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Wednesday Wind Down: Dichotomic 

Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.

Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked. 

What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience? 

  • I hug my students.
  • I even hug strangers. 
  • I pray for people I don’t know.
  • I say thank you. A lot.
  • I love big and I retreat quickly.
  • I boldly express my care.
  • I can speak up when I’m scared.
  • I can ask questions unapologetically. 
  • I seek to understand. 
  • I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
  • I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
  • My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
  • I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
  • I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
  • I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)

So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.

The message?

It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges. 

What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation? 

What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space? 

What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

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Monday Motivation: Purpose is inconvenient.

Hello, Warriors!

I have a short stop newsflash for you – if you’re all about walking in your purpose, you must be willing to be inconvenienced. Doing what you are born to do requires a level of humility unlike any other.

Think about it.

  • When it’s time to celebrate a big moment, there is usually music and food involved. That means that someone is working while you’re enjoying the fruits of their labor.
  • In 1 Kings 19:19-21, Elisha was called to be a servant of Elijah, he was plowing oxen.
  • In the 2nd chapter that bears her name, Ruth was gleaning fields trying to support her mother-in-law when Boaz found her and she became King David’s great-grandmother.

In order for your purposeful journey to flourish, there is a tilling of the ground, a rehearsal that makes your body sore, a recipe that doesn’t work, or a car that breaks down. Purpose does not make you comfortable. It makes you birth something you didn’t know you had. Jesus’ purpose in delivering us from evil through his death, burial, and resurrection was beyond uncomfortable and it definitely wasn’t at a convenient time. He was approximately 33 years old when completed his mission, and He did more in 33 years than some of us do in our entire lifetime.

So, keep this in mind today – your purpose will be fruitful… and especially inconvenient. What a beautiful dichotomy.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Yes and No

Hey Sweethearts!

Tonight’s wind down is pretty simple because that’s how it hit me.

I was reading an article last night from Entrepreneur.com – 3 Rules I Use to Stay Productive and Not Overwhelmed. I read productivity articles often to find practices that best suit my purpose and vision. This one was particularly interesting because the guest writer Ted Serbinski engaged personal examples that created a comprehensive model of how he uses life-changing principles.

Over the last couple of years, I have adopted some of these rules and they have enriched me personally, academically, and professionally. I am a full-time student, educator, writer, and executive director of a performing arts troupe. On any given day, I have homework to grade, rehearsal to attend, and content to write. So, needless to say, I was eager to read Serbinski’s wisdom as a father of three under age three that has a portfolio of 40-plus startups that he has invested in and actively support – plus, he receives 1,000 emails and takes 15-30 meetings. WHAT THE WHAT?!

One section especially grabbed my attention – “Consider this: Each time you say yes to something, you are inadvertently saying no to something else. That “yes” takes up time in your life and when that next opportunity comes up, you don’t have the time to say yes.”

I incorporated this principle into my life some time ago and put it in overdrive 2 years ago, and I appreciated his wording of it.

So tonight, I’m asking you the same question I asked myself – Where are your yes’s going? Are you saying no enough to make room for the yes’s you’re supposed to say? 

Let that churn a bit and make it settle in your spirit. Have a great week and wind down safely, my Loves.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of Forfend.

 

Wednesday Wind Down: These Three Things

Where was the Wednesday Wind Down last week? On the road. To Indianapolis, Indiana. So, you have a bit to catch up on.

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I just had to pause and take this shot of Jesus waiting for the curtain to open. 

On Easter weekend, Upon This Rock (UTR) Productions celebrated 34 years of theatrical passion with a trailblazing rendition of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that could rival any Broadway play. Hands down, Sweetheart. It was exciting, invigorating, and  empowering.

 

The day before the last rehearsal, I left Alabama with a worn out spirit, waiting to be refreshed. I won’t lie and say that nothing good happened to me leading up to my departure. Actually, God the Father sent distinct reminders after I cried my eyes out the prior week. I don’t cry often, so why the tears, you ask? Because I felt like a wrung out dish rag. Strong will plus a caring spirit, coupled with a loving heart can create opportunities for people to minimize you. Because I am not boisterous, it is sometimes assumed that I am resilient enough to be kicked around like kindergarten ball at recess.  If you’ve ever felt this way, you know that at some point, you deflate a bit.

Well, since the beginning of the year, there have been significant instances where this assumption occurred, and by late March, I had reached my quota. I recall feeling so low a couple of weeks ago that I pulled over at a parking lot to gather myself on the way home one night because my silent frustration was so loud. There I was, battling the Truth against what was true – 1) that as much as I sincerely give of my time, talent, and treasure, there will always be someone that will disregard it, 2) that I can not control whether someone values my gifts, 3) that at times I feel invisible – trudging along some days just to stay positive and uplifting, 4) that in the midst of invitations to birthday shindigs, bridal showers, baby showers, gender reveals, organizational celebrations, etc. I somehow felt good enough to celebrate with, but not enough to contact otherwise, and lastly 5) that I was God’s Beloved and that I shouldn’t be feeling down in the first place. Ever been there? It’s not a “Woe is me” moment, but a “I’m tired of getting screwed over and fighting for the basics” moment. The vest that was once girding and protecting me was now suffocating me. It needed to come off for a minute. Just for one minute so I could catch my breath from the blows… then, I could strap back on my armor and return to the battlefield. *smh* But, two weeks

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My Sister for Life – Producing Actress/ Vocalist/ Comedienne Moneca Reid 

 ago, I just needed a minute. That minute turned into an hour of outcry over the phone to my sister (with whom I would attend UTR) who understood exactly what I was experiencing. She decoded my tears and congratulated me on giving my frustration a voice.

 

So, now you see my mindset and spiritual state by the time I had to travel to Indiana. I came with a positive outlook, ready to receive whatever God had to show me. Whatever He had to say, I was beyond all ears. My prayer included the resolve that I was coming to Indianapolis empty-hearted, but would not leave empty-handed. I was spiritually hungry, and everything in me was open and available. My assistant role was clear and I was excited to serve and experience my first UTR Production.

In the midst of working backstage, I was absolutely filled. There were 3 things that I heard from God and three responses I released to Him.

  1. “You do all things well.”

  2. “How dare I accept less than what I am worth?”

  3. “You really do know how I feel.”

 

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Living Testimony / Executive Director Sharon L. Hill

Though some loved ones are no longer here, God does all things well. The adversity that we live through brings us closer to the people who need our story. This is the case for Executive Director Sharon L. Hill. Her testimony manifested in the form of Upon This Rock Productions. The smiles you see in that photo are not results of everything being perfect, but of God doing everything well from one point in life to another and another and another…

 

So how dare I accept anything less than what Jesus paid for my heart when He came with my end in mind? He values me so much that He continues to give His Love in exchange for my tainted version. Friends, Lovers, Family… it doesn’t matter. You can not – hear me clearly – you CAN NOT allow yourself to absorb the value that someone has placed on you. Check yourself for “stickers” that others have put on you and remove them quickly. You may need the Father’s help, but you can do it.

When I saw the actors cast as Jesus experience everything I had cried about just days before, it humbled me… quickly. He truly does know how I feel. Now that I’m back home, I can’t imagine the thought of forgetting that Truth. He knows what it feels like to be me. After all, that was the soul purpose of Jesus coming to Earth, destroying the religious status quo, loving the discarded, and obliterating hell’s power. He had to experience life in my shoes. At times, He retreated to pray and regroup. Sometimes, He was frustrated. He was sad. His authority and identity were questioned. He felt loved. He felt happy. He felt betrayed. He felt forgotten. He felt victorious. He is the perfect example of finishing a mission. He is the perfect depiction of Love.

One thing is for sure — everyone who experienced Jesus then and everyone who experiences His Love now have probably said one or all of those three responses above. As you wind down tonight or get ready to start your day, I pray that you are reminded of God’s Love toward you.  I had to get that off my chest before I went to bed, so I hope you feel the virtual hugs through your screen.

Peace, Love, and Thanks for listening, Sweetheart.

 

 

Monday Motivation: Rich Soil

Hi Sweethearts!

My pastor preached about the root of bitterness and how to kill its weeds. He always paints great images with his words, which is perfect for a visual learner like me.

While he was closing his sermon, the Holy Spirit took it a step further in my mind. I saw a red heart (Valentine image, not anatomical). It was a deep beautiful red, almost burgundy. The bottom half of it contained rich farming soil. It looked like it was ready to grow anything. A hand reached down and placed a seed in the soil. The soil hardened and turned a tan color as if it was in the desert. The hand broke up the ground, and the soil returned to its black rich color. The hand planted more seeds and green sprouts came forth from the soil. 

I thought of what my heart could be growing. What seeds have I allowed to germinate? What seeds have been planted, but have not been allowed to grow? I admit that bitterness has been a consistent resident and I’ve almost eradicated it completely.  There’s a few weeds left to uproot. So what about the good stuff? Do I water peace, mercy, joy, and love and allow them to grow freely? The honest answer is no. It’s a journey that I’m still walking on, but I must say that I’m on the better end of that sidewalk than I was a couple of years ago… So I’ll just keep walking and smiling and allowing God’s hand to break up the ground.

What are you doing to make the soil of your heart rich?

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Keep growing!

Wednesday Wind Down: I Love You More

A short stop for your week

Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. *insert shiny confetti here*

While we were on the phone last night, saying our usual benediction of “I love you” and “I love you more,” I told her that she got me on that front. There’s simply nothing I can do to love her more than she loves me. Why? Because she loved me first. She knew me before I knew myself.

That’s a good reminder as your day may be coming to a close or as you’re preparing for a night shift. God will always love you more than you love Him. You can pour your heart out on a plate of prayers and benevolence and serve it to Him with the utmost sincerity and He will still love you in a way that is unmatched. He knew you before you got here (Jeremiah 1:5). Before you had a car, a degree, a child, an eating disorder, a panic attack, or an addiction – He loved you. So, that means whatever state you’re in, He will continue to love you. You are His and no one can change that. He will always say “I love you more” when you mess up, disgrace His name, and fall short of your promises to serve Him wholeheartedly. That’s the beauty of his Love. It’s all-inclusive and lasts forever.

So, needless to say, my mother will always 1UP me in this department. And God will always supercede her. And I’m loving that truth.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

The Introvert’s Dilemma: Happy Birthday, LATSOL!

Guess what?! My blog turned 2 today!

On a late Tuesday night (almost midnight), January 26, 2016, I was sitting on my couch with my tablet on my lap and my hand nervously hovering over the mouse pad. I knew that once I clicked that PUBLISH button, it would be over. My anonymity would dissolve and the different roles of my life would somehow merge as I shared my words online. It would a point of no return. And I was ready, but afraid.

You may be wondering “What’s the big deal?” Well, for an introvert, exposure is the worst nightmare. Solitary comfort and the natural desire for connectivity are always battling each other while the introvert watches, holding her breath. That was me.

I didn’t publicly publish my first blog about 15 years ago because of that battle. I stood on the sideline with my words in private view, only letting a few people into the arena to listen to my literary heartstrings play. I prayed over the blog, took a deep breath, and clicked PUBLISH. Then I put my hand over my mouth and squealed. “There it is. It’s done. It’s out there,” I said to myself. I remember that moment so clearly.

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Over time, I compared my blog and content to others to see if it was good enough for public consumption. I didn’t write about fashion, music, or food, so I felt out of place at most networking events. I switched host sites, struggled to write when I didn’t feel like it, humbled myself to hear to God more, and prayed that each post would help someone. Anyone. The one.

Two years later, Listening At The Speed of Life has touched readers all over the world and encouraged people to listen for God’s voice in daily, not just on a special occasion or in desperation. It has provided motivation and inspiration for everyday life – which was my sincere prayer that night on the couch. I just wanted people to feel hope in knowing that they were not alone learning how to walk out this Christian journey in the real world. I wanted people to know that I was human enough to share what I hear instead of hoarding His whispers in my notebooks.

So, today, I had to pause and say THANK YOU. You’ve been rocking with me in all of my quirkiness and a-ha moments. Whether it was from Day 1 or on Day 730, you’re here with me today and I appreciate your time and your relationship. If I could share one more thing with you that may also apply to your life space right now, it would be – DO IT ANYWAY. You may be scared to launch out into the deep and bare the soul of your passion, but DO IT ANYWAY. Someone needs you to be excellent in your lane. This living, breathing Organism called The Body of Christ needs you.

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To see a blast from the past (that is still relevant actually), take a look at my first public post – No More Muddy Tracks. I hope it blesses you wherever you are. It blessed me when I re-read it today.

Have an awesome weekend, Sweethearts! And as always, Peace & Thanks for listening!

 

Happy New YOU: A 2018 Preview

Happy New Year! I hope you had a safe, sweet, and fun New Year’s Eve!

Instead of doing a review of 2017 yesterday, I decided to do a preview of 2018 today.

Here’s what I did in 2018 (in other words, these are things I want to do).

  1. Created more unapologetic boundaries. Over time, I got better at this, but there were some points last year where I stepped over those lines in the sand and let the ocean of my emotions wash them away. So, in 2018, I created safe and healthy boundaries where I otherwise disregarded them.
  2. Continued my self-care promise of nail appointments. While pedicures are a non-negotiable for me (choreographers need their feet), I took a break from polished fingernails for years until creating a regimen last year. And I loved it. Nothing extra. Just basic color. Polished, basic-manicured nails make me happy and when they look nice, I feel a bit more… well, polished.
  3. Launched my 2nd book, a continuation of The Morning After. I must admit, Sweethearts… it’s been a fun ride letting the characters write their stories through my hands. There’s some twists even I didn’t expect. I can’t wait until you read about their journeys!
  4. Completed my therapeutic massage program. This was a big one. Over 10 years ago, I wrote this as a long-term goal so I could be a more effective choreographer and understand how to better maintain the dancer’s body. Being a student again was not in my line of sight right now, but I had such peace about walking through this door. Plus, it was nice to awaken this item on my goal list. I had given up on it.
  5. Took two real vacations. Last year, I took my first vacations in years, and it was AH-MAZING. I looked forward to doing it again in 2018 and it was epic. To be away from home and not think about anything except enjoying your surroundings… that was a true blessing.

What’s your preview for 2018? Don’t think of them as resolutions. Sounds too lofty and final. Write 5 previews for your new year and be sure to include a personal development goal in there. That’s how you can evolve into the happy new you!

Happy New Year, Sweetheart! Peace, Thanks for listening, and Blessings to you!

5 Things You Must Do On A Snow Day

Good Afternoon, Sweethearts!

Did you enjoy the snow? Is it still around? Here in Birmingham, Alabama, it’s starting to melt, but ice is still lurking on the roads. I hope you’re safe, warm, and smiling.

The snow day couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just closed the fall quarter and I hibernate the day after finals to recuperate my mind, body, and soul. Even my mother tries not to call me the day after finals. Sweet Woman.

Since God blessed me with snow on my day off, I did 5 things that made me feel awesome. I think they make fine ingredients for any snow day to feel like the Son is shining on you. If you did anything that made your day, share it!

  1. SLEEP! SLUMBER! REST!
    • Confession – This is one thing I do not do well on a consistent basis. Running a performing arts troupe, writing your soul free, and educating Birmingham’s Finest can make make feel like I’m running on fumes at times. So when my friend texted me a snowy picture, I smiled. It was officially a rest day. I think getting a few winks in when you’ve missed a million is a great way to recharge!
  2. REFLECT.
    • There’s something about the stillness of snow that makes me just sit and watch. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to drive. I want to reflect on how cool it is…. fluffy goodness floating from the sky. It quiets the world for a little bit. It makes me be careful. It forces me to gaze at the winter wonderland around me that I zoom past everyday. So, I took a few pictures to remind myself to do more of that when life gets busier in 2018.
  3. PLAY OUTSIDE!
    • After the spiritual battery has been charged, then I want to play. My footsteps make art as I look back at them in the snow, plus my miniature schnauzer had a blast trying to eat it. I laughed watching my aunt make snow angels. There’s just something about snow that makes the 5-year-old you feel safe to show out. Throwing snowballs and trying to make snow sculptures are what snow is made for, right? lol
  4. EAT!
    • When it’s cold outside, you simply must eat something warm inside. My vice of choice yesterday? #1 – PANCAKES! I was so hungry when from my self-care, that pancakes and hot tea were the only items on my menu. #2 – QUESO and tortilla chips. But, it’s not just any queso dip. I made my favorite recipe that I conjured up in college. Dorm living will make a chef out of anyone. lol It includes shrimp, ground turkey, cilantro, corn, and diced tomatoes (and sometimes a hint of bacon). The dip was oh so heavenly as I curled up to watch one of my favorite movies.
  5. WATCH A MOVIE.
    • Me, my bowl of queso, my sweatpants, and my fuzzy socks enjoyed one of my favorite movies – Something New (2006). If you’ve never seen it, get ready for some humor, some sensitive topics, and just good old-fashioned Rom-Com (romantic comedy) moments. Curling up on the couch after a long day of self-care was the perfect ending to my classroom duties and the perfect beginning of a well-deserved break.

What do you like to do during a snow day? Do you have favorite foods that taste better during winter weather? Are there movies that you must watch?

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Stay safe out there!

Photo of my awesome aunt and my super dog courtesy of moi.

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