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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!

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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.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 26 – Dance

I have a confession to make. I dance around the house for no reason other than it makes me happy, and sometimes, I do it in heels. My dog looks at me funny from time to time, but I think he’s gotten use to my random bursts of movement.

I step, I salsa, I groove, and I do the running man when it hits me. I’m a dancer, through and through. No, I wasn’t classically trained in ballet. No, I didn’t participate in summer dance intensives. I hear music in my head and I move to it.

Growing up, I listened to jazz, gospel, rock, heavy metal, blues, R&B, hip-hop, country… you name it. Thanks to my family, I was exposed to some good stuff and that goodness would seep beneath my pores and I would be compelled to let it out. Any Man of Mine by Shania Twain would get a mix of hair swinging and stepping. Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin would get head bobs and horrible attempts at whistling. Going through my uncle’s cassette drawer was like eating at a musical candy factory. I was in heaven every time I could sneak a listen.

Now the cassette and headphones have been replaced with streaming queues and bluetooth speakers, but I dance just as hard. Music will always be in my DNA no matter how old I get. It makes me feel alive and healthy, running fine on all cylinders – even if but for 3:32. Diving into my audible ocean means everything to me and I always resurface better than before. I think the freedom makes me a better choreographer.

What do you do that gives you unadulterated happiness? Is it bike riding? Rollerskating? Painting? Cooking? Whatever it is, I pray that you get to do it before the year ends and whenever the mood strikes. Get some happy in your life!

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts!

Photo courtesy of consequenceofsound.net

#bloglikecrazy: Day 24 – David?

Generational mercy? I had heard of generational blessings and curses, but mercy though? That blew my mind.

In my recent reading of 1 Kings, Chapter 11, I couldn’t help but notice that generational mercy is a repeated sentiment between God and Solomon. Basically, God said “I won’t punish you as you truly deserve for the sake of your father’s relationship with me.” Now, this is King David we’re talking about here and if you know anything about him, you may see where I’m headed.

The ambitious warrior, the murderer, the adulterer, the lady’s man, the musical genius… sound familiar? In today’s terms, King David would be the last person to receive a humanitarian award or a seat in our pulpits. After all, to see if he would heal faster, his attendants suggested putting a young virgin in bed with him (1 Kings 1:1-4). What a remedy, right? But the difference between David’s and Solomon’s wrongdoing was that David would humble himself enough to acknowledge his struggles, repent before God,  and get up from prayer with best intentions to follow God’s directions again. We have his proof woven throughout the Book of Psalms and even when he is anointed has King.

Acts 13:22 (NIV)
After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him:
‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart;
he will do everything I want him to do.
‘” (referencing 1 Samuel 16:7)

Solomon disobeyed God and felt no remorse, even though he was blessed to be the wisest man on Earth simply because he asked for it.

1 Kings 3:9 (MSG)
“Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”

The sinful act of worshipping other gods wasn’t the deciding factor (he was doing that in verse 3 of the same chapter); it was the heart. The comfortability of loving his wives’ gods was the issue, even after David instructed him otherwise in 1 Kings, Chapter 2.

Isn’t that something? Knowing that Solomon profoundly screwed up numerous times after repeated warnings, God says that he will still uphold his covenant and hold back part of Solomon’s consequences for David’s sake. David? Of all people? Yeah, him.

There’s a David in all of us… struggling on the inside to project Christian values on the outside in spite of all that life throws at us. If David could be close to God, why can’t you? In all of his mess, God weighed his motives and even through hardship, he blessed him.

If you default to behaviors that are opposite of your Father’s voice, do you grieve over disappointing Him? Do you dust yourself off and try to walk forward again? Then, you’re a David and there is room for you at the Father’s table. He already knows your vices, and sees your shame, but He won’t hold it over your head. Just look at how Solomon reaped the benefits of generational mercy through someone that we would deem unworthy in today’s terms.

You are loved. You are valued. You are David. You are His.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of selectitaly.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 23 – Thanks

Thursday, November 23, 2017 = Thanksgiving. You know what that means. Football, Food, and Shopping were the menu for most people. Me? I was just glad to make it to the day.

I didn’t know what it would be like having the first family holiday without my father. Would I write about my feelings I dreaded to experience? Would I cry and sluggishly get dressed? Would I opt out of attending Thanksgiving dinner altogether? All three options were fair game.

I was used to monitoring his plate and cleaning his face. Massaging his neck as his head sunk into deep slumber. Holding his hand so his spirit knew I was there. Making sure he was positioned in the car just right so the seat belt would go over him properly. He wasn’t there, but I was making it. It was then, at the dinner table when I looked over at the chair where he would normally sit, that I said to myself – “Thanks for letting us have him.”

IMG_20131225_151833223
Pop

He was truly a gift, and the gift wasn’t taken away. He continues to live every time I think about him.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, Sweethearts. A special prayer went to heaven for those who are missing loved ones too. I got your back.

Peace & Thanks for listening. XOXO

Chair photo courtesy of Ethan Allen

Pop’s photo courtesy of me

#bloglikecrazy: Day 22 – Roles

I think everyone should work retail during a holiday season one time in life. Just one time. That’s all it would take to digest humility, camaraderie, and self-control.

My first taste of retail was in college at a bible bookstore. I loved it. I worked with great people and it was normal to see an associate praying with a customer. My kind of environment. Whether I was on the sales floor or behind the register, I was comfortable.

saleFast forward a bit to working in the retail world after college. I wanted to make extra money to minimize my debt. Needless to say, my patience was shorter and my tolerance level had dropped dramatically. I couldn’t understand either side of the tomfoolery. Why wake up, get dressed, and drive through traffic to be lazy or cause havoc as an employee or a customer? Don’t get me wrong – quality service is important to me. I’ve worked retail on the management level as well, and I understand the value of meeting the needs of every customer and providing solutions that benefit both the company and the consumer. In those leadership positions, I also believed in protecting employees from abusive behavior and I did not tolerate the degradation of anyone on my team. Nevertheless, when the roles are reversed from humans-on-equal-terms to employee-consumer, something changed.

All of a sudden, I wasn’t an intelligent professional working to make extra cash to reach a financial goal. I was “she,” “her,” or “that girl over there.” Apparently, I was someone who didn’t warrant a “Hello, how are you?” before being thrown money on the counter at the end of the transaction. I was looked upon as inferior enough to hold bags of perfectly capable people shopped around the store and fetch items they didn’t want in the first place. I had an idea of what I was getting into, but I wasn’t prepared for it. Then, to take the cake, if the customer found out about my other titles (educator, choreographer, former caregiver, etc.) or that I’ve traveled extensively, then their eyes light up as if to say “Oh, you’re more than what I thought.”

The truth is I was an equal before they decided to see me as one. If the setting was a business mixer or at a concert, the interaction would potentially be positive and enriching. We would converse about psychological constructs, civic issues, and professional development. Since the stage was a retail store and I was playing the role of an employee, many people assumed they were superior.

It made me think of how many times we judge people based upon the role we see them in at a specific time – the janitor, the doctor, the restaurant server, the hair stylist, the single parent, the athlete… who often do we size up a person’s intelligence or capability based upon the role? Let’s try to do less of that during this holiday season and beyond.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo via youbabyandi.com

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