These posts have not been published in the order of importance, but I definitely saved the best for last. It was desperately on my heart to enjoy the King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort with my mother during the Word of Faith Love Center‘s At The Table Women’s Ministry Retreat. This is not your stereotypical Christian retreat. You know the ones… you’re not super saved unless you wake up at 5:00 AM to pray with everybody, attend 5 breakout sessions with 10 different speakers, 2 prayer meetings, then snot-nose-cry on the floor well after 1 AM. Not that I have never been a broken piece of clay at a spiritual event (because I have), but if you tell me that I’m attending a retreat, that is what I expect. I shouldn’t need a vacation when I return home. That’s what I wanted for my mother. After the decade she has had, a time to refresh and replenish her spirit was not part of the calendar. So, that’s exactly what we did and it was the really Good stuff of this year.
Allow your love level up.
I had attended the retreat twice before, but this year was different. It seemed like everything in the world tried to prevent me from going (just like the previous years), but instead of focusing on the obstacles, I was relentless about the outcome. My mother was coming with me no matter what. And guess what? She felt the same way. We double-teamed our discomfort with faith and action. We declared and decreed that we would not only attend the retreat but that we were going to have a fabulous time together. There was a season in our relationship where that was not our warcry, so I was so full to be able to say those words.
Love overrides obstacles every time. The obstacles will be there, but they don’t have to shine. Don’t be afraid to let love surpass the pain, the frustration, the history, the cracks, and bruises. My mother is the most resilient person you will ever meet. She greets challenges with a smile and hammer ready to work. Every day. Since I’ve been born, she’s been on the grind and it healed my soul to see her singing in the ocean, trying new foods, embracing her natural hair and new makeup, and connecting with other phenomenal women – including me. I love her more now than I ever have. Because we decided to “level up” our love, I am able to witness the expansion of her courage in real time and be an active participant of her regeneration. Love breeds love, so all we have to do is let Him breathe between us.
Peace & Thanks for listening! I appreciate you hanging with me again this year during #bloglikecrazy. It’s been a blast. See you next week on our regular Wind Down Wednesday schedule. God bless you all and enjoy your weekend, Sweetheart. I love you too. *hug*
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.
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. Everything 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.
Pride, like a tumor, must be removed – not ignored.
Like a tumor, pride metastasizes and blocks your divine purpose.
You can’t ask God for miracles and control how they arrive.
You have to go low to be lifted high. You can’t start at the top.
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.
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
I held it in my open-faced hands like gold from a Pharaoh’s tomb. It was here. Finally. And I was touching it with my soul.
The connection I felt when I slid my fingers across the slick cover… it was an intimate moment. I had done it. I had published a book. My book. The one that I started nine years ago after being laid off, wondering what I was going to do next. I thought I had found my dream job, but the garden in which it was located could no longer provide financial fruit. The book was my private little project. For awhile, no one even knew that I was writing. It was preciously scary.I didn’t want to contaminate the imaginative outcome I steadily played out in my head – girl writes book, book does well, girl gets paid, girl travels the world and girl works for herself. It was a ludicrous movie that replayed over and over again and I didn’t want it stop, so I didn’t tell anyone. I kept the tickets to myself and attended my cerebral theater alone throughout graduate school, until she came. Nancy. A she-fox that would rock my planet with the belief that my little secret movie could be realized. Here she was in Birmingham, Alabama with a publishing company, books, paintings, jewelry, music… and all I could think was “How?” and “Can I do it too?” She forced me to see beyond my sight and work toward my vision. I let her in and she got a front row seat to my secret movie and didn’t flinch. She smiled and I felt safe.She began to share with me and I with her. I had a gained a friend and Shero.
I’ll never forget the thorns and rocks along this road, the people I’ve gained and lost, the tears I cried in angst, the prayers I repeated, the fear hovering nearby in trees of doubt, and the joy I felt when I typed END on the manuscript. The breath I held the first time I gave it to her seemed to last forever, just like it did when I heard she died. I stopped walking along the road and let the vines grow into my secret theater. I didn’t want to write and it pained me to think about it. Spiritual cobwebs caught my words every time someone asked “So, how’s your book going?” I dreaded the answer. It was deathly to think of cracking the doors open and letting sunshine in the wounded halls of my heart… but I did. Now, my book, the fruit of hands, was sitting in my lap and it was seducing me. I wanted to open it up and enjoy the exterior all at the same time. After holding it next to my heart for a few minutes, I laughed at the rear view of the road to fruition. I couldn’t believe how faithful God had been. When He said that He would bless the work of my hands, I didn’t fathom that some days my hands would feel empty and barren. That materializing my thoughts wasn’t a lie I kept feeding myself. I was a writer. Always had been. In the back of my grandmother’s car was always a writing stick and some paper. I even found out along the road that my biological father wrote poetry. So, my secret movie wasn’t so secret after all.
We can all be discouraged as we peer down the road ahead and see the shadows of the unknown. But we have to keep going. We have cling to the truth that we are seeds and seeds have to buried and/or watered in order to fulfill their purpose. The dirt will be isolating and the water will make us feel like we’re drowning, but we are made from both elements, so we will not die. We will grow.We will thrive. We will live out loud. After all, someone needs the fruit that we are destined to produce. Keep dreaming, keep walking, and keep working, my friend. You’re on a road, not in a box.
Peace & Thanks for listening.
*By the way, I found this daffodil beauty along my walk this morning. Sweet.
Another short stop to get you through the week. Hope it helps!
I was on my morning commute to work last week and on target to arrive early…so I thought. When I turned on GPS to check the traffic report, it indicated a 13-minute slow down. I was disappointed needless to say. Then, about 10 minutes into the drive, an alternative route option appeared and I accepted the helpful alert. It was quicker, but definitely unconventional. I never take that route to work because it has too many bottlenecks, but I trusted the notice and exited early before hitting the jam that I couldn’t see. There were more traffic lights and smaller streets, but no traffic. No bottlenecks. I was stupendously surprised. And what do you know… I totally missed the slowdown and got to work with 5 minutes to spare.
We must trust God in the detour.
That’s what I heard that morning. Just like I trusted my GPS to get me around the traffic jam, I trust the Father to lead me around, through, and over the difficult areas in life. I have to believe that His plan and sight far exceeds mine.
I thought of each time I thought I had it all figured out and how wrong I was. How many beautiful people I met on the road I didn’t want to travel. How much money I wasted trying to save a dying mode of transportation that I thought was a lifeboat.
The Truth is I can’t see what’s ahead. I can only guess. I can only estimate and plan accordingly. I can’t know what will happen, but God isn’t bound by time on Earth. He supersedes it effortlessly because He made it. So, it’s only practical that I trust His GPS over my calculated fears and prideful steps. Often times, we have both hands in those messy roadblocks. Other times, we can’t see them coming. Either way, listening to the voice of God will help us greatly. Simply put, He knows more than we do. He is trustworthy in the detours.
People in your life come and go for various reasons. Not every entrance and exit can hold the same weight. Some were meant to teach us, reach us, expose us, ignite us… similar to the famous adage about people coming into your life for “a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” A few years ago in my quiet time, God gave me a visual of this people-flow and placement. It was plain as day and it made so much sense. His lesson was for me to learn where people need to be at certain points of my journey and that being offended about their placement (or mine in theirs) is not an option. What a harsh, but valuable classroom experience it has been.
Imagine a two story house in a suburban neighborhood with a beautiful front yard and fence. Now, let’s go to the scenario He showed me. Keep in mind that throughout your life, you may have the same person weave in and out of these areas. It doesn’t mean that if s/he is in the yard, s/he doesn’t love you. You have to look at all of the players on stage within the proper context of the story. Remember, you’re part of someone’s story and you have a place too. That’s why you can’t get offended. *whew*
The Street – minimal connection; not interested in engagement; “checking in” as they pass by; sees snapshot of the outside and creates a portrait; may include gossip about snapshot; primarily public interaction
The Sidewalk – stops by to check-in every once in awhile; satisfied with snapshot plus a peek into small details; keeps walking; may or may not smile as they continue toward their aspirations, so don’t revel in their responses; download the intentions and let them pass
The Yard – play and have a good time, small talk to catch up, still at a distance but closer than the street and sidewalk, within the fenced boundaries of respect to private life, permits sharing of life details at will; still open and free
The Steps – more intimate than the yard; small talk to catch up with more details included; cognizant of yard, sidewalk, and street people’s view of you; people on the fence of your heart tend to congregate here – maybe too afraid to get close, but too invested to go away; be careful of those that linger here with ill intent
The Porch – close, but not close enough to come inside; like the feel of outside, but enjoy the presence of you; insightful conversations can to spark here due to vulnerability
The Living Room – for the good times; communal; entrance and exit easily accessible; enjoy the moments and leave soon after; can relax around them; be careful here if you keep having to serve them and it is not reciprocated; meaningful conversations can grow here; bad interactions can be stopped here before they germinate
The Bedroom – usually located in the back or upstairs of the home; the inner sanctum of your heart; intimate conversations and moments are shared here; full disclosure and trust; not afraid of the ugly; good and bad interactions can thrive here, so be careful who has access; can spill into living room
My #LATSOL Lessons
Everyone doesn’t belong everywhere, and that’s OK.
Be mindful of where people want to be in your life. Respect that space.
Be a vessel of love with a fence to protect it. Love doesn’t let us abuse it.
What about you? Have you had similar lessons about people placement? Can you add to the list above? Did you have to swallow this pill and/or implement your boundaries?