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Wednesday Wind Down: Visibility

Hello, Sweetheart.

Show Jesus everywhere.

That’s what I heard for you this week. It is such a loaded and misunderstood directive.

Showing Jesus means toting my bible everywhere, quoting scriptures when someone says “Good Morning,” and barely be tolerable at social functions because of all the judgment seething through my pores, right? Quite the contrary.

Jesus has many faces (just look at all of the colorful faces in the world) and there are opportunities to show these faces in various situations. One of them could appear as a person in need of assistance while walking across the street. Another opportunity could be a co-worker in need of a kind word. We find these moments easily because the needs are relatively visible, but what happens when the need is underneath a layer of pride or anger? I agree– it’s a bit challenging to succumb to a higher level when the low blows are trying to knock you out. Truthfully speaking, this is the perfect opportunity to show His face to someone who may have never seen it or even believe it exists. You may not see the need because his/her words are too loud or they are absent from your life, but believe me, it’s there.

Here are a couple of examples of how I try to show Jesus

  • I met an atheist this week and we had an intellectual and humorous conversation (Sidebar: Christians, stop arguing with everybody).
  • Someone raised her voice at me and I did not return the behavior.
  • I pick up fallen clothing at the department store on a regular basis.
  • I’m truthful with my feelings even when I don’t want to be.
  • I smile at strangers.
  • I don’t return road rage.
  • I listen.
  • I say thank you to police and military officers.
  • I pray for people when they ask me to, sometimes at that moment.
  • I encourage as many people as I can.

Now, I am not a saint. I just try to live my faith in real life and not just at church. It’s not easy, by any means. There are plenty of times when I want to use profanity to prove that I am not a punk, but the truth of the matter is that doesn’t prove anything except a poor vocabulary to express my emotions. There are times when I want to reciprocate negative behavior so the other person can understand that I am very much capable of doing so, but that would only show me contradicting my belief system. I choose daily to show Jesus when I don’t want to do so. Sometimes, it’s a firm stance of Truth and sometimes it’s a warm hug. I make mistakes like other humans, yet I do my best to rectify it as soon as possible. That’s showing Jesus, too.

This week, I challenge you to show Jesus to the person that gets on your nerves. Notice that I didn’t say you had to agree with them or be their best friend. Just think of ways your actions can resemble His so that His Love is recognizable through you. It may seem like a small gesture or it may be a great sacrifice on your part, but at least you have made Him visible. At least you’ve provided the proof they’ve been waiting to see.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week!

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Wednesday Wind Down: ED

Hello, Sweethearts! I know it’s Thursday, but this one took some simmering… and you may be wondering where I’m going with those two letters. I’m going exactly where you think I am.

In the world of social sciences, there’s a term called emotional dishonesty. Various definitions exist for it, but in essence, it is when someone does not own up to their feelings or needs, yet s/he holds the other person accountable for the offense. This can manifest itself as passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive behavior.

When I taught adult education communication courses, we would always engage in authentic and lively dialogue about relationships (platonic, professional, romantic, familial, and social). Every quarter, someone would attribute a lack of intimacy to dysfunctional communication. Every quarter, someone would tell me how lack of trust was the undercurrent in their relationship deterioration. After my first year of teaching, I learned to carve out two days in my lesson plan to discuss the conflict chapter because it always birthed the fruition of self-discovery among my students.  The chapter also landed in the middle of the textbook, so by that point in the course, they usually displayed sharpened self-awareness and reframing skills. They were not only able to professionally assess and verbalize the conflict but also express ownership of its escalation which was often via emotional dishonesty. You can bet that made me one happy educator. 🙂

two man and two woman standing on green grass field
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

To listen to a man say “I see it now. I’m not helping the situation.” To hear a woman say “Yeah, I don’t really listen to my kids. I need to do that more.” That was what kept the blood flowing in my teaching career. That is what produced life within those four walls and fortified adults to engage in healthy relationships of all kinds.

Speaking of blood flow… let’s talk about that ED.

When a man experiences erectile dysfunction, it can be emotionally crippling. He may not be able to communicate how emasculated he feels and his behavior can be misunderstood and misdirected toward his partner. Multiple factors can cause ED and one of them is decreased blood flow.

How interesting it is that a lack of life in one area can be the cause of death in another? If blood is not allowed to flow and recycle through our bodies, we experience death. Then again, there are two types of death… two organs that are vital comrades in the cessation of life – the brain and the heart. I believe the effects of dysfunctional communication resemble the intimacy breakdown that can occur from ED. Emotional Dishonesty can lead to Emotional Dysfunction. One deters the physical production of life while the other deters the flow of spiritual exchange. In both instances, there’s a broken piece – trust.

person holding pen
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

And let’s be real… What good is a relationship without trust? How can a relationship survive without the trust that all valves are open… that the flow is free and clear? After all, there are 4 valves in your heart – two for incoming blood and two for outgoing blood, so obviously God knew that circulation and regeneration were vital in keeping you alive in both your head and in your heart. Why don’t we give it a try in the spiritual realm as well? Why not gift that freedom to each other and to ourselves? Be emotionally honest with yourself and with those you love. When you don’t, it hurts yourself because you’re blocking healthy intrapersonal communication, and it hurts the other person because it creates a disconnect from the intimacy you desire from her/him. As I mentioned to some friends this year – I’m in the business of having real conversations with real people that want real relationships. Sweetheart, can you say the same thing?

Disclaimer:
This doesn’t mean that you need to bleed your heart 24/7 to everyone you meet. As in physiology, that could leave you spiritually drained 
and unable to function effectively.

Ask God to balance this spiritual flow as you learn to communicate truthfully in HIs Love from one person to another. It can be done; I promise. I have witnessed and experienced it.  You may have to be gentle or set some ground rules, but allow truthful communication to flow between your lips. Cherish those in your circle who provide opportunities for that to happen. No matter how messy or how awkward it may be, it is worth the trust structure. Letting communication flow between two hearts creates freedom amidst two people… and that’s the pinnacle of God’s Love toward us and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Freedom in mind, body, and spirit. The kind that can only come from the Prince of Peace and the Author of Love.

For more information about emotional dishonesty, check out this article. It’s one of my favorite classroom references.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week and I love you all!

 

 

Wednesday Wind Down: You Better

Hi, Sweethearts!

It’s graduation season for various age groups. Watching people reach this milestone is such a blessing!

Recently, I witnessed a high school class of approximately 80 students with the following awesomeness (see photo):

  • 100% graduation rate
  • 100% college acceptance
  • Over $30 million in scholarship offers

I was in awe, but I shouldn’t have been. I should have been looking at the norm, but instead, I welled with pride at the thought of these unique powerhouses entering their next stage of life. Apparently, they had a determination that could fuel 1,000 ships and it made me wonder…

What happens when the milestones go away? When there’s no diploma, no scholarship, no pomp-and-circumstance to indicate that you’ve accomplished a goal, how can we create that grit? I had to pleasure of speaking to a group of 8th-grade graduates during their promotion ceremony this week and I wanted them to realize there were many more memories to create after they relished in this one.

Tonight, I’m telling you the same thing. It’s easy to fall into the rut of a daily grind because there is no graduation ceremony on the horizon. After the big hurdles, there seems to be pending doom of monotony. I’m here to encourage you to smash that farce. You can create your own milestones. Play your own theme music before walking into work. Pick a date on your calendar to celebrate that you’ve lived through hell for the last 6 months. Choose a date in the future to reach a goal you’ve let sit on the backburner.

Don’t allow yourself to be stagnant. Create reminders that you’re a survivor. Celebrate your humanity and your superpowers. You were designed by a supernatural God that has planted greatness inside of you. It’s about time to wake that up with everything you touch.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Trickle-Down Effect

Hi, Sweethearts.

This post is dedicated to my aunts and uncles. How many of you can attribute something you do to a family member, better yet, a family member older than you? I can. The older I get, the more I realize how much of my behavioral traits can be directly traced to my family and I’m proud of that truth.

Aunt Janice – She’s so creative and resourceful. I have fond memories of helping her create flower arrangements and searching for just the right item to make it perfect.

Uncle Buck – Supa fly. Had style and swag like no other. Military veteran, strong confidence, and a breezy disposition. We could talk about anything.

Uncle Mack – Passionate and resilient. It is what it is. When I broke my arm as a child, he was limping but carried me down about 15 steps. When I rode in his car, we always listened to R&B classics, and I fell in love with them.

Uncle Bo – Any question you have, he has a wise answer. Practical, a well of knowledge, and can get along with just about anybody. Taught me how to change my brake pads too.

Uncle Greg – The life of the party, daring, and devout in his faith. Always smiling and laughing. When I was a kid, I remember wanting to be fearless like him.

Aunt Lisa – Full of joy, intuitive, and a garden goddess. Pure horticulture athlete. I get my playful side from her. She always looks at the bright side and helps people along the way.

Uncle Ed – The debater. The intellectual. The Bible scholar. His drawer full of cassettes compelled me to dive in and listen to everything, then try to put all of them back before he came home.

Uncle Ced – Courageous. My first superhero besides my mother. Military veteran and family man. My fondest memory was him returning from deployment and me acting like he had just come from the moon.

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My uncle’s tapes. *sigh* All the feels.

My musical love affair comes from my family. My fierce ride-and-live (I don’t say ride-or-die) loyal spirit comes from my family. My insatiable appetite for learning, desire to enjoy life and relentless drive comes from my family. My grandfather and grandmother empowered their children with life-long skills that have reached throughout generational branches. I am so blessed to be part of this family tree and I encourage you to dive into yours and explore yourself. You may be surprised by what you find. More importantly, I encourage you to pour into the fruit around you. Don’t leave a person in your home in the dark about something that you’ve learned from your elders. That water needs to be pulled through the roots in order to drip from the leaves. It’s valuable. It’s what make you rich. It’s what makes you live forever.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Parallel

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

Cosmetologists. Cardiologists. Oncologists. Orthodontists.

We seek specialists for areas that need attention. We take medications for what ails our bodies and encourage others to do the same. Prescriptions are filled and routines are formed. Adults become child-like as they read carefully and follow instructions; we become child-like as we look for signs if we’re getting better and worse.

Here’s the question.

Why are we are willing to carefully tend to our tangible diseases and not our invisible ones? I have a newsflash for you. Your invisible wounds bleed out too. They fester beneath the surface and seep through your pores. They manifest themselves through the words of your lips. Your body movements tattle-tell on you like a kindergartener. Your eyes are gateways to things your soul can vocalize to others. You’re hurting and as much as you try to suppress it, you’re leaking.

This post is to encourage you to see a specialist for the innermost part of you. Pray and seek the face of God, your Maker, then seek a counselor or therapist. I’ll let you in on another secret, Sweetheart. God made them too. If every good and perfect gift comes from Him, we must believe the gift of counseling and therapy were created by Him as well. So, why shy away from those gifts helping you?

James 1.17 visual
Courtesy of YouVersion – The Bible App

Cosmetologists. Cardiologists. Oncologists. Orthodontists. Every one of these professions requires a level of trust between the person in need and the person of skill. Perhaps it’s time to allow yourself to build that trust with God and with one of his gifted servants designed to help you heal.

Don’t be a hypocritical Christian… willing to take 10 prescriptions yet speaking ill of those who seek mental and spiritual wellness.  Maybe you should stand in the truth that you need to schedule an appointment with a therapist to work through some of that pain you’re sitting in. There’s nothing degrading about that reality. There is nothing degrading about you. Ask for help. Reach for help. Accept the help. Be parallel in your faith. Be parallel in your healing. Let God help you through specialists ready to sit with you.

If you need a starting point, contact me. I have a short list of licensed professional counselors and therapists that have proven to be trustworthy referrals and I am willing to share this list with you. After I refer someone, I never hear of their interaction and that’s what you want. Sincerity and confidentiality.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m proud of you and I love you. Your next step is going to create a better version of yourself. Take it.

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: Traffic Jam

Good Evening, Sweethearts! It’s a short stop for your week!

Here’s a fun fact – I don’t have road rage. Nope. None at all. I don’t care how much you honk or swerve, I don’t let your energy into my car. That’s my safe haven. My bubble. No one gets the right to invade my mobile sanctuary. It doesn’t mean that people don’t try… especially when your city center is under major construction.

Before I share further, let me also say that I love construction. I know it’s weird, but I truly do. It’s trying to figure out the biggest jigsaw puzzle and being able to drive through it all like a life-size Legoland and an Erector set working harmoniously together. *sigh* I love watching the vision come to life piece by piece. The inconvenience doesn’t bother me because the detours give me a chance to gain a closer look into the mind of the engineers. Try it sometime. You may be surprised by what you see… oh, and thank the nearest construction worker or police officer that is part of the teamwork.

Driving in congestion also makes you observant and attuned to what’s around you. I noticed so many people that were impatient, angry, distracted, and oblivious. While some days I drive in silence, I also jam in traffic. I mean a full out jam session… and I don’t care who’s watching. Try that sometimes too. Find that song that lights you up every time you hear it and have a mini-concert in your vehicle. Snap your fingers, raise ONE hand in the air, and if someone is in the car with you- have your very own lip sync battle.

Why should you do this? Because it boosts your endorphins and who couldn’t use a big dose of that before you reach your destination? Secondly, it’s a reminder that also works in life. Some parts of your story need building and there is nothing you can do to rush the journey. You have to live through it until completion. Being impatient, angry, distracted, and oblivious will cheat you out of insight, fortitude, growth, and gratitude. While you can’t control how fast you can go, you can control what’s in your spirit. Stay focused on what you need and protect your mental sanctuary… and rock out on that mobile stage.

Peace & Thanks for Listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Full Circle

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

So, a beautiful thing happened this month and there were 3 messages that were so clear to me. I chewed on them a bit before sharing them with you and now I’m ready. But first, the context.

On Saturday, February 16th, the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation hosted A Conversation with Dr. Angela Davis at the historic Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama. I had the honor of performing Glory (from the Selma movie soundtrack) with my childhood friend G.I. Magus in front of Dr. Davis and a potpourri of historical and political pillars. I was appreciative just be a piece of the puzzle and I couldn’t have written a better chapter in my life story. Besides the obvious prestige, let me tell you why this was a jewel of a moment.

In elementary school, I saw a photo of Dr. Davis and was entranced. She was a beautiful mix of political prowess, academic excellence, and natural beauty. I loved the way she wore her freedom like a long technicolor cape. Her hair, her voice, and her facial expressions screamed confidence. It was official – she was a shero. The more I read about her, the more fire I felt and I was proud to know that she was a native daughter. I was convinced that I would have an afro just like her when I found the courage to do so. For over 10 years, I did and still do.

Seeing her this month was the culmination of multiple dots connecting to create a beautiful experience, which leads me to the first message – your past can touch your future at any moment, so spend your present well. You never know how hello’s can turn into a double helix of lifetime connections. The people I met in 7th grade, high school, and college would become creative geniuses, community organizers, academic powerhouses, and prolific speakers. Any way you slice it, the fingerprints of my past were all over my future and I was in awe of the masterpiece.

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It’s a blessing to genuinely develop relationships over time, which leads to the 2nd message I heard that week –  your character will follow you wherever you go. This past weekend was a reminder that how you treat people goes far beyond the present moment. I’m not perfect, but I am so grateful that my rapport was strong enough to last a decade or two and some awesome individuals thought positive of my footsteps. That is a gift I will never take lightly… as long as I live. I hate it when people size me up based upon what I can do for them. That’s why I love learning about the spirit behind the job title and socioeconomic status.  In the end, we all appreciate being seen as a person. We appreciate a chance to disrobe our character and let it walk freely ahead of us.

The third message was just as loud – your help is waiting on you. I couldn’t have performed with confidence without the support of my tribe. The prayers from my mother, the love from my small group, the perfect track from my friends, the training from my mentors… there were familiar faces in every facet of this opportunity, each of them believing in God’s gift in me. I am forever grateful. Forever appreciative that when I asked for help, many hands opened wide. Pride keeps a lot of people in the jail cell of their souls’ contempt. I was once a prisoner of that warden and never will be again. This experience was a reiteration that some are still held captive.

Sweethearts, you are exceptional. Stop trying to be perfect. See everyone around you as an individual, not as a marketing tool. Try to be a better version of yourself than the day before. Whether you know it or not, everything will come full circle if you let it. I am so glad I did.

Peace & 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.

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