Happy New Year, Sweethearts! I hope you’re somewhere safe and enjoying your clean slate.
Last night, I did exactly what I wanted to do and I took no prisoners. I was in Landover, Maryland visiting Zion Church. Every year, they host new year’s eve worship services and an after-party. Two years ago, while serving online as a prayer/chat host, I said the following to myself: “I’m going in person. Just give me a couple of years.” Well, I made it and it was incredible.
The welcoming spirit of the people bounced between the walls and spilled through the doors and into the parking lot. The line to attend each service resembled that of rock concerts. Trays of sparkling apple cider and snacks were served as we waited outside. The cold wind whipped around our smiles but couldn’t wipe them away. My sisters and I were simply excited to be there… together.
From beginning to end, their hospitality was genuine and infectious. I am still a prayer/chat host in their iCampus ministry and a small group member, so when I introduced myself, the sparkle in their eyes increased and their sweetness expanded. I was already welcomed beautifully when I arrived just like everyone else. That’s what made the visit so lovely. Love was everywhere and it fueled each part of the experience. Then, I thought of us as human sanctuaries. I’ve thought of our hearts as homes before, but last night, a prayer came with that idea.
Lord, I want my life to be as welcoming as this sanctuary. I can’t let everyone live in my heart, but my Light should welcome others to know You. God, please clear my sanctuary for Love to roam free.
People that didn’t know each other hugged like old friends and danced together like they had a rehearsal yesterday. It was exhilarating, warm, and free — and exactly what I prayed for two years ago. Every day won’t be a party, but moments like last night can live forever with the right ingredient… Love.
The basis of Pastor Keith Battle’s message was Isaiah 43. Here’s a verse from the sermon to uplift your week and your new decade.
Peace, Thanks for listening, and See you next week!
Good Evening, Sweethearts! It’s a short stop for your week!
Here’s a fun fact – I don’t have road rage. Nope. None at all. I don’t care how much you honk or swerve, I don’t let your energy into my car. That’s my safe haven. My bubble. No one gets the right to invade my mobile sanctuary. It doesn’t mean that people don’t try… especially when your city center is under major construction.
Before I share further, let me also say that I love construction. I know it’s weird, but I truly do. It’s trying to figure out the biggest jigsaw puzzle and being able to drive through it all like a life-size Legoland and an Erector set working harmoniously together. *sigh* I love watching the vision come to life piece by piece. The inconvenience doesn’t bother me because the detours give me a chance to gain a closer look into the mind of the engineers. Try it sometime. You may be surprised by what you see… oh, and thank the nearest construction worker or police officer that is part of the teamwork.
Driving in congestion also makes you observant and attuned to what’s around you. I noticed so many people that were impatient, angry, distracted, and oblivious. While some days I drive in silence, I also jam in traffic. I mean a full out jam session… and I don’t care who’s watching. Try that sometimes too. Find that song that lights you up every time you hear it and have a mini-concert in your vehicle. Snap your fingers, raise ONE hand in the air, and if someone is in the car with you- have your very own lip sync battle.
Why should you do this? Because it boosts your endorphins and who couldn’t use a big dose of that before you reach your destination? Secondly, it’s a reminder that also works in life. Some parts of your story need building and there is nothing you can do to rush the journey. You have to live through it until completion. Being impatient, angry, distracted, and oblivious will cheat you out of insight, fortitude, growth, and gratitude. While you can’t control how fast you can go, you can control what’s in your spirit. Stay focused on what you need and protect your mental sanctuary… and rock out on that mobile stage.
These posts have not been published in the order of importance, but I definitely saved the best for last. It was desperately on my heart to enjoy the King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort with my mother during the Word of Faith Love Center‘s At The Table Women’s Ministry Retreat. This is not your stereotypical Christian retreat. You know the ones… you’re not super saved unless you wake up at 5:00 AM to pray with everybody, attend 5 breakout sessions with 10 different speakers, 2 prayer meetings, then snot-nose-cry on the floor well after 1 AM. Not that I have never been a broken piece of clay at a spiritual event (because I have), but if you tell me that I’m attending a retreat, that is what I expect. I shouldn’t need a vacation when I return home. That’s what I wanted for my mother. After the decade she has had, a time to refresh and replenish her spirit was not part of the calendar. So, that’s exactly what we did and it was the really Good stuff of this year.
Allow your love level up.
I had attended the retreat twice before, but this year was different. It seemed like everything in the world tried to prevent me from going (just like the previous years), but instead of focusing on the obstacles, I was relentless about the outcome. My mother was coming with me no matter what. And guess what? She felt the same way. We double-teamed our discomfort with faith and action. We declared and decreed that we would not only attend the retreat but that we were going to have a fabulous time together. There was a season in our relationship where that was not our warcry, so I was so full to be able to say those words.
Love overrides obstacles every time. The obstacles will be there, but they don’t have to shine. Don’t be afraid to let love surpass the pain, the frustration, the history, the cracks, and bruises. My mother is the most resilient person you will ever meet. She greets challenges with a smile and hammer ready to work. Every day. Since I’ve been born, she’s been on the grind and it healed my soul to see her singing in the ocean, trying new foods, embracing her natural hair and new makeup, and connecting with other phenomenal women – including me. I love her more now than I ever have. Because we decided to “level up” our love, I am able to witness the expansion of her courage in real time and be an active participant of her regeneration. Love breeds love, so all we have to do is let Him breathe between us.
Peace & Thanks for listening! I appreciate you hanging with me again this year during #bloglikecrazy. It’s been a blast. See you next week on our regular Wind Down Wednesday schedule. God bless you all and enjoy your weekend, Sweetheart. I love you too. *hug*
#24 – I volunteered for Upon This Rock Passion Play!
This. Was. Amazing. I’ve worked on productions before, but this was an experience. The people worked together like a well-oiled machine, but with strong family ties that oiled each gear. As it approaches its 35th year in 2019, Upon This Rock: The Passion Play is an Indianapolis, Indiana production that includes over 300 cast and volunteer members that makes the Bible come to life in a unique way. Spoken word, live animals, authentic songwriting, the live choir, and band – individuals come from all over the country to be part of UTR and with the great help of my sister, I was able to finally make the trek to experience it for myself.
When God gives you something, you have an obligation to inhale it and run with it. There’s no time to waste because there are lives that are waiting to be changed by the glory that God gave you. It’s going to take some work, OK… who am I kidding, it’s going to take a lot of work, so it’s not for the faint of heart. You have the ability to complete it and do it well. The biggest obstacle in front of you is YOU. I can’t imagine not experiencing the wealth of creativity, skill, professionalism, and camaraderie that day. So, I am so grateful to Playwright & Executive Director Sharon Thompson-Hill and Co- & Managing Director Pastor A. Thomas Hill for not only hearing the Voice of God, but inhaling the Promise and Direction, and running with the Vision.
Peace & Thanks for listening.
By the way: Show dates are April 19-20, 2019 and tickets go on sale January 1, 2019. Go ahead and put it on your calendar. You won’t regret it.
#7 – I get to do life with a group of women that are hundreds of miles away!
Distance does not win if Love is in the middle and the ladies in my life group are proof. The group I am referring to is the Zion Queens iCampus Life Group based out of Zion Church in Landover, MD. Twice a month for 1.5 hours, we see each other’s beautiful faces and whenever we get ready, we check in to laugh and encourage one another. Gotta love technology. When I visited the church in 2013, I didn’t know I would connect with people that love me like a sister and pray for me like they’ve known me their whole lives. That’s definitely the good stuff!
Real relationships take exposing of the soul, and it takes courage to do it no matter what age you are.
These women have been vital to my spiritual growth. They’re authentic and exceptional. I am so blessed to have them in my life and you probably have the same opportunity at your place of worship, in your community organization, or in your neighborhood. The hundreds of miles that separate us do not diminish the intensity of intimacy we have among each other. The special ingredient? Trust. That’s the magic sauce.
Who are you willing to expose your soul to? Guess what. Someone else wants to do that with you too. And even though you’re scared, you’ll find your safe space and your tribe will be there with open arms.
Peace & Thanks for listening! “See” you tomorrow, Sweethearts!
How are you? I hope this post finds you doing well and cozy as you get ready to close or begin the day. Below is a fresh Word I received on a recent flight that I must share with you. Enjoy and let me know your thoughts!
Flight Write: BHM -> TPA
Everyone has a gate, and that gate has nothing to do with your preferences. You may choose the flight time and destination, but you can not control the gate of the plane. It is pre-destined to dock into a designated area and there’s nothing you can do about it if it changes. There is a crew working on the inside and a crew waiting on the outside to prepare it for its next destination. The coordinates of the vessel are already set, but the gate is a necessary stop between points A and B.
Want to know something else? Neither the gate nor the destination will change because of your desires or discomforts. They are not governed by your temper tantrums. You are not responsible for the gate assignment, just your presence and preparation. You’re only responsible for showing up, checking in, submitting to a search or security screening, and being at the right gate at the right time. After a certain point in the process, you are no longer the coordinator; you’re the passenger.
What does all of this mean to you? I’m glad you asked.
In order for the Lord to deliver you to your destination, you must release control of the gate. You can tell God all of the desires of your heart and share your plans, and He’ll listen… but ultimately, you don’t control the gate. You are not in charge of the in-between. Say it aloud – “I am not in charge of the in-between.” Tell God that you’re showing up, checking in, submitting to a search of your heart, and will be where He wants you to be. Those are the parts that you can control.
There is a necessary stop just for you and no one can take your place without the Father’s permission. Simply put, you have a destination and flight plan to get you there – release the gate. Let it happen. You’re still on your way.
Have you ever felt full, like you were about to pop? Well, me, my Converse sneakers, and my school uniform made a break for it this week.
It was Monday and I was full of everything – grief, fatigue, anticipation, excitement, concern, questions, tension, gratefulness… I was just full. After all, it was my birthday and that came with a cacophony of spiritual noise. I had been fighting to stay afloat in the midst of recent rip tides and I was doing a pretty good job, but when you wake up on your birthday and wish you could just sleep in, that’s when you know the jig is up. I couldn’t do most of what I wanted due to surgery recuperation and two financial surprises, so I had to make some adjustments to keep my annual self-care ritual.
Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. It’s like my body and spirit know it’s August as soon as July ends. Well, with a few modifications, I still managed to uphold my law.
Week 1:Weekend road trip with Mommy. Music, laughs, and priceless convo. Week 2:Ate pancakes the night before surgery. Binge-watched Blue Bloods and The Resident from the beginning. Man, I love those shows. Week 3:Sister Time with sisterfriends. Ate half of a Ribeye from the Hickory Chip. Week 4:Drove to Noccalula Falls (Gadsden, Alabama)
Now, about this drive… it was a serious mission. I almost didn’t make it in time due to my car repair, but I’m so glad I kept going. When I arrived, I had 25 minutes to make my birthday wish come true, then when I got there, I didn’t follow the map correctly and got set back 6 minutes. Noccalula Falls is special to me because it is one of two places in the world (so far) where I can breathe without respiratory rudeness. Something about that Gorge Trail makes me giddy like a school girl waiting on a glance from a crush. I don’t have to scale or climb, but a fall can easily be in anyone’s future along those jagged rocks. It had been years since I stood beneath the falls, but I never forgot the way I felt taking that deep breath in without clearing my throat for the first time. (A picture of it is on my About Me page.)
I know God is everywhere, but it seems like that is our sweet spot. I just have to push beyond the tough part. On the way to the cave beneath the fall’s cliff, it was difficult to breathe and believe me, there were plenty of opportunities to give up and turn around having had surgery 10 days prior. The impending thunderstorm, the 5-minute grace before getting a ticket, the throbbing headache and sore muscles, my ill-prepared attire… I could have easily said forget it. Not to mention that I kept hearing a loop of negativity in my head along the way. But with every step, I felt the reverberation of my soul making a judgment call to not accept no as an answer to my prayer request. Needless to say, I hustled in all of my sweaty glory to reach the cave by 5:00 PM and made it on the dot. When I finally reached the spot, I took that deep breath and teared up. Everything that filled me up finally had a place to go and I could empty it out before His perfect blend of peace and power. There I was, looking up at God’s natural wonder, and once again His Word met me there. Here’s what I heard. I hope it helps you too.
Pride, like a tumor, must be removed – not ignored.
Like a tumor, pride metastasizes and blocks your divine purpose.
You can’t ask God for miracles and control how they arrive.
You have to go low to be lifted high. You can’t start at the top.
God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. If you never admit your weakness, there is no room for His strength to take over.
Water smooths the rough edges. So do life’s challenges shape you.
No, there was no surprise party waiting for me when I got home and just 10 years ago, I was celebrating my birthday with my fiancé. I had plenty to swirl in as I recalled my battle scars, but standing there made everything feel small and made me feel safe enough to receive His strength. The exchange was available, just like air, and all I had to do was let it happen.
You know that exhale you do after ripping and running all day or removing an overcoat after a long day outside? That’s where I was. Pure relief.
And what was that overcoat? Pure Pride.
I hate asking for help to carry my bags during recuperation, accepting kindness in resources and deeds, or saying “OK” to a surprise provision that I prayed for…. how ridiculous is that? So, just like the benign tumor that was removed from my neck recently, it was imperative that God was still working on me and my foreign-body attachments.
Now, check out an excerpt of what I journaled in September 2016.
“My mantra in August was to unleash the beast.
Each birthday month, I vow to do something I enjoy and spread it out across each week. Sometimes, it’s small like a milkshake or a little bigger like a solo road trip. Well, this year I decided to embrace something that I don’t like…and it hurt like hell.”
Isn’t that crazy? Well, Sweetheart, that’s where Part II comes in. It’s great to celebrate and it’s beautiful to exhale, but we must deal with the Beast within us in order to be healthy.
Peace, see you next time on the blog, and thanks for making it to the end of this post. lol I love y’all. Let’s keep walking. If you have a birthday ritual, let me know. If you don’t, make a pact with yourself to start one. It will bless you more than you can imagine. XO
Where was the Wednesday Wind Down last week? On the road. To Indianapolis, Indiana. So, you have a bit to catch up on.
On Easter weekend, Upon This Rock (UTR) Productions celebrated 34 years of theatrical passion with a trailblazing rendition of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that could rival any Broadway play. Hands down, Sweetheart. It was exciting, invigorating, and empowering.
The day before the last rehearsal, I left Alabama with a worn out spirit, waiting to be refreshed. I won’t lie and say that nothing good happened to me leading up to my departure. Actually, God the Father sent distinct reminders after I cried my eyes out the prior week. I don’t cry often, so why the tears, you ask? Because I felt like a wrung out dish rag. Strong will plus a caring spirit, coupled with a loving heart can create opportunities for people to minimize you. Because I am not boisterous, it is sometimes assumed that I am resilient enough to be kicked around like kindergarten ball at recess. If you’ve ever felt this way, you know that at some point, you deflate a bit.
Well, since the beginning of the year, there have been significant instances where this assumption occurred, and by late March, I had reached my quota. I recall feeling so low a couple of weeks ago that I pulled over at a parking lot to gather myself on the way home one night because my silent frustration was so loud. There I was, battling the Truth against what was true – 1) that as much as I sincerely give of my time, talent, and treasure, there will always be someone that will disregard it, 2) that I can not control whether someone values my gifts, 3) that at times I feel invisible – trudging along some days just to stay positive and uplifting, 4) that in the midst of invitations to birthday shindigs, bridal showers, baby showers, gender reveals, organizational celebrations, etc. I somehow felt good enough to celebrate with, but not enough to contact otherwise, and lastly 5) that I was God’s Beloved and that I shouldn’t be feeling down in the first place. Ever been there? It’s not a “Woe is me” moment, but a “I’m tired of getting screwed over and fighting for the basics” moment. The vest that was once girding and protecting me was now suffocating me. It needed to come off for a minute. Just for one minute so I could catch my breath from the blows… then, I could strap back on my armor and return to the battlefield. *smh* But, two weeks
My Sister for Life – Producing Actress/ Vocalist/ Comedienne Moneca Reid
ago, I just needed a minute. That minute turned into an hour of outcry over the phone to my sister (with whom I would attend UTR) who understood exactly what I was experiencing. She decoded my tears and congratulated me on giving my frustration a voice.
So, now you see my mindset and spiritual state by the time I had to travel to Indiana. I came with a positive outlook, ready to receive whatever God had to show me. Whatever He had to say, I was beyond all ears. My prayer included the resolve that I was coming to Indianapolis empty-hearted, but would not leave empty-handed. I was spiritually hungry, and everything in me was open and available. My assistant role was clear and I was excited to serve and experience my first UTR Production.
In the midst of working backstage, I was absolutely filled. There were 3 things that I heard from God and three responses I released to Him.
“You do all things well.”
“How dare I accept less than what I am worth?”
“You really do know how I feel.”
Though some loved ones are no longer here, God does all things well.The adversity that we live through brings us closer to the people who need our story. This is the case for Executive Director Sharon L. Hill. Her testimony manifested in the form of Upon This Rock Productions. The smiles you see in that photo are not results of everything being perfect, but of God doing everything well from one point in life to another and another and another…
So how dare I accept anything less than what Jesus paid for my heart when He came with my end in mind? He values me so much that He continues to give His Love in exchange for my tainted version. Friends, Lovers, Family… it doesn’t matter. You can not – hear me clearly – you CAN NOT allow yourself to absorb the value that someone has placed on you. Check yourself for “stickers” that others have put on you and remove them quickly. You may need the Father’s help, but you can do it.
When I saw the actors cast as Jesus experience everything I had cried about just days before, it humbled me… quickly. He truly does know how I feel. Now that I’m back home, I can’t imagine the thought of forgetting that Truth. He knows what it feels like to be me.After all, that was the soul purpose of Jesus coming to Earth, destroying the religious status quo, loving the discarded, and obliterating hell’s power. He had to experience life in my shoes. At times, He retreated to pray and regroup. Sometimes, He was frustrated. He was sad. His authority and identity were questioned. He felt loved. He felt happy. He felt betrayed. He felt forgotten. He felt victorious. He is the perfect example of finishing a mission. He is the perfect depiction of Love.
One thing is for sure — everyone who experienced Jesus then and everyone who experiences His Love now have probably said one or all of those three responses above. As you wind down tonight or get ready to start your day, I pray that you are reminded of God’s Love toward you. I had to get that off my chest before I went to bed, so I hope you feel the virtual hugs through your screen.
Peace, Love, and Thanks for listening, Sweetheart.
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 familyalmost 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.
Maslow’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 familyjust encompasses a group with the same last name. It just requires a circle of people connected by the same heartstrings.