Friday, December 24, 2010

"T'is the Season"

She's the only one left at home. The pretty teen with whom I'm snuggling, happens to be my daughter..."the baby".... "Zoe" (aka Shemaiah). I remember when our house seemed too small. I had recently remarried, and on the weekends when 2 of my husband's 3 kids, along with a grandbaby, along with my 3 kids, all hung out together at our house-- Whew!-- "privacy" was a foreign concept! Even during the regular weekdays, since my teen son always traveled with an "entourage," it seemed like we were always bumping into each other, begging for folks to hurry up in the bathroom, and always, ALWAYS, eating!(Which means, I was always cooking-- although my husband can throw down pretty good!)
But then, I blinked, and they were gone.
That's what it feels like. Of our 6 children, five are ages 20 - 31 --all grown and living on their own. One's in China(!!) So now it's me, Zoe and my husband, Willie. Until recently.
About 3 weeks ago, I was complaining to the Lord about our (perpetual?) struggling financial situation. I just didn't see how the mortgage and all the bills were going to get paid and leave enough money for Christmas. The numbers just didn't add up. That was a Sunday that I sat with my calculator, the checkbook, and a box of tissues. Then came Monday..... and God answered my prayer:
I was driving home from work and my pastor's wife called me. Apparently a family that we both knew, that had been facing extremely serious financial difficulties was now homeless. The mom, with 6 of her 8 children, were at a homeless shelter, which happened to be very close to where I was when my pastor's wife called me. I didn't take time to think it all through, but I found myself making a beeline for that homeless shelter. When I saw the youngest children in the window (ages 3 and 5), they started waving and smiling -- so ecstatic to see me. I felt my eyes welling up with tears. Next thing I knew, I was checking 4 of the children out of the shelter under my care, and driving them to my house. The mom was so relieved, I'm sure she cried and slept for a good long time after watching us drive away.

I blinked again... and my house was full of children.
For a week, the 6 - 8 of us bumped into each other, begged for bathroom privileges and always, ALWAYS, ate! And somehow, there was enough. The mom went shopping and chipped in what she could.I called upon my 25 years of "kitchen magic" (the ability to stretch a meal to endless portions!)And God provided. GOD PROVIDES. That's what He does when we forego our math for HIS.

Our "new family" left after a week, and I'm actually not quite sure where they are right now. But it's Christmas Eve and I'm looking under our Christmas tree, and I see no lack. I definitely don't see extravagance, but I surely don't see lack either. I don't confess understanding all that has transpired over these last 2 weeks, but when God steps into our human realm, as He did 2010 years ago, we humans are the last to truly understand it all. I do understand one thing: God answered my prayer, but according to HIS rules, not mine. He did the same thing when His Jewish children wanted a King, and he's done the same again and again throughout history. Will we ever really "get" that His Ways are NOT our ways; His Thoughts are truly higher than our thoughts. After all, from the very beginning, it was God's Reason that master-planned this miraculous Season!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

You may not be able to teach an old dog new tricks…… but you can always teach a seasoned bird how to fly a little higher.

I named myself “Firebird” at 9 years old. I had put on a ballet tutu, put on Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, and put on a show for an audience of one – that “one” being myself. Mommy was shopping and Daddy was who-knows-where, but I could always depend on me, myself and I to be the perfect audience. That’s how it started, but before the Suite came to its end, I truly sensed that my audience of one had become an audience of One. At 9 years old, I felt the Presence of God enter my living room; I felt His Fire enter my bosom; I felt His Anointing pour upon me like rain. By the end of the Suite, I was laying on the blue shag carpet feeling a peace and a wonder that made me cry, though I still did not fully understand why.

Forty-two years later, and this bird has accumulated many decades of flying. Though I have spent, and wasted, far too many years “grounded” due to my own disobedience as well as circumstances beyond my control, I have also been blessed with as many years “in flight,” ie, DANCING! And now--- this seasoned bird is ready to be a “Higha Flya” –Hallelujah! I will be spending the next year as a student of the Eagles International Training Institute, with the hope of receiving my minister’s license by Oct 2011! The purpose of blogging this is 2-fold: First, in celebration of myself. Yes, my sistahs—we do need to celebrate ourselves sometime! This is the kind of boasting that makes the Father proud. When He brings us from such a mighty long way….. when His long-suffering nature has bought you the time you needed to get yourself together…. when enough illnesses and operations have more than convinced you that, indeed, it is ONLY in HIM that you live and move and have your being--- Oh Yes! It’s alright to celebrate yourself! He Knows all the Glory belongs to HIM!
But secondly, I’m blogging because this will probably be the last time in a long while that I’m able to take the time to do this much writing. For those who have ever considered Eagles Institute, it is important that you pick a time in your life that you can enjoy a lot of biblical studying and writing. I can already see that most of my writing, outside of my occupational life, will have to be devoted to my monthly essays. Also, there is A LOT happening in Liturgical Dance World and in Worship Arts in general [check out the SAVE THE DATES!], so between keeping up ministry opportunities, working full-time in Special Education, and being there for my husband and teenage daughter (we have 6, but the other 5 are grown), I think blogging will have to take a back seat. Do continue to check out Firebird for Save the Dates and periodic videos, etc. Just know that, for now, Firebird is learning to fly like an Eagle!

Monday, September 6, 2010

As Seasons Change.....

.... Hopefully, so do I. Hopefully, I am never too old to be changed and transformed, by the submission of my will and the power of God's mercy. Hopefully none of us is ever too old and settled, or young and resistant to Learn Life's Lessons:
In reflecting on one of the poorest yet amazing summers of my 51 years of living, I thought I'd share 11 Lessons Learned: [apply them as you like :-)]

LESSON #1: God is my Source

LESSON #2: Invest in good soil when you have much; so that you will reap good crops when you have little. (My eldest daughter, and our trip to China!- July 2010)

LESSON #3: Food tastes better when shared. (Feast of In-gathering and Harvest, with my soil sistahs!-Aug 2010))

LESSON #4: God is my Source!

LESSON #5: When someone you know is in a serious crisis and you don't know what to do, do what you know! (cook a meal, hand-deliver a good DVD, stop by...)

LESSON #6: God really does NOT always come when you want Him, but He's right on time!
(Sorry, tele-evangelist, who said we shouldn't confess this. It's my testimony!)

LESSON #7: Americans really can be a uh... stupid --- globally speaking. (btw, I am American, so don't be offended)

LESSON #8: Don't expect to be in God's Army without going through Boot Camp! (PURIFY Worship Conf, July- 2010!)

LESSON #9: When the wind blows, the branches at the top are the first to move. If you wanna feel His Wave, you gotta start climbing! (WOPPDLC- TX- Aug 2010)

LESSON #10: I Peter 2:17 "Honor ALL people, Love the brethren, Fear God, and honor the king." When we got married, I referred to my husband as my king. Ok. Lesson Learned.

LESSON # 11: Did I mention?-- GOD IS MY SOURCE!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Personal Reflection... A Dream ReAwakened!

“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore, then run? …..”
So queried Langston Hughes many decades ago, adding the possibilities of a deferred dream “sagging like a heavy load,” or possibly “exploding.” I would like to add another possibility--- a probability in my own life: Might that deferred dream stay nestled in the loving hands of The Father, delivered in His time, His Will, His Way?…. and as we know, His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are above our thoughts.
Thirty-something years ago, anyone who knew me knew that one of my most consistent dreams was to travel the world. I used to say, “I don’t need a fancy house or a lot of possessions--- just enough income to travel wherever, whenever I want to”. Anyone who knows me now, knows part 1 of that statement is pretty much my situation. But part 2 of that statement….. I don’t know what happened there? Thirty years, 3 kids and 2 marriages later, and the extent of my “world travel” was a honeymoon to Trinidad-Tobago and a couple of trips across our north and south borders. That’s it. I almost made it to Ghana once. Almost. And the dream? Well, for a while I gave the typical answer: “Once you have kids, things usually have to go on hold.” But then my kids grew up. I have 2 adult children now and one teenager. So…. what about that dream? It seems somewhere in the midst of “life happens,” it was forgotten. It wasn’t a load, or an explosion of even a dried up raisin in my mind. It was, by all accounts, just gone.
It’s ironic--- and just like our God--- that the only reason I have ended up traveling to the other side of the world is because of my children--- my firstborn to be exact. When I used to remember the deferred dream during my 20’s and 30’s, I looked at my children as the obstacle. By 50, I had forgotten all about the dream, but it was my child that re-awakened it! January 2010, my daughter Rhema left the hustle and bustle of NYC life (she had worked for CBS- “The Early Show”), flew 6000 miles away from home all alone, and took a teaching job in Dalian, China. Despite my fears and longings to have her near me, I sensed God’s hand in this whole thing, just as she did, so it is no surprise to me that she is not only a well-loved teacher (middle school age and adults), but she has also been picked up by Dalian’s city magazine and is on the American writing staff for them. What did come as a surprise, however, was the day she presented me with round-trip tickets to China! Her brother and sister and I just returned from this phenomenal experience in “Rhema’s World.” ( Or “Tang Rui” as they affectionately call her). You can see the pictures on my Facebook account, but you won’t see the picture of my own personal highlight. If you did, it would be a shot of a Chinese vendor helping me select 3 lbs of apricots and a bunch of bananas and grapes for 20 “quai” (The RMB currency equivalent to about 3 dollars). If there was audio, you’d hear me stumbling through a poor pronunciation of “duoshao qian?” (How much does it cost?), but being understood. And understanding her answer. Understanding. That’s what that personal highlight photo would be. Interacting with everyday folk with a completely different language in a completely different world 6000 miles from my own….. but understanding each other. And the next photo would show tears in my eyes as I strolled away, making my way past the meat vendors, squatting at their pork and chicken (and who knows what else!) skewers roasting on the outdoor “mini-grills.” Tears --because that would be the moment the Deferred Dream was re-awakened….. resurrected from the deadened corners of my mind.
When I was 18 years old, there was no husband, there were no kids. There was only me, my gifting, my calling and my God. And that dream of seeing the world. One trip to China doesn’t qualify me as a “world traveler” by any means, but it has endowed me with the confidence to say, God willing, I will be back. It has replaced my fears of the unfamiliar with a desire to see more of My Father’s World. And most importantly, it does qualify me to testify that God does indeed work in mysterious ways. As parents, our job is to push our children out of the nest, into this big, magnificent world. How strange—and wondrous---that, in this case, my daughter became “my parent.” Borrowing a quote from TD Jakes, the very thing that you believe (ie, have used as an excuse) to “bind” you up all these years, “could be the fuel God uses to propel you towards your destiny,” and release your dreams deferred!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Just One of Many Characters

One of the best greetings was said to me by a Messianic Rabbi named Peter. He said how wonderful it was to meet another character in this beautiful story. And what a story it is:
It started with Judy, one of my GPDA dancers, who visited Rabbi Peter's Messianic Congregation.
No, it didn't. It started with meeting a Haitian missionary couple at a Convocation Service where I ministered in dance.
No it didn't. It actually started over a dozen years ago, when Davida Cotman-El entered my life. God Placed Ambassador Davida in my life as a dance ministry mentor, and the "Samuel" over God's calling in my life. Over the next 12 years, she would pop up at appointed moments in my life with a specific Divine purpose.
One of those times was after the historic earthquake in Haiti this past January. As a dance minister, NLDN Chapter Chair and leader of my own dance team, I kept sensing that God would have us do something in dance ministry to help Haiti in a tangible way. Using the Annual Gospel Dance Concert as a major fundraising event seemed the most practical way, but I wanted our donation to be personal and specific, not just a general donation to one of the 100's of "Help Haiti" campaigns out there. I had no connections to applicable organizations in Haiti, and as we had outgrown the church site for the previous Annual Gospel Dance Concerts, I didn't even have a location for GDC IV. Nevertheless, God had a plan. Out of the blue, Davida emailed me a video of a rabbi leading a prophetic and spirit-filled service for about 1000 Haitians. It was stirring and powerful, and at the end of the footage, the video showed a plot of land where this rabbi's congregation was investing in an orphanage building project. Davida did not know what was on my mind. She just sent me this video because it was so powerful and moving. But of course I wondered, is this where the funding from the concert should go? Before I could finish my inquiry of the Lord, Davida sent me another email telling me that she felt I should connect with some missionaries to Haiti that she knew personally. They had been in Haiti for several years but happened to be home for the next several months, so I could reach them. Within a few days I called them. Before the man could finish saying, "Oh yes, let me get my wife,Barbara," I realized that I already knew them! They were the missionary couple I had met at a convocation service I had ministered at earlier that year! We talked and talked and marvelled at God's awesome orchestration. Later, I realized, that was just the beginning!
My dance team member, Judy, had spoken so highly of this messianic congregation she had visited that I decided I just had to go. It was called Mishkahn D'avid and was out in the "boonies" of RI. When I finally found the location,I spent the next several hours praising, and dancing, and worshipping.... and within an hour of my arrival I almost fell out in amazement, as Travis and Barbara, the missionary couple I had just finished talking to a couple of days earlier, walked into the synogogue! This "typical" African American couple from RI, were not only missionaries in Haiti, they were members of Mishkahn D'avid Congregation!! And that Rabbi who had brought such a powerful prophecy and moving praise celebration to that congregation of 1000 Haitians? That was Peter, the Rabbi of Mishkahn D'avid!He had met the Fishers a couple of years ago and had felt compelled to honor and support their missionary work in Haiti ever since. And who was I? Just one of the many amazing characters in the midst of a beautifully unfolding story, written by the Hand of God!
This year, GDC IV = GIVING DANCE CONCERT will be donating 80% of the proceeds to the continued missionary work of Travis and Barbara Fisher, specifically, the building a new orphanage. I have sat in the Fisher's living room and looked at scores of pictures of their orphans, the orphanage facility, their school, the makeshift medical clinic. There is nothing fancy about what they do-- it is a sincere and humble labor of love by anointed servants of the Living God. They are not supported by any major corporations or foundations. They are supported by God's people. This years' Gospel Dance Concert will be honored to be part of that blessing to these faithful missionaries, their beautiful Haitian children, and all those they serve!
If you are not able to attend the GIVING DANCE CONCERT, June 27th, but would still like to donate to the Mishkahn D'avid Haiti Orphanage Project, please visit and click the DONATE button (on the "About Us" page), by or before June 27th. If you would like more information about The Fisher's missionary work in Haiti, they welcome your calls at 401.831-7256.
If you are in the area, we hope to see you at this amazing and anointed concert of Dance unto the Lord!

Friday, April 30, 2010


A Celebration of DANCE, WORSHIP and THE ARTS!!

This past March, RI hosted its first National Liturgical Dance Seminar Worshop, entitled: "UNIFY and PURIFY".

"United in Faith 2010," a collaboration of local churches that celebrate the arts speaks of their mission in the title: TO UNITE in the FAITH.

One of the first focuses of the Christian Dance Fellowship's Intercessory Prayer Assembly is UNITY among the national and international leaders.

And what was Jesus' last prayer for all believers, but that We WOULD BE ONE!, i.e. Unify!

I think the message for the times we're living in is crystal clear. But how can we manifest this cry for unity! There are many ways of course, but I encourage you who are sensitive to the shifting of the wind-- to the move of the Spirit in certain dispensations-- to seriously consider attending the PURIFY WORSHIP CONFERENCE,July 28 -Aug 1, a national conference of 1000+ attendees, hosted by Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York. It will feature internationally known Dance and Worship Arts ministers, such as Freddie Moore, Dr. Pamela Hardy, Apostle Elizabeth Hairston, and Rev. Eyesha Marable, as well as Gospel Music celebrities, such as Marvin Winans, Jacqueline McCullough, and Donnie McClurkin! As a matter of fact, dance ministries from all over the country have been practicing Donnie McClurkin's "We Are One" song, in preparation for ministering that message in dance as a mass dance ensemble, several hundred strong! For more information, visit, or contact the facilitators through the emails posted in SAVE THE DATES!
This is not an event you're going to want to hear about later! Don't deprive yourself from this historic gathering and Worship Experience. Dive in the Waters and purify.... and unify... with us!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I have always celebrated the specificity with which The Father created each of us. The specific time in history, the specific race and ethnicity, the specific nation, heritage and parentage was divinely ordained just as surely as the number of hairs on our heads, which the scriptures assure us, He numbers individually.
Not only did our Sovereign Lord and Father choose me to be the child of Jack and Ella Mae Clark, he also choose me and predestined me to be his adopted daughter through Jesus, the Messiah ! ( Ephesians 1:4-5) We all believe His Word on this. Why then do so many Christians not acknowledge and celebrate our Judaic Heritage? The scriptures clearly tell us that we have been grafted in… adopted as sons (and daughters). Statistics show that American Christians have one of the highest adoption rates in the country. We Christians then, above all, should understand adoption. We do not introduce our natural children to others and then say, “Oh yeah, and so-and-so is my adopted child.” When people ask about our children, we make no delineation between natural or adopted. And when people ask our adopted children who their parents are, though they may refer to their biological parents if known, we fully expect them to consider the adoptive parents as their very own. Why then, have we been raised to view our Messianic family with such a foreign and disconnected perspective?
Thirty seven more pages could answer why. But instead, let me just share that for the last 12 years or so, my family has celebrated at least one of the many Biblical Feasts or Convocations, that is “The Passover Seder.” I, personally, also acknowledge Yom Kippur, and hope to see my family celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) a few days following Yom Kippur. We also celebrate our race and heritage with Kwanzaa, our Christian traditions with Christmas, our nationality with Thanksgiving, etc. (We do a lot of celebrating in the Thompson-Thomas household!). But with this being the beginning of the Passover Week, it is timely that I share my limited knowledge and personal experience about this particular Biblical ordinance, which is indispensably tied to the foundation of our Christian Faith.
The first Messianic Seder I ever attended was at a Methodist Church 20 years ago. I grew up Baptist (Black Baptist, which is its own brand!), and later, when I found Jesus for myself, I attended mostly Charismatic and Pentecostal churches (and still do). But my long-time friend, Crystal, happened to invite me to her mother’s church, where a Messianic Rabbi was to introduce us to the Passover celebration. And from that moment on I never looked at “The Lord’s Supper”(our Christian abbreviation of the Passover Meal) the same again. As I ate the symbolic elements of the meal, I felt like a veil was lifting off of my eyes and mind. Not a personal veil, but something more akin to a generational veil. Here is a brief synopsis of what was shared, verbally and edibly.
Bitter herbs: reminding us of the bitterness of physical enslavement (the Hebrew children) as well as spiritual enslavement to sin. We were also instructed to carefully observe the herb itself (parsley) and how every part of the parsley leaf is in 3 sections. One leaf; 3 sections.
Salt water: the tears shed in physical and spiritual slavery.
Kharoset (a sweet mixture of honey, wine, nuts and apples): a reminder of how joy and suffering often coexist in our earthly lives, as does our constant awareness of our present and eternal life. (It is made to look literally like the mortar the Jewish slaves used for building).
(My own African American slave history made all this imagery all the more vivid and meaningful!)
A lamb shakebone: the lambs that were slain in the Old Covenant, now replaced by the Lamb that was slain once and for all!
And most significantly: The MATZAH! I could write a sermon (as a matter of fact, I did) just about the significance of Matzah:
• It is unleavened – undefiled, as Jesus was.
• It is striped( with a machine called “the striper”) – just as Jesus was (Isaiah 53:5)
• It is pierced – just as Jesus was (Zechariah 12:10)
• It is presented as three pieces bound together, with the center piece called the “afikomen--” which means “The Coming One”—broken and eaten! (Luke 22:19)

It is indeed evident throughout the Passover Seder (Meal) that God the Father was trying to reveal Yeshua, the Messiah to his people Israel! It is also quite evident that He was revealing the significance of the Trinity, using the most effective teaching strategy, that is, a hands-on, kinesthetic approach! Even in the pre-baking process, it is scientifically proven that matzah dough will become defiled with atmospheric yeast if the baking process does not start within 18 min (Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, The Inner Meaning of Matzah, Eighteen minutes is 1080 seconds. When you divide this number by “The Trinity” (3) you get 360. Three hundred and sixty! – the number representing a full circle, a full year, a full rotation…. Fullness! If you’re still not getting this, please read Luke 22:14-16 where Jesus speaks about the Seder being fulfilled in the Kingdom of God, and Mathew 5:17 where He tells us He came to fulfill the Torah (Old Covenant Laws). Not only have our Jewish brothers and sister missed the fullness of this message for 1000’s of years, Christians have too!

The deeper I have delved into our Judaic heritage, the deeper the truths and the revelations. I don’t have time in this blog to go into it all... but I sure hope you do! Read, Study, Dig deep! We are not obliged under any law to observe all the Judaic holidays. Our freedom is in Christ, and the Law is written upon our hearts. But we certainly have been depriving ourselves from the richness of our faith and the fullness of the Gospel. When I sit down with my family and close friends and recite the Messianic Haggadah (“The Telling”), share the Passover elements, and enjoy the Seder meal, there is no “have to” about it. It is my privilege as the adopted seed of Abraham and a member of the Family of God!

Suggested Pesach (Passover) Readings:
DAY 1: Ex 12:21-51, Numbers 28:16 -25, Joshua 5:2-6:1, Is 52:13 -53:12, Mt 26 -28

DAY 2: Lev 22;26 -23:44, 2 Kings 23:1-9,21 -25, Mark14 -16

Anytime during DAYS 3, 4, 5, 6: Ex 33:12 -34:26, Ezekiel 37:1 -14, Lk 22-24

DAY 7: Ex 13:17- 15:26, 2 Sam 22:1 -51, 1 Cor 5;6 -8

DAY 8: Deut 15:19- 16:17, Isaiah 10: 32 -12;6, Numbers 28: 19-25 (repeat from day one), John 13 - 21

There are some minor differences, depending on what part of the world you're in. This order is based more on non-European Jewish and Messianic Congregational readings. All this is adapted from the Complete Jewish Bible , Stern, D.1998.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The world just became a lot smaller. My firstborn daughter now lives in China, where she sleeps when I wake, and wakes as I'm going to bed. But when we chat on Skype, it feels like she's still just a bus ride away in NYC. But my separation anxiety and restless nights are nothing compared to the anxiety and despair faced by my many, many sister-mothers in Haiti. Many have children that have not been found; many have children that will never be found. My heart breaks everytime I turn on the news. As a liturgical dance leader with connections to some very precious Haitian dancers in our area (including a member of my own team),their pain has become a part of my heart. But amidst the pain projected daily from the news coverage, I saw one mother who stood out from the rest. She gripped her child with the same agony felt during childbirth, as that 9 year old endured surgery on her damaged leg --- without anesthesia. Then, when it was all over, she hovered over her 3 children on the ground, and smiled with sheer joy into the camera. Why the smile? Because her children were alive, and all she felt was thanksgiving and the certainty that GOD LOVES HER.
Shortly after seeing this, I went up to my 13 year old's bedroom, and just held her head in my arms. Maybe that's part of this epic disaster in Haiti: A call, not to proclaim disparaging judgements as to why something happens to certain people, but rather,to reach out to those far away, and hold those who are close. Because we're all in this same world together. And it's really quite small.