Welcome Back!

I’ve been hyping up this relaunch for weeks, now, so I’ve been stressing over the need to create an amazingly witty blog post. First, I needed a title. “Welcome back” kept running through my head because The Dreamer Speaks has been on hold during our “construction” period, but I didn’t think it was deep enough. I finally came up with a pithy title and got excited, but then the words wouldn’t come. Instead, not only was “welcome back” still floating in my head. Now, it had morphed into the opening line of the “Welcome Back, Kotter” theme song. So, if you know me, you know what I did next.

I pulled up the song on YouTube. And I pulled up the lyrics through an Internet search. And I was blown away! I don’t know if I ever paid much attention to any lyrics other than “welcome back” and “we tease him a lot ’cause we got him on the spot.” But I realized as I paid attention to the lyrics that this song was describing a bit of my life as a Dreamer.

I grew up in Chicago’s Roseland community. I went away for undergrad and came back. I went away to serve with the AmeriCorps*National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) – twice – and came back. I went away for some jobs and came back. I went away for seminary and grad school and am in the process of making my way back. I have had an almost lifelong dream of helping to revitalize my community and refuse to give up on that dream, even when the current state of things makes it seem pointless and/or impossible.

But back to Mr. Kotter. This theme song is about a Dreamer, how did I miss that?! So I feel like it’s going to become a bit of a theme song for me. (Don’t worry, while I’m bringing back the song, I will not be bringing back bell bottoms and plaid suit jackets. Hardy har har.)

So, let’s get this train back on track! Welcome back to those of you who have been following my blog, and welcome to those of you be-1357825_1280who are new! My word for 2016 is/was “be,” and one of the ways I’ve been leaning into that is by living into my calling as a writer and speaker. As I started to get more serious about this thing, I kept hearing “You have to build your platform.” And I kept trying to convince myself that this didn’t apply to me because I’m not a “big” name. Yet, I knew that if I ever hoped to become a “big” name, then that platform thing was important. I came to the realization that I already have a platform, so my focus is on cultivating (vs. building).

I’m still working on the best way to communicate my major “pillars” – the topics that I’m passionate about and speak/write about the most. It’s been a difficult process to identify and narrow them down to three or four because, to me, they’re pretty interconnected. As my welcome page states, I consider myself a redemptive artist. As I do that work of helping to bring about God’s shalom, it manifests through a few specific lenses: leadership development, fulfilling purpose and fighting injustice. Two underlying currents that run through all of these issues are intercultural competence and self/soul care.

roadmap-to-recon-cover-201x300prophetic-lamentWith that in mind, my first gift giveaway reflects the racial (re)conciliation and injustice pillars. Everyone who comments on this post (on the blog or via my Facebook page) will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil’s “Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice” and Rev. Dr. Soong-Cha Rah’s “Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times.” Please provide a more thoughtful comment than “First!” or “Loved it!” Also, if you join my mailing list (see purple box on the top right side of the page), you’ll earn an extra entry into the drawing! Winners will be announced next week, so you’ve got until Sunday to post.

If you made it to the end of this post, give yourself a hand and a pat on the back! I don’t always write such long posts, but sometimes I like to meander a bit. I hope you’ll meander with me and share your musings.