Real Relationship Goals

I am still fascinated by a young woman I saw while riding the bus last year. She did not notice me sneaking peaks at her. She was on the bus when I boarded. The bus was not too full this afternoon. She sat in one of the front, aisle facing seats. I sat diagonal from her with a clear view. I always notice other Black females in any setting. It lets me know I’m not alone. I noticed her right away.

Her skin was brown coffee like mine. Her hair was thick and blown out from its probable coily texture. She was definitely younger than me. She was reading something intently. Ever so often, she would close her eyes and silently mouth something. After a few seconds, she opened her eyes and returned to what she was reading. At first, I though she was Muslim until I saw and sensed something beautifully familiar. She closed her eyes and smiled as she lifted her hands. She mouthed something still inaudible. But I recognized it. This girl was in very deep and personal worship.

I was in awe. The way she dismissed the looks of others was bold and admirable. I wanted to defend her when I saw two young people sitting across from her. They looked at her with annoyed eyes. I glared at them with disgust but quickly realized this young lady did not need my help. She was focused on what she was doing. She was focused on her King.

The bus stopped at a transfer point where she got off. I watched her until she walked out of sight. I could not get her off my mind for the rest of the evening. Today, she still crosses my mind. She was not putting on a show or forcing anything on anyone. Her actions were genuine. Her love was sincere. I wanted to know more about her. I wanted to know what she had been through to enable her to be so carefree with her worship. Maybe, she had been through nothing at all. Maybe she just knew the one with whom she was so deeply in love.

This is #relationshipgoals!

Losing a House to Taxes

This is an example of why I do my podcast. Sharing the truth about our pain is difficult but cathartic and can lead to healing.

I lost my mother’s house last year.
Yes, along with my car, I lost my mother’s house. I became one of those people who couldn’t pay the taxes on a family home and lost it. I was devastated. I was angry. I had come close to losing it in the past but after a lot of prayer and a personal bank loan, I was able to save it. This time, I was out of options. I truly believed God would do something and he didn’t. I had to tell my stepfather (who I love and who had his leg amputated only two years ago) that he would have to move soon.

I tried to hold out hope. Even after the deadline had passed, I thought maybe God would get me the money so my stepfather could stay in the house. Instead, God said it was more important for me to stay focused. The house was never actually mine in the legal sense. It wasn’t even my stepfather’s. It had not felt like home for me in 25 years since losing my Mama. I was desprately trying to hold on to something out of obligation created by others. So, I let it go. I cried, but I let it go. I just hoped that God would not put me in the position again with the other house I was paying taxes on.

Well, he did.

Today, I called to check on the redemption value to pay for another house where someone is renting from my family for basically pennies. I have been saving for months to try to pay it off. My heart sank as the lady told me an amount more than double what I saved. Once again, I’m trying to figure out how this will be paid or if it will be paid. I’m still struggling to pay my rent. The worst part is knowing I am doing the best I can and being obedient to the crazy crap, God has told me to do and not do. But I keep ending up in the same mess. What the freak am I doing wrong??!!!


A few hours before writing this, I did an episode, for my podcast, about staying in rhythm with God. Well, this song is old. I am tired of trying not to be scared. I’m tired of hoping that I heard God right. I’m tired of wondering if he’ll come through this time. I’m tired of working on vision while everything else is crashing around me. I’m over it. I’m losing everything and looking like a fool.

But, I Still Have Hope

For the last year I have been speaking Romans 15:13 almost every day. It has been a constant prayer.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 15:13 KJV

I almost wish I had not been praying this prayer over myself. The conflicting feelings of peace and frustration are extremely difficult during moments like these. I want to be scared but I keep hearing it’s going to be ok. I want to be angry but God’s love keeps whispering in my ear. I trust Him but I hate when my trust in him negatively affects the lives of others.

Then, I am reminded that God has a plan for everyone’s life. If the issues from my obedience are a part of a plan for someone else, who am I to tell God how to do his job? The effects still hurt. I still have nightmares about losing my mother’s house. I wake up in tears and horror. I don’t want to go through this anymore.

I’m trying to continue to trust. I’m trying to continue to believe. Right now, less than four hours after the call from the beginning of this post, I just want to wallow. Then I feel bad for wallowing. I feel like I’m losing some battle over my day and productivity.

The cycle seems endless.
But, God, PLEASE end this!

Combat Stress: The “Beat”down

My pastor, Bishop Kenneth Ulmer, often quotes a line he heard from one of his mentors.

Your life should revolve around the rhythm of your relationship with God.

I identified with the statement on a few levels from the moment I heard it. I believe music is sown into the foundation of the Earth. Birds, whales and crickets sing to communicate. Ocean waves move with the flow of the wind. Listen closely to the beat of your footsteps, of your heart. If something disrupts the melody, the flow or the beat, then the song becomes noise, causing your head to ache or your skin to crawl.

I have found a rhythm in my life. It is a rhythm that works for me. Sometimes it’s hard to stay on beat. I find myself going a little too fast or a little too slow. In those times, I must stop and listen. Listen for the beat. Listen for the rhythm. Then, I am able to join in with the conductor.

I recently did a YouVersion Bible devotional on how to deal with stress called Finding Your New Rhythm. As soon as I read the title, I knew I had to put it on my to do list. For 5 days, I read scriptures and listened to soothing music behind a soft voice giving gentle reminders to my spirit.

The first day, I was reminded of God’s love and to rest in that love. The next day, I saw a little girl. The little girl God longs for me to be. The one who moves, as the devotion said, “unhesitatingly, knowing where she was going but never knowing the way.” God loves that little girl and would never let anything happen to her.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you…
-Jeremiah 29:11

I was reminded, midway through the devotion, that God sings over me. Sometimes, he just wants a few moments so I can hear his song. The fourth day reminded me to keep my heart filled with Him. I thought about my heart beat and how it should be synchronous with my Father’s. I can tell when my rhythm is off. My response to circumstances is what let’s me know I have missed a beat. I have allowed something into my heart, that has thrown off my rhythm. I have to get it back. Once I get it back, the final day of the devotion reminded me to trust the rhythm. Trust His pace.

Stress comes in many forms but conquering it, always begins in the mind. The five days spent on the Combat Stress devotion, provides a beautiful mental strategy for a common fight. The devotion is by and is available on the Bible app by YouVersion.

Share The Dream

Dear Wonderful God,
…It’s hard to have a dream and to feel like there’s no one I can talk to about it. But I know that others won’t understand…” October 22, 2002

This past Sunday, a friend and fellow aspiring actress came over to work on a project. As usual, we ended up talking for hours about everything except the project. A major topic of conversation was our desire to be great. We spoke candidly about our career goals and aspirations. Today, I realized that was the first time in my life where I was able to share how big my dreams really are. I was able to do this because I was speaking with someone who shared the grand nature of my own dreams, yet saw it as possible. Her exact words were, “And why not?”

“…With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 KJV

I see my friend’s question as a great interpretation of this verse.
Jesus responded to reality, with truth.

Dreams are often stunted by doubt and comparison. These two enemies tend to cause people to keep their dreams under lock and key. This can prove to be wise when surrounded by others who don’t dream as big. Unfortunately, it can lead to loneliness; which is what was beginning to happen to me. Then, I met my friend.

As we spoke, at times, it felt like I was listening to myself. She spoke of her dreams with such conviction. They were big. They seemed impossible. But she was fully convinced of their possibility. Like me, she did not simply believe her dreams would come true. She knew it. Her bold confidence empowered and uplifted me.

Today, we’re still chasing our dreams together. Our friendship is based on our chase. My hope is our continued friendship to grow with our success.
May you find someone safe with whom to share your dream.

3 Things My Stepfather Taught Me About Men

I was never close with my biological father. He and my mother divorced by the time I was 6 years old. A year later, a new man was in the picture. I was not happy about this and I made it pretty clear to Mama and her “new friend.” He received a lot of cold shoulder and 7-year-old side eye. Over time though, Mama’s new friend became my friend; one of my best friends actually. He eventually won me over with his authenticity and sensitivity which was something I did not see much in my family. He listened to my problems intently and answered all my questions honestly.

My mother never married Willie but he became the father in my life. I have fond memories of walks in the neighborhood and summer days at work with him. The conversations we had during those times helped create a bond between us that was stronger than genetics. It is that bond that I celebrate every Father’s Day.

My heart aches that I cannot be with my step-Father this Father’s Day, particularly during this health crisis. Since I cannot be there, it forces me to seek other ways to celebrate him. I will call him, of course. I will also call my biological father. Though that relationship is minimal, I can honor my step-Father by showing the grace he showed to others with the respect and kindness of a phone call. I will also reflect on the lessons my step-Father taught me.

I learned a lot on our walks and during our conversations. He taught me about working hard and staying true to myself. He was the lone voice that told me I could be whatever I wanted to be; not what others were telling me I should be. He also taught me about men. We had discussions about boys when I was a teenager and the kind of man he wanted me to have. However, I learned the most about men by the life experiences he shared and watching his relationship with my mother.

So, on this Father’s Day, I will celebrate my wonderful step-Daddy by sharing three great lessons I learned from his life that allow me to understand men a bit better and helps me to see them through the Christ’s blood stained lens of God.

1. Men Love Hard

I was always fascinated by my stepfather’s heart. It boggled my mind how he had any heart left after giving so much of it away. His arm bore a piece of his heart in a tattoo with the initials of his first love. There were pieces of his heart in graves. Then there was the piece my Mother had. Not much could compare to what he endured with my mother. Their relationship was very tumultuous.. Both contributed to their problems but he took the grunt of things. Somehow, he kept coming back. He was there for rough times. If he was away, phone calls were guaranteed.Whatever she needed, regardless of the state of their relationship, he did his best to meet it. And when we lost my mother, he was lost. I know that men’s heart can be broken because I’ve seen it. I’ve seen what happens to them when someone cracks their soul. I saw it when she was alive and after she died. I’ve looked in the face of a heart being mended. That vision has taught me that, just like women, the hearts of men should be handled with care.

2. Men Battle Depression

My stepfather was an alcoholic. There were years when he would recover and then something would happen. I remember seeing him when he would take his first sip. Even when he was sober, I could tell he was battling to keep his desire to live. There were times when he walked around with this overwhelming cloud of utter despair. His sisters would talk to him. Friends would reach out. I begged him to just pick himself up. As I got older, I realized that he needed more than a pick me up. He was in a hole of which he had to be dug out. Alcohol was never the problem. It was a symptom of the depression he was living in. Today, my step-Father still battles…but he is battling. He’s still fighting. His fight has taught me that men experience deep sadness and darkness. Sometimes they need help to see the sun.

3. Men Take Pride in Providing…the good ones do

I loved when I could go to work with my step-Father. He worked hard and he liked his work. The slight smile on his face when he received his pay was sweet. That same smile would come across his face when he took me to the Waffle House or gave money to my mother to pay a bill. It was a very slight upturn at the corner of his mouth but his eyes were always shining at those moments. My step-Father enjoyed seeing me happy. Providing was a means by which he showed his deep love. People say a lot of things they don’t mean. My stepfather taught me that men don’t put their money where their mouth is. They put their money where their heart is. 

Happy Father’s Day!

The Line Between a Black and White Student

One of my favorite scenes from the show, Scandal, is when the audience first learns who Olivia’s father is. He scolds her for her behavior that has gotten her into a scandal of her own. Then he reminds her of one of the lessons he drilled into her as a child. “How many times have I told you…you have to be what?” After her father yells for her to answer, Olivia finally responds. “Twice as good”

Most young, Black, children have heard their parents say this line. “You have to be twice as good, to get half of what they have.” I heard it from my mother and grandfather. I never doubted the validity of the statement, but the reality of its truth is only now resonating.

As someone who works with children, I see the full spectrum of academic achievement. Lately, while working with clients with less than perfect grades or difficulties focusing, I realized that their plight is very different from my cousin who shared the same issues. It is important to note, at the time of this writing, none of my clients are of color. I look at what I saw growing up with other kids and see the challenges that lie ahead for Black children with average grades.

This month many children return to school and to different expectations.

However, while working with clients with the same grades, I see the advantages they have. They will not have to face the added responsibility of breaking a stereotype. They will not have to worry about getting past an interviewer’s preconceived notions about their race. They will not have to think about how ethnic their name sounds or reads on an application. If my client and my cousin seek the same opening, with the same average grades, chances are my client gets in, while my cousin slips through the cracks.

Click here for a great video explaining how this works.

Success does not come easy for most people, no matter the race. The unfortunate reality is that the playing field is not level. It starts from day one, on the field of education. On this playing field, average is not the best for anyone and it is the absolute worst for Black children. I get it now. To level the playing field as a Black student, we must be excellent in all that we do. While excellence can be a goal for other races, it must be a standard for Black people. It is our excellence that will break stereotypes, get us past preconceived notions and make people see beyond our name.

I absolutely encourage pursuing excellence. It just ticks me off that it takes excellence for a black person to get what the average white person has.

Rent Trouble and Rest

Yesterday, I woke up in a worship mood. Today, Sunday, was not the case. Today, I woke up asking God why I’m struggling so much when I’m doing what he told me to do.
I have not paid the rent for February. Now, March rent is due and I’m still $250 short of what I need for February. As of right now, I need about $1500 in 4 days. And all God keeps saying is,

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” Isaiah 30:15 NIV

In the last several months, I have lost my car and my mother’s house. It has been extremely difficult, but in a strange way, it has also been amazing. My relationship with God has grown in a huge way. I’m learning about him being my loving father and my living water. He has really wanted me to believe him as my stability. Every day, I’ve tried to remind myself who he is to me and for me. But, in times like this, it is hard not to think I’m crazy.

I want a freaking job. But, God keeps telling me to work what he’s put in front of me. That’s fine. The problem is what he’s put in front of me is not paying the bills. His response is, “I know it’s not. I am.”

Today, I had to catch the bus to church. I had to be there early to serve our high school ministry. On the first bus, I requested the stop and the bus just kept going. I walked up to the driver and he did not apologize. He just motioned where he would stop for me to get off. Now, I’m a little perturbed.

As I walk to the stop where I have to catch the second bus, I see a homeless man picking up scooters. I hoped I could just walk by but he spotted me coming down the sidewalk and stretched his arms wide. It actually made me smile. I got closer and looked into his eyes. He reminded me of my stepfather. I engaged in a sweet conversation with him about God and his love. I usually don’t give money in these situations but my heart was moved. Then, he sang a worship song by Matt Redman to me. As I’m listening, I look to my left and see the bus I’m trying to catch. “Oh, that’s my bus,” I said to the man. I tried to catch it but it was too late. The homeless man even ran in the middle of the street to try to stop the bus. This only irritated the driver and she left anyway. I thanked the man for trying. As I walked away, the man said, “You didn’t waste time.”

I caught another bus, to another transfer, to another bus. While sitting in my seat, I couldn’t help but think how this situation was exactly what I was talking to God about when I woke up this morning. Here I am. I was talking with a homeless man about God, listening to his worship and end up missing my bus. I tried to remind myself that I could be homeless. But when I think of my current rent situation, dern it! I’m pretty close.

I do trust that God will come through. He always does. My prayer is that I don’t have to answer for him. I have no idea what to say to the landlord if he calls. How do I keep calm if I come back from work one day this week and there’s a 3 day eviction notice on my door. I’ve had to deal with this on a few occasions. I’m trying to do it God’s way but this is freaking hard.

How do I rest in this mess??!!

Feeling like you lost it all…

How many times have I dropped to the floor in exhaustion? Will I have to fight battles for the rest of my life? When will my season of blessings come?

I have asked God many questions during times of trials. There have been moments where I begged God to just let me give up. But, he didn’t. He always sent something or someone to remind me that he is not through with me. He reminds me that he will do what he said he would do.

“…For he is faithful that promised.” Hebrews 10:23 KJV

Twice in my life, I have lost nearly everything. I have hated God. I have totally distrusted God. I have wanted so desperately to walk away from God. Yet, like a blinded lover, I could never just walk away. Something in me just could not let go. When I lost everything, I still had this love that compelled me to believe in Him…just one more time.

The greatest lesson in losing everything is knowing that you didn’t. If you are still breathing, you still have your life. It may not be the life you wanted or the life you saw for yourself, but it is life. Everyday of life is another chance, another opportunity to find what you have lost or to start again. And if you think you can’t…
“Find a way.”

Exposed on the Expo Line

Boy, am I learning, or more accurately, being reminded an important spiritual lesson. First of all, I must fight laziness. I woke up Sunday morning and wasted 10 minutes pondering whether or not I would catch the bus I planned in order to get to service. I knew it was important for my spirit just to be in the church if only for praise and worship. But I rationalized, over and over, why I didn’t need to go. Those 10 minutes cost me and I ended up not being able to catch the original bus anyway.

Then, I continued to procrastinate catching two other available buses with the excuse that I wouldn’t get there in time so why bother. While sitting there, I chose to watch a short about high rents and eviction. Very unwise!!! I’m in the middle of learning how to trust God fully and how real faith works. This is being exercised now in my own rent situation. Watching only 11 minutes was enough to tickle the doubt I battle every day. I fed my fear instead of my faith. 
Thankfully, I have been really nourishing my spirit with God’s word. So though I definitely started an unnecessary fight with my flesh, my spirit is winning. 

Every decision you make is important. They affect your spirit and emotional well being in ways you may not be aware of. Even the little decisions can have great impact on outcomes. They cause a chain reaction that lead to life changing results.

I will be begging for God’s mercy and forgiveness for wasting those 10 minutes.

Passing Me By

I hate catching the bus to church. I admit, getting up early on Sunday, to get on a bus more than three hours before I have to be there…well, it sucks. Adding to the dreadful experience is the second bus I transfer to, in order to get to my church. There’s always some type of incident.

Yesterday, there was a film production downtown causing all the buses to detour. I thought my stop would avoid the confusion but I was very mistaken. I panicked when the driver yelled, “Last stop,” and I had no idea where we were. I got off the bus and began walking down some street but was stopped by security. “This street is closed. They’re filming.”

I turned around and began to panic. I had to calm myself down as the tears formed in my eyes. I was scheduled to teach at our youth church for the first time. I could not be late today. I kept walking a few blocks and saw a bus stop with my route number. Now, I felt stupid for getting crazy. I realized the real reason I got upset. What really bothered me was the fact that filming was delaying my arrival.

Acting is what I want to do. A set location is where I want to be. It is such a fight not to be discouraged when I see billboards for new shows or when I pass studios. All I think about are the acting jobs that exist that I do not have.

I stood at the bus stop for a few minutes. Suddenly, I looked down the street and saw the bus I was waiting on, turn the opposite direction. WHAT!!!!?? Here I am waiting, where the sign says. I’m standing where I’m supposed to be! And the freaking bus is passing me by!

Talk about a metaphor.

The bus stopped about a block away. The man waiting with me, took off running. I hesitated.

I realize, while writing this, I tend to do that often. For some reason, sometimes, my first reaction when faced with the slightest detour, is to give up. In that moment, I was willing to accept being late to my first teaching opportunity. There are times I am willing to accept defeat because it is easier. Running towards my opportunity seemed pointless, or more accurately, too hard.

I watched the man running for a few seconds. The bus had not moved. I felt stupid waiting at the stop when my bus was clearly in reach. All I had to do was run one block. If only I would do a little work that I did not expect, I could get to my destination. If I could just get over my pride in appearance and just be OK with looking a little silly, I would be able to complete my assignment.

I took off running. I got to the intersection and stopped. The pedestrian light was blinking. I watched the man get on the bus. Now, I had to decide if I was willing to take a risk. If I stood at the corner and waited for the next light, I would surely miss the bus. Again, for a brief moment, I thought about giving up. There were cars at the light. The drivers would be pissed if I walked in the crosswalk and their light turned green. But, I felt it. They were not going to hit me. My Father was not going to let them hit me. I ran through the crosswalk.

I made it to the bus.

“Thank you for waiting,” I said.
“No problem,” the driver replied with a smile.

She waited for me. The bus had been waiting the whole time.
I did not miss my bus. I have not missed my destiny.