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Wednesday Wind Down: Now Trending

Hi, Family!

How’s your week so far? Terrible? Great? Both?

I feel you and you are allowed to feel all of those. Yesterday, I celebrated one year of co-hosting QueensBeLike Podcast, but on Monday, I had a mini-meltdown, so hey… no judgment here. We’re in this thing together. *fist bump*

Tonight’s wind down is a tough love post. It’s also a short stop. 🙂

Here we go.

As we close March, we mark one year since the world acknowledged the dangers of COVID-19. I believe it was spreading before we took it seriously, and just like other times in history, we missed the warning signs. It was a conspiracy theory or no different than the flu until there were body bags. Until workers were fatigued. Until healthy patients died next to chronically sick ones. We missed it. That’s all there is to it.

Photo by Rodrigo Santos on Pexels.com

Other warning signs we’ve missed this decade (yes, I said decade) are too blatant to ignore.

One sweep of severe weather and possessions are ruined.
One month of unemployment and salaries feel like peanuts (or they always were).
One minute of wildfire and homes are lost.
One second of a decision and a lost life is a hashtag.
One virus and confusion germinates.

All it takes is one anything and our lives can be disheveled and we are eye-level with our transient brothers and sisters. There are no stables for our high horses and the reminders keep coming.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How many reminders do we need? How many times does God have to knock down our philosophical towers of babble formed with bricks of insatiable egos?

COVID-19 still permeates between geographical boundaries leaving trails of anguish behind. Political unrest and social injustice are yet seething underneath tectonic plates of arrogance. We are deafened to the cries of innocent immigrant children while justifying the economical rape of those we sabotage.

The more we bury our heads in warm jackets of jaded comfort, the more I believe God sighs for us to catch the hints… to notice the following trends:

  1. All it takes is one thing to change everything.
  2. We can’t say we love God and not love each other.

When “Get a better job” is the response raising minimum wage, we’ve missed it.
When we enjoy art and education from professionals then refuse to pay them fairly, we’ve missed it.
When we arrest a congresswoman for knocking on a door, but allow rioters to attack other humans, we’ve missed it.

Once again, Jesus looks at our hearts and wonders where He fits. There is little room for His Love to multiply and the world is watching.

Family, we need to listen to the loudness and move in the stillness of Truth. We need to synchronize in empathy. We need to be the Body we were created to be.

Pray this prayer and pray that you mean it – “Lord, show me my blindspots.” Let that trend.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Double Vision

Hi, Family!

You’re receiving this post on Thursday because I fell asleep early last night. I decided not to wait until next week to share this short stop, so let’s go!

Have you ever taken an eye exam? If so, you recall closing/covering one eye to read a line of letters. You read what you could, then you repeated the same activity with the other eye.

Did you notice that your previously closed/covered eye was blurred when you switched? Your eyes had to adjust to the change.

In light of everything transpiring in the world, the Holy Spirit reminded me that there is a reason we have two eyes. Using one doesn’t mean that you are incompetent, but it does disadvantage your range of vision.

Photo by Dazzle Jam on Pexels.com

Right now, both eyes are not working together in the Body of Christ and beyond. They want to work independently instead of interdependently. When body parts don’t work together, there’s chaos, inflammation, and disease.

Today, remember that you’re part of an entire organism. Your role is integral in the lifework of this world, but my darling, you are not independent. Yes, you can catch a peripheral view, but it takes both eyes to determine the object’s value. That’s why we turn our heads or glance over when we see something on one side.

You are not a lone ranger. You are not a solo.

Your job as a follower of Christ is to work alongside the rest of the Body even when it seems impossible. To make the whole function better than the part. It’s easy to lose sight of that in the heat of passion or fear, but if we constantly close each eye, we’ll eventually be blinded to each other’s needs as well as blind others from seeing Christ. After all, isn’t that the whole point? To let Him shine through us?

As I celebrate the life of a friend who passed away, I remember God’s Light shining in her. I remember her words, her smile, and her extension of Jesus to me. That’s a part of her that will never die. That’s the part of you that needs to be experienced by someone else.

So, do that. Use both eyes. Don’t let anyone or anything persuade you share the Love of Jesus with total vision. I’m praying for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: What A Day

Well, my original first-Wednesday-of-the-year message has been altered a bit.

I’ll keep one part of the initial plan — to change my affectionate name for you. I thought it befitting to call you Family. After all, we’ve shared a whole heap of life events together (5 years worth come January 26th actually). So Sweethearts is retired and Family are you. 🙂

On to the different message.

I’m watching. So should you.

My eyes and spirit are keen and I am not dismayed by what happened in Washington, DC.
I’m not surprised.
I’m not angry.

I’m watching… and I’m actually glad we saw the attempted coup of the U.S. Capitol.

Photo by Thiago Matos on Pexels.com

Why? Because proof can not be ignored. A mirror is still a mirror even when it’s broken.

More people were able to see behind the veil of privilege and democracy (and this is from a social science educator). For America to lift up her skirt and show her tail to the world was exactly what we needed to affirm how damaged we truly are. Hypocrisy spills from her lips every time she tilts her liberty-crowned head back and scoffs at other countries for their supposed lack of governmental and military prowess. The last 3 months show how much pride is around our borders and how much ache is in our souls.

On numerous occasions, I’ve written about my love for America (just search “America” on my blog) and that I don’t always likes what she does. So what do you do in a moment like this… when you don’t like what you see and you can’t un-see it? When you’re trying to digest your sentiments with friends and family and they refuse to respect your thought?

You watch.

You pay attention and take notes.

You don’t let anyone infiltrate your peace of mind.

Photo by Barik5ive on Pexels.com

You can be sad, upset, confused, frustrated, but don’t let it alter your personality. Don’t let it harden your heart. I hate that people attach the name of Jesus to the foolishness we saw, but I refuse to exhibit behavior that would cause even more people to turn away from His Love. And that storming of our democratic symbol was no where near it.

Another tip – Be ridiculously aware. Pray for wisdom and I guarantee the Holy Spirit will be your navigator in these uncharted waters. Hone in on who is saying what and why. Notice their actions. Seek for alignment between word and deed. Ugly or not, the Truth is always present. This one is just more personal (and uglier) than we thought.

Family, you can navigate through the smoke.

You can disagree without losing your wits.

You can be disgusted with the haps and shine at work. Being temperamental is what the darkness wants you to do. So, don’t give your heart away and while you’re taking notes, remember this one – Galatians 6:7-8 New Living Translation (pretty easy to remember the number sequence, right?)

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.”

Courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

It may worse before it get better, but keep watching. Keep paying attention to God’s move in and out of you. Keep sowing the good seeds.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #26

To my United States of America:

Don’t worry — this isn’t a bash letter. I can’t truthfully say that all parts of you are horrible. There are some beautiful moments between us and your landscapes are breathtaking to say the least. The way your camaraderie comes through in times of tragedy is amazing. When an actor or a farmer can become president, you know there’s something magical here. I love you; otherwise, I wouldn’t be here.

It’s because of that love that we need to have this conversation. Our garden has some weeds in it that we can not ignore. Some could say there’s full-fledged forestry. In this domestic relationship, my face has bruises that you don’t want to see. You’d rather I be silent and keep smiling for the pictures than for Truth to stand in the middle of our living room.

When corporations can make unlimited donations to control their candidate’s voice and society is celebrated for working on fumes, we have a problem.
When gerrymandering is normal and public health doesn’t serve the public without some bureaucratic blowback, we still have a problem.
When it’s 2020 and women are still paid less for the same caliber of work and indigenous persons must protest for the sanctity of their land, we definitely have a problem.
An age old problem.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Just because there are great opportunities doesn’t mean there aren’t great opportunities for growth. Progress takes time, I know, but you can’t keep wining and dining me thinking that I’m going to forget the repeated black eyes of injustice and the dismissive nature of our union. There’s not enough makeup in this house to cover such crimes.

The truth is we were unraveling way before this year began. Our jaded bubbles of reality were actually being held together by tattered strings and I kept saying that I wanted us to work out, but I don’t feel like you hear me… that you want to hear me.

Photo by Josh Hild on Pexels.com

From the bottom of my heart, I love you. I hate the mess and I know we aren’t perfect, so all we have to do is acknowledge and adjust. You have to be willing to do that before anything gets better. The land we built wasn’t ours to do so. It’s been watered by the blood of so many. Our home needs the beautiful truss of Truth and don’t think I can’t leave; I just shouldn’t have to. My blood, sweat, and tear equity is invested in this house.

I believe we can get there. I have to believe we can get there, but I won’t stand to be a victim in these four walls.

Can we work on this? I want better for us. Our inception didn’t start out so fair, but we have control over our future. Do you want us to work? Do you want us to live together? Do you want us to live?

I hope so. Let me know.

Sincerely,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: Great Expectations

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts!

How have you been? Glad you made it.

Let’s look at the connection between what we pay for and the quality we expect.

At a restaurant, we will return an unsatisfactory plate. We will refuse a hotel room that is subpar. We will share a social media post about incompetent service from a clothing store associate. Our extension of payment is related to our expectations. We like quality. We like an even or greater exchange.

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

When it comes to voting, I see it as civically paying for an expected service. We expect for elected officials to represent our voices behind closed doors. Here’s the thing — I don’t think we truly expect what we pay for. Maybe it’s that they are out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Perhaps it’s because we’ve lost faith; nevertheless, they are our representatives. You may think all politicians are evil or incompetent. You may believe there is no point in voting because your voice will never be heard. You may think that faith transcends politics and voting is futile. I don’t know your reason, but I encourage you to use your expectations as your weapon. If we can expect divine promises from God, why can’t we hold our fellow humans accountable to our civic expectations?

After all, American colonists fought for their right to make their own governmental decisions and various ethnic groups have even died in the pursuit of this opportunity.

I’ve often wondered what my ancestors would think if they saw some of us not cashing in their blood, sweat, and tears. One of my favorite movie lines could possibly describe their sentiments. If you’ve seen Madea’s Family Reunion (2006), you must recall Cicely Tyson’s invigorating soliloquy on the steps of their ancestors’ home. It was sparked by the following question from the Simmons’ 96-year-old matriarch named Ruby who was disappointed at her family’s behavior.

“Is this what we paid for?”

– Ruby (the late Actress and Educator Georgia Allen)
Madea’s Family Reunion
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

Lately, I’ve asked myself this question while imagining my elders’ perspectives. Their civil rights marches. Their sit-ins. Their clocking into work for disgraceful pay. Their face freshly spat upon. Their back sprayed with lashes from their masters. The lies defaming their character. The many times nothing was done against their accusers. Then to look into the future to see people say they aren’t voting or that they don’t care; they’ll just pray about it and love everyone. We must not forget that the church was the heartbeat of the American civil rights movement approximately 60 years ago. They prayed and they organized. They prayed and they boycotted. They prayed and they voted. Their faith and their movement went hand-in-hand. They held the government accountable to its purpose and the elected officials to their word.

Sweethearts, let us be motivated to get what we civically pay for — to receive the quality of service we expect. If we can do it for tangible products, we should expect as much for the greater good. Simply put, we can’t expect more from a restaurant than we do from our elected officials.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 6 – Meeting of the Minds

The Good

#6 – I played two roles – leader and follower!

In my performing arts troupe, I play both sides of the field. It’s a delicate balance, really… one that took time and heaping spoonfuls of humble pie over the years. My Troupe has committees, each serving as a gear to make the machine called “us” run smoothly. There is plenty to do and while I am proud to lead such a fabulous group of professionals, I am even more proud when they don’t need me to turn a dream into reality. Last year, I vowed to be a better follower and when the situation called for it this year, I truly enjoyed wearing that hat.

I am on two committees and I loved meeting with my committee teammates, brainstorming and executing our plans, and presenting ideas to the Troupe like other team members. It was fun and it gave me a grassroots view upon which to compare my aerial one. My ideas were not always chosen and they didn’t play favoritism just because I’m the founder. We worked together and I loved every minute of it. In the end, I felt more well-rounded as a leader and collaborative as a follower!

The Lesson

As a leader, my job is to create other leaders, not do everything myself. Now, there something you should know – I’m a perfectionist, so when I founded this organization, I truly felt like I had to do everything and as a result, my Troupe didn’t feel like I didn’t trust them to do anything. Over time, we communicated openly and worked on being a well-oiled machine instead of a bunch of squeaky gears. The result is a group of 10 people that know their roles, serve in them well, and be interchangeable as needed.

IMG_20180106_135101-1.jpg
Teammates down, Coach.

Are you allowing yourself to be a team player? Do you listen to the heartbeat of your team or do you just push them to exhaustion?

What would happen if all of our leaders learned how to be exceptional followers?

Peace & Thanks for listening! #ivoted

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 20 – Proof of Life

A short stop for your day –

In a world where mutual human respect seems to be a dying artform, I needed proof after the presidential election. I needed resuscitation that all was not for naught and that there was good in the world to override the poison I had heard around me. I was also seeking the truth that I wasn’t just aimlessly helping people as they stomped on top of me on the way to their destination. I needed a beep on the heart monitor, a waveform on the EKG to give me some hope to press forward that day.

It came the night that my performing arts troupe was recording a creative piece. I’ve been on a kick lately of pushing us toward the unfamiliar and questioning our systemic practices. This particular evening, we would be taping in my church’s sanctuary and utilizing their colorful lighting amenities. It was exciting to see how it would look, but I was spiritually exhausted.

The blip that I needed arrived in the form of a White pastor of an ethnically diverse church saying yes to a predominately Black troupe and authentically caring about our creative goals. Not once was race a factor. Not once was time an issue. All we cared about was Jesus and making an excellent product to encourage others.

At one point of the 2-hour session, I was overwhelmed. I got so full that tears welled up in my eyes. The lighting, the sound, the attire, the laughter… it all hit me. Here we were, defying everything that society says we should hate about each other and working with sincerity and passion. Let me be clear – prejudice exists and I am not oblivious to it. But there was proof of life available and all I had to do was look around. Proof that the same blood pumps within us all and that everyone isn’t trampling over the other in shameless indignation. The heart of people are walking evidence that proof of God’s life exists. That beep was all I needed to keep going.

What has been your proof of life lately? Have you overlooked your blip?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of Open Clipart

#bloglikecrazy: Day 12 – See So Much

I’ve had the pleasure and pain of seeing a lot around me…and so have you.

After a week of hateful spew oozing from the news channels, it was apparent that my eyes and my heart was in an overloaded state. I needed a break, a muse, a wisp of hope to flutter before my eyes and awaken my spiritual senses. Where was it?  The flutter. The glimpse of shimmer in all that was covered in coal. I couldn’t see it amidst the racial slurs on television, small-minded retorts, strong-willed behavior, and effervescent paranoia. My glass was half-full, but the vessel was cloudy enough to block the view that something good could be inside of it.

Then I came home to find a card in my mailbox from two friends checking on my health. The warmth of the contents were already seeping from the envelope, so after reading the beautiful words, I pressed the open card against my chest and felt the love that poured out of it. I remembered that in the same week, two friends invited me to their son’s birthday dinner because they saw me as part of their family. I recalled kind words, sweet gestures, and bleeding love from sincere hearts. Hearts encased in different shells than mine. I was grateful for my family’s consistency; however, the breath of fresh air at the top of that half-full glass was the perfect reminder that all is not toxic in the world of black, brown, white, etc.

For every thing I saw that ransacked my optimism, there were people with genuine respect that reminded me of something I had heard in my spirit earlier that week and that came up in conversation earlier that evening.

Hate the systems more than the people.

This was a hard pill to swallow and a difficult truth to hear. If I inflict the pain that I felt toward those who support what I despise, I am no better than the racists doing the same toward me. I can’t be vindictive toward every White person I encounter. I simply can’t. I don’t have the right to generalize no matter how angry I am at the mountains of ignorance on both sides. I don’t live in a mental utopia, and I definitely do not encourage the use of a band-aid to cover up our wounds, but my anger has to go somewhere constructive before it causes me to see through its glasses alone. Swirling inside of my chest and making me sick to my gut are not the best activities for it. Paying attention to our local government is a productive start for us all, but first, we pray to see that which we are truly fighting. We pray not to plow over the good stuff to scream about the bad. In all of our ranting, we have to see. And honestly, I see so much. So much beauty in the ashes of this aftermath that are waiting to be fragrant. Such an open road between two mountains. Sincere people going to work everyday trying to make a difference. I see the wisps. The shimmer. It doesn’t extinguish my flame, but at least it can materialize into hope.

I truly see so much. Thank God for that.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 NASB

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of The Open Road

#bloglikecrazy: Day 9 – Band-Aids or Surgery

surgery
Photo courtesy of The Atlantic

“We keep changing the chefs never noticing the oven is broken.”
– T. D. Jakes, Sermon: Destiny Flocks Together

Disclaimer:
This isn’t a political piece. It’s bigger than that.
So, since you’re here, you might as well come on in and keep reading. *smile*

I was teaching my Introduction to Communication class today and something flew out of my mouth like a free bird. I can always tell when the Holy Spirit takes over because the faces of my students look like someone punched them in gut and the echo of my words surprise me when I hear them.

We were discussing conflict resolution and communication styles. The students’ conversation turned into how the value of the relationship and a person’s stage in life can affect conflict resolution strategies. Then, I said something that made the environment change. I’ll paraphrase below since I don’t remember the exact wording.

“Sometimes, you have to admit that there are no more band-aids in the box and it’s time to agree to do the surgery. It may not be a pretty quick-fix, but if you have placed a high value on the person and the long-term health relationship, you have to agree to do the work and have a common goal of achieving a shared understanding.”

I felt it. It was a slight shift where my students thought about their personal situations. So, I gave the “pregnant pause” before continuing my lesson plan.

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Clip Art courtesy of ClipArtBest.com

Depending on the value you both have placed on each other and the relationship (whether platonic, familial, or romantic), the conflict resolution outcome will vary. And just because the outcome isn’t a win-win (which isn’t nearly as feasible as people think in most cases), it doesn’t mean the issue was not resolved. Perhaps you have extended every option in your emotional storage and the other person is stuck on fueling the fire. The resolution is to accept the loss of the relationship type and get used to a new normal (lose-lose). The outcome doesn’t always have to be rosy to be the best option.

Let’s take this communication theory further. In the case of our most recent presidential election, I found Pastor T. D. Jakes’ quote most fitting. At times, we place too much responsibility on one person to fix our problems. Just like a surgeon has technicians and a team of doctors to consult, so does anyone that sits in the president’s seat. Unfortunately, just like in a medical situation, we put an unrealistic divinity on one human to heal our diseases. As Pastor Jakes said, we never put the microscope on the systemic leaks that need to be addressed. We simply change the person in the seat. On a personal level, instead of surgery, we opt for the band-aid of another partner, another friend, another job, another state, and all the while, the best option is to dig deeper for the source of the problem and attempt to resuscitate our lives.

Since we’re all created by the same God, shouldn’t we all get along? Shouldn’t everything be perfect and no surgery be necessary? hmph. Take into account the following verse:

1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:1-6

Everyone is living in a tainted shell; therefore, we have to do the work to keep peace abounding in our communication…and in our country. Diligence is necessary. Patience is a prerequisite. Tolerance is essential. We’re in a time where the band-aids are peeling because the problems are too great and the blood is running freely. Let’s do better and choose wisely in speech and in our political footsteps.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

 

 

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