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Small Things Matter

BHM -> DEN -> SEA:

Small things matter, so be excellent.

IMAG3065What if everyone I met (and didn’t meet) wasn’t excellent at their job today? I wouldn’t be on this flight. I may not have even made it out of the parking lot. I bet someone was nervous about the flight information being correct as they typed it into their computer at work. I’m sure someone was tired as they dressed themselves this morning.  Nevertheless, they did it. They made it happen. They pushed aside the weight and picked up responsibility, hoisted it on their shoulder like a backpack, and trudged forward… knowing that someone needed them to be great.  Not good, not average – great. And that someone was me.

Excellence matters.
Regardless of color, creed, origin, excellence speaks and small things matter.

From the parking lot to the cabin, greatness was the only option and the only item on the menu today. Because everyone needs the same thing… to get to the next destination, even if it’s not pleasantly perfect, we all need to get there. The outside signage had to be flawless in order to direct seamless traffic of various types of vehicles. The roads had to be painted correctly and well lit so we could see where we’re going. The check-in process had to be smooth for my presence to be accounted for and for my luggage to travel with me. It’s a chain of processes that have to work together (seemingly) flawlessly in order for me to get where I’m going.

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C is for me.

The attendant that met me with a smile and helped me find the quickest check-in for my baggage… the TSA employee who directed me to the nearest checkpoint route (who by the way was standing in line waiting for breakfast and could have easily brushed me off like the Walmart associate did last week who said that she was off the clock and “couldn’t” redirect my question. Sidebar within the sidebar – Yeah, Walmart ass-ociate… I remember you.)The TSA agent that kept the security checkpoint moving (I thank God for her. Please give her extra jewels in her crown, Lord)the TSA agents that checked my boarding pass and ID and monitored the security scans/process (it’s a hassle sometimes, I know, but it keeps us safer than we realize).. the person or machine that regulates the concourse train (can you imagine your legs running like Chicken Little through the maze we call an airport?)… the attendant that was standing there ready at her post as I handed her my boarding pass, out of breath. She could have been lazy or out of place, but she was exactly where she was supposed to be. The seats I’m looking at across the aisle were once a bunch of parts that had to be put together. The engineer that conjured up this design had to have the exact measurements and mathematical prowess to create this vessel.

Every bolt, every screw, every stitch had to be done with care in order for me to write this entry on my way to Denver. All the parts had to work together. Just like the plane, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Keep that in mind for later.

IMAG3585
the view

I needed everything to work today, and to work well. There was minimal room for error and whatever error that may have occurred, I didn’t see it. Even when I misheard my dear sisterfriend tell me that we were leaving home at 4:30 AM instead of waking up at that time (BIG difference, but don’t worry. I was ready to roll in 15 minutes. That’s the trust, but verify part of this LATSOL moment.), the lovely people at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Southwest Airlines exhibited a level of excellence at each part of my journey. I appreciate that… for real. I needed every last person along the way.

So why can’t the Body of Christ act like that?

I’m still on this “body-kick” and it won’t let me go. Instead of acting like a whole Body with a Head, we act like a body parts – disconnected and dying. Instead of being connected to the Vine, we would rather be scattered like dead branches after a storm. It’s only a matter of time before we shrivel up and return to the dust from whence we came. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. We could complain and blame the fall of man (and woman) for all of our ills, but the truth is that God saved us through the blood of His Son and thus, we are reconnected by our word of faith. Therefore, there are no excuses. Therefore, there is now no condemnation, either (shout out to Romans 8:1). Nothing can keep us apart from each other and nothing can separate us from the love of God, the Vine, the Head. I beg to differ that we can simply coast through life alone, needing no one, touching no one, loving no one. We were designed to a Body, a significant part of a whole that just happens to be contained in this shell called humanity. This Body needs to operate as a whole organism, moving one direction… just like this plane. As long as we stay separated and live recklessly egotistical off our own laced supply of judgment and ignorance, we won’t get anywhere. Instead, we’ll die as broken branches with the Source within our reach.

I may not have met all of the people, but I met their excellence. And it spoke volumes as it helped me get to my destination. Let’s hope that someone meets our excellence everyday.

Southwest pilot photo courtesy of SWA Media
(I always touch the plane too. 🙂

Concourse and sky photos by moi

#bloglikecrazy: Day 9 – Band-Aids or Surgery

surgery
Photo courtesy of The Atlantic

“We keep changing the chefs never noticing the oven is broken.”
– T. D. Jakes, Sermon: Destiny Flocks Together

Disclaimer:
This isn’t a political piece. It’s bigger than that.
So, since you’re here, you might as well come on in and keep reading. *smile*

I was teaching my Introduction to Communication class today and something flew out of my mouth like a free bird. I can always tell when the Holy Spirit takes over because the faces of my students look like someone punched them in gut and the echo of my words surprise me when I hear them.

We were discussing conflict resolution and communication styles. The students’ conversation turned into how the value of the relationship and a person’s stage in life can affect conflict resolution strategies. Then, I said something that made the environment change. I’ll paraphrase below since I don’t remember the exact wording.

“Sometimes, you have to admit that there are no more band-aids in the box and it’s time to agree to do the surgery. It may not be a pretty quick-fix, but if you have placed a high value on the person and the long-term health relationship, you have to agree to do the work and have a common goal of achieving a shared understanding.”

I felt it. It was a slight shift where my students thought about their personal situations. So, I gave the “pregnant pause” before continuing my lesson plan.

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Clip Art courtesy of ClipArtBest.com

Depending on the value you both have placed on each other and the relationship (whether platonic, familial, or romantic), the conflict resolution outcome will vary. And just because the outcome isn’t a win-win (which isn’t nearly as feasible as people think in most cases), it doesn’t mean the issue was not resolved. Perhaps you have extended every option in your emotional storage and the other person is stuck on fueling the fire. The resolution is to accept the loss of the relationship type and get used to a new normal (lose-lose). The outcome doesn’t always have to be rosy to be the best option.

Let’s take this communication theory further. In the case of our most recent presidential election, I found Pastor T. D. Jakes’ quote most fitting. At times, we place too much responsibility on one person to fix our problems. Just like a surgeon has technicians and a team of doctors to consult, so does anyone that sits in the president’s seat. Unfortunately, just like in a medical situation, we put an unrealistic divinity on one human to heal our diseases. As Pastor Jakes said, we never put the microscope on the systemic leaks that need to be addressed. We simply change the person in the seat. On a personal level, instead of surgery, we opt for the band-aid of another partner, another friend, another job, another state, and all the while, the best option is to dig deeper for the source of the problem and attempt to resuscitate our lives.

Since we’re all created by the same God, shouldn’t we all get along? Shouldn’t everything be perfect and no surgery be necessary? hmph. Take into account the following verse:

1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:1-6

Everyone is living in a tainted shell; therefore, we have to do the work to keep peace abounding in our communication…and in our country. Diligence is necessary. Patience is a prerequisite. Tolerance is essential. We’re in a time where the band-aids are peeling because the problems are too great and the blood is running freely. Let’s do better and choose wisely in speech and in our political footsteps.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

 

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 7 – Pray for Rain

I saw something beautiful on the news today. A rarity, I know, but such a convicting sight it was.

My state is enduring a drought that has affected its agricultural production and marine life. Farmers are hurting financially and hoping that rain will come in time to rectify the damage of the dryness. It’s painful to see their livelihood be as parched as the soil beneath their feet. Each day, the meteorologists deliver the same news – beautiful sunny day, maybe some clouds, no rain. A disheartening report when you’re watching your crops die. I thought to myself – Too much sunshine is just as deadly. Rain or shine, we complain either way.

Then, I saw the beautiful thing.

A group of Muslim men and women had gathered to pray for rain. Prayer mats were sincerely used in the background while the Imam of a local Islamic society spoke on their behalf. The ritualistic gestures of the covered women resembled a secret poetry spoken between them and God in untainted prayer. The leader then said words that matched the beauty my eyes beheld on the television screen-

“We show our love for our country and our people and we expose ourselves to the mercy of God asking Him to send rain to all of us. We’re all in the same boat and all facing the same challenge of drought and as American Muslims, we are doing our own part in praying to God asking for relief because we share the concern like everybody else.”
– Imam Dr. Sameh Asal (read the full article from WBRC, Fox 6 here)

With so much hatred and ignorance in the world, I was oxygenated by the news story. As a Christian, I was convicted. How many times have we complained about thunderstorms and dreary overcast days? Personally, I love rainy days, but that’s definitely not the norm. When it’s summer, it’s too hot. In the winter, it’s too cold. Too windy. Too humid. Too this. Too that. It’s sad that a creation would be fickle about another creation, both not in control of the other.

What happened to being grateful for sun and rain?
*insert that Walter Hawkins gospel classic here*

What happened to praying for what we need instead of wishing for it and complaining when we don’t get it in our timing? We may not have the same religious beliefs, but I respect their humility to ask God for a need that affects us all. Here they were…such beautiful people engaging in unity within a country that sometimes disrespects their practices.

One need. One accord. One community. May we all respect that trinity as well. May we all mimic that practice during the personal droughts of our lives. May we pray for rain.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 3 – Something’s Wrong

When my nose doesn’t like something, it let’s me know. What signals are you ignoring?

Your body is a beautiful machine.

It’s created with bells and whistles that go off when things aren’t performing properly. If something is wrong, your body acts like a car and exhibits visual indicators and/or sounds to tell you to “pull over.”

But what if you ignore the signs? What if the check engine light stays on and you think it’s a mistake or you ignore it? What if you, my dear, are the abandoned car passed on the side of the road?

Too often our spiritual system gives us alerts that we ignore. The Holy Spirit that lives within you is that system. He was placed in you to be a guide, a comforter. Most say intuition and I believe we all have that compass in us as well, thanks to the Master Manufacturer. But, Christians have an upgraded version called the Holy Spirit. This gift provides us with the guardrails and night lights needed to navigate through this life at optimum levels. Without this system, we wouldn’t function the way God intended.

You are made with strengths, quirks, and preferences that make you the most beautiful creation to grace this earth. 

It is imperative to  perform maintenance on your life by adhering to the signals. Pain indicates healing or abnormality. Strain is a caution that you’ve gone too far. Tears are an overflow of the soul, both in good and bad situations. When something’s wrong, you should watch, listen, and take note, not drive in dysfunction and be surprised when your quality of life decreases.

For today, I pray that you check your system and allow the maintenance process to take its course. Maybe it’s as simple as drinking more water or as intricate as writing a letter to someone who has offended you. Either way, you’ve gotten the signal. Now follow up with the Master Manufacturer and follow through with the process.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 1 – Slow Down

slow-down-quotes-favim-com-2618639Am I crazy to #bloglikecrazy for 30 days straight?

Yep.

I’ve accepted a challenge by my writer’s group guru Javacia to unblock my writing potential through this annual exercise. I’ve always wanted to do it, but I didn’t expect it to be here already. Day 1. *eek*

So, what have I heard in my spirit today? SLOW DOWN.

It’s not enough to be a machine, but people expect you to be an energizing, self-sufficient, non-emotional android while getting catapulted by life events at the speed of light. Not an easy feat if you ask me. So today, I slowed down. I have a lot to do this week, and I’m sure you do too. For once in a significant amount of time, I ate my lunch at work… comfortably. Not in a car while thinking about my next stop. Not while on a conference call. Not taking a bite then answering a request. But sitting in a chair… at my desk… with minimal noise. It felt good to taste my food instead of inhaling it. Furthermore, I could have easily postponed lunch until after my afternoon meeting (which is my normal), but I looked at the clock and said – I need to eat before I do anything else. It was as if my body and my spirit agreed and aligned in peaceful matrimony. I enjoyed every bite of my bell pepper and grilled chicken.

Have you ever been like that? Not hangry (hungry + angry), but resolved that the absence of food was no longer an option? That was me today. That was the guilt-free me standing up for herself. How often do we do the same with God’s Word and our relationship with Him?

I need to pray/study/listen to God before I do anything else.”

What a difference that would make! Unsupported decisions would decrease and broken souls wouldn’t cry as often. We would think of our actions before they commence. Our canned responses would have more depth and loveliness woven between them. Perhaps your heart is aching in that place of resolve for you to ____ before you start whittling your to-do list.

I guarantee that you’ll have a better sense of direction after you’ve consulted the Compass.

Blog like crazy, huh? Well, I’m game. Let’s see what the Lord has to say, or better yet, what I’ll have to slow down to hear. lol

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of QuoteAddicts.com

Resting in the Delta

After listening to a sermon by Pastor Larry Paige at Zion Church (Landover, MD).

Humor me as we tiptoe through the land of psychology for a minute. God spoke to me through a reminder about the sleep cycle.

Most agree that are 5 stages of sleep – 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM (rapid-eye movement). The higher the stage number, the deeper the sleep. For example, it is more difficult to wake someone in stage 4 than in stage 1. As you slip deeper into the sleep cycle, your muscles relax, heart rate slows down, and your body temperature decreases. The autonomic nervous system is in parasympathetic mode, otherwise known as rest and digest. Still with me so far? Great! Let’s keep going!

Your brain makes the trek as well. An electroencephalograph (EEG) tracks its activity through a range of waves. Generally speaking, your brain activity transitions from small beta (β) and alpha (α) waves to elongated high-peaked delta waves (δ). Delta waves appear on the EEG before REM sleep, which is also known as paradoxical sleep because brain waves show up that resemble wakefulness. This is the stage of dreaming and while the body is predominantly paralyzed, the mind is active and the sympathetic mode of your nervous system (fight or flight) can activate during nightmares. Ever  woke up to a rapid heart beat and the sweats? There you have it.

sleep-cycle-psychology-today
Courtesy of Psychology Today

Here’s the LATSOL moment:

You would think death was the next step after slipping into Stage 4 attributes. After all, sleep is also referred to as being as half-dead. Regardless of what it looks like, the cycle is far from over. A mixture of alpha and theta waves pop up because we’re dreaming. God can give you strength and dreams in the midst of darkness. The internal organs are awake while the body is paralyzed, just like the Holy Spirit is yet alive in you despite what is happening to you. Your situation is not the end of you.

“Rest in distress.” – Pastor Larry Paige

Sleep. What a beautiful thing. Through the eyes of children, naps are viewed as a waste of time or form of punishment when the truth is they need it to recharge and repair. Our bodies were designed to reset after a certain number of hours, and too often we press the snooze button on our circadian alarm clock and cram more into the day. Sometimes the dark times force us to rest…and to dream.

“God does addition by subtraction sometimes.” – Pastor Larry Paige

According to Dictionary.com, the delta is a nearly flat plain of alluvial deposit between diverging branches of the mouth of a river, often,though not necessarily, triangular. Nearly flat and often flooded, but soil enriched for growth. Your seemingly dead places are ideal for growth. Ideal for the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the almighty God to show up and flood your flat plain with vibrant activity. Dreams you thought were dead can sprout in the dark.

We can rest in the delta instead of stressing in it. There is more life there than meets the eye. I am so grateful for that lesson.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

 

The Chorus

Thank you, Dictionary.com.

If I could let you hear the voices that visit my mind, this is what you would find. A host of negative vibrations consistently try to pimp me out of my promise. The offense could be legitimate, but my heart will want to forget it. The chorus steps into the sanctuary of my thoughts and proceeds to sing the same song, in the same rhythm, using the same poison. As definition 1d states, intervals are its mode of choice. The chorus is never constant, relying on the fact that I have breaks of solitude in the midst of my busy life. I hold them dearly close and seek to protect them at all costs. Unfortunately, I am not always successful and there I am, battling in the middle of my sanctuary.

I hope this peeling-back of the curtain encourages someone to know that s/he is not alone in the fight within the frame. It’s real, but so is God’s power. This isn’t a cry for attention or pity, but a step forward to reinforce that the weapons we use are not carnal because the enemy we fight is invisible as well. So, here they are, in no particular order of degradation.

*pressing play on the broken record player*

  1. “They don’t care about you. If they did, they would call. They would act like it.”
  2. “If you died today, you’d be missed for a moment, but not for a lifetime.”
  3. “Better watch out for her/him. She always let’s you down. That’s why s/he’s so carefree.”
  4. “You keep trying and they keep showing you where you fit on their totem pole.”
  5. “They don’t make time for you now, so why would they make time for your funeral?”
  6. “Put the phone down. You’re bothering them.”
  7. “Forever is a long time to wait for their reciprocity.”
  8. “You’re not good enough. You’ll fail in front of millions.”
  9. “Why are even trying? You are not equipped.”
  10. “What you just did was horrible. Everyone is going to remember that.”
  11. “You’re annoying everyone. It would best if you just went home.”
  12. “What’s the point? Bad things happen to good people. You’re wasting your time.”

Anyone claiming that suicidal thoughts are for weak has never experienced a “paper cut” of the mind and spirit. That’s all it takes. Sometimes the smallest cracks can cause the most damage. Am I going to kill myself? Emphatically no, but it doesn’t change the fact that demonic influence can override the will to live.

Evil seeds are often planted in the soil of our mind, then our broken insecurity waters the ground and we start sinking in the darkness.

The lifeline? Your mouth. I encourage you to talk. Keep talking until your voice quiets the chorus. Keep speaking up until your shaky words sends shock waves of freedom beneath the battlefield of your mind. Don’t let anything silence your will to dream, hope, and live. You have so much to be awesome for. You were handcrafted by an awesome God. That’s how I know you’re supposed to be here…right now…reading this. Flick the dust off your clothes and wash your soul in His Word and what He says about you.

Below are 15 doses of strong reminders that I use for my battles. The quoted phrases are what I tell myself. Feel free to say them aloud as well.

Philippians 1:6 (NASB) – “He will finish what He started in me.”

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NASB) – “Fear is around, not within.”

Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

Proverbs 3:26 (NASB) – “YOU are my confidence.”

For the LORD will be your confidence And will keep your foot from being caught.

Joshua 1:9 (NASB) – “The Lord is with me wherever I go.”

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Isaiah 41:10 (NASB) – “I am upheld with His righteous right hand.”

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Matthew 11:28 (NASB) – “I am tired now. I won’t be tired forever. I have a place to go.”

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.

Ephesians 6:12 (NASB) – “Focus on the culprit, not the distraction.”

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Psalms 34:19 (NASB) – “All means all.”

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.

Psalms 143:10 (NASB) – “You lead me on level ground. I am sure.”

Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

Psalms 1:1-6 (NASB) – “I am planted. I am strong. I am fruitful.”

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the path of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,

Which yields its fruit in its season

And its leaf does not wither;

And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,

But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,

But the way of the wicked will perish.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (NASB) – “Don’t forget His greatness.”

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth

Does not become weary or tired.

His understanding is inscrutable.

29 He gives strength to the weary,

And to him who lacks might He increases power.

30 Though youths grow weary and tired,

And vigorous young men stumble badly,

31 Yet those who wait for the Lord

Will gain new strength;

They will mount up with wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary.

Proverbs 23:18 (NASB) – “I am sure and I am convinced. I have hope.”

Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off.

Romans 8:37-39 (NASB) – “Nothing shall separate me.”

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Proverbs 18:10 (NASB) – “You are my safe place.”

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.

I hope these encourage you to build up your speech arsenal and fight back. What are some of your biblical bullets to cast down imaginations? What are you favorite verses that you chew on to remove the taste of doubt?

Peace & Thanks for Listening.

 

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