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Protect Your Merry!

Merry Christmas, Sweethearts! I know a photo of Serena may not be your thought of Christmas, but allow me to explain why it perfectly fits mine.

I had to protect my Merry yesterday (and for the last couple of weeks, for that matter.) I mean, I fiercely protected it like Serena Williams defending her side of the tennis court. A few people got clap-backs that they inadvertently signed up for. Rude shoppers, irresponsible drivers, and inconsiderate individuals/former friends in my circle could have sucked the happy right out of my bubble, but I swatted them like flies… and I have no remorse.

They didn’t know that I had to fight to gather my Merry.

I searched for its pieces while crawling through the barren forest of my spiritual winter. I scrounged. I foraged. I created little piles of joy around me, forming a 360-degree barrier between me and the world – me and the reality of my bank account, professional transition, and life changes. I replayed fond memories of my father instead of anticipating his absence on yet another holiday.  Four months later and I still patch the holes of my heart with thoughts of his smile to protect the cracks of my heart from the cold winds of grief. My piles of Merry were the only boundaries I had to keep the darkness from penetrating my oxygenated peace.

So, you had best believe, that I defended my happy with everything I had yesterday. To keep from crying sporadically in public places, I thought of his spirit dancing and I spoke to him.

“I love you.”
“I know.”
“I’m trying.”
“I miss you.”
“Thanks for everything.”

DP1745482_xmas_trees_Glass_OrnamentsTo keep from royally cussing someone clean out (as we say in the South), I retracted the sporty backhand that was perfectly poised under my tongue and said “Have a blessed day.” Friends that were jolly as long as I supported them have surprisingly fallen away like leaves from trees when reciprocity made sense. I stuffed a little happy there too so the wind couldn’t get in and make me bitter. I let the angels do their jobs. I summoned God the Father to comfort me and the Holy Spirit to keep aerating my Merry with reminders of Truth. I let a harvest of joy grow from seeds of gratefulness. As I stood in front of my heater, I thanked Him for warmth. As my feet hurt from working, I thanked Him for the opportunity. As I drove on lesser gas as I normally do, I thanked Him for my wheels. As I coughed and massaged my face from sinus pain, I thanked Him for life. When I ate leftovers, I thanked Him for provision. Upon receiving random messages from sweet friends, I released the expectation from hearing from certain ones and truly let the peace of God rule and wash the hurt away. These things fortified my Merry and I wasn’t letting anything rob me of it.

Maybe you’re like me. You’re holding onto your Merry with both hands and you’re trying to keep it alive in the midst of hardship, loss, or change. I pray that you protect it with everything you got – that you exhibit the grit needed to keep the light in your spirit on, that you regain the strength and courage to fight for your happy, fight for your joy, and fight for your right to live. Don’t be distracted by what you don’t have. Defend what you have and let God heal the cracks. Let the angels of protection do their jobs. Hold fiercely to the Truth that Jesus was born so you could live.

You are loved.
You are cared for.
You are the reason Christmas exists, and your Christmas is Merry because Merry is a state of mind.

I love you and Merry Christmas, Sweethearts! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo of Serena Williams courtesy of Tennis.com
Photo of Christmas tree ornaments courtesy of Lowes.com

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#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – Open

CAUTION: Sexual-spiritual theory ahead.

A thought came to me while watching a kissing scene in Frankie and Johnny (1991; starring Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer). What can I say? I like 90s movies.

Have you ever wondered why mouth-to-mouth kissing is deemed so intimate? I have. And I think I’ve finally able to put it into words. Try to keep your mind open as we ride together in my train of thought. It’s going somewhere. Promise.

STOP #1: The Mouth

Our mouths are powerful instruments. They can receive and give. You may have heard that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) and I believe this is true. When I was growing up and would say something negative, my mother always respond with “You have what you say.” The tongue is an extension of the soul. As I tell my students, “Who you are will come out of your mouth.” So, since the mouth can reveal the thoughts and feelings of a person and we are subject to eat the fruit of what we say, we often (or we should) choose to use it carefully. Something happens when we taste our food and we taste others. It is an intimate connection. That’s why people choose not to kiss mouth-to-mouth until they are comfortable in doing so, or they wish to kiss on the first date to detect chemistry. Taking it a step further, when we speak, we are in the beginning stages of intimacy.

STOP #2: The Hands

Our hands are the second extension of the soul. We reach out when we’re in want of something or someone. Hugs are essential to emotional development in children and quite frankly, adults need them too. Why else would it be a hello, goodbye, miss you, love you, it’s okay form of contact? Our hands touch so much throughout the day, but during sex, they explore the body of our partner. We glide our hands to understand what is in front of us, and we essentially talk with our fingertips. What we can’t say with our mouths, we communicate through our touch.

STOP #3: Below the Belt

Open mouths correlate with other open areas ready for sexual pleasure. Here is where the circle of intimacy that began with the mouth ends. Sexual intercourse provides a language that expresses the soul’s deepest desire – to be connected. Genital openings of both parties are ready to give and receive from each other – just as the mouth in STOP #1. And in the case of genitalia (and ear canals), meatus refers to the same thing – a passage or opening leading to the interior of the body. So, in other words, intercouse gives us a glimpse into the inner sanctum of the person we choose to sexually enjoy. The decrease of inhibition, reasoning, and muscle control provide the neuroscientific proof that one is the raw version of her- or himself during the orgasmic phase of sexual response cycle. The receipt of pleasure and the giving of bodily fluids constitute as a spiritual exchange as well.

The Junction

Let’s go back to where we started – the intimacy of kissing. If you look at each “stop,” you could see a yearning of two spirits trying to connect past their humanity. When we kiss, we touch. When we touch, we feel. When we feel, we merge. Kissing one’s lips is deemed intimate because every opening we have is a portal to our spirit – the inner core of who we are. We have receptor cells all over our bodies to tell our brains that we are sensing stimuli; therefore, what we nonverbally say through a kiss, communicates through our hands and our sexual drive follows suit. It’s a spiritual circle trying to connect through human form – from top (mouth) to bottom (below the belt). That’s why oral sex falls along my same theory of the mouth being a powerful spiritual instrument. The connectivity is still there.

STOP #4: The Terminal

We have a need, a drive even, to be loved intimately. That’s the kind of God that made us, after all. Having someone that spiritually completes your circle is intimacy at its best. So, when people ask why you’re celibate or why you’re a virgin, you can tell them that you’re not open for business; you’re closed for intimacy. *smile*

I chose this topic because I believe the more we discuss issues that have been made taboo, the better we can walk out this thing called Christianity. Sex was ordained by God to be a beautiful interaction, not a dirty word.

Thanks for riding in my train of thought. You’ve gotten a glimpse into my take on things… what’s yours?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 23 – Thanks

Thursday, November 23, 2017 = Thanksgiving. You know what that means. Football, Food, and Shopping were the menu for most people. Me? I was just glad to make it to the day.

I didn’t know what it would be like having the first family holiday without my father. Would I write about my feelings I dreaded to experience? Would I cry and sluggishly get dressed? Would I opt out of attending Thanksgiving dinner altogether? All three options were fair game.

I was used to monitoring his plate and cleaning his face. Massaging his neck as his head sunk into deep slumber. Holding his hand so his spirit knew I was there. Making sure he was positioned in the car just right so the seat belt would go over him properly. He wasn’t there, but I was making it. It was then, at the dinner table when I looked over at the chair where he would normally sit, that I said to myself – “Thanks for letting us have him.”

IMG_20131225_151833223
Pop

He was truly a gift, and the gift wasn’t taken away. He continues to live every time I think about him.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, Sweethearts. A special prayer went to heaven for those who are missing loved ones too. I got your back.

Peace & Thanks for listening. XOXO

Chair photo courtesy of Ethan Allen

Pop’s photo courtesy of me

#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 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.

20171113_230015
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.

20171113_190825
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.

My Crew, Workmanship Incorporated 

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!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 12 – Full

In one day, I felt loved, supportive, proud, sad, exhausted and grateful. On, Sunday, November 12th, I was full.

  1. My agenda consisted of waking up to a smile from being enveloped with Love from God Himself. I was daughter that felt safe in the arms of her Father. It was good to be alive. It was good to be loved.
  2. I went to church with my teammate/sorority sister. It was her last Sunday due to a move and I promised that I would attend with her and it was nice to be in her world and nice to see people I knew that attended the same place of worship. I love it when someone finds their fellowship home and I love being supportive.

    20171112_110816
    Beauties.
  3. Next, I drove to my late grandparents’ church for their 85th Church Anniversary Program. My grandmother was a pillar in her community and at her church. One of the members invited me to attend and I was so glad to be able to make it, even for an hour. I sat on the back pew and listened to the guest minister preach with heart and conviction. I kept glancing over the pews in the front right wing seeing my grandmother’s presence sitting proudly at the progress of the church’s history. I was proud right along with her. Proud of her legacy and her investment in me. That was the piano and organ that I learned to play… the choir stand my elementary school friends sang in… the fellowship hall I where I ate with cousins. It made me proud to just be in the building. It made me proud to represent my family.

    20171112_132309
    Legacy.
  4. My father’s hospice service memorial program was the next stop. A sweet friend gave me all the giggles and endorphins I needed before I approached the door where the service was held. The company that helped our family had been more than gracious during the last few weeks of my father’s life and I was happy to support my mother in person. But my mind wasn’t ready to travel down memory lane. My glass of emotions was getting full and I didn’t know it. My mother asked me to light the candle when his name was called, and I felt the loss of his presence. I wanted him, not the sound of his name. It was odd to be in that space, in this sweet mourning society, for someone that seemed so super human. I didn’t feel that being sad was a transparent option at the moment, so I tucked it away and saved it for later.
  5. Next up was dress rehearsal for my Troupe’s performance. Wow. What a change of pace. Music, laughter, people… it was a barrage of sensation and I was in the middle of it. Final touches, band run-throughs, and technical notes were in full effect. I was exhausted by the end of the night, but I sure was grateful. My team was ready and in sync with each other. I was doing what I loved in the place I wanted to be with the people I wanted to be with – not to mention, it was the Founders’ Day of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (#EEYIP). Yeah, I was full.

Have you ever had one of those full days? I compartmentalize pretty well so the residue doesn’t transfer to the next place, but it doesn’t come without some pause buttons along the way. How do you handle multiple emotional states in a day?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Holey Folks

A visual I saw on Sunday, May 7th: A man is walking on a deserted small town street. He’s dressed up for church – suit, shoes, trench coat, and hat – but, there were holes in his chest. Perfect round holes with the circumference of an aluminum can. It was a windy day and his posture slanted forward as he pressed into the force. As the wind whipped around and through him, green bacteria grew in the holes. He kept walking, but his pace grew slower. Then I saw the same man, in the same scenario, only this time the holes didn’t exist and the bacteria bounced off his chest as he walked into the wind.

What I Heard:

God wants to clean the holes in our heart left by others and fill it with his Love and Light. You were not designed to walk around with holes in your soul.
You were not created with a deficit in mind.

The truth is that we have a lot of holy folks with holes in their hearts. They’ve learned to breathe around them, look pretty around them, and even preach around them. Those holes are lined with bacteria of hate, prejudice, lies, and unforgiveness. And some bacteria is good for you, even the bad ones, for they help build your spiritual immune system. But imbalance and infestation is what causes death of the soul.

I am not exempt. I have had many moments where I didn’t want to love someone, didn’t want to extend myself, didn’t want to be kind, and definitely didn’t want to forgive. But I realized a funny truth about this badge called “Christian” that I wear. I don’t have a choice in representing His character. I have a choice to trust, but I don’t have a choice to forgive. Once I said “You are Lord of my life. Take me as your own. I’ll do what you say. I want to love people like you love. I want to be like you.” I relinquished my duty as a free agent of this world. I now have a duty to show Christ in everything I do. I’m an ambassador, and I don’t choose when and where to take off that title. So, when He says “Call her/him,” I do it. It doesn’t matter if I was wronged or if I know they have spoken ill of me… when He commands it, I do it. It’s frustrating, yes. It’s unfair; yes it is. It’s aggravating; indeed. But, I don’t always get it right either, so I only hope that I receive the same diehard response when it’s my turn. I don’t want the bacteria to stick. I want the Love of God to repel it.

We can’t continue to walk around in garments of gold pretending like we aren’t rotting wood underneath. We’re holy by His grace, not by our standards. We can’t give place for the Body to be infected. After all, infections spread fast, but they don’t have to. We don’t have to die holey.

I’ve been on this Body kick lately. I’m interested to hear everything God has to say.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of Human Anatomy Chart. They have awesome images for biology nerds like me. Check them out.

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