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Transpiration

There have been a lot of deaths around me in the last few weeks. Friends, family, students, and co-workers have lost loved ones unexpectedly. I know that within the silence of poverty and conflict, people die everyday, but in recent news, there have been outbreaks of crime like sporadic wildfire. Random shootings, suicides, and bodies found. When clusters of deaths happen around the same time, I always ask the question “What does this mean? Why now?”

What I got was the message below. It came so fast that my hands could barely keep up as I wrote it on a nearby sticky note. IMAG3365

Transpired is not the same as expired.
We transpire, not expire.
Our lives are transpiration; the transpiration
should be inspiration.

I must admit – I didn’t know transpiration was a word. I figured it had to be because of expiration and inspiration. So, I looked it up. You won’t believe what I found (unless you’re a hydrologist).

“Transpiration is the process by which moisture is carried through plants from roots to small pores on the underside of leaves, where it changes to vapor and is released to the atmosphere. Transpiration is essentially evaporation of water from plant leaves.” (U.S. Department of the Interior/U. S. Geological Survey)

My eyes got so big after reading that definition, and so did my understanding of the words I heard. Check this out.

Since we are the seeds of God and He formed us from the ground, we are essentially spiritual plants on Earth. Have you ever heard of “Bloom where you’re planted?” There you go. Well, when we die, we return to the dirt from whence we came, yet our souls are not expired. They are transpired from our bodies. If you read my post Water Proof, you’ll see where this is headed.

We are made of water and dirt. How appropriate for a seed to transform into a plant. Since we have been planted, at some point, we must be harvested. It’s gruesome to think about. It makes me cringe, but it’s the truth. The fruit of us – the lives we’ve touched, the people we’ve birthed, the service we’ve rendered – lives beyond the harvest. Essentially, we pass from one state of being into another in a form, i.e. spiritual transpiration. We don’t expire when we live in Christ. We don’t choose the manner in which loved ones transpire, but if they have been an ambassador for Christ on Earth, drenched in His living water… I believe we transition in Him as well.

Some believe in reincarnation while some believe there is no eternal home for the soul, and I respect your beliefs with sincerity. The following prayer is mine:

May we all transpire after we have expired all that
we were purposed to inspire on Earth.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of picture-perfect-world.tumblr.com

Holey Folks

A visual I saw on Sunday, May 7th: A man is walking on a deserted small town street. He’s dressed up for church – suit, shoes, trench coat, and hat – but, there were holes in his chest. Perfect round holes with the circumference of an aluminum can. It was a windy day and his posture slanted forward as he pressed into the force. As the wind whipped around and through him, green bacteria grew in the holes. He kept walking, but his pace grew slower. Then I saw the same man, in the same scenario, only this time the holes didn’t exist and the bacteria bounced off his chest as he walked into the wind.

What I Heard:

God wants to clean the holes in our heart left by others and fill it with his Love and Light. You were not designed to walk around with holes in your soul.
You were not created with a deficit in mind.

The truth is that we have a lot of holy folks with holes in their hearts. They’ve learned to breathe around them, look pretty around them, and even preach around them. Those holes are lined with bacteria of hate, prejudice, lies, and unforgiveness. And some bacteria is good for you, even the bad ones, for they help build your spiritual immune system. But imbalance and infestation is what causes death of the soul.

I am not exempt. I have had many moments where I didn’t want to love someone, didn’t want to extend myself, didn’t want to be kind, and definitely didn’t want to forgive. But I realized a funny truth about this badge called “Christian” that I wear. I don’t have a choice in representing His character. I have a choice to trust, but I don’t have a choice to forgive. Once I said “You are Lord of my life. Take me as your own. I’ll do what you say. I want to love people like you love. I want to be like you.” I relinquished my duty as a free agent of this world. I now have a duty to show Christ in everything I do. I’m an ambassador, and I don’t choose when and where to take off that title. So, when He says “Call her/him,” I do it. It doesn’t matter if I was wronged or if I know they have spoken ill of me… when He commands it, I do it. It’s frustrating, yes. It’s unfair; yes it is. It’s aggravating; indeed. But, I don’t always get it right either, so I only hope that I receive the same diehard response when it’s my turn. I don’t want the bacteria to stick. I want the Love of God to repel it.

We can’t continue to walk around in garments of gold pretending like we aren’t rotting wood underneath. We’re holy by His grace, not by our standards. We can’t give place for the Body to be infected. After all, infections spread fast, but they don’t have to. We don’t have to die holey.

I’ve been on this Body kick lately. I’m interested to hear everything God has to say.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of Human Anatomy Chart. They have awesome images for biology nerds like me. Check them out.

#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 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 13 – The SisterGood

Maybe it’s the holiday spirit, but I’ve been in my feelings lately…the good ones.

Sisters come in so many shades of goodness. Some enter our lives through the crossing of life paths and others by the blood in our veins.

Recently, I’ve been recharged through some amazing women. Scoping out the different types of goodness that I have the honor of experiencing. The sheer fact that our energies can buzz around each other and create new perspectives is a phenomenon science can not touch.

Politics. Culture. Music. Relationships. Work. Passion. You name it, we’ve talked about it. We’ve gotten angry together and laughed until we’ve cried. We’ve danced together in the joy of hip-hop classics and prayed together in mind-altering faith. We have overcome tragedies and digested injustice while holding hands. Feeling each other’s pain is normal. Hearing each other’s cries from miles away is a regular occurrence. We are bonded.

person-having-a-red-heart-attack
Photo Courtesy of Medical News Today

It reminds me of something I tell my students – We weren’t designed to do life alone. I’m not talking about marriage; I’m talking about spiritually. You need a tribe. A confidant. A plant. A dog. Something. Even the meanest person can experience solace through a fish tank. It’s a part of our DNA. We were designed to reach out, be heard, and love fiercely. That’s why it hurts physically when our hearts our broken. We were not created for eternal solitude, but for perpetual connection.

So this leads me back to my sistergood. Do you have people of the same gender that you can be verbally naked with? I’m not talking about acquaintances, associates, or even friends. I’m talking about family that may or may not include blood lines. Sisters or brothers that you have unadulterated honesty with and no one leaves permanently angry. People that you don’t have to worry about being manipulative with your words or deeds. It’s rare, but possible. My sistergood is a small circle, but fiercely loyal and safe. My sisterly connections span a little larger, but are just as awesome. I love them all, and I’m grateful for them too. The older I get, the more I realize how important this goodness is to my soul. Starting with my mother and going outward, I am blessed beyond measure to have the opportunity to love and be loved by them.

I pray that you find your sisters and brothers in this world. My world is definitely better with them in it. Yours will be too. Don’t be afraid to do life together.

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.

Resting in the Delta

After listening to a sermon by Pastor Larry Paige at Zion Church (Landover, MD).

Humor me as we tiptoe through the land of psychology for a minute. God spoke to me through a reminder about the sleep cycle.

Most agree that are 5 stages of sleep – 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM (rapid-eye movement). The higher the stage number, the deeper the sleep. For example, it is more difficult to wake someone in stage 4 than in stage 1. As you slip deeper into the sleep cycle, your muscles relax, heart rate slows down, and your body temperature decreases. The autonomic nervous system is in parasympathetic mode, otherwise known as rest and digest. Still with me so far? Great! Let’s keep going!

Your brain makes the trek as well. An electroencephalograph (EEG) tracks its activity through a range of waves. Generally speaking, your brain activity transitions from small beta (β) and alpha (α) waves to elongated high-peaked delta waves (δ). Delta waves appear on the EEG before REM sleep, which is also known as paradoxical sleep because brain waves show up that resemble wakefulness. This is the stage of dreaming and while the body is predominantly paralyzed, the mind is active and the sympathetic mode of your nervous system (fight or flight) can activate during nightmares. Ever  woke up to a rapid heart beat and the sweats? There you have it.

sleep-cycle-psychology-today
Courtesy of Psychology Today

Here’s the LATSOL moment:

You would think death was the next step after slipping into Stage 4 attributes. After all, sleep is also referred to as being as half-dead. Regardless of what it looks like, the cycle is far from over. A mixture of alpha and theta waves pop up because we’re dreaming. God can give you strength and dreams in the midst of darkness. The internal organs are awake while the body is paralyzed, just like the Holy Spirit is yet alive in you despite what is happening to you. Your situation is not the end of you.

“Rest in distress.” – Pastor Larry Paige

Sleep. What a beautiful thing. Through the eyes of children, naps are viewed as a waste of time or form of punishment when the truth is they need it to recharge and repair. Our bodies were designed to reset after a certain number of hours, and too often we press the snooze button on our circadian alarm clock and cram more into the day. Sometimes the dark times force us to rest…and to dream.

“God does addition by subtraction sometimes.” – Pastor Larry Paige

According to Dictionary.com, the delta is a nearly flat plain of alluvial deposit between diverging branches of the mouth of a river, often,though not necessarily, triangular. Nearly flat and often flooded, but soil enriched for growth. Your seemingly dead places are ideal for growth. Ideal for the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the almighty God to show up and flood your flat plain with vibrant activity. Dreams you thought were dead can sprout in the dark.

We can rest in the delta instead of stressing in it. There is more life there than meets the eye. I am so grateful for that lesson.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

 

50 Shades of Fight

Businessman with boxing gloves
Businessman with boxing gloves. Courtesy of California Ticket Masters

There are boxing gloves that can fit every hand for the fight against injustice.

Without the tempered pen of Phillis Wheatley and Ida B. Wells-Barnett… the beautiful creative prowess of Katherine Dunham and Debbie Allen… the cat eyeglasses and church shoes worn by civil rights activists, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do each day. So, I started thinking… if everyone fought the same way, something would go untouched. A collection of varied punches is the only human force that can defeat an enemy of this magnitude. The slobbering rabid dog that it is.

With the crimes that have transpired in the last 2 years (shootings and bombings and murders, oh my…), I decided to challenge myself by compiling a kaleidoscope of ways that people are fighting injustice on a regular basis.  Could I do it? Could I come up with 50 persons that swing in the ring as differently as their fingerprints? Whew! What a challenge!

Though their gloves look different to the naked eye, their fight against what’s wrong in the world sends ripples through history. I made a point to also include people that you may not know, and some I didn’t know until this post.  Their work isn’t always glamourous and may be overshadowed by their fame or “Clark Kent” 9-to-5 identity, but this list is comprised of some heavyweight champions… some, I am honored to know personally. They came to the forefront of my mind and I’ve included their method of fighting as a link within their name. If someone that you admire isn’t on the list, respectfully add it in the comment section below along with a link to provide details about their fighting strategy as it wasn’t meant to be exclusive. Just a segway for conversation and inspiration.

Wouldn’t it be cool if these names were in the history books

so the future can inhale their greatness?

Thank God for alphabetical order. *smile*

  1. Al Elliott – Educator, Rapper
  2. Alicia Keys – Musician, Songwriter
  3. All Military Branches & Law Enforcement – Service
  4. Arise Citizens Policy Project – Non-Profit, Advocacy
  5. Bertram Young – Non-Profit Unit Director
  6. Bill & Melinda Gates – Philanthropists
  7. Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program – Legal Counsel
  8. Brian “Voice Porter” Hawkins – Entrepreneur, Poet, Activist
  9. Calvin Littlejohn – Non-Profit Regional Manager
  10. Carmelo Anthony – Olympic Athlete, Basketball
  11. Clint Smith – Educator, Researcher, Writer
  12. Clinton Green – Educator, Musician, Producer, Songwriter
  13. Debbie Allen – Actor, Author, Choreographer, Dancer, Director
  14. Denzel Washington – Actor, Director
  15. Gabby Douglas – Olympic Athlete, Gymnast
  16. Gateway Family Church Leaders – Pastors
  17. G. I. Magus – Rapper, Songwriter
  18. Griena H. K. Davis, Ph.D. – Counselor, Educator, Non-Profit, Advocate
  19. Hadiyah-Nicole Green – Educator, Physicist
  20. Hedwige “Didi” Saint-Louis, M.D., MPH – Educator, OB/GYN, Advocate
  21. Javacia H. Bowser – Educator, Writer
  22. Jay-Z – Rapper, Producer, Entrepreneur
  23. Jarvis Escott – Entrepreneur, Marketing Professional
  24. Jim & Rose McChesney – Birmingham Homeless Ministry Leaders
  25. John Hall – Restaurateur
  26. Kevin P. Turner – Educator, Pastor, Producer, Songwriter
  27. Kimberly Bryant – Technology Education Advocate
  28. Lisa Price – Entrepreneur, Hair & Body Care
  29. Magic Johnson – Athlete, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
  30. Malala Yousafzai – Non Profit, Activist
  31. Mark Bustos – Hairstylist
  32. Maya Penn – Entrepreneur
  33. Mellody Hobson – Investments Firm President
  34. Minority Owned Banks – Financial Service Providers
  35. Nadia Richardson, Ph.D. – Educator, Mental Health Advocate
  36. Patrick Packer – Advocate, Consultant, Entrepreneur
  37. Rosemary Amposah – Welder
  38. Ruby Wax – Comedian, Mental Health Advocate
  39. Serena Williams – Olympic Athlete, Tennis
  40. Shawn Wade, Ph.D. – Educator, Consultant
  41. Sherman L. Young – Author, Pastor
  42. Sherry Shine – Entrepreneur, Hair Care
  43. Shonda Rhimes – Director, Producer, Writer
  44. Steven K. Webb, Ph.D. – Educator, Investment Broker
  45. Tarra Wilson – Law Enforcement
  46. T. D. Jakes – Author, Movie Producer, Pastor
  47. T. Marie King – Community & Youth Advocate
  48. Tyler Perry – Actor, Director, Playwright, Producer
  49. Uawanna J. Day – Administrative Assistant, Sunday School Teacher
  50. Warren Buffett – Entrepreneur, Investor
  51. Will & Jada Smith – Actors, Directors, Producers, Musicians
  52. WNBA  – Athletes, Administrators

So, I thought of 52… who knew?!

10 Ways You Can Fight Too

  1. Be a youth/young adult mentor. Don’t freak them out by smothering them. Just love on them. Speak life into them. Mention their interests every now and then. Show up. Support goes a long way.
  2. Go outside and be cordial to your neighbors. You can’t criticize who you don’t know. Also, if all eyes are watching for crime, the community creates a line of defense.
  3. Learn the names of the officers that police your community. They’re people. Humans live behind that badge. All law enforcement are not bad, just like all vegetables don’t taste gross. Don’t let anything shade your perspective.
  4. Read a book. Besides reading God’s Word, I love reading various materials. It helps to maintain healthy conversation when you know what you’re talking about.
  5. Discuss a book with others. See #4. Can you imagine what this would do for us all?
  6. Be excellent in your craft. Don’t be mediocre because of a paycheck. Be the best. You being your best will make someone else’s life so much better.
  7. Excel at the small things. Little things count. Smile. Offer help. Call instead of text. Even if you’re sweeping the floor, remember the corners.
  8. Give a compliment to a stranger. Lighten up someone’s load by giving them a smile.
  9. Love the unlovable. I know they can be weird and mean. Love them anyway.
  10. Bathe yourself in goodness before you go to work. It’s a jungle out there. Be prepared before you walk in. Clothe yourself in righteousness and be ready for whatever. That’s how you don’t flip out.

I hope those names inspire you as much as they did me. Some of them do not receive nearly enough accolades and appreciation, but they fight anyway. Everyday.  Driving their best race in the passionate lane of their career path.

Click on every name. Explore them. If you can, reach out to them… honk your virtual horn and say “Hey. Thanks for fighting.” You may be just the boxer’s corner they need to keep regroup, clean up, and keep going.

Peace & Thanks for listening. *runs to ice fingers from typing*

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