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Wednesday Wind Down: Salty

I am in 2 Sororities.

In both intake processes, we learned that certain behavior was not allowed while wearing paraphernalia. The reason? People were likely to refer to the organization when they saw us instead of remembering our names.

I always think of the sorority sentiment when I read this verse. We are representatives of Christ and we wear His name across our chests. His Love beats in our hearts. His stripes are balms of healing for our wounds. He is our Lord and Savior; we represent Him more than ourselves.

When we are around other members of faith, it is easy, but we sometimes forget to keep our badges clean in other circles. It could be us that causes others to turn from God, to stew in anger, or remain hurt for years… all because of how we represented Christ.

“…giving thanks through Him to our Father.” That’s the remaining part of that verse. “Through Him” sticks out to me. What a blessing to have a liaison like Jesus.

Represent, Family. Represent.

The sad part is there are members of society that think other members are inferior, incompetent, unintelligent, whining about nothing, etc. and they also profess to be Christians. Can you imagine wearing a name badge and every time you clean it, someone flings mud on it? You take a deep breath and shine it up again. You smile at its beauty and BOOM… another ball of mud. Fellow Greek Family, can you fathom the thought of someone doing that to your lettered jacket or jersey? That’s what bigotry does to the Faith.

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”

Colossians 4:6

As I always say — You can not be a bigot and follow Christ. It is a blatant collision of ideals. So, I ask you today… how salty are you? How seasoned is your speech? It’s not easy — I know, especially when passion steps in the way. You’re not alone. Seems like the whole world is working on this one together.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: 2 for 2

First, I pray that you and your family are doing OK.

I know there’s a lot going on in the world, so I decided to take a practical approach with this week’s post.

Emotional digestion has been on my mind. Here are 4 things that can help with that process — two for my fellow Black community members and two for members of other races and/or ethnic groups.

MY BLACK COMMUNITY

  1. Breathe. No, seriously… breathe. You need oxygen between the sprints toward racial equality, past due justice for lives lost to racially-motivated crimes, and police brutality. None of these are going to stop tomorrow, so be careful about overwhelming yourself and taking on the good fight 24/7. You’re human… and I get it, you’re also a soldier for the cause. So am I. Even soldiers need to rest and recoup. Why else would they have “lights out,” “chow time” and “rations?” Taking it further — how else will you have enough oxygen to forgive when the time comes? Yes, I said the f-word. I know right now that is not swirling in your soul, but if a friend pleaded for you to forgive him for his bias and culturally insensitive actions, would you do it? Would your heart be so full of rage that you would be deaf to his cry? This is what happens when we don’t breathe. We die of asphyxiation by racial trauma and emotional bondage. It’s not worth it. Keep fighting for basic human rights, but don’t die from your own anger. Take a minute from social media. Pause the news if needed. Breathe so you can fight again.
  2. Don’t judge each other’s gloves. There are different shades of fight that can work toward the same goal. The worst thing we can do is judge each other’s fight style. Some acts are foundational, such as voting and teaching our children what to do if they feel like their lives are in danger during a traffic stop. Other acts are forged with specific passions to deliver a powerful punch in the wall of racism, such as songwriting, education, science, public speaking, or marching in the streets. Whatever it is, we can’t afford to judge each other’s punches because they don’t look like ours. If they land, they’re working. I know it’s difficult not to see everyone express themselves like you, but take heart in knowing that the collective approach will be effective for generations to come.


COMMUNITY BROTHERS & SISTERS

  1. Listen. You are being asked to lend your ear and your heart right now. Yes, I know that you have experienced disgrace in some form, but you are not in our skin and your children’s/brother’s/sister’s/mother’s/father’s name isn’t on the growing list of police violence. So, take note of this Chinese symbol for “listen.” I have used it in my communication classes to reiterate one simple principle – listening and hearing are not the same. It requires effort and sincerity. It requires a pause on your feelings to highlight the concerns of others.
  2. Acknowledge and explore. We all have biases — this is a fact. Would you not want to hire your cousin over a stranger? It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a nepotist; it could be that you truly want to see your cousin be successful. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when the stranger is the best fit for the job and she is denied the position because of that familial tie. The problem comes in when you won’t let your child sleepover at your neighbor’s house because they don’t look like you. The issue may come to the surface when he brings a Black woman home as his girlfriend. You may not know how you feel until it’s right in front you. So, one thing you can do (that won’t require a Facebook fight everyday) is acknowledge that you are an imperfect human that may have an ancestral seed of racism. It’s OK. I know that’s asking a lot, but if Black communities can assimilate into predominately White board rooms by changing their hair, speech, and demeanor, certainly our fellow brothers and sisters can take a magnifying glass and do a spot check on their souls. Here’s a couple of verses that may help as you explore yourself. I allow the Holy Spirit to take a deep dive at least once a year. It helps greatly and I always discover something that needs removal.

Maybe you’re inundated with opinions. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with social media. Maybe you’re exhausted from empathy. Whatever it is, you deserve to be healthy enough to handle it. I pray that these notes help you function at a higher level.

Another name of God is Jehovah El GemuwalThe LORD God of Recompense. As a Body of Christ, we do pray for righteousness to be served for lives that have been lost unnecessarily. Here are just 110 of them. There are many more and in most cases, they resulted in delayed justice or no charges at all. I place them here so you can pray for their families and remember that they did not come home to them one day. I also hope it serves as a somber reminder that one of these names could be mine.

Peace & Blessings, Sweethearts. Breathe. Heal. Serve. Fight. As always, Thanks for listening.

Wednesday Wind Down: Fruit For Who?

Hey, Sweethearts!

This is a shortstop for your week.

I was talking with a friend recently and the Holy Spirit said something through me. I chuckled and couldn’t wait to share it with you too. It’s quick, so here goes!

Trees don’t eat their own fruit.

I know. Simple, right? Here’s the next part.

Who’s eating your Fruit? For whom are you growing?

The fruit of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 comes from spiritual development. While it would be lovely to be born with all 9 attributes, that’s just not how it goes. Undoubtedly, we wouldn’t need a Savior, and how else would you acquire temperance, but I digress…

I used to think of the fruit of the Spirit as a bowl of apples, oranges, bananas, etc. Later in life, they seemed more like a cluster of grapes to me (I mean, who can eat just one grape?). Each grape works together to create the fruit of God’s Spirit in our lives. And that fruit… it’s not designed for you. Sure, you are a better version of yourself with it, the fruit is meant to be consumed by others not the tree. Period. If you clicked the link in the previous paragraph and scrolled down, you saw that each fruit was described using a feminine singular Hebrew word. I don’t think that’s by accident. Once a tree “births” fruit, it releases it, rests, then grows more. Sounds just like a woman huh?

So, in that case, how can you keep love to yourself? Even peace and self-discipline benefits those around you. The fruit developed in you was created for someone else to consume and grow as well. Now, let’s go back to that 2nd question and wrap it up…

Who’s eating your fruit? For whom are you growing it?  Hopefully, you have answers to these questions. If not, let me help. Anyone within eye view and earshot is in that number. I don’t care if you’re in the grocery store or liquor store, anyone is fair game to see fruit in you. The question now is what are you showing them?

Sweethearts, someone is watching you grow. It doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect work in progress; it means that your fruit may be just the nourishment they’ve been waiting on. So, just keep growing.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Have a great week!

Wednesday Wind Down: Slumber

Well, Sweethearts… I have a confession to share.

I’ve been sleeping pretty well and not at all — and it’s been great. Let me explain.

You already know that I’m a night owl. That’s when my creative juices come out and play.  Sometimes their stride can generate a supernatural momentum, so much so that the sun and I say hello the next day. When that happens, I don’t just get a lot done; I am infused with energy to execute the plan laid out before me.  If there are obstacles in my way like a bunch of linebackers, I feel inoculated against them and empowered to run them right over. Lately, this is how those sleepless nights have been.

woman in black overall lying down on wooden dock
Photo by Tomas Anunziata on Pexels.com

Then, there’s the flip. Aside from a few not-so-great health days, my sleep has been sound. Ridiculously sound. It doesn’t hurt that my work commutes have stopped under quarantine, so that created a lot of room for naps as needed. For someone who usually spends 4-5 hours a day in a car, those naps have been golden.

I remember a season when this wasn’t the case. I used to have repetitive nightmares of various kinds. They would feel so real that I would delay going to bed. I would tire myself out in hopes that I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night. I felt tormented instead of settled at sundown. Then, this verse changed the game.

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I realized had control over my rejuvenation. The tumultuous overnights were actually an evil scheme against my productivity and my Peace. So, I took my sleep back. I quoted that verse every night before I went to bed. More than once if necessary (which was often).

My encouragement to you is that you re-possess your rest. When you sleep well, your body rebuilds. Your mental prowess increases. You power up to be a better version of yourself. Now, you can see why it was such a perfect plan… to steal something that would enhance your God-given awesomeness. Don’t let it happen especially in this season. You deserve to be your best self, so do what it takes. Speak with Word over your rest.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. Here’s to those sweet dreams too.

Sunday Special: Incline Your Ear

Happy Palm Sunday, Sweethearts!

I just had a “listening at the speed of life” moment.

I was sitting on the couch and noticed my dog’s ears. They were turned outward while he was lying on his bed. I needed him to move so I wouldn’t step on him (he likes to move his bed close to my feet). I shifted my weight and one of his ears turned toward me. I whispered his name and he looked up.

Now, when Sammy and I lock eyes, I know he’s paying attention; however, when he hears my voice, his formerly-outward ears rotate toward me.

Pause. Take note of that for a second.

His eyes can be on me and I know he will hear my words, but the moment I call his name, the orientation of his ears always changes. He not only recognizes my voice, but he is waiting to hear from me. It doesn’t matter what is on television or what music I’m playing, he hears me over the noise.

The Holy Spirit used this as a teachable moment and I said a quick yet sincere prayer right then.

Lord, may I always incline my ear to You. Your voice supersedes every sound around me. I want to always be ready to hear your voice — whatever it is You have to say.

Here’s a verse to chew on that relates to this prayer – Isaiah 55:3: “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.”

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Courtesy of my YouVersion – Bible App

Here’s the next step. While out for our walk today, I heard more from the Holy Spirit. “He even inclines his ear when you shift.” It made me pause again. I shook my head and said, “Lord, please let me be so sensitive that I listen when you move.” Think of how much spiritual sensitivity and intimacy that takes… to change the orientation of your heart, mind, and body when God shifts his movement around you and in you. To turn your ear toward Him at a moment’s notice because You don’t want to miss what He has to say. That’s how I want to be. It’s how I am now, but I want it even more so.

I pray that your ears become inclined too. That during this season and beyond, you will hear the voice of God as clearly as you hear a parent’s voice. I pray that you recognize it clearly as the stillness of the world is commanded among us. Here’s a hint – His voice is usually not loud, but it is clear. Keep reading the Word and saying real prayers, Sweetheart. He is there and he is also listening out for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening to me. 🙂

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Corners

Happy Thursday, Sweetheart.

Yesterday, I took a break for in-home self-care and went to sleep soon after. It was so relaxing… so much so that I missed our weekly Wednesday check-in. I apologize. I did think of you before the slumber though. Below were my short-stop sentiments. I hope they help you through the rest of this week.

During this quarantine, we have a valuable opportunity. Yes, me too. Along with my cleaning fits (the Marie Kondo method continues), I am also allowing God to sweep the corners of my heart. You know, those rooms that you close the door to when company comes over? Well, those are the doors I decided to open to my Father for the last 20 days and it has been liberating. A little raw, a little ugly, but liberating. There’s something about being completely vulnerable with nothing holding you hostage. It’s a comforting bar of safety that supersedes this world.

On Tuesday, my church hosted a virtual devotional via Facebook and I used Mark 6:31 as my foundation verse to lead the meeting. In this passage, Jesus says something so sweet. He knew his disciples were exhausted from ministry travel and what else would be perfect than stillness and food? Sounds like a nice “welcome back” homage to me.

I don’t struggle with balancing stillness and productivity. It was a lesson I learned a long time ago; however, I am using this season as an opportunity to open the doors and let some fresh air flow through those rooms.

Sitting in one of those corners was the fear of being finite. That I’m on this continuum that will not stop until I expire. That I am not able to rewind. It only moves forward and I only move with it. I gave that over to the Creator along with a couple of other dust bunnies that were found. That’s what the Word does… it helps you see yourself. The one that God created. The masterpiece He had in mind. It illuminates those corners and creates a desire to live free and clear.

In this season, I pray you will allow the same sweep to take place inside of you. Every time you reach for your broom (or the disinfectant wipes), I want you to think about your heart. Think about those rooms. Before quarantine, many of us were able to restrict those areas, but now we are probably finding it difficult to do so… and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with vulnerability. There’s nothing wrong with being open. You just have to do with the right One.

I’m praying for you, Sweetheart. Much love and hugs to you. We got this.

Wednesday Wind Down: Help and Hurt

Hi, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop for your week. I hope it helps!

I work in two career paths that require interaction with people in vulnerable positions. As an educator, a student’s esteem can be elevated or obliterated in one assignment. During a massage therapy session, a disrobed client is trusting me to be knowledgeable, skillful, and respectful. In both seemingly non-related professions, I had to consider the same question: “How do you help them without hurting you?”

That’s the conundrum, right? In light of recent health precautions, many must consider this item for physical reasons, but I am challenging you to look at your relationships and pose the same question.

Familial: Do you have a social circle outside of your family? How do you refuel in order to pour out to them? Do you suffer from parental guilt when you’re not with your children?

Professional: Are you a workaholic? Do you need to reassess your work-life balance? Have you created an on/off switch for your work mode? (Trust me. There is one.  Celebrities and executives do it all the time.)

Personal: Do you have friends that only communicate with you when they need something? Are your bills behind because you keep loaning funds or playing taxi?

Be honest with God. Be honest with yourself. The lie is that if you don’t almost die in the process, then you didn’t give it your all. You didn’t truly sacrifice until you pass out trying. Let me help you, Sweetheart. Stop living (and almost dying) in that lie.

Every ounce of you does not need to be squeezed out before God honors your faith. There is rest. There is fun. There is help. Pour all of that into a beautiful mug of humanity and it will make the rewards of your relationships taste so much sweeter.

Here’s some Bible verses to guide you through those questions up there.

Stay balanced out there, Sweethearts. Remember… you should not be dying so others can live — Jesus already did that. I love you all!

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Bypass

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts.

I have a little example for us, but it will still be a shortstop (500 words or less). Are you ready? Great!

Imagine a neighborhood where Love walks around like a 6-foot model wearing a floor-length silk robe. Every step is like art walking. She’s majesty in human form. She smiles with the warmth of a soft spring sun, and as she walks down each street, life spreads. Grass is green. Flowers are in bloom. She’s beautiful and free. Her light flows into every house, on every block, and into every heart.

Now, let’s talk about the heart, more specifically a damaged one. If a heart’s function is impaired and a person’s life is at risk, a doctor may suggest coronary bypass surgery. This requires a healthy blood vessel to be taken from one part of the body and transplanted to the heart in order to create an alternate (and more efficient) route for blood to flow. If this is difficult for you to visualize, just think of your nearest interstate. The bypass was created to alleviate traffic congestion. Not sure if your commute includes one? Here’s a clue: it usually has 3 digits.

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Photo courtesy of AARoads

One of the realities about the heart is that a damaged one can only be repaired to a certain extent; otherwise, it must be replaced. A bypass is designed to create a new pathway for blood to bring life to the rest of the body, but it is not a transplant.

With that said, let’s tie up the loose ends.

Right now, there are formerly covert ideologies that are showing like a woman’s white slip at a country church. Why? Because there is toxic congestion where the Blood of Jesus should be flowing. Everyone might as well be honking each other during rush hour. You may hear racist comments at the store or made to feel that you are incompetent at work. Perhaps you even heard some of those comments at church. No place seems to be safe except the heart and it’s difficult to love people who view you as inferior. Here’s a reminder that I have to constantly tell myself; they aren’t the problem — their hearts are. I know it seems they will forever be saturated in ignorant privilege, but trust me. It’s a heart thing. Wherever Blood flows, there is Life.

So, wouldn’t it be great to create a bypass for Love to walk freely like that model up there? For Life to grow and bloom wherever she goes? Guess what… you can. Every time you arm yourself with facts instead of sensationalism, you create a bypass. When you perform in excellence, that’s a bypass.

It is imperative that keep your vessel as clear as possible. Create a bypass. Make it a quadruple one if you have to. The down lookers will get over it.

Peace & Thanks for listening! By the way — yes, this post made it in the shortstop category. 🙂

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Photo courtesy of YouVersion – The Bible App

Wednesday Wind Down: For The Village

Hi, Sweethearts.

In times like these, we desperately grasp for shredded remnants of words and memories to stuff into the holes of our despair. We don’t know what to say. We don’t know what to do. We don’t know if we want to breathe. We just know what we had, what we wish was left, and what we never want to let go.

Times like these also force us to do things. They make us pause, be more grateful, drop the petty ish (hopefully), and love deeper. The pain is horrible, but it does make us pour. We release empathy, tenderness, compassion, and camaraderie. Right now, I’m thinking about that outpour. The tighter grip we place on what we value most… each other. I’ve seen hashtags, photos, and videos that celebrate family, fatherhood, motherhood, athleticism, discipline, achievement, entrepreneurship, teamwork, leadership, and friendship — all the things that surpass materialism and fame.

So, let’s take note of what matters… what makes us tick day-to-day. We don’t get to let up on that outpour. If anything, tragedy should encourage us to increase Love to maximum levels. Could any of us leave Earth at any moment? Sure, but more importantly, we have the gift of family, friends, and networks that can house incredible memories that outlive our mortality. We have passions that could leave a perpetual imprint on the world.

Make your mark, Sweetheart. Savor opportunities to create meaningful relationships. Capture moments to love on people. Pause to admire God’s handiwork. Do random acts of kindness. It’s not about beating the clock of death; it’s about expanding and producing within the time you have. I, for one, plan to continue that mission.

Peace, Blessings, and Thanks for listening! Let’s go!

Ephesians3.19
Bible verse image courtesy of YouVersion

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