While actions can be seen, motives can be stealthy like the cloak of invisibility in Harry Potter. Actions are nice, after all, Love is an action word (isn’t that what we say?); however, motives are the legs upon which actions stand. You can tell if someone gives you a gift from the heart. It doesn’t matter how expensive it is or where it was found. It’s the motive, the undercarriage of intent that makes or breaks the transaction. That’s what I have found to be true over the years. The heart of the receiver has to match the heart of the giver for the exchange to be simultaneously priceless.
When God looks at us, He doesn’t weigh the ways; He weighs the motives. That means He puts more weights on the side of my intentions than the deed itself. My reasons behind my ways will be heavier than how much it cost me to do it. Every. Single. Time.
My prayer? Thank you, God, for weighing the heart and Lord, please help my intentions!
Forever is a long time to grow. Are you willing to do it?
I mean it. Are you willing to a make a pact with God that you will grow as long as you live here on Earth? After all, we are the seeds of Adam and Eve and quite frankly, there’s still some growing to do. If plants can do it, why can’t we? Why can’t we do what seeds do – germinate and multiply?
It seems hard to think about, but we are designed to break free from the shell of innocence and yield a life with more seeds to plant. With our words, deeds, and talents, we were created to expand and produce a harvest for others to courageously do the same.
So, when I say “Forever is a long time to grow,” I intend to invoke conviction of every intrapersonal and interpersonal interaction you will have for the rest of your life. I want you to think about the seeds your fruit is producing for others to ingest. I want you to think about forever.
In class on November 15th, we discussed correctional facilities and prison reform. I posed the following question to my students: Are correctional facilities designed to “correct” behavior or character? Most of them said “both,” but some said neither. What do you think?
As we go about our holiday season, I think of those who are unable to have food, family, and fun – at the same time. Needless to say, there are individuals who have committed crimes unthinkable, yet there are some who have not. Are their lives being changed while on the inside of confinement? Are our lives being enhanced while we are captive to our vices? The truth is if we were caught in our everyday violations of malice, greed, and pride, we would be incarcerated right along side of our brothers and sisters.
So, I pose these questions to you… What are you chained to? What mental or emotional prison are you in? Is your “facility” correcting or enabling the behavior that got you there?
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.
If you’re like me, you’re used to being strong even when you don’t feel like it. Requests fulfilled, electronically attached, and problem-solving skills at the ready. But, ocassionally, the bough breaks and I feel like a 5-year-old. A pouty little human that doesn’t want to carry out her grown up duties for a few minutes. There’s no sugarcoating it when I get that way. I just don’t wanna do it right then.
You may have moments when you just feel a strong toddler “no” in your spirit…but it’s not holy. It’s human. I have them often.
They may be small spurts of time, but they can be lethal to your mission.
At some point, you gotta just suck it up. Whatever it is. Just think: What would happen if we let our immaturity show like a satin white slip during a southern church service on a regular basis? Nothing would get done in its necessary timing and other’s lives could be affected.
So, I have a formula for the “I Don’t Wanna” moments you secretly experience. When faced with a responsibility that isn’t attractive or enjoyable, give yourself no more than 5 minutes of toddler time. Calculate how much time it will take to carry out the it. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Before you get started on the it, let the kid out. Whine, pout, growl, doodle, jump around, do whatever you need to release the kid you are inside. Go hard in paint. Scream if you need to. Run around in your undies (in your private residence, not at work please). Let it out. After 5 minutes, give yourself the boxing ring pep talk, throw on your cape, and suck it up. You’ve got a life that will eventually turn into history. Plant your feet and make a resolve that you’re the best person for the job. You’re the only one that can do it like you and you must be awesome enough to do it. God built you as a Masterpiece. That task has nothing on your beautiful mind. You’re going to smash that to-do item and celebrate with a high-five, happy dance under and a smile to yourself.
The case of the “I Don’t Wanna” is a plot from your inner child, but it doesn’t have to deplete your productivity. Let her out then put her to work. You’ll be better for it.
After an invigorating dance-in-the-dark party in February, I was all about having my private party on the night before my August 20th birthday. What better way to celebrate my fresh wind of feminism than with other Wonder Women? I hand-picked a few close friends that I thought would appreciate the unique experience and invited them to dance their heart in with me. When the dust settled, seven ladies were confirmed and I was elated to rock with them.
Related Sidebar: I’m an Olympics fanatic. Seriously. I try to watch everything. You know how the U. S. Women’s Gymnastics Team is usually earmarked with a nickname? We’ve witnessed the Magnificent Seven (Atlanta 1996), the Fierce Five (London 2012), and recently in Rio, the Final Five to commemorate the retirement of legendary gymnastics coach Martha Karolyi. Epic.
I decided to jump on board and nickname these seven sisters + our beautiful host Shannon. They were the Exceptional Eightand this new band of supersheroes were about to embark my birthday SOL ship voyage. Sidebar complete.
I’m a thinker, so I reviewed the dynamics. Three of the attendees were my sorority sisters. Two of the eight ladies I knew since grade school. The remaining two women, I met in college. And Shannon? She was a sister on-site. Our kindred spirits kindled a positive energy that burned over emails and spilled over into our face-to-face encounter. I loved how she fit right into our type of crazy. I even had an icebreaker planned just in case my multiple circles needed some communicative coaxing, but as Shannon pointed out, they already had something in common…me. Each one of them represented a part of me that identified with them, so why wouldn’t they blend? I must admit. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure how the session would turnout for them, but it resulted in an explosion of laughter mixed with bursting sounds of pure joy and freedom. I couldn’t have asked for more. It was a beautiful blend.
Soon, it was lights out and we danced the night away to a perfect mix of my favorite jams (Did I mention perfect?). We ate until our sweet tooths were satisfied. We shared words of love and humor and you could see the strings of sisterhood weaving among us. We were SOL-tied, a band of professional women that had worked hard during the day, but needed the unique forge of fortitude that night. One of my sisters even had to get up for work at 3:00 AM the next day, but was still energized when she woke up. It was that electric. I saw their faces relax and for a moment, we weren’t wives, mothers, students, caregivers…we were an assembly of queens drinking from the pool of cooling strength and being fitted in new armor for the world that awaited us. The shattered stress from our daily roles lie on pieces of pink paper around us and no one walked out in the same manner in which they entered. Everyone returned to the lobby a little taller, brighter, and ready to obliterate any obstacle in her path.
We were walking with sunlight in our pockets and positivity in our hearts.
Our steps had rays of sunshine beaming underneath as we matriculated to our night-kissed cars.
To say that those dance steps charged our feminine energy packs would be an understatement. We may have put on the same shoes, but they didn’t feel the same.
There are few times when I travel backward in my mind and find nuggets of perfect synchronicity in a fraction of a second. Saturday was one of those times, so allow me to walk you through the steps. Bear with the chain link of events below as I bare my soul.
STEP 1: THE PLAN
It all began with an idea to have a fun-filled, let-your-hair-down kinda day for my performing arts troupe, which consists of experienced professionals in various industries. They’re amazing superheroes in their respective fields and on any stage of creativity. A beautiful dichotomy of talent if you ask me. This delicate balance needed a breeze of fellowship, so August 13th was set for Summer Fun Day at Avondale Park. I could hardly wait.
STEP 2: THE CONSIDERATION
One of our members attends graduate school out-of-state and was making the trek to spend time with the team, so I watched the weather closely to ensure that she could travel to us safely. I didn’t see some responses from my crew (which I later discovered was due to a technical glitch), so I considered canceling it altogether. After all, we had received bursts of thunderstorms every day that week and Saturday was going to follow suit. I decided to keep the plan based upon the forecast, and added some extra prayer to the meteorologist’s news. So glad I did. The weather was perfect.
STEP 3: THE IDEA
On the previous evening, we held rehearsal and one of our members brought up the notion of eating at Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Avondale, Alabama. I had never been, so I immediately was intrigued and ready to go. The dance of overcasting clouds and sunshine made for a mean game of volleyball and Uno. We were having fun, exactly what I prayed for. It seemed only fitting that we carry the good vibrations over to the restaurant.
STEP 4: THE GOODNESS
The food was delicious and so was the laughter. We sang along to the old school soul music showering over our cozy little table of five. We were enjoying each other’s company, exactly what I prayed for. Then, enter a smiling stranger who politely asked us if we were about to leave and if he and his family could have our table. If you’ve been to Saw’s in Avondale, you know the severity of this request. There are less than 10 tables in this eatery and the line to obtain one when they open at 11 starts at 10:40 AM at best. I’m ashamed to admit that I shook my head “no.” Thank God for my friend, who apparently was closer to Jesus than I was in that moment, that said yes and my stone-faced look morphed into a smile and a nod. He was kind and respectful, and I was proudly selfish. I’m usually the person that is cognizant of busy hours and needed seats, but on that day, I didn’t want to be considerate. I was marinating in the loveliness of time that our team rarely experiences without the demands of a deadline. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want it to end…
but it was time.
STEP 5: THE SUGGESTION
After releasing our table, the same friend that suggested Saw’s pointed our attention to a thrift store nearby that she loves to visit. Sozo Trading Company was the destined place. Being the economical giants that we are, we jumped at the chance to embark on another adventure. Like giddy children filled with wonder, we walked inside and immediately felt peace. Dakota greeted us with a smile and noticed our matching shirts. She inquired of our talents and we agreed to perform a human video before we left.
STEP 6: THE CRUX
Remember when I gave you the demographics of the team in THE PLAN? The challenge that comes with our creative make-up is that schedule clashes are inevitable and not everyone learns the same piece at the time it is taught. In this instance, there was also the factor that one of our members had not performed with us in over a year. So, the suggestions started flowing. “What about this?” “Were you here when we did that song?” “I don’t know that one, but I can learn it.” The communication about the business at hand resulted in my spirit being nudged to return to the first song I heard in my soul stereo – How He Loves Usby Jesus Culture featuring Kim Walker-Smith. It fitted the mission of Sozo perfectly, so I shared those thoughts with my team. So, in true Workmanship Incorporated anointing, we quickly forged as a unit and half of our quad learned the piece in the back of the store. The funny part is that no one batted an eye of curiosity or annoyance. They just shopped around us as if our full-bodied belonged in the setting. In less than 45 minutes, we were all caught up and ready to serve.
STEP 7: THE BLESSING
We ministered. Right there inside of the front entrance doors.
If you’ve never performed a human video, it requires all of your muscles to cooperate and be in sync with those around you in order to present the storyline clearly. Two of us were negotiating with our bodies about previous injuries, two of us had learned the piece in minutes, and all of us were in sync. It was beautifully amazing. As usual, we performed for an audience of ONE – the ONE who gives us Life and the ONE who needs it. Dakota recorded and took pictures. When the song was over and we expired all we had, Dakota was teary and patrons were nearby. A man approached us with watery gratefulness in his eyes and hugged us, thanking us for the message of Love. His courage to be touched is what sincerely touched me. An open masculine heart is said to be soft, weak, or feminine by society’s standards unless they’re crying about winning a championship, but at that moment… he felt loved and reminded, and that was all that mattered. Then, it dawned on me. He was my blessing. Dakota was my blessing. Austin and Amanda (fellow Sozo staff) were my blessing. The gentleman at the restaurant was my blessing. Steps 1 through 7 were the blessing that led to the makarios moment… this man hugging people he didn’t know because of a Message that we said silently. We were presented with the opportunity to eulogeó (to speak well of, praise, or bless) God in the presence of His people and it resulted as a makariosexperience for ourselves and others (refers to the believer in Christ who is satisfied and secure in the midst of life’s hardships because of the indwelling fullness of the Spirit).
What did I learn that day?
That your plans are never yours. They always affect someone else, even when you don’t know it. And you’ll be better off letting God lead the choices you make because He always has a two-edged blessing waiting for you. Blessings are always simultaneously designed. They are never unilateral.
To learn more about Greek words related to “blessing/blessed,” click here and here. I hope you enjoy the insight as much as I did.
Peace & Thanks for Listening. (I know it was a long one this time, so really… thank you.)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life. – Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred… That pair of words reminds me of Harlem, the famous Langston Hughes poem. It was one of my favorite reads in high school.
What truly happens to a dream deferred? That question has been a mystery for years, but the truth hasn’t changed in that the dream only dies when we allow it to cease. When you stop feeding it, it will starve and die within you. Then, you carry dead dreams, dead hope in desperate need of resuscitation. It’s hard to carry broken promises, shredded heart tissue, and withered hope. They’re like cannon balls in your chest, holding you down from flying past your present potential. This is where faith comes in from Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the substance of things HOPED for and the evidence of things not seen. Faith kicks in and stands at the door when hope runs out and fear circulates the perimeter of your heart in wait of your paralysis.
You can also think of this as a monetary transaction. Faith is the check written to you, while hope is the construction of belief that you’ll receive the cash. You can hold on to faith because it supersedes hope. Hope deferred will make your heart ill in longing to fulfill your purpose on Earth. Now this is where the 2nd part of the proverb makes its impact and where I get excited.
Desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Trees are designed to bear seeds. They can’t control where these seeds go, but they produce them out of obedience to their Maker. It has one job… to produce. The tree stands tall and bears seeds and that’s how forests are formed. When your desires line up with God’s will, not fulfilling that desire/dream will make you feel seedless, unfruitful.The key word is here is FEEL. You are not a sterile spiritual being. You weren’t created to be that.
Once you tap into that TRUTH, you’ll see a tree of life inside of you, not a death sentence. Then, like a tree, the life cycle of your dream will continue well after you’re gone and growth will be inevitable. Your purpose-filled dream will touch many lives after your hands (or “branches”) have aged and produced seeds of great service.Your hope and dream(s) can not afford you to be lazy, discouraged, or spiritually sick. When something is deferred, it is not canceled… so your hope can still be resuscitated.
Keep your hope alive and intimately near so that your rich, customized life can be the gift that keeps on giving to the soil and air around you.
Have you ever felt like your hope was petrified?
Your dream is a gift, so what are you giving?
What can you do this week to oxygenate your hope and aerate your dreams?
There are boxing gloves that can fit every hand for the fight against injustice.
Without the tempered pen of Phillis Wheatley and Ida B. Wells-Barnett… the beautiful creative prowess of Katherine Dunham and Debbie Allen… the cat eyeglasses and church shoes worn by civil rights activists, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do each day. So, I started thinking… if everyone fought the same way, something would go untouched. A collection of varied punches is the only human force that can defeat an enemy of this magnitude. The slobbering rabid dog that it is.
With the crimes that have transpired in the last 2 years (shootings and bombings and murders, oh my…), I decided to challenge myself by compiling a kaleidoscope of ways that people are fighting injustice on a regular basis. Could I do it? Could I come up with 50 persons that swing in the ring as differently as their fingerprints? Whew! What a challenge!
Though their gloves look different to the naked eye, their fight against what’s wrong in the world sends ripples through history. I made a point to also include people that you may not know, and some I didn’t know until this post. Their work isn’t always glamourous and may be overshadowed by their fame or “Clark Kent” 9-to-5 identity, but this list is comprised of some heavyweight champions… some, I am honored to know personally. They came to the forefront of my mind and I’ve included their method of fighting as a link within their name. If someone that you admire isn’t on the list, respectfully add it in the comment section below along with a link to provide details about their fighting strategy as it wasn’t meant to be exclusive. Just a segway for conversation and inspiration.
Wouldn’t it be cool if these names were in the history books
Be a youth/young adult mentor. Don’t freak them out by smothering them. Just love on them. Speak life into them. Mention their interests every now and then. Show up. Support goes a long way.
Go outside and be cordial to your neighbors. You can’t criticize who you don’t know. Also, if all eyes are watching for crime, the community creates a line of defense.
Learn the names of the officers that police your community. They’re people. Humans live behind that badge. All law enforcement are not bad, just like all vegetables don’t taste gross. Don’t let anything shade your perspective.
Read a book. Besides reading God’s Word, I love reading various materials. It helps to maintain healthy conversation when you know what you’re talking about.
Discuss a book with others. See #4. Can you imagine what this would do for us all?
Be excellent in your craft. Don’t be mediocre because of a paycheck. Be the best. You being your best will make someone else’s life so much better.
Excel at the small things. Little things count. Smile. Offer help. Call instead of text. Even if you’re sweeping the floor, remember the corners.
Give a compliment to a stranger. Lighten up someone’s load by giving them a smile.
Love the unlovable. I know they can be weird and mean. Love them anyway.
Bathe yourself in goodness before you go to work. It’s a jungle out there. Be prepared before you walk in. Clothe yourself in righteousness and be ready for whatever. That’s how you don’t flip out.
I hope those names inspire you as much as they did me. Some of them do not receive nearly enough accolades and appreciation, but they fight anyway. Everyday. Driving their best race in the passionate lane of their career path.
Click on every name. Explore them. If you can, reach out to them… honk your virtual horn and say “Hey. Thanks for fighting.”You may be just the boxer’s corner they need to keep regroup, clean up, and keep going.
Peace & Thanks for listening. *runs to ice fingers from typing*