Latest Posts

Election Day Breakfast

Don’t eat, I tell them,
I’ll make French Toast. Happy boys
help to dip and flip.

#Gratiku #Thankspoem

During the month of November, I will be joining Teach Write in the #Gratiku challenge, in which we write and share a gratitude haiku (or other poemish piece) every day in November. I may not write every day, but I will certainly try my best.

If you’re a teacher of writers (or a writer… don’t have to be a teacher) and you’re looking for a supportive group of other writers to encourage you along your writing journey, check out Teach Write.

Covid Has Helped Me To See

Every time he enters class, he grabs his book off the table,
even on Fridays when we don’t normally read.
(For him, I may defy that wretched Friday system)

We read for fifteen minutes every time.
Four out of five heads tilt down in books.
(One or two sleepers have bodies and minds that defy.)

Today, afterward, I circulate to check their logs,
And proximity feels somehow good and comforting.
(This may be the effects of Covid quarantine,

because normally I’d rather always stay six feet away
and have no more than ten students in my class.)
But smiles, eye contact, interaction with these gentle ones here.

#Gratiku #Thankspoem

During the month of November I will be joining Teach Write in the #Gratiku challenge, in which we write and share a gratitude haiku (or other poemish piece) every day in November. I may not write every day, but I will certainly try my best.

If you’re a teacher of writers (or a writer… don’t have to be a teacher) and you’re looking for a supportive group of other writers to encourage you along your writing journey, check out Teach Write.

Front Row Blessing

Eyes closed, muzzled mouth
I pray, thunder-clap my hands
Holy Spirit, come

#Gratiku

During the month of November I will be joining Teach Write in the #Gratiku challenge, in which we write and share a gratitude haiku (or other poemish piece) every day in November. I may not write every day, but I will certainly try my best.

If you’re a teacher of writers (or a writer… don’t have to be a teacher) and you’re looking for a supportive group of other writers to encourage you along your writing journey, check out Teach Write.

We All Win With Doughnuts

In the mornings I wake up, spend time shuffling
side-to-side at the sink, stove, counter, tinkering
with coffee paraphernalia. This Saturday morning, 
the boys woke up and wanted to talk, talk, talk.

I don’t like talking in the morning – don’t like
engaging with anyone else’s thoughts but my
own. I told them so, shooed them away, and
they chirped on together, Hot Wheels preoccupied.

The water seeped slowly through the grinds and filter,
so I hurried it along, squeezed it through, added milk,
took my cup outside for a quiet moment on
the front porch. I breathed to see if my breath

would linger – to test if it was that kind of cold
outside. On the third try, peripheral vision revealed
a faint white mist trickling from my lips. I went inside,
found my gospel of Mark, turned on the light

above the couch in hopes of finding focus, a
moment by myself with God. But it was too late, my
mind filled with the business of that one quick, but
catching look at my social media apps and

the song-draft brother Victor sent in Whatsapp.
I caved-in to demands, reloaded my Dunkin’ balance.
With flip-flops on and purse in hand, I told the
hopeful son that, maybe, I was going for doughnuts.

Guitar Memoir

When I was 14, I had an urge overcome me. It danced inside me and needed to come out. It was music, and it wanted to come out through the synchronized movement of my arms, through fretting and strumming, on a guitar.

No one in my family played guitar, no one that I know of anyway – not in my immediate family, nor in my extended family. I think it was the influence of Al and Amy Parker, and Rick Maxson – members of our church. They were consistent features at kids camp – Camp Olivet – every summer.

Rick would stand on the edge of that concrete slab, front and center of the campground gathering place. His arm would hammer up and down on his guitar, while he sang loud with a wide smile. He would bounce up and down at his knees, on beat with his song. He was bright with energy and joy. And Al and Amy Parker were talented with their guitars, too, but I remember them most during their main church ministrations. They sang in harmony together, and exuded songs and sounds of peace. Amy was especially talented with the guitar – combining finger-picking and strumming.

In all of these guitar players, there was just something about them when they cradled their instrument in their arms, holding it so close to themselves – like it was a part of them.


I suppose I told my parents I wanted a guitar for Christmas. I never did use words much then, so I don’t remember ever actually telling them I wanted a guitar. I was quiet. So, I imagine I told them quietly.

“I want a guitar for Christmas.”

“Are you sure, now? You really want a guitar?” my mom questioned me.

“Yes. I really want a guitar,” I replied, “I really, really want a guitar.”

I knew it beyond a doubt. It was a desire so strong, it could’ve jumped into my arms and flew at the collars of my parents’ shirts and pulled them close with desperate, in-their-face pleading.

A few days before Christmas that year, I noticed the large, wrapped box placed somewhere around all the other gifts under the tree. When no one was around, I went to the box and knocked on it. It vibrated with sound. My face lit up with wide eyes and a smile. A guitar!

Later, as my older brother and I were sitting around in the living room, close to the tree and admiring all the wrapped gifts, I confessed to him that I knew.

“I know what I got. You wanna know how?” I said to him, with mischievous pride.

He just looked at me and shook his head.

“I knocked on the box and I could hear it.” I said in a whisper, and smiled with smugness and satisfaction in my ingeniousness.

When Christmas morning finally came, with no surprise, I opened my large gift and found the guitar. Along with it were two books – a beginner’s method book and a chord book.  I don’t remember if I started working on learning it that day, but I certainly remember the passion that drove me to my bedroom every day after school.

During the first week, I taught myself using the beginner’s method book. From it, I learned the notes of each string, how to hold and tune the guitar, and the names of the different parts of the guitar. I also learned about frets, where to place my fingers within the frets, and how holding down the string between different frets produced different notes. And lastly, in that first week, I learned how to play “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” by painfully and slowly playing one note at a time while sight reading until I eventually memorized it.

It didn’t take long before I got bored with single-note sight-reading, and soon I had, on a piece of notebook paper and written above the words, the chords of Mark Altrogge’s worship song, “Forever Grateful”. I vaguely remember acquiring this from Dennis, one of our church high school youth group mentors. I knew how to sing the song, so all I had to do was learn the chords and switch to them at the right time in the song. I acquired many other worship and praise songs and did the same with them, which was my ultimate gateway into learning chords and rhythm guitar. Fingerpicking was a natural skill to pick up as it mostly required chord knowledge and switching skills.


Last year, at 39 years old, unregretfully influenced by Jordan Raynor’s book Master of One, I went all-in with my guitar and decided that I really should become an expert, not just an amateur chord player, and so I signed up for lessons. My goal was to learn scales – for playing lead and improv – and sight playing. I’ve done pretty good at learning scales, and I was improving with sight reading and playing until Covid hit and I had to pause lessons.

It’s October of 2020 and I haven’t resumed, but I do want to get back to it soon. Honestly, since school started up again, I haven’t played my guitar much or thought much about music. And so my motivation has waned. But, I don’t think this is something I’m going to be able to run away from. It seems like when I get too comfortable away from my guitar and singing, that it forces itself back into my life in one way or another.

Besides that, there’s just something about the vibration of the guitar on my torso when I strum chords, and something about trickling my fingers up and down and side to side on the guitar neck. It feels somehow a part of me. It makes me feel… somehow complete.

About This Story

The above memoir is incomplete. I started writing this with my students at the beginning of the 2020 school year. They had to write a memoir, and I wanted to make sure I was able to do what I was asking them to do. (It’s usually easier to teach students to do something when I have experience with it and have done it myself. It’s also beneficial to write WITH the students in order to let them see that writing is a process and a struggle for everyone, even the most seasoned of writers.

This way, when they see me, the seasoned writer making mistakes and then going back and working on it and fixing it later, they will be encouraged to not be afraid to make mistakes and they will feel free to at least try.) It is actually my dream to do more teaching work like this with my students… to sort of be the master reader and writer while they are my “little” reading and writing apprentices. If I have it my way soon, this is exactly what I will be doing more of in my class every day.

Keeps Me Running

My high school track career was cut short
by a stress fracture in my right tibia.

I always felt like it was because of nutrition.
Mom recently blamed herself and dad
for not getting me good shoes.

It was probably both, but I’ve also had it
in the back of my mind that it was God.

I would be an Olympian of another sort,
casting off mental weight and sin,
running with endurance the race, the
training for which would profit me,
for now and for eternity.

These days, it seems, my track failure
is being redeemed, seeing that, at 40, I’m
running each week at least five days,
training myself to run, in 30 minutes, 5k.

I might have never had the mind for this
had poor nutrition and bad shoes never
intervened. But now, I have the Mind.

It tells me it’s okay to buy Brooks and
that I must eat well if I want to run well.

The Mind tells me to keep running so that I
can at least keep up with a friend and
keep her on her toes,
which keeps me on my toes,
which keeps her on her toes
which keeps me on my toes
It’s become a cycle.

I keep running because
I’ve got the Mind for it now,
and the running gives me a high in
my mind and makes me want to run more
which is the Mind’s natural provision of motivation.

Running is showing me that perseverance and
consistency are indeed possible for me, and that
makes this mother-of-four-different-directions happy,

which keeps me running.

OMG!

God is real. As real as the trees in the forest, as your favorite warm-fuzzy, as the coffee you drink in the morning, as your job, as whatever earthly thing is most real to you.

He really is.

And he is as real as you and me.

And he has the same emotions as you and me – albeit in perfect and holy control.

He does. He does have the same emotions.

Inasmuch as he created us in his image, and we have emotions, then God has the same emotions.

I am not quite sure when it came into my mind, but at some point, I understood that God does not enjoy it when we use his name carelessly. I had always been taught that I shouldn’t exclaim, “Oh my God!” or “Jesus Christ!” or “Oh God!” or whatever other ways God’s name is mindlessly used by human beings. But, it wasn’t until I knew that God is real that I really understood why.

Since God is real and has emotions like us, I thought to myself, how would I like it if someone went around uselessly proclaiming my name, without even really wanting my attention? If someone went around saying “Oh Sarah!” or “Sarah Oyerinde!”? I imagine I would find that quite annoying.

In fact, I don’t have to imagine it because I’ve experienced it. When my husband and I first got married (I suppose he just loved me and thought about me so much), I would hear him proclaim my name at random times around the house – while he was cooking or performing other household chores. He did not need me for anything, or want my attention. He was just saying it vainly. At first, I would respond to it, because I thought he was calling out my name for something. But, as I realized he was doing it for nothing (well… kind of… calling out someone’s name because you love them may not be vain so much), I began to stop responding to it. (And actually, because he was doing it out of love, I found it sweet.)

But, the point is that it was initially annoying. And, if someone did that with your name and it wasn’t because they loved you, you would find it annoying, too. Maybe extremely. And since you are a human being, you might fly off in a fit of anger.

In the same way, it’s annoying for God.

God is wanting and desiring and waiting for that moment when we call out his name, so that he can come to our rescue and help us out. He is. (Check out 2 Chronicles 16:9.)

But, when we call out his name and we don’t really mean it – we don’t really want him or need him, but we’re just calling it out as a curse or calling it out in vain for no reason, then that is very disappointing to him.

I imagine God runs over to us and gets in our face and says “Yes? Can I help you?” And then when we don’t respond, or when we say something like “What, God? I didn’t call your name. I don’t need you”, he is left in confusion and perhaps feels a sense of rejection. The only difference in his emotions and ours is that, he can recover quickly from these kinds of hits, perhaps?

Well, we know he is “slow to anger” anyway, and won’t fly off in a fit of rage at us. But, that’s not an excuse, because the Bible doesn’t say he doesn’t get angry, but is just slow to anger, which means eventually, if we don’t heed, a bit of discipline (which is a grace) may be forthcoming.

But, I would advise to not wait for that grace, but to rather take the grace of this here perspective. And if you’re not into my thoughts here, then try the grace of Exodus 20:7 – “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”

This Is What I’m Doing

Most days lately, you can find me reading books on racial justice as I sit in an old, plastic, green outdoors chair on my front porch, snug next to the porch rail. My daily reading-potentials (other books that I want to read, but likely won’t) rest on the rail along with a cup of black, dark-roasted coffee. You can find me there even when it’s 91 degrees out. I prefer warmth. But if the mosquitoes are out, likely you won’t find me there. The mosquitoes get on my nerves, and are one of the things that can drive me indoors.

Sometimes my kids drive me indoors, too. Like, if they come out on the front porch five times because they are bored, I usually run away indoors. Or, if they are fighting each other too much and it sounds like it’s about to get bloody and I need to intervene, then I go indoors. I also go indoors for them when I realize it’s about time to eat again and they need me to make something for them. Other than that, they’re pretty self-sufficient these days, and my husband has them on a summer learning schedule that they know they must follow and complete each day.

Anyhow, I’ve spent time out on my front porch reading White Awake by Daniel Hill over the past couple of days. (Sometimes I read it aloud to myself, pacing back and forth on my driveway – keeps me awake and focused.) I am reading it, and two other books, as part of the requirements for the OneRace Leadership Cohort.

The particular concept from the book that’s spinning my brain right now is the narrative of racial difference versus “the narrative of the kingdom of God” which “is informed by the imago Dei – that is, every human is created in the image of God” (Hill, 64). It may seem pretty obvious and basic like, “Of course everyone is created in the image of God, I believe that” and it may seem like no further exploration or explanation is needed. But, I have found it necessary to have this dichotomy expanded on.

First, the deeper explanation is making me awake to the narrative of racial difference that subconsciously infects our every moment. And I believe the narrative of racial difference doesn’t just affect white people, but it affects everyone, as there is colorism/hair-ism/eye-ism in the BIPOC (Black/Indigenous/People of Color) community as well, that has been subconsciously ingrained into minds by white supremacy (go look up the academic definition of that “white supremacy”, if it’s cringe-y to you).

The narrative of racial difference is the narrative that runs throughout our systems and subconscious and it says… THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHITE PEOPLE AND EVERYONE ELSE, AND WHITENESS IS SUPERIOR. And it says that everyone who is not white is less than – or inferior – in one way or another – in intelligence, physique, hair texture, morality, spirituality, sexuality, etc.

Understanding in fullness the narrative of racial difference is important in being able to catch and correct one’s own mind, words, attitudes, and emotions in regards to non-whiteness. It’s also important in helping us to catch it and correct it in other people and in systems around us. And if you are a parent or teacher, it’s also important so you can catch it in and correct your children and students.

As I’ve been reading about this concept in White Awake, I periodically find myself daydreaming about things I’ve heard my children say in casual conversation around the house, and I imagine how from now on I will be paying careful attention so that I can correct them and talk with them about this narrative. Of course, I also need to pay attention to myself, and as I sit here writing this, I am thinking about the settings in which I would especially need to watch myself. For one, I need to watch myself in my church (which is largely populated with African people) and also in my job as a public school teacher (in which the school I work in is largely populated with Latinx students).

Catching oneself and others is an important step, but then there’s the correction part, which is where the other side of the dichotomy comes in, namely, being able to project the narrative of the imago Dei – that is “in the image of God”.

The narrative of the imago Dei is a deep concept, and it begins at creation in the book of Genesis in the Bible. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (KJV). And the Genesis creation account also says that God created mankind to dominate over animals and plants. But, it doesn’t ever say anything about mankind dominating over other human beings. The Genesis creation account has nothing in it about hierarchies of human beings. All humans, according to the Bible, are created in the image of God.

The Bible DOES show that, after sin entered into the world, people began to dominate over each other. But, that does not make it right – and again, God never created some people to be more superior to others, and others to be inferior. All humans are created in the image of God… there is absolutely no such thing as racial difference. Yes, people have different cultures, hair types, eye shapes, skin colors and all that, but even scientifically in genetics it has been proven that there is a 0.1% variation between all “races”. (http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/science-genetics-reshaping-race-debate-21st-century/)

Alongside of the message that “there are no racial differences in human beings”, is that human beings are made in the image of God. Hill explains it a bit in White Awake and points to some other verses in the Bible (and other books) to explain all that. But essentially it is a VERY sacred (I think that’s the right word to use here) truth. And, understanding and projecting this kingdom truth, with all of its depth, onto other people, through our attitudes, thoughts, words, actions and etc., is how we correct the narrative of racial difference.

At this point I don’t know, practically, what that looks like. But, I am imagining, for one, a repeated rehearsal in my mind of just looking at people and thinking to myself… “You are divine!” Maybe that’s a step in the process? I don’t really know. I haven’t finished the book yet. Hopefully I’ll get more practical ideas as I read.

In the meantime, it may look like at this point that I’m not doing anything about racial justice, or that I am tapering off, but let me just say… that you can’t see the work that’s going on inside my soul. I am indeed being reborn again. And that IS doing something. Thank God.

Writerly Intentions: Prompt 1

When I was a kid, I hated my name. It felt so much like… a kid name. And I didn’t want to be a kid. I wanted to be a grown-up, and wanted a grown-up name. I was not sure what name sounded more like a grown-up name, but I just felt like mine was not, and I hated it.

My aunt Amelia used to come around me and sing in her rich, clear voice, “Que sera, sera / whatever will be, will be”. I suppose she sang that to me because it sort of had my name in it. But, it was because of her that I began to warm up to my name. At the same time, sometimes people would call me “Sarah, plain and tall” in reference to a book that I’ve never read, and that almost destroyed it for me. I didn’t want to be plain… and I sort of had no feelings about being tall until I was taller than all the boys and understood what that looked like in the conventional realm.

It was my mom, actually, that saved me from hating my name eventually. She told me that my dad named me when I was born, and knowing that, touched my soul, because it meant that my dad indeed did think about me and cared for me, which was not something I felt much, because he was not very expressive of his love toward me – in the way that I needed it anyway – when I was a child.

I also started enjoying my name when I enjoyed the thought of being a princess and the mother of many nations. But that didn’t come until Christ delivered me from Godlessness and my gender and sexuality issues.

When I was a teenager, people at my church would refer to me as Alejo Vela’s daughter, or Mary Vela’s daughter. I began to love my name more then, too. I didn’t want to be known because of my parents, I wanted to be known for me. I wanted to be known as an individual, and not just known as someone’s daughter. I wanted to be known as Sarah, and for that name to mean something good.

So, while I started off not liking my name, I certainly love it now. But, no, though I didn’t like it, I also didn’t have an alternative, so there has never been another name I would have chosen for myself.

Recently, I have joined a writing community on Facebook led by Patsy Clairmont. Periodically, she and her team are posting writing prompts to challenge us to workout our writing muscles. Thus, I will be sharing these prompts and my responses to them here.

I Have A Disease – COVID-19 Quarantine Thoughts – April 4th

Thirty-six minutes. That’s how long it took me to run 5K today. I am getting back into the swing of it. I had been running consistently before the school year started last August, but, with my focus on mastering my career, running had just not been happening. Now, though, since I don’t have to rush home to meet our kids off the bus, and hustle with the evening routine, or take them to extra-curricular activities – and since the professor-husband is home, too, all the time now – I DO have a bit more time. So, I have been using some of the time to get back into running.

During my run today, I was thinking about the below tweet from Trillia Newbell:

I’ve noticed the “strange times” during my runs, too, over the past couple of days. For example, two women stood on the opposite sides of the road talking with each other – I made sure to run smack-dab in the middle of the road as I passed them, putting them each at an even distance away from me. As I passed, I held out an arm to each of them and shouted with a smile, “Six feet!” They laughed and shook their heads in understanding. I think one of them said something smart back to me, but I didn’t hear because I had my headphones on and music playing. I kept on smiling and running.

Yesterday I felt bad about it, but for whatever reason, today I felt really bad and self-conscious about it – that is, spitting on the road or off to the side into a yard. I ought to probably stop doing that, for the sake of other people’s conscious. But, I just don’t know what I’d do when I need to spit. You know how it is, if you’re a runner, there are just times you need to spit. Perhaps I could somehow rig a hydration pack with one of those spit suckers from the dentist’s office, instead of a straw? That would be an awkward sound, running down the road and passing by people… “shhhhhlurrrrrck”. Or, maybe I can carry an empty water bottle with me, and just spit into that? Gross – and awkward, too.


I’ve noticed some strange things on the road, too, as I’ve been running in the hood these days. I saw a pair of blue disposable gloves. I remember I saw the Amazon delivery guys wearing some like that the other day when they delivered next door. At first when I saw those lying there on the road (in a completely different part of my hood, by the way), I threw my hands up in annoyance and shook my head. “Why couldn’t the folks have disposed of them properly?” was the question running through my mind. But after a few days, when I saw them again, I thought to myself – “No, that’s alright. That’s probably good. Just drop the gloves there, and if there is any virus on them, the virus will die off in the heat. They’ll be cleaned up later, after they’ve been beaten good with the sun.”

In another part of the neighborhood, I was assaulted by a used condom lying on the road. Likely it was dropped there from an immoral car session, because, ain’t no decent, MORAL human being gonna be so NASTY. (At least I hope not. And if you are, shame on you! Repent. Ask God to forgive you and help you. Get your act together, and stop that. No, really.) The other day when I walked by that particular place in the road, the thing was gone…. at least I thought it was. When I ran by there again today, it was there again! Believe me, I ran WAY on the other side of the road, like the priest and Levite – ain’t gotta be no good Samaritan to that thing – and tried to show as much disgust as possible. And, O BOY, was I ever so tempted to yell at the people I saw in the driveway of the house in which the thing was in front of. REALLY tempted.

And then I saw THIS on the road. This was a happy and caring message, but still strange…


Early in my run today, I was listening to the Dwell audio Bible app, and specifically, Matthew 7:17-20:

So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

As I listened to this, I had a moment of conviction, because I am not – and my marriage and family are not – producing good fruit like I think we ought to be (*sarcastically* according to my flawless, angelic point of view). And so, I compulsively raised my hands up and prayed out loud (yes, as I was running), “God, help me, I have a disease!” And in a split second I remembered that I was in public, and that we are in the time of COVID-19 (although, I didn’t see anyone around me in my immediate or peripheral vision) and I quickly continued to say out loud, “Not the coronavirus. I don’t have the coronavirus, but rather, disease of the soul.” And I continued more quietly, in all sincerity, asking God to help me with the disease of my soul – and the disease in my family life.

And, AMEN. He’s a good father and I know he’s heard my prayer and I am going to see miracles.


Strange times.