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Purpose

My purpose stared at me from many eyes before I could recognize its shape. It spoke to me from many voices before I could recognize its vibration. The more I listened, it tightened its grip within me.

Purpose has a way of embracing us, embodying us, and revealing us to the masses of our extensions of us. Before I could articulate my purpose, my purpose put my face between its palms and said, “See,” radiating reality back to me.

Let your purpose be in you, that place of assurance. Sit with it in your tears, in your discomfort, and in your obscurity. The greatest of all expressions of purpose is love. This love will enthuse you when you have worked to your end purpose-fully. Let your purpose be you. In all purity, all rawness and all authenticity.

Let your purpose be. You.

 

Twelve Weeks of Rising

Have you recently subscribed to the Twelve Weeks of Rising Series but want to access content from previous weeks? Click here below.

Week One: Born to Rise

https://mailchi.mp/ba4258a89edb/twelve-weeks-of-rising-born-to-rise?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

Week Two: Start While You’re Still Ahead

https://mailchi.mp/84424707299f/start-while-youre-still-ahead?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

Week Three: Permission Versus Allowing Ourselves

https://us14.campaign-archive.com/?e=%5BUNIQID%5D&u=572a94e992f71722f382ba889&id=133c52923e

 

Week Four will be released Friday January 24th.

 

 

 

Twelve Weeks of Rising

This year has been a mosaic of beautiful, powerful, overwhelming and triumphant. I’m exiting 2019 with joyful expectation and gratitude. In preparation, I am starting a 12-week email series titled, “Twelve Weeks of Rising.” I would be so happy to have you join me. It is FREE. Together we will build community and deepen our commitments to God, ourselves, and one another.

Once a week for 12 weeks, I will offer insights on how to be a healing presence as we innovate in our everyday lives.

Click the link to subscribe: https://mailchi.mp/aa432b922bf2/riseandthrivellcpresents12weeksofrising

We start tomorrow morning! Emails will be sent Friday mornings.

Bubbles in the Sky

What if our physical lives being, as temporal as the soapy sphere of a bubble, are supposed to burst as they reach new dimensions?

What if the shape within becomes one with the atmosphere and divinity without by exceeding its limitations to its expectations of limitless-ness.

We fight for our bubbles. How beautiful they are. And we are more. We are earth and sky; human and divine: spirit and bone and flesh. We simply and complexly are.

The Cost of Living

I was driving from one of my early education school sites to another, where I support the humans in creating seamless supports for children preparing for kindergarten. I was slowing down at a stop sign when the driver behind me sped away. She looked into my window to get a view of the driver delaying the arrival at her destination. We made eye contact. I was irritated by how impatient and reckless many drivers can be. Then the Spirit spoke to me: I couldn’t go to where she was. That is, to her psychological and spiritual location. I had to stay where I was in the larger moment of appreciation and gratitude. Had I left where I was to be where she was, it would have cost me.

Then I thought to myself about the cost of living. One definition of living is to breathe, be and do independent of our past, our present conditions and any future concerns. It also means to be and act independently of our and others’ opinions, beliefs and imposed limitations on ourselves. The cost of living then is what we pay to remain in the joy, peace and wonder of whose and where we are.

So many insights from an irritated driver and my choice to not wrap myself in it. I parked my car and was reminded of a verse in Philippians (chapter one, verse 22). When the Apostle Paul said “to die is to gain,” he was also referring to dying to the lowest parts of self that deceive us into thinking we win because we’ve met someone where they are and still – we think – we are superior to them. But have they not some power if they evoked us from our place of being to theirs?

The cost of living.

Then I am reminded my beloved First Lady say, “When they go low, we go high.”

This, too, is the cost of living.

I Didn’t Grow Up With My Grandparents

“Language is a vibration we speak and then act out of. Anytime you say, “That’s just the way I am,” you are fighting for your limitations and matching that vibration.” – Niambi Jaha-Echols What Color is Your Soul?

        There are three crucial elements that can brighten any child’s home, extended family, and community experiences. Those elements are 1) sleepovers with your cousins 2) preferential treatment from your grandparents and 3) ice cream. I had many ice cream moments with my mom, dad, and sister. It’s an inexpensive thrill. The sleepovers came when I was a little older. But the preferential treatment from my grandparents that was characterized by quality time, laughter, gifts, money and shields from parental discipline was not a part of my childhood. I am certain that my life would have been different because of it. In many ways, I felt like something was always missing something because I didn’t grow up with my grandparents. At 32-year-old, staring at the horizon of 33, I recognize that the physical entry point and embrace grandparents represent is what I missed. It also affected my ability to speak for many years. That is in Spanish. While I’m Black on both sides, my grandparents come from different nations. My paternal grandparents emigrated from Honduras. My maternal grandparents migrated from Mississippi. Many times I imagined how much more confident I would be if the confidence of being embraced by grandparents, especially the Spanish-speaking ones for when I began learning Spanish as a teenager, would have changed my experience. Three weeks before writing this post, I recognized that I had to make a choice to let go of what never was so I can become all the goodness I am divinely and genetically coded to be. At some point we all make the same choice of letting go. There is so much security in letting go. For what is in us is far superior to anything we could look back for and hope to obtain.

         I remember being in a parking lot with my mom and a few of my cousins, her nephews, some years ago as they reminisced about our grandmother. The memories they shared were foreign to me – so much so that she sounded like more of their grandmother instead of mine too. In short, my maternal grandmother, the one of which they spoke so fondly, did not favor my sister and me because my mother was not one of favorite children. Therefore, I recall her caring for us twice when my mother was at work. It was a very sweet time. She did what felt like grandmothers did for their granddaughters: gently comb their hair and tell them how pretty they look; slice fruit and place it on small saucers; sit them on their laps and tell stories. Because it was only twice we spent that quality of time with her and the other times she did not acknowledge my sister and me in our visits to her home, it feels like a distant dream. I watched my mother’s facial expression and body language as my cousins recalled their visits with her mother. She shared on the way home that she felt sad and upset because my sister and I had a different experience.

         My paternal grandmother was much more affectionate. But she too was distant – geographically speaking. My sister and I met her for the first time after years of phone conversations and packages sent between the Bronx and San Francisco Bay Area. She was immediately drawn to us and lit up her being with smiles from her heart to ours. I didn’t know what standing on the sidewalk next to a grandmother felt like until I was 12-years-old. I remember feeling a deep sense of connection that at that time I could not articulate but identify. In reminder, she was from Trujillo, Honduras. Yet, she stood as a woman of stature in front of those high-rise brick buildings. A long-time resident. Her thick Spanish accent enlaced with her soft voice greeted a young man as he walked by. My grandmother was warm and firm. He looked at her with respect and returned the greeting. The young man also looked at her as though he had forgotten to speak and was surprised by her commanding reminder. In that moment, I felt like I had a claim to significance.

         There is something about the authoritative presence of grandparents. The simple act of standing beside them can feel like a bestowal of ancestral dignity. Nevertheless, the 4 times I spent with my grandmothers before the age 18 (2 times with each) and the one time with my paternal grandfather with some brief hellos to my maternal grandfather created holes in my heart. It added to my narrative of not belonging. It also fueled feelings of isolation.

          I was working in the Early Education Enrollment Placement Center a few weeks ago as a support to Spanish-speaking families. (This is part of my work as a Family Support Specialist.) A brief encounter reminded me of my need to speak, to be sure, and to honor all my grandparents even in the faint fondness of knowing them. A father walked into the office to inquire about an application he had submitted for his child. He was Black and a Native Spanish-speaker. I almost said nothing to him. I would have simply smiled and wondered where he was from. But instead of doing that, I asked him in Spanish where he was from. He was answered, “Central America.” After further questioning, he revealed he was from a town in Honduras, not far from my grandparents’ town. For all I knew, we could be distant relatives meeting in San Francisco. Coworkers of mine in the office marveled at my accent and fluency. They also said they didn’t know I spoke Spanish. I jokingly said that sometimes even I forget. What I know to be true for me now is that I will miss out on making new connections – especially neurological ones – if I focus on the connections I did not make growing up. That day, I decided to let go of the insecurity of having not been consistently physically embraced by my grandparents to embrace the meta-physicality of the “more than” I imagine they desired to give me but didn’t know how or didn’t have the opportunity to give.

Responding While Black and Christian

There are a few things in America that are dangerous to be while Black. One of them is driving while Black. Another is being in an unfamiliar neighborhood while Black. We are all familiar with reaching for our pockets while Black. But I would like to spend a moment engaging you on the perceived danger, necessity, and collective benefit of responding while Black and Christian.

I need not go into the climate of the time. I don’t know if race riots will follow the killing of two Black men by police within 48 hours of each other, totaling more than 550 this year. I don’t know if suicide rates will quadruple among Black teens. I don’t know if more Blacks will receive cancer and diabetes diagnoses as they swallow sugar to treat themselves to something sweet in the middle of their pain. I don’t know how long before we take action among ourselves in regards to our men killing each other. And I don’t know if the nation will care. I can’t say that all members of the Church will – being that the Church has been a partner in White Supremacy since 1492. What I can say is that regardless of who cares, God cares. And Christ was not executed by the government and resurrected for us to lives that are cushioned from the pain of being connected to one another. Life is meant to be felt – and He showed us that. Life’s troubles are meant to be overcome – and He showed us that.

When Christians who also happen to be Black or any other groups of color speak out on what is important to them, it should not anger or draw suspicion from counter-groups. (But it does.) Responding to social issues and speaking from a heart for ministry is risky while Black. But it is a risk worth taking. We risk being accused of causing division and stifling the journey to unity in the Body of Christ. We risk being ignored by ministry partners and perhaps our pastors. Dr. Martin Luther King took the highest risk, which led to his murder on a hotel balcony.

If we go through our lives silenced for the comfort of others or desensitized for the comfort of ourselves, this is where we have lost and the life of Christ has no place in us. Here are some encouraging words to young people of color, and particularly young Blacks in the Americas, who are true followers of Christ. The following points are made from a submitted heart.

  1. Seek wise counsel and prayer covering. Don’t abandon the wisdom of elders in exchange for the inspiration from friends. Humble yourself to hear what is necessary and true. People who want the best for you will give you what you need to hear or be reminded of.
  2. Read! Read the Bible, read essays and sermons that bring the Bible to life, read the headlines, read the story. Read material that will expand your outlook and refresh you. Don’t OD with the news and social media. I understand that we all have different learning styles (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). However, if you’re looking to see or hear something that will help you traverse the obstacles of ministry and social change, you may not find as much footage as you hope. The Black Panther Party was demolished and the Black Lives Matter protests (not the actual work) are surface-level re-beginnings. Reading (even in the form of listening) is fundamental. We need historical contexts for what we are dealing with. This will help us breathe through the current chaos. There is still hope! What is happening today was dreamed and put into place over the last 500 years. But Jesus got up and He’s above all of those plans, evil assignments, plots, and principalities.
  3. Speak the truth and know the facts. If you don’t know the whole truth, speak your truth (your experience – don’t generalize). Beware of the backlash. We may be accused of being anti-White, anti-Christ or anti-church because we have spoken against the stagnancy or corruption of individuals who operate and attend the church institutions. But we must hold in our minds that Christ was not White or a White Supremacist. Again, He did not die so that one group of people could get ahead and then get tight-necked when the other groups talk about faith, race and socio-economics. Ask God what He thinks about what you’re saying and thinking. He’ll tell you and bring people to you so you’re back in alignment with Him. Also, always ask Him to lead on you what to say. Everything good isn’t good to talk about.
  4. Be prepared to hear silence from previous supporters. Keep moving.
  5. Praise God and worship Him while you strategize and organize. He will connect you to people who share your vision for ministry and social change. You’ll go further together.
  6. Listen to learn – not just to respond. Let the opposition strengthen you – not overcome you.
  7. Don’t try to overthrow the system. Strategize within it and offer yourself as a resource to those who have the same vision but use different methods. Also learn from them what may be useful to you.
  8. Be patient. Again, we’re not dealing with a system of babies. We are dealing with a system of giants. Like David, we have to devote our hearts and energy to God as we fight privately before He calls us to fight publicly. We draw strength from remembering God rescued us previously so we that can aim those stones at the heads of the Goliaths.
  9. Remain humble. You are not God’s gift to ministry; the Holy Spirit is.
  10. Distinguish between what you can do and only what God can do. Revisit this list constantly. Our acknowledgement of Who He IS and who we are not is what sets us apart from those who seek salvation in a human context.
  11. Pray in the Spirit while you do the work. We are not battling flesh and blood but real life evil and foul spirits. This nation is obsessed with demons and gives reverence to their power film after film. Imagine how different our lives would be if we spent as much time with God. We have to know where our power comes from. Those very demons we fight against are the ones who bow before Christ and ask why He is tormenting them.
  12. Do whatever you do for the glory of God. Ministry is not simply church-based as a pastor, preacher, prophet, teacher, or evangelist. It is multifaceted. Not all are called to vocational ministry but we are ALL called to minister (Luke 4:18).

Times are tough. But YOU are connected to the King! Keep your head up and your heart pure.

 

Why Is She With Him?

 

Why is she with him?

What does he want from her?

You need to ask her what she’s doing. She’s old enough to understand.

She’s not that innocent. Ask her what she’s doing.

All the love she has – it’s like she’s blocking what she really needs from the ones who love her. But he’s providing for a deep need temporarily. She provides for his needs also.

Why is she with him?

I asked her why and she couldn’t answer.

I asked her why and she couldn’t answer.

Her proclamations of not knowing proceed the silence.

The dimness in her eyes divulges sentiments she refrains from sharing. I don’t know that she can articulate the sentiments that are there. Maybe she can’t answer because in her 16-year-old mind, she hasn’t learned the vocabulary to describe her complexities. She counts herself out of the possibilities of knowing and caring. My fury over her arises from seeing the effects of living for now.

So I asked him about his intentions for my sister.

He states that he wants to be there for her.

The skin inside my throat becomes elastic and slides to my stomach. Does he know what she needs? I hear her crying, “Parent me.” She found someone to take her in.

Searching for something spiritual in the natural realm opened the doors of exploration in the bodies of one another. She’s in search of something supernatural. She and her boyfriend become captive to each other. She can’t even get off the phone. Even the sound of his snoring on the other end of soothes her – because he is there.

Why is she with him?

I’m afraid she’s trading her brilliance for dimness. I’m afraid she won’t remember what I’ve told her from a sister’s concerned heart. I’m afraid she’ll forget the care-freedom of swinging along ribbons of wind when her face is on the ground.

I promised myself to wipe her nose when she falls. But I am not God.

I can only hope that He sends rain for the seeds I have sown in the form of words. I can only hope that she sees me moving as we navigate similar difficulties.

When I see her smile, I know it’s not too late. Maybe her boyfriend will see what I see. Maybe he will want more for her life than a surface-satisfying relationship. In the meantime, I’ll find the goodness in each day that we are apart. I’ll cherish our time together while you are searching – until you decide to come home.

Transgender with a Suicidal Intent

Wonderful! I’ve grabbed your attention with the title. Now let’s talk.

I was reading a post on http://www.ashleighnotashley.wordpress.com about a girl who felt trapped in the body of a boy from the time she was young. To our dismay, this young person committed suicide at 16-years-old. She was teenager born as a male who renamed herself Leelah. Now let me say, before I continue, that I am talking to the Christian – in particular. All others are welcome, but this post is my change-starts-with-us post. I am not agreeing or disagreeing with the choices or lifestyles of transgender people in this post. As any life, transgender lives matter, too. What I am doing is talking to Believers about our approach.

  1. Be mindful of your approach to topics surrounding sexuality. We honestly do not know why some people are born feeling like the body they live in is a mistake. I can tell you the enemy of our soul wants us to walk in mistaken identity. This is profound and should not categorized under the accuse of perversion. How cruel to call perverted what you did not create and cannot easily identify. Some actually have different chromosome counts which genetically make them one sex but the body does not match up. What do I say? God is infinitely creative. So creative that I cannot quantify His color choices, his genetic streaming, and the distance between synaptic gaps. Just because you and I read the Bible and pray every day does not mean that we have an answer for everything. Be quiet and listen. You’ll be surprised what you hear.
  2. Watch what you think because your thoughts overflow to that tongue. Keep that mind pure. The only way to keep it pure is to focus on Christ, His mercy and grace for you and all of us.
  3. Watch your words. When you meet a person, you are meeting him or her at that moment of his or her life. You don’t know where he or she is going and you don’t know where he or she has been. Watch what you say. You’ll be judged for each word.
  4. Do not speak on God’s behalf without His permission. You can do more harm than good. He does not need anything – especially someone’s defense. Saying that God does not make mistakes can be taken in every single direction. Many people say this to live their lives however they please. Either way, God is completely other than us, not mixed with any of our materials, utmost PURE and HOLY, and NOT created in our image. His ways are not our ways.
  5. Don’t assume that formal therapy is the answer. The best therapy is found in conversation where the person in need of hearing is heard and received – regardless of whatever wayward thinking he or she has. We all get off track and need to be redirected. Children and teenagers need to be heard by parents before they are sent to a person with credentials to “fix” them.
  6. Pray. This is truly our first resort as God is our only recourse. If you pray from the start with an aligned heart, you will see better outcomes. Check your motives while you pray.
  7. Recognize the spiritual battle over your beloved’s soul. It’s so deep we do not even recognize it. And the person you are talking to may think you are crazy for mentioning it or even seeing it. Never mind that. Having a sexual desire for a person of the same sex is one thing. But feeling trapped in a body that you feel is not your own is another dimension. Every human being is born with spiritual desires that must be cultivated from birth to death. How an individual satisfies those desires determines his or her lifestyle, which in turn affects his or her destiny. Ask God to make you appropriate to where (the transgender) he or she is spiritually so that you do not derail or hinder the will of God from being done in his or her life.
  8. Let go and believe. Because we know that the battle is not ours (Believer, you know what I mean) we must believe that God is who He says He is and that there is hope. REAL HOPE that produces LASTING CHANGE. I continually learn that whatever I hold in my hands can suffocate under my control. But what I release to God is free. I’m included, you’re included. Release.
  9. Don’t push our Truth on the non-believer. The Bible has not authority over a person who is self-governed. Your power is in love, forgiveness, acceptance, and quietness. Remember Jesus before Pilate. Don’t get robbed for making stupid decisions.
  10. Ask if you can offer a person something before shooting off with scriptures, opinions, and suggestions. If he or she says yes, THEN speak. Gauge how much can be handled.
  11. Stay away from using words like “sin” and “judgment” when speaking on his or her experiences. We all fail continually. The heterosexual is no different from the transgender or the homosexual in this regard. Don’t look at the lifestyle as a failed operation but as a search. None of us know how we will measure up that Last Day. You won’t get extra points for keeping a record of wrongs or calling out your neighbor’s shortcomings.

I can give observations or ideas for why so many transgender individuals kill themselves. At the end of the day, I do not live in those bodies, experiencing that torment. I don’t know anything beyond the fact that only an enemy of our soul would want us to kill ourselves after feeling misunderstood, misinterpreted, and mal-designed. Yet, I am called to love.

Let’s turn lives from light to darkness by modeling the Spirit and Truth that continually sets us free.