We cannot crave something we’ve never tasted. So how is it, dear child of God, that you say you’ve never experienced love, yet you continually crave love? Perhaps love isn’t reminding you that you need love, but that you are Love.
Can I get a witness to testify of my truth? That’s a holy, childlike question we are all asking of each other.
Whenever we witness about the mistakes, frailties and shortcomings of ourselves and each other, we are witnessing falsely. And in sharing this false witness, we strengthen our belief in fear.
Whenever we witness about the sacredness of ourselves and all others, the truth that you, me and all others are children of the Most High God, created in God’s perfect likeness and image, we are witnessing truth. And in sharing this truthful witness, we strengthen our belief in love.
In sharing the truthful witness of love about ourselves and one another, we don’t find gratitude in the suffering of others, so we no longer say, “By the grace of God there go I,” we now say, “By the grace of God there goes a part of God, my brother, my sister whom I need to go meet and bear truthful witness to, so that together we remember and are reminded that we are all sacred blessings, miracles, and gifts.”
Take a moment
to gather your thoughts
And to do that
you have to let go
of the thoughts
fear has given you
Thoughts of hate,
are not your thoughts,
Lay down thoughts
that are not yours
and take a moment
in one holy breath,
one holy prayer,
one holy instant,
this holy instant
you can gather
which are your thoughts,
back to you
I promise you,
this holy instant
of trust in Whom
you come from,
will result in
you being gently
ushered back to
the love you are
The Great Love
that created you
exactly like itself
Gather your thoughts
They’ll lead you
back to the One
Who created you
in one holy, miraculous
thought of love,
and tell you
of the sacred blessing,
miracle and gift
Gather your thoughts
There is no self-made man or self-made woman. Remember what has brought you to this moment. Remember your ancestors. Your ancestors lived, struggled, fought, thrived and celebrated for one reason – you. You, my friend, are the result of countless generations of hope, love, faith, and charity. Consider this monumental moment of graduation your season of springtime brought forth to you by those who came before you. However, springtime isn’t what brings forth fortitude. No, it’s the harsh winters that reveal us to ourselves. The moments when it’s cold, resources aren’t easy to find, and when we’re lonely are the moments when we dig deep and realize we’re stronger than we ever knew. Before you arrived at this season of springtime there was the season of winter with all its storms. The winter storms of those who didn’t believe in you. The chilling winds of those who abandoned you; the long winter nights where the only thing that gave you warmth was your blanket of hope, and sometimes that hope felt frail, but you allowed yourself to hold on for one more day. That one more day turned into a series of days, all leading to this moment. So in this moment of your springtime I am not asking you to look at all of the books you’ve read, the theories you learned, the information you memorized, your GPA, or even your diploma. I am asking you to look at and consider something else. Perhaps it’s something you’ve become more acquainted with during your journey to graduation, or perhaps it’s something you’ve grown further away from. Either way, it’s fully accessible to you because it is you. It’s where the voices and fortitude of your ancestors reside. It’s where your calling sings to you. It’s a place where there is no such thing as I, only we. It is a place that reminds you that any attempts to live for yourself is not living at all. It contains all the reasons you were born, and all that will benefit the next seven generations who come after you. This most sacred place is your heart.
The type of diploma you now hold in your hand, or hanging on your wall is of no great significance to the world unless it is accompanied and guided by a heart filled with love and compassion. In this transitory, wonderful, and mysterious life you are now in a position to do what you always wanted to do, what you were sent to do – to change the world for the better. All the dreams you held about changing the world for the better when you were a child were not silly, childish thoughts. When you were a child is the time you heard and understood the ingenuous language of the heart most clearly. Regardless of your profession and the career path you follow, you can change the world for the better. Before you continue with your plans of career paths and professional positions, I am asking you to consider the position of your heart. If you are positioned resolutely within your heart you will find fulfillment. If you are positioned away from your heart you will find voids that only moving back to your heart can fill. Moving back to and living from your heart is the most courageous way to live. If you’re willing to live with and from your heart, of course you will experience hurt, pain, and loss, but those will be moments, not a lifetime. There is nothing more tortuous to the human soul than going down a path that has no heart, because it’s counterintuitive to our spirit. This direction is a lifetime of suffering, always leading to a final moment of regret that no one has to experience, but unfortunately, many do.
At this point in your blessed life I urge you to make one simple decision that will ensure you do not miss the reason you were born. This simple decision is taking a very short walk. It’s a walk that I have witnessed people on their deathbeds wish they could turn back time to when they were in your position, and take the first step on this sacred path that ensures all paths taken after it are meaningful, not meaningless. It is a walk that is only seventeen inches long. It is a walk I suggest you take now, and every day throughout your life to ensure you truly live, and share life with all those fortunate enough to be in your presence. On this very short walk you will find love in the purest sense in your personal and professional life. In this pure love you will find your calling. You will always recognize your true calling by one key trait: That which fills you when you give it away. To know love and your true calling within love, take the short walk from your head back to your heart.
It’s strange for me to use the word readers is strange, because so many who only knew me, or knew of me from reading one or all of my books, eventually became friends or acquaintances. I am grateful for this journey of writing, and it’s truly a journey I never intended to embark upon, that is, until the Creator of my understanding guided me to write three books so far, and thankfully there’s another one in the works. And although the Creator of my understanding is God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, if I were to dare call myself a Christian, it would be specifically a red letter Christian – the pure love, forgiveness and service that Jesus Christ not only spoke about but lived – that is what I adhere to and do my best to follow. I am not some zealot who thinks I have the right way and others are wrong. If I see someone walking in love, then I see God, regardless of what religion, spiritual practice, what name they use to address God, or if the person has no religion, spiritual practice or particular name they use to address God, if I see, hear and feel love then I know I am blessed to witness God moving. So, my dear readers, thank you for finding benefit in what God has given me to share with you. Thank you for supporting what God has given me to share. Thank you for inviting me to your communities and embracing love together, not only in the books God wrote through me, but in our conversations, when we broke bread together, and in the love and welcoming of not only me, but my wife and children.
I truly don’t think you’ll ever understand what an honor it is to hear from you when you’ve shared that something God wrote through me has blessed you and helped you through a difficult time. I truly don’t think you’ll ever know what an honor it is when I am blessed to sit at a table, look you in the eyes as you’re holding one of the books God wrote through me, ask your name and then write a message upon the first page of the book. I don’t think you’ll ever understand it because I truly could never describe it in words. Thank you.
Readers, please know that God is real. Please know that whatever you’re going through or whatever rivers you will go through, that there truly is an All Knowing – Omnipotent – Loving Creator in you and walking with you. And for those of you who have moved from reader to friend in my life, you know that me bearing my heart and being what some would call vulnerable is not something I fear, to the contrary it’s the only way I know how to truly connect with God, myself and you. I am writing this blog post for those who need it, and simply put, because God told me to. It is a thank you to you, my readers and friends, but most importantly this is a testimony to God and God’s all knowing all loving power. Take heed and take courage.
When I began writing my first book, God, Help Me Tie My Shoes! The Sacred Contract of Fatherhood, I was living in Michigan on about a three month layoff from work, working odd jobs under the table, several months behind on rent, no working vehicle, and going to the Salvation Army once a week to get food for my family. At the time I first began writing the book I didn’t know the difference between your and you’re, and there were so many grammatical mistakes in the book, yes, even after it was published and made public, that I beat myself up and almost lost all hope that I truly heard from God to write. I mean, how could I have heard from God to write if I made that many mistakes, right? After some more writing practice, study and research I went back and edited the book to the best of my ability, and there are still and always will be mistakes in the book. I could go back and rewrite the entire book now, especially with a much better understanding of writing, grammar and some friends who are professional editors, but I am not going to. Why? Because it’s a testimony, especially to the youth I am blessed to speak with all over this country. Despite all the mistake, my frailties, the circumstances my family and I were in when I listened to God and began to write it, that book was still nominated for a few national awards, was in the top thirty finalists in a Hay House Publishing writing competition, and was utilized by actor/author Hill Harper’s Manifest Your Destiny Foundation as a guide for youth mentors. The last words of that book were written at around 3:00 am, after having a gun put to my head while I was working full time as a gang interventionist in Dallas, Texas. Despite us, our frailties, challenges and mistakes, if we’re willing, God will pour through us a river of life to bless others with. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
When I began writing my second book, The Four, my family and I were still living in Dallas, Texas and I was still working full time as a gang interventionist on-call 24/7, and even when there weren’t any crisis calls (which was rare), I still worked six days a week with an average of sixty-four hours or more each week dealing with deep layers of trauma, mostly on the streets in uncontrolled environments, maneuvering through violence, bullets and simply offering peace to those who were willing to receive it. Where my family and I lived at the time was in the heart of where I worked, so gunshots, fights, and violence in all its forms was literally in our front yard. During those years, I was literally working and living on the battlefield, yet our home became a safe haven for many, and I have so many stories about our backyard being filled with rival gang members breaking bread together and looking at things from a different perspective that I could write and entire series of books about that alone. The last lines of The Four were written through me after my family and I moved to Montgomery County, Texas where I accepted a job offer as a Street Outreach Crisis Counselor, which I thought would be a break from gang intervention (just typing that made me laugh), I was wrong, it wasn’t a break, but that’s for another time. Those last lines were wrote near a park after handing out food, clothes, and gift cards to homeless youth a little after midnight. One by one, each of those youth opened up to me and told me of all the horror they’ve experienced in their short lives, and how they desperately wanted to know what home is, but resigned themselves to thinking they’ll never know home other than the streets. That night, after story upon story, tear upon tear, scar upon scar revealed by the youth about rape, being trafficked, hunger, and their heroic ability to hold on to something they’ve never experienced – compassion, they vowed to care for each other, and offered a generosity I’ve seldom witnessed. We cried together, prayed together, and although I was exhausted that evening, when I went home and my family was asleep, God wrote the last lines of The Four through me. God, through that book has taken me to many places in the United States and has given me true friendships that have blessed me more than words can say. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
When God began writing my third book through me, Rain of Thoughts, which is a book of short stories and poems, I was working full time as a Street Outreach Crisis counselor, on-call 24/7, dealing with some of the most horrific, trauma-filled situations involving children you’ll ever see. Truly a calling to the ground-zero moments in the lives of youth and young adults. Many days and nights were twelve to twenty hour shifts, little sleep, little food, and run after run that I haven’t fully processed, nor do I know if I ever will. I was ran off the road by sex traffickers, had my life threatened many times, went inside more dope houses, trap houses and hotels filled with kids drenched in trauma than I care to remember. But the focus was always exclusively on God and getting the child and/or children to safety. Also during this time, my mother who almost died from not being medically treated, and sitting on a bed with a broken hip and severe infection for two weeks in Mexico had just been medically evacuated here to us. The entire process took almost two weeks of sleepless nights, endless phone calls, fundraising, and more diplomatic tape to maneuver through than I can possibly explain. After my mother was stable and getting better, my family lost most of our material possessions in an apartment fire. The organization I worked with and still do, came together and got us new beds, blankets, etc., and even provided us grief counseling, because we almost didn’t make it out of that fire. And it was after all this that God wrote the last lines of Rain of Thoughts through me. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
I am chipping away at a new book as God guides and provides the lines to me. I still work as a crisis counselor and administrator at our emergency youth shelter. During the past fourteen months, our oldest daughter, who was not sick, suddenly passed away at the age of twenty-three. The last man who I called dad passed away. A horrific crime was committed against our niece. And in my full time job, day and night, me and my coworkers carry the years and tears of the trauma of children. We break up fights, stop suicides, and get beat up pretty good on a daily and nightly basis, both physically and emotionally. Guess what? My family and I are still praising and thanking God. We’re still looking for and finding the gems, the gifts, the beauty that God always has waiting for eyes that see, even in the most difficult storms. Sure, my family and I cry and will again. We mourn and will again. We feel the numbing, inexplicable pain of a heartbreak so profound that it literally feels like your soul is shaking, and will again. Moments like that happen in this life, and those moments suck, but we don’t have to be sucked into those moments and allow those moments to become the rest of our lives. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
Dear readers, thank you. Not for reading what God wrote through me, but for allowing God to rewrite your tears and fears to smiles and love. I know, my family and I know, that some moments are hard, seemingly impossible to survive, but you will, we will, and not only will we survive, we’ll thrive. There’s victory in Jesus Christ – an inexplicable victory in simply holding His hand, and allowing His hand to guide us in every and any situation. I am not talking about religion but I am talking about relationship. No matter what challenges you’re going through, if you allow God, God will transform the poisons of the painful moments to healing medicines. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
I’ll never know enough to have conclusions. I simply toss my love, prayer, laughter and tears upon the canvas and allow God to paint what He will. And I am most certainly not superman, a hero or martyr, I am just your brother in Christ who wants you to see Him and His love reflected in your eyes and life. Maybe God isn’t guiding you to write, perhaps it’s painting, singing, a degree, diploma, parenting or business venture, whatever it is, the time will never be perfect, just take one small, prayerful, inspired step at a time and see what manifests despite your frailties, obstacles and challenges. God is real and really shows up when we bring all our brokenness to His throne of Love, Grace and Forgiveness.
Dear readers, thank you. I just wanted to share a little bit about me, and a lot about He Who writes through me.
~ Walk in Beauty,
A few hours ago in my full time work as a street outreach crisis counselor I had the opportunity to facilitate a gang intervention with a young person. There were many positive seeds planted in this young person’s life before what occurred this evening, and for that I am grateful. There was also a lot of weeding out negative seeds that were planted in this young person’s life before what happened this evening, and for that I am even more grateful.
Life, for each of us, is about tending to our personal garden. Weeding out that which hinders and chokes the life, dreams, truth and beauty of who and what we truly are. Tilling the soil. Planting wholesome, loving seeds. Allowing the sunshine of laughter and bliss, as well as the cleansing water from tears of both sadness and joy to work in their beautiful unison to grow the love that’s been planted. It’s work. A beautiful work. A labor of love. When we’re children we lovingly tend to our garden and help others do the same. For some, over time, we begin to pull away from tending to our garden because of the voices of lies that come through some people. Lies told through people like, “You’re not good enough.” “You’re not pretty enough.” “You’re not handsome enough.” “You’re not smart enough.” The list of lies pointing out all that we’re not goes on and on, and it’s sad that it does. Remember: fear always lies within lies, and lies always lie within fear. Only the fearful tell themselves and others what they’re not. Only the courageous tell themselves and others what they are. And the truth of who and what you are is beyond words, however the best words I know to remind you of who and what you are, are the same four words that every youth and young adult I’ve had the honor to serve in my twenty-six year career are: sacred, blessing, miracle, gift. Yes, you’re a sacred blessing, miracle, and gift. We all are.
There is no script for interventions, whether the intervention is for sex trafficking, drugs, alcohol, gangs, violence, homelessness, or suicide. An intervention is truly walking the razor’s edge, simply because interventions are life or death situations for the person you are serving, as well as for you, the interventionist. In situations where you have minutes, sometimes seconds, to get a person to put down a loaded gun, drop a knife or box cutter, not jump into traffic, or make an exodus from a lifestyle that is certain to end in early death or incarceration, but is the only lifestyle the person thinks can meet their basic needs, a life they’ve become used to, and sadly, is often something that isn’t any less dangerous or painful as what the person experienced behind the walls within the house they lived in as a child.
There are only two things that are a must for me whenever I facilitate an intervention. The first thing is that I need to make sure I am not the one who is facilitating the intervention. I get out of the way and pray, “God, You know what this person needs, not me, so please, You do this through me. Use me, Lord.” The second thing is that the first words the person hears from me is, “You are a sacred blessing, miracle and gift.” And these are not mere words, it is as close as words can get to describe who and what that person truly is. And in a world where we are bombarded with all the things we are not, when someone hears a sincere reminder of who and what they are, it penetrates deeply, beyond the mental, it’s a connection that is felt and not just cognitive, that interrupts someone’s pattern of crisis and opens the door of dialogue, pacing, leading, and de-escalation. Like being funny or knowing how to fight, an intervention cannot be faked. The words you are a sacred blessing, miracle and gift, have to be from such a deep, heartfelt, Spirit-led place of sincerity that they penetrate the lies and instantly remind the person of their truth and worth of greatness and beauty. For me, if someone cannot see you as a sacred blessing, miracle and gift, they cannot see you. Again today, by the grace and guidance of God, I witnessed this transformation happen with a young person who was on the fence about leaving gang life. I was called in, so I called God in, and it happened.
When that young person heard the words you’re a sacred blessing, miracle and gift. You’re not a gangster, you’re a Godster. You’re a child of God, she shook and tears welled up in her eyes. She instantly remembered when and why she stopped believing that about herself, and because she was being seen as the sacred blessing, miracle and gift she is, she was willing to see, hear and believe that about herself again and reclaimed her truth. She made the internal transformation and wanted the internal change to be matched with an external change, so she gave me all her items that were gang affiliated. One of the items she gave me was a rosary she wore only because its color matched that of the gang she was previously affiliated with. In exchange I gave her a tree of life necklace, so that she now has a symbol to wear that represents healing, positive growth, beauty, and positive transformation. She’s also going to get a new rosary, not to wear, but to use to pray and remind her of what she is whenever she’s bombarded the lies of what she’s not.
Symbols bypass the conscious mind and go straight to the subconscious mind, creating a strong current of direction within a person’s life. Are the symbols you’ve allowed in your life, be they words, items or thoughts, reflecting the truth that you’re a sacred blessing, miracle and gift? If not, then it may be time to weed your garden of any lies and anything that represents lies, and take that seventeen inch walk from your head back to your heart.
There was a young man who had made many mistakes but he wanted his life to be better. He wanted something different, positive and good. He wanted to smile again. The young man approached an older man who he knew had made many of the same mistakes as him. The young man asked the older man, “I know you’ve made many of the same mistakes I have and now your life is good. You’re living positive and helping others. You smile a lot. I want that. I want my life to be good. I want to live positive and help others. I want to smile again. How do I do that?”
The older man smiled, “The first step is always purification. First, go to God and pour your heart out to Him. Ask God to purify you, cleanse you, and put all the broken pieces together to make you whole again. Ask God to take you back to your heart to remember and reclaim your vision, dreams, and purpose.”
Looking discouraged the younger man said, “Well, I guess my life isn’t going to change anytime soon because it’s been many years since I’ve spoken with God. I’ve made too many mistakes to approach God right now.”
The older man smiled brightly and asked the young man, “Do you go to the soap when your hands are clean or when your hands are dirty?”
“When my hands are dirty,” the young man replied. As soon as the young man spoke those words he smiled again and went on his way to have a long overdue conversation with his Maker.