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Transpiration

There have been a lot of deaths around me in the last few weeks. Friends, family, students, and co-workers have lost loved ones unexpectedly. I know that within the silence of poverty and conflict, people die everyday, but in recent news, there have been outbreaks of crime like sporadic wildfire. Random shootings, suicides, and bodies found. When clusters of deaths happen around the same time, I always ask the question “What does this mean? Why now?”

What I got was the message below. It came so fast that my hands could barely keep up as I wrote it on a nearby sticky note. IMAG3365

Transpired is not the same as expired.
We transpire, not expire.
Our lives are transpiration; the transpiration
should be inspiration.

I must admit – I didn’t know transpiration was a word. I figured it had to be because of expiration and inspiration. So, I looked it up. You won’t believe what I found (unless you’re a hydrologist).

“Transpiration is the process by which moisture is carried through plants from roots to small pores on the underside of leaves, where it changes to vapor and is released to the atmosphere. Transpiration is essentially evaporation of water from plant leaves.” (U.S. Department of the Interior/U. S. Geological Survey)

My eyes got so big after reading that definition, and so did my understanding of the words I heard. Check this out.

Since we are the seeds of God and He formed us from the ground, we are essentially spiritual plants on Earth. Have you ever heard of “Bloom where you’re planted?” There you go. Well, when we die, we return to the dirt from whence we came, yet our souls are not expired. They are transpired from our bodies. If you read my post Water Proof, you’ll see where this is headed.

We are made of water and dirt. How appropriate for a seed to transform into a plant. Since we have been planted, at some point, we must be harvested. It’s gruesome to think about. It makes me cringe, but it’s the truth. The fruit of us – the lives we’ve touched, the people we’ve birthed, the service we’ve rendered – lives beyond the harvest. Essentially, we pass from one state of being into another in a form, i.e. spiritual transpiration. We don’t expire when we live in Christ. We don’t choose the manner in which loved ones transpire, but if they have been an ambassador for Christ on Earth, drenched in His living water… I believe we transition in Him as well.

Some believe in reincarnation while some believe there is no eternal home for the soul, and I respect your beliefs with sincerity. The following prayer is mine:

May we all transpire after we have expired all that
we were purposed to inspire on Earth.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of picture-perfect-world.tumblr.com

Holey Folks

A visual I saw on Sunday, May 7th: A man is walking on a deserted small town street. He’s dressed up for church – suit, shoes, trench coat, and hat – but, there were holes in his chest. Perfect round holes with the circumference of an aluminum can. It was a windy day and his posture slanted forward as he pressed into the force. As the wind whipped around and through him, green bacteria grew in the holes. He kept walking, but his pace grew slower. Then I saw the same man, in the same scenario, only this time the holes didn’t exist and the bacteria bounced off his chest as he walked into the wind.

What I Heard:

God wants to clean the holes in our heart left by others and fill it with his Love and Light. You were not designed to walk around with holes in your soul.
You were not created with a deficit in mind.

The truth is that we have a lot of holy folks with holes in their hearts. They’ve learned to breathe around them, look pretty around them, and even preach around them. Those holes are lined with bacteria of hate, prejudice, lies, and unforgiveness. And some bacteria is good for you, even the bad ones, for they help build your spiritual immune system. But imbalance and infestation is what causes death of the soul.

I am not exempt. I have had many moments where I didn’t want to love someone, didn’t want to extend myself, didn’t want to be kind, and definitely didn’t want to forgive. But I realized a funny truth about this badge called “Christian” that I wear. I don’t have a choice in representing His character. I have a choice to trust, but I don’t have a choice to forgive. Once I said “You are Lord of my life. Take me as your own. I’ll do what you say. I want to love people like you love. I want to be like you.” I relinquished my duty as a free agent of this world. I now have a duty to show Christ in everything I do. I’m an ambassador, and I don’t choose when and where to take off that title. So, when He says “Call her/him,” I do it. It doesn’t matter if I was wronged or if I know they have spoken ill of me… when He commands it, I do it. It’s frustrating, yes. It’s unfair; yes it is. It’s aggravating; indeed. But, I don’t always get it right either, so I only hope that I receive the same diehard response when it’s my turn. I don’t want the bacteria to stick. I want the Love of God to repel it.

We can’t continue to walk around in garments of gold pretending like we aren’t rotting wood underneath. We’re holy by His grace, not by our standards. We can’t give place for the Body to be infected. After all, infections spread fast, but they don’t have to. We don’t have to die holey.

I’ve been on this Body kick lately. I’m interested to hear everything God has to say.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of Human Anatomy Chart. They have awesome images for biology nerds like me. Check them out.

The Plan

​Perfect timing.

Just when I was questioning the blueprint and the Architect’s design, He gives me this beautiful reminder. He knows the Plan. I just need to keep walking in His direction.

I mean, really… who argues with the Architect? Especially years after the Masterpiece is built. Who questions the plan after perfection is proven? Certainly not me. An architect knows the pressure that each beam can hold. She knows which materials are best for the purpose of the house. He calculates the foundation and its ability to host the vision. There’s wisdom and care that materializes into a physical plan… a plan for a future and hope.

Because I trust the Architect, I put my faith in the blueprint. It just seems like the journey is dysfunctional and pieces won’t fit, but the Builder used a wooden cross as the Architect instructed so I have no need to worry about the structural integrity of my life. It has an expected end, a hope, not some aimless steps that happened to host good things along the way. He knows the Plan. I just have to keep walking.

Jeremiah 29:11 was a good dose of medicine for my aching soul. Take some for yourself.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

In the Moment

Good Day, Good People!

I had a great conversation with a girlfriend of mine on March 14, 2017. We established that fear of the good is real. What do I mean by the good? You know, the good stuff in life. That moment when you have a smile on your face so bright that it could burn the sun. The moment when all feels right with your world. The instant you close your eyes and tilt your head back. When the good happens, you know it. You feel it. Everywhere.

Unfortunately, you can have so many scars from the not-good (because there are some that feel the bad are just “life lessons”) that you expect it to come around the corner at any moment. Lurking like a burglar, the not-good appears to be ready to stand in your sunny spot on the concrete and steal your shine. Fear of the not-good coupled with a fear of the good can cripple the strongest of souls. You can be scared of success and fulfillment and the responsibility they could bring to your current and future statuses. You could also be terrified of the good holding hands with an invisible evil twin that could devastate your life in a single breath. Both fears are real. That’s what she and I discovered that night. That’s what we share. What a beautiful moment of transparency.

Fear has the capacity to suck in all the hope you had in your hands and leave you cold and isolated. It’s a sad transaction. The exchange of wanting more out of life and being anxious of the deficit of despair in return. Who doesn’t want to take a month long vacation? Or sail on a cruise ship more than twice in a lifetime? Or sit still in a cabin in the mountains and drink hot chocolate while gazing at God’s Handiwork? What would actually happen if in the moment, we absorbed the good? Not anticipating the bad news, the hiccups in the plan, or the no-show of the crowd, but soaking in the goodness of expectation? It can actually be sweet, you know. I’ve tasted it once or twice or three. Somewhere along the continuum of God’s favor, grace, and purpose lies me… scared of both ends. Then, there comes a time when you are simply sick of being afraid. You want to drink the sunshine with the biggest cup you can find in your heart. You want to dance the street (with or without rhythm) because you got the best news of your life. You want to walk into the interview like a victor, expecting to get the call back. It doesn’t matter if 5 minutes from that moment you get a phone call that’s nerve wracking. Maybe the sunshine in which you chose to stand can grow your tree of hope a little taller and set the roots a little deeper to withstand the winds of the storm ahead. You won’t know until you stand in the moment and the take the good and all she has to offer.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

I’m convinced that the power, love, and discipline (also called “sound mind” in some versions) come from standing strong in the good and soaking it well beyond your pores and into your soul. Beyond that polarized fear, there’s all Three waiting to secure our hope, to anchor it down deeply in His omnipotence. That’s the power of the good. It serves as a reminder when the not-good comes.

So, what’s stopping me from hugging the good with both arms? Absolutely nothing.

What about you?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of The Chicago Now

Gear Up

After reading 1 Samuel, Chapter 17 –

Lately, I keep being reminded that the battles I’ve won before are preparing me for what’s to come. When God gives me repeated messages, I spiritually sit up. My YouVersion devotional “The Most Excellent Way to Lead” by Pastor Perry Noble of NewSpring Church dropped another bass note on the track to get my attention this week and I just had to share it with you.

In 1 Samuel 17, David is obeying his father by going to check on his brothers on the battle field and he grows offended by Goliath’s proclamations to annihilate the Israelites. For 40 days, the Philistine stood morning and evening talking trash and by the looks of his stature alone, he could back it up.

David was the youngest son of Jesse the Bethlehemite and yet had the strongest passion to silence Goliath. His intentions were in question by his oldest brother, but the accusation didn’t stop him. When Saul misjudged his ability to slay the giant, David went down his list of victories. There was no second thought, no “Maybe you’re right. I just came to give my brothers some cheese, so let me go back home.” No, he recalled his past battles and that he was only standing there ready to fight because he was already a winner. A lion, a bear, and a rescued lamb served as the proof. I was encouraged just visualizing it. Besides being in the lineage of Jesus, David is also known as an archetype or foreshadowing of Him. That got me excited again by the time I finished the chapter although I have read it numerous times. Apparently, there was a different purpose for this passage in my life.

Have you ever felt like this? That you were training for the next fight, and it’s scheduled in a bigger boxing ring than the last time?

I have…and I’m here now, looking ahead like Rocky Balboa getting ready for Apollo, the second time. I remember this feeling of anticipation training and I have learned not to ignore it. There’s always a purpose for it, so I take it seriously; however, for some reason, I keep forgetting that this isn’t my first fight. This isn’t my first bout in the ring. I’ve survived many opportunities to die. I’ve overcome many obstacles with the strength of God. My heart has been stepped on more times than I can count, but it keeps bouncing back, ready to love and live. It’s resilient because God is my Father and Jesus is my Champion. I’m already a winner. My rescued life is the proof.

So whatever battle is coming over the horizon, it is no match for my testimony and my training. It may have looked like I was just tending sheep, but in actuality, I’ve been gearing up. I am not afraid… I will be ready when it comes.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

To learn more about the devotional I’m reading, visit www.mostexcellentwaytolead.com.

Photo: Mickey training Rocky

The Morning Afterglow

IMG_0810.JPG
Impromptu group photo. Some friends not pictured, but definitely valued.

 

This morning, I looked over to my dresser and saw my book perched on its easel and smiled. I keep it there as a reminder.

Yeah, that really happened, I thought. Saturday really happened.

IMAG2285The food. The fun. The location. Perfect, but pale in comparison to the people that lit up the atrium with their smiles, laughter, and kind words at Panera Bread – Gardendale, AL. I was floored at how the space looked brighter because they were in it. The natural lighting of the area couldn’t compete with the warmth in my heart. I was glad. Genuinely and emphatically glad. To see everyone and to finally be in that moment in time. My book signing had finally come true after years of envisioning it, moving the date, and preparing for it. It was here and I was walking in it.

IMAG2293
Parental Goodness.

Walking was the hardest part, by the way. My Jessica Simpson’s weren’t the problem (Thanks for the comfortable shoe, ma’am.). Keeping my feet on the ground was the challenge. I wanted to jump up and down like a child on a freshly made bed. Instead, I chose the more civilized route and signed copies of my dream and happily transferred my gratitude through a medium of hugs. Everyone that was there truly poured into me. I couldn’t have asked for more. For those that couldn’t make it, they were gracious enough to send their well wishes (and their online purchase confirmation… lol). Some even sent their contribution for an attendant to purchase their copy. What an honor… Wow.

I placed a flower jar and cute mail-inspired post-it notes next to it so attendants could water my soul with their words of encouragement. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have read every one of them and will keep them forever. Every time I open the jar, I can feel your sincerity. *smile*

IMAG2272I asked God for a beautiful day. No rain, no drama. And trust me, there was plenty of opportunity for the latter. For personal and spiritual reasons, I am constructing a list of every roadblock I experienced before the big day. I won’t share the details of it, but so far, I’m approaching the number 20. Twenty reasons to quit, but twenty times God arose within me and around me. I couldn’t create a better testimony if I tried.

So my afterglow is still beaming almost a week later and I pray that my dream inspires you to live out yours. After all, we were all meant to shine.

SPECIAL THANKS FOR MAKING IT HAPPEN:

  • Mommy & Pop – for being awesome teammates as I pursue my purpose.
  • Ashlee Binford – for being my sister and walking with me (and smashing that outfit).
  • Desiree Danielle – for styling my curly fro (and letting me doze off in the chair).
  • Marquita Anthony & Jazz Rhodes – for capturing moments and jumping in the mix.
  • Tyler Garner and the crew at Panera Bread, Gardendale, AL – for saying yes and more.
  • Darlene and Angelya at Dan’s Printing, Adamsville, AL – for sweetly and professionally meeting my printing needs
  • Brian and Brittany at the UPS Store, Gardendale, AL – for being the behind-the-scenes rock stars to small business owners
  • Wanda at Bath & Body Works, Summit Blvd, AL – for coordinating and wrapping the giveaways.

IMG_0813
For more pictures from “signing day,” check out my facebook page. I’m creating an album there. For more information about how to purchase my book, click here.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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

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

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

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

Peace & Thanks for listening.

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

#bloglikecrazy: Day 29 – Influence-a

From the root word fluent meaning  to flow

Influential people have a flow that pours in others. The fluency of their power easily transfers from one mind to the next, which in turn pours into surrounding minds. It’s a phenomenon, when it’s allowed to be. The act of being the influencer carries a great weight that one may not even know she is carrying, for instance, an apple carrying a disease. The outside may be beautiful, and the internal flesh may appear perfect, yet the invisible could harm you. Someone could have coughed on the sliced interior or touched it with infected hands, and now what was once beautiful to see, smell, and taste is now a biomedical weapon to slay the health of multiple people.

Keep walking with me and see if you can track where we’re going…

I begin each speech class with the same questions –

Are your words good enough to eat?
Do you share healthy words for others to ingest and digest or do you walk around throwing garbage on the plates of people’s souls?
Do you have good credit with your words?
Can someone take what you say and use it as an extension or “line of credit” of your character?

There are people in your neighborhood still struggling with words that flew into them as children. Hateful words. Hurtful words stating they were stupid, slow, and wouldn’t amount to anything in life. A flow that contaminated what was once beautiful into someone you can hardly stand to see. Their minds were a garden and their souls were fertile to receive the influence, the flow that poured in. But there’s a flip side to this epidemic – this spiritual influenza. If we can receive, we can also pour it within ourselves.

Let’s revisit that root word fluent. When someone is fluent in a language, it flows out of her/his mouth. It’s a river that knows its direction. It is not a second thought; it is part of the person’s internal make-up. It has been developed, strengthened and tested to be influential to the culture for which it was created. According to one of my favorite sites, the Online Etymology Dictionary, the Medieval Latin and Old French etymologies refer to influence was an astrological noun – “streaming ethereal power from the stars when in certain positions, acting upon character or destiny of men,” and “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny.” In other words, what you do and say – your flow – can directly affect the trajectory of someone’s character and destiny, including your own. Just as I’m sitting here with the flu, the trajectory of my week was changed. My goals were not met and my body was under the influence of someone else’s infection. I didn’t ask for it and I didn’t want it, but it happened. Their fluency of the virus flowed into me. I can only imagine that is how the power of our existence can be to others if we allow the river of Christ’s Love to flow within us. We can be the influence if we speak and live in His Love fluently.

You were created to be influential. You were designed to be influential to the culture in which you live. You were made to flow – to receive and to pour into others. You weren’t created to infect, but to inspire. Think of all the good seeds you could sow if you walked everyday with this in mind. You would circulate a positive river within your spirit that could block any influence you do not need. Furthermore, you could very well use the past negative experiences to create your own vaccine against spiritual influenza. Instead of being the diseased fruit, you could be the tree that spreads good health and allows the Flow the reach everyone around you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Salt Cave of Southlake

#bloglikecrazy: Day 28 – Detour

Another short stop to get you through the week. Hope it helps!

I was on my morning commute to work last week and on target to arrive early…so I thought. When I turned on GPS to check the traffic report, it indicated a 13-minute slow down. I was disappointed needless to say. Then, about 10 minutes into the drive, an alternative route option appeared and I accepted the helpful alert. It was quicker, but definitely unconventional. I never take that route to work because it has too many bottlenecks, but I trusted the notice and exited early before hitting the jam that I couldn’t see. There were more traffic lights and smaller streets, but no traffic. No bottlenecks. I was stupendously surprised. And what do you know… I totally missed the slowdown and got to work with 5 minutes to spare.

We must trust God in the detour.

That’s what I heard that morning. Just like I trusted my GPS to get me around the traffic jam, I trust the Father to lead me around, through, and over the difficult areas in life. I have to believe that His plan and sight far exceeds mine.

I thought of each time I thought I had it all figured out and how wrong I was. How many beautiful people I met on the road I didn’t want to travel. How much money I wasted trying to save a dying mode of transportation that I thought was a lifeboat.

The Truth is I can’t see what’s ahead. I can only guess. I can only estimate and plan accordingly. I can’t know what will happen, but God isn’t bound by time on Earth. He supersedes it effortlessly because He made it. So, it’s only practical that I trust His GPS over my calculated fears and prideful steps. Often times, we have both hands in those messy roadblocks. Other times, we can’t see them coming. Either way, listening to the voice of God will help us greatly. Simply put, He knows more than we do. He is trustworthy in the detours.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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