When a sisterfriend asked me how I’ve been doing since we had last spoken, I replied. “A little bitter mixed with the sweet, but it’s all good.” It wasn’t one of those fake answers you give the lady in the supermarket as you keep rolling down the aisle. It was real and I was actually cool with the words leaving my lips. So, one of the sayings my mother has uploaded into the world and I downloaded into my spirit is the following: “This is just a season, and seasons do change.”
That reminder coupled with my response to my sisterfriend made me want to share what I’ve been sipping on to get me through recent storms. Below are four videos to chew on while the winds are blowing in your life and things seem to be crumbling around you. They have helped me greatly and I pray that they build you up as well.
Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor Elevation Church
Sermon: Overwhelmed… But Not Outnumbered
Michael Todd, Senior Pastor Transformation Church
Series: U R Loved (Watched all of it.)
Sarah Jakes Roberts, Pastor The Potter’s House – One LA & Denver
Paul Daugherty, Senior Pastor The Jesus Tempo
It’s severe weather season here in the south USA, so wind down safely, Sweethearts. The storms are passing and season do change.
We learned something cool in therapeutic massage class about the heart and I underlined it in my book as a reminder to share it with you. I remember learning it in college, but something about this time around was louder.
Did you know that the heart has its own rhythm? As in, every organ is co-dependent except the heart, which can beat (for a short time) outside of the body. It has a natural pacemaker (the sinoatrial or SA node) that initiates the electrical sequence for the heart beat, and that the blood turbulence in the atria and ventricles create your heart sounds. Neat, right?! So the SA node kicks off the rhythm of your heart like a drummer giving the band 4 counts to start a song and your valves keep the sound flowing in the right direction – in, out, up, down, arms, legs, lungs, head… it’s all coordinated with the heart’s rhythm. And if the beat is off, well… that’s not good.
What I extracted from that lesson was God made us with our own rhythm. We walk around with this customized drum set in our chests at all times. Never do we say “Hold on, let me check my pulse. It may have stopped today.” No, we just keep going through life – talking, laughing, living. We trust the rhythm and it keeps the rest of our body on beat. So, what happens when the rhythm changes? Then, my friends, there is arrhythmia. Not all rhythmic changes are fatal, but some warrant close attention.
Some arrhythmias are so brief (for example, a temporary pause or premature beat) that the overall heart rate or rhythm isn’t greatly affected. But if arrhythmias last longer, they may cause the heart rate to be too slow or too fast or the heart rhythm to be erratic – so the heart pumps less effectively. (American Heart Association)
In life, the very same thing happens. We can be on a path that feels so good and then something small can throw us off. On the other hand, that steady pulse of life can be disrupted by something large and it can feel like the entire band needs to walk off stage and go home. Whatever the sound, you’ll feel the rhythm of life change. Maybe it changes your daily routine at home or your financial distribution. Maybe it skews your speech or the way you see someone. I believe we experience spiritual arrhythmia and I am convinced that we either learn to adjust or, like the heart, we simply stop. We wander through life on autopilot and wonder why we don’t feel anything. Maybe it’s because our heart is offbeat and we need a pacemaker to jump it off. Well, God is the ultimate heart regulator. I know this from personal experience. When I felt like the walking dead, he resurrected me to see life through different lenses and I haven’t forgotten that gift, even if my heart skips a beat or two along the way.
You don’t have to die from arrhythmia of the mind, body, or spirit. If you find yourself reading this and you are in need a heart check as you wind down tonight, I am praying with you. Contact me and I’ll pray with you via email. Just don’t live off beat and by all means, don’t stop. You are needed in the symphony.
Want to learn more about the heart? Check out this link from the American Heart Association. It has explanations, videos, and downloadables. A nerd’s dream come true!
Sheila E. photos courtesy of moi at the Sheila E. Concert (epic.) Joy photo courtesy of: NBC News
Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.
Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked.
What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience?
I hug my students.
I even hug strangers.
I pray for people I don’t know.
I say thank you. A lot.
I love big and I retreat quickly.
I boldly express my care.
I can speak up when I’m scared.
I can ask questions unapologetically.
I seek to understand.
I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)
So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.
It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges.
What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation?
What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space?
What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?
Where was the Wednesday Wind Down last week? On the road. To Indianapolis, Indiana. So, you have a bit to catch up on.
On Easter weekend, Upon This Rock (UTR) Productions celebrated 34 years of theatrical passion with a trailblazing rendition of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that could rival any Broadway play. Hands down, Sweetheart. It was exciting, invigorating, and empowering.
The day before the last rehearsal, I left Alabama with a worn out spirit, waiting to be refreshed. I won’t lie and say that nothing good happened to me leading up to my departure. Actually, God the Father sent distinct reminders after I cried my eyes out the prior week. I don’t cry often, so why the tears, you ask? Because I felt like a wrung out dish rag. Strong will plus a caring spirit, coupled with a loving heart can create opportunities for people to minimize you. Because I am not boisterous, it is sometimes assumed that I am resilient enough to be kicked around like kindergarten ball at recess. If you’ve ever felt this way, you know that at some point, you deflate a bit.
Well, since the beginning of the year, there have been significant instances where this assumption occurred, and by late March, I had reached my quota. I recall feeling so low a couple of weeks ago that I pulled over at a parking lot to gather myself on the way home one night because my silent frustration was so loud. There I was, battling the Truth against what was true – 1) that as much as I sincerely give of my time, talent, and treasure, there will always be someone that will disregard it, 2) that I can not control whether someone values my gifts, 3) that at times I feel invisible – trudging along some days just to stay positive and uplifting, 4) that in the midst of invitations to birthday shindigs, bridal showers, baby showers, gender reveals, organizational celebrations, etc. I somehow felt good enough to celebrate with, but not enough to contact otherwise, and lastly 5) that I was God’s Beloved and that I shouldn’t be feeling down in the first place. Ever been there? It’s not a “Woe is me” moment, but a “I’m tired of getting screwed over and fighting for the basics” moment. The vest that was once girding and protecting me was now suffocating me. It needed to come off for a minute. Just for one minute so I could catch my breath from the blows… then, I could strap back on my armor and return to the battlefield. *smh* But, two weeks
My Sister for Life – Producing Actress/ Vocalist/ Comedienne Moneca Reid
ago, I just needed a minute. That minute turned into an hour of outcry over the phone to my sister (with whom I would attend UTR) who understood exactly what I was experiencing. She decoded my tears and congratulated me on giving my frustration a voice.
So, now you see my mindset and spiritual state by the time I had to travel to Indiana. I came with a positive outlook, ready to receive whatever God had to show me. Whatever He had to say, I was beyond all ears. My prayer included the resolve that I was coming to Indianapolis empty-hearted, but would not leave empty-handed. I was spiritually hungry, and everything in me was open and available. My assistant role was clear and I was excited to serve and experience my first UTR Production.
In the midst of working backstage, I was absolutely filled. There were 3 things that I heard from God and three responses I released to Him.
“You do all things well.”
“How dare I accept less than what I am worth?”
“You really do know how I feel.”
Though some loved ones are no longer here, God does all things well.The adversity that we live through brings us closer to the people who need our story. This is the case for Executive Director Sharon L. Hill. Her testimony manifested in the form of Upon This Rock Productions. The smiles you see in that photo are not results of everything being perfect, but of God doing everything well from one point in life to another and another and another…
So how dare I accept anything less than what Jesus paid for my heart when He came with my end in mind? He values me so much that He continues to give His Love in exchange for my tainted version. Friends, Lovers, Family… it doesn’t matter. You can not – hear me clearly – you CAN NOT allow yourself to absorb the value that someone has placed on you. Check yourself for “stickers” that others have put on you and remove them quickly. You may need the Father’s help, but you can do it.
When I saw the actors cast as Jesus experience everything I had cried about just days before, it humbled me… quickly. He truly does know how I feel. Now that I’m back home, I can’t imagine the thought of forgetting that Truth. He knows what it feels like to be me.After all, that was the soul purpose of Jesus coming to Earth, destroying the religious status quo, loving the discarded, and obliterating hell’s power. He had to experience life in my shoes. At times, He retreated to pray and regroup. Sometimes, He was frustrated. He was sad. His authority and identity were questioned. He felt loved. He felt happy. He felt betrayed. He felt forgotten. He felt victorious. He is the perfect example of finishing a mission. He is the perfect depiction of Love.
One thing is for sure — everyone who experienced Jesus then and everyone who experiences His Love now have probably said one or all of those three responses above. As you wind down tonight or get ready to start your day, I pray that you are reminded of God’s Love toward you. I had to get that off my chest before I went to bed, so I hope you feel the virtual hugs through your screen.
Peace, Love, and Thanks for listening, Sweetheart.
Today was a good day and this week has been a good week so far.
I had the chance to observe and experience sadness, pure joy, introspection, encouragement, and curiosity. And it’s only Wednesday. lol Out of all of these totems on my journey, the most intriguing lesson I learned was how to move along. And no, not the “hurry up, get over it, keep it moving” mantra we all live by during the workweek. I mean, how to move along the spectrum in which you’re experiencing.
If you’re sad, float in it for a minute or two – then allow the Holy Spirit to show you how blessed you are. Keyword: allow
If you’re joyful, dance along the grain of that moment. Let it move you in every way. Absorb it. Be in the present. Let it fill you up and overflow.
If you’re contemplating life’s questions and what fuels you, go there. Step into the groove of thought and write down what you see. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t be leery of the future.
And last, but definitely not least… if you’re being encouraged, let the shower of good words wash over you like a summer rain. It has the ability to refresh your spirit as long as you don’t force an umbrella of insecurities above your head.
Move along with the moment. Don’t keep pumping the brakes on everything. It’s OK to be consumed with love, joy, sadness, etc. Just don’t live in the dark places. It’s not where you were meant to thrive. Grow, yes. Thrive… not a chance.
I believe in you, Sweetheart. Let’s keep going through the week.
One thing is true – no matter how sweet you are, how much kindness you give, you’re still going to catch some hell. Not to be pessimistic, but it’s simply inevitable. You’re going to experience some good stuff as well as some bad stuff (and especially on Mondays apparently). The spiritual law of seedtime and harvest is tried and true, and so are evildoers.
So, what do you do when you’ve given all you got and you keep finding yourself getting hit with crap?Good question.
That was me this past weekend. Sure, I knew what the Word of God said and I had faith for days, but that didn’t stop my Super Woman vest from feeling a little tight. I jumped in the shower to wash the funk away, but my vest was still suffocating me. Then, God gave me a visual. A basketball. It slammed to the asphalt as hard as possible, then it bounced upward. It bounced again. And again. Each time, straight up in the air.
Going back to the question at hand – what do you do when you’re slammed? You bounce. Does it hurt? YES! But you don’t have live on the ground. You’ve got the power of the bounce to lift you up. Feel the pain, but don’t stay there. Let the physics do the work. The harder the surface, the higher the bounce.
So, I tell you the truth again – you can bounce upward from whatever you’re up against. The worse it is, the higher your potential altitude. After all, physics doesn’t lie. Neither does God.
Trust the bounce, Dear. That’s what I’m doing. In the meantime, if you want a little more surface science in your life, check out this sweet article.
Peace, Thanks for listening, and stay up… one bounce at a time!
Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. *insert shiny confetti here*
While we were on the phone last night, saying our usual benediction of “I love you” and “I love you more,” I told her that she got me on that front. There’s simply nothing I can do to love her more than she loves me. Why? Because she loved me first. She knew me before I knew myself.
That’s a good reminder as your day may be coming to a close or as you’re preparing for a night shift. God will always love you more than you love Him. You can pour your heart out on a plate of prayers and benevolence and serve it to Him with the utmost sincerity and He will still love you in a way that is unmatched. He knew you before you got here (Jeremiah 1:5). Before you had a car, a degree, a child, an eating disorder, a panic attack, or an addiction – He loved you. So, that means whatever state you’re in, He will continue to love you. You are His and no one can change that. He will always say “I love you more” when you mess up, disgrace His name, and fall short of your promises to serve Him wholeheartedly. That’s the beauty of his Love. It’s all-inclusive and lasts forever.
So, needless to say, my mother will always 1UP me in this department. And God will always supercede her. And I’m loving that truth.
On a late Tuesday night (almost midnight), January 26, 2016, I was sitting on my couch with my tablet on my lap and my hand nervously hovering over the mouse pad. I knew that once I clicked that PUBLISH button, it would be over. My anonymity would dissolve and the different roles of my life would somehow merge as I shared my words online. It would a point of no return. And I was ready, but afraid.
You may be wondering “What’s the big deal?” Well, for an introvert, exposure is the worst nightmare. Solitary comfort and the natural desire for connectivity are always battling each other while the introvert watches, holding her breath. That was me.
I didn’t publicly publish my first blog about 15 years ago because of that battle. I stood on the sideline with my words in private view, only letting a few people into the arena to listen to my literary heartstrings play. I prayed over the blog, took a deep breath, and clicked PUBLISH. Then I put my hand over my mouth and squealed. “There it is. It’s done. It’s out there,” I said to myself. I remember that moment so clearly.
Over time, I compared my blog and content to others to see if it was good enough for public consumption. I didn’t write about fashion, music, or food, so I felt out of place at most networking events. I switched host sites, struggled to write when I didn’t feel like it, humbled myself to hear to God more, and prayed that each post would help someone. Anyone. The one.
Two years later, Listening At The Speed of Life has touched readers all over the world and encouraged people to listen for God’s voice in daily, not just on a special occasion or in desperation. It has provided motivation and inspiration for everyday life – which was my sincere prayer that night on the couch. I just wanted people to feel hope in knowing that they were not alone learning how to walk out this Christian journey in the real world. I wanted people to know that I was human enough to share what I hear instead of hoarding His whispers in my notebooks.
So, today, I had to pause and say THANK YOU. You’ve been rocking with me in all of my quirkiness and a-ha moments. Whether it was from Day 1 or on Day 730, you’re here with me today and I appreciate your time and your relationship. If I could share one more thing with you that may also apply to your life space right now, it would be – DO IT ANYWAY. You may be scared to launch out into the deep and bare the soul of your passion, but DO IT ANYWAY. Someone needs you to be excellent in your lane. This living, breathing Organism called The Body of Christ needs you.
To see a blast from the past (that is still relevant actually), take a look at my first public post – No More Muddy Tracks. I hope it blesses you wherever you are. It blessed me when I re-read it today.
Have an awesome weekend, Sweethearts! And as always, Peace & Thanks for listening!
Guess what my pastor preached the following day? ENDURE: Running the Race. I included some of my tweets below. It’s one of the ways I like to take sermon notes.
(Sidebar: I love it when God layers His Word. Don’t you? 🤗)
Hebrews 12:1 (NASB) – Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
One of my highlights was Ecclesiastes 4:12 – Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.Essentially, we fight better together. That’s what church services are to me. Yes, we are there to collectively worship God, but I also like to think of it as a pit stop where you can pause and regroup with other runners. Knowing that you’re running in the same direction, having similar experiences along the way, and celebrating our different journeys forge our faith. It strengthens the spiritual muscles.
Running together. What a beautiful, yet simple solution to many of our problems. What do you think?