Prayer:“Why can’t people just do right?! Why is that is so hard?! Lord, get your children because I can’t deal!”
Don’t act like you have never walked away shaking your head at a few people. It may be the workplace, but some folks just make you wish for a Mortal Kombat standoff (Scorpion, anyone?). Countless occasions have yielded moments like these in my life and it wasn’t easy to walk away. I mean, c’mon, when you factually know that a person is lying to you or doesn’t host your best interest or is tarnishing your character, that’s enough to make anyone twitch. At times, only God stood between me and the other soul, and s/he will never know it. I’m not a fighter, but Sweethearts, I’ve definitely been tested as such. The unfortunate part is that I’ve thought of so many spiteful things to say and do in retaliation. Enough to stay on the altar until the day I die.
While it would be wonderful to experience camaraderie with everyone, that’s just unrealistic and the Lord and I have had plenty of conversations about His creations. Can I love you without liking you? Yes! Love is a commandment; Like is not. Even the Bible tells you the real deal.
“Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18
See? Do all. you. can.
So, if you’ve ever been in the situation of wanting to dropkick someone, you’re not alone. Just don’t do it. It’s not worth it. The best revenge is the view from your mountaintop. But until you get there, get those prayers out of your system… every time. Make it a habit so you can stay free.
What a full week it’s been. I’m glad you made it too. If this is your first time joining me, welcome in and I’m happy you’re with us. Here’s a shortstop (less than 500 words) for your week.
A difficult thing for me to watch is someone who believes s/he is untouchable. I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while as it relates to my massage therapy profession, but last night at church I heard a whisper that added another layer to the word. Let’s chat about it for a quick minute.
Illness can make a person feel unworthy of touch, especially if the disease is contagious or fatal. You may know someone that had a premature baby and the parent(s) were unable to touch their child outside of the incubator. What an aching abyss of longing for both souls to experience.
Secondly, when someone is exceptional in her/his craft, we may refer to them as untouchable. That’s a good thing — to be so stellar that you are beyond the reach of inferiority. Unfortunately, it can also create a sense of invincibility and that, my friend, is a dangerous glasshouse. As long as we are in this human frame, we are vulnerable somewhere. Your Achilles heel may be in a different spot from your neighbor’s, but rest assured, you have one… or several. Contrarily, you can also feel unworthy of touch when ego flips upside down in the form of low self-esteem.
Here’s the deal — either way, the untouchables are in need of connection. A connection that creates intimacy. An intimacy that births loving exchange. Maybe you’re an intentional or unintentional member of this club. Today, this is a reminder that you are worthy of a beautiful encounter through God’s Love. You are not untouchable to Him. No matter what end of the spectrum you call home, there is no part of you that God can not reach. You are an excellent creation and being you — with those eyes, that skin, that heart — is all that is required for you to be worthy of Love. Don’t let anyone tell you differently, Sweetheart. Nobody.
Hello, Sweethearts! I hope you’ve had good days between last Wednesday and this one.
My late father’s birthday was this week and instead of writing a lamenting post, I want to share three lessons Pop taught me in word and in deed.
– LESSON #1 –
You are not responsible for how people treat you, but you areresponsible for how you treat them.
My father was a pastor and before that, he was a deacon. For the majority of his life, he was in a position of servitude. I watched him load his pickup truck with lawn tools to cut the grass of those who couldn’t do it themselves. I heard him pray for people who cursed him. I saw him use kind words as weapons. He would share vegetables from his garden. He would always tell me “You don’t have to give an account for how folks treat you. You got to give an account of how you treat them.” And you know what? He was so right. Every time I wanted to say something hurtful to someone that hurt me, I remembered Pop’s words. To this day, his voice resides in my ears and acts as a stop sign. A gentle reminder that I am only responsible for myself. Someone can treat me horribly, but I don’t have to accept her/his behavior on my plate. I do, however, have to take responsibility for how I respond. That is the only thing that will require an answer from my Creator. (Sidebar: Pop loved to cook and was excellent at it.)
– LESSON #2 –
Say what you mean; mean what you say.
When he married my mother and we became a blended family, he made a point to show me that he was trustworthy. This meant having my mother’s meal ready when she came home for lunch. He also picked me up from school when I was on the floor debilitated from extreme menstrual cramps. With a limp from a stroke, he still rushed to the door of restaurants to open it for me. When my mother and I were mistreated, he was our defender. Immorality was not his cup of tea and spoke up when necessary. Pop’s lesson took root into my spirit because his word was everything. Whatever he said was authentic and solid whether it was encouraging or corrective. The more birthdays I have, the more I absorb this quality.
– LESSON #3 –
Preserve your name.
I have a fond memory of Pop sending me to the local feed store to pick up food for the 20+ hunting beagles in our backyard. I didn’t need money. I didn’t need a note. I just needed his name. My dad had a tab that he settled every month with the owner. They had an understanding that only worked because Pop displayed good character. How simple, yet priceless that is. He was that way about everything though. If something did not align with his moral compass, he did not engage in it for the sake of his reputation. If he was wrong, he admitted it and asked for forgiveness. I try my best to maintain the same decorum. He taught me that your name is the only thing you truly own. Everything attached to it determines your altitude, connectivity, and longevity. I can only hope that when I die, my name is preserved in the heart of those I served just like Pop.
Sweethearts, I pray that you are hugged by loving memories if you’re missing someone right now. I want to also give you permission to miss her voice, his smile, her laugh, his snore… everything. It doesn’t mean you’re weak in your spiritual beliefs; it means you’re a spiritual being in a human body that longs for another spiritual being outside of her/his earthly frame. That’s all. This week, I heard my dad’s chuckle and felt his love all around. I cried a little and let myself marinate in his sweetness. It was a beautifully intimate moment. So, the next time you’re experiencing a memory of your loved one or you miss them so much that your heart aches, just close your eyes and say “I feel you.” Once for your loved one and once for the God who allowed you two to merge moments in time.
My smiles this week were a direct descendent of my cries this past weekend. Yes, I said cries. There were definitely more than I expected.
I knew they were coming because of a series of unfortunate events this year, but I didn’t know when. Friday was a low point and a couple of tears leaked down my cheeks, but no more than that. Then, Saturday, there was a straw that broke this camel’s back. My hands started shaking and my heart rate increased. In less than five seconds, unintelligible speech spilled from my lips and my sweet sister was able to catch every drop of my pain on the other end of the phone. While she assured me, the waves of tears came so strongly that I muted the phone. I knew the scream was coming with more tears in tow. I tried to muffle that duo for months, and now they were inevitable. The next day, I had a terrible headache and my eyes were tender. Regardless of the discomfort, I felt… lighter. Not necessarily better, but lighter, which was more valuable to me.
Because of that cry — that release –, I was able to smile in the photo below and mean it. This was taken at a book club event hosted by my writer’s community See Jane Write. I was chosen as Member of the Month and my book was chosen as a summer read. I was able to soak in a beautiful experience with these beautiful souls. I was able to sparkle in a grateful moment instead of listening to the cacophony within. I don’t cry easily, but I learned a long time ago that there are only so many times you can twist that valve to the right and say “Nope, not today.” The muted mixture needed a sound because three days later my spirit would desire to smile.
So, I am sharing this with you so you can allow your valve to be open too. Whatever cry you need to see a genuine smile on your face and feel yourself radiate the purest happiness one minute of life can bring… it is worth the flow. There’s something lighter on the other side of that scream. I also encourage you to provide a safe space for someone else to not feel alone in their tsunami. Someone you know may need to turn the valve to release the pressure as well. He needs to be heard. She needs you to listen. And if the tears fall and the scream reverberates, they need you near. There’s no better support than sharing the same comfort you received.
I pray that you have a wonderful week until we meet again. Peace & Thanks for listening. Check that valve.
As you wind down for the day, I pray this message reaches you with good health in mind, body, and spirit. I can’t wait to share what I heard this week.
One of my favorite athletes is Manny Pacquiao. No, I am not a boxer, but I admire the profession and Manny has earned my respect over the years.
On FOX Sports PBC FACE TO FACE, I watched undefeated Welterweight Keith “One Time” Thurman talk about how excited he will be when he defeats Filipino Senator and Legendary Champion Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao. Frankly, he was talking a lot of trash with shots of cockiness. Thurman spoke jovially of Pacquiao’s age and career statistics. He said that he studied Manny’s fighting style and described ways he could penetrate his speed. I shook my head at the television while my athlete remained unphased on the screen.
The reason why Pacquiao is on my respect list is that he keeps his priorities straight — no matter what. I love how cool he is under pressure. I love how he keeps the main thing, the main thing – faith, family, then the fight. I appreciate his ability to train hard and serve his country equally hard. I admire his work-life balance. So, as I continued to watch the dialogue, I couldn’t help but notice the dichotomy in demeanor. In the midst of this observation, I heard 3 things that can help us prepare for battles in our lives.
1. There’s a difference between training to obtain and training to maintain.
Looking at sizzle reels of their training sessions revealed how different they trained. Thurman’s clip was grizzly. His workouts were aggressive. He explained his rise to fame and his teenage decision to choose boxing over academics. I loved it actually. So much passion at such a young age and still tenacious as ever. Pacquiao’s clip was seasoned and strategic. He looked like wisdom in motion, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my favorite. Their attitudes during exercises were visibly different as well. Thurman kept repeating his goal of being a history maker for bringing down his opponent. Pacquiao never mentioned him. It was like watching a car in the acceleration lane versus on the open road.
2. Let your fight talk for you.
The moderator asked for pre-, during, and post-fight predictions. Pacquiao had little say. His words were light, short, and clear. “I respect every opponent,” he said. When asked how the fight would end, he said that both fighters worked hard and made the fans happy. Thurman? In his best announcer voice, he claimed himself as the champion. Pacquiao smiled.
3. Let your enemy keep talking.
Throughout the entire session, there were opportunities for Pacquiao to retaliate with a fiery response. He let Thurman talk as much as he wanted and only spoke when asked a question by the moderator. His face didn’t flinch. He didn’t smirk. He didn’t grimace. His eyebrows didn’t furrow. He was calm. Even his instinctive blinks were undisturbed. I study communication like coaches study plays. I can’t deny my sentiments — I loved it. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but he definitely wasn’t moved.
So, on July 20, 2019, we’ll see words and training in action. Of course, I am #TeamPacquiao all day and regardless of the prediction, his character is a winner in my book. My prayer for us is that we take his lead when faced with situations underneath our royalty. Enemies always have a lot to say. Let your character be just as loud. Now, I’m not saying Thurman doesn’t have good character; I do not know him. What I am saying is stop engaging in every conversation as if you have something to prove. You don’t. Let your work speak for you.
Today is Father’s Day in America and since I had already written an homage to my late father and to my friends who are fathers, I decided to post a special message to men everywhere.
Men: Generally speaking, you get a bad rap when it comes to the family circuit. You thrive in the business and economics (hence the glass ceilings that still exist), but when it comes to matters of the heart, you don’t receive your spotlight when you do well. If you have received shade all day, all month, all year — let me be the first to tell you, thank you.
A deeper look: You may be discouraged to extend your love for fear of being rejected or emasculated. Perhaps you were dismissed when you tried to hug your parents as a child or attempted to kiss your significant other. When affection is rejected, it can cause men to shut down and not feel emotionally safe. The result can be an adult male who does not know how to adequately express his feelings. This can manifest itself in destructive or distant behaviors and your family suffers the most from those inaudible blows. Furthermore, you may have a positive father reference to model, let alone a positive friendship with other men to keep you lifted. I encourage you to not to shrink into the shadows. No matter what you think, it won’t make things better.
From a daughter who experienced an estranged father and later an involved one, please consider the following for your future:
Never underestimate the power of your presence. Whether your reputation is tarnished or squeaky clean, your love will shine through anything when you decide to show it. Let them say no, but don’t let them say that you didn’t try. I believe my biological father did the best he could within his capacity. The father who raised me simply had a deeper well from which to draw.
You’re the blueprint. I’m a firm believer that a man’s interaction with his child(ren) can create a customized definition of provision and protection. Sons and daughters tend to use their fatherly relationships as reference points for platonic and romantic relationships. You’re more than a sperm donor. Your fingerprint is part of their growth. You’re a life-giver and women grow what you plant. We nurture what you give, so remember that as you interact with your family.
You need a team. In the name of sports, be humble enough to be a team player. If you have friends who are also fathers or men that you will take you seriously when it’s time to confide, let them know what you need in order to stay on track. Whether it is an addiction, temptation, or a knot of anger you can’t comb through, talk to your tribe. Just like on the court/field, everyone plays a role to win the game. Let your friends play their roles.
I encourage you to breathe through each attempt to be better and if you are already doing those items listed, offer to be a safe space for another man as he grows into a better version of himself. Mentor a neighborhood child who could use a father figure. Offer to make amends with a family member. Just don’t stop trying. Let them say no. You can live with the peace of knowing that you extended the opportunity for them to meet the new you.
That’s what I heard for you this week. It is such a loaded and misunderstood directive.
Showing Jesus means toting my bible everywhere, quoting scriptures when someone says “Good Morning,” and barely be tolerable at social functions because of all the judgment seething through my pores, right? Quite the contrary.
Jesus has many faces (just look at all of the colorful faces in the world) and there are opportunities to show these faces in various situations. One of them could appear as a person in need of assistance while walking across the street. Another opportunity could be a co-worker in need of a kind word. We find these moments easily because the needs are relatively visible, but what happens when the need is underneath a layer of pride or anger? I agree– it’s a bit challenging to succumb to a higher level when the low blows are trying to knock you out. Truthfully speaking, this is the perfect opportunity to show His face to someone who may have never seen it or even believe it exists. You may not see the need because his/her words are too loud or they are absent from your life, but believe me, it’s there.
Here are a couple of examples of how I try to show Jesus –
I met an atheist this week and we had an intellectual and humorous conversation (Sidebar: Christians, stop arguing with everybody).
Someone raised her voice at me and I did not return the behavior.
I pick up fallen clothing at the department store on a regular basis.
I’m truthful with my feelings even when I don’t want to be.
I smile at strangers.
I don’t return road rage.
I say thank you to police and military officers.
I pray for people when they ask me to, sometimes at that moment.
I encourage as many people as I can.
Now, I am not a saint. I just try to live my faith in real life and not just at church. It’s not easy, by any means. There are plenty of times when I want to use profanity to prove that I am not a punk, but the truth of the matter is that doesn’t prove anything except a poor vocabulary to express my emotions. There are times when I want to reciprocate negative behavior so the other person can understand that I am very much capable of doing so, but that would only show me contradicting my belief system. I choose daily to show Jesus when I don’t want to do so. Sometimes, it’s a firm stance of Truth and sometimes it’s a warm hug. I make mistakes like other humans, yet I do my best to rectify it as soon as possible. That’s showing Jesus, too.
This week, I challenge you to show Jesus to the person that gets on your nerves. Notice that I didn’t say you had to agree with them or be their best friend. Just think of ways your actions can resemble His so that His Love is recognizable through you. It may seem like a small gesture or it may be a great sacrifice on your part, but at least you have made Him visible. At least you’ve provided the proof they’ve been waiting to see.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week!
Today is Mother’s Day in America and I decided to post a special message to my mother; my family and friends who are mothers and mother-figures; and my family and friends who no longer have their mothers here on Earth. I pray these words will reach you wherever you fit among them.
These 3 words come to mind when I think of you – courageous, relentless, sincere. I could write a million words and they would still fail to capture the power of that trifecta. I’ve watched you peel back layers of motherhood to reveal the woman within. The bravest part was allowing me to be part of that journey. In this phase of our relationship, we are discovering the latest version of ourselves. I love it. In our rawest state, we unfold unapologetically and I love that too. We aren’t afraid to grow in front of each other and I am so grateful for that gift. From wearing your natural beauty to your larger-than-life laughter to your fervent and effectual prayers, you are the epitome of a spiritual soldier and I appreciate you with every fiber of my being. Ain’t no mountain high enough.
I love you, Mommy.
MOTHERS & MOTHER-FIGURES = THE WARRIORS
You are fierce. I can’t imagine what it is like to be you. Throwing on your armor every day to ensure your tribe is enveloped in love. You are nurturing, protective, and flexible. You don’t break; you shine. Through the mud that life throws on you, the unkind treatment you receive, the dirty looks from religious hypocrites… you wake up with a back full of bruises and start over. Some of you have let me into your village and it has been a hilariously beautiful experience. Your children will always be family, just as you are to me. I stand with you as you fight for them. Some of you have children who are no longer here and, my sisters, I admire your bravery and your humanity. You were entrusted with a forever gift and you will forever be a mother to me. Warriors, I see you and I salute you. Thank you for being your beautiful self.
SONS & DAUGHTERS
Whether your relationship with your mother was positive or negative, I am so glad she birthed you into the world. You are part of my circle because of her and I couldn’t imagine experiencing life without you. So, while the world celebrates mothers here on Earth, I also celebrate who your mother left behind for me to cherish – you. Consider sharing one thing your mother said that positively steers your life with someone younger than you. If this isn’t applicable, choose one negative behavior from your mother that you refuse to perpetuate in your circle. Either way, I encourage you to breathe through today and every day. I love you.
This post is dedicated to my aunts and uncles. How many of you can attribute something you do to a family member, better yet, a family member older than you? I can. The older I get, the more I realize how much of my behavioral traits can be directly traced to my family and I’m proud of that truth.
Aunt Janice – She’s so creative and resourceful. I have fond memories of helping her create flower arrangements and searching for just the right item to make it perfect.
Uncle Buck – Supa fly. Had style and swag like no other. Military veteran, strong confidence, and a breezy disposition. We could talk about anything.
Uncle Mack – Passionate and resilient. It is what it is. When I broke my arm as a child, he was limping but carried me down about 15 steps. When I rode in his car, we always listened to R&B classics, and I fell in love with them.
Uncle Bo – Any question you have, he has a wise answer. Practical, a well of knowledge, and can get along with just about anybody. Taught me how to change my brake pads too.
Uncle Greg – The life of the party, daring, and devout in his faith. Always smiling and laughing. When I was a kid, I remember wanting to be fearless like him.
Aunt Lisa – Full of joy, intuitive, and a garden goddess. Pure horticulture athlete. I get my playful side from her. She always looks at the bright side and helps people along the way.
Uncle Ed – The debater. The intellectual. The Bible scholar. His drawer full of cassettes compelled me to dive in and listen to everything, then try to put all of them back before he came home.
Uncle Ced – Courageous. My first superhero besides my mother. Military veteran and family man. My fondest memory was him returning from deployment and me acting like he had just come from the moon.
My musical love affair comes from my family. My fierce ride-and-live (I don’t say ride-or-die) loyal spirit comes from my family. My insatiable appetite for learning, desire to enjoy life and relentless drive comes from my family. My grandfather and grandmother empowered their children with life-long skills that have reached throughout generational branches. I am so blessed to be part of this family tree and I encourage you to dive into yours and explore yourself. You may be surprised by what you find. More importantly, I encourage you to pour into the fruit around you. Don’t leave a person in your home in the dark about something that you’ve learned from your elders. That water needs to be pulled through the roots in order to drip from the leaves. It’s valuable. It’s what make you rich. It’s what makes you live forever.