I have a reminder for you as we embark upon fall responsibilities.
As the school year is underway, there are so many puzzle pieces at work. So much grace to give out. So much love that’s needed.
I keep imagining the 60-year-old educator doing his best to teach with virtual tools he just learned from his daughter last month. I see a first-year teacher on revision #5 of her weekly lesson plan. I’m thinking of the administrator who is juggling conference calls, professional development meetings, paperwork, and emails then going home and doing it all over again tomorrow. The parent helping her child before heading to work. The grandparent trying to read the teacher’s instructions.
Behind those screens, there’s a person. Behind that cell phone is a life. A human that may need a peek of Light to brighten up the day.
Sweethearts, be that Light. You have a responsibility to share the God in you. The goodness in you. The greatness in your heart. It’s easy to cop out and unload your frustration on the nearest soul, but it takes incredible substance to share grace instead.
Let’s remember that we’re in this together.
We’re not enemies. We’re a tribe.
A group of people, not individuals in silos.
We can do this. We can make it through this… with grace.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts! Stay well out there!
Yep, I said it. I know people want to cancel 2020, throw it in the trash, and light a match, but I believe we need to be preparing for a shift. A good one.
A shift toward a better version of ourselves.
A shift to drop the weights that easily veer us off the purpose path (Hebrews 12:1)
A shift to receive the love we deserve
A shift to throw away procrastination so we can level up our businesses
A shift to collaborate in uplifting families and communities
September is the perfect time to write down what you want to leave behind and notate what you want and who you want to become. Why? Because it’s before the holiday rat race when work and home tug at you on both ends. Take 5 minutes on your lunch break or pull over during your commute and write it down… unfiltered. Give yourself the grace to change. Grace to evolve. You do have the ability to shift into another gear.
I know I am… and it feels good. It feels right. It feels holy.
I’m praying for your shift, Sweethearts. I pray that you do not lose hope in whatever situation you are in. I pray that you continue to dream, build, and rest. I believe your shift is coming and it starts with you.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there! I’m rooting for you!
I’ve had such sweet moments so far. If you’re just joining me, let me catch you up.
Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy or I’ve been postponing, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. Just search “birthday” on my blog to see what I mean.
All caught up? Great! Let me share some of the good stuff I did during Weeks 2 and 3.
I treated myself to yummy treats!
Two foods that should marry — Five Guys french fries and Moe’s Southwest Grill Queso. So, I drove to two different cities to make sure they met. Then, I parked my car and savored every ooey gooey bite as I enjoyed a beautiful sunset on a hill. Can’t beat that kind of wedding. Oh yeah, I also had a large Strawberry Limeade from Sonic and a peach Chick-fil-A milkshake (on different days of course). For someone that eats vegetables like candy and hasn’t bought a loaf of bread in 3 years, I didn’t have a drop of guilt.
I put my health to the front of the line.
I checked in with my therapist and finally made it to my doctor’s appointment. Yes, that appointment. The yearly one. Why is that on my birthday list? Because self-care also means acquiring insight about your health and I had postponed it long enough this year. So, happy birthday to my empowered self.
I chilled with my mother.
We took a nice Sunday drive, had great conversation and hearty laughs, and delicious food. Who couldn’t use that in her life? When was the last time you scooped up someone for an afternoon drive?
I participated in UAB Trivia Night!
OK, this was a lot of fun and a lot of learning! Fellow Alumni from the University of Alabama at Birmingham got together and Zoomed a trivia game about our alma mater. I thought I was ready. I wasn’t. I knew half the questions and landed 27th place. I enjoyed every single minute of it and met some cool people. Go Blazers!
I danced my tears out.
My knee issue from last year has resurfaced and my sentiments needed to escape, so I strapped on an ice pack and did what I normally do when I’m at a loss for words — I danced. It hurt inside and out, but I danced for four hours. From 10 PM to 2 AM, I released the pressure valve until I could breathe again. My leg was swollen, but it was well worth it.
I wrote new content for my book.
This is especially for The Morning After fans. The sequel cometh. Carving time to write has been one of the highlights of this month and it feels so good to have the bandwidth to do it. So, get ready for some good stuff.
I binge-watched Being Erica.
So, this show has been sitting in my Hulu Watch List for about a year. I finally saw the entire series and was sad there were only 4 seasons once I reached the finale. It was good. Better than I thought it would be and deeper than I assumed. You can see the trailer here.
I didn’t watch the news for 2 weeks.
Just the Word and soul-feeding music on rotation over here. Then I went to sleep to the sound of ocean waves. It felt so good. I know a lot is going on, but I was to the brim looking at tornadoes of tomfoolery. I had to press pause on current events. I checked online for any updated order to be sure I could keep my business open and that was it. It was (and still is) a nice sensory breather. You gotta pause so you can fight again, Sweethearts.
See? I told you. Sweet moments. I share my shenanigans to remind you that you don’t have to have an extravagant party to commemorate yourself. While that is nice, you have the authority to do something you love every week. You do have time to experience something you enjoy. Don’t get lost in the hamster wheel. People die there.
Here’s to you having some sweet moments of your own this month. I look forward to hearing about them soon. If you already started, drop one of them in the comments. Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!
I hope you’re doing well out there. I’ll pick up on the birthday shenanigans next week, but first, I have a confession to make. It’s a little lengthy, but it’s what we need to hear.
I’ve been in an unapologetic thuggish mode lately. In a good way, I believe. For example, I was in the grocery store with an arm full of items (the I won’t need a cart/basket phenomenon got me) and I paused to the side to let a tall man pass me. He was on his phone and didn’t look at his path. He headed straight toward me and almost knocked me down. I firmly said “Excuse you.” He kept going. Under usual circumstances, I would have shrugged it off, but I wasn’t game for being invisible and disrespected simultaneously that day, so I spoke up.
In another instance, I wanted to tell a fellow Christian to change Saviors because she obviously wasn’t interested in serving the one she chose. I wanted to abruptly end the conversation because I saw no point in continuing it. I was annoyed that she professed Christ’s Love over her life but was missing the beams of bias in her eyes. I listened and nodded and let the conversation naturally dissolve. This leads me to the “For Real” meaning of the blog post title… and the conviction behind my spiritually thuggish season.
We can’t say we love Jesus and desire be like Him but not allow Him to change us for the better. Remember that Vouchers post? We can’t sing songs like “Fill Me Up” and “Reckless Love” then cement the door on the parts of our hearts that need that prayer, e.g. bias, bigotry, addiction, abuse, etc. We can’t raise our hands to the heavens, but then mow over the hurt of our brothers and sisters? For some reason, we can let the Holy Spirit work on areas of disbelief, pornography addiction, drug recovery, and even murderous thoughts but if the flashlight of the Lord hit in the other dark corners we stand in front of it and say “That doesn’t apply.” Let’s take a brief look into our faith-filled fishbowl.
We are still telling brothers and sisters in Christ that racism and discrimination are not real and all they have to do is love Jesus to transcend it all.
I’ve watched Christians be more loyal to their political affiliations than to the Word of God.
I’ve observed Christians respect the American flag and the President more than their neighbor.
I’ve witnessed Christians speak vile things to each other, but separately speak kindness to their like-minded/similar-faced friends.
If we proclaim to be the children of God, we should look alike even we don’t agree. We shouldn’t have so much sibling rivalry where entire classes of people feel outnumbered. Right now, we don’t look alike and frankly, it makes the name of Jesus look bad to those seeking refuge from the chaos.
I have a prickly question for you Sweethearts — Are you allowing God’s Word to examine your heart in this season of quarantine? The hideaway coves. The cozy places. The rock-hard political stances. The back porch rhetoric. The no-holds-barred approaches to changes… are you letting the mirror of God’s Word create transfiguration in you? If not, why did you say Yes?
That’s where I am. It’s where I’ve been for a while.
I have a holy annoyance with members of my faith community because we’re arguing over simple topics and opposing the very thing God sent His Son to die for — equal access to Him. But we set His pillars on an isolated hill like the one in the featured photo, never to touch again. We go to church. We do the things. But we don’t let the transformative power of Jesus into our lives. We let the Cross stay there as a relic on the lawns of our hearts. We rant on social media, sip and talk smack at the water cooler at work, and all the while remain indignant about what God said about brotherhood, loving your neighbor as yourself, exercising the greatest commandment of Love, being a whole body made up of many parts, doing good unto others, bearing one another’s burdens, etc. It’s like something my mother said one day — there’s something wrong when a supervisor is eating steak and the employee has to eat bologna everyday and better be happy about it. In other words, we profess Christ’s Love for all, but we don’t exercise it as we should. We live in a culture where the norm is to maintain a gap of intangibility. Are there opportunities for all, sure! We see it every time another minority group breaks a ceiling to be the first to do something. Nevertheless, there is a pressured thumb on certain individuals while others reap the benefits of their labor. And it doesn’t take an expert to see it. Let’s take another dip in the fishbowl one more time.
What is the rationale of having a minimum wage that barely taps the poverty line for the basic standard of living?
Where is the recompense when journalists, humanitarian workers, and missionaries are captured and/or killed overseas?
How can we boast in providing the best opportunities in the world yet not provide adequate resources for the homeless/transient community?
Why were we accepting of athletes receiving a season off with pay to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but government officials strong armed educational workers to teach in person?
Some things simply do not make sense, Family, and we can’t lay a blanket of faith on it and call it well. We have to acknowledge, accept, and acquiesce to His Way. The problems have been here; we were finally still enough to see and feel it. This year brought the mirror and we can’t let it go to waste.
As I exit, I want you to reassess why you accepted Jesus as your Savior and if you are allowing Him to do what needs to be done in you. We can’t ask for His likeness if we aren’t ready for it. When we accepted Jesus into our hearts, that wasn’t a period. It was just the beginning. It was the starting point to transfiguration. If you think that the only thing the Holy Spirit was sent to work on was your patience and hope, think again. He works on it all and it’s our season to get out of the way and let Him do it. For the better.
Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and Love well too!
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?
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 hope you’re doing well. I have a short stop for your week about stretch marks. I was doing laundry this week when I heard God’s voice loud and clear.
“Stretch marks are allowed in this season.”
– Heard Monday 7/13/20
It was randomly befitting and it made me pause. It was God giving me permission to be uncomfortable to grow.
Now, here’s the fun fact – I’m in love with my stretch marks. Once puberty hit, bam — there they were. I made a decision right there in the bathroom that I was going to embrace them fully. Fast forward to my pause in laundry moment and I remembered that coming-of-age resolve. Then, my mind traveled to the significant coolness of stretch marks. They come about as a result of growth, change, and birth. Something expanded and the skin could not contain it.
This year, that’s what I’ve felt like. When I said “OK” to being comfortable being uncomfortable, I forgot about the stretch marks that would come with the journey. They don’t scare me, but I have to acknowledge that they are there. Emotional and spiritual stretch marks from being swelled with baggage I needed to release. Physical stretch marks from losing weight. They are a testament that change has taken place. That I’ve birthed something that belonged outside of me.
Sweethearts, I pray that you familiarize yourself with your stretch marks. They are proof that you’re still alive in spite of the change. Do not shy away from the discomfort of this season. It’s OK to have stretch marks after this is over. It’s OK to embrace them as beautiful parts of you just like your smile.
I admonish you to stretch. Keep stretching. Keep growing. Keep birthing. Keep being. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from being a fruitful human being. We all have permission to grow into better versions of ourselves. That’s exactly what I’m doing.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there!
We made it to Thursday (it’s after midnight here) and I’m proud of us. So proud. I hope you’re doing well. I’ve been praying for you.
Tonight, I want to share a few prayers that I’ve said to cover you over time.
“Father God, I pray their hearts are healed and whole.”
“Lord, please be with them wherever they are.”
“Lord, keep them safe.”
“God, I thank you for them all.”
“Hold them close.”
“Lord, give them everything they need and more.”
“Remind them that they’re beautiful today.”
“Help them hear Your voice.”
“Give them something to laugh about today.”
“Let them know that they are special to you.”
“Lord, wrap them in Your Love right now.”
“Please give them strength, in the Name of Jesus.”
I pray that you felt remembered, motivated, strengthened, or calmed at some point while visiting my writing home.
Just like I hoped one of these prayers reached your need, I encourage you to say yours to do the same for someone else. We need each other now more than ever and this is not the time to withhold a prayer of any size. All are welcome and necessary.
“Prayer is simply talking to God like a friend and should be the easiest thing we do each day.”
– Joyce Meyer
This week, try exhaling a line of prayer from your heart. Don’t tell yourself that it isn’t good enough to say aloud. Those are lies from the pit of hell. Breathe it. Speak it. Whisper it if you have to. Just don’t trap it inside because of the lie. It could be the very prayer someone is praying for.
Stay well out there, Sweethearts. Peace & Thanks for listening.
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
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.
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
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.
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 Gemuwal – The 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.
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.
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.