydia McGrew

Add my own—-Seriously, please don’t send me a bunch of emails that I’m a Grinch.  I get enough heat from my family members who are already pissed that my children have ruined Christmas for their children because they had the nerve to say-SANTA ISN”T REAL.  “Why you mad at me?” I said.  I’m not the one who lied to my kids.”

Okay, anyway-so here we go!

Number 5:  I teach my children the true meaning of Christmas!  Sure we like to pretend it’s about Jesus, but the truth is-this celebration stretches all the way back to Babylon.  The celebration of the winter solstice was later mingled with Christianity to keep the peace in ancient Rome.  Believe it or not, the celebration of Christmas was once outlawed in America. If you want a history lesson, read The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop.

Number 4:  Can you say Pedophile Resistance Training?  Think about it.  You spent the whole first 5 to six years of your kid(s) life telling them to beware of strangers offering you gifts and candy.  Then you take them to the mall, tell them to sit on the lap of a stranger, who promises them gifts and hands them candy!  And you have the nerve to wonder why little Susie is bawling her eyeballs out. I’m just sayin’!

Number 3: There is no way we’re giving some fat, red cheek, white dude credit for all our hard work. As an American of mixed ancestry, primarily and historically of the black race, why  would I tell my child some white man (i.e. MASSA) is going to give them gifts if they are good, but punish them if they are bad?

Number 2: TRUTH Training.  Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc.,  these are but a few of the lies taught to us as small children to keep us in line.  We begin their lives with lies, then drag them to church and teach them what?  Is it another lie?  Is it the truth?  Who knows once they find out that santa, the easter bunny, and the tooth fairy are illusions.

Regardless of what your religious beliefs are, why would you start out lying to your kid(s)?  If for example; you are trying to teach them in a benevolent, all knowing, all seeing God, who metes out rewards for those who are good and punishments for those who are bad, why compromise your principles?  “Oh, I’m sorry; did I tell you Santa was real?  Oh, I lied so you would have a fun, happy, and imaginative childhood!  What about the ‘other’ God I taught you about?  Well of course he’s real honey?  How should you know?  Well because I told you so…”  Hmm!

And the number 1 reason I don’t teach my kids Santa is real……(Drumroll Please!!!!)

1. Mix the letters around and Santa spells-Satan

That said, we still celebrate Christmas (sometimes); but we celebrate it in TRUTH.  We don’t lie to them and tell them Santa brought them gifts, We bake cookies; we put up trees and we decorate them (although we are weaning ourselves away from this tradition).  We watch the holiday specials.  I go shopping with my cousin on black Friday, and we give and receive gifts.  We even talk about Jesus and why His birth was important to the world.  But we also tell them, the truth behind the season and we don’t dress it up by saying “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” because actually He’s not. We tell them that if the celebration of Christmas were to end today, it is NOT the end of the world.  We have fun, but we do not make it more than what it is.

This time of year is a high suicide season. People get so caught up in traditions and develop exceedingly high expectations, because they think there is something SPECIAL and MAGICAL about the day.  If they don’t feel something SPECIAL and MAGICAL, then they want to die.  So in my truth telling, I am trying to teach them a balanced perspective. AKA-keeping it real! Guess what, my children are happy, imaginative, creative and have fun.

I’ll leave you with this thought from GrinchMommy, who posted on Momlogic.com:

Another reason why Santa’s identity should be unveiled once and for all has nothing to do with the poor rich kids whose dreams of flying reindeer and friendly elves are prematurely quashed; and everything to do with all of the unfortunate children in the world whom Santa routinely “forgets.” It is simply cruel to coddle belief in a figure who purports to know every child by name, yet is discriminates in his gift-giving, showering some children’s homes while skipping over others. While no one likes to be the source of his/her child’s disappointment, it is far better in this case for the parent to take the blame for the absence of gifts on Christmas morning than St. Nick. As humans, we are subject to weaknesses, inadequacies, and failings that our child will eventually understand and overcome. Such understanding and acceptance may not be as easily earned from a figure who falls short of his promise to deliver a special gift to EVERY good girl and boy.”-GrinchMommy

santa these nutsSanta deez Nuts

Christmas with Chitlin’s

By Lena Fields-Arnold & Penda Horton-James

©Copyright 2010

I never understood why my grandmother made chitlin’s (chitterlings) every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hardly anyone ever ate them!  Well, almost no one.  Invariably every year, grandpa would fix a big, heaping plateful and exclaim, “Ya’ll don’t know what ya’ll missing – this is good eating right here!” (He said that, but I never saw him eat more than two bites before he snuck the napkin over his plate.)
Photo Credit: germainesolutions.com

Nevertheless, she would spend hours the night before cleaning and cooking them. Every year they sat on that stove; smelling up that big, old, brown and black stained, tin pot; that she must have owned since she was a little girl.

Chitlin’s and Christmas go together like macaroni and cheese, ribs cooked on the grill, angels in the snow, singing and poppin’ fingers.

Grandma would splash the chitlin’s in hot water with chunks of lemon and say, “This is a hard job baby.” I used to turn my nose up at the task, “I want to make sure they are clean.”

I don’t know if she ever took breaks to rest her butt cheeks.  She’d stand there, varicose veins bulging, and the television or radio on to keep her company. Her hands would periodically disappear into that sink full of chitlin’s as she pulled up pieces to separate. (Ugh! I couldn’t watch her do that part.)

“Grandma cleans the hell out of them chitlin’s don’t she girl.”  Grandpa would say. “Yeah, sweating and pulling, boiling and scrubbing, she takes her job seriously.”

She sure did!  With every movement, of separating the good from the bad, Grandma was pouring her love into the water, “I don’t want nobody to get sick. These chitlin’s have to be squeaky clean before I put them on my table.”

I never said a word out of respect for her, but I secretly wondered how anything that smelled that bad could ever really be clean.

Every year, each of us, took our turns lifting up that lid and remarking on the stink that came out.  Each year, each of us slammed that lid down just as fast as fast as we had lifted it up.  Each of us, in turn would ask grandma the same question “Why do you make this every year?  You know that no one is going to eat them?”

Grandma would only smile and say, “Somebody will.”

chitlin-seasoningRight about the time the 10th relative came through the door, cousin Cleavon would sashay in and say, “Who it is got that slave food cookin’ in heah?”  We’d all laugh. And that laughter would lead to an hour long debate on the merits and “demerits” of chitlin’s.  Most seemed to agree that we’d been delivered from possum, chicken feet, and ox tails.  None among our generation would eat a raccoon, and that would lead to another hour long story telling session about how Uncle MC and Uncle A.D. got chased by a momma raccoon back in 1964.

They kept us in stitches ‘bout how they had tracked that raccoon, and had finally had her cornered at the back entrance to a cave, when that momma raccoon turned on them.  “Jumped the dog, who went running for his life,” 75year old uncle MC would start.  “Pert near snatched the gun right outta my hand. Then she looked at me ‘n’ said, ‘Mister, I got three young ‘uns here.  You gotta let me be, else ain’t gonna be no ‘coon for you to shoot at next year.”

“Grandpa, ain’t no raccoon talked to you for real did it?” Asked a wide eyed Sunnie.

“Why it sho’ did!” He exclaimed.

“Jumped right onto the tip of my gun and asked for a reprieve it did?”

“What’s a repreeeveeee?

“A reprieve is when someone asks you for a pardon?

“What’s a pardon?”

“A pardon is what we gonna have to give your uncle MC for tellin’ these big old lies.”

When everyone finished laughing, another round of tall tales session would startup about hunting trips from years past for possum, squirrels, and rabbits. The younger folks would start to moan, and by the time the talk got around to hogshead cheese, ox tail soup, chicken feet, livers, gizzards, and pigs feet and other such meat—NONE of us would dare to eat today; they would all be ready to puke! While the older folks would get to lickin’ their lips as they reminisced about fixing that meat with collard and dandelion greens, black eyed peas, red beans and rice, and polk salad. They would salivate at the thought of soppin’ up the fatback flavored, pot liquor with big hunk of cornbread.

The middle aged group (which I was now an unwilling part of) would secretly thank God for deliverance from the massa’s throw away food, while at the same time openly thanking Him for those fatback flavored greens and cornbread. Once, Aunt Cat (in her organic phase) decided to make some greens without fatback and she was almost stoned to death! She could have at least put a ham bone in there or something! I mean, we were some dumb, but not plumb dumb.  A well cooked plate of greens and cornbread would never go unappreciated.

Everybody that ate Grandma’s chitlin’s got excited. Shrieks of “Ooh chitlin’s!,” was more of an exclamation than a question. The non-chitlin eaters who roll their eyes and turn their noses don’t deter the hard core eaters who respond with, “Good, more for me.”

“I remember how the chitlin’s used to tickle when they slid down my throat.” Aunt Cat said, both  repulsed and happy at her memory.  “My ears and my mouth seemed to come alive and sing in a symphonic praise. My taste buds stood at attention and I always had to close my eyes and pull my cheeks really taut to keep from laughing.”

“Yeeess!” Emanated from a small chorus of chitlin lovers seated around the table.

Hot Sauce Photo Shoot
Photo Credit: Damon Dahlen Huffington Post

“Chewing was necessary, but not too much or I’d miss the hot sauce and lemon juice. They masked the smell, and strengthened the taste. My brother put so much on his chitlin’s that they look like French fries doused with ketchup.” We all looked at his plate, she was right. He had that hot sauce on his chitlin’s and his cole slaw.

“It will heal your high blood pressure and your baby’s asthma.” Uncle M.C. happily chimed.

Aunt Cat rolled her eyes, “Don’t start MC.” She pointed her fork of greens at him.

“You need to put them turnips down and eat some po-ke.”

“Ain’t nobody fixing to eat no po-ke.”  She said while slurping up another forkful of greens.

“You was raised on po-ke, ain’t nothing wrong with it. Our grandparents ate po-ke and they lived to be almost 100 years old. Mama eats po-ke and she ain’t never been sick a day in her life.”

“That’s interesting MC, how is it that Mama never got sick a day in her life and I’m half her age with obesity and hypertension?”

“Cause you need some po-ke!” The room got silent.

As we lustily breathed in the goodness of the greens and chattered about the stench of the chitlin’s, it made us all remember. It made us remember—stolen ancestors, and triangular trade routes, sales blocks, snatchings, away, hard toil, rapes and lynching’s. Made us remember civil rights struggles, unfair prison systems, and current states of unfair treatments.

Christmas and chitlin’s go together like strength and simplicity.

We were reminded of how Grandma could not register to vote in Barnesville, Georgia because she couldn’t answer the question, “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?” Grandma was part of a generation who had to make the best out of what they were given.

Mostly though, the smell of chitlin’s made us remember.  Made us remember the stories of courage, and love, and hope passed on through generations audacious enough to defy the odds and survive!  So that when Thanksgivings and Christmas’s roll around we are really thankful for all that God has brought us through and protected us from.

“Me, a slave?” Cousin Deena insisted. “If my passion for social justice is any indication, I would have gotten myself into some serious trouble back in the day. They probably would have cut my tongue or chopped my foot off like they did Kunta Kente.”

We laughed when Uncle Oscar reminded her, “You probably would have been a house negro with that good hair and light skin, anyway.”

“Yup” she agreed, “Ya’ll woulda been eating good when I snuck food from the big house back to the cabin.”

We remember those times and we are thankful for  the present. That appreciative spirit is constantly kept alive by that old, greasy pot of chitlin’s sitting untouched on that stove.

So now, here it is, a year after Grandma’s death.  I am outside braving the cold with my husband’s painter’s mask on my face; a hose in my hand and a big bucket washing chitlin’s. (Sorry, grandma had her way and I have mine.)

I don’t even know if anyone ever thanked Grandma for staying up all night cooking, and sacrificing her own sleep to give us a spread you can’t get at a restaurant buffet. She would cross off each menu item with her big black marker that hung on the refrigerator. She slashed through that list like a gladiator and we feasted like we’d been the ones to slay the dragon.

Christmas and chitlin’s go together like sacrifice and selflessness.

I cook those chitlin’s with the same love and care my grandma did.  I season them to taste just like grandma did. (Though between you and me, I never actually taste them.)  I cook them in that same brown and black stained tin pot that grandma had from childhood.

I leave them sitting on that stove-just like my grandma did.

Then, I wait patiently for the arrival of my 11th guest.  I smile when I see him sashay through the door and exclaim, “Who it is got that slave food cooking in heah?”

The End


Lena Arnold is an award winning author endorsed by the late CBS News Correspondent Ed Bradley. She is the Publisher of Emperor Publishing and the author of several books, including “In the Absence of My Father,” “Strong Black Coffee: Poetry and Prose to Enlighten, Encourage, and Entertain Americans of African Descent,” “For This Child We Prayed: Living with the Secret Shame of Infertility,” and “For This Dream I Prayed: Companion Journal,” “Scenes from the City,” and “Jackie’s Way” a children’s book on anger management and bullying in collaboration with with Columbus based artist Michael Fields.

Penda L. James is a native of Dayton, Ohio. At Wilberforce University Penda cultivated her love for editing and coaching writers as the Editor in Chief of the Mirror Newspaper. Although writing and reading were loves for a long time, Penda did not appreciate her own gift to be a scribe until graduating from Bowling Green State University and working with “raw talent” in her community. Through her business, InSCRIBEd Inspiration, LLC, Penda seeks to coach writers and help them fulfill their dream of being published. She is the editor and publisher of “Free to Fly: Transitions for the Seasons in a Woman’s Life,” “Girl Pray for Me,” and “Girl Walk with Me.”