Give The Flowers.

Good afternoon beautiful people!

First off, you know what they say about the best-laid plans, right? Right?! Well that was me, last week. Had ideas for not one–but TWO posts. Set up an IG poll to decide which one to do first and everything. Then life got busy, and not only did I lose the chance to write on my normal schedule, I don’t even remember what prompted one of the titles that I had listed. Y’all forgive me–I need to start writing stuff down #notaprofessional

Image result for not a professional meme Anywho. I remember what prompted the other title, so here we go!

Recently, my eighth graders have been engaging in a process known as Passage Portfolio Presentations. Our school follows a curriculum known as EL, or Expeditionary Learning, and one common thread that runs among these schools is creating a space for students to share what they’ve learned in a way that is public and meaningful. At our school, that means that before eighth graders can move to the ninth grade, they must present both sixth and eighth grade work and talk about their work then, their work now, and how they both connect to how they’ll work in high school. This is a very big deal. Their Transitions teachers start preparing with them around February, completing reflections weekly for each subject and selecting work to represent those two subjects. The level of commitment and engagement varies, because some take the process seriously and others do not, but what (should) emerge(s) is a portfolio of work and reflective thinking that these kids basically defend–to family, administration, faculty–and to ensure an unbiased audience—complete strangers.

I’ve sat in 8 of these presentations so far, and though I thought I’d be an emotional wreck, I was actually far too amazed by them and nervous FOR them to cry. These kids are leaving me in 11 school days (hopefully–some of them are playing fast and loose with this promotion thing), and to compare what I see in front of me–these professionally dressed, articulate, composed and self aware eighth graders–with the rowdy, unpredictable, schoolwork-averse sixth graders that they were (and honestly still behave like sometimes) blows all the vestiges of my mind.

But this blog post isn’t about reflections, or passages, or panelists, per se…though it did come to mind sitting in one.

One of the last PPPs that I sat in was for my crew member A. This is her below, with identifying features concealed, since one can’t be too sure about you internet folks, sometimes:

IMG_3854 A little about A: She is a consistently excellent student. She is driven, focused, does her work, (mostly) stays far away from the drama and silliness that can be middle school aged girls, is goal oriented, and has a beautiful smile. She is in my Crew, and sometimes I think that I haven’t done the best by her that I could…and I regret that.

You may wonder why I feel that way. I am a darn good Crew leader–consistent, generous, available. It is something that I am pretty proud of, because Lord knows it ain’t easy. So why would I think that I have psuedo-failed A? It is because a lot of my Crew members require a…heavier touch…than A does. Being consistently excellent, I don’t need to confer with her teachers about her work nearly as often to make sure that it is being done, and being done correctly. Being consistently excellent, I don’t have to use up all my good daytime minutes (joke) to call her mother and beg, plead, wail, gnash my teeth, bargain, bribe or lowkey threaten her to connect with me and gather her child up. Being consistently excellent, I don’t have to hear her name ad infinitum over my walkie talkie or see it in my inbox because she has gotten into yet another altercation of her own creation with another kid. Being consistently excellent, A does her work–her lowest grade right now is a 3.2 on a 4.0 scale. That’s her LOWEST. She rolls with a great group of similarly focused girls. She has her sights set on the competitive high school that she got into. I never stopped to think about whether she truly feels like she has a school mom like some of the others do until recently. My sappy reflectiveness as this process ends has me overthinking a bit and wondering if she ever felt let down when I popped my head into one of her classes–but not to see her, but to G-check another Crew member who I’d just received a behavior write-up for minutes beforehand. I wonder if she ever felt discarded when I did grade check ins on Fridays and didn’t even bother to look hers up, knowing instinctively that they’d be solid? I certainly hope not. 

That was never my intent, but I know full well the slight resentment that comes from doing well for so long that people assume that you always will, and don’t stop to pluck and give you the flowers that you DESERVE for doing the damn thing (yeah, I said it. Fight me.) Who don’t even stop running and tugging the recalcitrant long enough to believe you when you say that being excellent is an exhausting job sometimes, and frankly you are sick of it…but you won’t stop because it is what is expected. Who understand you when you say that you still need your flowers, even if it’s the fourth bouquet this week, because it will always be easier to sit on your porch than it will be to go out at sunrise and harvest what you’ve planted. We sow and water and sweat and harvest ultimately because we wanna eat, but the process is often arduous. Like I told her after her presentation during the questions-comments-compliments portion: “excellent people need to be told that they are excellent”.

Sean Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about giving people their flowers while they are here to appreciate them–flowers being, of course, the love/appreciation/gratitude/respect that people need to keep going. God’s Word, in 2 Samuel 2, in Ephesians 1, in 1 Corinthians 1 and more, consistently speaks of being grateful for people. At my old school, we used a socio-emotional curriculum known as Responsive Classroom, and one of my favorite of their tenets says that children flourish in a space where there is belonging, significance, and fun. (Some versions also add relevance, which I love as well). It is simple really–a kid who comes to school and feels like they are a part of the tapestry, who feels like they and what they bring to the table are vital to the success of the whole, and who has space to let their hair down and goof off will do well. But isn’t that the case for all of us? At work, at church, in our social circle, in school, wherever; we need to belong, we need to feel significant, and we need to enjoy it even on the hard days.

A deserves her flowers. She always has, and she always will. But sometimes, we (and by we, I mean me as well) get so caught up with all of the other things that need our attention that we forget to appreciate the goodness of the people in front of us.

A, I am going to spend the next 11 school days (or more, if you return after the promotion ceremony) giving you your flowers. I hope that you know just how much you bring me joy. I hope that my confidence in your success oozes from my every interaction with you. I hope that you know how 3 years of knowing you has prompted me to not only call out the excellence that I see in other behind the scenes superstars, but also to demand that recognition for myself. You see, I am excellent and deserve my flowers as well.

Thank you, beautiful. With all the gratitude in the world,

StephTheScribe.

 

Image result for flower bouquet black girl

Love Language # 6

So I am staring down the barrel of the end of a relationship. Side note: be careful when you date a writer, because pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) is one heck of a catharsis. I am honestly at peace with the whole idea, and honestly I am thankful that I kept this one pretty close to pocket…it minimizes the fall out. But I’d been struggling with how to explain when the few people that DID know about *him* ask what happened. He wasn’t disrespectful. He had a romantic bone somewhere in his body. He loved the Lord, which is always my line in the sand. He is a great dad. He works hard and knows how he wants to grow his passion project to eventually be his main source of income. On paper, he was everything that I’ve prayed for and everything that I think I deserved, so what on earth was the problem?

The problem is that I never saw him. And I spent a large amount of time rationalizing and asking and begging and questioning friends (I tend to bounce things off of people because I am highly sensitive and I know this–thank God for sisters who tell you to chill!) I never felt like he was being dishonest or unfaithful, but as someone who LOVES quality time, I struggled to foster a connection with someone who was never around. Even when I came to that conclusion, something still nagged inside of me, though….and then I came across this post on Instagram from @messinabottle:

lovelang  who would have thought that a social media post would be the thing that would click?

The 5 Love Languages is a theory by Dr. Gary Chapman that has been around since at least 1995, but maybe longer in some form or fashion. Dr. Chapman asserts that everyone in the world responds best to one of five “love languages”, and by learning which your partner appreciates most and which one you respond to, a couple can practically and effectively love each other at length. These five languages are:

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION: This language, according to the website “uses words to affirm other people”. In other words, I know that you love me when you tell me–in person, through a mushy text message, on a post it note in my lunchbox. Cards are as good as gold. Tell me so I know it’s real.

ACTS OF SERVICE: This can be summed up by these sage words from Migos:walkittalkit In other words, talk is cheap. I need to SEE that you love me. Make me lunch, offer to take me out, drive me to catch my flight. Serve me somehow.

PHYSICAL TOUCH: I know that I am loved when I can physically feel you next to me. This could be hugs, kisses or…sectionalceiling.PNG…heh.

RECEIVING GIFTS: Buy me stuff. Gets no simpler than that.

and finally…

QUALITY TIME: The important thing here is not just hours logged, but the fact that the time is meaningful, undistracted and undivided.

koality isn’t he cute? I can’t bear it. I’m here all week folks!!

One thing that Dr. Chapman also notes is that there can be different “dialects” of love languages, meaning that within the love language of Acts of Service, for example, there are fifty thousand ways for a partner to express his or her love. My primary love language will always be words of affirmation, however I have come to realize that quality time and physical touch are biggies as well.

Guess what, though? I think I have discovered a 6th love language–or maybe the one that makes all of the others possible. It all came from a conversation that I had today as I was driving to Philadelphia with one of my close friends. Her brother and a friend were asleep in the backseat and we were on I-95 for what felt like 200 miles…felt like the perfect time to talk. I mentioned to her that I wasn’t seeing *him* anymore, and how I wasn’t even all that upset about him specifically–and suddenly this popped out:

“I just really want someone to study me.”

I was taken aback by that thought, but it really does sum up what has bothered me about both platonic and romantic relationships in the past. Let me explain:

Scenario One: My grandmother is family famous for buying things at random throughout the year and designating them as Christmas gifts when the season hits. I am sure that this saves her the stress of a holiday rush, but it means that we sometimes (usually) get gifts that are random. In my case, this has meant the ENTIRE bath set of grapefruit scented Clinique (including talc) or 3 floral cardigans, size 3x.

Scenario Two: My grandfather got me a keyboard for Christmas. I have never played the keyboard. I have never mentioned wanting a keyboard. The keyboard is still in the box that it came in, and one friend has mentioned wanting to take it off of my hands but I haven’t regifted it yet for fear that my grandfather will ask me to play it randomly on a Tuesday.

Scenario Three: I told *him* at least eleventyseven times over the past 9 months that I wanted to spend more time with him. On each occasion, he agreed that this was a thing that needed to happen. It didn’t happen.

In each of these scenarios, there has been me, someone else, and a complete overshoot of how best to love me–and it boils down to being able to study the one you love like your favorite textbook and figure out how best to make them tick. That’s love language 6. The art of the study.

In my phone, I have lists with initials attached to them. These lists have favorite colors, scents, places, hobbies, musicians, etc. One list, titled S.M. has the color red, Boston Baked Beans, The Roots, anything sociology, superheroes and princesses, fo’ the kids. Another, marked MD, also has red–but it has Nas, blue, anything with elephants, sneakers, Skittles, earrings, etc. List TC has gospel music, vegan food and list AB has anime, a favorite brand of wine, nursing and dog paraphernalia. JUs list has Nigerian food,  macarons, recipe books, a favorite flower, and I just added a place in her town that she likes to get food from. There was a list that I’d started called DJC–that had the color blue, watches, music, certain cities, etc. None of the things on these lists were acquired through asking pointed questions. I have found that if you really listen when people talk, you will eventually get everything that you need to know–because everyone’s favorite topic of conversation is themselves 🙂 What I have also found is that people are used to not really being listened to–so when you take them to that local spot to eat or buy them an oil in a scent they love, they are shocked:

How did you know I liked this?”

You told me so.”

I think that what I am looking for–what I am missing– is people who compile lists about me–who love me enough to hear me and translate my love language. I am on a continual search for people that have SO lists and who go out of their way to show honor the way that I really try to be intentional about doing. That love language of studying people–their mannerisms, the songs they hum over and over, what makes their eyes light up–that is the one that makes the hugs and gift giving and rides to the store possible. It creates the “OMG I needed this!”s and the “How did you even guess?”s. It engineers the surprised reactions and the tears.

So yeah, I think that when I am in conversation with my Christian friends—my girlfriends–my searching for something real and we’ll know it when we find it friends–and the topic of love languages comes up, my answer from now on will be study. I feel that I am loved when the research spans pages and the results are tangible. I don’t think that this is too much to ask for, and I know that I love a God that goes above and beyond.

Yours in the waiting,

Steph ❤

 

The Words They Need

If you have ever studied anything having to do with education, be it the policy, philosophy, or pedagogy of it all, you may be familiar with the term “the ten thousand word gap”. If not, let me enlighten you: the 10,000 word gap is the amount of words that children from wealthier, more established families understand when compared to children from less stable, more impoverished households. Some of this is experience based—why would a child from a poor home in Baltimore or Detroit or Chicago have the schema to know the meaning of “jacuzzi” or where Aspen, Colorado is on a map? More of it is because the offspring of parents who work 12 and 15 hour days, balance work and school and are struggling to keep the lights on aren’t usually having the kinds of rich conversations involving rhetoric and reason that you can have when your soul ain’t exhausted.

I hate to break it to you, but the 10,000 word gap doesn’t even scratch the surface anymore. From The Atlantic:

”for more than three years, they sampled the actual number of words spoken to young children from forty- two families at three different socioeconomic levels: (1) welfare homes, (2) working-class homes, and (3) professionals’ homes. Then they tallied them up. The differences were astounding. Children in professionals’ homes were exposed to an average of more than fifteen hundred more spoken words per hour than children in welfare homes. Over one year, that amounted to a difference of nearly 8 million words, which, by age four, amounted to a total gap of 32 million words. They also found a substantial gap in tone and in the complexity of words being used.”

THIRTY TWO MILLION WORDS. How does this not break your heart? I decided to write a letter to the young girls I work with with my take on the word gap.


Dear Queen,

This has been a really rough week for us  Heck, it’s been a rough month—the year was supposed to fly by after Spring break, but instead it has trudged, weighed down by your antsy silliness and my frustration, your lack of integrity and my frustration, my frustration and your…frustration. Here we are though, with 6 more weeks until I set you free. Some of you swear you aren’t returning, which I, a veteran of your parent’s hasty promises yet unkept, will believe only when I don’t see you in August.

You’ve been driving me crazy lately because, after all, it is May, and I feel like I am having to use the precious amount  of words per minute  that I get with you haranguing instead of encouraging and nagging instead of supporting. I don’t like that. PLEASE understand that I hate that just as much as you do.  I want to close your word gap singlehandedly with all that you are missing, and that’s such a lofty goal that I walk away exhausted. 

You, my dear, have a word gap. Here is what you hear regularly. 

No – This is the word that takes away your permissions, shuts down your imagination, stunts your growth and blocks your escape route. Often, it is a response to a decision that you’ve made. No, you can’t eat in the lunchroom because you won’t sit down. No, you can’t have your cell phone in class because despite all the good that could be done with it, all you’d do is make Musicsal.ly videos all the livelong day. No, you can’t play outside because I need you to come home in one piece. No, you can’t go with your friends because I don’t get paid until next week. On and on and on.

Stop – Stop switching. Stop being fast. Stop looking at these boys (never mind the fact that these boys are looking at you and should hold equal responsibility). Stop being so loud. Stop getting smart. Stop cursing. Stop running. Stop being too much and too little and too late and not enough. 

Never – You will never get off of this block. Never be more than this. Never be better that me or your mom or your dad or your guardian. Never win. Never try. You will never get into the school of your choice acting like that. You will never pass. Never  grow. Never change. Who you are is why you’ll always be. 

Here are the words that I want to fill your gap with:

Yes – Yes, you can complete that assignment  You can get it back with a grade you were expecting and submit it again because once you know better, you do better. Yes, you can demand to be treasured and cared for. Yes, you deserve goodness and light. Yes, you can have a hug. Yes, the world is conspiring for your well being. Yes, you are made of the same universe as stardust and high tide and the Aurora Borealis and you are twice as magical as any of these.

Go Confidently in the direction of your dreams. Go pursue that thing that scares you. Go hug that person that you had beef with and fixed, but the atmosphere still feels a little beefy. Go take that class. Go sing that song. Whatever you do, just GO. 

Passport – You loved making food from around the world. You loved trying my Spanish snacks last month and have been harassing me for a new country even with my protestations that I don’t know when the next box comes. I wish for you to hope on a plane and go somewhere where you don’t speak the language. I want you to feel small at the base of the ocean. To taste your humanity at the top of a hike . To be confidently lost in the wilderness is an excellent allegory for your life. 

Freedom – Freedom from your phone. Freedom from expectations. Freedom from an oppressive regime that paints targets in tears and legislation on the backs of your brothers. Freedom from sadness. Freedom from shame. Freedom from the inner city. Freedom from worry. I want you to have a taste of total liberation and get so hooked on it that you chafe under anything that restrains you. 

Home – Home is anywhere and anything that brings you comfort. Maybe that is here in Baltimore. Maybe that’s a beach in Bali. Maybe it’s a classroom in a district that supports your inquisitiveness. Maybe it’s where the lights are always on and there is ample food and a warm embrace from someone who REALLY wants to hear about your day. Maybe it’s her. Maybe it’s him. Maybe it’s a forehead kiss or a chicken box from someone that studied your love language and wants to make it happen. I found my home in spoken word and cuddles with friends and in Jesus and maybe even in him, but my home isnt’t necessarily yours. Find where you are rooted. 

Love – I don’t want you to get to 25 before you know what Love is and I don’t want you to be 30 before you demand it for yourself. Love is high standards and high pitched laughter and trips to the movies and watching you march and stupid inside jokes. Love is also coming back to work with you a mere 24 hours after you told me to get the f*** out of your face and gave me your arse to kiss…and harboring no resentment. Love is giving you 1000 chances to break my heart into fragments with the gaps in your  heart because chance # 999 May be the one that clicks. Everybody in the world isn’t equipped to love you this way. Respect the effort. 

I would be here all day if I continued typing the words that I want to fill your gap with—but these will have to do for now. If I am lucky, you’ll leave me in June fully able to define these words. In the words of Kendrick—-we gon’ be alright. Let’s just continue to add new words ok? You can always use my pen. 

 

Love you always,

Ms. O.

The (Un)Bearable Blackness of Being

“For there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”  -The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

Hello beautiful people,

I’ve missed you! There is so much that I have wanted to say. I don’t know about you, but when I get overwhelmed (in this case with words that I want to write), sometimes I find it easier to not write at all. This is just one of many attempts to process some of what I have been seeing and feeling lately.

Recently, I went to go watch a student of mine march with her band on a steamy Saturday afternoon. It was muggy–the kind of “a 30 second monsoon is imminent” kind of disgustingly muggy that makes one feel as though they are swimming through pea soup. Everyone was assembled in what basically amounts to a parking lot in front of an old vocational skills center. There was no shade and no seats in sight. And it was LIT.

Let me recap if you missed it. Humid day, hanging out in an empty lot waiting for festivities to begin, and it was SO much fun! Watching people prepare for their band’s turn to go on, talk and laugh, sprinkle water on faces or on washcloths draped on heads to keep cool…listening to the DJ at the far end of the parking lot encouraging people to invite others because “we need to support our kids when they are doing the right thing!” it occurred to me randomly, as it often does nowadays:

MAN….I really love my people! I mean, we can make a celebration out of anything–growing up, I can’t tell you how many times a simple summer Sunday dinner of grilled food ended up being a cookout–Mom and Auntie would invite a few people, I would invite the bestie and a few others, someone would throw 92Q (if I had my way) or 95.9 (if I didn’t) on the radio and stretch the cord to sit in the doorway, Scrabble/cards/dominoes/Jenga would come out, and there you have it…insta-party.

I flash back to when my great-grandmother passed during my junior year of high school. Sad occasion, yes. But one of the first things that I remember my mother or grandmother saying was that the family was all wearing winter white. Why? Because this wasn’t a funeral, dark and depressing complete with weeping and gnashing of teeth. This was a celebration of a 91 (i believe) year long life that had been VERY well lived. My great-grandmother deferred college for herself for years and made sure that every last one of her siblings would have a chance to go. She loved her man with everything in her and together they loved on their daughter, grandchildren, and in my great-grandmother’s case, my cousin and I. I have fond memories of her making me big ol’ country breakfasts when I stayed at her house and saving my behind when I did something worth getting in trouble for.

When I was little, I used to hear the pastor say “hallelujah, anyhow”. Things may go completely awry, but if you can find just a small glimmer of hope, just a slight reason to have joy, you can make it. This is a post celebrating what I feel like we do best as a people–we rise above the nonsense, refuse to let said nonsense define us, and do what we can to find a “hallelujah anyhow”. These are signs of  our resilience.

Every May, you see the prom parade commence. When I left for my senior prom back in (gasp!!) 2005, my mom probably laid out a few snacks, everybody took pictures of my date and I in front of the hot pink azalea bush in my front yard, and that was that. My aunt-by-marriage’s mother (to this day, I am not sure how she ended up seeing me off) stuck a 20 down my dress “for emergencies” (yes, she stuck it there herself), my grandfather probably mildly threatened the life of my date, we hopped in my uncle’s Escalade and rolled out. Nowadays like clockwork, you hear stories of parents shipping in three tons of sand, several luxury cars and a CAMEL for an epic Dubai themed prom sendoff.

Also, like clockwork, you hear the naysayers (actual comments below):

“Why do those people put so much emphasis on appearances?”
“I wonder if she even has a job–wasn’t she sick?” How’d she afford it?”
“I bet she hasn’t invested that much in his college education!!”

(Just so we are aware, Johnny Eden, Jr. had a 3.8 GPA, his mom wanted to honor his excellence, and she WAS incredibly sick but promised herself that if she lived she’d celebrate her son. I don’t know if she has saved for his college education, but that’s not really my business.)

There was an article posted by The Washington Post about Baltimore ( and presumably other low-income, high-violence cities) and it talked about how these cities tend to go all out for high school graduations and proms because there is a high probability that they won’t have a significant amount of happy events to celebrate in the future. People are being killed. They are dying from high rates of preventable and non-preventable diseases. Drugs are running rampant. Nihilism is at an all time high in these high trauma neighborhoods…people report feeling trapped in the cycle. The talented, the bright, the motivated are encouraged to take hold of every opportunity that they can and LEAVE.

A few days after the humid parking lot marching band extravaganza, the news hit that the officer who murdered Philando Castile would not be charged in his murder. A wave of anger followed closely…theoretically, wasn’t Castile doing all of the things that we are told that we must do in order to spare our lives when speaking to police. Remain calm? Did that. Keep hands where they can be seen? Check. Generally be an upstanding member of society? Yes. Respond to officer demands? Yup. And still, another death certificate was being crafted.

In the book “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” Kundera weighs Nietzsche’s philosophy of eternal return (that with an infinite amount of time and a finite number of events, events will repeat themselves) with Parmenides’s understanding of life as lightness. It seems to be that the lives of Black people in this country are filled with the eternal return of situations that shouldn’t bear repeating.

Every time another acquittal scrolls across the screen.

Each time a star football player who is a standout in the league gets blackballed for silently protesting injustice.

Every time a #BlackWomenAtWork hashtag needs to be added to because we feel invisible in the workplace.

Every time a person paints themselves in Blackface and doesn’t understand (or care about) the implications.

Every time a movie is cast and people don’t understand why _______________ is Black now.

For every microaggression, every ill-timed joke, every comment, we feel that unbearable Blackness of being…

And yet.

blackjoy

We inevitably choose lightness. We choose to BLAST Frankie Beverly and Maze and two step with a drink in hand. We choose to scream and yell and go absolutely nuts when our collective babies graduate and beat the odds. We choose to have debutante balls, crab feasts, bull roasts, step shows, fetes, prom sendoffs, marching band exhibitions, praise parties and hilarious gender reveals. There was an article on the HuffPost that said “Black Joy is Black Resistance”. I agree. We choose that lightness of being.

And I am so glad that we do.

 

I Dare YOU

Hello beautiful people!

I would like to start this post off by saying that I think that I am a loving person. I have gotten this far into my twenties and deep into some really awesome sister circles by following the Golden Rule that we all were overexposed to during childhood, probably on at least one Garfield poster:

 

garfieldIronic that Garfield is being used as the moral authority.

 

The rule, otherwise known as the ethic of reciprocity, is simply to treat others the way that you want to be treated. The hard truth, however, is that people are fickle. We have the best of intentions (sometimes), but we are only human, and we battle against things such as anger, resentment, jealousy, busyness, pride, and so much more. The hard truth is that sometimes we come across someone who challenges the freeness and openness with which we thought we loved. This person may be a friend who loves you with all of your heart. It may be a spouse or significant other who arouses all of that JUNK in you, the not feeling good enough, the wanting to know their every waking move for fear that they’ve found a better option–all those things that you thought that you were done with and healed from. Whoever it is, use them when they are presented. Use them as an opportunity to refine your love and make it more Christlike. I dare you.

For me, my person is my mentee. This is us:

sisses.jpg Check out my expression. I am IMPOSSIBLY cool.

Like I said before, I would consider myself, for lack of a more adult adjective: NICE. I think I am generous. I believe deeply in family and in friendships that value quality over quantity. I was never that girl that needed everyone to know her name. I prefer meaningful interactions, heartfelt words, and creative gestures. I revel in the random and the just because. Mentee here has often been the recipient of that. Everything that I have learned in 29 years, I pour into her 20 so that she hopefully can skip some of my aches and pains.

That girl up there? She is warm, and she is funny with an infectious laugh. She is principled, and she is open hearted. She is smart.

But does she challenge the way I love? Absolutely.

She does things that leave me scratching my head. She gives people a 1000th chance who have messed her over 999 times. She makes decisions that I honestly don’t follow. And lately, this relationship has been the one that challenges my insecurity, with whispers along the lines of ‘girl, you thought you were doing something? Pssh. You’ve made no difference whatsoever.’ And its times like that where my love for her can be misconstrued and filtered through all of the crap that she has had to deal with and it comes out feeling to her like she is being attacked and judged and put down. It is then that I have to take a deep breath, step back, normally cry to my own mentors, and…inevitably, I square back up. I rejoin the fight. I remember that when I did the foolishness that I did, God welcomed me back and He didn’t even ask for an explanation of my stupidity. I show her grace, and I do so remembering that there is no way and no minion in hell that can keep me from loving her. It reminds me of a post I saw on Facebook that I related to my students at first:

kidslove

We all need to be loved. The strength and the ferocity of that love might differ from person to person, but the Bible clearly states that we are in need of some love that manifests in the fruits of the spirit.

This week, I dare you to be reckless with your love. I dare you to love on somebody that is making it increasingly difficult and to stick with them through their storm if for no other reason than the fact that Christ loved us at our most unloveable  and we can come to Him time and time again bruised, broken down and dirty from the weight of the sins that we still choose to partake in while claiming to love Him–and in return, He offers us redeeming love. Grace.

I dare you to go out of your way for somebody. To love on someone that can’t offer anything in return, not even their heart. Love on someone who is so downtrodden that love itself sometimes seems like the most hopeless of causes, and feel free to come looking for me if the very power of your reckless love doesn’t make them bloom, however slowly.

I dare you to love using the fruits of the Spirit:

I dare you to be JOYFUL.

I dare you to be PEACEFUL right in the middle of an emotional Nor’Easter.

I dare you to show FORBEARANCE–in other words, be patient when they resist. And they WILL resist. Its what hurt people do.

I dare you to be KIND and GOOD to people this week.

I dare you to be FAITHFUL and stay in those trenches when everyone else has said “this is too much” and leaves shaking their head.

I dare you to be GENTLE–with both the person you are loving on AND with yourself. Baby, you deserve to be loved and understood with just as much of a soft touch as they do.

And I dare you to exercise some SELF CONTROL–to not snap when they snap at you, to not give up on them when things look grim, and to wait for the glorious unfolding that happens when someone feels secure in the calm waters of you.

Let me know how it goes, darlings. I’ll be waiting.

Be blessed,

StephTheScribe