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Wednesday Wind Down: Give Some Grace

Hi, Sweethearts!

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.

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

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!

Wednesday Wind Down: Transfiguration

Hi, Sweethearts.

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.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) on Pexels.com

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?

Photo by Chait Goli on Pexels.com

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!

Wednesday Wind Down: 2 for 2

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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 GemuwalThe 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.

Wednesday Wind Down: Touch

Hi, Sweethearts! *waving through the screen*

So, we’re in a season of social distancing to decrease the spread of COVID-19. As a performing/teaching artist and licensed massage therapist, I depend upon social interaction for income generation, so this self-quarantine is not amazing for business. *shrugs* Facts are facts.

While I’m using this time wisely, I can’t help but fantasize about teaching a communication, psychology, sociology, or economics class during this time. A field day would be had, I tell you. A deliciously nerdy field day with activities, discussions, and all.

On the flip side of this universe, I am equally excited to chat with you about the power of touch and its significance to our well-being. Right now, there are individuals working through anxiety and depression. Parents are re-arranging their schedules to stay at home with their children who are temporarily displaced from school. Healthcare professionals are desperately trying to douse a fire and save the world — simultaneously. The mandate of minimizing physical contact sounded easy until we realized how often we do it… and need it.

hands in front of white and black background
Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

Every day we touch each other’s lives — both inside and out. Our hearts are connected whether we want them to be or not. Those are the facts too. It’s how we were created. We were created to work as an organism not as disjointed and aimless beings. More like interdependent parts that need each other to survive. The spread of the flu and COVID-19 can’t stop us from reaching out in the name of Love. Food runners are delivering groceries to community members. Social media is actually being used as it was intended. People are socializing with members of their own homes instead of being daily ships passing by one another. Touch has so many forms that stopping the physical component isn’t enough to plug its power. It’s like trying to stop a leaky dam with a piece of chewing gum. Love is that water and He releases infinite power in the midst of impossible odds. Somehow, someway we leak and we can’t help it. I pray that we never stop.

Sincere prayers for my fellow entrepreneurs, creatives, and LMTs out there. We’re going to make it. Peace and Thanks for listening. I love y’all and stay well.

Wednesday Wind Down: For The Village

Hi, Sweethearts.

In times like these, we desperately grasp for shredded remnants of words and memories to stuff into the holes of our despair. We don’t know what to say. We don’t know what to do. We don’t know if we want to breathe. We just know what we had, what we wish was left, and what we never want to let go.

Times like these also force us to do things. They make us pause, be more grateful, drop the petty ish (hopefully), and love deeper. The pain is horrible, but it does make us pour. We release empathy, tenderness, compassion, and camaraderie. Right now, I’m thinking about that outpour. The tighter grip we place on what we value most… each other. I’ve seen hashtags, photos, and videos that celebrate family, fatherhood, motherhood, athleticism, discipline, achievement, entrepreneurship, teamwork, leadership, and friendship — all the things that surpass materialism and fame.

So, let’s take note of what matters… what makes us tick day-to-day. We don’t get to let up on that outpour. If anything, tragedy should encourage us to increase Love to maximum levels. Could any of us leave Earth at any moment? Sure, but more importantly, we have the gift of family, friends, and networks that can house incredible memories that outlive our mortality. We have passions that could leave a perpetual imprint on the world.

Make your mark, Sweetheart. Savor opportunities to create meaningful relationships. Capture moments to love on people. Pause to admire God’s handiwork. Do random acts of kindness. It’s not about beating the clock of death; it’s about expanding and producing within the time you have. I, for one, plan to continue that mission.

Peace, Blessings, and Thanks for listening! Let’s go!

Ephesians3.19
Bible verse image courtesy of YouVersion

Wednesday Wind Down: notre petite fleur

Hi, Sweethearts.

This one was a difficult piece to begin writing. My heart is still aching over the dismal news of 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney and 5-year-old Nevaeh Adams. While in different states, both were found dead and discarded like trash this week (Kamille’s body was in a dumpster and Nevaeh’s body was in a landfill).

Both cities are in mourning and our communities are hungry for clarity and directional blame, yet this isn’t a soliloquy of how disgusted I am over this tragedy.  In the meantime, I’m at home sifting through a few questions that are also on the table — what do we do now? How do we still pray when such indignant evil deeds run rampant? What do we do with the anger and despair? How do we prevent this from happening again? 

The truth is not pretty, but I don’t know any other way to say it — There are evil people in this world and there’s nothing you can do to eradicate them. It’s sad and repulsive; however, as long as there is free will, evil will be present. People decapitate others for religious beliefs. Humans mutilate fellow humans because of their sexual preferences. Abusers beat their spouses to the brink of death. Corruption begets embezzlement. The current dose of diabolic behavior makes my soul hurt for those innocent babies. Our babies. It was enough to make me reconsider birthing life. I had to ask God what to do with this sickening feeling since Tuesday’s press conference. Here are two steps where my faith walk has taken me so far.

  1. I can’t blame God for everything. It’s difficult, and trust me… I’ve been tempted to do the same, but I have to still believe in the Good. The fact that hundreds of planes fly over my head without crashing every day provides a drip of faith into my spiritual IV. Witnessing a stranger help another at the grocery store yields another drip. Benevolence. Love. Camaraderie. Drip. Drip. Drip. The crimes are horrible, but I can’t place blame where it doesn’t belong.
  2. I must continue to be a support system and advocate for children around me. In a world of pedophilia/ephebophilia, sex trafficking, and abuse, it can be difficult to trust anyone with your child.  Regardless of these realities, there are people like me that have integrity. The hope is that we minimize these tragedies by planting and watering seeds needed to grow healthy adults. We’re in the business of empowering others. With this in mind, parents must be vigilant but not paranoid. Everyone doesn’t want to harm your child. We’re your educators, volunteers, counselors, coaches… we’re your village. So, let’s act like it. Let’s work together instead of against each other.

When I began this post a couple of hours ago, I didn’t know how long it would take to release my words from captivity, but I did pray for a shortstop. Drip.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I appreciate you and let’s keep going.

Wednesday Wind Down: I See You

Good Morning, Sweethearts. It’s late, like I-should-have-been-in-bed-a-long-time-ago late, but I couldn’t go to bed without sharing a quick word with you. There’s so much going on in the world and it is imperative that we treat each other as individuals, not the assumption we think they are. It is also essential that we are emotionally honest with each other. From what I gather, that would alleviate much of the pressure we’re feeling right now.

So, I challenge you to serve your co-worker a cup of kindness even though you think they are racist. Give a compliment to the cashier who is rude to you. Say thank you to three people throughout the day for the little things they do for you or someone else. I know some people are evil. The key word in that sentence is “some.” Do your best to not stereotype everyone you see. Try not to be paranoid. I know it’s difficult, but it’s simply not a healthy way to live, plus we can’t let that rabid way of thinking run free when we have the Light to brighten our surroundings.

I love you. Take care of yourself and look out for each other.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Wednesday Wind Up: Make It Stop

I knew what I was going to post tonight. I had it all planned out; then, I saw Prayers Up for Jussie Smollett in my inbox and everything about my Wednesday Wind Down changed. I simply couldn’t wait. This isn’t about creating a literary bouquet of flowery words on my blog for lament and catharsis. Despite the disgust I experienced, this post is about obedience and attention.

Before I explain, let me share my immediate reaction. My mind kept trying to compute the Essence article because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The man who stopped to speak to me and my Sorority sister in a Michigan airport had been attacked. The same human being who was on his way to advocate for Flint’s water solution. The same spirit that smiled and said that I looked like someone who knew and wasn’t walking with an entourage. The horror and hurt grew exponentially as I saw the slurs he heard and the pain he felt. My heart cracked in a matter of seconds and I cried inside and out. The worst sting was reading the end of their rationale – “This is MAGA Country.”

I had thought of Jussie Smollett all day yesterday, and not in the way of an admiring fan. I kept being compelled to pray for him, for his heart. Now, I pray for celebrities all of the time because the weight attached to their gifts, talents, and purposes can be too much to carry, but this time was different. Throughout the day, before I knew anything about the hate crime, I prayed for his spirit… that it wouldn’t be downtrodden, that he would be well and not tarnished by evil things around him. I prayed for his peace of mind and his strength. Never once did I pray for his physical health. I wasn’t led to. It was all about the pain that couldn’t be seen and didn’t need to stick to his soul. Then, to run across that article right before I was going to bed, it was gut-wrenching and I couldn’t sleep. The last moment of serendipity was that this photo was taken on January 30, 2016, three years ago today. I was speechless, then I prayed again. Lord, just make it stop.

Screenshot_20190130-133426_Instagram.jpgJussie

Jussie, I am so sorry that happened to you. I hate that you were the subject of their spew. My heart is with you and please know that while I can’t explain where God was to prevent the experience, I can truly say that He had you in the spirit of someone miles away from that horrific moment in time. Your spirit can not be broken and what you are doing in life matters in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Apparently, you are breaking boundaries that need to be broken and making demons float to the surface. That’s the only way I can see anyone trying to hurt you in such a repulsive way. Even though you were tired, your heart was brighter than the sun that day at the airport. My Soror and I could feel it well after we left. I had to share how much I appreciate you and that you are covered. My prayers will continually be with you.Sweethearts, we have to do better at spreading Love. We teach those around us by living it out. Every day. No matter what. We have to teach our children, our co-workers, our neighbors that hate is not allowed to multiply near us. To have people physically assault one’s life is an act that should unsettle us all. Regardless of your religious or political affiliation, hate is not a validated battle cry and somehow the current temperament in America has created this warped sense of safety for ignorance to run free. The invisible seething waters of hate are tumultuous enough to reach out and grab us while we’re simply walking down the street. And don’t pretend that you don’t hear it in your cubicles, coffee shops, churches, and around your dining room tables. We do and we look away. We make excuses for it. We say it’s free speech, but is it liberating anyone? We say to just pray for them, but do we actually do it? You do realize that Jesus came so that individuals such as the ones who attacked our brother could not only receive the opportunity to turn from hate and receive Love but to also know that judgment was near, right? This MAGA mantra has nothing to do with Christian values. Stop sewing them together. Be careful to the extent to which you stretch your loyalty. Claim Christ more than your political party, more than your social justice agenda, and more than your generational ideology. We can’t stop hate forever, but we can stop it wherever we are, whenever we hear and see it.

This moment in time has rocked me to my core and taught me that absolutely nothing happens by chance, not even prayer. Be diligent and keep fighting using whatever means you were born with.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love y’all.

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!

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