The F word


Grapevine Church

by Stephanie Rochelle Redd

Free food.

These are my favorite “F” words. I love them individually and together, though I do prefer the latter.

free food


I also prefer peace to war, love to hatred, and happiness to sadness. However, living in this world mandates the latter in each ratio if its opposite is to also exist. So, what is this existing neo-flower child to do?

Well, after I finish picketing ‘The Man’ and hugging my fair share of trees, I must then pick the man that hurt me the most and hug him–namely, forgive.

“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?'”

~Matthew 18:21, NKJV

To live harmoniously in a world of hurt is one hell of a feat. As such, I completely understand Peter tallying the toil others’ hellish behavior had taken on him.

Over the years, I kept my own tally of the injustices others committed against me. My tally-taking, however, was much less forgiving than cut-your-ear-off-Peter’s. (Imagine that.) Rather than seven times, it just took several strikes against me, and you – and your ear – were outta there.



Fortunately, I’m a nice person, overall, so not too many people have experienced the full measure of my displeasure.  Unfortunately, for a small group of people who have witnessed my wrath firsthand – a few dozen students, one or two guys, and one family guy, in particular – let’s just say that Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, would’ve been proud.

I’m not proud, though, looking back on those fiery events. Yes, there was a lot of pride involved, but it was of the ego variety. And where there is ego – a lot of ego, in my case – there is also a lot of room for forgiveness, even though it may not feel like it and we may not feel like forgiving.

Admittedly, I didn’t feel like forgiving for much of my life. More accurately, I hated the word “forgive” and any variation of it with a volcanic passion.

I felt forgiveness was wrong because I thought it made those who hurt me right. Of course, it was perfectly fine for others to forgive me in the very – very – rare cases where I hurt them. (Ahem.)

Clearly, my sense of justice was warped, with the odds of me being the victim almost always being in my favor. But in my defense – You saw that coming, right? – I was actually a victim for a significant period of my life–childhood.

Yes, I hear you:

“Well, who wasn’t traumatized as a child?”

Sadly, that is one question with too many replies. Yet, there is only one answer that I’ve found that has allowed me to triumph over my trauma: Forgiveness.

I know, I know.

“How can someone who once hated the very word now show it so much love?”

Well, when “someone” is increasingly showing herself love, the ease of showing love to other things – and people – increases in kind, even when that “someone” was very unkind to those things – and people – before.

While my glasses are not rose-colored, these days they are tinted with love, particularly of the self variety, which allows me to look back on my past with love as well. That is not to say that I am looking pass my past trauma, but I am seeing it in a way that makes me revere God and respect myself for getting through it.

This is me at 3.

me at 3

Isn’t she lovely?

This little girl, like many small children, are often called “resilient”–meaning that they can take a whipping licking and keep on ticking. However, there are only so many of life’s lickings that a person, let alone a child, can take until their heart’s ticking loses momentum and eventually comes to a screeching halt.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men [and women].”

~Frederick Douglass [and Stephanie Rochelle Redd]

In my past, things were done and words were said that I thought were unforgivable. And in reserving my right to forgive those who trespassed against me, I also restricted my ability to receive forgiveness–from myself. But why would a person, a child, a three-year-old cherub need to forgive him- or herself if they were the victim?

Well, I can’t write for you, but I needed to forgive myself for just being a victim, period–for not having the serenity, courage, wisdom, or wherewithal to see, understand, or stop what the hell was happening around me and to me in the first place. In retrospect, it was that hell that I could not fathom as a child that I fired upon others as an adult. Thankfully, though brutally, I have been brought to a place in my adulthood where I am forced to grow the hell up.

In the magical land of Actual Adulthood, there is no blame, only mirrors. These mirrors are other people who appear to be different from us, yet are able to magically show us ourselves by the ways we respond to them and they to us. Also in Actual Adulthood, there is nowhere to go but within.

It was only when I began intently searching myself for the panacea to my pain did I find it in love. In other words, self-love helps me accept my past and myself presently. Further, my increased love and acceptance of myself increases my love and acceptance of other people, especially the people who hurt me. (What? That’s the magic of actual adulting and actual love.)

This “magic” has also transformed my idea of forgiveness. Rather than seeing it as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for my persecutors, I now understand forgiveness as the freedom for which I am given. Forgiveness frees me from the weighty job of passing judgement on myself and others, and gives that responsibility to whom it rightly belongs: God.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'”

~Matthew 18:22, NKJV

No, Jesus did not want Peter to keep a tally of the 490 times his brother mistreated him, neither does Jesus want us to count our brothers’ and sisters’ wrongs against them. Instead, He wants us to count on God the Father to mete out justice as He sees fit, trusting that God’s rulership in our lives means fair rulings for us as well as others.

Now that I am armed with my new definition of forgiveness and deeper faith in God, I willingly surrender my victimhood – and my addiction to it – to His Higher Power in exchange for a victorious life for me and for generations to come. I am also willing to make room on my “Favorite ‘F’ Words” list for at least two more.




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(See what I did there?)

Powered by love



by Stephanie Rochelle Redd

“I was a victim of my foolish thinking/
Carelessly I’ve risked my love and my life/
There’s no self-pity, I admit I obliged/
Overpowered by love, I pretended to be blind…”
~ Stephanie Mills, I’ve Learned to Respect the Power of Love

A couple of months ago, a member of the Head-Smart/Heart-Dumb Girl Facebook page sent me a message with just one question:

“What is love?”

My eyeballs immediately rolled up toward the ceiling.

“Chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiile’…” I typed.

But after about the 10th “i”, I realized that neither the question nor its answer was as abstract – or as exasperating – as I first believed. So, after grudgingly deleting my initial response, I took a deep breath.

I then replied with a basic outline of the self-love tenets that I describe in my book. Yet, I was not satisfied with that response either.

Yes, acceptance, compassion, knowledge, approval, and respect are all aspects (i.e. powers) of love. And when all of these powers combine, yes, they do activate love to the highest power. But what, exactly, is this thing called “love” that is activated? Furthermore, if love is indeed the superpower, then who is its superhero? Who is the ‘Captain Planet‘ of love?

I took another deep breath. Per my M.O., I had multiplied one question into more questions. As I sat there, deep-breathing and staring deeply at the words on my screen, I waited.

Waited for what, you ask?

A thunderbolt, a light bulb, a pep talk from Wile E. Coyote, something that would give me peace of mind to soothe the inner conflict that my questions raised, and give me the frame of mind with which to solve the question that was originally posed to me. And then it happened.

If God is love, I thought, then love is God.

I sighed with relief. Not only had I solved the mystery of love in a matter of minutes, but I had also calmed my aching brain. However, my brain’s relief was short-lived as it eventually dawned on me that I had “solved” one mystery with another mystery.

Wait! Do I now have to explain God? (Oh my God, indeed.)

I was digging myself deeper into a hole of increasing ignorance, and I wanted out–fast. So, from my book I turned to another, known for its revelation of the mysterious nature of God and love: the Word.

“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:2, NKJV

Well then.

Coupled with my love analysis, I then added the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians to my answer, which gives a definitive look into what love is and what it is not. Ah, it feels good to have the answers to challenging questions at your fingertips.

But what about the questionable situations that we often find ourselves in that seem to challenge our very being? What about the consequences we face that result from our foolish thinking, careless risks, and willful pretenses? Where are the solutions to the mysteries that are us? Oh, there I go with more questions.

Thankfully, though my questions multiply, the answer to them remains undivided: the Word.

The Word not only provides a wealth of information, but it also serves as a platform for illumination. While there are other resources – *clears throat* – that can help us clarify our understanding of ourselves, only Source can give us answers about us straight from the One who created us.

So, when I feel undone by my own doing, I cry and mope, and read and meditate on the Word. When I feel victimized by the viciousness of others, I cry and cope, and read and meditate on the Word. When I feel overpowered by the very thing that is meant to empower me, I cry and hope, and read and meditate on the Word.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” ~ John 1:1, NKJV

As the Word was – and is – God, and God was – and is – love, then my reading of and meditation on the Word was – and is – my reading of and meditation on love.


No wonder I was able to point that Facebook group member’s inquiring mind in God’s direction. I have been so immersed in better loving myself that, by default, I have also immersed myself in better knowing God. After all, how can we embrace One without embracing the other? (Okay, that’s enough questions–for now.)


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Faith it ’til you make it


Divine Feminine Reawakening

by Stephanie Rochelle Redd
I am not from Missouri, but when given the choice between seeing or believing, I prefer the former.

“Show me the money!”
“The proof is in the pudding.”
“Just the facts, Ma’am.”

If these phrases were not already part of the zeitgeist, I am sure I would have coined them. For me, and perhaps for you too, seeing is just easier than believing. Seeing just takes sight. Believing, on the other hand, takes work–mental work, emotional work, ultimately, faith.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” ~Hebrews 11:1, NKJV

As one who sees herself as ‘faithful,’ my preference to see is often overruled by my purpose, which is to believe in that which is unseen. No doubt, living with this contradiction has proven challenging for me over the years. Yet as of late, my purpose has surged pass my preference into a stratosphere of belief that I have never seen before.

Frankly, I feel like I jumped out of a plane without a parachute, in tandem with only the belief that I will have a good flight. Everything in my life right now appears to be up in the air. But for a proof-seeking, facts-demanding land lover like myself, I am actually – and surprisingly – cruising at this untethered altitude.

While there is a lot of earth in my astrological chart, I have chosen to heed a voice in my heart that has greater intelligence than ground control. This voice speaks to me at such a high frequency that I have to be still to hear it. In my stillness, it prompts me to trade in  my natural sight for supernatural vision. Not while I’m driving, of course, or even walking, for that matter–only in matters that require the utmost tender, loving faith…which, as I previously stated, appears to be everything.



Lord, lift me up where I belong. (Not only is this my jam, but it’s also my prayer.)

You see, I’ve got high hopes and big dreams. In fact, my hopes and dreams are so massive that if I was not as faithful as I am, I would think they are impossible. I mean, looking at where I am and then looking at where I want to be, my hopes and dreams appear to be just that.

Yet, my faith tells me to look beyond what is and compels me forward to what will be. What will be, that is, according to faith.

How can “the substance of things hoped for” be a substantial tool for seeing your way through life? How can “the evidence of things not seen” be seen as “evidence” at all? How many questions can one writer ask? (Don’t tempt me.) For me – and all my questions – the only answer that I can offer myself and others engaged in the high-flying act of faith is: Because it tells me so.

No, not Stephen King’s It, though the “it” to which I am referring was also established by a King. And no, I am not referring to King James either–either of England or “The Land” fame.

The “it” that tells me so, that compels me forward, that has distinctly instructed me to jump out of life’s plane – and away from my plans – is The Word.

Known to some in its written form as the Bible, known to others in its living form as Jesus the Christ, known to others still as the Holy Spirit or simply Spirit, God, Source or the Universe, whatchamacallit and whatever you call it, it affirms my faith, it confirms my faith, and it renews my faith – moment-by-moment – in what I hear my heart say.

And what has my heart said exactly? Well, that’s for me to know and for you to find out–eventually. But I will tell you that what it tells me is true. How do I know?


‘Cause I got faith.


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Beauty becomes her–again


The Master Shift

by Stephanie Rochelle Redd
There are a lot of beautiful women in this world, especially in Hawai’i, where I live. Yesterday, I went to the beach and as one can imagine – on a beach, in Hawai’i – there was a sea of beautiful women, as far as my eye could see. I saw beautiful women of all ages, hues, and shapes.
     As I sat and saw the beautiful women that danced and pranced in the spirit of Aloha before me, I also saw among them a beautiful friend that I had recently made, dancing and prancing in Aloha and all her glory. I continued to sit, admiring her beautiful spirit from afar.
      A part of me wanted to join her and also revel in the Aloha that filled the air, yet there was a larger part of me that did not. You see, I’m not what you call a “joiner”. I have personality traits, astrological configurations, habits, and hang-ups that make it so.
     On top of all of this, I was comfortable–in my beach chair, at least. I was not, however, wholly comfortable within myself. It’s a trip to be able to behold all the beauty that surrounds you and not count yourself among it. That’s what I did though; I had counted myself out of being one of the ‘beautiful ones’.
     Now, don’t get me wrong, I know I’m beautiful. (Sorry, Sammy Kershaw.) I look in the mirror on more occasions than I’m willing to admit here and declare a big ol’ “Damn, Girl! You look good!” Hey, some days, I just got it like that.
      And then there are days when I’m at a beach…in Hawai’i…surrounded by a sea of beautiful women, wherein if I do make one of my dynamic declarations of personal beauty earlier in the day, my dynamism seems to wane somewhere along the way. Alas, this is where I found myself yesterday. That is, until my aforementioned friend found me and pulled me out of my less-than-dynamic stupor.
     “You’re beautiful,” she announced without any prodding or provocation. “You really are, you need to know that.”
     I smiled and exhaled deeply.
     “Thank you for saying that,” I said, without an ounce of shame.
     “Would you like to dance?” she then asked. Her tender invitation was in great contrast to the thunderous sound of live drumming nearby.
      “I would actually,” I replied, taking her invitation and her hand as she led the way to where the beautiful – and brave – ones danced and pranced against the backdrop of a postcard-perfect scene.
     There, amidst the beauty that only seconds earlier I had been a spectator of, I had become an active participant. I was beautiful and I knew it, and I reveled in it among the beauty of others. And all it took was a friendly and gentle invitation to remember the beauty I had always possessed.
     Would you like to dance, Beautiful?
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