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If Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number…

Flight Write: PVD -> BWI

…then family ain’t nothing but a word.

I started this trip a bit frustrated with some people that call themselves family. I had been holding in a tumultuous flow of words for a month. Unfortunately, people think that if you aren’t belligerent with colorful words spewing out of your mouth, that you aren’t capable of being such.

I am happy to inform you that this is a lie.

That quiet worker or positive colleague can be a verbal assassin with plenty of artillery to annihilate your heart, but s/he chooses to smile instead. This was me for a month. The term family almost seemed like a dirty word that left a foul taste in my mouth when I thought of certain people. My circle got smaller and some of it was involuntary. So, needless to say, I was a bit sour.

Then, my sorority sister lent her ear for what was a tsunami of “Why’s,” “That’s just stupid’s,” and “I just don’t get it’s.” My mother and aunt tag-teamed to ensure I caught my twilight bus. A sisterfriend checked for my travel safety. Another sisterfriend of 16 years transported me to bookstores to inquire about book signing opportunities before heading to the airport. One sorority sister extended herself with hospitality that could rival any 4-star hotel and another sorority sister hosted me with patience as I coordinated visits with DMV friends I had not seen in 10+ years. My big brother is always one call away when I’m in town and my mother always seals my travel with prayer.
God brought all of these things back to my remembrance and I am sitting on this plane marveled at how flimsy we view the f-word and how quickly we throw it away.

It doesn’t matter how many genetic or blended relatives you have,
God will give you the 
family to fill the need. 

Maslows-Hierarchy-of-Needs-1024x791Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs indicates that we have a need for connectedness, love, and belonging. I believe that wholeheartedly. After all, God created the ultimate adoption plan through His Son, so we were not designed to “do life” alone. Even a mean senior citizen has a plant, pet, or something they can care for!

You may have a sister you can’t stand or an uncle you don’t like, but for every ounce of foolishness and discord, there is someone spiritually-related for you to do life together.

I am so grateful for my family. I pray that God shines a spotlight on yours so you can see them when life gets dim, too. Don’t think that family just encompasses a group with the same last name. It just requires a circle of people connected by the same heartstrings.

Peace and thanks for listening.

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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.

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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

Kindness Costs

There’s a graciousness in silent kindness.

A simple act of assisting another person can be quickly the perfect rescue in a stressful situation. It can melt tension that stubbornly stands in the way of a peaceful transaction. There may be a cost to this grace – an act misinterpreted, confusion, inconvenience, rebellion – but, I’m here to tell you… it’s worth it.

SCENARIO 1

I watched a man extend himself to me with this gracious, silent kindness during a flight boarding. He was helping me put my bag in the overhead bin. When he adjusted the orientation of the unmarked adjacent bag so mine could fit, the flight attendant aggressively questioned him:

“What are you doing? What are you doing?”

As the man explained that he was helping me, the flight attendant talked over him:

“That is my bag…”

This repeated for about five seconds (which felt like forever as I watched it happen). I knew I had to interject with some cold-watered words.

“He was helping me. We did not know that it was your bag,” I said slowly and firmly, looking directly into his eyes.

The flight attendant calmed down a bit and the kind passenger removed his hands from my bag, then stepped away with his hands up. He apologized to the flight attendant as he took his seat. I agreed with the him that the flight attendant’s reaction was unnecessary as I sat in mine. Then, the flight attendant proceeded to explain himself to us.

“People have tried to take our luggage before. You wouldn’t believe it…”

But his words were floating lifelessly in our ocean of disgust, visible for him to retrieve. The damage had already been done. The transaction was complete, and there was still no apology bobbing around his explanation. I wasn’t interested in any further interaction with him. I prepared my 2nd carry-on bag for the overhead storage across the aisle (after retrieving my notebook and pen, of course). The same gentleman let me know of a quick empty spot and I stored it there.

I thought of how often we mistake kindness as obtrusive and reflected on a previous moment during my trip.

SCENARIO 2

A young boy (about 6-years-old) complimented our hair as he walked by our restaurant table Friday morning  and the woman that walked with him scorned him loudly for “disrupting our breakfast.” When I realized his sweet voice saying “I like your hair” was directed toward us, he had already been accompanied by a relative to their vehicle while another adult woman paid the cashier.

I saw the gap and seized the moment.

I walked outside to their car and asked if the boy was talking to us earlier. The non-scornful woman said yes, and I asked if I could properly accept his compliment and thank him for his sincerity. She agreed. When I opened the door (he was struggling with it a little… lol), there was a mixture of confusion and excitement on his face. He had a visitor! I hugged him so tight that I could feel him breathe and his little heart beat with joy. Then I thanked him for his sweet courage to say his compliment aloud. I encouraged him to keep respecting women and to keep being kind. I blessed him and spoke over his life to uproot the sting of the scorn from the woman paying the cashier. It may have appeared inconvenient or obtrusive to our mealtime, but kindness can be that way sometimes…

THE LESSON

Kindness is an extension of Love – and love is not convenient and obscure. It shows itself in more ways than one and those ways can be expensive. A sacrifice lies in there somewhere. Within every act of gracious kindness – whether loud or silent – there is a cost for it to be manifested. For the flight passenger, it was public conflict. For the boy, it was public shaming. Either way, love was extended and the cost was paid… Just like Jesus’ life. He extended Himself with the biggest cost of all – His blood. (*humming* Oh, what Love He has for me…) So, if you’re ever in a situation where Love opportunities lie in wait, don’t be afraid to pay the cost and accept the receipt. Jump in the gap and let Love flow.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 28 – Detour

Another short stop to get you through the week. Hope it helps!

I was on my morning commute to work last week and on target to arrive early…so I thought. When I turned on GPS to check the traffic report, it indicated a 13-minute slow down. I was disappointed needless to say. Then, about 10 minutes into the drive, an alternative route option appeared and I accepted the helpful alert. It was quicker, but definitely unconventional. I never take that route to work because it has too many bottlenecks, but I trusted the notice and exited early before hitting the jam that I couldn’t see. There were more traffic lights and smaller streets, but no traffic. No bottlenecks. I was stupendously surprised. And what do you know… I totally missed the slowdown and got to work with 5 minutes to spare.

We must trust God in the detour.

That’s what I heard that morning. Just like I trusted my GPS to get me around the traffic jam, I trust the Father to lead me around, through, and over the difficult areas in life. I have to believe that His plan and sight far exceeds mine.

I thought of each time I thought I had it all figured out and how wrong I was. How many beautiful people I met on the road I didn’t want to travel. How much money I wasted trying to save a dying mode of transportation that I thought was a lifeboat.

The Truth is I can’t see what’s ahead. I can only guess. I can only estimate and plan accordingly. I can’t know what will happen, but God isn’t bound by time on Earth. He supersedes it effortlessly because He made it. So, it’s only practical that I trust His GPS over my calculated fears and prideful steps. Often times, we have both hands in those messy roadblocks. Other times, we can’t see them coming. Either way, listening to the voice of God will help us greatly. Simply put, He knows more than we do. He is trustworthy in the detours.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 26 -I Bet You Won’t

Now that we’re tangoing with the new year, I’d like to dare you to do a few a things. Not the cheesy stuff, but the things you may not be thinking of… yet. Designate an envelope for each of the month’s listed below and include these instructions for your future self.

On February 14th, don’t wait for someone to shower you with love. Depending upon how they feel, you may not feel loved that day, so write a brief letter to yourself to open that day. Start commemorating by loving yourself.

term-paper-writing-help
Photo courtesy of Best Essay Writing Help

When Easter approaches, spring colors will be everywhere and I pray you feel just as invigorated to spring into the goals you’ve set for the year. The truth is, you may not. As for me, every April,  I become deeply reflective. Both of my late grandmothers’ birthdays are in that month and they played a significant role in raising me. So, I miss them all the more and I remind myself of lessons they taught me. Maybe spring marks a special event for you. Write an encouraging reminder to yourself for that season… that things change and blooming takes time and labor, both of which you possess to make your dreams grow.

June is the month for weddings. If those are not your favorite events to attend, consider writing your current or future significant other. Better yet, send a card to one of your favorite couples, you know, the one that makes you smile when you see or think of them. A card in their mailbox would be perfect.

August is back-to-school time. Instead of complaining about revving up the routine again, try writing an encouraging message to read to your future self or your children that month. Maybe it’s goals that you or your child(ren) want to accomplish that school year. Maybe it’s organizational tips to make semester better than the last. Maybe it’s a reminder to be patient with the Walmart checkout lines. Either way, your future self will be grateful for the fresh air.

Gratefulness spills over the month of November and it’s also the home of Veteran’s Day. Go grab a box of greeting cards and give them veterans that you know and even those you don’t. Seek out your nearest VA facility and share the love. After all, they shared themselves for our sake. Do you know what else November hosts? Stress Awareness Day and Go for a Ride Day! Pick a place in your state that you’ve never seen and explore how beautiful it is. I have a few spots I love to randomly indulge throughout the year. It’s the perfect reminder that your troubles aren’t too big for God to handle.

When the cold air snaps, people bundle up and cuddle up. If you’re single during that time, you may not have “all the feels.” Pick 5 scriptures (one for each week) to meditate on during the month of December. Reflect freely (ugly cry included if you have to) and pray about your direction for the new year. Treat yourself to dessert and prepare to address one fear before midnight strikes.

“Spiritually cloudy days” can creep up at any time, so you have to think ahead. When the months roll around, take out the envelope with the month’s name written on the front and do or marinate on what it says. Your future self will smile and thank you for it.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

*Special shoutout to one of my favorite Instagram accounts It’s A Day Really. Check them out as often as you can. They remind that there is always something to celebrate. *smile*

I Fell at the Falls

IMAG2237
I chose this picture because seeing the Falls is more important than seeing me. I’m the little blue cone head. :’)

CAUTION: More than 500 words

I’ve only felt it twice in my life. A soul baptism. It supersedes any experience you could try to achieve within an order of services. My first one was at Noccalula Falls in Gadsden, Alabama a few years ago. The second occurred two weeks ago at Niagara Falls, New York. Absolute. Exhilarating. Freedom. That’s the best way to encapsulate what I felt. Let me tell you how I fell into this cleansing experience.

Niagara Falls is a tourist attraction for a reason. Since 1846, visitors and dignitaries have marveled at this horseshoe bend of water shared by Canada and the United States. If you’ve never seen it in person, put it on your to-do list. You can hear it before you see it and there are various ways to enjoy its power. I chose to experience it via boat with members of my traveling group and a plethora of tourists from all over the world. The result was an amazing memory.

 

I boarded the Maid of the Mist as a wounded warrior with dented armor, but optimism and excitement were in my pocket screaming to get out.

 

I was finally at the Falls and wide awake to enjoy whatever the Maid had to offer. My wishful replays of pictures and cinematic interpretations were at last coming to an end. I was ready… so I thought.

Our blue ponchos couldn’t have protected us from the magnitude of glory we are about to experience. Cell phones and selfie sticks sprung in the air to capture as much as the human eye could record. My priorities? 1) Don’t get wet, and 2) Snag a quick video to share with my parents when I returned home. That was it. I despise drenched jeans and soggy shoes, so I convinced myself not to go to the helm of the ship.

Insert more chatter. More selfies. More live feeds via social media.

The helm of the Maid beckoned like a siren and I answered her call. I saw an open door of opportunity amid the sea of royal blue plastic and I walked through it to seize the space. I captured every visual I could with my cell phone. The plethora of birds perched on the rocks resembled a white furry blanket in the distance. The Falls roared as if to warn us of his majesty as the Maid bobbed to the soundtrack of her 170-year-old dance on the river’s dance floor. She wasn’t afraid and he didn’t hold back. As we approached the pillows of fog ahead, she swayed her hips and dipped in front of the Falls with sweet watery seduction. Deeper we sailed until the view of the cliffs were no more. All you could see was Greatness. Heavenly Greatness.

The spray of misty Niagaria air landed on every inch of my face like wet kisses. I put my phone away and tilted my head upward to inhale the moment… this resuscitating baptism. More than I ever imagined. The Falls enveloped his bride and covered us with showers of his blessings. It was impossible not to be awestruck and relish in their union. I was injected with divinity like a medicinal I.V. and I accepted all of its release. For the second time, I was overwhelmed by the sheer majesty of God’s Handiwork and it felt like the Falls were within my chest. My respiratory issues were no more. My body didn’t ache. Headache… gone.

No physical restriction existed between my Creator and me. I was a soul.

This must be what Heaven feels like, I said in my heart.

“It is.”

I was alive and I could feel it after being dead since February. The water washed my being more than my shoes. It circulated throughout the dark places I had closed to everyone else. Every corner, every door, every room was opened and I let Him in. One of the tourists had a wardrobe malfunction with her poncho as the residual winds billowed around us. We laughed and her Asian cheeks were beautiful. Then I heard it…

“No matter where we are in the world, Majesty will always yield respect.”

There were no translators to help us communicate, but laughter, respect, and pure joy needed no liaison. We were one in that space in time. No sugar added and no preservatives necessary. I helped her with her covering and her friend joined in the fun. We weren’t strangers anymore, but neighbors.

The Maid turned her skirt to the right and the Falls sang softly to her as we sailed away. God’s words rang in my core as I walked to the lower level alone. It was a bit of a thuggish tone actually… Majesty will always yield respect. Wow. That’s how unphased He is of our troubles. He hears our cry, but is not bothered and will be respected for the El Elyon He is. That’s the Power in which we are to trust. The overtaking, overwhelming, and engulfing Power that can silence any critic, touch any heart, and command the attention of many…all at the same time. Just like He did on the ship.

I fell at the Falls. Madly in love with all of His splendor. Head over heels for His immaculate care for me and all of my bruises. My El Roi. I’ll happily oblige Him to baptize me anytime He wants to. So should you.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

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