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Small Things Matter

BHM -> DEN -> SEA:

Small things matter, so be excellent.

IMAG3065What if everyone I met (and didn’t meet) wasn’t excellent at their job today? I wouldn’t be on this flight. I may not have even made it out of the parking lot. I bet someone was nervous about the flight information being correct as they typed it into their computer at work. I’m sure someone was tired as they dressed themselves this morning.  Nevertheless, they did it. They made it happen. They pushed aside the weight and picked up responsibility, hoisted it on their shoulder like a backpack, and trudged forward… knowing that someone needed them to be great.  Not good, not average – great. And that someone was me.

Excellence matters.
Regardless of color, creed, origin, excellence speaks and small things matter.

From the parking lot to the cabin, greatness was the only option and the only item on the menu today. Because everyone needs the same thing… to get to the next destination, even if it’s not pleasantly perfect, we all need to get there. The outside signage had to be flawless in order to direct seamless traffic of various types of vehicles. The roads had to be painted correctly and well lit so we could see where we’re going. The check-in process had to be smooth for my presence to be accounted for and for my luggage to travel with me. It’s a chain of processes that have to work together (seemingly) flawlessly in order for me to get where I’m going.

IMAG3588_1

C is for me.

The attendant that met me with a smile and helped me find the quickest check-in for my baggage… the TSA employee who directed me to the nearest checkpoint route (who by the way was standing in line waiting for breakfast and could have easily brushed me off like the Walmart associate did last week who said that she was off the clock and “couldn’t” redirect my question. Sidebar within the sidebar – Yeah, Walmart ass-ociate… I remember you.)The TSA agent that kept the security checkpoint moving (I thank God for her. Please give her extra jewels in her crown, Lord)the TSA agents that checked my boarding pass and ID and monitored the security scans/process (it’s a hassle sometimes, I know, but it keeps us safer than we realize).. the person or machine that regulates the concourse train (can you imagine your legs running like Chicken Little through the maze we call an airport?)… the attendant that was standing there ready at her post as I handed her my boarding pass, out of breath. She could have been lazy or out of place, but she was exactly where she was supposed to be. The seats I’m looking at across the aisle were once a bunch of parts that had to be put together. The engineer that conjured up this design had to have the exact measurements and mathematical prowess to create this vessel.

Every bolt, every screw, every stitch had to be done with care in order for me to write this entry on my way to Denver. All the parts had to work together. Just like the plane, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Keep that in mind for later.

IMAG3585
the view

I needed everything to work today, and to work well. There was minimal room for error and whatever error that may have occurred, I didn’t see it. Even when I misheard my dear sisterfriend tell me that we were leaving home at 4:30 AM instead of waking up at that time (BIG difference, but don’t worry. I was ready to roll in 15 minutes. That’s the trust, but verify part of this LATSOL moment.), the lovely people at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Southwest Airlines exhibited a level of excellence at each part of my journey. I appreciate that… for real. I needed every last person along the way.

So why can’t the Body of Christ act like that?

I’m still on this “body-kick” and it won’t let me go. Instead of acting like a whole Body with a Head, we act like a body parts – disconnected and dying. Instead of being connected to the Vine, we would rather be scattered like dead branches after a storm. It’s only a matter of time before we shrivel up and return to the dust from whence we came. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. We could complain and blame the fall of man (and woman) for all of our ills, but the truth is that God saved us through the blood of His Son and thus, we are reconnected by our word of faith. Therefore, there are no excuses. Therefore, there is now no condemnation, either (shout out to Romans 8:1). Nothing can keep us apart from each other and nothing can separate us from the love of God, the Vine, the Head. I beg to differ that we can simply coast through life alone, needing no one, touching no one, loving no one. We were designed to a Body, a significant part of a whole that just happens to be contained in this shell called humanity. This Body needs to operate as a whole organism, moving one direction… just like this plane. As long as we stay separated and live recklessly egotistical off our own laced supply of judgment and ignorance, we won’t get anywhere. Instead, we’ll die as broken branches with the Source within our reach.

I may not have met all of the people, but I met their excellence. And it spoke volumes as it helped me get to my destination. Let’s hope that someone meets our excellence everyday.

Southwest pilot photo courtesy of SWA Media
(I always touch the plane too. 🙂

Concourse and sky photos by moi

In the Moment

Good Day, Good People!

I had a great conversation with a girlfriend of mine on March 14, 2017. We established that fear of the good is real. What do I mean by the good? You know, the good stuff in life. That moment when you have a smile on your face so bright that it could burn the sun. The moment when all feels right with your world. The instant you close your eyes and tilt your head back. When the good happens, you know it. You feel it. Everywhere.

Unfortunately, you can have so many scars from the not-good (because there are some that feel the bad are just “life lessons”) that you expect it to come around the corner at any moment. Lurking like a burglar, the not-good appears to be ready to stand in your sunny spot on the concrete and steal your shine. Fear of the not-good coupled with a fear of the good can cripple the strongest of souls. You can be scared of success and fulfillment and the responsibility they could bring to your current and future statuses. You could also be terrified of the good holding hands with an invisible evil twin that could devastate your life in a single breath. Both fears are real. That’s what she and I discovered that night. That’s what we share. What a beautiful moment of transparency.

Fear has the capacity to suck in all the hope you had in your hands and leave you cold and isolated. It’s a sad transaction. The exchange of wanting more out of life and being anxious of the deficit of despair in return. Who doesn’t want to take a month long vacation? Or sail on a cruise ship more than twice in a lifetime? Or sit still in a cabin in the mountains and drink hot chocolate while gazing at God’s Handiwork? What would actually happen if in the moment, we absorbed the good? Not anticipating the bad news, the hiccups in the plan, or the no-show of the crowd, but soaking in the goodness of expectation? It can actually be sweet, you know. I’ve tasted it once or twice or three. Somewhere along the continuum of God’s favor, grace, and purpose lies me… scared of both ends. Then, there comes a time when you are simply sick of being afraid. You want to drink the sunshine with the biggest cup you can find in your heart. You want to dance the street (with or without rhythm) because you got the best news of your life. You want to walk into the interview like a victor, expecting to get the call back. It doesn’t matter if 5 minutes from that moment you get a phone call that’s nerve wracking. Maybe the sunshine in which you chose to stand can grow your tree of hope a little taller and set the roots a little deeper to withstand the winds of the storm ahead. You won’t know until you stand in the moment and the take the good and all she has to offer.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

I’m convinced that the power, love, and discipline (also called “sound mind” in some versions) come from standing strong in the good and soaking it well beyond your pores and into your soul. Beyond that polarized fear, there’s all Three waiting to secure our hope, to anchor it down deeply in His omnipotence. That’s the power of the good. It serves as a reminder when the not-good comes.

So, what’s stopping me from hugging the good with both arms? Absolutely nothing.

What about you?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of The Chicago Now

#bloglikecrazy: Day 29 – Influence-a

From the root word fluent meaning  to flow

Influential people have a flow that pours in others. The fluency of their power easily transfers from one mind to the next, which in turn pours into surrounding minds. It’s a phenomenon, when it’s allowed to be. The act of being the influencer carries a great weight that one may not even know she is carrying, for instance, an apple carrying a disease. The outside may be beautiful, and the internal flesh may appear perfect, yet the invisible could harm you. Someone could have coughed on the sliced interior or touched it with infected hands, and now what was once beautiful to see, smell, and taste is now a biomedical weapon to slay the health of multiple people.

Keep walking with me and see if you can track where we’re going…

I begin each speech class with the same questions –

Are your words good enough to eat?
Do you share healthy words for others to ingest and digest or do you walk around throwing garbage on the plates of people’s souls?
Do you have good credit with your words?
Can someone take what you say and use it as an extension or “line of credit” of your character?

There are people in your neighborhood still struggling with words that flew into them as children. Hateful words. Hurtful words stating they were stupid, slow, and wouldn’t amount to anything in life. A flow that contaminated what was once beautiful into someone you can hardly stand to see. Their minds were a garden and their souls were fertile to receive the influence, the flow that poured in. But there’s a flip side to this epidemic – this spiritual influenza. If we can receive, we can also pour it within ourselves.

Let’s revisit that root word fluent. When someone is fluent in a language, it flows out of her/his mouth. It’s a river that knows its direction. It is not a second thought; it is part of the person’s internal make-up. It has been developed, strengthened and tested to be influential to the culture for which it was created. According to one of my favorite sites, the Online Etymology Dictionary, the Medieval Latin and Old French etymologies refer to influence was an astrological noun – “streaming ethereal power from the stars when in certain positions, acting upon character or destiny of men,” and “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny.” In other words, what you do and say – your flow – can directly affect the trajectory of someone’s character and destiny, including your own. Just as I’m sitting here with the flu, the trajectory of my week was changed. My goals were not met and my body was under the influence of someone else’s infection. I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t want it, but it happened. Their fluency of the virus flowed into me. I can only imagine that is how the power of our existence can be to others if we allow the river of Christ’s Love to flow within us. We can be the influence if we speak and live in His Love fluently.

You were created to be influential. You were designed to be influential to the culture in which you live. You were made to flow – to receive and to pour into others. You weren’t created to infect, but to inspire. Think of all the good seeds you could sow if you walked everyday with this in mind. You would circulate a positive river within your spirit that could block any influence you do not need. Furthermore, you could very well use the past negative experiences to create your own vaccine against spiritual influenza. Instead of being the diseased fruit, you could be the tree that spreads good health and allows the Flow the reach everyone around you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Salt Cave of Southlake

#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – Opposite Day

After reading Genesis 41:41-57 –

What if we did the opposite of what is expected? In times of opulence where more is more, what if we exercised the wisdom of restraint? Instead of gluttony and racing toward a fabricated finish line, what if our actions were governed by the Truth?

Joseph envisioned a day when years of plenty would run out, so he stored accordingly. Isn’t it interesting that the famine still occurred (it was predicated on his preparation), but Egypt wasn’t affected (which was predicated upon preparation)? The world was in the middle of the same timeline, but not experiencing the same thing. They were having opposite day because wisdom had her way for seven years. Then, to top everything else that was “a-plenty”, he was blessed with two sons. God must have known they would not lack as well because of Joseph’s track record of obedience. The truth was, if you read Joseph’s story, he had a lifetime of opposites and lived with flying colors (pun intended).

I love that last part – verse 54 – “but in all the land of Egypt, there was bread.” Even though times were shiny and bountiful, Joseph acted upon what He was shown… and stayed true to it. This resulted in a series of events that affected others positively. There was harvest in famine and all benefited…the economy, the families, and the leadership.

God keeps walking me down this “we’re all connected” trip. One act, one word, one person affects another. What we do now has a trickle down effect on the present and the future. Our obedience and disobedience makes pathways before us and others. I pray that I make a positive road as my obedience grows stronger. Then, I can be well on opposite day. When things aren’t lovely and plentiful, I can still smile.

What about you? Have you experienced moments of plenty and didn’t prepare for opposite day? What do you do differently now?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com/Orla via timeanddate.com

#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.

 

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 7 – Pray for Rain

I saw something beautiful on the news today. A rarity, I know, but such a convicting sight it was.

My state is enduring a drought that has affected its agricultural production and marine life. Farmers are hurting financially and hoping that rain will come in time to rectify the damage of the dryness. It’s painful to see their livelihood be as parched as the soil beneath their feet. Each day, the meteorologists deliver the same news – beautiful sunny day, maybe some clouds, no rain. A disheartening report when you’re watching your crops die. I thought to myself – Too much sunshine is just as deadly. Rain or shine, we complain either way.

Then, I saw the beautiful thing.

A group of Muslim men and women had gathered to pray for rain. Prayer mats were sincerely used in the background while the Imam of a local Islamic society spoke on their behalf. The ritualistic gestures of the covered women resembled a secret poetry spoken between them and God in untainted prayer. The leader then said words that matched the beauty my eyes beheld on the television screen-

“We show our love for our country and our people and we expose ourselves to the mercy of God asking Him to send rain to all of us. We’re all in the same boat and all facing the same challenge of drought and as American Muslims, we are doing our own part in praying to God asking for relief because we share the concern like everybody else.”
– Imam Dr. Sameh Asal (read the full article from WBRC, Fox 6 here)

With so much hatred and ignorance in the world, I was oxygenated by the news story. As a Christian, I was convicted. How many times have we complained about thunderstorms and dreary overcast days? Personally, I love rainy days, but that’s definitely not the norm. When it’s summer, it’s too hot. In the winter, it’s too cold. Too windy. Too humid. Too this. Too that. It’s sad that a creation would be fickle about another creation, both not in control of the other.

What happened to being grateful for sun and rain?
*insert that Walter Hawkins gospel classic here*

What happened to praying for what we need instead of wishing for it and complaining when we don’t get it in our timing? We may not have the same religious beliefs, but I respect their humility to ask God for a need that affects us all. Here they were…such beautiful people engaging in unity within a country that sometimes disrespects their practices.

One need. One accord. One community. May we all respect that trinity as well. May we all mimic that practice during the personal droughts of our lives. May we pray for rain.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 6 – What If I Don’t Want It

Photo courtesy of clarityfitnessnj.com

If I gave you a gift, you could turn it away. It is your right not to accept it. My hope is that you would delight in the gesture and the spirit in which it was given. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right?

The gift God has placed inside of you, however, doesn’t quite work that way. You have valuable gifts that were customized for you. Even if you choose not to use them for His glory, you still have them and they are just as potent. Packaged perfectly in your skin tone, vocal pitch, intellect, and shoe size is an infallible you that is amazingly designed to give gifts to others.

Let’s say that you hate cooking, but everyone loves to eat your food because it tastes delicious. You have a gift that others enjoy even if you never own a restaurant. Let’s go deeper, shall we? A drug dealer has numerous skills that could be used in corporate America. Inventory, personnel, and time management are gifts everyone can’t claim. To be successful in the streets, one must possess certain skills. Those entrepreneurial gifts could be easily  transposed to owning and operating a legal business. Even if the person never leaves her/his criminal lifestyle, the gifts are still there and are still potent.

God has placed awesome presents within a package called YOU.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 

1 Peter 4:10 NASB

God knew what He was doing by fashioning you with His magnificence. Your gifts are yours to give, but they can’t be voided. If that were so, then His seed would not yield a harvest and everything God planted has continued to grow.

So, the next time you think your gifts aren’t great or that you don’t want to walk in your purpose, remember that you came to this earth customized to give. Your gifts are divinely inevitable, so pour them out. That’s what they were made for.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 1 – Slow Down

slow-down-quotes-favim-com-2618639Am I crazy to #bloglikecrazy for 30 days straight?

Yep.

I’ve accepted a challenge by my writer’s group guru Javacia to unblock my writing potential through this annual exercise. I’ve always wanted to do it, but I didn’t expect it to be here already. Day 1. *eek*

So, what have I heard in my spirit today? SLOW DOWN.

It’s not enough to be a machine, but people expect you to be an energizing, self-sufficient, non-emotional android while getting catapulted by life events at the speed of light. Not an easy feat if you ask me. So today, I slowed down. I have a lot to do this week, and I’m sure you do too. For once in a significant amount of time, I ate my lunch at work… comfortably. Not in a car while thinking about my next stop. Not while on a conference call. Not taking a bite then answering a request. But sitting in a chair… at my desk… with minimal noise. It felt good to taste my food instead of inhaling it. Furthermore, I could have easily postponed lunch until after my afternoon meeting (which is my normal), but I looked at the clock and said – I need to eat before I do anything else. It was as if my body and my spirit agreed and aligned in peaceful matrimony. I enjoyed every bite of my bell pepper and grilled chicken.

Have you ever been like that? Not hangry (hungry + angry), but resolved that the absence of food was no longer an option? That was me today. That was the guilt-free me standing up for herself. How often do we do the same with God’s Word and our relationship with Him?

I need to pray/study/listen to God before I do anything else.”

What a difference that would make! Unsupported decisions would decrease and broken souls wouldn’t cry as often. We would think of our actions before they commence. Our canned responses would have more depth and loveliness woven between them. Perhaps your heart is aching in that place of resolve for you to ____ before you start whittling your to-do list.

I guarantee that you’ll have a better sense of direction after you’ve consulted the Compass.

Blog like crazy, huh? Well, I’m game. Let’s see what the Lord has to say, or better yet, what I’ll have to slow down to hear. lol

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of QuoteAddicts.com

Churchified

african-american-gospel-choir-clip-art-51544
Photo Courtesy of ClipArtHut

 

Written after a conversation with a friend about empty, poisonous church antics. It burned my biscuits.

I don’t want to do church.

I don’t want to play church.

I am the Church.

The Church is me.

It has to breathe.

It has to be.

It has to reach beyond what my eyes can see.

It has to feel the Truth in front of me and slay the dragons I have yet to defeat.

I still have victory over the enemy, but I fight for the prize of the high calling, while boxing these rabid thoughts behind my eyes…

Everyday, I rise.

 

I am the Church.

I am the walking, living, breathing mouthpiece of the most high God.

I inhale His goodness and exhale His obedience.

He is in me and I in Him.

So, I am His hands.

I am His feet.

I am everything He created me to be

Impeccably.

I’m tired of noise in sanctuaries filled with hungry souls.

I’m tired of watching aching bodies leave with gaping holes.

I’m sick of seeing the sick and tired, dying inside pretending to be inspired.

I’m sick of boils bubbling from despair.

Hope expired.

 

Applause! Applause!

A round of applause for everyone on stage

for everyone engaged in cinematic display.

I’m not looking for actors to fill a role.

I’m looking for the Church

the crease

the Fold

the boundaries drawn with blood stained veins

the lines that separate the road from the Way.

 

Do not tempt me with your tinkling cymbals.

Do not entice me with your exclusivity,

But draw me in with Love unscathed

Draw me in with the beauty of His Name

Draw me close to heal my pain

Rain motivation on me

Protect me with your arms of prayer

Don’t manipulate my heartstrings and tell me you care.

Bottom out with me at the feet of Jesus.

Let our souls pour into His Hands until He feeds us

His joy, His love, His strength, His faith.

I’m not interested if it’s any other way.

I am the Church and so are you.

If we can’t be real,

then who are you?

I was always taught that Church was a hospital and an oasis for all to leave better than they arrived. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening every week. Instead, we attend as spectators of a traditional requirement or as mindless participants of a circus act. In a way, we have become conditioned to be churchified.

What do you think?

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