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Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Week 1

Hi, Sweethearts.

If you’re just joining the blog, it’s my birthday month and my yearly tradition is in full effect. Every week, I do something I love and once a month thereafter, I continue the celebration.

Last week, I spent a sweet rehearsal fellowship day with my Troupe. When I got home that evening, I thought of them and the sentiments below and smiled.

Leading a team can be isolating. 
Your brain is on while theirs are asleep. They seek the end while you’re combing through the knots of details.
The changes and adjustments — they are many.
They seek answers you’re still asking God for.
You create room for them to grow. You are grateful they do the same for each other and for you.
You laugh together. You cry together. 
You trust they can turn the vision from the pen to perfection.
You carry them in your spirit. You pray for their families. Their health. Their successes. Their hearts.
You ache when they do, even when they don’t know it.
So, why would I kick off my birthday month in this lane?

Simple. 

They also remind me to wear my knee brace.
They force me to be vulnerable when I don’t want to do so.
They balance grace for my mistakes with constructional feedback.
They dive into the Word of God with me.
They make me laugh within 1 minute of our meeting together.
They pray for me.
They trust me to lead the ship and they go where God leads us.
They are unapologetically sold out for Christ.
They are raw and tangible human beings.
They always seek to understand each other.
They allowed me to grow as a leader and as a friend.

To spend the beginning of August with my team instead of my original plans was a conscious decision to celebrate our connection. Our family. That growth journey. That opportunity to serve. As leader, I’ve learned to listen, be bare, be firm, and be observant. I’ve learned to be students of them. I’ve heard their inaudible voices of grief and anxiety and also memorized their laughters. I’ve learned that these are my people. My tribe. They are ready to pray at the drop of a dime and they are spiritually sound as a entity and as individuals. 

The best part – they can carry on without me and I trust them wholeheartedly. So, what better way to kick off August than to remember that I’m not alone? To break bread and drip sweat and exchange sharpness with my folks? To fortify that God gifted me with people that turned from strangers to family? 

To share life with others as you morph into versions of yourself is not for the faint of heart. But we do it anyway because of moments like this past weekend. Because Love is at the center. So…

Cheers to August. Cheers to us. Here we are — 
Still flapping these wings to heights unknown.
Still soaring above murky waters.
Still maneuvering through the challenges this season brought with it
Still here. Still making it.

And I celebrate that. I celebrate God in me. I celebrate the woman I have become with my Troupe. My tribe. My sisters.

Hello, August. I welcome you with open arms because I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. Open those arms wide and accept that you’re an amazing soul with potential above the heavens. And do something you love this week too. Put it on your calendar.

I love you all.

Wednesday Wind Down: Fools

Well, Sweethearts, I have one for you that may sting a bit. It’s got some length, but as soon as I heard it, I knew I would share it with you at an appointed time. Now is that time.

“Let the fools pass you.”

Heard 2/9/20 @ 7:16 PM

I was driving on the night I heard this. A car was riding my tail. I don’t have road rage, so I waited until I could safely change lanes to get out of the way. The driver sped up but did not pass me. It was a weird moment because I had been subject to road rage before.

A few years ago, a White male targeted me while driving one day and antagonized me for a couple of interstate exits. I had not cut anyone off or was going too slow, so I was confused when the taunting began. I got over; he got over. When I sped up, he sped up. When I braked, he did the same. He almost sideswiped me numerous times and tried to run me off the road. He yelled choice words and had an evil grin. I truly believe he was possessed. The end of that story includes me doing some defensive driving and swerving off the exit he tried to block me from accessing. My hands were shaking, but I quickly circled back to head in the opposite direction and took some alternative ways to my destination.

So, you can understand why I was a little leery of this present-day situation. It was night time, not during the day like the previous experience. My senses were heightened and I was prepared to defensively drive again. I sped up; so did the driver. I braked; the driver did the same. I sped up and the driver revved the engine. I was annoyed, but calm. I accelerated with the intentions of leaving the opposing car behind my tail lights. Then, I heard the Holy Spirit say loud and clear – “Let the fools pass you.” I let off the gas and the car kept going into the distance.

For a moment, I was morphing into someone from the Fast & Furious movies. I was prepared to take my ride to the 100 mark and beyond if it meant proving my point to that driver. I didn’t sense danger; I detected that s/he was baiting me. And I almost took it. Almost.

Sweetheart, the evil forces in this world want nothing more than you bait you into being reckless. To be so autonomous that you sincerely disregard everything you know to be the truth and cling to a thwarted view of community. You know that Jesus is the answer and you also know that the pandemic is still here. You know that God is Jehovah Jireh and you also know what’s in your bank account. You know that faith is imperative, but you also know God made science. It’s inevitable to be shaky about some things, but it is not acceptable to be dismissive, callous, and hasty.

Fools will be fools until they want to know better. Jesus knew that better than anyone. Here is He was… the Son of God wrapped in skin and filled with blood, organs, and sensitivity and yet, even He couldn’t convince everyone that He was the One they prayed for and that His Word was true. Instead, the law keepers and church officers cherry picked the Word and made it fit to their liking. It happens now. The parable of the virgins is a good example of how some people take a fragments of information and miss the essential component for it to be effective (Matthew 25).

It’s not your job to convince a fool of her/his wrongdoings. It’s your job as a faith walker to set the example to light the way to right standing with God. Period. So, the more you yell on social media, the more you speak out of season, the more you choose to be blind to the truth, the less empathy you exhibit, the less Love you spread, and the less Jesus they see.

I am convinced that some people just like to rebel. They love to stir the ant mound. They feed off of drama, frenzy, and sensationalism instead of being patient enough to research the facts and listen comprehensively. Critically thinking is simply not in their repertoire. If they don’t like it, they starkly stonewall it.

As frustrating as that may be, your freedom comes in knowing that you are not responsible for their actions. Yes, in times like these, we can be negative benefactors of their decisions, but ultimately, we are not responsible for others. We are responsible to each other not for each other.

Photo by La Miko on Pexels.com

So, if someone wants to rebel against handwashing and sanitation because they believe it weakens their immune system to fight off COVID-19, let them have it. You just make sure you wash and sanitize you and your area. If your sister keeps squandering her money, let it go. Let the fools pass you. Yes, I said it. Let… the fools… pass you. You gain nothing trying to convince someone who has made it their ultimate goal to be rebellious against anything that appears to threaten her/him. You could showcase a petri dish full of bacteria and a person with a rebellious spirit will tell you it’s not real. You can read him the law and his reality will say those rights are being taken away. She will say “thank you, essential workers,” then say that the elimination of EMT Breonna Taylor‘s life was justified. The same person will wear steel toe boots, a hard hat, gloves, or a mask to work, but not follow the rules in a grocery store, school, or barber shop. Sweetheart, let them pass you. It’s not worth your peace to be angry at their mindset. Frustrated? Sure. Annoyed? Understandable. Just like I was with those drivers, I ultimately had to veer off or slow down to save myself.

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Here’s a couple of verses as a reminder when your foot is on the emotional gas and you’re on the edge of fighting the whirlwind –

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.” – Proverbs 18:2

Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” – Matthew 15:14

Lastly, I’m reminded of a time in school when I saw some students cheating on a test. It made me angry because I had studied hard for it and they were getting away with a great grade. Then came the semester exam and those students were struggling. One of them left out of anger a few minutes into the exam. I didn’t feel sorry for them. I did not help them. I kept going. They didn’t fool the teacher; they fooled themselves.

Photo by Retha Ferguson on Pexels.com

Whether it’s personal or professional, I pray that you let the fools pass you. It just seems like what you’re doing isn’t worth it, but your sanity, your wellbeing, your health is worth the work. Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out here!

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: TBD

Hi, Sweethearts.

I hope you’re doing OK out there. It’s rough in some places; I won’t lie. There’s a lot of hurt in the world… a lot of anger, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of anguish. Before today, I had another message in mind, but the only I could think to share was what I said on Sunday. How crazy is that? I just posted about Love (the real stuff, not that fake mess) being the foundational solution to our divisive American society and here we are days later… another life added to the list of fatal injustice.

So, Love is what circulated in my psyche all day. I scrolled through my phone and reached out to as many Black/Brown men that I could. Violence, racism, economic dishonesty… it won’t go away tomorrow, but I could at least check on my tribe. My people. The ones that have been my friends and my family. I could extend a listening ear, an empathetic heart… I could show Christ. Despite the rampant racism that continues to spread like wildfire, there are people like my diverse group of friends who say enough is enough. They are teaching their children that discrimination is wrong and how to spot it. They are having difficult conversations with their loved ones. They are standing with people of color in solidarity.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

I have to hold fiercely to the fact that Love can multiply just as much as hate…. just as much as the supremacist rhetoric. After all, Jesus came to save the world and he was hated by those who kept asking for the Messiah’s arrival — totally missing that the Messiah was Him.

So, what inspiration/motivation do I have for you this week? To keep going. To speak out. To keep working. To defy the stereotypes. The defeat the odds. To go to college. To pick up a trade. To invest in your community. To teach your children. To serve the less fortunate. To love the unlovable. To vote. To pray. To read. To listen. To hold yourself accountable for your own biases. To listen to God’s Voice and adhere to His directions over your own opinion.

It takes work, but it’s worth it and it’s the only way we fight to win and not just yell to be heard. Like I said in my post 50 Shades of Fight, There are boxing gloves that can fit every hand for the fight against injustice. The question is whether you are going to use yours.

Here’s some prior posts that may help you get through the week.

I’m thinking about you all and, as always, you are in my prayers. Stay safe and stay well. You matter here.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: What It Takes

Hi, Sweethearts! I hope that you are well wherever you are.

Right now, it’s a double national appreciation week highlighting teachers and nurses. *insert confetti party here especially for my fellow educators!* Both superheroes spar in different arenas, but I believe they face the same dragons that we all deal with.

  1. They know what it’s like to prove themselves.

    Ask a teacher or a nurse to recall their first time in the field and they can describe it vividly. Perhaps their hands shook as they searched for the vein to administer medicine. Maybe they rocked the 1st period and the 2nd period was an epic fail. They were nervous. They encountered self-doubt. They had a challenging colleague or supervisor. At some point, schooling had to meet real life. The rubber had to meet the road. Along the same continuum, they had to dig deep and find their grit. In both careers, they are in direct contact with the ones who need them. That comes with a certain level of pressure to sink or swim.

    YOU MATTER Mondays (9)

    Next, think about the last time you were taught by a male teacher or had a male nurse… if you had one at all. In America, we are accustomed to seeing female teachers and nurses more often than male ones. Why? I believe it’s that both occupations are seen as nurturing. This can be discouraging for men who want to pursue those careers and their choice in career paths can oxygenate discrimination once they get there. For example, a friend of mine taught science but was often mistaken for a coach. He was often asked what sport he coached when he attended educational conferences and they were shocked when he said robotics. Another friend is an excellent elementary school teacher, but we both know that unless he is a principal, he always watched closer to be sure he isn’t inappropriate with his students or deemed “soft” among his friends.  So, he works harder not to be viewed as a pedophile or homosexual even though he is neither.

  2. They know what it’s like to press pause for the cause.

    I remember being on a 10-minute break between classes and crying my eyes out for 8 of those 10 minutes. Yes, eight. I was still processing my father’s death and something reminded me of him. I fought through the memory in class, but once that break came I calmly yet briskly walked down the hall and out the door. Sitting in my car felt cozy and safe for my tears to flow. I set my alarm so I wouldn’t lose track of time and let the air of humanity flow through that superwoman vest of mine. It felt tight all day and I needed a break from being the oracle in the room. The alarm punctured time and I was thrust back into the reality of students waiting for the 2nd half of class. So, like an athlete at after half-time, I wiped my face and geared up to go back in.  I drank my water, glossed my lips, popped a Ricola drop, and walked into the building like a rockstar model. Why? Because my students needed me more than I needed to cry and I had one minute to get to class. That was reality.

    YOU MATTER Mondays (8)

    What nurse or teacher hasn’t had that moment? We know there are students and patients that care, but they are not always positioned to be empathetic. So, we suck it up. We press pause and we continue. Continue to give. Continue to empower and encourage. Continue to listen. Continue to problem-solve. Continue to serve.

    We continue.

Nurses and teachers of all kinds and specialties, I see you and right now, I believe the world sees us all the more. Thank you for doing what it takes. We will get through this together.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Be kind to each other out there and stay well.

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, Morocco… 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.

man wearing yellow jacket
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!

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