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Wednesday Wind Down: In The Middle

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

First, I acknowledge the survivors and families affected by the tragedy of September 11, 2001. I also acknowledge the first responders and volunteers that rescued and sacrificed themselves in the name of Love. I appreciate you and remember you forever.

Now, to the message at hand… a very direct one at that. It encouraged me so much Sunday and I pray that it reaches you too.

Watch this clip then read below.

Between here and heaven, you have an Intercessor (Jesus) and an Interpreter (the Holy Spirit). Liaisons that speak up and out when your silence needs a voice. When your tears are immutable forces flowing from your eyes and a wail is all you’ve got. I wasn’t in a sad space on Sunday, but a sweet surprise from a sister cracked open this hardworking vessel and my grateful heart cried out. This year has been a great lesson on how to throw my cares with a weight of faith tied to the end so it can sink in the bottom of worry. Each month, my throwing arm gets stronger and my Peace grows. All because my Intercessor knows how I feel and my Interpreter makes sense out of my jumbled emotions.

A huge part of my spiritual freedom is that I am not afraid to pray. I am not afraid to say the following:

“Lord, I’m scared.”
“God, this doesn’t make sense.”
“I don’t like this.”
“You are so awesome.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I need your help.”
“I don’t know what to say.”

Those are prayers that I release often into His lap. I am able to do so because I believe that I have an advocate in the middle of my words and eternity. Whether I’m excited or frustrated, I pray with vulnerability and confidence. God knows, Jesus prays, and the Holy Spirit guides. Because of that support, I am never afraid to share my innermost fears and expectations with my Creator. Just start the conversation and listen.

When you’re in the middle of whirlwinds and life events, remember that you have Someone that is in the middle with you. You are not alone. You are desolate. You are not an island though you may feel like you’re standing on one. I can’t explain why bad things happen in the world other than everyone has volition and we are not robots programmed by God to be good and perfect beings. What I can say is that I have experienced supernatural comfort and intentional acts of kindness. I have felt arms around me when I felt afraid and an inexplicable amount of fortitude in times of need. I have awakened in the nick of time while driving and gotten a hug from a friend that merged my pieces back together. None of which I prayed for immediately prior to receiving… but I had a middle and I encourage you to put your middle to work too. Just like in the above video clip, those hands are on you too.

Peace & Love you, Sweethearts!

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Wednesday Wind Down: Let ‘Em Talk

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

As you wind down for the day, I pray this message reaches you with good health in mind, body, and spirit. I can’t wait to share what I heard this week.

One of my favorite athletes is Manny Pacquiao. No, I am not a boxer, but I admire the profession and Manny has earned my respect over the years.

On FOX Sports PBC FACE TO FACE, I watched undefeated Welterweight Keith “One Time” Thurman talk about how excited he will be when he defeats Filipino Senator and Legendary Champion Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao. Frankly, he was talking a lot of trash with shots of cockiness. Thurman spoke jovially of Pacquiao’s age and career statistics. He said that he studied Manny’s fighting style and described ways he could penetrate his speed. I shook my head at the television while my athlete remained unphased on the screen.

The reason why Pacquiao is on my respect list is that he keeps his priorities straight — no matter what. I love how cool he is under pressure. I love how he keeps the main thing, the main thing – faith, family, then the fight. I appreciate his ability to train hard and serve his country equally hard. I admire his work-life balance. So, as I continued to watch the dialogue, I couldn’t help but notice the dichotomy in demeanor. In the midst of this observation, I heard 3 things that can help us prepare for battles in our lives.

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Courtesy of BoxingScene.com

1. There’s a difference between training to obtain and training to maintain.

Looking at sizzle reels of their training sessions revealed how different they trained.  Thurman’s clip was grizzly. His workouts were aggressive. He explained his rise to fame and his teenage decision to choose boxing over academics. I loved it actually. So much passion at such a young age and still tenacious as ever. Pacquiao’s clip was seasoned and strategic. He looked like wisdom in motion, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my favorite. Their attitudes during exercises were visibly different as well. Thurman kept repeating his goal of being a history maker for bringing down his opponent. Pacquiao never mentioned him. It was like watching a car in the acceleration lane versus on the open road.

2. Let your fight talk for you.

The moderator asked for pre-, during, and post-fight predictions. Pacquiao had little say. His words were light, short, and clear. “I respect every opponent,” he said. When asked how the fight would end, he said that both fighters worked hard and made the fans happy. Thurman? In his best announcer voice, he claimed himself as the champion. Pacquiao smiled.

3. Let your enemy keep talking.

Throughout the entire session, there were opportunities for Pacquiao to retaliate with a fiery response. He let Thurman talk as much as he wanted and only spoke when asked a question by the moderator. His face didn’t flinch. He didn’t smirk. He didn’t grimace. His eyebrows didn’t furrow. He was calm. Even his instinctive blinks were undisturbed. I study communication like coaches study plays. I can’t deny my sentiments — I loved it. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but he definitely wasn’t moved.

So, on July 20, 2019, we’ll see words and training in action. Of course, I am #TeamPacquiao all day and regardless of the prediction, his character is a winner in my book. My prayer for us is that we take his lead when faced with situations underneath our royalty. Enemies always have a lot to say. Let your character be just as loud. Now, I’m not saying Thurman doesn’t have good character; I do not know him. What I am saying is stop engaging in every conversation as if you have something to prove. You don’t. Let your work speak for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Visibility

Hello, Sweetheart.

Show Jesus everywhere.

That’s what I heard for you this week. It is such a loaded and misunderstood directive.

Showing Jesus means toting my bible everywhere, quoting scriptures when someone says “Good Morning,” and barely be tolerable at social functions because of all the judgment seething through my pores, right? Quite the contrary.

Jesus has many faces (just look at all of the colorful faces in the world) and there are opportunities to show these faces in various situations. One of them could appear as a person in need of assistance while walking across the street. Another opportunity could be a co-worker in need of a kind word. We find these moments easily because the needs are relatively visible, but what happens when the need is underneath a layer of pride or anger? I agree– it’s a bit challenging to succumb to a higher level when the low blows are trying to knock you out. Truthfully speaking, this is the perfect opportunity to show His face to someone who may have never seen it or even believe it exists. You may not see the need because his/her words are too loud or they are absent from your life, but believe me, it’s there.

Here are a couple of examples of how I try to show Jesus

  • I met an atheist this week and we had an intellectual and humorous conversation (Sidebar: Christians, stop arguing with everybody).
  • Someone raised her voice at me and I did not return the behavior.
  • I pick up fallen clothing at the department store on a regular basis.
  • I’m truthful with my feelings even when I don’t want to be.
  • I smile at strangers.
  • I don’t return road rage.
  • I listen.
  • I say thank you to police and military officers.
  • I pray for people when they ask me to, sometimes at that moment.
  • I encourage as many people as I can.

Now, I am not a saint. I just try to live my faith in real life and not just at church. It’s not easy, by any means. There are plenty of times when I want to use profanity to prove that I am not a punk, but the truth of the matter is that doesn’t prove anything except a poor vocabulary to express my emotions. There are times when I want to reciprocate negative behavior so the other person can understand that I am very much capable of doing so, but that would only show me contradicting my belief system. I choose daily to show Jesus when I don’t want to do so. Sometimes, it’s a firm stance of Truth and sometimes it’s a warm hug. I make mistakes like other humans, yet I do my best to rectify it as soon as possible. That’s showing Jesus, too.

This week, I challenge you to show Jesus to the person that gets on your nerves. Notice that I didn’t say you had to agree with them or be their best friend. Just think of ways your actions can resemble His so that His Love is recognizable through you. It may seem like a small gesture or it may be a great sacrifice on your part, but at least you have made Him visible. At least you’ve provided the proof they’ve been waiting to see.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week!

Wednesday Wind Down: ED

Hello, Sweethearts! I know it’s Thursday, but this one took some simmering… and you may be wondering where I’m going with those two letters. I’m going exactly where you think I am.

In the world of social sciences, there’s a term called emotional dishonesty. Various definitions exist for it, but in essence, it is when someone does not own up to their feelings or needs, yet s/he holds the other person accountable for the offense. This can manifest itself as passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive behavior.

When I taught adult education communication courses, we would always engage in authentic and lively dialogue about relationships (platonic, professional, romantic, familial, and social). Every quarter, someone would attribute a lack of intimacy to dysfunctional communication. Every quarter, someone would tell me how lack of trust was the undercurrent in their relationship deterioration. After my first year of teaching, I learned to carve out two days in my lesson plan to discuss the conflict chapter because it always birthed the fruition of self-discovery among my students.  The chapter also landed in the middle of the textbook, so by that point in the course, they usually displayed sharpened self-awareness and reframing skills. They were not only able to professionally assess and verbalize the conflict but also express ownership of its escalation which was often via emotional dishonesty. You can bet that made me one happy educator. 🙂

two man and two woman standing on green grass field
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

To listen to a man say “I see it now. I’m not helping the situation.” To hear a woman say “Yeah, I don’t really listen to my kids. I need to do that more.” That was what kept the blood flowing in my teaching career. That is what produced life within those four walls and fortified adults to engage in healthy relationships of all kinds.

Speaking of blood flow… let’s talk about that ED.

When a man experiences erectile dysfunction, it can be emotionally crippling. He may not be able to communicate how emasculated he feels and his behavior can be misunderstood and misdirected toward his partner. Multiple factors can cause ED and one of them is decreased blood flow.

How interesting it is that a lack of life in one area can be the cause of death in another? If blood is not allowed to flow and recycle through our bodies, we experience death. Then again, there are two types of death… two organs that are vital comrades in the cessation of life – the brain and the heart. I believe the effects of dysfunctional communication resemble the intimacy breakdown that can occur from ED. Emotional Dishonesty can lead to Emotional Dysfunction. One deters the physical production of life while the other deters the flow of spiritual exchange. In both instances, there’s a broken piece – trust.

person holding pen
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

And let’s be real… What good is a relationship without trust? How can a relationship survive without the trust that all valves are open… that the flow is free and clear? After all, there are 4 valves in your heart – two for incoming blood and two for outgoing blood, so obviously God knew that circulation and regeneration were vital in keeping you alive in both your head and in your heart. Why don’t we give it a try in the spiritual realm as well? Why not gift that freedom to each other and to ourselves? Be emotionally honest with yourself and with those you love. When you don’t, it hurts yourself because you’re blocking healthy intrapersonal communication, and it hurts the other person because it creates a disconnect from the intimacy you desire from her/him. As I mentioned to some friends this year – I’m in the business of having real conversations with real people that want real relationships. Sweetheart, can you say the same thing?

Disclaimer:
This doesn’t mean that you need to bleed your heart 24/7 to everyone you meet. As in physiology, that could leave you spiritually drained 
and unable to function effectively.

Ask God to balance this spiritual flow as you learn to communicate truthfully in HIs Love from one person to another. It can be done; I promise. I have witnessed and experienced it.  You may have to be gentle or set some ground rules, but allow truthful communication to flow between your lips. Cherish those in your circle who provide opportunities for that to happen. No matter how messy or how awkward it may be, it is worth the trust structure. Letting communication flow between two hearts creates freedom amidst two people… and that’s the pinnacle of God’s Love toward us and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Freedom in mind, body, and spirit. The kind that can only come from the Prince of Peace and the Author of Love.

For more information about emotional dishonesty, check out this article. It’s one of my favorite classroom references.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week and I love you all!

 

 

Wednesday Wind Down: There’s More of You

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

I was reminded of something recently that may help you out this week. When you think you have nothing left, there is more of you to give. I know it doesn’t seem like it (trust me, I feel you), but there truly is. Here’s how –

Every fruit has a seed and that seed has potential fruit in it. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I experience a situation that is a total energy zapper. In real life, I shake my head sometimes like a cartoon character that just hit a brick wall. It’s a quick punch to the face and if you’re not careful, it will buzz-kill your natural high on life. What do I do when this happens? The following 3 things help me cope:

  1. I tell myself “OK” as many times as it takes. Sounds simple, but it’s my way to accepting the reality without overwhelming myself. It’s also my verbal confirmation to God that we’re in it together.
  2. I ask myself “What can I do now?” I immediately prioritize to what I can control at that moment. The truth is that I can’t change the situation, but I usually can do something to relieve the pressure and lower my stress level… even if it doesn’t relate to the situation at hand.
  3. I tell myself “It’s just temporary.” For me, there’s peace in the Truth. Jesus is my Peace and He stands in the chaos with me. When I tell myself the Truth, it reminds me that the situation won’t last forever.

So, when you feel like you’re squeezed out in a matter of seconds, minutes, or months, I pray that these three things can help you deal with the reality. It truly helps me to manage every day. You’re not squeezed out because you have an Everlasting Source. Trust me… He will give you more to handle what is thrown at you. You are the fruit with potential seeds inside and we have a Master Gardener that knows His field.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Keep rocking your January!

Walking out of 2018 like…

My performing arts troupe has a saying “No scratch, no burn, no nothin’.” It references the Bible’s account of  3 Hebrew boys that were delivered from death by fire (Book of Daniel – Chapters 1-6). It’s our battle cry when we go through tough situations.

That’s where my mindset has been since December 5, 2018, when all of my employer’s campuses received word that we were permanently closing before the year’s end. Unless you were teaching a class or part of the skeleton crew designated to carry out closing duties, your last day on the job was the same day you got the news. It was horrible.

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Motivation visuals of my “why.”

Sprouts of fiery frustration, confusion, and anguish spread like wildfire among employees and students alike. It was an ugly, messy, inconsiderate break-up and there weren’t enough gauze in the world to cover the wounds. My heart bled for my work family and numerous students affected by the mud of bureaucracy. I was emotionally full and saddened that our academic and professional journey had to end in such a way.

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My office bulletin board above my desk. Before & After.

December also hosted multiple milestones that reminded me of my late former husband. So, I took the time to digest it all. To let healing have her perfect work. To let the process continue instead of stifling what I didn’t want to feel. And like my #bloglikecrazy posts expressed, all of 2018 was not bad. There were some exceptional moments in there that I will never forget.

 

So, going back to December 5th aftermath – the million dollar questions floating in the hallways were “So, what are you going to do?” “Do you have another job lined up?”

woman in peach color and red floral sweatshirt holding gray jacket
Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com

I had planned to proceed full-time in my entrepreneurial lanes in March, but upon receipt of the closing news, I heard in my spirit “It’s time.” Time to trust and do exactly what I was called to do, but was too afraid to do in the past. To everything, there is a season, and apparently, this was mine. I was so sad that the ending was so abrupt and widespread, but honestly, I was at peace and filled with unparalleled determination. This wasn’t my first rodeo in dealing with layoffs, but it was my first experience of this kind. I said to myself, “I’m done. I won’t lay me off.”

I’m launching out into the deep. Full emersion into the fullness of my workmanship. I don’t have all of the answers, but I have the orders and I’m not afraid to keep building on my dreams.

What are you willing to end in order to begin? Are you walking tall into your God-given gifts or slumping over in defeat? To all of my students, use the blunt news as the jolt you need to assess your passions, write down your dream steps, and catapult you into the very thing you’ve been talking about doing all these years. I know the way it happened sucked rotten eggs, but I’m looking forward to celebrating your new reality. I’m definitely moving into mine. All I needed was a YES from God and I got it.

Peace & Happy New Year, Sweethearts! I love you!

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#bloglikecrazy: Day 2 – Do It Afraid

The Good

#2 – I danced and mimed at Dance Across Birmingham!

Why is this significant? Because I didn’t die doing it!

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Dance Across Birmingham is hosted by the Alabama Dance Council (ADC) and is a creative ritual for me. My adventurous self gets to frolic between any dance genre that tickles my fancy. For one Saturday out of the year, members of ADC provide free dance classes for the Birmingham community and beyond. You can learn everything from ballroom dancing to salsa to belly dancing to Bollywood. I love it! It gives me a chance to stretch my dance limits and be uninhibited with a group of strangers. No one judges your stumbling feet and flailing arms as you also learn with those who are classically trained. The instructors make sure that you have fun in all of your awkward glory and you meet some incredibly cool people in each class.

During lunchtime, the instructors become the performers and you watch them explode with excellence in their respective genres. Asian-inspired awesomeness, hip-hop glory… it’s a beautiful parade of talent, skill, and passion.. and I’ve always wanted to know what it would feel like to be on that stage.

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Dancing with Nathifa Dance Company & Outreach, LLC

Well, that dream became a reality this year thanks to Sistah LaVondia Smith, Founder and Artistic Director of Nathifa Dance Company & Outreach, LLC and Rosemary Johnson, Executive Director of the Alabama Dance Council. I was elated to dance with Sistah LaVondia and NDC because of their powerful and colorful African dancing and drumming. They are a sight to behold and a force to be felt! I had admired them since they began 25 years ago. If that wasn’t enough excitement, I performed a mime piece with my Troupe and was infused with strength! What an awesome 1-2 punch of goodness!

The Lesson

Fear is the only thing standing between you and Glory.

For decades I was scared of African dancing because of my respiratory issues. I was haunted by a fear of having an asthma attack mid-performance, so I cowardly never tried to learn it with full capacity of heart. Wow… to think of how much I was missing out! After that performance with NDC and a few others, I was offered the opportunity to join the Company. I was grateful and honored, to say the least.

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What can I say? We get down and dirty for the sake of the Message.

The other fear I had was that my Troupe wouldn’t appear good enough to perform on that stage. We are a comprehensive powerhouse, but I honestly wasn’t sure if we would be accepted as equals. We are a group of faith-based performing artists that come from various backgrounds and our puzzle pieces fit perfectly to create movement that touches the soul. We unapologetically seek to reach an audience of ONE, but I couldn’t help but think that our colleagues wouldn’t understand us. I was emphatically wrong. Not only did they get it, but they enjoyed it!

All it took was a resolve to stand in the face of fear, push it down and walk over it. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t. I just did it anyway. If I had not done so, I would have missed out on two beautiful milestones and someone could have have missed a moment they may have needed to experience.

What is one thing that scares you, but you want to do it more than you’re afraid of it? I stand with you and pray for our boldness to run right over it. Will you get the tingle of timidity every now and then? Maybe. That doesn’t mean that you can’t conquer it, again and again.

Peace & Thanks for listening and “see” you tomorrow for Day 3 of #bloglikecrazy!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 1 – Open Season

Hi Sweethearts! It’s that time again!

For this year’s See Jane Write #bloglikecrazy challenge, I am sharing 30 Days of Good that happened this year despite the not-so-good. There’s no use in throwing a whole year away when 1) there were definitely happy moments in it and, 2) the year isn’t over yet! So, each day will have a brief synopsis of the experience (what I like to call the good) and the lesson that tagged along with it. Ready? Let’s go!

The Good

#1 – I was able to attend therapeutic massage school at my place of employment! Why is this a big deal? I’m glad you asked.

Unfortunately, soon after I was hired at my institution, the policy that allowed employees to attend classes on their campus was overturned and I would have to either pay higher tuition somewhere else or drive 1.5 hours to another campus every week day for 9 months. My father was sick at the time and being over an hour away Monday-Friday from 8:00 AM until 3:00 PM was not complementary to being a caregiver. I needed to be closer to my parents. After 5 years, I was convinced that the protocol had a permanent place in the books and I gave up on that dream. Then, the Holy Spirit nudged me to ask again to see if the rule had changed. It was a Monday afternoon and I was completely disobedient. I walked by my friend/ financial aid representative’s office (only 3 doors down from mine) without stopping. I didn’t want to be disappointed… again. See, my former supervisors and the therapeutic massage program director had pleaded on behalf many times for an exception and each time, we were denied. I didn’t see the point in asking, but truthfully, my attitude was “Fine. Whatever. I’ll ask her.”

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the little (taped up) notebook that changed the game. Photo courtesy of moi

So, Tuesday came. I picked up my little yellow notebook, walked toward her office, then turned the corner like I was an undercover spy. This time, the Nudge was more like a shove and I took a few backward steps and walked inside. I sat across from her desk and watched her face light up like the 4th of July. “Actually, they changed that yesterday!” she said, smiling at me. My face? Fallen and flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe what I heard, so I asked to her to repeat it. She said confirmed that I wasn’t being punk’d and I sat there speechless. I asked her when was the next class and she said January 3rd. The whole trajectory of my 2018 was about to change and I had no idea it was coming, but as we sat there and crunched some numbers, my dream-deferred was becoming a plump and juicy reality and I got excited like it was harvest time.

The Lesson

Open doors are everywhere, but they have their own timing. So, don’t get discouraged by closed doors. Just be ready when it’s open season. I was reminded of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:8-37. If you’ve never read that chapter, do it. It’s dope. She had let her dream of having a son die over time and when it was time to believe again, she reminds prophet Elisha that she didn’t want to get her hopes up again (verse 17). All it took was one more ounce of belief + action to change the story.

What in your life needs a breath of fresh air? What is your dream-deferred? What action is needed to move it from conception to delivery? Pray about it and listen for the answer everywhere you go.

Peace & Thanks for listening to mine!

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Come & Get It

Here’s a short-stop for your week, Sweethearts.

For many of you, God is saying “Come and get it.”

You’re saying “Bring it to me.”

Can you see the problem here? One of the fallacies of Christianity is that once you accept Jesus into your heart that everything you want will come to you. I (and millions of others) will beg to differ. The Truth is, God the Father has His hands open to you and while the most convenient option would be to simply give you everything, the most effective action is to balance between Him extending to you and you reaching out to Him.

Think of a father who has everything his daughter desires, yet she sits her room waiting for him to bring it to her. He’s in the kitchen, creating a meal from the heart and she can smell the aroma creeping underneath the door and through the air vents. He brings the plate to the entrance of her room, but she refuses to let him in. This goes on for days, then it continues for months.

grilled dish with vegetables on round white ceramic plate
Photo by Luka Siemionov on Pexels.com

Now think of the same individuals, only this time, the father makes sure that the kitchen cupboards and refrigerator are full of food.

At some point, the daughter has to express the will to reach out and be humble enough to accept the provision and the security that is readily available. Moreover, if he ensured that she had money to purchase the groceries, it is still reiteration that his promise to take care of her is true.

That’s what we need to do in our relationship with the Father. The Blessing, the Provision, the Security, the Peace… it’s all readily available for the taking, but we sit back and get bitter that those gifts and necessities did not “find” us. How lazy is that?

This week, ask God about your responsibility in His equation. Ask yourself – what is the Father telling me to “come and receive?”

I intend to come to Him like a daughter and receive what He has prepared for me. What about you?

Wind down safely and I am grateful for you! Peace & Thanks for listening!

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