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I held it in my open-faced hands like gold from a Pharaoh’s tomb. It was here. Finally. And I was touching it with my soul.

The connection I felt when I slid my fingers across the slick cover… it was an intimate moment. I had done it. I had published a book. My book. The one that I started nine years ago after being laid off, wondering what I was going to do next. I thought I had found my dream job, but the garden in which it was located could no longer provide financial fruit. The book was my private little project. For awhile, no one even knew that I was writing. It was preciously scary. I didn’t want to contaminate the imaginative outcome I steadily played out in my head – girl writes book, book does well, girl gets paid, girl travels the world and girl works for herself. It was a ludicrous movie that replayed over and over again and I didn’t want it stop, so I didn’t tell anyone. I kept the tickets to myself and attended my cerebral theater alone throughout graduate school, until she came. Nancy. A she-fox that would rock my planet with the belief that my little secret movie could be realized. Here she was in Birmingham, Alabama with a publishing company, books, paintings, jewelry, music… and all I could think was “How?” and “Can I do it too?” She forced me to see beyond my sight and work toward my vision. I let her in and she got a front row seat to my secret movie and didn’t flinch. She smiled and I felt safe. She began to share with me and I with her. I had a gained a friend and Shero.

I’ll never forget the thorns and rocks along this road, the people I’ve gained and lost, the tears I cried in angst, the prayers I repeated, the fear hovering  nearby in trees of doubt, and the joy I felt when I typed END on the manuscript. The breath I held the first time I gave it to her seemed to last forever, just like it did when I heard she died. I stopped walking along the road and let the vines grow into my secret theater. I didn’t want to write and it pained me to think about it. Spiritual cobwebs caught my words every time someone asked “So, how’s your book going?” I dreaded the answer. It was deathly to think of cracking the doors open and letting sunshine in the wounded halls of my heart… but I did. Now, my book, the fruit of hands, was sitting in my lap and it was seducing me. I wanted to open it up and enjoy the exterior all at the same time. After holding it next to my heart for a few minutes, I laughed at the rear view of the road to fruition. I couldn’t believe how faithful God had been. When He said that He would bless the work of my hands, I didn’t fathom that some days my hands would feel empty and barren. That materializing my thoughts wasn’t a lie I kept feeding myself. I was a writer. Always had been. In the back of my grandmother’s car was always a writing stick and some paper. I even found out along the road that my biological father wrote poetry. So, my secret movie wasn’t so secret after all.

We can all be discouraged as we peer down the road ahead and see the shadows of the unknown. But we have to keep going. We have cling to the truth that we are seeds and seeds have to buried and/or watered in order to fulfill their purpose. The dirt will be isolating and the water will make us feel like we’re drowning, but we are made from both elements, so we will not die. We will grow. We will thrive. We will live out loud. After all, someone needs the fruit that we are destined to produce. Keep dreaming, keep walking, and keep working, my friend. You’re on a road, not in a box.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

*By the way, I found this daffodil beauty along my walk this morning. Sweet.

#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 25 – Opposite Day

After reading Genesis 41:41-57 –

What if we did the opposite of what is expected? In times of opulence where more is more, what if we exercised the wisdom of restraint? Instead of gluttony and racing toward a fabricated finish line, what if our actions were governed by the Truth?

Joseph envisioned a day when years of plenty would run out, so he stored accordingly. Isn’t it interesting that the famine still occurred (it was predicated on his preparation), but Egypt wasn’t affected (which was predicated upon preparation)? The world was in the middle of the same timeline, but not experiencing the same thing. They were having opposite day because wisdom had her way for seven years. Then, to top everything else that was “a-plenty”, he was blessed with two sons. God must have known they would not lack as well because of Joseph’s track record of obedience. The truth was, if you read Joseph’s story, he had a lifetime of opposites and lived with flying colors (pun intended).

I love that last part – verse 54 – “but in all the land of Egypt, there was bread.” Even though times were shiny and bountiful, Joseph acted upon what He was shown… and stayed true to it. This resulted in a series of events that affected others positively. There was harvest in famine and all benefited…the economy, the families, and the leadership.

God keeps walking me down this “we’re all connected” trip. One act, one word, one person affects another. What we do now has a trickle down effect on the present and the future. Our obedience and disobedience makes pathways before us and others. I pray that I make a positive road as my obedience grows stronger. Then, I can be well on opposite day. When things aren’t lovely and plentiful, I can still smile.

What about you? Have you experienced moments of plenty and didn’t prepare for opposite day? What do you do differently now?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com/Orla via timeanddate.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 24 – All in One

– Another short stop to help us along –

It takes all parts to make a whole.

Just think about it. The gears in a machine. The ingredients in a recipe. The parts of a car. Rarely does something stand alone exceptionally with the assistance of another.

When I was a communication student in  college, I learned about Systems Theory which includes the following: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I never forgot it because it made so much sense to me. For some reason, humans forget this truth in times of trial or great joy.

For just a moment today, think of the pieces of you that built your thought patterns, behaviors, character, and skills. Now, take note of who is around you now that creates your current system. You’re in a prime place with people that can play pivotal roles in your life, even if it hurts. Unfortunately, if you get tunnel vision, you can get lost in your part without cherishing the whole. You can’t afford to do that.

You need each part of your body to create your unique human experience. One blood vessel, one cell, one muscle can throw everything out of sync. The body knows that it is a sum of parts and these parts are not greater than the purpose of the whole – to keep you functional. We need to see our interpersonal relationships with the same lenses.

1 Corinthians 12:11-26 discusses this concept of the body working together as an illustration of the body of Christ doing the same. It’s not a new idea. 😊

Here’s some tips to help you with this mode of thinking:

  1. Know your role and stick to it. It makes the system run better.
  2. Accept if you have more than one function. It’s OK. Some of your body parts do too.
  3. Be flexible. Remember that you’re all-in-one mindset may take a minute for others to get used to.
  4. Ask how you can help. You may be great at something that is simply not needed at that time. It doesn’t mean you’re dysfunctional; your skills just need to lay low for the moment. You have body parts that do that too, by the way.
  5. Be authentically well and unapologetically awesome. You can’t be a sick gear in the system. Check your pulse often. Seek opportunities to be the best in your role. Shine and pursue balance with the other parts.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

For more information on Systems Theory, visit the following link: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/introductiontocommunication/chapter/systems-theory-paradigm/

Photo courtesy of Clker.com

#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 18 – A Beautiful Surprise

The following events happened within a 8-hour time span. Crazy.

Lunch with a beautiful twist

I had lunch with someone that I didn’t know as well. She had experienced a death in her family and I had given her some time before encroaching upon her grief. I was in mourning as well and we discussed our journeys toward the sunlight. We left the lunch spot laughing and vowing to meet again before the year ends.

What I heard: You never know who’s in it with you. Somebody gets it.

Somehow, with our nightlights, we found each other and embraced the space we were stumbling in because we knew there was a way out. That day, lunch was so much more than a meal.

Tutoring with a beautiful story

I left the lunch with a beautiful twist to tutor a pre-teen. He had a book report due in a few days and his father asked for my assistance. He and his father were frustrated in the process of creating a rough draft. I love those kinds of challenges. As we talked about the book, the student revealed the storyline in a way that made me want to check it out. Then, I asked him about a part of the story that I didn’t understand. His response? “Well, memories don’t die with the person.” Not knowing anything about my state of heart, this young one pierced it with an arrow of truth. I am so grateful that memories don’t die with the person’s body. I can feel sad forever, but I have memories. I can’t say the same about my biological father as I only have two memories of him, but he lives in the stories I’ve heard from those with whom he spent time. Memories have a funny way of sneaking up on you and grabbing you out of your current world. Sometimes good, sometimes in a bad way. For me, that tutoring session was a good moment… a reminder that I can enjoy the recollections gifted by the person well after the lifetime expires. We finished the rough draft, I consulted with the client, and all was well in their world… and in mine.

Rehearsal with a beautiful message

So, now it was time to be creative. It was time to put flesh and bones to a song that my performing arts troupe would record and post online. It was inevitable that this would be a joint effort and as the leader of the team, I was determined to let their minds run free with ideas as I did during the brainstorming session. Rehearsal can get gritty and your mind and body can take a beating, but it’s all for a good outcome.

There was a part of the song where we are on our knees in humility, but spiritually, it depicted where I had been for the past couple of weeks. I felt helpless and pressure-squeezed like fruit in a winepress. I knew something sweet and refined would come out of everything, but I couldn’t see it and all I could do is say “Whatever You want to do, just give me the strength to do it.” Instead of leaving rehearsal drained, I left encouraged. Encouraged to minister the piece to myself and anyone else who needs a thy will be done in their spirit.

Sometimes we think that beauty comes upon instantly beholding something, not realizing what it took for the artist to create what we see. It’s beautiful because it was first messy. Cloudy. Muddy. Confusing. It was beautiful after the work and the darkness.

I experienced a beautiful surprise that began as not-so-pretty moments. All with a similar theme. Who knew?

He did. *smile*

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

 

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 17 – I Can Do It Better

“Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you!”

Have you ever heard that song? It’s one of my favorites. I know the feminist undertone makes it an anthem, but my truth is that there are some things that I can not do better than someone else. On the other hand, there are things that I truly can do better… but it doesn’t mean I should.

Here’s a short stop for you before the workweek hits you like a ton of bricks.

Analyze what you can do and whether you do it well. See if there is anything holding you back from doing it better. Seek ways to enhance yourself. Regroup by reading. Sign up for a free class or lecture. Shadow someone you deem an expert and even someone you deem less than perfect. You may think you can do a lot of things better than someone else, but the passenger-seat-syndrome will do that to you. Instead of competing against someone, compete with yourself. You won’t get it all at once, but you will get it.

If I can teach a 65-year-old miner how to use email and he used that skill to change careers, you can get better at something too. Be patient and apply everything within you to beat your last score.

You can do it, Champ. I believe in you. I believe in us. Let’s do this.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo from Annie Get Your Gun

#bloglikecrazy: Day 12 – See So Much

I’ve had the pleasure and pain of seeing a lot around me…and so have you.

After a week of hateful spew oozing from the news channels, it was apparent that my eyes and my heart was in an overloaded state. I needed a break, a muse, a wisp of hope to flutter before my eyes and awaken my spiritual senses. Where was it?  The flutter. The glimpse of shimmer in all that was covered in coal. I couldn’t see it amidst the racial slurs on television, small-minded retorts, strong-willed behavior, and effervescent paranoia. My glass was half-full, but the vessel was cloudy enough to block the view that something good could be inside of it.

Then I came home to find a card in my mailbox from two friends checking on my health. The warmth of the contents were already seeping from the envelope, so after reading the beautiful words, I pressed the open card against my chest and felt the love that poured out of it. I remembered that in the same week, two friends invited me to their son’s birthday dinner because they saw me as part of their family. I recalled kind words, sweet gestures, and bleeding love from sincere hearts. Hearts encased in different shells than mine. I was grateful for my family’s consistency; however, the breath of fresh air at the top of that half-full glass was the perfect reminder that all is not toxic in the world of black, brown, white, etc.

For every thing I saw that ransacked my optimism, there were people with genuine respect that reminded me of something I had heard in my spirit earlier that week and that came up in conversation earlier that evening.

Hate the systems more than the people.

This was a hard pill to swallow and a difficult truth to hear. If I inflict the pain that I felt toward those who support what I despise, I am no better than the racists doing the same toward me. I can’t be vindictive toward every White person I encounter. I simply can’t. I don’t have the right to generalize no matter how angry I am at the mountains of ignorance on both sides. I don’t live in a mental utopia, and I definitely do not encourage the use of a band-aid to cover up our wounds, but my anger has to go somewhere constructive before it causes me to see through its glasses alone. Swirling inside of my chest and making me sick to my gut are not the best activities for it. Paying attention to our local government is a productive start for us all, but first, we pray to see that which we are truly fighting. We pray not to plow over the good stuff to scream about the bad. In all of our ranting, we have to see. And honestly, I see so much. So much beauty in the ashes of this aftermath that are waiting to be fragrant. Such an open road between two mountains. Sincere people going to work everyday trying to make a difference. I see the wisps. The shimmer. It doesn’t extinguish my flame, but at least it can materialize into hope.

I truly see so much. Thank God for that.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 NASB

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of The Open Road

#bloglikecrazy: Day 10 – You Can Do It

Here’s another short stop for you. *smile*

This week has been an interesting blend of victory and funk. I’m so glad to see the weekend that I can hardly stay in my body.

Maybe you can relate. I pushed through because I kept seeing the light at the end of the tunnel called rest. Well…then, I go and volunteer to help someone before I even had to claws to catch the offer from my lips. I felt good about it during the transaction, like sunshine-y, highlighter yellow, this-is-what-you’re-supposed-to-do-right-now good about it. When the conversation ended, I looked up and smiled back.

Right after I volunteered a couple of hours of former free time and we left each other’s presence, I had three good pieces of good news from the sweet my Father. No kidding – it felt like manna from heaven. Freshly baked, sent with a special delivery sticker on it and all just for me. I couldn’t have timed it better.

manna-bread
Photo courtesy of Color Wheel Meals

Every time you do something kind, you won’t get manna right away. I can write a book on that alone. But, it was a pressing spirit that got me through this week even though I could have easily taken off work more than one day. At times, wisdom kicks me in the butt and says the opposite, but this week was almost like a testament waiting to be written and I didn’t feel like picking up the pen. I didn’t want to speak words of life. I didn’t want to be chipper and positive. I just wanted to make it through the work week. So, to see those three blessings right before me, I just shook my head and beamed with gratefulness. The following verse came to mind immediately as I had seen it the night before:

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
– Galatians 6:9 NASB

I want you to know that whatever it is, you can do it. Seriously. You have dynamite within that can crumble any obstacle. Know when to sit down and know when to press on. But, my dear, when it is a divine time to push beyond your natural state, do it with all of your might. Do it with everything you can muster and I promise you, the light at the tunnel will be so bright that you will need shades… all because you rested in Him through obedience.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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