One of my favorite things to do is stargazing. As a child, I had an astronomy book to help me locate the constellations and understand the galaxies. It was fascinating. I would look outside my window when my mother fell asleep and let my imagination run completely wild. Somewhere in the world, there was another child looking at the same star as me. I was taking a nap on the crescent moon unafraid of heights. I could walk on the clouds.
As an adult, there’s nothing like looking up at the end of the day and realizing how small my problems are. I see the night sky as a midnight blue blanket sprinkled with twinkling promises of God loves for me. I smile every time at the thought of that Truth. Regardless of what is going on in my world, looking up inspires me to keep going.
Though they are far away, they are clear reminders that cause me to stare in awe. They are silently loud. I pray that God’s Light in me is able to be seen for thousands of miles. Onlookers will see me but admire the Father. Admire His Spirit. Honor His Glory.
When you go about your week, I want you to remember that you’re covered. You’re safe in His arms. You are Loved. You are protected. Your problems can only overtake you when you forget those stars. Breathe, look up, and smile every chance you get.
When we see something awesome, we gaze. We don’t stare as if we’re trying to figure it out. We behold it. We soak it in. That’s what I did this week on my way home.
I gazed at twinkling stars for about 5 minutes at a desolate exit ramp. Don’t worry; I was safe. But boy did it feel good to just sit and watch.
When is the last time you star gazed? What about gazing at the Stars in your life? Those special people are worthy of beholding. They are amazing creations fashioned with the amazing hands of an amazing God. What would it cost you to acknowledge their greatness for a few minutes?
My last Monday night rehearsal with UAB Gospel Choir was last week. Due to my work schedule, I couldn’t soak in all of the goodness of the director’s farewell semester, and honestly, I was sad and sentimental about it every Monday night for 3 months.
You see, for a period time when I wasn’t going to church, Monday was my Sunday. It was my exhale of the week and my musical family reunion ritual. We learned music and history, but most importantly, we learned friendship and camaraderie. Students were treated like professionals in training, not underlings. It was rigorous, but respectful. The Class called UAB Gospel Choir turned from a mere repeatable credit hour to my saving grace and I was missing out on forging the last moments of it.
So, last Monday, I soaked in the truth that for 16 years of my life, I was connected to this choir’s legacy as a student and an alumna. My heart poured there. My tears ran freely. My skills were sharpened. I was made into a better version of myself. That Monday night, I saw people I had not seen in years and laughed until my face hurt. It was beautiful. I guess you can say, I was reunited, although my heart never broke away.
What or who are connected to spiritually that you can’t reach physically? Does the distance hurt? Do you feel inadequate without interaction? It’s OK. I get it.
Set a date and reunite. Feed your soul with the goodness of fellowship. Invite the intimacy of connectivity. I don’t care of it’s a phone date, video chat, or grocery store run… reunite. Whatever the sacrifice, the result is priceless.
Thank you, Bishop Kevin P. Turner, for providing a safe place for us to grow and develop into the purposeful people we were designed to be. The harvest of your academic and musical seeds will multiply forever.
I’ve only felt it twice in my life. A soul baptism. It supersedes any experience you could try to achieve within an order of services. My first one was at Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Alabama a few years ago. The second occurred two weeks ago at Niagara Falls, New York. Absolute. Exhilarating. Freedom. That’s the best way to encapsulate what I felt. Let me tell you how I fell into this cleansing experience.
Niagara Falls is a tourist attraction for a reason. Since 1846, visitors and dignitaries have marveled at this horseshoe bend of water shared by Canada and the United States. If you’ve never seen it in person, put it on your to-do list. You can hear it before you see it and there are various ways to enjoy its power. I chose to experience it via boat with members of my traveling group and a plethora of tourists from all over the world. The result was an amazing memory.
I boarded the Maid of the Mist as a wounded warrior with dented armor, but optimism and excitement were in my pocket screaming to get out.
I was finally at the Falls and wide awake to enjoy whatever the Maid had to offer. My wishful replays of pictures and cinematic interpretations were at last coming to an end. I was ready… so I thought.
Our blue ponchos couldn’t have protected us from the magnitude of glory we are about to experience. Cell phones and selfie sticks sprung in the air to capture as much as the human eye could record. My priorities? 1) Don’t get wet, and 2) Snag a quick video to share with my parents when I returned home. That was it. I despise drenched jeans and soggy shoes, so I convinced myself not to go to the helm of the ship.
Insert more chatter. More selfies. More live feeds via social media.
The helm of the Maid beckoned like a siren and I answered her call. I saw an open door of opportunity amid the sea of royal blue plastic and I walked through it to seize the space. I captured every visual I could with my cell phone. The plethora of birds perched on the rocks resembled a white furry blanket in the distance. The Falls roared as if to warn us of his majesty as the Maid bobbed to the soundtrack of her 170-year-old dance on the river’s dance floor. She wasn’t afraid and he didn’t hold back. As we approached the pillows of fog ahead, she swayed her hips and dipped in front of the Falls with sweet watery seduction. Deeper we sailed until the view of the cliffs were no more. All you could see was Greatness. Heavenly Greatness.
The spray of misty Niagaria air landed on every inch of my face like wet kisses. I put my phone away and tilted my head upward to inhale the moment… this resuscitating baptism. More than I ever imagined. The Falls enveloped his bride and covered us with showers of his blessings. It was impossible not to be awestruck and relish in their union. I was injected with divinity like a medicinal I.V. and I accepted all of its release. For the second time, I was overwhelmed by the sheer majesty of God’s Handiwork and it felt like the Falls were within my chest. My respiratory issues were no more. My body didn’t ache. Headache… gone.
No physical restriction existed between my Creator and me. I was a soul.
This must be what Heaven feels like, I said in my heart.
I was alive and I could feel it after being dead since February. The water washed my being more than my shoes. It circulated throughout the dark places I had closed to everyone else. Every corner, every door, every room was opened and I let Him in. One of the tourists had a wardrobe malfunction with her poncho as the residual winds billowed around us. We laughed and her Asian cheeks were beautiful. Then I heard it…
“No matter where we are in the world, Majesty will always yield respect.”
There were no translators to help us communicate, but laughter, respect, and pure joy needed no liaison. We were one in that space in time. No sugar added and no preservatives necessary. I helped her with her covering and her friend joined in the fun. We weren’t strangers anymore, but neighbors.
The Maid turned her skirt to the right and the Falls sang softly to her as we sailed away. God’s words rang in my core as I walked to the lower level alone. It was a bit of a thuggish tone actually… Majesty will always yield respect. Wow. That’s how unphased He is of our troubles. He hears our cry, but is not bothered and will be respected for the El Elyon He is. That’s the Power in which we are to trust. The overtaking, overwhelming, and engulfing Power that can silence any critic, touch any heart, and command the attention of many…all at the same time. Just like He did on the ship.
I fell at the Falls. Madly in love with all of His splendor. Head over heels for His immaculate care for me and all of my bruises. My El Roi. I’ll happily oblige Him to baptize me anytime He wants to. So should you.