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encouragement

Wednesday Wind Down: Listen Up

Hi, Sweethearts!

Before I get into the inspiration/motivation for this week, I wanted to shoutout my readers… that’s right, you. 🙂

Every time I sign into WordPress, I smile. People from all over the world visit this blog. Singapore, Romania, Iceland, Brazil, India, South Africa, The Philippines, Morrocco… just to name a few. People in my personal circles read this blog too and I sincerely appreciate their support. I will never take your visit lightly and I am so grateful for every heart that reads mine through this site. Thank you and I pray for you all.

Secondly, here’s a quick word of encouragement — don’t forget to listen up. I understand the severity of COVID-19 and how important it is to listen out for facts over rumors. Quick sidebar: For accurate updates and well-explained information, check out Dr. Bertha Hidalgo at Chic in Academia. She’s a scientist and a fellow See Jane Write member. I love reading her Science Says posts.

One of the traps we can fall into is listening out for information without listening up for spiritual guidance. When I say “listen up,” I’m referring to infusing your spirit with God’s Word. Here are a few ways to do that –

  1. Go outside for a walk (while maintaining social distance, of course). Take a notebook with you or use the voice recorder on your phone to capture what God whispers to you.
  2. Since we’re in quarantine, utilize this time to digest one verse a day (I suggest YouVersion – The Bible App). If it won’t overwhelm you, read a chapter and chew on it for a week. I like to research historical and geographical information surrounding the passage I’m reading to gain context and expand understanding.
  3. Meditate for 5 minutes. Meditation comes in various forms, so don’t be intimidated by that word. One of my favorites is from AmaZen Yoga by Kimberly Snell. She combines scripture with yoga to create a spiritual meditation. It’s great for beginners. If you’re working during this time, here’s a post called work time yoga (it’s less than 10 minutes).
  4. Pray words of gratitude and authenticity. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I’m an advocate for real prayers. Being grateful for what you have and being honest with God about how you feel are therapeutic for the soul. It’s a way of releasing what is inside of you

Listening up keeps me refueled when I’m submerged in times that can tap me out of the game. It looks like we may be virtually stuck together for a while, so I pray that you are forged into a stronger and healthier you during this time — inside and out. That’s my mission. How’s yours going?

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart!

Wednesday Wind Down: Help and Hurt

Hi, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop for your week. I hope it helps!

I work in two career paths that require interaction with people in vulnerable positions. As an educator, a student’s esteem can be elevated or obliterated in one assignment. During a massage therapy session, a disrobed client is trusting me to be knowledgeable, skillful, and respectful. In both seemingly non-related professions, I had to consider the same question: “How do you help them without hurting you?”

That’s the conundrum, right? In light of recent health precautions, many must consider this item for physical reasons, but I am challenging you to look at your relationships and pose the same question.

Familial: Do you have a social circle outside of your family? How do you refuel in order to pour out to them? Do you suffer from parental guilt when you’re not with your children?

Professional: Are you a workaholic? Do you need to reassess your work-life balance? Have you created an on/off switch for your work mode? (Trust me. There is one.  Celebrities and executives do it all the time.)

Personal: Do you have friends that only communicate with you when they need something? Are your bills behind because you keep loaning funds or playing taxi?

Be honest with God. Be honest with yourself. The lie is that if you don’t almost die in the process, then you didn’t give it your all. You didn’t truly sacrifice until you pass out trying. Let me help you, Sweetheart. Stop living (and almost dying) in that lie.

Every ounce of you does not need to be squeezed out before God honors your faith. There is rest. There is fun. There is help. Pour all of that into a beautiful mug of humanity and it will make the rewards of your relationships taste so much sweeter.

Here’s some Bible verses to guide you through those questions up there.

Stay balanced out there, Sweethearts. Remember… you should not be dying so others can live — Jesus already did that. I love you all!

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Where and When

Hey, Sweethearts!

I have a reminder for you this week that I heard while cooking dinner.

Whatever you need, God knows where it is.
Whoever you need, God knows where s/he is.

A romantic relationship. A career opportunity. A miraculous provision. It doesn’t matter. God knows where it is and how to present it to you.

Let’s look at Genesis 2 and the creation of Woman in verse 22. We always assume that Adam met Eve immediately after God made her; however, we don’t know that. We can not trace this experience based upon our timetable. The Word says that God brought Eve unto Adam. He never prayed for Eve, yet God had foresight into his need and presented an exceptional solution.

Flip through the Old Testament and you’ll find supernatural food provisions and miraculous victories. Head over to Jesus’s time on Earth and notice how He always placed himself in the path of a need.

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Photo by Ivy Son on Pexels.com

So, keep that in mind as you stand in need of something or someone. As your heart pants for everlasting love or your home falls apart or your car needs to be repaired, remember that God always meets the need — even the intangible ones. He always knows where to find you and how to reach you. It’s not guaranteed to be pretty or without sacrifice, but you can believe that it will be exactly what you asked for (or didn’t know you needed).

What do you do in the meantime? Good question! Here are 3 things that have helped my sanity in those times.

  1. Read the Word according to what you need. If I feel emotionally exhausted, I read about times when others felt the same. The beauty of this tip is that we have the Internet — full of bible study tools to find something that relates to your season.
  2. Pray about everything. Don’t hold it in. Imagine having a loved one that wouldn’t let you help her because she doubted your ability. You would be hurt. Nothing would fortify you more than to have her relinquish her fear and accept your assistance. So, do the same with God.
  3. Do the work. Analyze the parts you can control and see where you need to improve. Maybe you eat at restaurants too often and it’s causing financial tension in the house. Perhaps you can discover parts of yourself that need healing before you bond souls with someone else.

I’m praying for your meantime, Sweetheart. I know it’s rough and I’m right there with you. Your solution is already created just for you. Keep going and keep being a better version of yourself every day. Peace & Blessings as you continue. We got this and God’s got us.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Stick in the Mud

Happy Wednesday, Sweetheart!

How was your week? Mine was pretty great. If yours wasn’t, it just got better. *smile* Keep reading to get a shortstop for your week.

I was walking Sammy after a rainy day and noticed the ant mounds. They had been pounded by what probably seemed to be gigantic raindrops in their eyes. If I were an ant, I would have abandoned the mounds; they looked unlivable. Some had already dried to form a semi-hard crust of mud. Then, God whispered a reminder in my ear.

Ants don’t leave when it rains.

They stay and rebuild because they know the mud will harden and create protection for what lies beneath. How often have you wanted to quit when it rains? How many of us think of rain as a bad thing? Consider this — the very thing that appears to be destroying what you’ve built is actually creating the form for what you need. The storm is causing you to anchor deeply into your faith. The wind is forcing you to stand firm on what you profess. The lightning flashes jolt you into awareness that life is not a game and that you have a purpose. You could apply this to relationships just as much as your personal life too.

We could learn a lot from ants. Storage, communication, unity… I vote to add resolve and perseverance to their coat of arms as well. I bet I could add those words to yours as well.

Still praying for you all! Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #18

Prayer: “Lord, I can’t believe this is happening to me. Why can’t things just go right?!”

My passionate expression probably seems outlandish, childish even, but God knows I’m serious. He knows that I don’t pout at every little thing. I take the brunt of various blows so my friends, family, and teammates do not have to. It’s how I’m wired. Oh, but every now and then, I just have a good old-fashioned fit. I wouldn’t call it a tantrum, but close calls have occurred. The contents of said fit generally include a raw verbal exchange with my Heavenly Father, frustration tears, and deep breathing. Afterward, I usually end up praying words of thanksgiving and leveling up my faith that everything will work out.

Max Lucado calls it “the perfect storm”… the rather imperfectly perfect blend of unfortunate things that could happen all at once. For the most part, I chew up that storm and keep my energy focused on what’s ahead. I channel unnecessary energy to the Truth that there is an end to the misfortune. At times, it just gets too much and I am purely annoyed and frustrated. If I had a fistful of flour, my inclination would be to throw it all over the place. If there was a punching bag, it would ask for mercy… but only for about 2 minutes. Yes, you read correctly. When I need to just get it out, I do and I give myself a time limit to do so. My flustered self may scream, whine, grunt, cry… whatever it takes. Then once it’s out, it’s out. My faith takes over and God reinforces His strength in me and I’m geared up for the fight again.

That “perfect storm” allows God to show Himself strong in me and also in the situation that is trying to smother me at that moment. I’m also crazy enough to believe that He allows me to release the pressure valve if needed. Whenever that is. Without judgment. Without shame. I can go there with Him and I love it.

I pray that you release your real prayer in the midst of your “perfect storm.” Get it out. Say it, breathe through it, and do so unapologetically to your Creator. It’s definitely better out than in.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart!

Wednesday Wind Down: Out of Range

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop (500 words or less) for your week. I hope it helps!

Are you guilty of having your phone elsewhere while your Bluetooth is in your ear? Yeah, me too. My headset would say in a pleasant female voice “Out of range. Trying to connect.” One time I was so comfortable with the convenience that I went for a walk outside before I realized my phone wasn’t with me. I could hear my mother’s voice clearly until it was disjunct and ultimately non-existent. I rushed back inside and her voice clarified. So did the Holy Spirit’s whisper. I shook my head and made a mental note to tell you what I heard.

It is possible that we move about life — experiencing new things or getting lost in the daily grind — and eventually slip out of range. The noise of responsibilities, time-sensitive decisions, and pressure-packed expectations can drown out the warning signs that you may be beyond the scope of God’s intentions. I believe His Spirit is always near and His fingerprints are all over our existence; however, I also believe our communication can get cloudy sometimes. So, what do you do when there’s static and His voice isn’t as clear as it used to be?

photo of woman taking picture of plants
Photo by Ree on Pexels.com

Let’s consider remote controls for a minute. It’s annoying to keep pressing buttons and nothing works. You may hit the remote, stand up, or even walk up to the television. How absurd that you stand in front of the box and keep pressing buttons! If that doesn’t work, the typical next step is to reach out and touch the television itself. The next step for the interrupted headset connection is to usually return to the phone’s last known location.

So, what about you? Are you out of range? Consider the following questions just in case:

Is there a place where you can quiet the noise?
Do you often feel confused and frustrated?
Where are your last known whereabouts regarding your closeness with God… where you were close enough to hear His voice clearly?
What do you need to do to be spiritually sound?

You may or may not feel utterly lost. Maybe you just realized that you’ve wandered outside of His intimacy. The beautiful part is that you’re not out of the range of His Love. Maybe it means snatching back your lunch breaks instead of working through them. Perhaps you can go for a walk before or after work. You could make your drive-time your new commune-time. I tell you this — there was a little sense of relief when I heard that pleasant female voice say “Connected” and I could resume my conversation.

Get back to the original source of Power, Strength, Joy, and Purpose. Reach out and clear the connection. You may be surprised by what you hear that could clarify your next steps.

Peace & Thanks for listening! I love you and here’s to a blessed week, Sweethearts!

Wednesday Wind Down: Woman Up

Hi, Sweethearts!

I’m so glad you made it through another week. *fist bump* You’re still here. That makes you a survivor and if no one has told you lately, I’m proud of you. Want to chat about dirt? Great!

I was in a good place before it all went down. For weeks, I kept thinking about Earth… the ground, the air, the resources. Someone even asked me about global warming recently and I shared my sentiments. God didn’t make us dump trash in the oceans and hurl pollutants into the air for decades. We did that. And when was the last time you recall such frequency of turbulent and abnormal weather patterns? Alabama was still breaking heat records with 100-degree days well into October. So, do I also think Earth is aching (Romans 8:19-23)? Absolutely. I believe we are experiencing two forces at work every day — divinity and volition. After all, we are made of dirt and water, right? Anywho, I digress… let’s keep going!

ball shaped blur close up focus
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Take this same battle to an internal level and I see the same tug-of-war. The person we became based upon the decisions we made vs. The person God created us to be. It’s a realistic struggle, yet we also have to factor in situations that happened to us, not because of us. This is where I was spiritually before it all went down Tuesday… in a good way. Let me explain…

The Birmingham stop of the Women Evolve Night in the Wild Tour sold out four hours before I got off work and could purchase my ticket. So, I pouted for a few minutes and faced the fact that I wasn’t going. The next day, I heard God’s voice clearly say “You need to go.” The only available ticket was for the Nashville, TN and I just knew that wasn’t the method on deck. My financial basket wasn’t prepared for the road trip. I figured someone I knew wouldn’t be able to go in Birmingham and she would miraculously let me know. So, I waited it out. I even had a Gideon moment. If the Nashville stop still had tickets available that Monday, I would go. Needless to say, He tested my faith and I drove peacefully up I-65 to receive the spiritual refreshment I needed. Like soil, I gathered the broken pieces of my heart and prayed that God would nourish it when I got there. My knee burned fiercely, two women cut me off in the parking lot, I had to walk an incline and a significant amount of stairs, but it was minor in comparison to the vulnerability I would face and the strength I would receive. I took this picture before service because I had a gut feeling that I wouldn’t care to take one later. I was right.

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During worship service, I held those pieces of my heart as my hands flew up to the heavens. I traveled solo, so I didn’t know anyone which meant there were also no inhibitions. I was determined to get what I came for.

Within the Word, Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts mentioned the importance of women recognizing themselves as beautiful and formidable soil. She invigorated our supernatural selves and I found myself in a sanctuary full of other women that brought their cardiac fragments too. The atmosphere was safe. I cried freely. When she asked for women to come forward if they needed to uproot toxic seeds, I didn’t hesitate to limp down those stairs and receive the necessary work on the soil of my soul. I had roots of abandonment, depression, despair, and pessimism hiding deep within and at the most inconvenient times, they would germinate and I would feel ashamed. The crazy part is that I could see each seed and I knew exactly how it got there. So, those pieces that I brought with me were really sprouts from past pain both inflicted by my decisions and by things that happened against my will. Healing was one thing; I had undergone that spiritual surgery. Allowing infusion of strength in exchange for those pieces was a completely different story. It required a deeper layer of trust — a full submersion into my vulnerability — to the only One who wouldn’t hurt me. It sounds like an easy surrender, but vulnerability makes me itch before I have to do it. When you’re already at a low point, you have nowhere else to look but up. The difficult part is relinquishing your strength in exchange for His once you’ve stood up.

That’s what went down… well, up. And I’m so glad it did. Sweetheart, I encourage you to allow the Lord to aerate the soil of your heart. In the beginning, it may hurt like hell, but that exchange is necessary no matter how many times or levels you have to experience. Each time, remember that you’re beautifully crafted and God wants nothing more than to help you up so awesome seeds can grow out of you.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Untouchables

Hi, Sweetheart!

What a full week it’s been. I’m glad you made it too. If this is your first time joining me, welcome in and I’m happy you’re with us. Here’s a shortstop (less than 500 words) for your week.

A difficult thing for me to watch is someone who believes s/he is untouchable. I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while as it relates to my massage therapy profession, but last night at church I heard a whisper that added another layer to the word. Let’s chat about it for a quick minute.

Illness can make a person feel unworthy of touch, especially if the disease is contagious or fatal. You may know someone that had a premature baby and the parent(s) were unable to touch their child outside of the incubator. What an aching abyss of longing for both souls to experience.

Secondly, when someone is exceptional in her/his craft, we may refer to them as untouchable. That’s a good thing — to be so stellar that you are beyond the reach of inferiority. Unfortunately, it can also create a sense of invincibility and that, my friend, is a dangerous glasshouse. As long as we are in this human frame, we are vulnerable somewhere. Your Achilles heel may be in a different spot from your neighbor’s, but rest assured, you have one… or several. Contrarily, you can also feel unworthy of touch when ego flips upside down in the form of low self-esteem.

Here’s the deal — either way, the untouchables are in need of connection. A connection that creates intimacy. An intimacy that births loving exchange. Maybe you’re an intentional or unintentional member of this club. Today, this is a reminder that you are worthy of a beautiful encounter through God’s Love. You are not untouchable to Him. No matter what end of the spectrum you call home, there is no part of you that God can not reach. You are an excellent creation and being you — with those eyes, that skin, that heart — is all that is required for you to be worthy of Love. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, Sweetheart. Nobody.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Go rock your week!

grayscale photo of man woman and child
Photo by Kristin De Soto on Pexels.com

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Try Again

Good Evening, Sweethearts. Here’s a shortstop for your week.

What do you do when you’ve messed up? How do you handle it? Guilt and shame usually wait at the door of any misstep. It’s easy to think that you’re invincible and if others think the same, the fall can feel fatal. So, what do you do next? Where do you start?

One of the first things I do is remember to whom I belong. I remember that God sees me as His daughter because I allowed His Love to envelop my heart. Here are some Bible verses that can help you get back on your feet. They have helped me over the years and have never lost their flavors.

Psalm 34:18

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Wherever you are, I pray that you remember that you are loved and that you are never too broken to be valuable. You are worth another try. So, give yourself a dose of God’s grace and smile at your fresh start.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Bible Verse photos courtesy of my Free YouVersion Bible App

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