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Wednesday Wind Down: Visibility

Hello, Sweetheart.

Show Jesus everywhere.

That’s what I heard for you this week. It is such a loaded and misunderstood directive.

Showing Jesus means toting my bible everywhere, quoting scriptures when someone says “Good Morning,” and barely be tolerable at social functions because of all the judgment seething through my pores, right? Quite the contrary.

Jesus has many faces (just look at all of the colorful faces in the world) and there are opportunities to show these faces in various situations. One of them could appear as a person in need of assistance while walking across the street. Another opportunity could be a co-worker in need of a kind word. We find these moments easily because the needs are relatively visible, but what happens when the need is underneath a layer of pride or anger? I agree– it’s a bit challenging to succumb to a higher level when the low blows are trying to knock you out. Truthfully speaking, this is the perfect opportunity to show His face to someone who may have never seen it or even believe it exists. You may not see the need because his/her words are too loud or they are absent from your life, but believe me, it’s there.

Here are a couple of examples of how I try to show Jesus

  • I met an atheist this week and we had an intellectual and humorous conversation (Sidebar: Christians, stop arguing with everybody).
  • Someone raised her voice at me and I did not return the behavior.
  • I pick up fallen clothing at the department store on a regular basis.
  • I’m truthful with my feelings even when I don’t want to be.
  • I smile at strangers.
  • I don’t return road rage.
  • I listen.
  • I say thank you to police and military officers.
  • I pray for people when they ask me to, sometimes at that moment.
  • I encourage as many people as I can.

Now, I am not a saint. I just try to live my faith in real life and not just at church. It’s not easy, by any means. There are plenty of times when I want to use profanity to prove that I am not a punk, but the truth of the matter is that doesn’t prove anything except a poor vocabulary to express my emotions. There are times when I want to reciprocate negative behavior so the other person can understand that I am very much capable of doing so, but that would only show me contradicting my belief system. I choose daily to show Jesus when I don’t want to do so. Sometimes, it’s a firm stance of Truth and sometimes it’s a warm hug. I make mistakes like other humans, yet I do my best to rectify it as soon as possible. That’s showing Jesus, too.

This week, I challenge you to show Jesus to the person that gets on your nerves. Notice that I didn’t say you had to agree with them or be their best friend. Just think of ways your actions can resemble His so that His Love is recognizable through you. It may seem like a small gesture or it may be a great sacrifice on your part, but at least you have made Him visible. At least you’ve provided the proof they’ve been waiting to see.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week!

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Wednesday Wind Down: Parallel

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

Cosmetologists. Cardiologists. Oncologists. Orthodontists.

We seek specialists for areas that need attention. We take medications for what ails our bodies and encourage others to do the same. Prescriptions are filled and routines are formed. Adults become child-like as they read carefully and follow instructions; we become child-like as we look for signs if we’re getting better and worse.

Here’s the question.

Why are we are willing to carefully tend to our tangible diseases and not our invisible ones? I have a newsflash for you. Your invisible wounds bleed out too. They fester beneath the surface and seep through your pores. They manifest themselves through the words of your lips. Your body movements tattle-tell on you like a kindergartener. Your eyes are gateways to things your soul can vocalize to others. You’re hurting and as much as you try to suppress it, you’re leaking.

This post is to encourage you to see a specialist for the innermost part of you. Pray and seek the face of God, your Maker, then seek a counselor or therapist. I’ll let you in on another secret, Sweetheart. God made them too. If every good and perfect gift comes from Him, we must believe the gift of counseling and therapy were created by Him as well. So, why shy away from those gifts helping you?

James 1.17 visual
Courtesy of YouVersion – The Bible App

Cosmetologists. Cardiologists. Oncologists. Orthodontists. Every one of these professions requires a level of trust between the person in need and the person of skill. Perhaps it’s time to allow yourself to build that trust with God and with one of his gifted servants designed to help you heal.

Don’t be a hypocritical Christian… willing to take 10 prescriptions yet speaking ill of those who seek mental and spiritual wellness.  Maybe you should stand in the truth that you need to schedule an appointment with a therapist to work through some of that pain you’re sitting in. There’s nothing degrading about that reality. There is nothing degrading about you. Ask for help. Reach for help. Accept the help. Be parallel in your faith. Be parallel in your healing. Let God help you through specialists ready to sit with you.

If you need a starting point, contact me. I have a short list of licensed professional counselors and therapists that have proven to be trustworthy referrals and I am willing to share this list with you. After I refer someone, I never hear of their interaction and that’s what you want. Sincerity and confidentiality.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m proud of you and I love you. Your next step is going to create a better version of yourself. Take it.

Happy Birthday to US!

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

I just got back in town and I couldn’t let the day pass without saying…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LATSOL!

*throws confetti* | *blows horn* | *does ‘runnin’ man’ dance* | *hugs you*

I am so grateful for each and every one of you that rock with me every week. I appreciate your kind words, reading time, open heart, and listening ear. You make blogging fun and meaningful.

I pray that your 2019 is kicking off to a great start. I pray that if it isn’t, that there is something on this blog that can keep your heart afloat as you find your way to shore. I also pray that you continue to grow and allow your spirit to hear the whispers of God every day… that you are refueled, refreshed, and revived to move closer to your purposeful self. I love you and God bless you.

Peace & eat some cake tomorrow. I’m going to drink some hot chocolate in your honor. Thank you again for being part of my community. You’re the best. *fist bump*

If you’re just joining the party and want to understand the celebration, click here! Want to check out the first post? Go for it!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Gatekeeper

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

How are you? I hope this post finds you doing well and cozy as you get ready to close or begin the day. Below is a fresh Word I received on a recent flight that I must share with you. Enjoy and let me know your thoughts!

Flight Write: BHM -> TPA

Everyone has a gate, and that gate has nothing to do with your preferences. You may choose the flight time and destination, but you can not control the gate of the plane. It is pre-destined to dock into a designated area and there’s nothing you can do about it if it changes. There is a crew working on the inside and a crew waiting on the outside to prepare it for its next destination. The coordinates of the vessel are already set, but the gate is a necessary stop between points A and B.

Want to know something else? Neither the gate nor the destination will change because of your desires or discomforts. They are not governed by your temper tantrums. You are not responsible for the gate assignment, just your presence and preparation. You’re only responsible for showing up, checking in, submitting to a search or security screening, and being at the right gate at the right time. After a certain point in the process, you are no longer the coordinator; you’re the passenger.

What does all of this mean to you? I’m glad you asked.

In order for the Lord to deliver you to your destination, you must release control of the gate. You can tell God all of the desires of your heart and share your plans, and He’ll listen… but ultimately, you don’t control the gate. You are not in charge of the in-between.  Say it aloud – “I am not in charge of the in-between.” Tell God that you’re showing up, checking in, submitting to a search of your heart, and will be where He wants you to be. Those are the parts that you can control.

There is a necessary stop just for you and no one can take your place without the Father’s permission. Simply put, you have a destination and flight plan to get you there – release the gate. Let it happen. You’re still on your way.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of Dallas News

Wednesday Wind Down: Tell Me Something Good

Well, Sweethearts, I hope that last week’s transparency helped you as much as it helped me to share it. Whew! Talk about emasculating the Beast. I must admit; it felt good…. really good, but I’m putting the last part of Birthday and Beast on hold until next week. Why? Because I have good news!

Remember my board exam from my therapeutic massage posts? On September 1, 2018, I passed my Massage and Bodywork Licensing Exam (MBLEx) and in a few days, I’ll be able to call myself an LMT! *insert a boatload of confetti here* Let me share something with you about why this victory is sweet.

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This stays in my office at all time. Thank you,  Pastor Steven Furtick.

When I was 14, God gave me a vision of my purpose. I have been pursuing it ever since piece by piece, knowingly and unknowingly. One of the parts of the plan was to obtain my massage therapy license. I could swear that this was an easy path to follow, but I would lying if I did. According to my perfect-turned-hilarious calendar, this accomplishment was supposed to happen 5 years ago. Leave it to God’s itinerary to say nope, not yet. A series of challenges made it seem impossible to reach my goal. Nevertheless, the door opened for me to apply and I walked right in, knowing that it would be financially uncomfortable and seriously inconveniencing. Honestly, uncomfortable and inconvenient doesn’t even scratch the surface, but with God’s strength, wisdom, and plain old grit, I am now posting this good news. *smile*

The Lesson

There’s nothing wrong with being transparent with those you trust, and who says the only thing you can trust them with is something bad or melancholy? I don’t share my victories enough. After all, that’s what will keep me going when I meet another challenge farther down the road of life. I’m learning that there are some genuine souls that wish to celebrate with you and that it’s OK to let them in. Isn’t that a lesson worth receiving… that one can share a cup of joy and a couple of tears with individuals perfectly capable of handling both? I think so, too.

So, now that we’ve talked about something good, what can you share with me? What can you share with someone you love? Where’s the good news in a day full of bad moments? Find some. They are there. I promise.

Feel free to share a piece of your happy in the comments. I’ll celebrate with you if no one else will. Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photos courtesy of moi. By the looks of it, my dog is happy that I’m finished with this program, too. lol

Birthday & The Beast: Part II

Hello, Sweethearts!

Have you ever thought you had dealt with something and then it reared its ugly head at the most inopportune time? *hand up* Well, it’s time for the Beast, and this one has two heads which makes it quite a monster. Allow me to expose them and share how I won.

Let’s start with #1 tonight – DEPRESSION.

In February 2016, I had a terrible car accident that could have easily been fatal. I blacked out while driving to an out-of-state funeral and all I remember is seeing something like stripped rubber in the road, being 8 minutes from my hotel, declining my mother’s phone call because I needed to focus on the interstate junctions, and seeing the black and yellow end of a guardrail fastly approaching my face. The car was totaled. I was so shaken up and confused at God’s allowance of such an event. Then, I had a former friend act horribly and say that it was a sign that I was in the wrong place and should not have come. I knew in the Spirit that she was talking outside of hers. On the same day, my husband called to tell me that a family friend passed away. So, let’s recap… I was on my way to a funeral, surprised to hear about the transition of a sweet soul, and almost lost my life.

adult art conceptual dark
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What made matters worse was that besides my family, none of the individuals that knew I was traveling 8-hours alone checked to see if I had made it there or had returned home safely. I wasn’t just hurt at that point. I was heartbroken and swirled into a pit of depression. Not the stereotypical visual we have of someone in their bathrobe eating ice-cream for days, but in addition to being withdrawn, I was on strict auto-pilot. One week passed by. I didn’t even tell anyone that I had returned to town besides my parents and husband because I didn’t see the point. After all, if I had died, they would have found out through a 3rd party if they cared, right? Well, things came to a head when I was driving and my hands started to slip from the wheel. I was in head-to-head-to-head combat with the Beast and it was winning. I didn’t want to kill myself, but I felt strength leave my body. I had never felt such physical and spiritual weakness simultaneously. A few seconds passed and I could feel the vibration of the emergency lane grooves. It jolted my senses and I immediately called my sisterfriend to say that I wasn’t OK and needed to pull over or meet her somewhere ASAP. She agreed and we met at a KFC. Slowly, but sincerely, she allowed me to drip my soul in front of her like water seeping through the cracks of a concrete wall. She apologized for not checking on me and told me how much she cared that I was alive.

For the next 5 months, my life was a blur of deadlines, rehearsals, and canned responses. I prayed sporadically, but on most days God and I weren’t “friends.” Auto-pilot was the only survival mode I knew and it kept me from crashing and burning every day, but it was undoubtedly unhealthy.

pexels-photo-62376.jpeg
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

Needless to say, the person-to-person admittance alone was a strong swift kick in the chest of the Beast and I kept crawling until I could stand up using the Truth as a daily set of crutches. I stabbed one of its eyes by concentrating on who loves me and that apparently my purpose was unfulfilled because I was still here; then, I allowed people to show they cared instead of shutting out their sincerity. That year, with the thanks of my parents, I also celebrated being alive by keeping my self-care law and basically shifted some individuals to the outer court of my relationship house to release the energy struggle. After all, a tug-of-war takes two. In Matthew 7:16, Jesus says that you will know a tree by the fruit it bears. I believe this was later woven into the poetic tapestry of the late Dr. Maya Angelou – When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. That year, I learned that it is just as healthy and Christ-like to preserve your energy and expend it wisely.

Below is a glimpse into my mind that year in my attempt to deal with the Beast after my birthday. It’s raw and unfiltered. I hope it helps by letting you know that you’re not alone either.

Written September 2016

I got so angry one day that I refused to pray. I didn’t see the point. I wanted to believe that somehow my whole life would turn around and I would stop getting screwed over, but that belief wasn’t even a glimmer of hope anymore. The wait and the want? It’s insatiable. It never gets full enough to stop feeding on your emotions. That’s why you have to cast it aside and speak the TRUTH. I literally had to start fighting that Beast before it dragged me into its lair. Philippians Chapter 4 became a daily meal of nutrients I had originally refuse to ingest. I literally made myself chew on it every day. The despair is real. It’s a monster. It breathes in all the joyous moments you locked away in storage for a rainy day and exhales death. I hate it if I can be so frank. Sometimes, you have to just release it and fight for your life.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. I’m praying for you. Keep fighting. You’re not done yet!

Birthday & The Beast: Part I

Have you ever felt full, like you were about to pop? Well, me, my Converse sneakers, and my school uniform made a break for it this week.

20180820_143936
Gotta love my therapeutic massage family. That cake… *hands up*

 

It was Monday and I was full of everything – grief, fatigue, anticipation, excitement, concern, questions, tension, gratefulness… I was just full. After all, it was my birthday and that came with a cacophony of spiritual noise. I had been fighting to stay afloat in the midst of recent rip tides and I was doing a pretty good job, but when you wake up on your birthday and wish you could just sleep in, that’s when you know the jig is up. I couldn’t do most of what I wanted due to surgery recuperation and two financial surprises, so I had to make some adjustments to keep my annual self-care ritual.

Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. It’s like my body and spirit know it’s August as soon as July ends. Well, with a few modifications, I still managed to uphold my law.

Week 1: Weekend road trip with Mommy. Music, laughs, and priceless convo.
Week 2: Ate pancakes the night before surgery. Binge-watched Blue Bloods and The Resident from the beginning. Man, I love those shows.
Week 3: Sister Time with sisterfriends. Ate half of a Ribeye from the Hickory Chip.
Week 4: Drove to Noccalula Falls (Gadsden, Alabama)

Now, about this drive… it was a serious mission. I almost didn’t make it in time due to my car repair, but I’m so glad I kept going. When I arrived, I had 25 minutes to make my birthday wish come true, then when I got there, I didn’t follow the map correctly and got set back 6 minutes. Noccalula Falls is special to me because it is one of two places in the world (so far) where I can breathe without respiratory rudeness. Something about that Gorge Trail makes me giddy like a school girl waiting on a glance from a crush. I don’t have to scale or climb, but a fall can easily be in anyone’s future along those jagged rocks. It had been years since I stood beneath the falls, but I never forgot the way I felt taking that deep breath in without clearing my throat for the first time. (A picture of it is on my About Me page.)

I know God is everywhere, but it seems like that is our sweet spot. I just have to push beyond the tough part. On the way to the cave beneath the fall’s cliff, it was difficult to breathe and believe me, there were plenty of opportunities to give up and turn around having had surgery 10 days prior. The impending thunderstorm, the 5-minute grace before getting a ticket, the throbbing headache and sore muscles, my ill-prepared attire… I could have easily said forget it. Not to mention that I kept hearing a loop of negativity in my head along the way. But with every step, I felt the reverberation of my soul making a judgment call to not accept no as an answer to my prayer request. Needless to say, I hustled in all of my sweaty glory to reach the cave by 5:00 PM and made it on the dot. When I finally reached the spot, I took that deep breath and teared up. 20180820_170342Everything that filled me up finally had a place to go and I could empty it out before His perfect blend of peace and power. There I was, looking up at God’s natural wonder, and once again His Word met me there. Here’s what I heard. I hope it helps you too.

  1. Pride, like a tumor, must be removed – not ignored.

  2. Like a tumor, pride metastasizes and blocks your divine purpose.

  3. You can’t ask God for miracles and control how they arrive.

  4. You have to go low to be lifted high. You can’t start at the top.

  5. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. If you never admit your weakness, there is no room for His strength to take over.

  6. Nothing can stop water and nothing can stop God’s grace and Love toward you. Just let it flow.

  7. Water smooths the rough edges. So do life’s challenges shape you.

No, there was no surprise party waiting for me when I got home and just 10 years ago, I was celebrating my birthday with my fiancé. I had plenty to swirl in as I recalled my battle scars, but standing there made everything feel small and made me feel safe enough to receive His strength. The exchange was available, just like air, and all I had to do was let it happen.

You know that exhale you do after ripping and running all day or removing an overcoat after a long day outside? That’s where I was. Pure relief.

And what was that overcoat? Pure Pride.

I hate asking for help to carry my bags during recuperation, accepting kindness in resources and deeds, or saying “OK” to a surprise provision that I prayed for…. how ridiculous is that? So, just like the benign tumor that was removed from my neck recently, it was imperative that God was still working on me and my foreign-body attachments.

Now, check out an excerpt of what I journaled in September 2016.

“My mantra in August was to unleash the beast.

Each birthday month, I vow to do something I enjoy and spread it out across each week. Sometimes, it’s small like a milkshake or a little bigger like a solo road trip. Well, this year I decided to embrace something that I don’t like…and it hurt like hell.”

Isn’t that crazy? Well, Sweetheart, that’s where Part II comes in. It’s great to celebrate and it’s beautiful to exhale, but we must deal with the Beast within us in order to be healthy.

Peace, see you next time on the blog, and thanks for making it to the end of this post. lol I love y’all. Let’s keep walking. If you have a birthday ritual, let me know. If you don’t, make a pact with yourself to start one. It will bless you more than you can imagine. XO

TM Lesson #5: He Thought of Everything

Hello Sweethearts!

Last week, I mentioned that I’m in the final countdown of my therapeutic massage program (33 days to be exact, and I’m including weekends). While it is exciting to prepare for the Massage & Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx), our study sessions have also made me nostalgic and full of wonder all over again about how intricate God made our bodies.

Did you know…

  • The biconcave shape of your blood cells increase its surface area for oxygen consumption, yet remains flexible enough to squeeze into tight spaces?
  • The sarcomeres in our muscles facilitate muscle contraction (and look like a subway system, if you ask me)?
  • Aromatherapy is an actual form of therapy because your brain and muscles create and recall memories as you inhale an essential oil?
  • Your sternocleidomastoid (SCM) has a clavicular and sternal head to stabilize your neck when you tilt it back (Remember that little tidbit the next time you doze off in class)?

    sternocleidomastoid-muscle
    Courtesy of Yoganatomy.com
  • Your body will always attempt to achieve homeostasis (balance), even at the expense of your free will?

The lymphatic system. Respiratory system. Cardiovascular system. Autonomic and Somatic Nervous Systems. There are many more collaborations that keep you alive and massage therapists can affect every last one of them through the power of touch. That’s how cool God is.

He touched us first. His fingerprint is on our hands. No matter how many people are born in the world, no one can duplicate you. Can you believe that such an incredible God thought enough of you to breathe into you and form your body Himself? All of those cells, muscles, and systems were fashioned with your purpose in mind. I am fascinated by that even more now that I am adding a new career industry to my journey.

Now, here’s the disclaimer. I don’t know why some of the systems malfunction or why parts of them are deformed or missing, but I know God still had every detail in mind when He made you. Everything else in creation was called to be, but you? You were customized with ocular muscles around your brown eyes. The zygomatic bones on your face are perfectly curved to create your cheekbones. You have the cradle of life sitting between your iliac crests. There is no mistake in you. I have had to remember that as I face health challenges myself. Even the parts of me that don’t function properly still exude His glory because I continue to fulfill my purpose on this Earth. I’m here to tell you… He thought of everything about you and you were designed with Love in mind.

Wind down safely, Dear. I have some reading to do before class in the morning, but don’t forget our chat, OK? *smile* Look in the mirror or check yourself out with a selfie to admire the greatness in you, on you, and shining through you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Start

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

According to my planner, 8/1/18 was supposed to be the launch of my 2nd book – sizzle reel and all. It was the perfect date for the perfect plan… at least in the land of my notebook.

Screenshot_20180802-000239_Chrome
Am I sad? Well, I was, but not anymore. Why? Because it is the first day of my birthday month and the last day of my fifth module out of six in order to complete my therapeutic massage program. I made A’s on my final exam, practical application, and overall module. I felt reflective and excited to be at the cusp of the end and the beginning simultaneously. Honestly, I felt like a 5-year-old sparked by the sound of the end-of-day school bell. Instead of running out of the front doors with a teacher’s note in my hand, I walked to the unsung heroes of financial aid and hugged each one that touched my journey. I appreciated their patience, diligence, and encouragement. Behind the scenes, they worked side by side with my admissions representative to ensure that I had a positive experience and I wanted them to share in the fruit of their labor.

I remembered when I started the program and September seemed so far away and now it is sitting right next to me, swinging its legs in the upcoming fall breeze. Now, that I’ve reached the end of this hill and staring up the next one, my spirit is so grateful that I started. Then, I thought about you.

What is it that you need to start? Time is one of those things that has kept its word ever since God placed it in motion. And guess what? It won’t wait on you. So, you have no choice but start now, start later, or start never. Either way, a starting point is waiting on you. As I left campus, I played my Andy Mineo album loudly and got lost in it. I smiled when I thought about Shawn bobbing his head with me along the drive. Blue sky, green hills, and open road… what a beautiful metaphor for how I felt inside. Like the world was wide open for me to keep starting. When I said as a teenager that I wanted to become a licensed massage therapist as part of my long-term goal plan, I didn’t realize that my starting line had 2018 spray painted on it. Perhaps this applies to you. What have you dreaded starting because it seems too big or out of your reach? Remember, your start can be at any time, but nothing’s better than knowing that a finish is coming. I live by the following mantra God gave me: Today will be yesterday. God lives outside of time and He has always had your start in mind.

Peace, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, Dear. I’m getting some much needed sleep in 5…4…3…2… zzzzzzz

Photo courtesy of Roux Creative

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