One day, I was questioning Your existence and the next, You grew to be the most intimate Friend I could ever have.
I remember those confusing days. Going to church not knowing if You loved me the way You loved the people around me. Wondering if the sometimes-wild-yet-intriguing “Holy Ghost shout” would hit me next. I knew You were real; You just didn’t feel real to me. Then, I prayed earnestly with the fervent hope that You would answer in some way, shape, or form. I wondered… I waited… I wanted to experience what I heard every Sunday. I didn’t want to just read the stories, close the Book, and leave the faith between the pages.
I was hungry for it.
I was hungry for You.
I had questions and everyone kept saying You had answers. So, one prayer led to another… then another… and another…
Now, my faith encompasses everything I do. My identity, which once felt foreign, now is the super-suit in which I walk because I am confident in Your Creation. I am confident in You. My skin, my voice, my need to understand the world around me — all of it comes from You. They not only make me unique; they are proof that You exist. Who else could generate such biological genius that we have yet to discover? Who else could create underwater miracles that have yet to be named by scientists? No one. No thing.
So, my letter to You is one of Love, Gratitude, and Honor. I appreciate my mother for saturating our home with Your Word. I appreciate my father for allowing me to write down his sermon thoughts and outlines. Those were the best bible studies. Asking questions of my pastor and researching psalmic histories made me thirst for intimacy between us. No longer were You a long-distance love, but an everyday companion. The Greek. The Hebrew. The context. The maps. I found it all fascinating yet so expansive that I would get overwhelmed… but it left me wanting to know more. When I cried alone, I began to feel the warmth of Your comfort. When I was scared and needed a miracle, no explanation would fit except that You heard me.
Thank You for hearing me. Thank You for being with me. Thank You for being in me. I couldn’t do this life without You and thanks to our relationship, I never will.
You made it to another week. How are you? I’m glad you’re here.
I have a thought for you. Ready? Let’s go.
Once upon a time (in real life), there was a grocery store called Food World. In Food World, there was a bakery and in the bakery was a woman with confectionery superpowers — at least that’s how I saw her as an elementary-aged child. While my single mother meticulously made sure we were fed by scouring each aisle for the best deals, I was fascinated with the sugary symphony on the other side of the glass window.
First, her skin was brown like mine, so I saw my reflection. Her smile was wide and sweet. She always acknowledged my presence and didn’t seem to mind my wide eyes glued to her work as my mother shopped. Mind you, this was when you could somewhat safely leave your child at a small town grocery store bakery window and knew she would be there when you returned. Talk about visions of sugar plums… I didn’t have to wait until my dreams to see the magic. She would sprinkle powdered sugar like fresh snow. She might as well have been a samurai with the way she sliced cake rounds in half and waved frosting between each layer. Her wrists carefully swiveled as frosting oozed out of the piping bag forming flowers and leaves. I especially liked the pink frosting. It complimented her skin so well. As I’ve said before… I’ve always been an observer. Many trips later, I could guess the end result of her creations before she finished the process — a boy’s birthday, a wedding, a strawberry shortcake… they were all gorgeous to me, but maturity started to tap on my shoulder to remind me that they were intended for specific people. They were all beautiful, but they were not mine.
How often do we become enchanted with something or someone who does not belong to us? The perks of the job may be perfect or his smile may put you in a trance, but have you considered whether the design is for you? Sure, it is lovely, but is it yours? See, every cake had a name. Each dessert was crafted with a request in mind. Sometimes I would even see her place it in the box and put it in the commercial refrigerator. I could admire as much as I wanted, but there was no way those sweets were coming home with me.
Sweethearts, God has crafted opportunities and relationships just for you. Every open door is not the perfect door for you. It could very well be the answered prayer for someone else. With that in mind, it is imperative that we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us through decisions. Yes, we have free will, but we also have a Guide. Who couldn’t use a Guide during times like this?
I’m praying for you out there. Keep staying safe and stay grounded in what you know. You are a beautiful creation and it’s OK to say “not it” if necessary.
Here’s a shortstop (a 500-words-or-less-post) for your week.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved stickers. They were expressive and comforting. They represented my voice when I didn’t want to talk. They ranged from Lisa Frank to historical landmarks.
The problem came when my mother wanted a clean surface or I wanted to change the look of my binder. Those stickers could be so difficult to remove. This same difficulty occurred with people placed labels on me growing up.
You’re too quiet. You act like you’re better than us. You think you’re smart. You talk White. You’re too dark. You’re too tomboyish. You’re so prissy. You’re not aggressive enough. Your panties must be dipped in holy water. You stay to yourself too much. You don’t smile enough. You’re too sensitive. You’re too nice.
Stickers. Labels. The ones you just read were stuck all over me from elementary school onward and I desperately tried to change every last one of them… trying to conform to the shape of the sticker just to please the person that put it on my body. It was exhausting to migrate between two polarized ends trying to find the center like the bubble on a level tool. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get it right. I was always too something. It took two decades to absorb God’s Truth about my existence and allow His Love to wash that residue off my spirit. I realized and accepted the fact — Labels do not dictate me. They describe one’s perception, but they do not determine my craftsmanship and my footsteps.
Over time, as I let the warmth of the Father’s Light shine on my soul, I embraced my “too” somethings. My sensitivity was my superpower to empathize with others and see pain past the smiles. My sweetness was my weapon to confuse instigators and diffuse volatile situations. My desire not to have casual sex brought me peace of mind when my cycle was late. My quietness enhanced my listening prowess and critical thinking skills. None of these things meant I was superior to anyone; I just knew at an early age the state in which my Peace liked to live.
I learned that the way God made me was not incorrect. I was not defective. My introversion was not a bad thing. Every attribute and every trait was carefully placed with His purpose in mind and I still walk in that Truth today.
Sweetheart, walk in the Craftsmanship in which you were made (Ephesians 2:10). You were created by a Master Builder. Don’t let the stickers overstay their welcome. You are way too extraordinary for that.
Peace, Thanks for listening, and stay well out there.
I wanted to share four verses that may help you get through this week or this season. Think of them as vitamins for your spiritual immune system. You may be taking a hit between current events, homeschooling your kids, caregiving for a loved one, or juggling work deadlines. Your spiritual armor may have a few dents in it and that’s OK. That means you’re fighting. That means you’re surviving. That means you’re winning. So, let’s power up a little. There’s nothing wrong with taking your vitamins.
“But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” – Psalm 59:16 NLT
When we drench ourselves in Love, He makes our hearts impenetrable to anything that looks otherwise. It’s a way to gear up with what’s true instead of the fiery darts melting away your joy. Clothe yourself in what’s true. Armor yourself with the Truth that you are loved. Reach out to someone that loves you to circulate that superpower.
2. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
His bowels were hanging out. They had beaten him beyond recognition. He wasn’t as white and clean as we’ve seen in pious paintings. He was bloody and his hair was matted from to his scalp underneath the crown of thorns. After all, when blood dries, it isn’t glamorous. Jesus knew what it was like to be deemed inferior, yet He tells his disciples to take heart because He already overcame the world… before He is arrested to die for it (John 18). You have the right to take heart too. I promise.
3. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12
It’s hard to look someone in the eyes and know s/he/they are lying to you. It’s frustrating to explain why you’re wearing your protective mask when it seems obvious. It can make you angry for someone refuse your help. Let me help you, Sweetheart. You’re fighting a spiritual battle. The quicker you remember that, the less those darts will hurt. Does this mean you’ll be invincible? No. It means you won’t let those darts stick because you’ll separate the person you love from the behavior you hate.
4. “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” – Ecclesiastes 10:10
Boost your spirit with wisdom. Now, in order to that, humility must come with you. To gain wisdom, you have to admit that you are not all-knowing. Pride damages armor. What a foolish decision for a soldier to run in front of a formidable straight line of opponents without protection. This is how we look when we leave wisdom behind to pursue items on our own accord. Like the Word says, sharpen your ax. When the ax is sharp, the skill is able to shine.
Well, Sweethearts, I hope these vitamins help you go a little further on your journey. I love each and every one of you, so if you ever feel like you’re drowning in your situation or that your suffocating under the “I’m fine” syndrome, call the number — 800-273-8255. Counselors are available 24/7.
Peace & Blessings! Thank you for listening and stay well out there!
I’m glad you’re here and if no one has told you — you did a good job making it from last week to now.
With the news of ongoing injustice about our sister Breonna Taylor, it is easy to ask what more is needed beside the obvious to escort justice to the front row. It’s easy to feel the effects of gaslighting because that’s exactly what this is.
If you’ve never heard of gaslighting, let me tell of its evil doing. Have you ever been mistreated and the offender did not take responsibility for the offense? When you brought it up, s/he said you misunderstood the action. If you react or respond, they said you were wronging them. You begin to question whether you experienced what you did. The offender inadvertently tells you that you’re at fault or that your feelings are insignificant… that what they did is acceptable. Sound familiar? Congratulations — you’ve been gaslit.
It causes you to question your sanity and it creates a pipeline of exhaustion in the relationship. Then, as soon as you stand up for yourself, you’re the bad guy. You’re the one with the attitude. You’re the culprit. Well, you’re not alone, Sweetheart. I’ve been there.
What gets me through those moments of anguish is this new fact that I learned during the pandemic — I have the power to absorb the proof. Overall, I always ask God to show me what I need to see. This year, I had to learn to include gaslighters in that prayer. When they show you who they are, start thanking God for the proof.
Yes, be angry. Yes, be annoyed. Yes, be tired. Yes, be confused.
Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.
After you’ve been all of that, tell God that you appreciate the truth in front of you. It truly is a present. That’s what I have had to do to keep from exploding during those moments. Remembering that Truth aerates freedom (John 8:32) and that gives me the authority to release the reins of manipulative powers. I no longer have to be inflamed by their invisible fumes. I don’t have to play the game. I see the proof and it’s all I need to make a healthy decision.
I pray that you find your proof during these unprecedented times, Sweetheart. It’s easy to get lost in the waves of despair, but the Truth stands between Breonna Taylor and her murderers. He stands between you and your offenders. He is Jehovah El Gemuwal – The Lord God of Recompense – and justice is never pristinely wrapped. Don’t let current events sweep you away from the Truth. See the proof and move forward in your freedom.
I love you and pray that you are staying safe out there. Peace & Blessings!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!