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#bloglikecrazy: Day 13 – Bittersweet

The funny thing about tasting something that is bittersweet is you never get the bitter and the sweet at the same time. According to the word, you would think the bitter comes first, but it doesn’t.

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Friend, Mentor, & Founding Director Kevin P. Turner

On November 13th, I anticipated the bitter. The sweet was there, sprinkled throughout the day, but the closer time moved toward 7:00 PM, bitter’s presence drew near. It was a performance filled with firsts and lasts – first time my performing arts troupe was featured at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center by way of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Gospel Choir, first time one of my teammates would sing with the choir, last time I would perform under Director Kevin Turner with the choir, and the last time Monday night would be sacred in this capacity. Being connected to a living thing for 16 years will make you expect the bitter when it ends.

The sweet came in capsules of backstage silliness, team shenanigans, chats with college friends-turned-colleagues, and hugs all around. It was a family reunion, to say the least. Sound check exposed the bones of the operation as we all prepared our respective crafts to be displayed on stage in a few hours. Musicians, dancers, singers, production, lights, ushers… it was all at the ready to provide a great concert for attendants and participants alike.

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Such sweet spirits

And that, we did.

The audience enjoyed the set list, artists performances from their hearts, scholarships were awarded, and commemorative speeches were made.

The ASC had been a 2nd home to many UABGC members over the years and the bellows of the building were our training grounds. Now, they were cozy places of professional preparation. Everyone was in their elements, drinking the nectar of memories that would be still swirling around in our cups the next day. Me? I was waiting for the bitter.

It may sound pessimistic, but I was trying to brace myself. I didn’t want to be caught off guard and wail 8 counts before my first step. So, I waited for it… the bitter aftertaste of a such sweet experience. Surprisingly, it came right before the first dance, wisped around my shoulder after the last dance, and walked me to my car after we left the dressing rooms. I didn’t cry. I welcomed it in the car and drove home. It was OK to have the company. I actually smiled at it along the open road because it was even better to have the sweet first. I was one blessed woman.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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#bloglikecrazy: Day 8 – Cost

On Wednesday, November 8th, the topic in my communication class was relationships. I always ask my students how they can improve their interpersonal communication. This  is one of my favorite topics to discuss because no matter how introverted some students may be, this chapter always gets head nods and contemplative facial responses.

Social-Exchange-TheoryOne of the chapter concepts was social exchange theory, which I truly enjoy demonstrating.  To introduce it, I use banking as an example. One student has an imaginary balance in her/his account and as the scenario continues, each student has borrowed money from the account holder for various reasons. Somewhere between these transactions, the account holder experiences a couple of “pay days” and receives a direct deposit into their account. We calculate the total of the withdrawals and the deposits – what was lent to friends/family and the balance we could have had if little to no lending took place. Usually, students have voiced their opinions by this point about how the account holder shouldn’t have been so giving and how in “real life,” they would never lend out so much money. Then, I pose the following –

“If we are so careful with our money to monitor what is coming and going, why aren’t we just as careful with our relationships? You can give of your time, energy, and resources, but if that person does something you like, it’s like a pay day and all’s right with the world and you forget about their offenses. What if the deposits and withdrawals don’t balance out relationally? How do we determine whether the cost is worth paying? Before we are offended, how do we communicate our needs to the people we love?”

It’s generally quiet in the room after that spill with a grunt or two. I love it. It means they are thinking.

One of the corollaries of social exchange theory is that if the perceived cost is higher than the perceived reward, we will continue to remain in the relationship. It doesn’t matter if it is familial, platonic, professional, or romantic – we will stay if the cost of leaving seems too high. So, I am asking you, Sweetheart, what are the costs of your relationships? Do you do anything that perpetuates low benefits and high costs? Relationships will never be equitable at all times, but are we monitoring the costs of our exchanges like we monitor our money?

When the cost is worth it, it is called an investment. Let’s try to keep the costs low and the investments high.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Featured image courtesy of ClipArtBarn.com
In-text image courtesy of Sam Owen, Relationship Coach

#bloglikecrazy: Day 5 – Grit

I have the best creative team in the world. Give us space and time and we do extraordinary things, like create moving water, tumultuous trees, and a visual Bible story in seconds.

On last Sunday afternoon and into late that evening, my performing arts troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, rehearsed for our upcoming performance at the UAB Gospel Choir Reunion Concert to be held at the Alys Stephens Center on Monday, November 13, 2017. I was torn between physical pain and supernatural will, but I made it. One of my teammates lives in another state and she drove into town to join us. Other teammates came from church, work, and family duties to give their sacrifice of dance as well. To check out a short clip of the rehearsal, click here.

At one point in the rehearsal, I stepped back and just marveled at how fantastic they were. Willing and diligent to get it right so God could have complete control on performance day. No one complained. No one was belittled. No one was anxious to leave. We were on one accord. Everyone was pressing toward the mark and it was beautiful. I loved beholding the glory of God working in them behind-the-scenes. 


In a bigger perspective, many will never see what we go through at home in order to produce the fruit on our limbs in life. We have structured areas and danger zones where we get our lives together before heading out into the world. In the performing arts arena, the audience may see 10 minutes of creativity for 10 hours of preparation. It’s a labor of love and a gritty process, but well worth it in the end. That’s the essence of your life, your relationships, your dreams, your responsibilities. If you do it right, grit becomes part of your daily diet. It’s good for you and for those around you. It doesn’t let you quit or whine. It pulls you over the humps and having others with you that chew on the same stuff makes all the difference.

So, there I was… with a front row seat looking at a dream realized from my 14-year-old self. Rehearsing with all of the energy we could muster. Laughing through trials and sharing our victories. And I realized then,the aftertaste of grit tastes good.

Peace & Thanks for listening! 

And to my Troupe, Workmanship Incorporated, thank you for being my muse. I love y’all. Xoxo

#bloglikecrazy: Day 3 – rewind

Backing up and starting from the beginning are two different things.

When we want to get something over with, we tend to start over from the beginning to create a clean slate. On the contrary, rewinding means that we go backward toward the direction of a starting point – which can be difficult to locate at times. Looking back, the weeds of bitterness or sorrow may have grown around the sidewalk edges. Cracks of time have gotten wider between some relationships and behind you, it looks like a lonely journey of self-discovery.

How often do we skip the steps of searching backward because it looks scary?

Most say that going backward will stagnate your forward movement. I agree, to an extent; however, the likelihood of repeating the same mistake is inevitable if you don’t travel back to find the glitch. Imagine you are lost while driving on a two-lane road at night. The trees create a dark canopy that causes you to change your mind about continuing forward. You are tempted to stop, but you’re too afraid to turn around. Only two things can happen at this point… A) you can go forward, or B) you can rewind. Both directions have risks, so it’s just a matter of which one you’re going to take.

Discovering why you are a compulsive liar, why you lash out at the people who love you most, why you’re an alcoholic, why you’re a hoarder, or why you’re repulsed by your spouse will not host the sweetest back steps, but it can help move you forward… for good. When I listen to music or watch a movie, sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll miss the part I need to see or hear again. So, I rewind instead of skipping the seconds. It wouldn’t be so bad if we did the same thing in our lives. Starting over is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t mean rewinding is a bad one. It may get ugly as those cobwebs are cleared out to reveal the part you need. THAT’S OK. You’ll be able to “wind” again if you start the process now.

Don’t be afraid to rewind. Don’t be afraid to find the glitch. Don’t be afraid to press play… again.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

No Matter What 

Flight Write: ATL -> DCA -> PVD

No matter what, God is good. 

His goodness is not contingent upon my feelings,  reactions, or justifications. He is good. Period. And His mercy endureth forever (Psalm 136:1) – which means whatever I’m going through, whenever I’m going through,  wherever I’m going through it, He is still good. He transcends time and situation. There is nothing too far where God’s mercy can’t reach; He’s already tHEre. There is nothing too hard for Him where His goodness will not reign.Psalm 136.1 YouVersion

I have a list of things that went wrong in the last 7 days, but I also have a list of what went right. They combat each other, and then they balance each other out.

How can you laugh when your license plate was stolen off of your car in broad daylight? You get grateful that your car wasn’t missing too.

How do you not be upset that you have to work on your day off? You become grateful for employment. 

How do you breathe when someone leaves your life? You begin to thank God for the time you had, knowing that s/he could have been born on the other side of the world and you would have missed out on her/his awesomeness.

I’ve grown in this area, this No Matter What territory. Life’s challenges continue to improve my agility. I’d like to think that I came straight from heaven with it, but it was forged in me through my parents and mentors that served as night lights along the way. 

CAUTION: This No Matter What mentality is not for the faint of heart. It comes with distractions sprinkled like glitter on a carpeted floor, luring your focus away from your purpose as you attempt to walk forward. It has splashes of anger as you recall the sacrifices you made while fighting your demons… alone. It requires you to acknowledge the bad stuff, square up, and say that all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)… and believe it. It means crying tears of courage that leak from your broken heart.

No Matter What takes practice. Expect bruises. Check for sores. They’ll be there, but keep walking, keep praying, and keep fasting from the feast of your fears.

Believe, no matter what.

Give, no matter what.

Go, no matter what.

Love, no matter what.

And while you’re standing there braving the winds or bent over wounded from the blows, remember that Jesus is Immanuel. He is with you… all the time…

no matter what.

Peace and 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.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 27 – The Mix

Good Day, Good People. Here’s your quick short stop reminder for the week.

You can’t just pick the good parts.

It takes the bitter to make everything sweeter. Let talk cooking for a minute.

Cake ingredients taste separately horrible. Who wants to eat plates of flour, salt, and baking powder? Um, no. Who will eat two servings of delicious cake? Me.

Other scenarios to think about: Salt is often added to chocolate to enhance its flavor in your mouth. Salad dressing needs oil and acid in order to accentuate your leafy greens. Marshmallows balance out with cereal. Sand needs heat to make beautiful glass. Your fresh fruits and vegetables need fertilized dirt to grow. And trust me, there’s nothing sweet about fertilizer.

Now let’s talk life. You can’t just pick the good parts out of people when you choose relationships. There is an ugly part in everyone. It’s part of our organic makeup. After all, we’re dirt ourselves (if you need a reminder, take a bath). Just like you can’t pick out parts of people, you can’t dissect the map of your purpose journey either. There are some rocks, trees, desolate places, and cold nights in the midst of those sunny steps. It doesn’t mean you stop walking. You know the purpose overrides the bad parts. That’s how “all things work together” in Romans 8:28.

Lastly, the Truth of God’s Word may not be the icing to your situation, but It works together just like those cake ingredients. Get some encouragement as you go through The Mix. You’ll be better for every part of it, not just the marshmallows.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of the SavorySweetLife.com.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 18 – A Beautiful Surprise

The following events happened within a 8-hour time span. Crazy.

Lunch with a beautiful twist

I had lunch with someone that I didn’t know as well. She had experienced a death in her family and I had given her some time before encroaching upon her grief. I was in mourning as well and we discussed our journeys toward the sunlight. We left the lunch spot laughing and vowing to meet again before the year ends.

What I heard: You never know who’s in it with you. Somebody gets it.

Somehow, with our nightlights, we found each other and embraced the space we were stumbling in because we knew there was a way out. That day, lunch was so much more than a meal.

Tutoring with a beautiful story

I left the lunch with a beautiful twist to tutor a pre-teen. He had a book report due in a few days and his father asked for my assistance. He and his father were frustrated in the process of creating a rough draft. I love those kinds of challenges. As we talked about the book, the student revealed the storyline in a way that made me want to check it out. Then, I asked him about a part of the story that I didn’t understand. His response? “Well, memories don’t die with the person.” Not knowing anything about my state of heart, this young one pierced it with an arrow of truth. I am so grateful that memories don’t die with the person’s body. I can feel sad forever, but I have memories. I can’t say the same about my biological father as I only have two memories of him, but he lives in the stories I’ve heard from those with whom he spent time. Memories have a funny way of sneaking up on you and grabbing you out of your current world. Sometimes good, sometimes in a bad way. For me, that tutoring session was a good moment… a reminder that I can enjoy the recollections gifted by the person well after the lifetime expires. We finished the rough draft, I consulted with the client, and all was well in their world… and in mine.

Rehearsal with a beautiful message

So, now it was time to be creative. It was time to put flesh and bones to a song that my performing arts troupe would record and post online. It was inevitable that this would be a joint effort and as the leader of the team, I was determined to let their minds run free with ideas as I did during the brainstorming session. Rehearsal can get gritty and your mind and body can take a beating, but it’s all for a good outcome.

There was a part of the song where we are on our knees in humility, but spiritually, it depicted where I had been for the past couple of weeks. I felt helpless and pressure-squeezed like fruit in a winepress. I knew something sweet and refined would come out of everything, but I couldn’t see it and all I could do is say “Whatever You want to do, just give me the strength to do it.” Instead of leaving rehearsal drained, I left encouraged. Encouraged to minister the piece to myself and anyone else who needs a thy will be done in their spirit.

Sometimes we think that beauty comes upon instantly beholding something, not realizing what it took for the artist to create what we see. It’s beautiful because it was first messy. Cloudy. Muddy. Confusing. It was beautiful after the work and the darkness.

I experienced a beautiful surprise that began as not-so-pretty moments. All with a similar theme. Who knew?

He did. *smile*

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

 

 

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