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Wednesday Wind Down: Produce

Hello, Sweethearts!

We made it through another week, didn’t we? What a blessing! We’re 15 days into 2020 and the new year is going fast!

While walking my dog this week (which seems to be my secondary #LATSOL hotspot nowadays), I thought about Jennifer Lopez. I had just binge-watched Hustlers and Second Act, and being a long-term supporter of J. Lo, I imagined how she must have felt after producing these two films… pride, relief, and excitement. She’s known for not putting her name on anything she does not fully endorse and she exudes excellence in every mission set before her. In her words, she doesn’t see herself as getting older — she just strives to be a better version of herself year after year.

With that said, I pulled a virtual chair next to Ms. Lopez and I kicked my feet up for a split-second. We recalled her body of work on stage, on screen, and behind the camera. She has and continues to produce a broad spectrum of art. We nodded in approval as photos of movie posters circulated in front of us like a carousel of colorful horses.  Then, I absorbed the lesson of the moment.

Be proud of everything you produce.

Now, that’s a tall order, but it is definitely doable. You see, we are soil. God created us out of dirt (just take a look in the tub next time for verification), but I believe we host spiritual soil inside of us. It is capable of growing amazing things because everything God made can produce something. That’s the God-like quality in us — to produce inanimate creations like music and lively humans called babies. Part of the reason I appreciate the prowess of Jennifer Lopez is because she is always proud of her work… her produce… the fruit of her labor. How many of us can say the same thing?

So, if we’re the soil, where are the seeds? Where’s the light? Who’s got the water? I’m glad you asked! We host seeds from various places. They’re a special blend of our parents and our experiences. All of them have a chance to grow, but the goal is to produce the best fruit we have to offer the world before we leave here. With Light from the Word of God and a flow of guidance (Water) from the Holy Spirit to nourish us daily, we can produce exceptional things in this life. And let’s not forget Love… that beautifully gritty fertilizer.

Need some help getting started? Here’s a few verses for your journey.

Matt 5.16Galatians 6.10Hebrews 10.242 Cor 9.6

My prayer is to die empty and I can only do that if my soil produces fruit that I am proud to present to my Father and to His Creations. The beauty of it all is that I have this remarkable opportunity every day.  So do you.

What are you producing, Sweetheart?

Peace & I’m praying for the soil of your heart. Thanks for listening!

Bible verse visuals courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

Wednesday Wind Down: Upon Deaf Ears

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

It’s been a week since the decade started. How’s it going? Are you smashing those goals? So far, so good on mine. *fist bump* Here’s some motivation for your week as you continue to shine.

The new year usually causes people to purge their homes, phone contacts, and Facebook friends. Many Christians participate in a fast to gain spiritual strength and clarity. People around the world undergo a new exercise regimen to improve their health (or to unveil a new summer body — whatever works). As I was talking to a friend about fasting, I heard God’s voice clearly and created a great reminder for me.

Pride is deaf to everything except its own voice.

photo of a boy listening in headphones
Photo by jonas mohamadi on Pexels.com

As you’re in the midst of de-cluttering your life and increasing your awesomeness, I encourage you to be mindful of those that are deaf to your concerns, desires, and goals. Have you tried more than once to change the lenses in someone else’s glasses? You expose the gears of your soul and be straightforward with your expectations, but s/he still doesn’t get it. No matter what you say, there’s a negativity belt that suffocates your pursuit of purpose all the while their own version of truth is on repeat in their ears. If you’ve said all you can say and changed your behaviors for the better and the message is still “return to sender,” be encouraged to be just as deaf as they are. What you may be experiencing is their pride plugging their ears to the Truth. The bad news is you don’t get to control their hearing. Go ahead. Let that sink in.

Since your words fall upon their deaf pride, I suggest you allow their pride to fall upon your deaf positivity. Talking to someone who doesn’t listen is frustrating and exhausting. I have learned to plug my ears with what God’s Word says about me. The negativity, the disregard, the ego… it all bounces off my spiritual earplugs. You too have the option to receive or deny what someone tries to put on your plate. Don’t let the manifestations of their pride stick to your progress. It’s a new year, so don’t back down. Keep going walking toward the best version of yourself. Honestly, you don’t have time for anything else.

Remember: Be mindful of what you see and hear because it can determine what you say and do. You control what germinates in your spirit, so let their pride fall on your deaf ears. Here’s a visual of Philippians 4:8 to help you along the way.

Phil 4.8

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m praying for you. Have a great week!

Wednesday Wind Down: Home

Happy New Year, Sweethearts! I hope you’re somewhere safe and enjoying your clean slate.

Last night, I did exactly what I wanted to do and I took no prisoners. I was in Landover, Maryland visiting Zion Church. Every year, they host new year’s eve worship services and an after-party. Two years ago, while serving online as a prayer/chat host, I said the following to myself: “I’m going in person. Just give me a couple of years.”  Well, I made it and it was incredible.

The welcoming spirit of the people bounced between the walls and spilled through the doors and into the parking lot. The line to attend each service resembled that of rock concerts. Trays of sparkling apple cider and snacks were served as we waited outside. The cold wind whipped around our smiles but couldn’t wipe them away. My sisters and I were simply excited to be there… together.

From beginning to end, their hospitality was genuine and infectious. I am still a prayer/chat host in their iCampus ministry and a small group member, so when I introduced myself, the sparkle in their eyes increased and their sweetness expanded. I was already welcomed beautifully when I arrived just like everyone else. That’s what made the visit so lovely. Love was everywhere and it fueled each part of the experience. Then, I thought of us as human sanctuaries. I’ve thought of our hearts as homes before, but last night, a prayer came with that idea.

Lord, I want my life to be as welcoming as this sanctuary. I can’t let everyone live in my heart, but my Light should welcome others to know You. God, please clear my sanctuary for Love to roam free.

People that didn’t know each other hugged like old friends and danced together like they had a rehearsal yesterday. It was exhilarating, warm, and free — and exactly what I prayed for two years ago. Every day won’t be a party, but moments like last night can live forever with the right ingredient… Love.

The basis of Pastor Keith Battle’s message was Isaiah 43. Here’s a verse from the sermon to uplift your week and your new decade.

IMG3870432726647843040.jpg

Peace, Thanks for listening, and See you next week!

Wednesday Wind Down: Stick in the Mud

Happy Wednesday, Sweetheart!

How was your week? Mine was pretty great. If yours wasn’t, it just got better. *smile* Keep reading to get a shortstop for your week.

I was walking Sammy after a rainy day and noticed the ant mounds. They had been pounded by what probably seemed to be gigantic raindrops in their eyes. If I were an ant, I would have abandoned the mounds; they looked unlivable. Some had already dried to form a semi-hard crust of mud. Then, God whispered a reminder in my ear.

Ants don’t leave when it rains.

They stay and rebuild because they know the mud will harden and create protection for what lies beneath. How often have you wanted to quit when it rains? How many of us think of rain as a bad thing? Consider this — the very thing that appears to be destroying what you’ve built is actually creating the form for what you need. The storm is causing you to anchor deeply into your faith. The wind is forcing you to stand firm on what you profess. The lightning flashes jolt you into awareness that life is not a game and that you have a purpose. You could apply this to relationships just as much as your personal life too.

We could learn a lot from ants. Storage, communication, unity… I vote to add resolve and perseverance to their coat of arms as well. I bet I could add those words to yours as well.

Still praying for you all! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: DNA

Hi, Sweethearts!

I had a thought this week and I hope it encourages you as it did me. I always say that what’s in you will come out of you. Let’s look at that from a biological perspective.

The famous double-helix of deoxyribonucleic acid. It’s a pretty cool construction of genetic material. Some genes are prominent while others seemingly appear out of nowhere such as eye and hair colors. Genes can also remain recessive and others express themselves loudly and proudly. Remember that Punnett square from biology class? That was one of my favorites in school.

punnett square khan academy
Courtesy of Khan Academy

Speaking of dominant vs. recessive, I recall times in class when I knew the answer but was discouraged to share it. You know how it is… it is easier to blend into academic cultures if you don’t seem like a know-it-all. How unfortunate that I was coerced to snuff my intellect to make my classmates and teachers feel more comfortable. I was ridiculously shy and my comfort in learning was never intended to create a shadow on those who I hoped to be friends with at some point in childhood. I felt that I studied the content, did the homework, and came prepared to share it with others. I just didn’t understand why they were so reluctant to share their thoughts too. What they didn’t know was that I was always nervous. Always afraid that I would be misunderstood. I also didn’t like the teacher standing there wanting someone to just show some effort and looking disappointed at the silence. Then came math class — my nemesis. I wasn’t so excited to share in that arena. I felt dumb and inadequate, but I still tried to express my desire to learn. After all, I still studied the content and still did the homework; I just wasn’t good at it, but I wanted the teacher to see that I tried. The life lesson I gleaned from my childhood was that dousing my abilities cost me peace. The less I allowed God to simply shine through who He made me to be, the more unrest and insecurity I experienced.

This week, God brought that back to my remembrance. The heaviness of hiding is such a difficult cloak to wear. God made us so beautifully different that it would be a discredit to his creativity to be anything else than yourself. Taking it a step further — my faith is part of my spiritual DNA. When Jesus died for me, His blood provided all the divine genetic material I need to walk confidently in faith. Sweethearts, allow your spiritual DNA to shine through just as strong as your natural one. Whether you’re a science wiz, nail polish lover, or welding enthusiast… be that. Own that. Flourish in that. If your spiritual gifts include hospitality, prayer, or influence… walk in that. Flourish in that too. Time’s up for decreasing what makes you exceptional.

I believe God’s grace is in my DNA. His loving fingerprints are all over my soul and I am unapologetic about that Truth. My chocolate skin can’t hide herself. My tone and texture are distinctive to my vocal cords. My faith has expressive DNA as well. I’ve been through the rounds and my scars have created a battle cry that I can’t suppress. So, oh well, if it makes others uncomfortable. I can not sit quietly when I know the Answer… and His name is Jesus.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m praying for you during this holiday season.

Wednesday Wind Down: Hello December!

Hi, Sweethearts!

Coming off the heels of #bloglikecrazy, you would think I would need a break from writing. Quite the contrary!

This week, I am in a welcoming mood. The holiday season brings an influx of business in the worlds of massage therapy and performance art and God has given me the grace to handle the tight schedule. He also has given me a forecast of what’s required of me and I’m excited… genuinely excited. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m ready for the harvest it will bring.

I look at December as a launchpad full of anticipation. My friends know that I’m a planner. Truthfully, I’m already into late 2020 and early 2021. The planning only comes after a divine download of intentions. Once I see it in my spirit, it’s a go. Below are three tips to guide your goal-setting for next year. They have served me well and I hope it helps you too.

  1. Split the year into four quarters. When the year is broken down, goals appear less intimidating to me. Whether it’s a mini-vacay or a performance event, quarterly thinking prevents overwhelm both in finances and in time. I always look at the entire year and do what my friend/mentor said — pick a date and plan backward. Best advice for goal-setting I’ve ever received.

    app apple calendar computer
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  2. Do what works for you. I’ve tried the pretty planners and my latest beauty ended up in the recycling box. I was sad to let it go as an avid planner junkie, but I had to come to grips with the fact that it wasn’t efficient for me in this season. Maybe I’ll circle back around to my former habit, but for now, it’s not worth the guilt trip. Try using Google Calendar and set notifications to keep you on target weeks in advance.
  3. Write it down. I don’t care what type of goal it is, write it down. Use sticky notes, notebooks, copy paper, whatever it takes. When you write it down, the intangible “One day, I want to…” vortex loses its power. It’s visible and you can’t deny it (or yourself) anymore.

Maybe one of your goals is to decrease your fast food intake or eat dinner with your family twice a week or have a staycation. Whatever it is, I encourage you to create a December to remember as you plant seeds into your 2020. We got this, Sweetheart. Just take it one goal at a time and celebrate the wins. You have plenty of them coming. *fist bump*

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #30

Prayer: “JESUS!”

Sometimes, that’s all you have time to say. In a split second, your life could be in danger or you’re so far in despair that you can’t see a way out of your situation. In times like those, I learned that the name of Jesus IS a prayer. Let me tell you why.

We love justice. We love to see those that have wronged society get what they deserve. Since we were created by God, I believe his spiritual fingerprint is on our lives. So, that justice-seeking attribute, that is a God-like quality in the form of Jehovah El GemuwalThe LORD God of Recompense. Because this same standard applies to our wrongdoings, Jesus died and rose from the grave so we could be freed from the power and perpetual penalty of sin. When Jesus died on the cross, he provided the opportunity for freedom to be our lifestyle instead of a historical luxury for the affluent, lawful, and patriarchy. Take the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. The law stated that she be stoned, but Jesus brought up a great point — that the law needed to apply to the accusers as well. He then pardoned the woman and told her to go and sin no more. That’s the power that I believe in. His name is like no other.

So, you best believe, when I only had that split second during a drive or doctor’s appointment, the only thing I could think to say was the name that I believe is above all names. Is it a magic trick where everything goes perfectly whenever I say it? Absolutely not. Bad things still happen; we see it every day on the news. I also know that in times when I could have had justice, I was given grace and that’s enough for me to keep believing… and praying.

I’ve enjoyed you this month and I hope that I’ve said something that will carry you into the new year. You have been exceptional company and I’m glad you chose to stop by my writing home this month. Next week, we’re back to the Wednesday Wind Downs.  See you then and stay safe out there.

Peace & Thanks for listening. *drop mic on #bloglikecrazy challenge*

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #29

Prayer: “Bless ’em, Lord.”

Short and sweet, that’s exactly how the prayer sounds. Every time I pass by someone who is experiencing car trouble, I can’t help it. I’m an empath.

Now, I know everyone is not genuinely stranded and no, I do not stop to help. I do, however, make a non-emergency phone call when it appears only the driver is present so help can be on the way. I also pray whenever I see someone walking along the interstate emergency lanes. Why do I say a prayer every time? You can thank my mother for that.

I recall us being stranded on the interstate when I was a child. It was nighttime and a sweet family (who didn’t know us) stopped and took us to the nearest exit. I remember the couple had a little girl that was a bit younger than me and they moved her to the front so my mother and I could sit in the backseat. She and I kept looking at each other and I remember thinking how different our lives probably were. Without digressing too far, let’s just say I’m glad they helped us and who knows if the drivers before them said a prayer for us until they arrived.

God hears every prayer, even the short ones at 70 miles per hour when you see someone changing their flat tire. Try incorporating this habit into your commute as well. Think about the time you were inconvenienced with car trouble and have enough empathy to pray for others. Perhaps your prayer is just the jumpstart they need to receive a miracle.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #27

Prayer: “God, I just want to breathe. That’s all. I’m not asking to do a somersault or get a million dollars tomorrow… I just want to breathe and go to sleep. I’m so tired.”

Health challenges cause me not to breathe well sometimes. While I wear an “S” on my chest in the streets, I’m all “W” at home. This means that there are restless nights and early mornings still required of me. That also means sometimes I am aggravated with my respiratory issues to the point where I pray that prayer above. I wish I could just get a peaceful night’s rest and wake up energized. Most mornings come with fatigue in tow because I have wrestled all night and that prayer wasn’t far from the nightstand. Every time I prayed (sometimes in tears and screams), I woke up without knowledge of how I went to sleep. What a lovely gift to know He hears me when I call.

I encourage you to pray when you’re frustrated and watch Him work it out. It’s OK. He can take it.

Peace and Sweet Dreams out there. Thanks for listening.

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