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Wednesday Wind Down: The Flood

Good Evening, Sweethearts. There’s more transparency than usual below, so here we go.

I cried last week at work, and I’m OK with that.

That statement may not mean much to you, but it means everything to me. 

Grant it, no one was within my radius, but at that point, I didn’t care if a soul was near. I’m not afraid of tears, but unless it is in a worship service or tears of joy, I do my best not to cry in front of people. No matter who they are – family, friend, or acquaintance. And crying at work? An absolute no-no. Even though family, friends, and acquaintances are completely free to unleash their tears on me and let them drop down the back of my shirt, for me, it’s not the same freedom. After all, that’s how us givers feel. We’re used to having open arms instead of receiving them.

Sorry. On with the story, before I get ahead of myself.

Last week, I didn’t cry tears of joy or frustration. I truly believe they were a gift from God. The pressure valve had clicked and my saline salvation released the pressure. Twice.

For the past 2 years, I’ve ridden on a rollercoaster of experiences, including snuggling with depression after a car accident where I slammed head-on into a guard rail and on the flip side, publishing my first book. Fluctuating income and a 4.0 GPA in massage therapy school. A corporate Excellence in Teaching Award and the death of loved ones. A cancer scare and the exhilarating participation prominent performances. Kindness from strangers thousands of miles away and an amicable divorce. I often felt like a twisted vial of Bible heroes –  Joseph the Dreamer, Job the Survivor, the giving and relentless Shunamite woman, Nehemiah the Builder, and Elijah the Miracle Conduit. Every high where my hands flew up came with a transfer from pit to pit as clusters of unrest pounded my back like the seat of an old rollercoaster. The undulations were inevitable. You wouldn’t believe them all. On most days, I was perfectly fine, in the center of gravity and gravitas. On other days, let’s just say I was locked deep within my introverted shell.

The smiles, jokes, encouragement, motivation… that’s how I live everyday and all of that is real. And last week, so were my tears. They weren’t the cute ones either. Beginning as a silent scream, they arrived with wailing in tow like airport luggage. In the first wave, I had 9 minutes left on my lunch break at school and the bank representative expressed such empathy that I was rattled. “Just get to the car,” I said. “You don’t have time to do this right now, so just get to the car and give it a few minutes.” The bank representative didn’t know my story; I just gave the facts she wanted and that was enough for her to feel my spirit over the phone and beautifully encourage me. Then, I permitted myself to twist the valve and let the tears go. The 2nd wave? Yeah, pretty much the same – random, ugly-faced, and loud.

Like many givers, I have grown accustomed to trudging along, staying optimistic, and living in gratefulness. Unfortunately, this also leaves a sliver of opportunity for me to press and pack down the cries of my heart. Somewhere along the way, it became more “Christian” to suffer in silence and only praise God in public. Then,  when I stopped in the emergency lane of life to catch my breath and actually shared a glimpse of the reality in which I was thriving, it was viewed as whining and not having enough faith. Really? How ludicrous! So, what did I do? *smh* I stopped sharing with certain friends and family and just kept running. Well, last week, I took a pause to let my soul cry out and that release was my blessing. With 2 minutes left, I began to sob with gratitude that His provision and understanding kept me this far. “Thank you, Lord” and words of adoration seeped from my lips. When my break time was up, I packed my half-eaten home-cooked lunch, wiped my eyes, blew my nose, washed my hands, and clocked back in to massage my next client.

I’m sharing this with you as encouragement, not as a plea for pity. In that moment, I was overwhelmed because I was so grateful that God never sees me as weak when I cry. He actually sees me as strong when I plop my dead weight on Him. If anything, I am creation under obedience and a daughter that isn’t scared to fall hopelessly and hopefully into the lap of her Father. Doesn’t a tree bleed sap when it’s scarred? Doesn’t a cloud release rain when it’s heavy? So, why can’t I? You may have had that moment recently or you can feel the pressure valve ticking a little and you haven’t cried yet. If you need a time-out to release the kracken, take it. Find a bathroom, closet, public park, wherever you feel safe and just let the flood do its work. No matter how strong you are or how much faith you project, your tears are a gift from God. Just check out the people we look up to in the Bible. Trust me, you’re in good company. Countless times, prophets, disciples, and pariahs cried out to God

Tears were made to purify and speak on behalf of the spirit. Don’t stifle them. Let them flow. Breathe. Then wipe your face, drink some water, and get back on the road. There is nothing weak about the flood, for it has much strength when it runs free. And you’ll be able to run free too.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. Hope it helps. 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 18 – Together

Three people. One day. All the feels.

It began with a tutoring appointment with a former student who is determined not to let anything stop her from graduating, including her English paper. I challenged her and she made me laugh. She stepped outside of her essay-writing comfort zone and I helped her see her thoughts on paper. She left the session equipped and excited to keep going. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes and made me proud to be an educator.

Next, I had lunch with sweet friend from high school. She and I were in band together and I always thought her hair color and freckles were cool. She had a quiet strength that I admired and we became friends quickly. Now that we’re grown, we had grown-folk conversation and it was lovely. We vented, we cried, we laughed. I was proud to be a friend… and her freckles and hair color still rock.

Then, it was time for my cousin’s baby shower which, might I add, was a night time swag affair. Live music, baby shower games, good food and laughs made this shower worth the cold rainy drive. I’m well acquainted with both parents, so it was great to anticipate my new cousin’s arrival. As I helped clean up, the running theme was clear. I was proud to be family.

Afrer all three settings, the word that stuck out was TOGETHER. My former student’s essay challenge wasn’t so mountainous after we met for tutoring. My friend and I didn’t feel alone in our life lessons after lunch. My family’s shower was better because everyone could share the experience. On that day, life was better together. 

Sweethearts, I pray that if you’re feeling lonely and life’s bumps are giving you bruises, that you remember that you are not alone. Lonely and alone are not the same. You can feel lonely in a crowded room. I’ve been there, and wisdom has taught me that you have someone who wants to be better together with you. Be careful, but let her or him in your heart’s circle and watch the healing begin. We were not designed to do life alone. Your problems may not go away quicker, but you’ll be stronger together as the storm passes by.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 5 – Grit

I have the best creative team in the world. Give us space and time and we do extraordinary things, like create moving water, tumultuous trees, and a visual Bible story in seconds.

On last Sunday afternoon and into late that evening, my performing arts troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, rehearsed for our upcoming performance at the UAB Gospel Choir Reunion Concert to be held at the Alys Stephens Center on Monday, November 13, 2017. I was torn between physical pain and supernatural will, but I made it. One of my teammates lives in another state and she drove into town to join us. Other teammates came from church, work, and family duties to give their sacrifice of dance as well. To check out a short clip of the rehearsal, click here.

At one point in the rehearsal, I stepped back and just marveled at how fantastic they were. Willing and diligent to get it right so God could have complete control on performance day. No one complained. No one was belittled. No one was anxious to leave. We were on one accord. Everyone was pressing toward the mark and it was beautiful. I loved beholding the glory of God working in them behind-the-scenes. 


In a bigger perspective, many will never see what we go through at home in order to produce the fruit on our limbs in life. We have structured areas and danger zones where we get our lives together before heading out into the world. In the performing arts arena, the audience may see 10 minutes of creativity for 10 hours of preparation. It’s a labor of love and a gritty process, but well worth it in the end. That’s the essence of your life, your relationships, your dreams, your responsibilities. If you do it right, grit becomes part of your daily diet. It’s good for you and for those around you. It doesn’t let you quit or whine. It pulls you over the humps and having others with you that chew on the same stuff makes all the difference.

So, there I was… with a front row seat looking at a dream realized from my 14-year-old self. Rehearsing with all of the energy we could muster. Laughing through trials and sharing our victories. And I realized then,the aftertaste of grit tastes good.

Peace & Thanks for listening! 

And to my Troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, thank you for being my muse. I love y’all. Xoxo

No Matter What 

Flight Write: ATL -> DCA -> PVD

No matter what, God is good. 

His goodness is not contingent upon my feelings,  reactions, or justifications. He is good. Period. And His mercy endureth forever (Psalm 136:1) – which means whatever I’m going through, whenever I’m going through,  wherever I’m going through it, He is still good. He transcends time and situation. There is nothing too far where God’s mercy can’t reach; He’s already tHEre. There is nothing too hard for Him where His goodness will not reign.Psalm 136.1 YouVersion

I have a list of things that went wrong in the last 7 days, but I also have a list of what went right. They combat each other, and then they balance each other out.

How can you laugh when your license plate was stolen off of your car in broad daylight? You get grateful that your car wasn’t missing too.

How do you not be upset that you have to work on your day off? You become grateful for employment. 

How do you breathe when someone leaves your life? You begin to thank God for the time you had, knowing that s/he could have been born on the other side of the world and you would have missed out on her/his awesomeness.

I’ve grown in this area, this No Matter What territory. Life’s challenges continue to improve my agility. I’d like to think that I came straight from heaven with it, but it was forged in me through my parents and mentors that served as night lights along the way. 

CAUTION: This No Matter What mentality is not for the faint of heart. It comes with distractions sprinkled like glitter on a carpeted floor, luring your focus away from your purpose as you attempt to walk forward. It has splashes of anger as you recall the sacrifices you made while fighting your demons… alone. It requires you to acknowledge the bad stuff, square up, and say that all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)… and believe it. It means crying tears of courage that leak from your broken heart.

No Matter What takes practice. Expect bruises. Check for sores. They’ll be there, but keep walking, keep praying, and keep fasting from the feast of your fears.

Believe, no matter what.

Give, no matter what.

Go, no matter what.

Love, no matter what.

And while you’re standing there braving the winds or bent over wounded from the blows, remember that Jesus is Immanuel. He is with you… all the time…

no matter what.

Peace and thanks for listening!

The Chorus

Thank you, Dictionary.com.

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

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

*pressing play on the broken record player*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nor stand in the path of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,

And in His law he meditates day and night.

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

Which yields its fruit in its season

And its leaf does not wither;

And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so,

But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,

Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,

But the way of the wicked will perish.

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

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?

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

Does not become weary or tired.

His understanding is inscrutable.

29 He gives strength to the weary,

And to him who lacks might He increases power.

30 Though youths grow weary and tired,

And vigorous young men stumble badly,

31 Yet those who wait for the Lord

Will gain new strength;

They will mount up with wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace & Thanks for Listening.

 

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