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Wednesday Wind Down: Don’t Play With Me

Hi, Sweethearts!

It’s the last Wednesday Wind Down for the year and I want to talk about two women and a surprise.

Let’s talk about the two women first.

They’re both in the same place. That don’t-play-with-me-i-ain’t-got-time-for-your-foolishness-today place.

You know what I’m talking about. You arrive to Don’t Play With Me Land after you’ve been duped… after you’ve experienced pain… after you’ve lost something or someone. You’re driving down Happiness Street with smiles and rainbows shooting out the tailpipe until the road suddenly looks dark and the trees are creepily crooked. The warmth of the sun turns into a bitter cold and emptiness surrounds your shoulders. You keep driving though you’re unsure of this area. Eyes ahead and sometimes darting left to right, you move forward believing the brightness of your headlights will carry you through the darkness. Then the road smooths out and the sun reappears above your head. Birds chirp joyfully and you’re left with a “whew!” in your chest. You made it, but you don’t want to go through it again.

Photo by Matu00fau0161 Burian on Pexels.com

That’s where these women were in 2 Kings, Chapter 4 — one of my absolute favorite chapters in the Bible.

At one point, everything was fine then it wasn’t. Here comes a prophet asking them to hope again — believe in God again — but they were hurt. They had experienced a dark part of the road. Enter the prophet Elisha with the divine audacity to put God’s infinite power to the test.

For Woman #1, it’s a debt she can not pay.
For Woman #2, it’s a dream she does not want to resurrect.

Woman #1 is a widowed mother with a voice of desperation and some olive oil.
Woman #2 is married, wealthy, and hopeless with a guest bedroom.

Woman #1 reminds Elisha that her late husband was one of his faithful servants (verse 1).
Woman #2 reminds Elisha not to get her hopes up about having a child (verse 15).

Photo by Fillipe Gomes on Pexels.com

In my modernized heart and mind, this is what it would sound like —

Woman #1: “My husband devoutly worked for Your prophet and reverenced Your Word and now, I’m about to lose my sons? After everything we’ve done for God, now we have no money?”

Woman #2: “I’m fine. I gave up on that dream. I finally made peace with the fact that it’s not going to happen and you want me to dig all of that back up? It’s just not in God’s plan and I’m cool with that.”

I believe both women were saying the same thing — God, don’t play with me. They reached out to Elisha at different times along their journey, but don’t discount their fortitude and faith walk.

Woman #1 had to have a lot of courage to borrow empty jars from her friends and neighbors. At this time, debt collectors didn’t call you on the phone. They came to your house — aggressively. Everyone that lived nearby would have known she was a widow and that her family owed money. Can you imagine having to knock on each door in your neighborhood to borrow jars after being ruffed up by bill collectors all because a man of God told you to do it? That’s some fire in your bones. Period.

Let’s look at Woman #2. She’s also a bad mama jama — just read the whole chapter. When her child died (yes, the one she thought she couldn’t have), she fiercely told her servant to take her to Elisha pronto! So, not only does she have to reach down into her soul and grab some dusty hope to become a mother, but she carries that hope with her to remind Elisha that she didn’t ask to be let down again in this area of darkness.

Neither woman asked to meet that part of their faith journeys, but there they were… at Don’t Play With Me Land. Both of them were at a point of “God, you gotta do something. It’s gotta be better than this.”

Both said I’m going to hope one more time.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Maybe that’s you as you’re reading this post. The year is coming to a close and you’re tired of hoping. Trust me, I’m on that patch of road too about some things. You’re not alone.

I encourage you — encourage us — to try again, hope again, and keep driving through the dark place. The road is bumpy, but it’s not eternal. The branches are crooked, but they bloom in the spring. This is just a patch. It’s not the journey. It’s not the end. We have headlights of faith to see ahead. The engine of God’s Word is proven to be steady, so we have no fear in being deserted in the dark. This is not the end. OK? OK.

Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

Well, here goes the surprise real quick. Ready? Keep reading!

Next year (2021), I will launch an inspirational/meditative podcast made with you in mind. I can’t wait to share short tidbits of love and empowerment to help us walk this faith journey out. We’ll continue to listen at the speed of life together as I step outside my comfort zone yet again. Will you join me there? I hope so! Stay tuned for the date and details!

Here’s to us staying on the road. Here’s to the Son shining on our shoulders. Here’s to meeting 2021 with a better version of ourselves. *clinks glass*

Peace, and as always, thanks for listening. Happy New You!

Wednesday Wind Down: Remember When

Hey, Sweethearts!

This post is dedicated to the “survivor you.” You know — the part you tucked away because you thought you were done with that season? That you. Right there. We’re going to tap into that person again.

Which person was you?

  • College student with minimal income and a heavy semester course load
  • Single parent trying to stretch a minimum wage check
  • Homeless person avoiding an abusive home
  • Fresh out of school and figuring out how to budget expenses
  • Sick at home and not able to work
  • Laid off from work and working a lower paying job
  • Caregiving for a loved one and trying to balance work demands
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

If none of these fit you, fill in the blank with whatever lean state you’ve experienced in your lifetime. Now, let’s revisit some ways you can survive this season too. You can’t be too high and mighty to dig into the following three tips. Ready? Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.


Survival Reminder Tips

  1. Stretch those meals.
    Remember those ramen noodles? I hope I didn’t make you gag. lol Essentially, you ate within your budget. You made one pizza last two days. You got creative with pasta. You could eat off of $10.00. You knew each restaurant’s deal days. This may be a different time, but you may need to dig into that mindset for a bit. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you have to feed that family on spaghetti, make it happen. When I was an RA in college, I created a study break for my residents by buying about six boxes of kiddie cereal and various types of milk and setting up a cereal bar. Do what you need to do, Sweethearts. Create that magic!
  2. Go outside.
    It’s no secret that when we were younger, we went outside more. Yes, there’s a pandemic out there, but there’s a reason why my grandparents would always tell us to play outside. Remember when you had to walk because you didn’t have a car or you took public transportation to the nearest stop? It expands the mind, strengthens the body, and uplifts the spirit. Take advantage of parks and hiking trails. Those are excellent places to create beautiful memories within social distancing and budgeting parameters. So, explore your city, county, and state!
  3. Sharing is caring.
    Back in the day, my college friends and I shared meals. Between three of us, we would conjure up a protein and some sides. This may be a little interesting with the virus, but it won’t hurt to buy a couple of frozen dinners or cans of soup for your neighbor. If you’re that neighbor, it won’t hurt to accept the kindness. The more we stay in silos, the more likely we are to die in them. Be careful? Yes. Be caring? Yes again.
Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

I truly believe that COVID-19 has been a great equalizer and everyone has the opportunity to tap into the survival skills that got them through the tough times of yesteryear.

The pandemic won’t last forever. We just have to make it through this chapter. Don’t be afraid to dig deep to see it through. Don’t be afraid to let that “survivor you” float to the surface and do what s/he does best. Then look in the mirror without shame and smile at that awesomeness.

I’m rooting for you!

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #5

Prayer: “Your handiwork is breathtaking. You made me so well.”

Hey, Sweethearts. Welcome to Day 5 of #bloglikecrazy. Thanks for reading!

So, I have a confession to make. I have never struggled with body positivity in regards to my shape. Yes, I realized I was skinny as a kid — especially when my grandmother’s friends told me that my hips were sticks — but, I recall letting their comments bounce off my little breastplate and going outside to ride my ten-speed. I have never fought the battle of hating my form. Now, my skin tone? We had to work on that.

In elementary school, I was called nigger, inkblot, darkie, blackie, midnight, holy draws, goodie-two-shoes, etc. The verbal attacks were always related to my color, my faith, or my virginity. By the time I reached high school, you couldn’t tell me that my skin wasn’t comprised of chocolatey goodness. I had developed confidence without forming an ego. Before #melaninpoppin became a thing, God opened my eyes to how beautiful I was in His eyes. I remember the moment distinctively. Puberty was in full swing and I noticed stretch marks and… wait for it… hips! Instead of being horrified, I traced the new wavy lines on my body. They seemingly appeared overnight and my nerdy self was fascinated. I squeezed the new fluffy additions on my hips and smiled in the mirror. They were soft and looked sweet, especially since I was an aspiring doctor and admired all things anatomy. I was ready to wear them with pride.

Oftentimes, I look in the mirror and speak those words of prayer. I let the Creator know that He did an exceptional job. My mind, body, and spirit do amazing things on this Earth and I am grateful for what I see. I love the thickness of my thighs and moles on my face. Now, Myrtle (my encroaching gut) has gotten rude and out of hand due to various factors, so she’s got to go starting after Thanksgiving, but I don’t hate her. She just needs to be checked so some of my favorite clothing items can fit the way I want them to (I know… purely carnal). I don’t model my body according to societal standards. I just want to be the best creation I can be to show my Creator that I appreciate His Masterpiece.

I pray that you appreciate the same about yourself, Sweetheart. Pray that prayer as you look into the mirror once a week if needed. Do what you got to do. Love that body and do right by it.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and pray those real prayers, Sweethearts!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #4

Prayer: “What am I doing here? I don’t see the point.”

Have you ever been in a cubicle (or at a desk, on a job site, in a building, whatever’s clever…) and wondered why you were wasting your life in such an excruciating manner? I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve had jobs that I’ve hated too. I’ve had seasons where I’ve looked around in confusion and couldn’t grasp the ridiculous reality of my life. Passion-less days were prevalent and despair was an unwanted partner. Sometimes it even felt like an out-of-body experience. On more than one occasion, I prayed that prayer above. People around me seemed to be flourishing and I definitely felt like a fish out of water. I just didn’t see the point of being where I was. I wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else.

Now, that I’m on the other side of some of those days, the point is clear. A person was encouraged by my integrity. Someone needed a shoulder to cry on. It was time for me to grow. Those are clear points in hindsight, yet there are still a few foggy experiences out there and I may never get my why. I had to accept God’s Peace about those accounts.  Maybe you need to make peace with that unknown variable too. Know that wherever you are, you may not even be there for your own benefit. You may the sidekick in someone else’s story. Be well with that possibility and just be your best self in any situation. It all works out in the end and you are never in a pointless scenario. Here’s a verse that has helped me in those moments –

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Tonight, I pray that your points become well-defined as the days go by… that whatever you’re in right now becomes a past point to which you can smile and say “I’m glad that’s over.” I’m praying for you, Sweetheart, and rooting for you all the way. Keep praying and rooting for yourself too.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #3

Prayer: “God, you’re so cool.”

So, on several occasions, I say those words. Awe hits me at random moments and I have to admit how cool He is. The oddest truths arrest my thoughts and I go with it like a free bird – wings wide open. Some of them include the following:

  • An open road with beautifully lush green grass and intoxicating blue skies
  • A mountain chain
  • Rivers flowing around Mount Ranier
  • Muscle/organ functions (Check out this post as an example.)
  • Fog hovering over my head

I look around me and see so much that sends me into a tailspin of amazement. I’ve learned to allow myself to swim in His glory. If it means that I stop on the side of the road to drink it all in, then that’s what it means. I go with it. How else can I expect to refuel my soul if I keep driving past it, talking through it, and working in it? I need to pause for a minute and say wow. That’s what keeps me sane. That’s what keeps us close. That’s what keeps the lines of my prayer communication fresh and exciting. I’m able to connect with the majesty of God on organic levels in real-time. There’s nothing like it.

Below are a few moments I captured this year.

I pray that you have those moments too. If you need some help, just check in with your child, niece, nephew, or friend’s child and s/he will take your crusty glasses off and replace them with wonder-filled lenses.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart! Keep those real prayers going!

Wednesday Wind Down: Over & Over

Hello, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop for your week instead of the birthday month recap (because the celebration is still going). I hope it helps!

I had an epiphany while driving to work last week. As I saw mountain peaks in the distance, I thought about the song For Every Mountain by Kurt Carr. A fitting song for my surroundings, I went along with it for about 5 seconds. Then, I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit to notice the mountains. I scanned along the horizon and sighed in amazement.

Alabama is home to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Their beauty can arrest your awe on any given sunrise or sundown. It should also be noted that the mountains create a chain — a series of peaks and valleys that can cripple the strongest warrior. As I looked at each forest-covered mountain, I noticed their repetition and various sizes. Then, my understanding opened.

man wearing brown jacket and blue pants sitting on green grass holding rectangular case
Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Mountains rarely stand alone. When we conquer a challenge in life, we consider it a victory… and we should. The truth is, we have another mountain coming. And another one. And another one. We can’t rest for long after the climb; we should prepare for the next trek.

The second truth is that the peak may even be the same height… the same vice… the same person… the same enemy. After the victory, you usually run up against the same issue you dealt with and conquered. I can’t tell you how many times I have beat something that I beat a long time ago. Some things are easy, like smoking. I have no interest in creating that habit. Other things, such as insecurity in crowds, rear their ugly heads more than once. What I am learning is that the next peak comes to test the muscle strength you acquired on the previous one. This means that you should train for the mountain chain and prepare a chain reaction to win.

I encourage you as I encourage myself. Don’t be caught off guard, Sweetheart. Don’t assume that once you’ve reach the top that you don’t have to climb down and back up again. Gear up for the chain and complete the victory.

We don’t get to rest after one victory. We get ready for the next one.
And the next one.
And the next one.

Peace & Keep conquering. I see you and I’m rooting for us.

Birthday & The Beast: Part I

Have you ever felt full, like you were about to pop? Well, me, my Converse sneakers, and my school uniform made a break for it this week.

20180820_143936
Gotta love my therapeutic massage family. That cake… *hands up*

 

It was Monday and I was full of everything – grief, fatigue, anticipation, excitement, concern, questions, tension, gratefulness… I was just full. After all, it was my birthday and that came with a cacophony of spiritual noise. I had been fighting to stay afloat in the midst of recent rip tides and I was doing a pretty good job, but when you wake up on your birthday and wish you could just sleep in, that’s when you know the jig is up. I couldn’t do most of what I wanted due to surgery recuperation and two financial surprises, so I had to make some adjustments to keep my annual self-care ritual.

Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. It’s like my body and spirit know it’s August as soon as July ends. Well, with a few modifications, I still managed to uphold my law.

Week 1: Weekend road trip with Mommy. Music, laughs, and priceless convo.
Week 2: Ate pancakes the night before surgery. Binge-watched Blue Bloods and The Resident from the beginning. Man, I love those shows.
Week 3: Sister Time with sisterfriends. Ate half of a Ribeye from the Hickory Chip.
Week 4: Drove to Noccalula Falls (Gadsden, Alabama)

Now, about this drive… it was a serious mission. I almost didn’t make it in time due to my car repair, but I’m so glad I kept going. When I arrived, I had 25 minutes to make my birthday wish come true, then when I got there, I didn’t follow the map correctly and got set back 6 minutes. Noccalula Falls is special to me because it is one of two places in the world (so far) where I can breathe without respiratory rudeness. Something about that Gorge Trail makes me giddy like a school girl waiting on a glance from a crush. I don’t have to scale or climb, but a fall can easily be in anyone’s future along those jagged rocks. It had been years since I stood beneath the falls, but I never forgot the way I felt taking that deep breath in without clearing my throat for the first time. (A picture of it is on my About Me page.)

I know God is everywhere, but it seems like that is our sweet spot. I just have to push beyond the tough part. On the way to the cave beneath the fall’s cliff, it was difficult to breathe and believe me, there were plenty of opportunities to give up and turn around having had surgery 10 days prior. The impending thunderstorm, the 5-minute grace before getting a ticket, the throbbing headache and sore muscles, my ill-prepared attire… I could have easily said forget it. Not to mention that I kept hearing a loop of negativity in my head along the way. But with every step, I felt the reverberation of my soul making a judgment call to not accept no as an answer to my prayer request. Needless to say, I hustled in all of my sweaty glory to reach the cave by 5:00 PM and made it on the dot. When I finally reached the spot, I took that deep breath and teared up. 20180820_170342Everything that filled me up finally had a place to go and I could empty it out before His perfect blend of peace and power. There I was, looking up at God’s natural wonder, and once again His Word met me there. Here’s what I heard. I hope it helps you too.

  1. Pride, like a tumor, must be removed – not ignored.

  2. Like a tumor, pride metastasizes and blocks your divine purpose.

  3. You can’t ask God for miracles and control how they arrive.

  4. You have to go low to be lifted high. You can’t start at the top.

  5. God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. If you never admit your weakness, there is no room for His strength to take over.

  6. Nothing can stop water and nothing can stop God’s grace and Love toward you. Just let it flow.

  7. Water smooths the rough edges. So do life’s challenges shape you.

No, there was no surprise party waiting for me when I got home and just 10 years ago, I was celebrating my birthday with my fiancé. I had plenty to swirl in as I recalled my battle scars, but standing there made everything feel small and made me feel safe enough to receive His strength. The exchange was available, just like air, and all I had to do was let it happen.

You know that exhale you do after ripping and running all day or removing an overcoat after a long day outside? That’s where I was. Pure relief.

And what was that overcoat? Pure Pride.

I hate asking for help to carry my bags during recuperation, accepting kindness in resources and deeds, or saying “OK” to a surprise provision that I prayed for…. how ridiculous is that? So, just like the benign tumor that was removed from my neck recently, it was imperative that God was still working on me and my foreign-body attachments.

Now, check out an excerpt of what I journaled in September 2016.

“My mantra in August was to unleash the beast.

Each birthday month, I vow to do something I enjoy and spread it out across each week. Sometimes, it’s small like a milkshake or a little bigger like a solo road trip. Well, this year I decided to embrace something that I don’t like…and it hurt like hell.”

Isn’t that crazy? Well, Sweetheart, that’s where Part II comes in. It’s great to celebrate and it’s beautiful to exhale, but we must deal with the Beast within us in order to be healthy.

Peace, see you next time on the blog, and thanks for making it to the end of this post. lol I love y’all. Let’s keep walking. If you have a birthday ritual, let me know. If you don’t, make a pact with yourself to start one. It will bless you more than you can imagine. XO

#bloglikecrazy: Day 29 – Fog

A little known fact about me. I love fog. I seriously love it.

To some people, it’s annoying to drive through (and I do realize, in some areas, the obstruction can be dangerous). They can’t wait until it lifts so they can see everything clearly.

Not me.

It’s like the clouds are kissing Earth. I love to drive slowly in it. I love to walk in its mysteriousness. I admire the softness of the streetlights and the condensation feels refreshing on my eyelashes when I’m outside for a while. At night, my street becomes a catwalk and I work that runway, Honey. For a mental model, fog is everything.

In the natural sense, a foggy stretch of interstate will make your senses heighten as you become more aware of your surroundings. At any moment, something unexpected can happen and you have to be ready for it. On the flip side, when I walk in fog, I can see what is in immediately in front of me and I have to trust where I’m headed. Walking just a few feet and taking a look back will make you feel like you’re at a standstill… but you’re not. Where you came from and where you’re going are just as viable as when you started the journey. The kicker is that as you keep going forward, clarity is around you – not behind you.

That’s why I love fog. It’s a reminder that as long as I walk with God, I walk in clarity. He’ll lead me perfectly and I have nothing to fear. It’s heaven touching my face and filling my lungs. It’s my Father saying “I’m here.”

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of csoonline.com

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