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Wednesday Wind Down: The Others

Hi, Sweetheart!

If your status is single, divorced, widowed, childless, or married without children, then this message is for you.

Have you ever had someone deem you unfit to babysit because you are not a parent?
What about your relationship status becoming the primary focus at the dinner table
Have you been disassociated from certain circles because you’re divorced?

I have encountered those scenarios. Being stereotyped by people I called friends was the ultimate slap in the face. For a season, I couldn’t go a week without someone asking me if I ever wanted to get married or whether I would have time to have children with my busy schedule. Ridiculous? You would be surprised how often it occurs. A discussion with friends led to the discovery that I was not alone; this contagious mindset was more prevalent than I imagined. They even mentioned moments of being denied event invitations, experiencing condemnation by a church, and receiving degrading comments regarding their marital and parental status. First, let’s be practical. You don’t know how a person arrived at that space in life, so it’s best to choose your words wisely. Let’s go deeper.

Somewhere along society’s way, the idea has developed that God “rewards” you with marriage if you play your cards right during singlehood. How absurd! Marriage is not a prize for an upper echelon of Christians. It is a beautiful gift and exceptional experience, but not the sole proprietor of your divine purpose.

When you were formed in your mother’s womb, God impressed His fingerprint upon your heart and blew His breath into your lungs. That was a singular act of love from Creator to Creation. A moment of purpose at minute-one and not a second later. So to assume that someone is of lesser value because of status is degrading to the Lord’s inscription on a life. I know… it is not good for man to be alone is often used to justify the means of someone telling me that my life is unfulfilled. It used to infuriate me, but not anymore. Perhaps it annoys you now. Let me remind you of two things – you are not a pariah and there is nothing wrong with you. There is no cookie cutter Christian life. Wherever God has you is where you need to be.

Your worth is not contingent upon whether you’re married or a parent. God cares about your soul and He is unapologetically in love with you and you alone. So, if you don’t fit the mold of someone else’s idea of awesomeness, I commission you to live out loud with your amazingly wonderful self. Don’t allow a convoluted point of view to build a pseudo-scaffold around your purpose. I, for one, am so grateful to have a pastor that understands this. For reinforcement against the closed-minded, check out his It’s Complicated series.

While you’re walking along your customized journey, Sweetheart, hold your head up high. Own it. I think you looks great on you. Oh, and if you’re thinking of saying something ignorant to a stranger or loved one about their marital or parental status… don’t.

Peace, Blessings, & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: I See You

Good Morning, Sweethearts. It’s late, like I-should-have-been-in-bed-a-long-time-ago late, but I couldn’t go to bed without sharing a quick word with you. There’s so much going on in the world and it is imperative that we treat each other as individuals, not the assumption we think they are. It is also essential that we are emotionally honest with each other. From what I gather, that would alleviate much of the pressure we’re feeling right now.

So, I challenge you to serve your co-worker a cup of kindness even though you think they are racist. Give a compliment to the cashier who is rude to you. Say thank you to three people throughout the day for the little things they do for you or someone else. I know some people are evil. The key word in that sentence is “some.” Do your best to not stereotype everyone you see. Try not to be paranoid. I know it’s difficult, but it’s simply not a healthy way to live, plus we can’t let that rabid way of thinking run free when we have the Light to brighten our surroundings.

I love you. Take care of yourself and look out for each other.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Wednesday Wind Down: Dichotomic 

Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.

Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked. 

What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience? 

  • I hug my students.
  • I even hug strangers. 
  • I pray for people I don’t know.
  • I say thank you. A lot.
  • I love big and I retreat quickly.
  • I boldly express my care.
  • I can speak up when I’m scared.
  • I can ask questions unapologetically. 
  • I seek to understand. 
  • I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
  • I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
  • My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
  • I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
  • I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
  • I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)

So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.

The message?

It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges. 

What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation? 

What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space? 

What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 19 – Church

Remember that TOGETHER post?

Guess what my pastor preached the following day? ENDURE: Running the Race. I included some of my tweets below. It’s one of the ways I like to take sermon notes. 

(Sidebar: I love it when God layers His Word. Don’t you? 🤗)

11/19/17 @GFCBHM

ENDURE

Hebrews 12:1 (NASB) – Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

http://bible.com/100/heb.12.1.NASB

One of my highlights was Ecclesiastes 4:12 – Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Essentially, we fight better together. That’s what church services are to me. Yes, we are there to collectively worship God, but I also like to think of it as a pit stop where you can pause and regroup with other runners. Knowing that you’re running in the same direction, having similar experiences along the way, and celebrating our different journeys forge our faith. It strengthens the spiritual muscles.

Running together.  What a beautiful, yet simple solution to many of our problems. What do you think?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 18 – Together

Three people. One day. All the feels.

It began with a tutoring appointment with a former student who is determined not to let anything stop her from graduating, including her English paper. I challenged her and she made me laugh. She stepped outside of her essay-writing comfort zone and I helped her see her thoughts on paper. She left the session equipped and excited to keep going. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes and made me proud to be an educator.

Next, I had lunch with sweet friend from high school. She and I were in band together and I always thought her hair color and freckles were cool. She had a quiet strength that I admired and we became friends quickly. Now that we’re grown, we had grown-folk conversation and it was lovely. We vented, we cried, we laughed. I was proud to be a friend… and her freckles and hair color still rock.

Then, it was time for my cousin’s baby shower which, might I add, was a night time swag affair. Live music, baby shower games, good food and laughs made this shower worth the cold rainy drive. I’m well acquainted with both parents, so it was great to anticipate my new cousin’s arrival. As I helped clean up, the running theme was clear. I was proud to be family.

Afrer all three settings, the word that stuck out was TOGETHER. My former student’s essay challenge wasn’t so mountainous after we met for tutoring. My friend and I didn’t feel alone in our life lessons after lunch. My family’s shower was better because everyone could share the experience. On that day, life was better together. 

Sweethearts, I pray that if you’re feeling lonely and life’s bumps are giving you bruises, that you remember that you are not alone. Lonely and alone are not the same. You can feel lonely in a crowded room. I’ve been there, and wisdom has taught me that you have someone who wants to be better together with you. Be careful, but let her or him in your heart’s circle and watch the healing begin. We were not designed to do life alone. Your problems may not go away quicker, but you’ll be stronger together as the storm passes by.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 17 – Scales

​Thoughts after reading

Proverbs 16:2

When I read this verse, I immediately saw the image of the scales of justice.

While actions can be seen, motives can be stealthy like the cloak of invisibility in Harry Potter. Actions are nice, after all, Love is an action word (isn’t that what we say?); however, motives are the legs upon which actions stand. You can tell if someone gives you a gift from the heart. It doesn’t matter how expensive it is or where it was found. It’s the motive, the undercarriage of intent that makes or breaks the transaction.  That’s what I have found to be true over the years. The heart of the receiver has to match the heart of the giver for the exchange to be simultaneously priceless.

When God looks at us, He doesn’t weigh the ways; He weighs the motives. That means He puts more weights on the side of my intentions than the deed itself. My reasons behind my ways will be heavier than how much it cost me to do it. Every. Single. Time.

My prayer? Thank you, God, for weighing the heart and Lord, please  help my intentions!

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 16 – Forever 

Forever is a long time to grow. Are you willing to do it?

I mean it. Are you willing to a make a pact with God that you will grow as long as you live here on Earth? After all, we are the seeds of Adam and Eve and quite frankly, there’s still some growing to do. If plants can do it, why can’t we? Why can’t we do what seeds do – germinate and multiply? 

It seems hard to think about, but we are designed to break free from the shell of innocence and yield a life with more seeds to plant. With our words, deeds, and talents, we were created to expand and produce a harvest for others to courageously do the same. 

So, when I say “Forever is a long time to grow,” I intend to invoke conviction of every intrapersonal and interpersonal interaction you will have for the rest of your life. I want you to think about the seeds your fruit is producing for others to ingest. I want you to think about forever

Peace & Thanks for listening!

If Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number…

Flight Write: PVD -> BWI

…then family ain’t nothing but a word.

I started this trip a bit frustrated with some people that call themselves family. I had been holding in a tumultuous flow of words for a month. Unfortunately, people think that if you aren’t belligerent with colorful words spewing out of your mouth, that you aren’t capable of being such.

I am happy to inform you that this is a lie.

That quiet worker or positive colleague can be a verbal assassin with plenty of artillery to annihilate your heart, but s/he chooses to smile instead. This was me for a month. The term family almost seemed like a dirty word that left a foul taste in my mouth when I thought of certain people. My circle got smaller and some of it was involuntary. So, needless to say, I was a bit sour.

Then, my sorority sister lent her ear for what was a tsunami of “Why’s,” “That’s just stupid’s,” and “I just don’t get it’s.” My mother and aunt tag-teamed to ensure I caught my twilight bus. A sisterfriend checked for my travel safety. Another sisterfriend of 16 years transported me to bookstores to inquire about book signing opportunities before heading to the airport. One sorority sister extended herself with hospitality that could rival any 4-star hotel and another sorority sister hosted me with patience as I coordinated visits with DMV friends I had not seen in 10+ years. My big brother is always one call away when I’m in town and my mother always seals my travel with prayer.
God brought all of these things back to my remembrance and I am sitting on this plane marveled at how flimsy we view the f-word and how quickly we throw it away.

It doesn’t matter how many genetic or blended relatives you have,
God will give you the 
family to fill the need. 

Maslows-Hierarchy-of-Needs-1024x791Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs indicates that we have a need for connectedness, love, and belonging. I believe that wholeheartedly. After all, God created the ultimate adoption plan through His Son, so we were not designed to “do life” alone. Even a mean senior citizen has a plant, pet, or something they can care for!

You may have a sister you can’t stand or an uncle you don’t like, but for every ounce of foolishness and discord, there is someone spiritually-related for you to do life together.

I am so grateful for my family. I pray that God shines a spotlight on yours so you can see them when life gets dim, too. Don’t think that family just encompasses a group with the same last name. It just requires a circle of people connected by the same heartstrings.

Peace and thanks for listening.

Kindness Costs

There’s a graciousness in silent kindness.

A simple act of assisting another person can be quickly the perfect rescue in a stressful situation. It can melt tension that stubbornly stands in the way of a peaceful transaction. There may be a cost to this grace – an act misinterpreted, confusion, inconvenience, rebellion – but, I’m here to tell you… it’s worth it.

SCENARIO 1

I watched a man extend himself to me with this gracious, silent kindness during a flight boarding. He was helping me put my bag in the overhead bin. When he adjusted the orientation of the unmarked adjacent bag so mine could fit, the flight attendant aggressively questioned him:

“What are you doing? What are you doing?”

As the man explained that he was helping me, the flight attendant talked over him:

“That is my bag…”

This repeated for about five seconds (which felt like forever as I watched it happen). I knew I had to interject with some cold-watered words.

“He was helping me. We did not know that it was your bag,” I said slowly and firmly, looking directly into his eyes.

The flight attendant calmed down a bit and the kind passenger removed his hands from my bag, then stepped away with his hands up. He apologized to the flight attendant as he took his seat. I agreed with the him that the flight attendant’s reaction was unnecessary as I sat in mine. Then, the flight attendant proceeded to explain himself to us.

“People have tried to take our luggage before. You wouldn’t believe it…”

But his words were floating lifelessly in our ocean of disgust, visible for him to retrieve. The damage had already been done. The transaction was complete, and there was still no apology bobbing around his explanation. I wasn’t interested in any further interaction with him. I prepared my 2nd carry-on bag for the overhead storage across the aisle (after retrieving my notebook and pen, of course). The same gentleman let me know of a quick empty spot and I stored it there.

I thought of how often we mistake kindness as obtrusive and reflected on a previous moment during my trip.

SCENARIO 2

A young boy (about 6-years-old) complimented our hair as he walked by our restaurant table Friday morning  and the woman that walked with him scorned him loudly for “disrupting our breakfast.” When I realized his sweet voice saying “I like your hair” was directed toward us, he had already been accompanied by a relative to their vehicle while another adult woman paid the cashier.

I saw the gap and seized the moment.

I walked outside to their car and asked if the boy was talking to us earlier. The non-scornful woman said yes, and I asked if I could properly accept his compliment and thank him for his sincerity. She agreed. When I opened the door (he was struggling with it a little… lol), there was a mixture of confusion and excitement on his face. He had a visitor! I hugged him so tight that I could feel him breathe and his little heart beat with joy. Then I thanked him for his sweet courage to say his compliment aloud. I encouraged him to keep respecting women and to keep being kind. I blessed him and spoke over his life to uproot the sting of the scorn from the woman paying the cashier. It may have appeared inconvenient or obtrusive to our mealtime, but kindness can be that way sometimes…

THE LESSON

Kindness is an extension of Love – and love is not convenient and obscure. It shows itself in more ways than one and those ways can be expensive. A sacrifice lies in there somewhere. Within every act of gracious kindness – whether loud or silent – there is a cost for it to be manifested. For the flight passenger, it was public conflict. For the boy, it was public shaming. Either way, love was extended and the cost was paid… Just like Jesus’ life. He extended Himself with the biggest cost of all – His blood. (*humming* Oh, what Love He has for me…) So, if you’re ever in a situation where Love opportunities lie in wait, don’t be afraid to pay the cost and accept the receipt. Jump in the gap and let Love flow.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

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