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Wednesday Wind Down: Stickers

Hello, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop (a 500-words-or-less-post) for your week.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved stickers. They were expressive and comforting. They represented my voice when I didn’t want to talk. They ranged from Lisa Frank to historical landmarks.

The problem came when my mother wanted a clean surface or I wanted to change the look of my binder. Those stickers could be so difficult to remove. This same difficulty occurred with people placed labels on me growing up.

You’re too quiet.
You act like you’re better than us.
You think you’re smart.
You talk White.
You’re too dark.

You’re too tomboyish.
You’re so prissy.

You’re not aggressive enough.
Your panties must be dipped in holy water.
You stay to yourself too much.
You don’t smile enough.
You’re too sensitive.
You’re too nice.

Stickers. Labels. The ones you just read were stuck all over me from elementary school onward and I desperately tried to change every last one of them… trying to conform to the shape of the sticker just to please the person that put it on my body. It was exhausting to migrate between two polarized ends trying to find the center like the bubble on a level tool. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it right. I was always too something. It took two decades to absorb God’s Truth about my existence and allow His Love to wash that residue off my spirit. I realized and accepted the fact — Labels do not dictate me. They describe one’s perception, but they do not determine my craftsmanship and my footsteps.

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Over time, as I let the warmth of the Father’s Light shine on my soul, I embraced my “too” somethings. My sensitivity was my superpower to empathize with others and see pain past the smiles. My sweetness was my weapon to confuse instigators and diffuse volatile situations. My desire not to have casual sex brought me peace of mind when my cycle was late. My quietness enhanced my listening prowess and critical thinking skills. None of these things meant I was superior to anyone; I just knew at an early age the state in which my Peace liked to live.

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I learned that the way God made me was not incorrect. I was not defective. My introversion was not a bad thing. Every attribute and every trait was carefully placed with His purpose in mind and I still walk in that Truth today.

Sweetheart, walk in the Craftsmanship in which you were made (Ephesians 2:10). You were created by a Master Builder. Don’t let the stickers overstay their welcome. You are way too extraordinary for that.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and stay well out there.

Wednesday Wind Down: Vitamin Boost

Hello, Sweethearts!

I wanted to share four verses that may help you get through this week or this season. Think of them as vitamins for your spiritual immune system. You may be taking a hit between current events, homeschooling your kids, caregiving for a loved one, or juggling work deadlines. Your spiritual armor may have a few dents in it and that’s OK. That means you’re fighting. That means you’re surviving. That means you’re winning. So, let’s power up a little. There’s nothing wrong with taking your vitamins.

  1. “But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” – Psalm 59:16 NLT

    When we drench ourselves in Love, He makes our hearts impenetrable to anything that looks otherwise. It’s a way to gear up with what’s true instead of the fiery darts melting away your joy. Clothe yourself in what’s true. Armor yourself with the Truth that you are loved. Reach out to someone that loves you to circulate that superpower.

2. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

His bowels were hanging out. They had beaten him beyond recognition. He wasn’t as white and clean as we’ve seen in pious paintings. He was bloody and his hair was matted from to his scalp underneath the crown of thorns. After all, when blood dries, it isn’t glamorous. Jesus knew what it was like to be deemed inferior, yet He tells his disciples to take heart because He already overcame the world… before He is arrested to die for it (John 18). You have the right to take heart too. I promise.

3. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

It’s hard to look someone in the eyes and know s/he/they are lying to you. It’s frustrating to explain why you’re wearing your protective mask when it seems obvious. It can make you angry for someone refuse your help. Let me help you, Sweetheart. You’re fighting a spiritual battle. The quicker you remember that, the less those darts will hurt. Does this mean you’ll be invincible? No. It means you won’t let those darts stick because you’ll separate the person you love from the behavior you hate.

4. “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” – Ecclesiastes 10:10

Boost your spirit with wisdom. Now, in order to that, humility must come with you. To gain wisdom, you have to admit that you are not all-knowing. Pride damages armor. What a foolish decision for a soldier to run in front of a formidable straight line of opponents without protection. This is how we look when we leave wisdom behind to pursue items on our own accord. Like the Word says, sharpen your ax. When the ax is sharp, the skill is able to shine.

Well, Sweethearts, I hope these vitamins help you go a little further on your journey. I love each and every one of you, so if you ever feel like you’re drowning in your situation or that your suffocating under the “I’m fine” syndrome, call the number — 800-273-8255. Counselors are available 24/7.

Peace & Blessings! Thank you for listening and stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: See The Proof

Well, Sweethearts, we made it to another week!

I’m glad you’re here and if no one has told you — you did a good job making it from last week to now.

With the news of ongoing injustice about our sister Breonna Taylor, it is easy to ask what more is needed beside the obvious to escort justice to the front row. It’s easy to feel the effects of gaslighting because that’s exactly what this is.

If you’ve never heard of gaslighting, let me tell of its evil doing. Have you ever been mistreated and the offender did not take responsibility for the offense? When you brought it up, s/he said you misunderstood the action. If you react or respond, they said you were wronging them. You begin to question whether you experienced what you did. The offender inadvertently tells you that you’re at fault or that your feelings are insignificant… that what they did is acceptable. Sound familiar? Congratulations — you’ve been gaslit.

Photo by suludan diliyaer on Pexels.com

It causes you to question your sanity and it creates a pipeline of exhaustion in the relationship. Then, as soon as you stand up for yourself, you’re the bad guy. You’re the one with the attitude. You’re the culprit. Well, you’re not alone, Sweetheart. I’ve been there.

What gets me through those moments of anguish is this new fact that I learned during the pandemic — I have the power to absorb the proof. Overall, I always ask God to show me what I need to see. This year, I had to learn to include gaslighters in that prayer. When they show you who they are, start thanking God for the proof.

Yes, be angry.
Yes, be annoyed.
Yes, be tired.
Yes, be confused.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

Galatians 6:7

After you’ve been all of that, tell God that you appreciate the truth in front of you. It truly is a present. That’s what I have had to do to keep from exploding during those moments. Remembering that Truth aerates freedom (John 8:32) and that gives me the authority to release the reins of manipulative powers. I no longer have to be inflamed by their invisible fumes. I don’t have to play the game. I see the proof and it’s all I need to make a healthy decision.

I pray that you find your proof during these unprecedented times, Sweetheart. It’s easy to get lost in the waves of despair, but the Truth stands between Breonna Taylor and her murderers. He stands between you and your offenders. He is Jehovah El GemuwalThe Lord God of Recompense – and justice is never pristinely wrapped. Don’t let current events sweep you away from the Truth. See the proof and move forward in your freedom.

I love you and pray that you are staying safe out there. Peace & Blessings!

Wednesday Wind Down: Fools

Well, Sweethearts, I have one for you that may sting a bit. It’s got some length, but as soon as I heard it, I knew I would share it with you at an appointed time. Now is that time.

“Let the fools pass you.”

Heard 2/9/20 @ 7:16 PM

I was driving on the night I heard this. A car was riding my tail. I don’t have road rage, so I waited until I could safely change lanes to get out of the way. The driver sped up but did not pass me. It was a weird moment because I had been subject to road rage before.

A few years ago, a White male targeted me while driving one day and antagonized me for a couple of interstate exits. I had not cut anyone off or was going too slow, so I was confused when the taunting began. I got over; he got over. When I sped up, he sped up. When I braked, he did the same. He almost sideswiped me numerous times and tried to run me off the road. He yelled choice words and had an evil grin. I truly believe he was possessed. The end of that story includes me doing some defensive driving and swerving off the exit he tried to block me from accessing. My hands were shaking, but I quickly circled back to head in the opposite direction and took some alternative ways to my destination.

So, you can understand why I was a little leery of this present-day situation. It was night time, not during the day like the previous experience. My senses were heightened and I was prepared to defensively drive again. I sped up; so did the driver. I braked; the driver did the same. I sped up and the driver revved the engine. I was annoyed, but calm. I accelerated with the intentions of leaving the opposing car behind my tail lights. Then, I heard the Holy Spirit say loud and clear – “Let the fools pass you.” I let off the gas and the car kept going into the distance.

For a moment, I was morphing into someone from the Fast & Furious movies. I was prepared to take my ride to the 100 mark and beyond if it meant proving my point to that driver. I didn’t sense danger; I detected that s/he was baiting me. And I almost took it. Almost.

Sweetheart, the evil forces in this world want nothing more than you bait you into being reckless. To be so autonomous that you sincerely disregard everything you know to be the truth and cling to a thwarted view of community. You know that Jesus is the answer and you also know that the pandemic is still here. You know that God is Jehovah Jireh and you also know what’s in your bank account. You know that faith is imperative, but you also know God made science. It’s inevitable to be shaky about some things, but it is not acceptable to be dismissive, callous, and hasty.

Fools will be fools until they want to know better. Jesus knew that better than anyone. Here is He was… the Son of God wrapped in skin and filled with blood, organs, and sensitivity and yet, even He couldn’t convince everyone that He was the One they prayed for and that His Word was true. Instead, the law keepers and church officers cherry picked the Word and made it fit to their liking. It happens now. The parable of the virgins is a good example of how some people take a fragments of information and miss the essential component for it to be effective (Matthew 25).

It’s not your job to convince a fool of her/his wrongdoings. It’s your job as a faith walker to set the example to light the way to right standing with God. Period. So, the more you yell on social media, the more you speak out of season, the more you choose to be blind to the truth, the less empathy you exhibit, the less Love you spread, and the less Jesus they see.

I am convinced that some people just like to rebel. They love to stir the ant mound. They feed off of drama, frenzy, and sensationalism instead of being patient enough to research the facts and listen comprehensively. Critically thinking is simply not in their repertoire. If they don’t like it, they starkly stonewall it.

As frustrating as that may be, your freedom comes in knowing that you are not responsible for their actions. Yes, in times like these, we can be negative benefactors of their decisions, but ultimately, we are not responsible for others. We are responsible to each other not for each other.

Photo by La Miko on Pexels.com

So, if someone wants to rebel against handwashing and sanitation because they believe it weakens their immune system to fight off COVID-19, let them have it. You just make sure you wash and sanitize you and your area. If your sister keeps squandering her money, let it go. Let the fools pass you. Yes, I said it. Let… the fools… pass you. You gain nothing trying to convince someone who has made it their ultimate goal to be rebellious against anything that appears to threaten her/him. You could showcase a petri dish full of bacteria and a person with a rebellious spirit will tell you it’s not real. You can read him the law and his reality will say those rights are being taken away. She will say “thank you, essential workers,” then say that the elimination of EMT Breonna Taylor‘s life was justified. The same person will wear steel toe boots, a hard hat, gloves, or a mask to work, but not follow the rules in a grocery store, school, or barber shop. Sweetheart, let them pass you. It’s not worth your peace to be angry at their mindset. Frustrated? Sure. Annoyed? Understandable. Just like I was with those drivers, I ultimately had to veer off or slow down to save myself.

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Here’s a couple of verses as a reminder when your foot is on the emotional gas and you’re on the edge of fighting the whirlwind –

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” – Proverbs 18:2

Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” – Matthew 15:14

Lastly, I’m reminded of a time in school when I saw some students cheating on a test. It made me angry because I had studied hard for it and they were getting away with a great grade. Then came the semester exam and those students were struggling. One of them left out of anger a few minutes into the exam. I didn’t feel sorry for them. I did not help them. I kept going. They didn’t fool the teacher; they fooled themselves.

Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

Whether it’s personal or professional, I pray that you let the fools pass you. It just seems like what you’re doing isn’t worth it, but your sanity, your wellbeing, your health is worth the work. Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out here!

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!

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.”

1586117155759_4772214-1586117097345.jpg
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.

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