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Birthday & The Beast: Part I

Have you ever felt full, like you were about to pop? Well, me, my Converse sneakers, and my school uniform made a break for it this week.

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Gotta love my therapeutic massage family. That cake… *hands up*

 

It was Monday and I was full of everything – grief, fatigue, anticipation, excitement, concern, questions, tension, gratefulness… I was just full. After all, it was my birthday and that came with a cacophony of spiritual noise. I had been fighting to stay afloat in the midst of recent rip tides and I was doing a pretty good job, but when you wake up on your birthday and wish you could just sleep in, that’s when you know the jig is up. I couldn’t do most of what I wanted due to surgery recuperation and two financial surprises, so I had to make some adjustments to keep my annual self-care ritual.

Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. It’s like my body and spirit know it’s August as soon as July ends. Well, with a few modifications, I still managed to uphold my law.

Week 1: Weekend road trip with Mommy. Music, laughs, and priceless convo.
Week 2: Ate pancakes the night before surgery. Binge-watched Blue Bloods and The Resident from the beginning. Man, I love those shows.
Week 3: Sister Time with sisterfriends. Ate half of a Ribeye from the Hickory Chip.
Week 4: Drove to Noccalula Falls (Gadsden, Alabama)

Now, about this drive… it was a serious mission. I almost didn’t make it in time due to my car repair, but I’m so glad I kept going. When I arrived, I had 25 minutes to make my birthday wish come true, then when I got there, I didn’t follow the map correctly and got set back 6 minutes. Noccalula Falls is special to me because it is one of two places in the world (so far) where I can breathe without respiratory rudeness. Something about that Gorge Trail makes me giddy like a school girl waiting on a glance from a crush. I don’t have to scale or climb, but a fall can easily be in anyone’s future along those jagged rocks. It had been years since I stood beneath the falls, but I never forgot the way I felt taking that deep breath in without clearing my throat for the first time. (A picture of it is on my About Me page.)

I know God is everywhere, but it seems like that is our sweet spot. I just have to push beyond the tough part. On the way to the cave beneath the fall’s cliff, it was difficult to breathe and believe me, there were plenty of opportunities to give up and turn around having had surgery 10 days prior. The impending thunderstorm, the 5-minute grace before getting a ticket, the throbbing headache and sore muscles, my ill-prepared attire… I could have easily said forget it. Not to mention that I kept hearing a loop of negativity in my head along the way. But with every step, I felt the reverberation of my soul making a judgment call to not accept no as an answer to my prayer request. Needless to say, I hustled in all of my sweaty glory to reach the cave by 5:00 PM and made it on the dot. When I finally reached the spot, I took that deep breath and teared up. 20180820_170342Everything that filled me up finally had a place to go and I could empty it out before His perfect blend of peace and power. There I was, looking up at God’s natural wonder, and once again His Word met me there. Here’s what I heard. I hope it helps you too.

  1. Pride, like a tumor, must be removed – not ignored.

  2. Like a tumor, pride metastasizes and blocks your divine purpose.

  3. You can’t ask God for miracles and control how they arrive.

  4. You have to go low to be lifted high. You can’t start at the top.

  5. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. If you never admit your weakness, there is no room for His strength to take over.

  6. Nothing can stop water and nothing can stop God’s grace and Love toward you. Just let it flow.

  7. Water smooths the rough edges. So do life’s challenges shape you.

No, there was no surprise party waiting for me when I got home and just 10 years ago, I was celebrating my birthday with my fiancé. I had plenty to swirl in as I recalled my battle scars, but standing there made everything feel small and made me feel safe enough to receive His strength. The exchange was available, just like air, and all I had to do was let it happen.

You know that exhale you do after ripping and running all day or removing an overcoat after a long day outside? That’s where I was. Pure relief.

And what was that overcoat? Pure Pride.

I hate asking for help to carry my bags during recuperation, accepting kindness in resources and deeds, or saying “OK” to a surprise provision that I prayed for…. how ridiculous is that? So, just like the benign tumor that was removed from my neck recently, it was imperative that God was still working on me and my foreign-body attachments.

Now, check out an excerpt of what I journaled in September 2016.

“My mantra in August was to unleash the beast.

Each birthday month, I vow to do something I enjoy and spread it out across each week. Sometimes, it’s small like a milkshake or a little bigger like a solo road trip. Well, this year I decided to embrace something that I don’t like…and it hurt like hell.”

Isn’t that crazy? Well, Sweetheart, that’s where Part II comes in. It’s great to celebrate and it’s beautiful to exhale, but we must deal with the Beast within us in order to be healthy.

Peace, see you next time on the blog, and thanks for making it to the end of this post. lol I love y’all. Let’s keep walking. If you have a birthday ritual, let me know. If you don’t, make a pact with yourself to start one. It will bless you more than you can imagine. XO

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#bloglikecrazy: Day 29 – Fog

A little known fact about me. I love fog. I seriously love it.

To some people, it’s annoying to drive through (and I do realize, in some areas, the obstruction can be dangerous). They can’t wait until it lifts so they can see everything clearly.

Not me.

It’s like the clouds are kissing Earth. I love to drive slowly in it. I love to walk in its mysteriousness. I admire the softness of the streetlights and the condensation feels refreshing on my eyelashes when I’m outside for a while. At night, my street becomes a catwalk and I work that runway, Honey. For a mental model, fog is everything.

In the natural sense, a foggy stretch of interstate will make your senses heighten as you become more aware of your surroundings. At any moment, something unexpected can happen and you have to be ready for it. On the flip side, when I walk in fog, I can see what is in immediately in front of me and I have to trust where I’m headed. Walking just a few feet and taking a look back will make you feel like you’re at a standstill… but you’re not. Where you came from and where you’re going are just as viable as when you started the journey. The kicker is that as you keep going forward, clarity is around you – not behind you.

That’s why I love fog. It’s a reminder that as long as I walk with God, I walk in clarity. He’ll lead me perfectly and I have nothing to fear. It’s heaven touching my face and filling my lungs. It’s my Father saying “I’m here.”

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of csoonline.com

Transpiration

There have been a lot of deaths around me in the last few weeks. Friends, family, students, and co-workers have lost loved ones unexpectedly. I know that within the silence of poverty and conflict, people die everyday, but in recent news, there have been outbreaks of crime like sporadic wildfire. Random shootings, suicides, and bodies found. When clusters of deaths happen around the same time, I always ask the question “What does this mean? Why now?”

What I got was the message below. It came so fast that my hands could barely keep up as I wrote it on a nearby sticky note. IMAG3365

Transpired is not the same as expired.
We transpire, not expire.
Our lives are transpiration; the transpiration
should be inspiration.

I must admit – I didn’t know transpiration was a word. I figured it had to be because of expiration and inspiration. So, I looked it up. You won’t believe what I found (unless you’re a hydrologist).

“Transpiration is the process by which moisture is carried through plants from roots to small pores on the underside of leaves, where it changes to vapor and is released to the atmosphere. Transpiration is essentially evaporation of water from plant leaves.” (U.S. Department of the Interior/U. S. Geological Survey)

My eyes got so big after reading that definition, and so did my understanding of the words I heard. Check this out.

Since we are the seeds of God and He formed us from the ground, we are essentially spiritual plants on Earth. Have you ever heard of “Bloom where you’re planted?” There you go. Well, when we die, we return to the dirt from whence we came, yet our souls are not expired. They are transpired from our bodies. If you read my post Water Proof, you’ll see where this is headed.

We are made of water and dirt. How appropriate for a seed to transform into a plant. Since we have been planted, at some point, we must be harvested. It’s gruesome to think about. It makes me cringe, but it’s the truth. The fruit of us – the lives we’ve touched, the people we’ve birthed, the service we’ve rendered – lives beyond the harvest. Essentially, we pass from one state of being into another in a form, i.e. spiritual transpiration. We don’t expire when we live in Christ. We don’t choose the manner in which loved ones transpire, but if they have been an ambassador for Christ on Earth, drenched in His living water… I believe we transition in Him as well.

Some believe in reincarnation while some believe there is no eternal home for the soul, and I respect your beliefs with sincerity. The following prayer is mine:

May we all transpire after we have expired all that
we were purposed to inspire on Earth.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of picture-perfect-world.tumblr.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 29 – Influence-a

From the root word fluent meaning  to flow

Influential people have a flow that pours in others. The fluency of their power easily transfers from one mind to the next, which in turn pours into surrounding minds. It’s a phenomenon, when it’s allowed to be. The act of being the influencer carries a great weight that one may not even know she is carrying, for instance, an apple carrying a disease. The outside may be beautiful, and the internal flesh may appear perfect, yet the invisible could harm you. Someone could have coughed on the sliced interior or touched it with infected hands, and now what was once beautiful to see, smell, and taste is now a biomedical weapon to slay the health of multiple people.

Keep walking with me and see if you can track where we’re going…

I begin each speech class with the same questions –

Are your words good enough to eat?
Do you share healthy words for others to ingest and digest or do you walk around throwing garbage on the plates of people’s souls?
Do you have good credit with your words?
Can someone take what you say and use it as an extension or “line of credit” of your character?

There are people in your neighborhood still struggling with words that flew into them as children. Hateful words. Hurtful words stating they were stupid, slow, and wouldn’t amount to anything in life. A flow that contaminated what was once beautiful into someone you can hardly stand to see. Their minds were a garden and their souls were fertile to receive the influence, the flow that poured in. But there’s a flip side to this epidemic – this spiritual influenza. If we can receive, we can also pour it within ourselves.

Let’s revisit that root word fluent. When someone is fluent in a language, it flows out of her/his mouth. It’s a river that knows its direction. It is not a second thought; it is part of the person’s internal make-up. It has been developed, strengthened and tested to be influential to the culture for which it was created. According to one of my favorite sites, the Online Etymology Dictionary, the Medieval Latin and Old French etymologies refer to influence was an astrological noun – “streaming ethereal power from the stars when in certain positions, acting upon character or destiny of men,” and “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny.” In other words, what you do and say – your flow – can directly affect the trajectory of someone’s character and destiny, including your own. Just as I’m sitting here with the flu, the trajectory of my week was changed. My goals were not met and my body was under the influence of someone else’s infection. I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t want it, but it happened. Their fluency of the virus flowed into me. I can only imagine that is how the power of our existence can be to others if we allow the river of Christ’s Love to flow within us. We can be the influence if we speak and live in His Love fluently.

You were created to be influential. You were designed to be influential to the culture in which you live. You were made to flow – to receive and to pour into others. You weren’t created to infect, but to inspire. Think of all the good seeds you could sow if you walked everyday with this in mind. You would circulate a positive river within your spirit that could block any influence you do not need. Furthermore, you could very well use the past negative experiences to create your own vaccine against spiritual influenza. Instead of being the diseased fruit, you could be the tree that spreads good health and allows the Flow the reach everyone around you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Salt Cave of Southlake

#bloglikecrazy: Day 28 – Detour

Another short stop to get you through the week. Hope it helps!

I was on my morning commute to work last week and on target to arrive early…so I thought. When I turned on GPS to check the traffic report, it indicated a 13-minute slow down. I was disappointed needless to say. Then, about 10 minutes into the drive, an alternative route option appeared and I accepted the helpful alert. It was quicker, but definitely unconventional. I never take that route to work because it has too many bottlenecks, but I trusted the notice and exited early before hitting the jam that I couldn’t see. There were more traffic lights and smaller streets, but no traffic. No bottlenecks. I was stupendously surprised. And what do you know… I totally missed the slowdown and got to work with 5 minutes to spare.

We must trust God in the detour.

That’s what I heard that morning. Just like I trusted my GPS to get me around the traffic jam, I trust the Father to lead me around, through, and over the difficult areas in life. I have to believe that His plan and sight far exceeds mine.

I thought of each time I thought I had it all figured out and how wrong I was. How many beautiful people I met on the road I didn’t want to travel. How much money I wasted trying to save a dying mode of transportation that I thought was a lifeboat.

The Truth is I can’t see what’s ahead. I can only guess. I can only estimate and plan accordingly. I can’t know what will happen, but God isn’t bound by time on Earth. He supersedes it effortlessly because He made it. So, it’s only practical that I trust His GPS over my calculated fears and prideful steps. Often times, we have both hands in those messy roadblocks. Other times, we can’t see them coming. Either way, listening to the voice of God will help us greatly. Simply put, He knows more than we do. He is trustworthy in the detours.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 7 – Pray for Rain

I saw something beautiful on the news today. A rarity, I know, but such a convicting sight it was.

My state is enduring a drought that has affected its agricultural production and marine life. Farmers are hurting financially and hoping that rain will come in time to rectify the damage of the dryness. It’s painful to see their livelihood be as parched as the soil beneath their feet. Each day, the meteorologists deliver the same news – beautiful sunny day, maybe some clouds, no rain. A disheartening report when you’re watching your crops die. I thought to myself – Too much sunshine is just as deadly. Rain or shine, we complain either way.

Then, I saw the beautiful thing.

A group of Muslim men and women had gathered to pray for rain. Prayer mats were sincerely used in the background while the Imam of a local Islamic society spoke on their behalf. The ritualistic gestures of the covered women resembled a secret poetry spoken between them and God in untainted prayer. The leader then said words that matched the beauty my eyes beheld on the television screen-

“We show our love for our country and our people and we expose ourselves to the mercy of God asking Him to send rain to all of us. We’re all in the same boat and all facing the same challenge of drought and as American Muslims, we are doing our own part in praying to God asking for relief because we share the concern like everybody else.”
– Imam Dr. Sameh Asal (read the full article from WBRC, Fox 6 here)

With so much hatred and ignorance in the world, I was oxygenated by the news story. As a Christian, I was convicted. How many times have we complained about thunderstorms and dreary overcast days? Personally, I love rainy days, but that’s definitely not the norm. When it’s summer, it’s too hot. In the winter, it’s too cold. Too windy. Too humid. Too this. Too that. It’s sad that a creation would be fickle about another creation, both not in control of the other.

What happened to being grateful for sun and rain?
*insert that Walter Hawkins gospel classic here*

What happened to praying for what we need instead of wishing for it and complaining when we don’t get it in our timing? We may not have the same religious beliefs, but I respect their humility to ask God for a need that affects us all. Here they were…such beautiful people engaging in unity within a country that sometimes disrespects their practices.

One need. One accord. One community. May we all respect that trinity as well. May we all mimic that practice during the personal droughts of our lives. May we pray for rain.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Water Proof

Caution: Let’s go swimming in our thoughts for a bit…. 622 words deep to be exact.

I don’t know how to swim (effectively), but I love the beach. I see a swimming pool and I want to jump in like an Olympic diver and scuba diving is on my LTD (life-to-do) List. With all of this enchantment over water, such a simple necessity, it would make sense as to why God would use it to get His points across.

THE LATSOL MOMENT

One morning while I was walking my dog Sammy, I noticed the dew on the grass. My dog loves to slurp it off the grass in order to prolong his morning ritual. It was nothing new, but the temperature had been consistently 90 degrees or more in Alabama for a week and even the evenings felt like a cough of heat from the daytime. On this particular morning, the dew arrested my attention. How was there dew on the grass in the midst of heat? I know the scientific answer, but that wasn’t satisfying at that moment. Then I heard God say gently…

“No matter how hot it gets, there’s always dew on the grass in the morning.
That alone should be proof that I will take care of you.”

Wow. That was my water proof.  Finally. See a few years ago, I asked for God to help me understand him more… to make himself tangible to my curiosity and satisfy my itch to learn Him in a deeper way. So in order to understand my excitement about this “theorem,” you must hear my “proof.” (Hey, math teachers… two points?) 

Although there are contrary beliefs, these is mine.

HERE WE GO…

Proof:
God is like water.
It is a representation of His deity and awesomeness and is not bound by circumstances. 

Lastly and personally…

To say that water fascinates me would be an understatement. The shower is my thinking place and a warm bath is a cozy envelope for my questions and feelings of frustration. I leave them there, in the envelope, to go down the drain forevermore. When I step out of the shower, I am new. I’m ready for the day or evening and mentally prepared for what’s ahead.

So, when I saw the blades of grass with dew and Sammy was enjoying the natural refreshment in spite of the heat, I felt like God gave my proof some recognition. More like I finally listened to what He had been saying all along. I am God. I will provide. I am not affected by your changes. I am always here. 

I took a deep breath that morning and my soul agreed… and I felt amazing.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

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