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Wednesday Wind Down: Produce

Hello, Sweethearts!

We made it through another week, didn’t we? What a blessing! We’re 15 days into 2020 and the new year is going fast!

While walking my dog this week (which seems to be my secondary #LATSOL hotspot nowadays), I thought about Jennifer Lopez. I had just binge-watched Hustlers and Second Act, and being a long-term supporter of J. Lo, I imagined how she must have felt after producing these two films… pride, relief, and excitement. She’s known for not putting her name on anything she does not fully endorse and she exudes excellence in every mission set before her. In her words, she doesn’t see herself as getting older — she just strives to be a better version of herself year after year.

With that said, I pulled a virtual chair next to Ms. Lopez and I kicked my feet up for a split-second. We recalled her body of work on stage, on screen, and behind the camera. She has and continues to produce a broad spectrum of art. We nodded in approval as photos of movie posters circulated in front of us like a carousel of colorful horses.  Then, I absorbed the lesson of the moment.

Be proud of everything you produce.

Now, that’s a tall order, but it is definitely doable. You see, we are soil. God created us out of dirt (just take a look in the tub next time for verification), but I believe we host spiritual soil inside of us. It is capable of growing amazing things because everything God made can produce something. That’s the God-like quality in us — to produce inanimate creations like music and lively humans called babies. Part of the reason I appreciate the prowess of Jennifer Lopez is because she is always proud of her work… her produce… the fruit of her labor. How many of us can say the same thing?

So, if we’re the soil, where are the seeds? Where’s the light? Who’s got the water? I’m glad you asked! We host seeds from various places. They’re a special blend of our parents and our experiences. All of them have a chance to grow, but the goal is to produce the best fruit we have to offer the world before we leave here. With Light from the Word of God and a flow of guidance (Water) from the Holy Spirit to nourish us daily, we can produce exceptional things in this life. And let’s not forget Love… that beautifully gritty fertilizer.

Need some help getting started? Here’s a few verses for your journey.

Matt 5.16Galatians 6.10Hebrews 10.242 Cor 9.6

My prayer is to die empty and I can only do that if my soil produces fruit that I am proud to present to my Father and to His Creations. The beauty of it all is that I have this remarkable opportunity every day.  So do you.

What are you producing, Sweetheart?

Peace & I’m praying for the soil of your heart. Thanks for listening!

Bible verse visuals courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

Wednesday Wind Down: Upon Deaf Ears

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

It’s been a week since the decade started. How’s it going? Are you smashing those goals? So far, so good on mine. *fist bump* Here’s some motivation for your week as you continue to shine.

The new year usually causes people to purge their homes, phone contacts, and Facebook friends. Many Christians participate in a fast to gain spiritual strength and clarity. People around the world undergo a new exercise regimen to improve their health (or to unveil a new summer body — whatever works). As I was talking to a friend about fasting, I heard God’s voice clearly and created a great reminder for me.

Pride is deaf to everything except its own voice.

photo of a boy listening in headphones
Photo by jonas mohamadi on Pexels.com

As you’re in the midst of de-cluttering your life and increasing your awesomeness, I encourage you to be mindful of those that are deaf to your concerns, desires, and goals. Have you tried more than once to change the lenses in someone else’s glasses? You expose the gears of your soul and be straightforward with your expectations, but s/he still doesn’t get it. No matter what you say, there’s a negativity belt that suffocates your pursuit of purpose all the while their own version of truth is on repeat in their ears. If you’ve said all you can say and changed your behaviors for the better and the message is still “return to sender,” be encouraged to be just as deaf as they are. What you may be experiencing is their pride plugging their ears to the Truth. The bad news is you don’t get to control their hearing. Go ahead. Let that sink in.

Since your words fall upon their deaf pride, I suggest you allow their pride to fall upon your deaf positivity. Talking to someone who doesn’t listen is frustrating and exhausting. I have learned to plug my ears with what God’s Word says about me. The negativity, the disregard, the ego… it all bounces off my spiritual earplugs. You too have the option to receive or deny what someone tries to put on your plate. Don’t let the manifestations of their pride stick to your progress. It’s a new year, so don’t back down. Keep going walking toward the best version of yourself. Honestly, you don’t have time for anything else.

Remember: Be mindful of what you see and hear because it can determine what you say and do. You control what germinates in your spirit, so let their pride fall on your deaf ears. Here’s a visual of Philippians 4:8 to help you along the way.

Phil 4.8

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m praying for you. Have a great week!

Wednesday Wind Down: Home

Happy New Year, Sweethearts! I hope you’re somewhere safe and enjoying your clean slate.

Last night, I did exactly what I wanted to do and I took no prisoners. I was in Landover, Maryland visiting Zion Church. Every year, they host new year’s eve worship services and an after-party. Two years ago, while serving online as a prayer/chat host, I said the following to myself: “I’m going in person. Just give me a couple of years.”  Well, I made it and it was incredible.

The welcoming spirit of the people bounced between the walls and spilled through the doors and into the parking lot. The line to attend each service resembled that of rock concerts. Trays of sparkling apple cider and snacks were served as we waited outside. The cold wind whipped around our smiles but couldn’t wipe them away. My sisters and I were simply excited to be there… together.

From beginning to end, their hospitality was genuine and infectious. I am still a prayer/chat host in their iCampus ministry and a small group member, so when I introduced myself, the sparkle in their eyes increased and their sweetness expanded. I was already welcomed beautifully when I arrived just like everyone else. That’s what made the visit so lovely. Love was everywhere and it fueled each part of the experience. Then, I thought of us as human sanctuaries. I’ve thought of our hearts as homes before, but last night, a prayer came with that idea.

Lord, I want my life to be as welcoming as this sanctuary. I can’t let everyone live in my heart, but my Light should welcome others to know You. God, please clear my sanctuary for Love to roam free.

People that didn’t know each other hugged like old friends and danced together like they had a rehearsal yesterday. It was exhilarating, warm, and free — and exactly what I prayed for two years ago. Every day won’t be a party, but moments like last night can live forever with the right ingredient… Love.

The basis of Pastor Keith Battle’s message was Isaiah 43. Here’s a verse from the sermon to uplift your week and your new decade.

IMG3870432726647843040.jpg

Peace, Thanks for listening, and See you next week!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #23

Prayer: “Lord, please make this work. I really need this to work.”

Have you ever had all the eggs in one basket and you were hoping you weren’t an idiot for putting them there, but you had to wait it out to see if it was a dumb move or a smart step? Cool. I knew I had found my people.

It reminds me of the bridge in my favorite hymn “What A Friend We Have In Jesus” –

“O, what piece we often forfeit

O, what needless pain we bear

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer.”

Sweethearts, I’ve had my fair share of forfeited peace. Plenty of moments where it was no one’s fault but mine. I saw the signs and walked straight into (or stayed in) the quicksand. Maybe I thought it was truly a smart step or I didn’t want to be deemed a quitter. Either way, I was still stuck in it. I’ve also experienced times when I took God at His Word and couldn’t ssee the dividends of doing so. Same prayer applied in each scenario.

Whatever it is that you’re in, pray for it to work. Now, here’s the kicker… when you do that, you relinquish your right to choose the avenue in which it will work out and in what capacity. It could mean that you don’t get the raise, but you increase in favor with your colleagues and supervisor. That happened to me. It could mean that you are let go under false pretenses, but you are released before the crap hits the fan and the workplace reeks of unethical behavior. That happened to me too. In essence, be prepared for all things to work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

I’m praying for you all. You got this and God’s got you. Peace and Thanks for listening! It will work out!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #16

Prayer: “Lord, please help my unbelief. I know you’re here. I know you are God, but it’s just hard to believe that this is working for my good.”

I know what the Word says but that doesn’t mean my belief muscles are always strong. There was a time when they felt frail. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe at all; I just had fragments of hope that couldn’t find their way to faith. In Mark – Chapter 9, I found someone who understood me.

Belief is a tricky thing because you are taught that it is all or nothing. Either you believe that your chair will hold you or not. Either you believe that the plane will carry you and your luggage to the next destination. But what happens when you believe with all you have left? Is that enough for God to work with? Absolutely. I am the evidence. He can work with the shredded pieces of your tragedy. He can love the torn parts of your faith. Just give what you have to Him. He will help your unbelief and it’s OK to admit that it is there. In Mark 9, the father had to give his unbelief to Jesus in faith that He would accept that too. And He did.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Keep praying real prayers.

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #14

Prayer: “Lord, please cover my words. I didn’t mean to say it like that. Just cover all of that, please. I’m so sorry. Let them know I didn’t mean it.”

I’ve said plenty of things that I didn’t mean. It may have come out of my mouth with a little more heat than I expected or it wasn’t as clear as the thought in my mind. Either way, I was put in a position where I couldn’t take it back or I couldn’t reach the person to fix it. Like a muddy pig, my words slipped out and there was no redeeming the moment.

One time, I was at an event where my team donated water. I mentioned over the mic that our water was cold and my team later tapped me on the shoulder to let me know that it could have been taken in a negative way… as if to throw shade at other water donors. That thought was the furthest thing from my mind when I said it and I couldn’t run back on stage to fix it. All I do was pray that prayer above. It may be small, but I never want to hurt anyone in word or deed — knowingly or unknowingly.

Sweethearts, it’s inevitable that your words will not adequately reflect your intent one day if it hasn’t already. I pray that you’re wise enough to own it and ask God for forgiveness. I’ve run into people that recalled me from an event and they had no clue what I was apologizing for. God always knows the heart. Remember that. And you’re not perfect. Remember that too. Just do your best to have a clear highway in your heart for God’s Love to always land.

prov 21.2

Peace & Keep Praying, Sweethearts. May God direct the words of us all and clarify our intentions toward each other.

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #8

Prayer: “God, this is the perfect night to walk with someone, but I’m cool with just walking with You. Thank you for being my Friend.”

I remember this one. The sky had transitioned to beautiful dusk and I was drinking it in during a light stroll. Scenes of a good rom-com flashed across my eyes. I could see it all. The hand-holding, the jokes, the unveiling of truths… it was a perfect night for all of that goodness. I could hide it from others, but from God, I just didn’t want to. Not at that moment. I wanted to be honest with my feelings — my romantic pining to be exact. So, instead of the “I wish…” rabbit hole, I decided to let it out. Once I did, I grew overwhelmingly grateful for the friendship of God.

I didn’t feel like I was walking alone.

I wasn’t lonely.

I was sincerely appreciative to not feel alone. I enjoy my own company well now, but that’s because I’ve sat in the ashes of loneliness before. It’s a dark place. Although walking with a loving man would have been the perfect treat, the truth was that I felt like Love was all around me. I smiled to myself. I admired nature. I kept praying aloud. I shared what I wanted and what I didn’t want in a partner. I shared how much I loved His Presence. I told God that walking with Him was just as beautiful as the sky He painted. I felt in love with being alive in Him. Everything else would come in due season.

If you’re in a place of transition, pray a real prayer. Acknowledge where you are and verbalize it to your Creator. I pray God’s Love covers your shoulders along your walk, too.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #7

Prayer: “Why can’t people just do right?! Why is that is so hard?! Lord, get your children because I can’t deal!”

Don’t act like you have never walked away shaking your head at a few people. It may be the workplace, but some folks just make you wish for a Mortal Kombat standoff (Scorpion, anyone?). Countless occasions have yielded moments like these in my life and it wasn’t easy to walk away. I mean, c’mon, when you factually know that a person is lying to you or doesn’t host your best interest or is tarnishing your character, that’s enough to make anyone twitch. At times, only God stood between me and the other soul, and s/he will never know it. I’m not a fighter, but Sweethearts, I’ve definitely been tested as such. The unfortunate part is that I’ve thought of so many spiteful things to say and do in retaliation. Enough to stay on the altar until the day I die.

While it would be wonderful to experience camaraderie with everyone, that’s just unrealistic and the Lord and I have had plenty of conversations about His creations. Can I love you without liking you? Yes! Love is a commandment; Like is not. Even the Bible tells you the real deal.

“Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” – Romans 12:18

See? Do all. you. can.

So, if you’ve ever been in the situation of wanting to dropkick someone, you’re not alone. Just don’t do it. It’s not worth it. The best revenge is the view from your mountaintop. But until you get there, get those prayers out of your system… every time. Make it a habit so you can stay free.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay prayed up!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #6

Prayer: “I don’t understand this one. You’re going to have to help me with this. I don’t get it. Why did they have to die? Why couldn’t you just take someone else? This just doesn’t make sense. I don’t get it.”

I admit that I have thought about the following: Why did she have to die in a car accident? Why did he have to die with Alzheimer’s? Why did she die before seeing me graduate? 

I know it’s not acceptable Christian vernacular, but I’m guilty of asking God why he didn’t take someone else’s life in place of the ones I love. I thought of the rapists, the murderers, the pedophiles… the ones deemed by society as below hell’s respect of persons, then I thought of how sweet my persons were. How undeserving their deaths were in my eyes. I couldn’t wrap my rationale around the reality of my persons no longer being a phone call away and to be brutally honest, I was pissed. Why would a good God take away pieces of my heart? Some deaths were easier to handle while others pushed me off my axis. What was I supposed to do with that… all of that anger and confusion?

I questioned my faith. I questioned the validity of the Bible. I didn’t want to hear that they were “in a better place.” I wanted them here. With me. No exceptions. No soothing back rubs. No funeral flowers. Just here… where I could touch them. Talk to them. Love on them again. At those times, the only prayer I could release were the words above and I had to trust that God wanted to hear my pain just as much as my praise.

During those seasons, I clung to this Bible verse with every fiber of my weakness. It was the only thing that made sense because it described how I felt.

Psalm 34:18
Courtesy of YouVersion – The Bible App

The most difficult thing to do was to crawl my way back to Love after feeling scorned by it. I had to come to terms with the truth that I didn’t know the prayers of my persons. It could have been one of relief or swiftness. I don’t know. I just knew I was hurting and my prayer lines were on life support. Eventually, I made my way from a crawl to a kneel like a fighter recovering from a blow. Kneeling transitioned to standing. Breathing slowly. Then came walking forward. No one could rush me or assign a path to my process. Only God could resuscitate me back to life and I had to grow to the point to let Him do it.

I love you all and pray that you feel confident to pray a real prayer of grief whenever you’re ready. He can handle it. Trust me. I’m a living, breathing, walking witness of that. You are still more than a conqueror. You are still strong. It’s just time for you to be honest about the rest.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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