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TM Lesson #2: With ALL My Heart?

So, the Holy Spirit connected some things for me recently while we were learning about the muscular system in therapeutic massage school. Do you know what that means for you? We’re playing connect-the-dots today! Are you ready? lol

DOT #1
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and
with all of your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

1517368961654_imageHave you ever heard of this verse?  It first appears in Deuteronomy 6:5 after as part of Moses’ reiteration of God’s laws (The Ten Commandments) to the Israelites. It’s also sprinkled throughout the rest of the book and is referenced again by Jesus in the three of the four major gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke. So, I guess you could say it’s pretty important. After all, that’s how God loves us, by the way. It is only befitting that He requests reciprocity. Don’t you have the same request of someone you love?

DOT #2
“…out of the heart flow the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

One of my favorite translations of this verse is the Hebrew Names Version (HNV) which reads “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it is the wellspring of life.” Wow, a wellspring… source, originator, supply. Since it is so vital of a source, I should allow Peace to keep watch of it instead of relieving Him of His duties. Let’s go to next dot, then we’ll connect them all.

DOT #3
Heart: The Organ

The heart is designed to pump blood, nutrients, and waste products in and out of it. Yes, circulatory waste. Your heart muscles have a beautiful rhythm that consists of an involuntary symphony of contractions and relaxations… all to ensure that you stay alive. A myocardial infarction (heart attack) occurs when there is blockage in your arteries and the heart is deprived of oxygen. The beautiful rhythm is disrupted and muscle tissue can die.

NOW, FOR THE LINES…

If we are to love the LORD with all of our heart (DOT #1) and out of the heart flows the source of our physical and spiritual lives (DOT #2), then what issues are blocking you rhythm of love toward Him and others (DOT #3)? Are we not supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves? What if we ignored the effects of a spiritual myocardial infarction? Is there dead heart tissue causing disruptions in our relationships?

Your heart is truly the seat of your decisions, not your head. It holds your emotions and your brain creates circuitry to remember what you felt within positive and traumatizing experiences. Have you ever had your heart broken and actually felt a heaviness or tightness in your chest? It wasn’t just stress, but also the essence of you aching. The experience created a blockage in your spiritual circulatory system.

So, that’s the connection that made me pause. There are damaged parts of me that are hard to pump the Love of God through. Those cells have lacked oxygen for quite some time. And there’s supposed to be an exchange – in and out, arteries and veins, circulation – that keeps me alive and flourishing. In Deuteronomy, the heart is listed first. I believe it is listed before soul and might purposefully. I can’t see myself loving God or anyone on Earth without my heart being in the front seat.

1517369020834_image-1Next, am I truly keeping my heart guarded diligently? Am I letting Peace do His job? This doesn’t apply to just romantic relationships; it covers every communicative intercourse. Most think that it is a primarily reference to being in love with the right person, but I believe that Peace needs to guard your heart in every transaction – familial, professional, romantic, and platonic. Out of each of those interactions can flow the essence of you. And I wonder how well our heart pumps and receives the Love of God for our well-being and for the lifeblood of those around us.

To love the LORD with all my heart is a tall order, but I am on a mission to give it to him, even the diseased parts, the angry parts, the fractured parts, the confused parts… In the words of my mother, ALL means ALL. I don’t get to pick and choose when it comes to Him. If I can accept all of His Love (which was a cool experience I should add), I have to complete the cycle so my heart can be healthy.

Peace & Thanks for Listening! Keep rocking your week!

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You’re the Agent

A short stop for your week

Hey Sweethearts!

I’m on my lunch break and decided to give you some #MondayMotivation. God gave this illustration to me a couple of years ago and just recently, I’ve had friends that needed to hear it, so hopefully, it helps you too.

Imagine a washing machine full of dirty clothes. You put the laundry detergent inside as the basin fills with water and close the lid. You expect those dirty clothes to be restored to their rightful identity of being clean after the wash cycle, correct? The clothes should be clean after the detergent has done its job. Well, that’s what God expects of His agents.

Bottomline – you’re the agent of change. You have to accept that assignment if everything and everyone is agitating you. Laundry detergent is also known as a cleaning agent. Upset about systemic dysfunction? You are the agent that is supposed to infuse into the environment, not the other way around. Don’t let discord and chaos make you change your identifiable characteristics of excellence and positivity. You may rub people the wrong way with it – after all, I’m sure the clothes are not happy with all of that friction, but they have to change. Your co-workers or cousins may get on your nerves, but you are the agent. Everything around you has to subject itself to the power of God in you.

Peace & Thanks for listening. You got this. Go have a great week! *fist bump*

Photo courtesy of Mother Earth News

TM Lesson #1: Balance That Care

In case you missed the sidebar announcement on Instagram, I began therapeutic massage school this month and it has been eye-opening and fun every single day – sincerely one of the most enlightening learning experiences I’ve ever had. Along with notes of history and technique, self-care instructions flutter throughout the chapters.

One of the first things my instructor said was that our hands were our tools and we should protect them at all costs. Furthermore, our bodies are our tools, so it’s imperative to keep them healthy. I wrote a special LATSOL message in my  notebook that day because the Holy Spirit’s voice was so clear. 

“You’re the channel for healing others. You can’t heal others if you’re sick.”

That was so loud to me. I have spent the majority of my life giving until I pass out or run out. Have you? You run yourself ragged believing that the more you squeeze out of your time, talent, and treasure, the more Christ-like you are. The more Jesus you’re showing other people. The more glory God gets. Well, Sweetheart, I am happy – no, absolutely ecstatic – to inform you that this is a lie! There is no more work you can do that will justify you sacrificing yourself to death. Now, I’m not talking about people that are modern martyrs for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m talking about you lying in a hospital bed because you have spent your life to death thinking that it was for the best, that no one else could do it, or that your ego told you it was the only option. The truth is, only Jesus was the perfect martyr, so you don’t have to die trying to move the bar.

God wants you to love Him and His Love circulates back to you as he enjoys loving on His Creations – which includes you! You can’t heal people if you’re sick, Love. Your hands are the tools God have you to give generously and wildly to the one who needs it; not to work feverishly into a stressful ball of frenzy, anguish, or remorse. Your entire body is needed to be the conduit through which Love flows. Words of healing turn into gestures of wholeness and you can’t do that when you’re dead from stretching yourself too thin and overworking your body for the sake of the cause. Even while I’m administering massage techniques, I am required to practice proper posture so I don’t damage myself in the process of client therapy.

Check this out…  even Jesus said “Let’s slow down for a minute.” in Mark 6:31 NLT

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”


He said this because there were so many people coming and going that
Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

Balance the care – input and output. Maybe your self-care is a day of fishing or a road trip to your favorite hiking spot. Maybe it’s a relaxing spa experience or an expression of community service. Whatever it is, do it. There is nothing sinful in balancing God’s Love in you and through you. He is a never-ending supply. You, my Dear, are not.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Balance that care!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 14 – Thinkers

A short stop for your evening

When you come to my class, you’ll learn one thing… I love to have fun, but I don’t play. I want students to change the game of their future professions. I don’t train robots; I train thinkers. Critical, comprehensive thinkers. I mentally condition my students to problem-solve, not memorize. It’s a superpower, I guess… to train the mind. So, you could say that Tuesday, November 14th was training day.

The scientific method was on deck for psychology and public issues were on the menu for speech. Their brains were squeezed a little bit, but they left the room with more elasticity than they arrived with.

In both classes, I assisted students in solving problems in their future career field. After all, shouldn’t that be the goal? I don’t want them to graduate and simply fall into the status quo of complaining about everything around them. I want them to think of solutions and be daring enough to try them. That’s how the game changes; that’s how progress is made. It’s made by people saying “What about this?” and “Let’s try it this way.” Enough of sitting down and waiting on someone to magically fix all of our problems in the industries we love. We are the fixers. We are the thinkers.

I call them Birmingham’s Finest every day for a reason – because I truly believe they are. They can do anything the world needs.

So can you.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Thinkers!

Photo courtesy of NOVA – PBS.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 13 – Bittersweet

The funny thing about tasting something that is bittersweet is you never get the bitter and the sweet at the same time. According to the word, you would think the bitter comes first, but it doesn’t.

20171113_230015
Friend, Mentor, & Founding Director Kevin P. Turner

On November 13th, I anticipated the bitter. The sweet was there, sprinkled throughout the day, but the closer time moved toward 7:00 PM, bitter’s presence drew near. It was a performance filled with firsts and lasts – first time my performing arts troupe was featured at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center by way of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Gospel Choir, first time one of my teammates would sing with the choir, last time I would perform under Director Kevin Turner with the choir, and the last time Monday night would be sacred in this capacity. Being connected to a living thing for 16 years will make you expect the bitter when it ends.

The sweet came in capsules of backstage silliness, team shenanigans, chats with college friends-turned-colleagues, and hugs all around. It was a family reunion, to say the least. Sound check exposed the bones of the operation as we all prepared our respective crafts to be displayed on stage in a few hours. Musicians, dancers, singers, production, lights, ushers… it was all at the ready to provide a great concert for attendants and participants alike.

20171113_190825
Such sweet spirits

And that, we did.

The audience enjoyed the set list, artists performances from their hearts, scholarships were awarded, and commemorative speeches were made.

The ASC had been a 2nd home to many UABGC members over the years and the bellows of the building were our training grounds. Now, they were cozy places of professional preparation. Everyone was in their elements, drinking the nectar of memories that would be still swirling around in our cups the next day. Me? I was waiting for the bitter.

My Crew, Workmanship Incorporated 

It may sound pessimistic, but I was trying to brace myself. I didn’t want to be caught off guard and wail 8 counts before my first step. So, I waited for it… the bitter aftertaste of a such sweet experience. Surprisingly, it came right before the first dance, wisped around my shoulder after the last dance, and walked me to my car after we left the dressing rooms. I didn’t cry. I welcomed it in the car and drove home. It was OK to have the company. I actually smiled at it along the open road because it was even better to have the sweet first. I was one blessed woman.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 8 – Cost

On Wednesday, November 8th, the topic in my communication class was relationships. I always ask my students how they can improve their interpersonal communication. This  is one of my favorite topics to discuss because no matter how introverted some students may be, this chapter always gets head nods and contemplative facial responses.

Social-Exchange-TheoryOne of the chapter concepts was social exchange theory, which I truly enjoy demonstrating.  To introduce it, I use banking as an example. One student has an imaginary balance in her/his account and as the scenario continues, each student has borrowed money from the account holder for various reasons. Somewhere between these transactions, the account holder experiences a couple of “pay days” and receives a direct deposit into their account. We calculate the total of the withdrawals and the deposits – what was lent to friends/family and the balance we could have had if little to no lending took place. Usually, students have voiced their opinions by this point about how the account holder shouldn’t have been so giving and how in “real life,” they would never lend out so much money. Then, I pose the following –

“If we are so careful with our money to monitor what is coming and going, why aren’t we just as careful with our relationships? You can give of your time, energy, and resources, but if that person does something you like, it’s like a pay day and all’s right with the world and you forget about their offenses. What if the deposits and withdrawals don’t balance out relationally? How do we determine whether the cost is worth paying? Before we are offended, how do we communicate our needs to the people we love?”

It’s generally quiet in the room after that spill with a grunt or two. I love it. It means they are thinking.

One of the corollaries of social exchange theory is that if the perceived cost is higher than the perceived reward, we will continue to remain in the relationship. It doesn’t matter if it is familial, platonic, professional, or romantic – we will stay if the cost of leaving seems too high. So, I am asking you, Sweetheart, what are the costs of your relationships? Do you do anything that perpetuates low benefits and high costs? Relationships will never be equitable at all times, but are we monitoring the costs of our exchanges like we monitor our money?

When the cost is worth it, it is called an investment. Let’s try to keep the costs low and the investments high.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Featured image courtesy of ClipArtBarn.com
In-text image courtesy of Sam Owen, Relationship Coach

#bloglikecrazy: Day 6 – Reunited

My last Monday night rehearsal with UAB Gospel Choir was last week. Due to my work schedule, I couldn’t soak in all of the goodness of the director’s farewell semester, and honestly, I was sad and sentimental about it every Monday night for 3 months.

You see, for a period time when I wasn’t going to church, Monday was my Sunday. It was my exhale of the week and my musical family reunion ritual. We learned music and history, but most importantly, we learned friendship and camaraderie. Students were treated like professionals in training, not underlings. It was rigorous, but respectful. The Class called UAB Gospel Choir turned from a mere repeatable credit hour to my saving grace and I was missing out on forging the last moments of it. 

So, last Monday, I soaked in the truth that for 16 years of my life, I was connected to this choir’s legacy as a student and an alumna. My heart poured there. My tears ran freely. My skills were sharpened. I was made into a better version of myself. That Monday night, I saw people I had not seen in years and laughed until my face hurt. It was beautiful. I guess you can say, I was reunited, although my heart never broke away. 

What or who are connected to spiritually that you can’t reach physically? Does the distance hurt? Do you feel inadequate without interaction? It’s OK. I get it. 

Set a date and reunite. Feed your soul with the goodness of fellowship. Invite the intimacy of connectivity. I don’t care of it’s a phone date, video chat, or grocery store run… reunite. Whatever the sacrifice, the result is priceless.

Thank you, Bishop Kevin P. Turner, for providing a safe place for us to grow and develop into the purposeful people we were designed to be. The harvest of your academic and musical seeds will multiply forever.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Back To School Rules: 10 Things Every Student Should Know

It’s B2S time and man, do I love the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, the colorful display of dry erase markers, and the inspirational notebook covers. *sigh* I love being an educator and a nerd. It’s such a beautiful combination. *smile* Being in this profession means that I see a lot of preventable mistakes from students and that I’ve made some of my own.
Someone who is like a little sister to me asked for advice as she embarks upon her freshman year of college next week. I thought about my response later and decided to share it #ontheblog to aid others who are transitioning to higher education. Some come from the perspective my teacher’s desk and some from my student experience. Needless to say, I wish I had these reminders when I began, so I hope they help. Feel free to share your own as well!
10 Things Every Student Should Know
  1. “Go in there, get what you need, and get out.” That’s what my grandmother told me when I began my freshman year at the University of Alabama at Birmingham(also known as UAB; #GoBlazers). You literally don’t have time to do anything that isn’t accomplishing that goal.  Have fun, but get your work done.
  2. Enjoy meeting new people and understanding different cultures. College is where life-long friendships can start. Just be selective.
  3. Everyone doesn’t believe in God. Don’t be easily offended. Be firm in what you believe and stay focused. Listen closely to the heart of people and you’ll hear the truth in their voice. See the person, not the religion and love accordingly. We can all learn something from each other. From the Buddhist, I learned how to be still. From the Jehovah’s Witness, I learned determination. From the atheist, I learned how to think critically. From the Muslim, I learned devotion. And I’m still Christian after befriending them all.
  4. Make an appointment with your instructors at least twice during the quarter. Before midterms and after midterms is a good practice. It’s easier to give an F to a student you don’t know. I tell my students the following every quarter: I don’t give grades; I give opportunities. What you make is up to you. Don’t suck up, but make sure s/he knows your name.
  5. Be open to discovering more of who you are. Everyone starts out thinking they know everything. You’ll quickly find out that you don’t. Soak in as much as you can and watch your back along the way.
  6. Your name will be the only name on your transcript, not your friends, “friends,” or family. So, do what you have to do to maintain your character and your grades. If your best effort is usually on point, then a slip up is not detrimental enough to forfeit the instructor’s grace. But it’s hard to ask for mercy when all you have projected is laziness and absences throughout the quarter/semester.
  7. Be in charge of your own learning experience. Don’t wait for the instructor to give you information. Seek it yourself then show them what you’ve found that matches what they taught. This will also help you remember course content long-term instead of just memorizing information for the test.
  8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask them early. Just be careful what they are because most professors hate repeating themselves. Instructors don’t want to overextend themselves at the end of the semester when you had ample opportunity to gain understanding for months.
  9. Study smartly! Study content weekly instead of cramming. Ask how the tests are constructed (multiple choice, essay, etc.) and if it will be timed. Then practice… just like you would at a rehearsal). This of the test as an opportunity to show off what you know, not a way to crash and burn. It’s just a big worksheet, not the apocalypse. Reframe the way you approach the exam and watch yourself shine!
  10. Count your losses and let them go. I’ve walked out of a class before with the truth of failure tapping me on my shoulder. I’ve turned in a test where most of the questions were unanswered. I’ve lost hours of work due to technological problems and couldn’t reconstruct the masterpiece I wrote in the computer lab. I’ve failed a pop quiz. It’s not the end of the world. Chalk it up to immaturity, poor time and energy management, go get yourself a smoothie, and make a plan. And, keep your old notes for next quarter.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Have an awesome fall quarter/semester!

Got some hardknock lessons you can share with new students? Share the wisdom below!

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