You know I couldn’t leave you out of this challenge and I didn’t want to wait until the last letter either.
Every week, we connect on many wavelengths to get through life together. Our topics range from work frustrations to crazy things Christians believe to losing a loved one. When I started this blog, I remember thinking “Is anyone even going to read this? Oh well, here goes.”
And here we are! You listen to my heart on these pages week after week and I hear yours in your responses. Some of you tell me your thoughts via text, email, and in the blog comments. I’m grateful for it all, but it always catches me by surprise when you tell me in person. One time, a student told me in the hallway that she read a post. I froze like I was in a game of tag. Another time, I was at a wedding reception and three SoRHOrs talked about how a particular post resonated with them. In another instance, a Soror said that she looks forward to the Wednesday Wind Down as a spiritual check up for her week. What can I say? You keep me going!
I never wanted to write just to write; I prayed to write with purpose. My writing guru Javacia asked me to describe my niche during a coaching session one day. I shared that I wanted to create an inspirational home for busy humans, provide a realistic approach to faith, and encourage people to listen for God’s voice in their everyday lives. Over the last four years, I believe we’ve been running in that lane and I appreciate you being with me in the process!
Sweetheart, I pray this place continues to inspire you to be human and to let God help you through it all. I love you and I pray God’s blessings shine on you wherever you are. OK, enough mushiness. lol In essence, you rock my socks, so let’s keep going.
Our God definitely takes care of you well and I’m so glad He does.
I appreciate your everlasting giving tree. Your leaves take on the storms of life and still remain shiny enough for us to see. The fruit of your labor feeds everyone around you.
No matter what state I was in, you always seemed to have more to pour, more to share, more to inspire my heart with.
Just one phone call would yield a lifetime of wisdom I would chew on for years to come. Plenty of times, I just knew that I wasn’t making sense as my emotions tumbled out of my mouth, but you allowed me to be vulnerable and scarred without judgment. After laying my confusing all out on the table, you infused strength in my legs so I could stand on my own and keep walking forward toward my destiny.
Seeing you soar in business and the arts has been one of the most beautiful highlights in my life. You have superpowers the world has yet to honor and for a big chunk of it, I had a front row seat. It was a treat every time with no chance of overdose. I could watch you shine forever and those memories will stay in my soul’s locket.
What a blessing. What a privilege.
Thank you so much for everything you’ve been in my life. I learn a plethora of lessons with every encounter and our laughs echo in the hallways of my heart. The following verse comes to mind when I think of you – “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” – Philippians 1:3. It was not by chance that Our Father crossed our pathways so I could be a better version of myself. For that baseline, I am grateful ten times over.
I pray every seed you sowed into me and others will germinate in your lives as well. I also pray that you continue to be showered with gratitude for changing lives and touching the future. May God richly bless the soil around your feet and lift any clouds around your head. I love you all and thank you again for being in my life.
Lee’s Chapel Baptist Church in Brookside, AL First Baptist Church Graysville East in Graysville, AL St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Graysville, AL Mason City A.O.H. Church of God in Birmingham, AL First Baptist Church Carver in Bessemer, AL Cathedral of the Cross in Birmingham, AL Gateway Family Church in Trussville, AL Zion Church in Landover, MD
In some way, shape, or form and at some point in time, you completely changed my life for the better. Each church listed up there hosts memories from my childhood to now and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.
Cold ankles in lacy socks at Sunday School. Red Baptist Hymnals. Your sense of community. The smell of wooden pews. The whir of the Leslie when I turned on the organ. Music bouncing off the walls. Sausage and biscuit breakfast before worship service and free lunches every summer. The smiles on your faces and the sternness of your voices. Sequins and pearls adorning your suits. Tie pins and cufflinks that could rival any corporate executive’s attire. I remember thinking that you were the smartest people in the world when you read verses aloud. You were walking art and I was your canvas.
I call you family. Whether you prayed for me at the altar or laughed with me in the church parking lot, you played a major part in the woman I am today. You taught me that community is more than a word, it is an action that is always in season. We fed the poor, tutored children, taught God’s Word, and consoled each other at funerals. We forgot about the troubles of the week together. We danced until we felt free. Our hands lifted up and so did our hearts. God met us both inside and outside of those buildings.
I appreciate your light and life lessons. I pray that you continue to shine just as brightly as you did in my life. Keep smiling. Keep saturating yourself in the Word. Keep being a light. Keep encouraging youth so they can grow up to be grateful like me.
So many of you have stories that have never been told, let alone understood. As some of you told me — you were doing well before you got here. You moved down South to assist a family member get off drugs and lost your sustainability trying to help them. You lost your job and your home in the same year and couldn’t gather funds to recuperate. Instead of letting your whole family suffer the blow, you moved out so they could stay safe. You were a veteran who kept getting the runaround instead of a call back. You had a life… a whole life before being someone people ignore. You are someone’s son or daughter. You are important.
You aren’t lost causes, but your needs often get lost in a crowd of bureaucratic tomfoolery. I’m sorry about that. Instead of just throwing food to fix your hunger during the holidays, it would help if we talked with you about your skill sets and your health. Unfortunately, money makes things move, so that hinders you from getting what you truly need — a long-term solution.
When I see you, sometimes I stop to give you food or water, sometimes we pray together, and sometimes I pray for you as I drive by. One of the stereotypes is that you are mentally-ill drug addicts who are incompetent of taking care of yourself. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Your weathered skin wraps around your warm soul. You’re a survivor and I admire your grit.
As a sisterfriend schooled me once — most of you have a place you call home; it just doesn’t look like ours. So, keep taking care of yourself. Keep taking care of each other. Make sure you save the coins you get so you can eat and ride the bus. If you have a child with you or you’re staying in your car, hold tight to the Truth that your current situation is temporary… hence the phrase “transient community.” You are moving toward the next chapter; just keep taking the next step. Please… don’t give up.
I pray for your protection all the time, especially when the weather is cold, rainy, or both. If nothing else, remember that God definitely has you some angels out here.
This may sound elementary, but I mean it — I think you’re cool!
I know I wrote about you before, but I just had to say it again. You’re so diverse and wise. I soak up your spirit when you’re around.
Thank you for never telling me I can’t do something. Whether it was nailing shingles on the roof or planting seeds, you always said “Go ‘head. You can do it.”
Uncles, you always made me feel safe — safe in your wisdom and your presence alone. No matter where we were, I knew I was good hands. I knew that you would fight for me as fiercely as my mother would if anything happened. I trusted that you had my back. You had a way of treating me like a strong soul instead of a fragile princess. Thank you for that. It made my feminism formidable.
Aunts, you always taught me something. Both of you are so creatively crafty. You can literally take something ordinary and make something beautiful. It’s amazing to watch your mind work fast and your hands work even faster. And let’s not forget our talks… they were and still are epic. If I felt misunderstood, you listened and spoke my language. Lastly, you’ve lived through so much that it seeps from your pores. I am so appreciative that you share yourself with me.
I reflect on my childhood often and see flickers of your sweetness everywhere. I am so grateful for you. My mother had a tribe to help her raise me. She had a support system that cared so deeply. The fruit of your love sprinkles to those around me, especially to my village kids. My prayer is that I can show them at least half of the awesomeness that you showed me… that they feel empowered and enchanted. Thank you so much for being in my tribe. I forever love you.
Our variance in skin color rivals the rainbow. The texture in our voices is unmistakable. We have seemingly endless creativity. Our stride over the last 50 years has been remarkable, let alone the last four hundred.
We are ridiculously resilient.
Repeatedly, we are broken and crushed beneath the heavy boots of injustice and stupidity, yet we soar past the smoke and wipe the mud off our glasses to see the future.
Repeatedly, we provide delectable food, incredible art, and exceptional existence. It amazes me that there is someone from our culture still breaking boundaries post-slavery. The First Black this and the First Black Woman to do that… it gets me every time.
It should make us stand taller and put guns down more. It should make us stand up for equity in public education more than standing in line for sneakers. It should generate wealth for our children more than indebted sorrow. It should make us remember that we come from kingdoms. It should make us look at each other as kinfolk. It should make us look at each other — period.
I love us; I just don’t understand us sometimes. To celebrate our magnificence seems easy, yet on the day-to-day we forget to uplift our neighborhoods. I’m not talking about a “I hate White people” mindset here. I’m referring to the unfortunate misdirection of some of our energy. If we took half of the potency we pack into the arts and food and circulated it into other channels of empowerment, it wouldn’t matter who is President (refer to the Greenwood district in Tulsa, Oklahoma circa 1920 or Wilkinson County near Toomsboro, Georgia in 2020) — we would still be fine.
So, can we fix that? I love us too much to let it go. Even if it’s tutoring a student in your friend circle or attending a webinar together or supporting one another’s businesses (and stop wanting everything for free)… every stretch in our community’s arm will strengthen us. Yes, there are disadvantages and they are emphatically in place to mute our voices or press down our equity. I am aware of gerrymandering affecting our voting, schooling, and housing opportunities and so much more. Unfortunately, the best way to overturn these moldy practices are to change the system from the inside out. That’s where local government and Congressional elections come in. I know it’s disheartening, but whew, chile… if there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s how to rise from the ashes.
I love us.
I love our brilliance in the midst of darkness. I love our cookouts and our confidence. I love that our fingerprints are on every genre of music and our footsteps are etched into every continent. It’s OK that others want to sanitize our watermarks. They will never go away because they live in everyone on this planet. So, drop that off your shoulders. Just keep doing what is in OUR control — monitoring our time, talent, and resources. Stay truthful. Stay well. In some cases, just stay. Stop criticizing. Start doing. Start living. Start protecting. Start being. Start loving. In most cases, just start. That’s what everyone before us did… that’s how we got here. That a Black Woman with Native American roots can live in a South that used to hunt and breed her like an animal and she is now using the World Wide Web in the same South to reach thousands is a miracle that had first steps.
Everything is just a matter of time and effort, my Loves. Everything. Let’s keep going so we can be the elders our children speak highly of.
I have a reminder for you as we embark upon fall responsibilities.
As the school year is underway, there are so many puzzle pieces at work. So much grace to give out. So much love that’s needed.
I keep imagining the 60-year-old educator doing his best to teach with virtual tools he just learned from his daughter last month. I see a first-year teacher on revision #5 of her weekly lesson plan. I’m thinking of the administrator who is juggling conference calls, professional development meetings, paperwork, and emails then going home and doing it all over again tomorrow. The parent helping her child before heading to work. The grandparent trying to read the teacher’s instructions.
Behind those screens, there’s a person. Behind that cell phone is a life. A human that may need a peek of Light to brighten up the day.
Sweethearts, be that Light. You have a responsibility to share the God in you. The goodness in you. The greatness in your heart. It’s easy to cop out and unload your frustration on the nearest soul, but it takes incredible substance to share grace instead.
Let’s remember that we’re in this together.
We’re not enemies. We’re a tribe.
A group of people, not individuals in silos.
We can do this. We can make it through this… with grace.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts! Stay well out there!
I hope you’re doing well out there. I’ll pick up on the birthday shenanigans next week, but first, I have a confession to make. It’s a little lengthy, but it’s what we need to hear.
I’ve been in an unapologetic thuggish mode lately. In a good way, I believe. For example, I was in the grocery store with an arm full of items (the I won’t need a cart/basket phenomenon got me) and I paused to the side to let a tall man pass me. He was on his phone and didn’t look at his path. He headed straight toward me and almost knocked me down. I firmly said “Excuse you.” He kept going. Under usual circumstances, I would have shrugged it off, but I wasn’t game for being invisible and disrespected simultaneously that day, so I spoke up.
In another instance, I wanted to tell a fellow Christian to change Saviors because she obviously wasn’t interested in serving the one she chose. I wanted to abruptly end the conversation because I saw no point in continuing it. I was annoyed that she professed Christ’s Love over her life but was missing the beams of bias in her eyes. I listened and nodded and let the conversation naturally dissolve. This leads me to the “For Real” meaning of the blog post title… and the conviction behind my spiritually thuggish season.
We can’t say we love Jesus and desire be like Him but not allow Him to change us for the better. Remember that Vouchers post? We can’t sing songs like “Fill Me Up” and “Reckless Love” then cement the door on the parts of our hearts that need that prayer, e.g. bias, bigotry, addiction, abuse, etc. We can’t raise our hands to the heavens, but then mow over the hurt of our brothers and sisters? For some reason, we can let the Holy Spirit work on areas of disbelief, pornography addiction, drug recovery, and even murderous thoughts but if the flashlight of the Lord hit in the other dark corners we stand in front of it and say “That doesn’t apply.” Let’s take a brief look into our faith-filled fishbowl.
We are still telling brothers and sisters in Christ that racism and discrimination are not real and all they have to do is love Jesus to transcend it all.
I’ve watched Christians be more loyal to their political affiliations than to the Word of God.
I’ve observed Christians respect the American flag and the President more than their neighbor.
I’ve witnessed Christians speak vile things to each other, but separately speak kindness to their like-minded/similar-faced friends.
If we proclaim to be the children of God, we should look alike even we don’t agree. We shouldn’t have so much sibling rivalry where entire classes of people feel outnumbered. Right now, we don’t look alike and frankly, it makes the name of Jesus look bad to those seeking refuge from the chaos.
I have a prickly question for you Sweethearts — Are you allowing God’s Word to examine your heart in this season of quarantine? The hideaway coves. The cozy places. The rock-hard political stances. The back porch rhetoric. The no-holds-barred approaches to changes… are you letting the mirror of God’s Word create transfiguration in you? If not, why did you say Yes?
That’s where I am. It’s where I’ve been for a while.
I have a holy annoyance with members of my faith community because we’re arguing over simple topics and opposing the very thing God sent His Son to die for — equal access to Him. But we set His pillars on an isolated hill like the one in the featured photo, never to touch again. We go to church. We do the things. But we don’t let the transformative power of Jesus into our lives. We let the Cross stay there as a relic on the lawns of our hearts. We rant on social media, sip and talk smack at the water cooler at work, and all the while remain indignant about what God said about brotherhood, loving your neighbor as yourself, exercising the greatest commandment of Love, being a whole body made up of many parts, doing good unto others, bearing one another’s burdens, etc. It’s like something my mother said one day — there’s something wrong when a supervisor is eating steak and the employee has to eat bologna everyday and better be happy about it. In other words, we profess Christ’s Love for all, but we don’t exercise it as we should. We live in a culture where the norm is to maintain a gap of intangibility. Are there opportunities for all, sure! We see it every time another minority group breaks a ceiling to be the first to do something. Nevertheless, there is a pressured thumb on certain individuals while others reap the benefits of their labor. And it doesn’t take an expert to see it. Let’s take another dip in the fishbowl one more time.
What is the rationale of having a minimum wage that barely taps the poverty line for the basic standard of living?
Where is the recompense when journalists, humanitarian workers, and missionaries are captured and/or killed overseas?
How can we boast in providing the best opportunities in the world yet not provide adequate resources for the homeless/transient community?
Why were we accepting of athletes receiving a season off with pay to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but government officials strong armed educational workers to teach in person?
Some things simply do not make sense, Family, and we can’t lay a blanket of faith on it and call it well. We have to acknowledge, accept, and acquiesce to His Way. The problems have been here; we were finally still enough to see and feel it. This year brought the mirror and we can’t let it go to waste.
As I exit, I want you to reassess why you accepted Jesus as your Savior and if you are allowing Him to do what needs to be done in you. We can’t ask for His likeness if we aren’t ready for it. When we accepted Jesus into our hearts, that wasn’t a period. It was just the beginning. It was the starting point to transfiguration. If you think that the only thing the Holy Spirit was sent to work on was your patience and hope, think again. He works on it all and it’s our season to get out of the way and let Him do it. For the better.
Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and Love well too!
First, I pray that you and your family are doing OK.
I know there’s a lot going on in the world, so I decided to take a practical approach with this week’s post.
Emotional digestion has been on my mind. Here are 4 things that can help with that process — two for my fellow Black community members and two for members of other races and/or ethnic groups.
MY BLACK COMMUNITY
Breathe. No, seriously… breathe. You need oxygen between the sprints toward racial equality, past due justice for lives lost to racially-motivated crimes, and police brutality. None of these are going to stop tomorrow, so be careful about overwhelming yourself and taking on the good fight 24/7. You’re human… and I get it, you’re also a soldier for the cause. So am I. Even soldiers need to rest and recoup. Why else would they have “lights out,” “chow time” and “rations?” Taking it further — how else will you have enough oxygen to forgive when the time comes? Yes, I said the f-word. I know right now that is not swirling in your soul, but if a friend pleaded for you to forgive him for his bias and culturally insensitive actions, would you do it? Would your heart be so full of rage that you would be deaf to his cry? This is what happens when we don’t breathe. We die of asphyxiation by racial trauma and emotional bondage. It’s not worth it. Keep fighting for basic human rights, but don’t die from your own anger. Take a minute from social media. Pause the news if needed. Breathe so you can fight again.
Don’t judge each other’s gloves. There are different shades of fight that can work toward the same goal. The worst thing we can do is judge each other’s fight style. Some acts are foundational, such as voting and teaching our children what to do if they feel like their lives are in danger during a traffic stop. Other acts are forged with specific passions to deliver a powerful punch in the wall of racism, such as songwriting, education, science, public speaking, or marching in the streets. Whatever it is, we can’t afford to judge each other’s punches because they don’t look like ours. If they land, they’re working. I know it’s difficult not to see everyone express themselves like you, but take heart in knowing that the collective approach will be effective for generations to come.
COMMUNITY BROTHERS & SISTERS
Listen. You are being asked to lend your ear and your heart right now. Yes, I know that you have experienced disgrace in some form, but you are not in our skin and your children’s/brother’s/sister’s/mother’s/father’s name isn’t on the growing list of police violence. So, take note of this Chinese symbol for “listen.” I have used it in my communication classes to reiterate one simple principle – listening and hearing are not the same. It requires effort and sincerity. It requires a pause on your feelings to highlight the concerns of others.
Acknowledge and explore. We all have biases — this is a fact. Would you not want to hire your cousin over a stranger? It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a nepotist; it could be that you truly want to see your cousin be successful. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when the stranger is the best fit for the job and she is denied the position because of that familial tie. The problem comes in when you won’t let your child sleepover at your neighbor’s house because they don’t look like you. The issue may come to the surface when he brings a Black woman home as his girlfriend. You may not know how you feel until it’s right in front you. So, one thing you can do (that won’t require a Facebook fight everyday) is acknowledge that you are an imperfect human that may have an ancestral seed of racism. It’s OK. I know that’s asking a lot, but if Black communities can assimilate into predominately White board rooms by changing their hair, speech, and demeanor, certainly our fellow brothers and sisters can take a magnifying glass and do a spot check on their souls. Here’s a couple of verses that may help as you explore yourself. I allow the Holy Spirit to take a deep dive at least once a year. It helps greatly and I always discover something that needs removal.
Maybe you’re inundated with opinions. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with social media. Maybe you’re exhausted from empathy. Whatever it is, you deserve to be healthy enough to handle it. I pray that these notes help you function at a higher level.
Another name of God is Jehovah El Gemuwal – The LORD God of Recompense. As a Body of Christ, we do pray for righteousness to be served for lives that have been lost unnecessarily. Here are just 110 of them. There are many more and in most cases, they resulted in delayed justice or no charges at all. I place them here so you can pray for their families and remember that they did not come home to them one day. I also hope it serves as a somber reminder that one of these names could be mine.
Peace & Blessings, Sweethearts. Breathe. Heal. Serve. Fight. As always, Thanks for listening.