Making Valentines

Standing behind my desk with a rack of Valentines this afternoon.

This year, I’ve been obsessed with painting Valentines. I’ve made dozens of them in two sizes: 4.25″ x 5.5″ and tiny ones that are about 2.5″ x 3.5″. I had so much fun.

Valetines in process on the table in the kitchen at my office.

Rows and rows of tiny Valentines. I’m not sure why painting these over and over makes me so happy, but it does.

Today we had a Valentines sale at my office, which was very fun. If you need Valentines, just let me know. I’ve got ’em. They are $3 for the larger and $1 for the smaller, all hand painted.


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Cut up your manuscript.

I’m working on a book about how I got to be a feminist in religion. It’s a memoir that examines some of the experiences and influences that have shaped me along the way.

I’ve been working on this project for a couple of years and have filled something like 175 pages with words, sentences, and paragraphs, mostly stories from the first thirty years of my life, and I was running out of steam. I couldn’t figure out what to do next.  Send it to an editor? Let a few friends read it? And then I remembered. There’s a method I have used with each of my memoirs that really works.  Just bite the bullet and DO it!

So, I got out my well-worn copy of Blueprint Your Bestseller by Stuart Horwitz and went to work. I had already finished the first step, which was to write everything I could think of. The next step was to print out a copy of the whole thing. My skeptical brain said that would be a waste of perfectly good paper and ink. But a better part of my brain said, “You always feel like what you are writing isn’t worth it. Ignore that feeling and Just Keep Going.” (Those last words are in italics, because they are the title of the little book I published on writing.)

I took my own advice and printed a copy of the whole manuscript and cut the whole thing up into scenes. I plan to be happily lost in this process of arranging, prioritizing, eliminating, and editing the scenes for weeks to come.

Happy 2018. Just keep going! Keep on writing

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Summer Heat

The Weather in North Carolina has finally cooled off, but mid-July was a scorcher. When I walked outside last Sunday afternoon, it felt like I might be baked alive on the sidewalk. The thermometer said it was 100 degrees, much hotter than I count on it being here. It felt more like July in Texas and reminded me of the summer weeks I spent in Grandview with my beloved grandmother, MamaMay, where it was literally hot enough to cook things in the sun.

When I’d visit her, I liked to watch big flat pans of peaches bake in the sun on the back patio. My mother never cooked anything outside in Oklahoma, although it was hot enough there to fry and egg on the pavement there. It was really hot in Texas, though I don’t remember minding it much, and while I’m not sure there was a pool in Grandview, I do recall lots of afternoons spent playing outside in the sprinklers with my cousins.

My youngest cousin, Anne, recently sent me a picture of me with our grandmother, our Aunt Mary Anne, and cousin Lee. I’m about two in the photo and have the middle fingers of my left hand in my mouth. I was smart to pick my left hand, since I kept those fingers in my mouth until I was seven, and I needed my right had to do other things. I’m grateful to Janice Dokes who found this picture among her old photos and shared it.

Janice’s grandmother, Inez Hardy, worked for my grandmother when I was little and was like a angel to me. She’d bake extra little strips of pastry for me and put butter and sugar on them for a treat. But I had best not wax too poetic about those days, which were roasted in Southern heat and flavored with a racist system that found ever more ingenious ways to wrest power, rights, voice, money, land, and life from African Americans.

Amid the summer heat of this year, 2017, and the antics of an administration that seems hell-bent on depriving immigrants, people of color, the poor, the disabled, children, and the elderly of voice, rights, access to assistance, and life itself, I want to remember the labor and the kindness of African American people long ago who built this country, took care of people like my grandmother, my mother, and me, and were never properly compensated for what we stole from them. We need serious conversations about reparations. If my grandfather had stollen money or land from yours, wouldn’t you think I owed you something?

My sweet summer memories are still sweet and the knowledge of the system of repression that undergirded them is sour indeed.

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Duke Divinity School & Diversity

photo Duke Div 3Duke Divinity School is in the news again. This time a conservative professor was critical of diversity training and urged his colleagues to stay away: ““Don’t lay waste your time by doing so. It’ll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: there’ll be bromides, clichés and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty. When (if) it gets beyond that, its illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies will show.” Now it seems the resistant professor will be retiring early. Read about it HERE.

I commend Dr. Thea Portier-Young and Dean Elaine Heath for their support for the diversity training.

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Just Keep Going

I’m pleased to announce the publication of my latest book.just-keep-going-for-rc-web

Just Keep Going: Advice on Writing and Life
by Jeanette Stokes (RCWMS, 2016)
$20.00 (includes tax & shipping)

“In this book you’ll find a wise guide, a skilled writer and artist who will help you discover your most creative self. As she charts her path toward writing and creativity, Stokes encourages you to envision the outlines of your own path. She offers tips on how to start where you are, take things one step at a time, figure out what works for you, set and keep a writing schedule, confront blocks, let your creativity flow, and relax and enjoy the process. Most of all, she conveys the joy in opening to the raw material of your own truest and deepest inclinations.” —Liz Dowling-Sendor, writer and Episcopal priest

Jeanette Stokes is the founder and Director of the Resource Center for Women and Ministry in the South and the author of five other books.

To order: Send $20.00 by mail to RCWMS, 1202 Watts St., Durham, NC 27701
Or order here: (for $20.00)
Or visit

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My father was arrest in 1972

NYT reports today: “The Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would effectively ban abortions by subjecting doctors who perform them to felony charges and revoking their medical licenses — the first legislation of its kind.”

This is why the following story about my father ran in the Daddy & Faye arrest last Sunday. He was and ObGyn who was arrested in 1972 for providing safe abortions at a time when they were still illegal in Oklahoma. Here’s the story about my dad: HERE

(Photo credit: Dr. E. Malcolm Stokes is shown with his wife, Faye, in Pawnee, OK, where he was arraigned on March 28, 1972, on abortion charges in connection with operation of an alleged “abortion mill” near Lake Keystone. Stokes was a prominent obstetrician in Tulsa. The photo is taken from microfilm. tulsa World archives)

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Following a Female Line

JANE pc FRONT w bleeds LIGHTERFollowing a Female Line by Jeanette Stokes
(Words & Spirit, 2015) Regular price $20.00
ISBN 978-0-9821848-7-5

Jeanette Stokes began to suspect that values she found wedged in her psyche were an unwitting inheritance from the women in her female line. How in the world did her Scots-Irish ancestors manage to leave her with their stubborn faith, their tenacious hold on land, and their deep attachment to family? Join her as she searches through archives, history, and family lore to find out.

Jeanette Stokes is the founder and Director of the Resource Center for Women & Ministry in the South and author of Hurricane Season, 25 Years in the Garden, 35 Years on the Path, and Flying Over Home. She lives in Durham, NC.

Order via PayPal:
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Or send $20.00 by mail to Words & Spirit, 1202 Watts St., Durham, NC 27701
Or order here: (for $20.00)
Or visit

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