During The Gospel Coalition’s 2018 Women’s Conference, Elicia Horton, Quina Aragon, and Janette…Ikz delivered separate spoken-word pieces in a workshop titled “True and Beautiful Words for Weak and Weary Pilgrims.” The three artists later discussed their stories, how they became involved in poetry, and how the gospel shapes their craft and fuels their mission.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Elicia Horton: On warm and sunny days, she likes to stroll the sidewalks with low cut shirts and high cut shorts. She likes to let her thighs talk. Her self-esteem went missing, so she lets her pride walk using her body as bait so when they prey their eyes stalk. She lives in the city, but in a state of worthlessness. She only hears that she’s pretty much she’s offering her services. Her value indeed exceeds a 20, but she’s never heard of this.
Driven to keep sinning. No idea what her purpose is. When she doesn’t clock in, her diet consists of shakes or broke fast. Her boss provides on job training with constant abuse and grope fests. Her only sense of home is a lonely room full of roaches. All signs in her mind lead to a road feeling hopeless. She’s got to work the streets. She’s got to work to eat.
She tried the nine to five and said, “Yo, it didn’t work for me.” It hurts to see everyone else but her make it. Since her uncle took her purity, she finds nothing else sacred. Full of anger, he goes out with his buddies, Jack and Daniel. Drinking his problems away because they’re more than he can handle. Thinking of ways he can cover up his recent scandal. All the while, remembering the family picture that sits on his lovely mantle.
His wife is just a handful. He says she just doesn’t understand. He kept pitching an open marriage but she never caught his underhand. Remembering his vows, he doesn’t mind another man. His sin is killing him softly like that nineties summer jam. On the other hand, his wife is concealing her own struggles, binge shopping and online shopping with another man that appears subtle. She idolizes looks so his Facebook flirting don’t spell trouble. Starved for attention. Leading a life that is double.
What about that young man with no type of father figure? All he knows his triggers of strife that we see in crime scene pictures, or what about that young girl who’s a mom to her younger sisters? Every night mama’s cracked out, but she still lines them up to make sure they kiss her.
Or what about that young lady and her late twenties with no babies? Late night date night consist of fitting rooms at her local Macy’s. Hoping she’ll get a call back that would turn a no to a yes or even a maybe. With no one to love her leads her to compromise her worth greatly.Or what about that Muslim woman who lives on the other side of town? She sneaks learning English when her husband is not around. Eye contact is made at the local park, but your mouth doesn’t utter a sound. Struggling to find a topic so you quickly drop it like a pound. These are the stories of those around, or maybe including ourselves.
Are we so consumed with busyness or letting fear keep us in our shells? He didn’t let you die in your own sins. His grace served as our guardrails. The remedy for the lost is the story of the cross and the hard nails. So let’s face it, these could be another life wasted. Who’s going to show them patterns of Christ if we first don’t try to trace it? That’s a hard truth. So we call it a massive hit.
My women, it’s about time to get your passions lit. We too look at the wrong places when God’s love is more than adequate. We need a motto Christ, yo. Forget Cosmo’s fashion tips. Be clothed in honesty in modesty, yo. He’ll even let you bask in it. Good news. There’s mercy for you. Mercy me, can you imagine it? Once you resign to your own self, your life is under new management.
So let him be your boss. Let him be the King of your heart. He knows how to get to the roots of the problem once things fall apart. Be set apart by God’s grace. He’ll keep you loving it. Let the old pass away. Be made new just like his covenants. Three nails plus one cross, yo. Forgiveness, that’s the sum of it.
So when this world keeps coming at you with these two hands, keep shoving it. Some can’t grasp this. No longer passive, yo. I got to move aggressively. See, I didn’t understand my own destiny because God used to be dead to me. Forget the fashion labels, yo. I rocked sin heavily, but through his imputed righteousness, yo, it canceled out the mess in me.
So when this world is depressing me, I guard my heart with this breast plate. Emphatically reading his love letter reminding me this is the best date. So stop with the what ifs. Let me go back. Kind of got passionate there. So gracious father, you are bigger than our worst sin. Compassionate God, you came just as a tiny person. Maintained your deity despite the whips and the cursing to be our imperishable hope. So, let us come and worship. So stop with the what ifs. Why not now proclaim the gospel?
Our cities are full of dry bones, yo. We just call them walking fossils. Things will get hostile, but are you willing to take a stand for God’s truth? Our brothers and sisters are on the front lines overseas. On the mission field their life and death is a living proof. So remember those single moms, broken wives, runaways and dope dealers. Be willing to intersect your life with theirs and become a hope dealer. Thank you.
Quina Aragon: Check, check, check. So imagine if depression or despair were a cold gust of wind. What would you say to it? This next piece is called Despair and it’s based off of Psalm 42 to 43.
You slipped through the seams of my scarf down my neck, chest. Crept into my heart. Blew in from the endless sea. Came with the salty mist on which with cracked lips I would feed as I would peer into a dark blue and gray landscape, standing on a massive jagged cliff. Day after day, watching, alone, waiting for my hope.
Once I thought I heard through your shrill whispers melodies, a great throng, joyful shouts and songs. Oh sweet memories you brought. Making my hope seem but a dream, and even white froth below kept watching me, mocking me saying, “Where is your hope?” Their certainty seems sureties. Had my hope forgotten me?
I tightened my scarf to recall that old warmth now so far from me. When suddenly your bitter gust became rough. Pushed me so hard I felt compelled to jump into the wide open moaning mouth of the turbulent water swallowed up just to escape your icy touch.
So you rushed through under, around, above me, sweeping swiftly just to pick me up with your numbing clutch, but gravity let my heavy heart win or lose. I wasn’t sure. For I can not swim, and I found myself engulfed, unable to breathe calling in the deep waves and breakers over me when another song I’m certain I heard, steady sure words, strong and gentle tune. The voice of my hope raised me up burst through the turmoil underneath.
So you blew harder upon the sea trying to drown me, but I was safe. For wave after wave turned out to be grace upon grace over me. Therefore, praise and more praise I will yet give to my hope, my salvation. Even when you slipped through the seams of my scarf again. Thank you.
Janette Ikz: Aren’t they dope? Is that a yes? Or just like a … [inaudible 00:09:47]. Just trying to get this thing right. Super excited to be here at TDC. It’s my first time. So I’m pretty ecstatic about that. Didn’t know this many of you would be here [inaudible] too. Let’s take a moment to pray, is that cool?
Janette Ikz: All right. Lord God, just thank you. I thank you for your amazingness. I thank you for this opportunity. Just to be here with so many amazing women. My prayer is that you would only allow the truth of my heart to run free from my lips today, God. Don’t even allow me to say anything that’s not like you. I desire to speak truth to your people. I have this desire to speak truth to these women. Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come that will [inaudible 00:10:39]. Thy kingdom come thy [inaudible 00:10:44]. Thy kingdom come, my will be done on earth as it is on earth [inaudible 00:00:10:50].
Janette Ikz: Sorry baby. Give us this day, our daily bread. Man, I’m so hungry. I’m sorry. Distracted. [inaudible] Forgive me of my trespasses. Even though I haven’t forgiven those who have trespassed against me, no need to ask to be led not into temptation. I’ve been there so frequently, I know the way on my own now, and a life of sin leads to hell. I guess that’s why they call it playing with fire, and I am an aspiring pyromaniac.
Janette Ikz: Deliver me from evil. If that means you won’t take my hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations away. Jesus, the way the truth and the life no man comes to the father, but through him. Okay. So I’m good now. Okay. Giving honor a God who is so not the head of my life. What? The Lord my God is one Lord, and I love the Lord. Part of my heart, part of my soul, part of my strength. Part, part, part. God, I want to know you. I want to know you, and the power of your resurrection [inaudible 00:11:59], and I want to know you in the pirates direction and the [inaudible 00:12:03]. Do I really have to suffer?
Janette Ikz: God, it’s me. It’s me, God. I love you. I love you when I pray, and when you give me what I want. I loved you, and I see your goodness in the rising of my bank account. What in the world? Okay. Father it’s me, and I’m not really concerned because you know my heart. You know that the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, but I’m okay. I’m not really worried about what y’all think about me because only God can judge me.
Janette Ikz: God, who judged Adam and Eve’s exit past cherubim and sward, judge the world by relentless storm, unreleased Israelites, unleashed plagues on Sodom and Gomorrah fell burning stone and literally rained flames, but I see you as my captain. I receive my orders and my response to you was always aye-aye captain.
Janette Ikz: Aye-aye captain. I captain have hooked onto my own will haunted by the tick-tock of crocodiles swallowed clocks. I feel time is going to bite me, yet still, with your grace I take risks and jump off cliffs assuming I will never land. I refuse to grow up. The Eve in me keeps tripping. Call me nightfall. One who knows you have a plan for me while devising my own in the dark.
Janette Ikz: Constantly staying in nearby reach of the enticing forbidden fruit of my own will can feel it hanging low from the one tree. I can’t seem to stay away from. I recently noticed my husband getting dressed by putting on a front and a smile when he asked me for quality time or even another child, I served him a plate of guilt with the [inaudible] of God comes first.
Janette Ikz: Besides, having another child with slow me down from doing your, my, your, my, your, my, your, my will. Even when the shoe don’t fit I still wear it. Hopping in vans to converse with people across the world, helping them find new balance. Biting off more than Jimmy could chew. Placing myself on high heels, prostituting talents, still trying to street walk, but my soul as busted.
Janette Ikz: You see, you should wait. Everything that he says and everything that she says and everything that I say, wait a minute, everything that I say, yes, everything that I say with the word of God, but even the Bible and personal studies time have become a mere resource for information, so I can appeal smarter amongst people. Talking dispensationalism and complementarianism and anthropomorphism and antinominism, exclusivism, cessation [inaudible] before ever even mentioning the gospel.
Janette Ikz: I mean, I want to be amongst the quotable, but what is theology if my biology doesn’t reflect the doxology constantly audibly speaking of his sovereignty? Well, I declare his truth, but live out my rebel autonomy compliment me. Thanks so much, Sis. Oh, no. All glory to God. False modesty.
Janette Ikz: See, I hear, I hear the mirror of cox crowing. I see the echoing feet of my brain scattered disciple. Feel my paralleled life crying, give me Barabis. I smell the mimic exchange of change in kiss for betrayal. I know what I need. What I needed to get on social media vent about my feelings, bare myself, and hope for responses only to still not be satisfied. I need the, oh, I need the… Sometimes I just got to take control because it’s much easier for me to take the risk of my bad decision that I can physically see then the trust and all the one perfect sovereign God whom I can’t see. Jesus. Jesus. How I trust you.
Janette Ikz: You messed up. I know. What were you thinking? I don’t know. I need another chance again. Yes, again. You might as well just stick to your own ways considering how many times you’ve made this profession before you should really be ashamed. How long have you been saved? Gee, this is paid, and oh, all to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain.
Janette Ikz: See I, have been walking, oh, the gate is wide. This is nothing honorable Muhammad. This Mayweather will make you comfortable. And those who reject it will see each woman and each woman I’m seeing this Mayweather will make you comfortable. I’ve taken for granted the grace of being able to walk freely under the sugar rays of the sun, and those who reject them will send each woman and each man packing.
Janette Ikz: How terrifying does that image of eternal departure have to be before I come to realize that I’m in a position where my arms are too short to box with God? So everyone who competes in the games, exercises self-control in all things, we do it to receive, they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore, our run in such a way is not without [inaudible] in such a way.
Janette Ikz: It’s not beating the air, but I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after I’ve preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. So do not live as a queen. I live a slave, so you need to know that even the very crown I attain will be cast next to the place where tears are shed of undeserved grace, where hymns of garments and broken elements of alabaster boxes lay.
Janette Ikz: See, I want to be like Jesus, but Jesus said, I have come to do the will of my father. I want to be like Jesus. Jesus said it is my [inaudible] to do the will of the one who sent me. I want to be like Jesus, but Jesus said so that the world may know that I love the father, I do exactly as a father has commanded me by the grace of God.
Janette Ikz: I’m going to be like, Jesus. I pray that my circumstances and my let downs, and even my desires. Am I distance? Am trying to reach out for his consistency will no longer changed based on my current circumstance. I pray that my affection for him will no longer change. I pray that he will continue to have his way when facing adversity. A fathomless pain when my mind can’t conceive why he took my grandmother away, when another trial shows up for an extended state after the last one barely went away.
Janette Ikz: Whether abound or a base, I want him to have his way. I’m sure of this that he, who began a good work in me is sure to see through to completion. I’m not perfect, but I’m striving for perfection after the one who is, but there is coming a day when he will return and we will all be perfectly made like him. So when peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, it is well. It is well with my soul. It is well. It is well with my soul.
Speaker 5: With my soul.
Janette Ikz: It is well.
Speaker 5: It is well with my-
Quina Aragon: Well, welcome to our session. Did you guys like that? I was thinking we could go another hour. Oh, okay. Thank you. My name is Quina Aragon. So we’re just going to share a little bit about ourselves and then we’ll pretty much just open up the rest of the time for any Q and A that you may have. So this session is called true and beautiful words for weak and weary pilgrims.
Quina Aragon: So, I wanted us to just start out with our names where we’re from, where you live, what are your current ministries? What are you up to? So my name is kina Aragon. I was born in the Philippines, raised in Orlando. I now live in Tampa with my lovely husband, who’s in the front row. I think he’s the only two men here, John. We have a beautiful two year old daughter. Who’s getting spoiled at Disney right now with my mom in Orlando, but we serve at living faith Bible fellowship, and we serve as yes. All right. We serve as small group leaders and ministry leaders for the small group. So that’s of what we’re up to, and you guys have mics.
Elicia Horton: Awesome. My name is Elicia Horton. I’m currently located in long beach, California, originally from Kansas City, Missouri. My husband and I are church planners and we lead reach fellowship and we have three beautiful kids, a 14 year old, a 10 year old, and a four year old. So, this is not my gig full time, but these are things when given opportunity, I like to be able to express. But yeah, so any other questions?
Speaker 6: Where do you live again?
Elicia Horton: Long Beach, California.
Speaker 6: Long Beach.
Elicia Horton: Yeah, so that time zone change. I’m like, if you see me and I like look like a zombie just say, it’s okay, baby, because I’m trying to get that time zone now.
Janette Ikz: My name is Janette Ikz. I am from Los Angeles. That’s where I live currently, but I am moving to Atlanta in August. It’s like the black Jerusalem. I don’t even know how we’re going. I’m married to what I prayed for, who I prayed for, which was a sanctified thug. My husband went to the master’s seminary. He is very dark brother with dreadlocks who was from Jacksonville, Florida.
Janette Ikz: It’s like the hugest oxymoron ever. Duvall represent. He’ll be so happy [inaudible 00:22:11]. We have a beautiful daughter. Her name is [inaudible] Mahogany. She turned one today, so my heart is a little bit braking, but it’s so fulfilling to be here as well. So that’s kind of what the deal is. We have served in ministry both together at Fairview Heights in the city of Inglewood. We’ve been there for the past, like six years. That’s about it.
Speaker 8: Awesome. So, I wanted to start out just asking both of you or all of us, how did you become involved in poetry or rap and how does the gospel shape your craft and fuel your mission? So why don’t we start with that first one? How did you become involved in poetry?
Elicia Horton: I started out when I was younger and to be honest, it was because my husband was already doing Christian rap and I’m like, guys can do it girls can do it too, right? And so, he was involved in that heavily in the church that we were that we both actually met at, and that kind of like sparked my interest. I remember vacuuming one day and just trying to like recite some things. I’m like, okay, this sounds good.
Elicia Horton: Actually, I wrote both pieces. I would write poetry as well as like raps. And so, I did that for a few years, but being a mom, being a full-time ministry, being full-time seminary just took a lot of my time to that. So yeah, that’s how I started, but as far as like the gospel, I feel like the things that God has done in my life and experiences that I have went through both as a single person and as a married person, as a mom, all of those have kind of shaped my worldview and how I view things and how have you people.
Elicia Horton: So, I like to listen to stories and hear what people are going through and try to connect with them in order to include that in my piece because I see the gospel as being redeemable and redeeming people’s stories and turning it for the good. And so, God has definitely given me that passion to do that when given the opportunity.
Elicia Horton: From cutting cucumbers and putting on my son’s plate and trying to write things, I have to balance that time, but I’m thankful for the times that God has woken me up and giving me something to write down, and when I have been able to use it, somebody was like, hey, thank you. That really spoke to me. So, I see that as God using that in that way and how the gospel has shaped what I view about the world and how I can connect with it using the art.
Janette Ikz: Okay. Well, I started actually doing, my mom was a poet and I would like read through a lot of her journals sometimes, and sometimes try to erase her name and I put mine, take the school. Thievery. I started trying to do poetry and church, and then they told me that I couldn’t do my type of poetry in church because we weren’t dealing with those type of issues in church.
Janette Ikz: And so as I got older, I have a very musical family, so I grew up in the nineties, nobody asked the age thing, but I grew up in the nineties. And so, we were very much into hip hop and poetry was a big deal. It was really at a peak at that time. I fell in love with the art on a place called Limerick Park, and Los Angeles was a really dope spot for poetry.
Janette Ikz: That was the first time I actually got on the stage and got booed because I was used to being in the church, and you mess up and they was like, it’s okay, baby, just keep going. Oh, no, that’s not what happens in Limerick Park. You get booed.Then on top of that, I’m talking about Jesus and everybody else is talking about running barefoot down D’Angelo’s cornrows.
Janette Ikz: I know some of you don’t know who D’Angelo was, but he’s a black man cornrows. And so, at that point, I realized how much power that words had, and I realized that I also could not be mediocre at my craft and just hide in the fact that I was a believer. I wanted the art to be able to stand and withstand, to reach unbelievers, but also be for the believer as well.
Janette Ikz: But in order to do that, I believe that there was a certain quality of poetry, so I think that it became really important to me to understand the art of poetry, to understand the literary devices, to understand what a double entendre was, what a pun was.
Janette Ikz: How could I shake this in a way, so it land on ears and people would be intrigued. And there was time where they were like, I don’t even understand your gospel, but I’m going to get my ears to you because we’re at that place. And so from that point, I just continued doing poetry and music. As far as how the gospel has, has fueled it, I have a strong, strong passion for the word of God. And so, when you understand something to be true and you understand that it has the power to change, to heal, to transform, it’s kind of like if I had the cure for cancer, I would go around telling the whole world about it, but we have the cure to something far greater because it’s regarding a life that we’ll be in eternity after all of this is over.
Janette Ikz: So my strong passion for the word, but also too, what are we thinking about the gospel? The gospel is Christ. Completely God, but came down here and [inaudible] out this hypostatic union of being fully God, fully man. I just like to throw those words out because my husband’s seminary, and now I can say those type of things, right? This hypostatic union. And so, he’s here and he’s fully God and he’s fully man, and he walks through life this whole time having the full ability to obliterate everybody that’s the part that blows my mind.
Janette Ikz: It’s not like he came in with a puny human. He, as soon as somebody, if my daughter even thought about laying her hand on my face, she would go meet Jesus right away. But Jesus~ himself had such a care and a love for us that he endured all of that. He dies on the cross. He resurrects. He appears, let’s not forget that, and then he ascends. Where is he now?
Janette Ikz: Sitting at the right hand of the father doing what? Interceding. What in the world? How does it [inaudible] right now. Why? Because I am self aware of my sin and my desperate need for him. And so, it’s for me to actually to be able to convey that to others. I know my testimony. I was sexually molested by two men in my family. One for years and another one for a long period of time.
Janette Ikz: Then going through that situation just recently, they told me I wasn’t going to live to my pregnancy. Literally, they’re like, do not get up, do not stand up, or you will have an aneurysm and be out of here at 24 weeks. My daughter came at one pound. Okay.
Janette Ikz: When I know those types of things, I know we don’t like to pray for tragedy and hard times. I Had a very hard life, but there is an intimacy that I got with God. There’s a surety that you can rock me because I know what his life has got to be healer. I know what it’s like for God to be provider. I know what it’s like for God to be all, your all, your everything. And so, yeah, I’m fueled. I’m amped. Where’s the fire?
Speaker 6: Yeah. So, how about you tell us.
Quina Aragon: We can pretty much wrap it up after that. All right. Yeah. What was the question? See, I’m already lost. How did you become, so for me, I came to know the Lord in 05. I was 16. There was a girl on my volleyball team who I would hang out with her family and I just didn’t understand how did they have so much love and compassion for each other?
Quina Aragon: It was just very intriguing to me. She shared with me at one point that you can have a relationship with God, which growing up kind of Catholic. I was like, what? Relationship? I have never heard that word with God together. And so, long story short, she shared the gospel with me and the Lord saved me. I didn’t even know what like spoken word was. Actually, I remember because I was in 10th grade, we had poetry assignments and my friend who shared the gospel with me, he was like, you were terrible at poetry. You were the worst. I liked writing essays and doing PowerPoint presentations in school.
Quina Aragon: So when I saw hers, the girl who shared the gospel with me, her sisters do some spoken word as like a gift for their mom, I saw it on a video and I was like, that is cool. I never imagined myself doing it though. So for me, everything has been birthed from the gospel and just being in a relationship with God. When I think about the last, man we’re old, I’m getting old, I think, 05. [crosstalk 00:30:14].
Janette Ikz: Don’t say that to me. Don’t say that to me. I’m the oldest person up here. Don’t say that to me.
Quina Aragon: Just me. So the last decade, wow, of walking with Christ and the poems that have come out of that, usually they come out of prayer times, just praying, and then maybe some concept comes in my mind and I tend to want a journal and write through wherever I’m at in my relationship with God, and a lot of times it just, well, in the beginning it really just kept coming out as poetry.
Quina Aragon: And so, for me in my craft, I don’t know if you’ve heard of the imposter syndrome? I just learned that term last year, and I was like, that’s my life is the feeling that you don’t belong. No matter how many accomplishments you have, no matter how well you do, no matter how many people tell you you’re good at this, you should keep going. There’s just a sense of like, they should’ve asked somebody else. This shouldn’t be me.
Quina Aragon: And so, it took an English teacher in high school seeing one of my poems and she was putting together a poetry slam my senior year and was like, Quina, you need to memorize your poems and perform them. And so, it took her kind of forcing me to do that for me to realize, wait, this could really serve people well. This is something I think God is gifted me in.
Quina Aragon: And so it’s taken a lot of key people to really encourage me even to be here today, but as far as how the gospel shapes my craft, it really is. I do see just a theme of just walking with the Lord. Wherever I’m at, it tends to just kind of come out in poetry for me. I’m just now like what you were saying in terms of taking your craft seriously and really wanting to learn the figures of speech and all of these things, I am just starting to really start to kind of take that seriously.
Quina Aragon: tI’ve found, because before I would always kind of just, this is very immature, I would just sort of wait for like a cloud of inspiration to just come and be like, here it is, which would happen like a good amount of times, but now being given assignments or say, can you write something for this project? Or can you do that? Or just challenging myself to write more frequently that the discipline that I think I tend to lack and then I’m trying to work on, but I think that just goes to show like the Lord just growing us just as people and in our craft. Those two things tend to go together for me.