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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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Reflective Moments

Thursday Love: Assembly Required

Good Evening, Family!

This post has a couple of layers, but the main idea is this – Compassion and Accountability can co-exist.

For some reason, we think the are opposing forces in every situation. This mirage of dissonance manifests into online arguments, silent family tables, and disjointed communities. What gets left in dust is our humanity and our faith. Let me explain. It may sting a little bit, but this is safe place to grow.

The first thing you think of is “Well, what did they do to deserve it?” when you hear of tragedy, you’re acting just like the Pharisees in the book of John, Chapter 8. Do you know what makes me chuckle about that story? The facts that they called Jesus “Teacher” when they ran up on Him (woman in hand) and the fact that Jesus had a whole Jeopardy-waiting-theme-music moment before they filed out one by one. Seriously, I scoff every time I read those parts.

Photo by Armin Rimoldi on Pexels.com

Why?

Because you would think the Pharisees would know better than to try to trap Jesus in a social and religious debate, but no… they didn’t. Just like today, they wanted to see what He would say so they could claim He wasn’t who He was. They were determined to make the issue bigger than the Savior. Personally, I would have taken that waiting period before He answered as a hint to leave… quietly… right then. Something inside of me would have had to click in a different gear to say “Hold up. I think He’s giving me a chance to correct myself.” Anywho…

If you have an insatiable need to consume news and gossip, check your intentions.

Are you praying for the murdered and the murderers?
Are you praying for public officials?
Are you involving yourself in local avenues of service?
Are you listening to your hurting friends?
Are you making sure you aren’t part of the problem?

What are you doing with all of that information anyway? Morning, mid-day, evening, and late night, what you’re really doing is getting full of yourself. I’m not saying you should pretend like nothing is happening, but I am very much saying that you should not be consumed by all that swirls around you.

Look on the flip side and survey your intentions in consuming faith-building content. Newsflash: It’s not for Sundays only.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

What a concept, right? I know! It sounds simple until we’re bombarded on Monday with an annoying co-worker or when someone cuts us off during our morning commute. Family, we are required to apply what we learn from those sermons, podcasts, life groups, Bible studies, YouTube videos, etc. All of that should amount to something. Everything. More than the things of this life. We should be growing to greater. Growing into the best version of ourselves.

As seasons change, so should we. So should we develop and stretch and evolve.

Take all of that Word you get every week and curate it into a life force that this world needs. A beacon for your street. People’s hearts are aching out here… to see the beauty in the mess. To see something better than what’s crumbling in front of them.

I’ll say it until my last breath – You can’t say you’re a Christian and not act like Christ. Seeing hurt anywhere should hurt you because Jesus’ compassion was epic. He could have easily grilled the woman in John 8, but instead, He showed her compassion before He issued accountability (verse 11).

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

The last time I checked, we’re required to work together down here. You don’t have to like everything your co-worker likes or agree with everything your neighbor does, but you do have to love them. Even Paul said to live peaceably with everyone as best you can. He knew it would be difficult. And it’s hard for me to watch us not doing that in such a time as this. We would rather use buzz words and jargon instead of talking to humans like they’re related to us.

Be mindful of how you’re representing Christ out here. The world is watching. Your friends are watching. Your family is watching. Imagine how full we could actually be if we emptied ourselves first? Imagine how powerful God’s Love could be through us if we implemented every verse we read, every song we sang, and every Biblical message we’ve heard in our lifetimes thus far. Now imagine it starting with you… today.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family! Stay well out here and I’m rooting for you!

Thursday Love: Poetry – FOREVER ME

Hi, Family!

So, Sunday didn’t happen… and Wednesday didn’t either. I apologize for not keeping my posting promise. Unexpected goodness absorbed the week, but I got you today! In honor of National Poetry Month, I made a goal to share a poem or spoken word piece each week and well, we’re in here now. *lol*

I wrote this piece in the spirit of gratitude. Thanks in advance for reading it!

FOREVER ME

When it’s all said and done
I will be Forever Me
The purest form of myself before I got to know who she was
Quiet
Smiling
Curious and cautious
Caring
Relatively fearless
Foreseeing
Loving
The spirit God planted inside of this shell
The original.

I look down into my arms and see her smiling back at me
“You’re going to be just fine,” I say, rocking her slowly
Smooth as chocolate
Back and forth
Ebb and flow
Like the waves she will encounter
“Just keep growing,” I whisper, “… and don’t let this world turn you to stone…”
I bless her face and peer into the horizon of her future
Back, forth
Ebb, flow
Peace, storms, then peace again
“You’re going to be just fine.”

Then, I see her in the distance
Walking like a warrior over Earth’s edge
Tattered armor, strong legs
Bulging courage
Breathing deeply
Battle scars
Sword of Truth in her right hand
Testimonies in her left
Sharp mind
Focus, keen
She sees me
Through me
In me
And we share a breath
of hope recognized
Confirmation that we didn’t quit
We kept growing
Kept loving
Kept soaring, despite the dips and blows
Ebb and flows
Back and forth

I appreciate her.
So, I might as well get to know her now
Love her curves and all her edges
She is perfect imperfection
Legend
And I love Forever Me
Because when it’s all said and done
And the warrior stops walking
That is all that I will be.

Have you ever seen a vision of your future self? Mine is amazing. Tell me about yours?

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Poetry – I SALUTE YOU

Hi, Family!

In honor of National Poetry Month, I made a goal to share a poem or spoken word piece each week. Well, last week, I feel off the rocker, so I’m posting one tonight and another on Sunday!

The piece below was written exactly one year ago in February while contemplating the past and present sacrifices made in my culture. Thanks in advance for reading it!

I SALUTE YOU

For every elder that was asked “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?” before casting their vote

I stand for you.

Hold my head up high and walk into work every day for you.
Go to class and flash my smile and say “Yes, I’m here” for you.

For my sisterfriend on the verge of killing cancer dead in its tracks
Intelligence questioned by White men, assuming her competence is thin and porous
For every train car that clickety-clacked with Pullman porters, chins up and hands out in superior service

I stand for you.

This isn’t just Black History to me. This is a perpetual ceremony where you are the guests of honor.

I get the privilege of cooling in your shadows, walking in your footsteps, glowing in your Sonlight, basking in your love for my future.

For every lash received with outstretched arms and naked backs
I proudly stand for you.

Clap my hands, hoot and holla any day for you, because you did what so few could do.
You kept clocking in when they spit on you.
Breastfed their children when they wouldn’t feed you.
Sang and danced like a beautiful Black angel when they wouldn’t even pay you.
You lived when they tried to kill you.

I stand for you.

Grandma, washing clothes of White families over the mountain, feet filled with fatigue
In fatigues, Grandpa called “boy” while lacing up his combat boots getting ready for war
Fighting for rights that didn’t see the light of day… back home

Accepting substandard pay and being told to comb your hair
Swallowing your pride and pushing down your voice
Diluting who you are to match someone else’s choice
Being a superhero for your children when you were just treated like a child
Making me smile after a long hard day
Washing my socks on your hands before Sunday morning
Dressing me like a chocolate doll and telling me I’m beautiful
Even though you couldn’t afford to buy your food

You will never be forgotten.
I appreciate you.
I stand for you.
I salute you.
Forever, and ever…
Amen.

***

The Magic City Poetry Festival is going strong here. Check out their events and read about the founder of the festival who is also first Black and youngest poet laureate of Alabama. How cool is that? I salute you, Ashley M. Jones.

Peace & Thanks for listening! 🙂

Wednesday Uptake: Poetry – THE LATTER

Hi, Family!

I decided to switch it up and pop in during the daytime. Don’t fret – Wednesday Wind Down will return. 🙂

In honor of National Poetry Month, I will share poem or spoken word piece each week. The piece below is hot off the press. I wrote it this morning as I steeped in jazz music. Thanks in advance for reading it!

THE LATTER

When I get old
I pray
That the waves of wisdom that crashed through my life
Will flow as mighty streams into the ones I love
Pour into cupped hands of expectation
That it will save them from their contemplated sins
That my mistakes will be their textbooks
To review and expend

I pray
When I get old
That my words will find homes in the future
Serve as nightlights for those lost in the night
Reside in the hearts of passersby
Cling to the souls of forever learners
Grow in the soil of tomorrow’s harvest

History of joy and tears will be punctuated by crow’s feet
Proof of humanity
Resilience
The fragility of my fingers
The winding roads of wrinkles atop my hands
Will be a testament of loving
Living
Praying
Touching all this journey had to teach me
I trace them end to end
Every curve
Every bend
I embrace them.

I pray
When I get old
I won’t be thrown away
Wisdom withering among white walls
Visiting the distant lands of my memories
Recalling history broken and rebuilt
Again and again
Just like me
Sipping on feelings felt within the softness of my chest like a cup of hot tea
Breasts, once the flagship of my womanhood, returning to where they began
Heart beating in reverent rhythm
Feet wiggling to a song in my head

When I get old
I pray
I bathe in the cleanliness of a child’s laughter
The beauty of a sunset
Kissing Water’s edge
Reminding me of my lover’s lips
I smile, and touch my own
Savoring sweetness of moments untold
I pray I lace my sneakers and walk on the devil’s head at dawn
Fervently placing my feet as a reckoning of faith
I pray I see the wonder of Earth’s bounty
Lush and green
Excitingly enticing me to commune and frolic
To soak in freely in her majesty.

And as my eyes illuminate at heaven’s beck and call
I’ll look back at it all
All I saw
All I felt
All I poured
All I accepted
All the branches that grew within me
All the leaves around my feet
I’ll breathe in
Smile again
And I will exhale out of this life
Into the next chapter of my spirit…
When I get old,
I pray… when I get old.

Inspired by sounds from jazz genius Abdullah Ibrahim

For more information about NPM, click their logo below.

So, how do you feel about aging? Is it something you fear or look forward to experiencing? What does “old” mean to you? Let me know in the comments. I’m looking forward to reading what you think.

Peace & Thanks for listening! I love y’all!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate the Break

Hi, Family!

I have a shortstop for your week, so let’s jump into it!

Break.

When you hear that word, what do you think? What do you do?

In my mind, I see two things when I hear “break” – a bridge and a beach vacation. They seem like they don’t match, but both host a gap in time and/or space. Space from a hectic schedule. Space from a physical location. Time away to recuperate. Time to cry between pain and wholeness. A gap between two points.

A break.

When someone’s at the pinnacle of stress, a break is usually the answer. But when we are unable to control the details of that space in time, the uncertainty and frustration can create even more stress on our weary spirits. Our fragility seeks security in the gap and when we don’t obtain it, we can also break… in sanity.

Photo by Leif Bergerson on Pexels.com

In some of my darkest moments, the break didn’t feel welcoming. It didn’t feel like a garden for my best self to bloom, but I did. In other gaps between life events, I received enlightenment and strength. The break always worked in my favor to connect my former mistakes to my future wisdom. And as for those dark moments, there always came a break in the clouds to let the sun pour on my soul. The airy depth before rock bottom was rich in nutrients for me to grow in every way. It broke what could no longer travel with me and allowed me the opportunity to release it in the valley.

The break doesn’t have to break you, Family.

My prayer for you is that you appreciate it. Everything it brings will create a better you.

Breathe through it. Pray through it. Dance through it. Rest through it. Do what it takes to get from one side to the next because where you are is not the end.

I’m proud of you for making it this far. Keep going. 🙂

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate the Mess

Hi, Family!

I hope you’re doing OK out there. There’s a lot going on, so keep praying for each other. Like how you want someone to pray for you. 🙂 Here’s a short stop for your week.

There’s two things about messes that can make us better –

It’s in the mess that we realize what matters.

It’s the mess that makes us remember.

Whether we’ve made it or whether it happened to us, a mess in any stage in life is inevitable. A mistake at work, a car crash, a financial fiasco, a rough relationship… whatever it is, I bet it taught you something. I bet it gave you a clearer picture of what you want and what you don’t want. It created an opportunity to regroup and realign after you remember how you felt in it.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com

That’s because messes teach us lessons we need for the next chapter. They can cleanse impurities from our spirits and prepare us for the road ahead. They can extract what could destroy our futures. As terrible as they are, they make us better… if we allow them.

Ask the Lord about the messes. Pray for guidance to not repeat the mistakes. Engrave the lessons learned on your heart’s tablet. Allow the Peace of God to pour over the wound and set your eyes to being a better version of yourself.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and you are loved!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Each Other

Hi, Family!

We’ve been on the appreciation train and tonight we’re focusing on each other… but not quite how you think.

I was listening to a sermon on YouTube and the auto-playlist showed a clip about a celebrity divorce. I’m not into gossip, so I rolled past it. Then I went back to it and stared at the sensational title and description. I thought of how crippling it could be to have intimate details of your life dissected among the public and sprinkled with the hot sauce of opinion. I imagined it was me.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

During my divorce process, my mother said one thing – “No one really knows what goes on in a marriage except the people in it.” It’s true. All of the highs and lows are stuck between you and your spouse. Even if children are involved, they host a non-marital point of view.

Mutual friends. Mutual places. Mutual memories. It all comes to a close.

You wonder if you’re still connected to the people you shared – What do they think of me? Are we not friends anymore? Will I get invited to the wedding, baby shower, birthday party…?

Eating at the same restaurant without them feels weird. There was flirting, dessert, a symphony of laughs… you’re used to being part of a pair. Events you both attended now feel like foreign soil, even if things ended on civil terms.

And the memories. No one prepares you for the flashbacks in your mind, body, and spirit. After all, you were one.

Some of those areas close abruptly while others commit to a slow (and sometimes awkward) burn. You’re open. Raw. And you’re still going to work, raising children, caring for a parent, and appearing “normal” while debriding parts of your life. Now, your name is changed (again), you have to learn a new morning routine, or you have to create a solid face each time you say “We’re no longer together.”

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

What if the intimate details of your life were on display for millions to watch and reply? Then those persons demanded to be updated about each step without regard for the crackling sound of your heart breaking seconds at a time.

What if they captured your tears on camera and replayed your exposed emotions on their hand-held screens? Then tell you that you’re required to filet your wounds because you’re a public figure.

Did I also mention that your body is constantly being dissected according to its best and worst parts? Yeah… because your photo is always up for the taking. And your hair and makeup better be perfect.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

I want you to sit with that amount of emotional exposure for a minute. No wonder some burn under the limelight and seek seclusion at any chance. The thought of people digging into the season of my divorce makes me shudder. Seriously. Though it was amicable, it was still a tender time in my life.

If we can respond to the invasion of Ukraine with a high level of compassion (prayers continued to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and visitors of the country), certainly we can spread it to others during sensitive times.

Be gentle with people going through divorces, especially public figures. Let’s grow from being messy school kids gossiping in the social media cafeteria. It’s depreciating and we can do better. There are delicate emotions involved that should be handled with care. Before you comment under that post or upload the meme, put your face in there. See your child’s face there. Imagine your parent’s name there. Now think of Jesus. Remember His compassion and our charge to treat each other with value. That’s the center of appreciation.

Courtesy of Youversion – The Bible App

I love the second definition of appreciation from Merriam-Webster – increase in value. Something increases in value when it is preserved over time and with distinct effort. It’s been protected, catalogued, and gently handled. It was valuable upon creation, but its value increases with consistent care. The more fingerprints, the less value. Family, don’t be the excess fingerprints that decrease a person’s sense of value. Be uplifting. Say encouraging words. Pray earnestly… and not out of what you want but out of what God says is healthy for their lives.

Love will forever be an action word. How can we say we Love God and not express Love to each other? How can we Love people we do not know and not the ones we do? We should handle each other carefully, with grace and Love. Every day. No matter what they look like or where they live. No one is required to update their status to soothe your itch for details. No price is high enough to demand answers when someone is restructuring their reality.

My prayer is that someone appreciates you in your current season. If things are going well, I pray they raise their arms with you in celebration. If things are not so great, I pray they elevate your heart with compassion and walk through the mud with you. And if you’re a celebrity/public figure reading this, my prayers are with you always. It takes a lot to be where you are, so I pray God reminds you that you are more valuable than your gift. I pray you feel the blanket of His Love every day, no matter the chatter at the lunch table.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Share this reminder!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Your Growth

Hi, Family!

Last month, it was Appreciate Your Attributes. This month, it’s about your growth.

I’ll start with mine.

Once upon a time, I was too scared to be a full-time entrepreneur. I also knew I would be one, but the older I got, the more I thought it would reckless and expensive. The thought of depending upon others to provide my income carried anxiety with it. Strong, stinky, paralyzing anxiety. If you’ve been on the blog with me for a while, you remember when I stepped out on faith in November 2018. I heard God say “It’s time.” and I threw my whole self into my businesses. To still be here on that Word, that’s growth.

Another example is my “no” game. It’s stronger now than it ever was. Saying “no” felt like a sinful act of pride or disobedience. Now, I walk in the truth that my “no” protects my health and I use it as needed. I allow wisdom to navigate my life instead of letting guilt reign over my decisions. That’s growth. Serious growth.

Courtesy of YouVersion.

Regardless of your age, I believe there’s plenty of learning to do in this world. Plenty of opportunities to be the best version of yourself. And with the world wide web, those opportunities are growing exponentially. Courses, webinars, workshops… take your pick. In the midst of your everyday grind, I challenge you to review how far you’ve come. Maybe it was being a doormat in your relationships or exploding anger on the people you love. Maybe it’s reclaiming your time for self-care or spending more time with your family. What about your patience or your lying habit? Are those areas sprouting green?

Growth is more than monetary or intellectual results. It’s more than congregation numbers and stock markets. While we’re here on Earth, our spiritual growth has great value. Every year, we should aim to grow closer to the Son. Just like the plants do. A branch of your spirit can sprout peace in the darkest of nights. A leaf can express colors of gratitude when seasons change.

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

When I feel like I’m treading water, I recall my less-than-lovely moments. How I treated someone. How I handled a situation. How I didn’t speak up for myself. Then, the Truth reaches out and brings me back to shore. Acknowledging my growth is the secret sauce that keeps me hopeful every morning. I still overthink things at times, but I’m not easily offended. I still get scared of the future every now and then, but my trust in God is stronger than ever. Perfection will never be reached on Earth, yet we are in control over how much we can learn while we’re here… how much we can grow.

Celebrate your wins, then pray for God to show you another growth opportunity. Are you going to church every week but not applying the Word among your family? Is Sunday morning or Bible Study Night a ritualistic checkmark on your calendar? Do you still manipulate others to get what you want? I promise that if you ask, He’ll show it to you.

Growth isn’t a stagnant thing. It’s a cycle. A continuous act. Trees may be stationary, but the impact of their roots and seeds spread beyond their visible location. You have that same power, Family. You truly do.

The feature photo on this post? That’s me walking into my massage practice… the same building where I attended yoga sessions. The same building where I said “It would be cool to have my practice here one day, but…” Then, faith said otherwise, and I agreed. And I love every step of it. That’s some growth right there.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Celebrate those sprouts and stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Your Attributes

Hi, Family!

How are you? I hope you’re doing well out there.

I missed connecting with you while I was out. It feels good to be on an upswing and back on the page.

I thought about what I would say and the only thing that kept resurfacing was love, more specifically how to love yourself. Yes, Valentine’s Day is approaching, but that doesn’t mean that all of the love has to pour out and leave you behind. Plus, it sounds great, but sometimes you need night lights to lead you in the best direction.

Loving myself has been a journey with several moving pieces. I loved the parts that I loved, but it took work over the years to love the parts that were quirky, annoying, and confusing. When I was child, a constant question was “Lord, why did you make me like this?” I didn’t hate myself, but I disliked the parts that didn’t make sense to me. Being in what Jane Fonda calls the “second act” of life – between 30 and 60 years of age – has brought with it a deeper sense of self. A deeper understanding of what makes me an exceptional Creation of God. A sweeter Peace that passes all understanding.

In January, there’s natural talk about goals, developing new habits, healthy decisions, new career moves… things you will activate in the new year. I want you to consider a February resolution – to embrace every part of yourself.

My challenge is for every month of the year, I want you to locate and ask God to illuminate part of your design – your purposeful DNA, your spiritual architecture. If once a month is too daunting, just start with this month and see how it goes. You may even focus on the same attribute for a while. That’s OK. It’s not about quantity here; it’s about the quality of self you were designed to live with.

Courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

In your stillness, ask “OK, what is it about me that you made that is meant to multiply? What is it about me that is meant to elevate this world before I leave?” Maybe it’s your ability to make others feel comfortable in your presence or your ability to navigate difficult situations. Maybe when you hug people, they feel comforted. It could be your expressive nature that empowers others to lift their hearts, their voices, and their actions. Whatever it is, it’s important. It’s vital to this life down here.

We are often asked to cherry-pick our attributes and sometimes they bleed into stressful situations. I believe there is more than one thing that is awesome about you and I’m asking for you to begin learning how to love all of them. All of you. Starting this month.

Notice your design. Notice your stellar nature. Notice how God carefully created you.

While I pray nothing bad happens to bring out your awesomeness, the truth is crap happens. And sometimes it happens in clusters, to good people, at inconvenient moments, etc. So, if you naturally give comic relief in sensitive moments, embrace that. The more you illuminate how God made you and recall how He sees you, it will strengthen you when feel like you don’t have purpose and that you aren’t fearfully and wonderfully made. Because you really are.

My prayer is that you see yourself as different pieces that make up a mosaic, a beautiful piece of art… and I say that intentionally because we’re all a piece that’s designed to work together (1 Corinthians 12). Instead of boxing yourself as being one-dimensional or ordinary, I would like for you to ask God to show you what He made.

I love y’all! Peace & Thanks for listening!

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