Here’s a shortstop for your week (500 words or less).
Seeds grow at different times.
I walked in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens recently and heard that in my spirit. It was like a gift I didn’t see coming. I looked around and saw all of the different types of trees, grasses, and flowers and noticed how harmoniously they lived together. I was in wonder enough, then that sentence dropped. Wow, I replied internally, that’s so true. We get so caught up on where everyone else is in life that we forget we’re seeds too and we are on separate timetables. There’s no race to the finish. No checkpoint to reach before our competition catches up. There’s not even competition around you – it’s in you. The more you focus on the growth track of those around you, you’ll stunt the growth in you… but I won’t digress. Let’s keep going. Here’s the next thing I heard.
We need to let a seed be a seed.
Seeds don’t grow into trees overnight. They take time and the right conditions. They require nutrients from the air and the soil. So that means we do too. Our environment affects our growth mindset – words said around us (air) and where we’re planted (soil). We must be patient with ourselves and each other because only God knows the timelines. He is the Master Gardener and He knows exactly what we need to grow to fill what is needed in this world. In the process, He also grows us up… and we can’t rush that. What parent looks at their children and say “Tommy, it’s March. Your sister learned to write her name in March, so you have until the end of the month.” Umm… nobody. Furthermore, you have some growing to do in an area that is probably behind someone that you know and love. We’re all seeds and I thank God that He knows what each seed needs for each season. I would totally messed this world up with too much water, sunlight, or something else. *lol*
I hope you’re having a good week. My prayer is that you are filled with pauses that make you wonder. They’re good for the soul. And if you’re in Alabama, visit the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It’s a beautiful place. The pictures in this post came from my camera.
I love y’all. Stay well out there. Peace & Thanks for listening!
This post has a couple of layers, but the main idea is this – Compassion and Accountability can co-exist.
For some reason, we think the are opposing forces in every situation. This mirage of dissonance manifests into online arguments, silent family tables, and disjointed communities. What gets left in dust is our humanity and our faith. Let me explain. It may sting a little bit, but this is safe place to grow.
The first thing you think of is “Well, what did they do to deserve it?” when you hear of tragedy, you’re acting just like the Pharisees in the book of John, Chapter 8. Do you know what makes me chuckle about that story? The facts that they called Jesus “Teacher” when they ran up on Him (woman in hand) and the fact that Jesus had a whole Jeopardy-waiting-theme-music moment before they filed out one by one. Seriously, I scoff every time I read those parts.
Because you would think the Pharisees would know better than to try to trap Jesus in a social and religious debate, but no… they didn’t. Just like today, they wanted to see what He would say so they could claim He wasn’t who He was. They were determined to make the issue bigger than the Savior. Personally, I would have taken that waiting period before He answered as a hint to leave… quietly… right then. Something inside of me would have had to click in a different gear to say “Hold up. I think He’s giving me a chance to correct myself.” Anywho…
If you have an insatiable need to consume news and gossip, check your intentions.
Are you praying for the murdered and the murderers? Are you praying for public officials? Are you involving yourself in local avenues of service? Are you listening to your hurting friends? Are you making sure you aren’t part of the problem?
What are you doing with all of that information anyway? Morning, mid-day, evening, and late night, what you’re really doing is getting full of yourself. I’m not saying you should pretend like nothing is happening, but I am very much saying that you should not be consumed by all that swirls around you.
Look on the flip side and survey your intentions in consuming faith-building content. Newsflash: It’s not for Sundays only.
What a concept, right? I know! It sounds simple until we’re bombarded on Monday with an annoying co-worker or when someone cuts us off during our morning commute. Family, we are required to apply what we learn from those sermons, podcasts, life groups, Bible studies, YouTube videos, etc. All of that should amount to something. Everything. More than the things of this life. We should be growing to greater. Growing into the best version of ourselves.
As seasons change, so should we. So should we develop and stretch and evolve.
Take all of that Word you get every week and curate it into a life force that this world needs. A beacon for your street. People’s hearts are aching out here… to see the beauty in the mess. To see something better than what’s crumbling in front of them.
I’ll say it until my last breath – You can’t say you’re a Christian and not act like Christ. Seeing hurt anywhere should hurt you because Jesus’ compassion was epic. He could have easily grilled the woman in John 8, but instead, He showed her compassion before He issued accountability (verse 11).
The last time I checked, we’re required to work together down here. You don’t have to like everything your co-worker likes or agree with everything your neighbor does, but you do have to love them. Even Paul said to live peaceably with everyone as best you can. He knew it would be difficult. And it’s hard for me to watch us not doing that in such a time as this. We would rather use buzz words and jargon instead of talking to humans like they’re related to us.
Be mindful of how you’re representing Christ out here. The world is watching. Your friends are watching. Your family is watching. Imagine how full we could actually be if we emptied ourselves first? Imagine how powerful God’s Love could be through us if we implemented every verse we read, every song we sang, and every Biblical message we’ve heard in our lifetimes thus far. Now imagine it starting with you… today.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Family! Stay well out here and I’m rooting for you!
In honor of National Poetry Month, I made a goal to share a poem or spoken word piece each week. Well, last week, I feel off the rocker, so I’m posting one tonight and another on Sunday!
The piece below was written exactly one year ago in February while contemplating the past and present sacrifices made in my culture. Thanks in advance for reading it!
I SALUTE YOU
For every elder that was asked “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?” before casting their vote
I stand for you.
Hold my head up high and walk into work every day for you. Go to class and flash my smile and say “Yes, I’m here” for you.
For my sisterfriend on the verge of killing cancer dead in its tracks Intelligence questioned by White men, assuming her competence is thin and porous For every train car that clickety-clacked with Pullman porters, chins up and hands out in superior service
I stand for you.
This isn’t just Black History to me. This is a perpetual ceremony where you are the guests of honor.
I get the privilege of cooling in your shadows, walking in your footsteps, glowing in your Sonlight, basking in your love for my future.
For every lash received with outstretched arms and naked backs I proudly stand for you.
Clap my hands, hoot and holla any day for you, because you did what so few could do. You kept clocking in when they spit on you. Breastfed their children when they wouldn’t feed you. Sang and danced like a beautiful Black angel when they wouldn’t even pay you. You lived when they tried to kill you.
I stand for you.
Grandma, washing clothes of White families over the mountain, feet filled with fatigue In fatigues, Grandpa called “boy” while lacing up his combat boots getting ready for war Fighting for rights that didn’t see the light of day… back home
Accepting substandard pay and being told to comb your hair Swallowing your pride and pushing down your voice Diluting who you are to match someone else’s choice Being a superhero for your children when you were just treated like a child Making me smile after a long hard day Washing my socks on your hands before Sunday morning Dressing me like a chocolate doll and telling me I’m beautiful Even though you couldn’t afford to buy your food
You will never be forgotten. I appreciate you. I stand for you. I salute you. Forever, and ever… Amen.
The Magic City Poetry Festival is going strong here. Check out their events and read about the founder of the festival who is also first Black and youngest poet laureate of Alabama. How cool is that? I salute you, Ashley M. Jones.
We’ve been on the appreciation train and tonight we’re focusing on each other… but not quite how you think.
I was listening to a sermon on YouTube and the auto-playlist showed a clip about a celebrity divorce. I’m not into gossip, so I rolled past it. Then I went back to it and stared at the sensational title and description. I thought of how crippling it could be to have intimate details of your life dissected among the public and sprinkled with the hot sauce of opinion. I imagined it was me.
During my divorce process, my mother said one thing – “No one really knows what goes on in a marriage except the people in it.” It’s true. All of the highs and lows are stuck between you and your spouse. Even if children are involved, they host a non-marital point of view.
Mutual friends. Mutual places. Mutual memories. It all comes to a close.
You wonder if you’re still connected to the people you shared – What do they think of me? Are we not friends anymore? Will I get invited to the wedding, baby shower, birthday party…?
Eating at the same restaurant without them feels weird. There was flirting, dessert, a symphony of laughs… you’re used to being part of a pair. Events you both attended now feel like foreign soil, even if things ended on civil terms.
And the memories. No one prepares you for the flashbacks in your mind, body, and spirit. After all, you were one.
Some of those areas close abruptly while others commit to a slow (and sometimes awkward) burn. You’re open. Raw. And you’re still going to work, raising children, caring for a parent, and appearing “normal” while debriding parts of your life. Now, your name is changed (again), you have to learn a new morning routine, or you have to create a solid face each time you say “We’re no longer together.”
What if the intimate details of your life were on display for millions to watch and reply? Then those persons demanded to be updated about each step without regard for the crackling sound of your heart breaking seconds at a time.
What if they captured your tears on camera and replayed your exposed emotions on their hand-held screens? Then tell you that you’re required to filet your wounds because you’re a public figure.
Did I also mention that your body is constantly being dissected according to its best and worst parts? Yeah… because your photo is always up for the taking. And your hair and makeup better be perfect.
I want you to sit with that amount of emotional exposure for a minute. No wonder some burn under the limelight and seek seclusion at any chance. The thought of people digging into the season of my divorce makes me shudder. Seriously. Though it was amicable, it was still a tender time in my life.
If we can respond to the invasion of Ukraine with a high level of compassion (prayers continued to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and visitors of the country), certainly we can spread it to others during sensitive times.
Be gentle with people going through divorces, especially public figures. Let’s grow from being messy school kids gossiping in the social media cafeteria. It’s depreciating and we can do better. There are delicate emotions involved that should be handled with care. Before you comment under that post or upload the meme, put your face in there. See your child’s face there. Imagine your parent’s name there. Now think of Jesus. Remember His compassion and our charge to treat each other with value. That’s the center of appreciation.
I love the second definition of appreciation from Merriam-Webster – increase in value. Something increases in value when it is preserved over time and with distinct effort. It’s been protected, catalogued, and gently handled. It was valuable upon creation, but its value increases with consistent care. The more fingerprints, the less value. Family, don’t be the excess fingerprints that decrease a person’s sense of value. Be uplifting. Say encouraging words. Pray earnestly… and not out of what you want but out of what God says is healthy for their lives.
Love will forever be an action word. How can we say we Love God and not express Love to each other? How can we Love people we do not know and not the ones we do? We should handle each other carefully, with grace and Love. Every day. No matter what they look like or where they live. No one is required to update their status to soothe your itch for details. No price is high enough to demand answers when someone is restructuring their reality.
My prayer is that someone appreciates you in your current season. If things are going well, I pray they raise their arms with you in celebration. If things are not so great, I pray they elevate your heart with compassion and walk through the mud with you. And if you’re a celebrity/public figure reading this, my prayers are with you always. It takes a lot to be where you are, so I pray God reminds you that you are more valuable than your gift. I pray you feel the blanket of His Love every day, no matter the chatter at the lunch table.
Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!
Once upon a time, I was too scared to be a full-time entrepreneur. I also knew I would be one, but the older I got, the more I thought it would reckless and expensive. The thought of depending upon others to provide my income carried anxiety with it. Strong, stinky, paralyzing anxiety. If you’ve been on the blog with me for a while, you remember when I stepped out on faith in November 2018. I heard God say “It’s time.” and I threw my whole self into my businesses. To still be here on that Word, that’s growth.
Another example is my “no” game. It’s stronger now than it ever was. Saying “no” felt like a sinful act of pride or disobedience. Now, I walk in the truth that my “no” protects my health and I use it as needed. I allow wisdom to navigate my life instead of letting guilt reign over my decisions. That’s growth. Serious growth.
Regardless of your age, I believe there’s plenty of learning to do in this world. Plenty of opportunities to be the best version of yourself. And with the world wide web, those opportunities are growing exponentially. Courses, webinars, workshops… take your pick. In the midst of your everyday grind, I challenge you to review how far you’ve come. Maybe it was being a doormat in your relationships or exploding anger on the people you love. Maybe it’s reclaiming your time for self-care or spending more time with your family. What about your patience or your lying habit? Are those areas sprouting green?
Growth is more than monetary or intellectual results. It’s more than congregation numbers and stock markets. While we’re here on Earth, our spiritual growth has great value. Every year, we should aim to grow closer to the Son. Just like the plants do. A branch of your spirit can sprout peace in the darkest of nights. A leaf can express colors of gratitude when seasons change.
When I feel like I’m treading water, I recall my less-than-lovely moments. How I treated someone. How I handled a situation. How I didn’t speak up for myself. Then, the Truth reaches out and brings me back to shore. Acknowledging my growth is the secret sauce that keeps me hopeful every morning. I still overthink things at times, but I’m not easily offended. I still get scared of the future every now and then, but my trust in God is stronger than ever. Perfection will never be reached on Earth, yet we are in control over how much we can learn while we’re here… how much we can grow.
Celebrate your wins, then pray for God to show you another growth opportunity. Are you going to church every week but not applying the Word among your family? Is Sunday morning or Bible Study Night a ritualistic checkmark on your calendar? Do you still manipulate others to get what you want? I promise that if you ask, He’ll show it to you.
Growth isn’t a stagnant thing. It’s a cycle. A continuous act. Trees may be stationary, but the impact of their roots and seeds spread beyond their visible location. You have that same power, Family. You truly do.
The feature photo on this post? That’s me walking into my massage practice… the same building where I attended yoga sessions. The same building where I said “It would be cool to have my practice here one day, but…” Then, faith said otherwise, and I agreed. And I love every step of it. That’s some growth right there.
Peace & Thanks for listening! Celebrate those sprouts and stay well out there!
Christmas is my favorite holiday, but I’ll be honest with you (because we keep it authentic around here), I was unsure how it would go this year. There was a nervousness attached to it because this has been a season of processing a pendulum swing of intensities.
I gained wisdom. I lost 8 loved ones due to death. I acquired insight. I lost a dream. I gained stronger relationships. I lost ties I thought I had. I developed a deeper love for myself.
Sweet and bitter. That was the mix I couldn’t bypass. I tried, but it didn’t work. I screamed in both victory and in anguish this year and frankly, the velocity of the pendulum swing was nauseating. As we speak, I cried tears of appreciation and grief in less than 5 minutes. So, I paused, prayed, made some hot tea, and returned to writing this post. A post for processing smiles and frowns and to let you know you are not alone.
It’s OK to be excited about a new home, new family member, or new career venture, and yet be nervous your stewardship of it. I’m crazy enough to believe that God can handle that dichotomy of emotions.
You may not be finished processing everything, and that’s OK too. It truly is. Don’t let anyone stamp an expiration date on your journey; only God knows when and how. The Holy Spirit can walk you through a season until it is digested and He’ll even give you certain hands to hold along the way.
I also want to stand with you and say “You made it.” You made it through one of the most intimate holidays of the year! Keep breathing through the rough patches and celebrating the good parts. That’s what Christianity truly is. It’s giving God our broken pieces instead of hiding them and it’s appreciating His divine communion as we take one step at a time.
Process it, Family. Everything doesn’t bounce off you and everything shouldn’t stick to you either. Digest as you need it so you won’t be imprisoned by it. That’s what I’m doing… and it’s working.
Peace & Thanks for listening. I love y’all and stay well out there!
Written in honor of Alana, Kevin, Courtney, George, Mrs. Packer, Brian, Aunt Janice, Mr. Larry, Deacon Welch, Daddy Wade. I am so grateful to have experienced this life with you. You will forever be missed.
I have one question for you tonight – how are you healing?
If you’ve been around for a while, you know I am a work-in-progress when it comes to the physical healing patience. I can deliver dishes of grace and empathy to family, friends, and strangers yet when it comes to myself, the plate is usually empty.
Part of refining your spirit is God teaching you about your design and I’ve been listening a lot about mine this year. Self-care begins to expand into understanding what you need versus what you think you need. It is asking God for the blueprint of your awesomeness so you can learn how to maintain it.
If you’re like me, this isn’t an easy ask. It feels weird. Healing is an enigma only the superhuman and uber-holy obtain… at least that what I’ve always told myself. It was unreachable. Prayer of all kinds still rendered surgeries, medicine, and bills.
Was I “less saved” than my sister or brother on the same church row? Did I not believe enough? Did I even have time to heal with all the work I had to do? How long could I be evasive before a progress report on how “better” I felt was due?
It took my aunt passing away and disheartening medical news colliding within 24 hours to humble my inner superwoman this year. I had a break between clients and a broken heart. Right then, I asked myself the following question:
What do I need right now?
My answers were warmth and comfort. The manifestation was a muffled sob wrapped in a serape blanket and silent ringtone topped with a nap. I needed that moment to make it through the rest of the day. It didn’t cure anything, but it was a balm on my open wounds.
It also led to me creating a healing plan for my surgery recuperation so depressive thoughts wouldn’t drown my hope. I needed to uproot those old questions that curated anxiety and plant seeds of self-care… proactive self-care. So, I added two questions to my aerated heart in preparation for the healing journey ahead.
What brings me comfort?
Who makes me feel loved?
The first question forces you acknowledge your present need and dull the noise around you. The second question ushers comfort into your hurting space. The third question allows Love to walk with you during the process, helps you to eliminate the fake stuff, and stretches your ability to receive.
Lately, these three questions have created a divine blanket around me physically and spiritually. I rest without guilt. I let the Holy Spirit guide my day. I practice expressing what I need. I bare my weakness before God and He comforts me. Burying my frailty in my faith did not serve me well, so I offer my brokenness with trembling hands if necessary. I pray with a certain rawness that only my heavenly Father can understand. And this is all part of my healing plan.
Before I head to bed, I’ll give you (us) another note of encouragement that I recently heard in my spirit. Christians love to quote 2 Corinthians 12:9 but they don’t like being weak (me included… I’m working on it). The only way to receive the miraculous power mentioned in this verse (see Greek interpretation) is to be in a state of humble acceptance. To be empowered and infused is to be open enough to let Love in. Pride blocks healing. Pride blocks the infusion. Pride says “I don’t need help… I don’t need to heal because I’m not hurt.” Pride essentially says “I don’t need Love.” All of which leads us to walking wounded in phantom armor we’ve built to protect our pain.
When we are intentional with our healing, as I am learning to be, we admit that we need the power of God to be whole. So, I ask you again – how are you healing?
Stay well out there and pray about your plan. Peace & Thanks for listening!
Thanks for joining me for the first entry of the See Jane Write #blogbetter challenge (formerly #bloglikecrazy)! That Friday surprise didn’t work out, but it’s coming! Until then, here I am with a Tuesday post instead of a Wednesday, so let’s chat a minute!
One of the hardest things to do is to accept the truth after lying to yourself. Your cozy chrysalis breaks open and you’re exposed to the air. Truthful, piercing air. The kind of experience that creates a huge breath of freedom. That’s how the following lessons arrived in my life and I’m so glad they did.
📝LESSON #1 – Stop expecting others to act like you.
Have you found yourself caring about someone and not experiencing reciprocity? Same here. Sweet gestures simply weren’t enough to crack the code to their heart space. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is platonic or romantic, it hurts. I pray those moments do not happen often for you, but when they do, remind yourself of Lesson #1 – Stop expecting others to act like you.
You may extend yourself in ways that others do not. It doesn’t mean that your heartstrings are defective. It doesn’t mean you are too nice, too helpful, too considerate… too anything. I’ve heard it all and worn all the stickers.
You are you for a divine purpose on this Earth. They are them; you are you. Separate what God tells you to do from who they are and how they may receive it. Once you get that Truth serum in your spirit, the heartbreak of caring for others will start to melt. When you do something for someone and you only hear from them when they need something (you know how that goes), it will hurt less over time. You’ll remember the reason for your extension of Love is just that… Love. Every time I have extended Jesus’ hands to someone, God has always returned that Love to me somehow. The law of the harvest is not a lie. The pain from not receiving the Love you give can cause your heart to rot; it’s not worth it. God made that heart to hug others, so let it flow… unapologetically.
Quick Sidebar: The crazy thing about this lesson is that it applies to petty people too. You may dish out gossip, but that doesn’t mean the other party will do the same. Let that prick your petty heart the next time you mistreat someone.
📝LESSON #2 – Your words will outlive you.
When someone dies, the first warmth I feel is from their words. Whatever they said, I grasp on and hold tightly, pulling that blanket up to my chin then over my head to bathe in their presence. I remember moments, not things. Even if I hold an item of theirs, their words and the moments flood me. If words are so potent, it is imperative that we leave as many good ones behind as possible. Those are the kind of seeds I want to be remembered by.
📝LESSON #3 – Progress isn’t pretty.
Perfection is cute. It has a nice little bow and a sweet fragrance. It beams beneath the limelight of filtered social media posts. Perfection is what we aspire to obtain, but what you really need is progress. She is treated like the ugly stepsister when she’s really the star.
Progress isn’t pretty but she’s necessary. When you see an artist’s work or an athlete’s performance, you may not see Progress. She usually brings a cocktail of sweat, tears, financial stress, doubt, with a splash of dreaming on the rocks. All of that stuff in that glass may taste terrible, but just like medicine (not the cocktail up there), it will make you better. Progress improves us on the way to excellence. So, drink up!
📝 LESSON #4 – There are people in the Bible just like me.
One of the best lessons I learned is that every feeling I have felt has been felt by someone in the Bible. If I’m frustrated, I can read about David or Job. If leadership is feeling a little heavy, I can read about Moses and Joshua. When I feel like a mountain is in front of me, I can read about Jesus.
The Bible is not an archaic book of fiction to me. It hosts examples for my everyday life, examples of people that were fragile just like me… examples of imperfection, love, and miracles wrapped up in one place. Reading about their experiences helps me see myself when times are difficult.
Peace & Blessings, Family! As always, thank you for listening!
Were any of these lessons helpful to you? Let me know in the comments and on social media (when I post it there later today). Stay well out there and I love you!
I hope you slept well last night. Sammy and I were knocked out. I prayed for you before I went to bed and this sentiment floated to the surface of my spirit from earlier in the day –
Either way, I win.
Let that roll around your current status for a minute and say it to yourself if you have to.
Either way, I win.
So, I am having surgery in a couple of weeks and an evil thought crept up recently. “What if you die on the table? You could lose a lot of blood.” Just as rudely as it walked up to my pretty bubble of peace, I snapped back. “Either way, I win,” I said aloud without flinching. I said it so fast that while my spirit was resolved, my mind was like “Wait… what did you just say?” This conviction was coming from a woman that used to be afraid to go to sleep because I was afraid of dying. I would clean the house because I was scared that if I died, someone would gossip about my tidiness. Have you ever had those thoughts? Weird, I know, but we keep it real around here, right? Right!
That response, that level of confidence is a new but comfortable space for me in this season and it doesn’t just apply to this physical body. When someone says something off color to me or treats me negatively, I’m developing this same attitude in those spaces like a thick layer of smooth leather over cool steel. On the outside, it may look like the word or deed damaged me to the core but it didn’t. I’m covered. I have layers now.
Whether you speak life or speak ill of me, I win. That’s just a little fertilizer, I say to myself. Thank you, Sandpaper, I say quietly to an offensive person. Either way, I win because I grow in Love and wisdom. Either way, my armor is strengthened and I develop into a better version of myself. I don’t have to fear the pendulum’s sway from left to right. I win. If I die during surgery (I pray that I don’t, but still…), I leave this earth with Love on my mind and memories of the same through beautiful relationships. There is no one in my circle that doesn’t know how I feel about them. I have done my absolute best to allow the Love of Christ to transform, expand, then spill out of me. I will see my Creator and I believe I will see loved ones I’ve missed. If I wake up in post-op, I still win because the journey continues toward more enriching experiences. More opportunities to spread Love on this planet. I’m with Paul on this one when he talks in Philippians 1.
For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.