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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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Bible verses

Wednesday Wind Down: Check Your Work

Hi, Family!

How’s your side of the planet? How was/is your day? I snatched a nap under a pretty tree that made me smile, so that’s a win. We made it to another week, so that’s a win too. 🙂

This week’s wind down may sting a bit, OK? Cool.

Remember when you finally completed a math problem only to hear “Check your work” from the teacher? Math wasn’t my strong subject, so I checked my work repeatedly to the point of obsession. As for the “check your work” mantra, it’s applicable in more than academic arenas. I believe God is encouraging us to do that very thing during this pandemic season.

What do I mean? I’m glad you asked. 🙂

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Sunday is a fellowship day for many Christians. We sing songs of praise, ask the love of Jesus to saturate our lives, and pray for expedited miracles. We exhort, cry, and pledge to be more like the One who saved us. We review teachings of Christ, catch up with fellow church members, and proceed into the week after a hearty Sunday dinner (which really happens at lunch time, but I digress). Unfortunately, the rest of that week brings a slew of words that do not exemplify the very thing we commemorated on Sunday. I’ve heard the following commentary while frolicking in the public on a Sunday afternoon or during a workday:

“That’s what’s wrong with America… they just let anybody in.”
“The Mexicans are taking over.”
“They need to go back to their own country.”
“They come here illegally and get away with it.”
“Well, I did it and so can they. We got to stop giving handouts.”

Sidebar: That’s one of my pet peeves when discussing social issues. Say who you mean instead of shooting “they’s” and “them’s” around folks like stray bullets.

Now, I could dissect those statements better than a frog in a high school biology class, but I won’t. My point is that we have ethereal (or ritual) experiences on Sunday and barrage a group of people with the same tongue that blessed God. We can’t possibly think that is OK.

Here’s how God sounds in my creative mind –

“So, you don’t like them, huh? You don’t want them to live next to you? They’re fine until they date your son or daughter? That’s right… you don’t see color and love everybody. Yeah, I heard that line last week. Prove it. Love them like you love yourself.”

You know I believe the Word of God applies to real life, so check out James 1:26.

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”

James 1:26, The Holy Bible, New Living Translation

That’s straight from the brother and former mocker of Jesus. James, who saw his resurrected brother, says your claims of faith are worthless if you don’t control your tongue. Since the tongue expresses what it is in the heart, there lies the reason to “check your work.” To check the work of your hands and make sure it matches the beat of your heart… the heart that celebrates Christ on Sundays.

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It’s Hispanic Heritage Month and I’ve been reflecting on the grit it takes to be Hispanic and Latinx in America. To be born here and assumed to be born elsewhere. To be bilingual or to speak broken English the best you can. To navigate homogeneous spaces where you may not be welcome. To be stereotyped as being less than a contributing member to society. To be mislabeled as a non-citizen when you have your credentials. To serve in this country’s military while waiting on citizenship approval. Remember that commentary up there? Does that sound like Sunday? Does that sound like the love of Jesus?

If you need a starting point, here are three quick items that may need a checked.

  1. Everyone that “looks Mexican” is not Mexican. Beware of this assumption.
  2. Everyone that “looks Mexican” is not beneath your social class.
  3. If you can appropriate it, you can learn about it and honor it properly (food, music, holidays, etc.).

When we say we want Jesus to be in our lives, that means all of it… especially our habits. I know they’re comfortable, but they aren’t traits of Who we worship.

Check your words. Check your work. Check your heart.

I love you and I’m praying for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Shush

Hi, Family!

I’m going to jump right in, OK? Great.

Do you have moments when you reeeeeeeeally want to speak up, but you know it would be a waste of breath? I mean, a true expulsion of your precious oxygen?

Me too. So, how do you handle it?

In those moments, an tidal wave of itchy annoyance barrels through my core. My listening elevates to a hypersensitivity mode like I’m a seasoned member of the X-Men. It feels like someone turned a secret volume knob behind my ears. I may stretch my neck a little, but my default internal setting is to throttle down to quietness. Like non-existent audio. When this mode is activated, I know it is best for me to hush, work on something else, or leave the area.

Can you relate? Do you have moments when it is best for you to shut up, but the words are bouncing between your jaws like they are in a WWE match waiting for a chance to tag team someone’s comment and break through your lips? It can be downright frustrating, but the icing on the cake is when your intelligence is insulted.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

Whew. Y’all… the evil forces know this is an area of progress for me. When someone combats with false information, THEN dismisses my well-informed input…? That’s it. Cue the X-Men ears and wrestling ring of words ready to break out. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the Holy Spirit has to tighten my bridle.

Don’t get me wrong – there are divine opportunities for clarity and structure to be verbalized. The key word is divine. Every moment of discourse is not designated for your mouth to open. You have to know when those times are set before you and when they are a trap. Check out the following verse –

Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

– Proverbs 17:28 (New Living Translation)

Every time I read this verse, I feel seen… terribly. The scenario usually goes a little something like this –

God: “Daughter, even fools know when to shut up.”
Me: “But, God, for real?! Seriously?! Do you hear this foolishness?”
God: “Ma’am.” *insert heavenly side-eye*
Me: “But, they act like I don’t know what I’m talking about… and I have degrees and professional experience in this stuff! Who do they think they’re talking to?”
God: “And what do you think it will accomplish? They aren’t listening.”
Me: “I know, I know… it’s not worth it…”
God: “Nope. Keep your mouth shut and keep it movin’.”

Family, I know it’s tempting to tell them off and flex your intellectual muscles or share your life experience to help them taste humility. It’s tempting to be petty and shut the conversation down, but it’s simply not worth it. The truth is – and hear me out – sometimes, it’s better just letting them think you don’t know anything.

Photo by Tony Schnagl on Pexels.com

I saw that face.

I know that face.

I make it too.

But when you do the math, your breath and your peace are too valuable for some conversations. I’ve had to calculate the probability of understanding on many occasions and be at peace with the outcome. The truth is that some people like to swirl in a caldron of complaints and ear-tickling information. They only drink what they pour. They never seek to comprehensively understand. Never. Let them tell it, the apocalypse is going to happen in a few minutes because a law doesn’t fit their preferences. In their world, discriminatory practices are figments of political imagination. And that can make you angry enough to explode… especially when you’re unheard or dismissed. The honest response that tap-dances in my spirit is “I teach social sciences and you’re trying to school me by using incorrect or insanely biased data? You’re seriously trying to tell me a historical event didn’t take place? Can you even tell me how a bill becomes a law? You don’t get to talk to me about ANYTHING relating to immigration, civil rights infringement, gun control, or any other soundbite you choose to cook on the stove of your mind. Miss me with that.”

Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

…aaaand that’s why the Holy Spirit has to oil up that bridle. *sigh* What good will that rant do? Why stir up a conversation with someone who has already decided that they will not listen? In communications class, we say the ultimate goal of communication is a shared understanding. Unfortunately, understanding can not be shared until both parties are willing to listen… willing to exchange compassion. If this cannot be detected, I highly encourage you to hold your tongue and your peace… then unleash your frustration elsewhere in a healthy way.

I leave you with this just in case you need it at the family table or in the conference room soon –

A man of knowledge restrains his words, and a man of understanding maintains a calm spirit.

– Proverbs 17:27

Calm doesn’t mean there isn’t activity beneath the ocean’s surface. It means it has a boundary that isn’t remote controlled. I’m not asking you to mute yourself. I’m encouraging you to assess and act accordingly instead of jumping into every pool of dialogue. I’m asking you not to take the bait. I’m asking you to think of the long game instead of the short reward. I’m asking you to allow the Holy Spirit to be your Guide. It’s worth it; I’m living proof.

You got this and I got your back. *fist bump*

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Pick One

Hi, Family!

I hope your day went or is going well (shout out to our international family members).

I heard a Word in my Spirit over the weekend and I am so excited to share it with you!

Let’s look at half of one of my favorite passages – Psalm 1.

Psalm 1:1-3 (New American Standard Bible)

(1) Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. (3) He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. And in whatever he does, he prospers.

OK, so I want to highlight the “sit in the seat of the scoffers” part. What is a scoffer? According to dictionary.com, it is a person who speaks derisively; ridicules; mocks; jeers. Isn’t that happening right now over various topics? Sure it is! The phrasing indicates that the man doesn’t sit in their seat. He doesn’t get comfortable in barbaric conversations where love and listening are not welcome. He doesn’t delight in mocking others. That’s not where he lives; it’s not where he thrives. He does not breathe there.

This passage came to mind after I heard the following in my spirit over the holiday: They want a religion that will not change them.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Whoa.

I paused what I was doing and let the gravitas float in the air. The Holy Spirit was spot on (per usual) and I shook my head in disappointment.

Although Sunday is deemed a sacred day in many communities, I believe it became more ritualistic than life-changing. This was never the intent. Never in the Plan. I truly believe the upside of the pandemic is that this comfy church blanket was ripped from our hands and more importantly from our internal dictionaries. When we couldn’t go to an edifice, we had to create space in our homes for Christ to inhabit. We had to sit with ourselves or with our families, pause some duties, and cultivate intimacy in our belief systems. More importantly, we had to create space in our hearts.

Let’s go back to Psalm 1:1-3. The only way for that man to be like a tree is to have a consistent supply of nutrients. He meditates day and night on what will foster growth. The tree is planted by water and the last time I checked, trees have all sorts of things crawling and growing around them, but they keep being a tree. They keep rising, sometimes growing against seemingly impossible odds. They grow. They bear fruit. They release leaves. They do what they were created to do.

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Pexels.com

Are we the man in the passage or are we stuck in the ritualism of our faith with no intention of growing – attending church events with no appetite for the Word to purify our lives?

Even David mentions a similar frustration in Psalm 4:2“O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?”

Now check out Proverbs 15:12“A scoffer doesn’t love to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.”

As believers, we can’t want the highlights of our faith without the grittiness of growth. What the world ends up seeing is a group of hypocrites scorning them, which is actually closer to the origin of the Hebrew word for “scoffer” used in Psalm 1.

Not Love.
Not Wisdom.
Not Correction.

Scorn.

So, the latest additions to my prayer life have been the following:

“Lord, I don’t want to be in the way of someone seeing You.”
“Growth is a continuous expectation. Let me be at peace with the process.”
“I have an appetite for Your Word to live in me.”

Some years back, I picked one. I picked life. I picked growth. I picked the streams of water that channel the Love of Christ into my spirit over getting into petty debates about mask wearing and vaccines (Family, remember what I always say – it’s not worth the neurons. I picked the opportunity to not be a living thing that does not grow.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Invisibles

Hi, Family!

I hope you had a good day. If not, it just got better. I prayed for you this week and here’s the shortstop Word I was given to share.

One of my consistent prayers is to see the heart of people. To peer past the surface and listen to the heartbeat God placed within these bodies. Let me warn you – this is one of those real prayers. It’s not an easy feat to penetrate a heavy armor of hatred and seek the root of a person. Honestly, it takes practice (but doesn’t all of this thing call faith take practice?).

After praying that request some years ago, my natural empathy boosted 10 times over. It felt like an overload some days. I walked by a woman one day and realized her retail therapy was an attempt to hush her grief-stricken heart. I spoke to her and she cried. Moments like that began to multiply and I found myself praying the following: “Lord, how many of us are there? How many of us are walking with invisible scars, aches, and pains? How many of us do we not see?” The answer I heard – “Everywhere.”

Every day, the Invisibles are among us. They work with us, shop with us, and even live with us. Some are strangers we love and some are family we despise. Some hold stark opinions that can make your blood boil. Newsflash: Our faith calls us to Love them too.

Now, I’m not telling you to act like a licensed professional and diagnose everyone you meet. I am challenging you to see beyond. Since we do not know what a person is experiencing, it would behoove us to act like Jesus and show compassion to all. Since some battles are invisible, it would be wise not to pass judgment to anyone. Since we do not live in each other’s skin, we should watch our mouths. Our words alone could repel someone from seeing the essence of our beliefs. So, since we don’t know, we should be quiet. Be still. Check in with the Holy Spirit and check our circles of influence. Be for real and ask God to illuminate and eliminate our blind spots . We should show that overwhelming Love that was shown to us.

It doesn’t take much. It just takes kindness. An extra tip to your server. An open door for a person who is carrying a load. An encouraging text to someone you admire. A listening ear to someone who feels unheard. A sincere compliment. It takes an extension of yourself past that prayer.

So let’s make grace contagious. Let’s move past the familiar and into the invisible. Let’s see the fingerprint of God in people and Love them as we are commanded to do.

Stay well out there and, in case you haven’t heard it recently, I love you and I’m proud of you. You’re still here and you made it this far.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Replenish

Happy Thursday, Family!

I hate I missed you last night. The sandman knocked me down and I went with it, but you know I couldn’t leave you hanging until next week. So, here’s what I’ve been chewing on lately (and it’s a short stop).

This passage comes after God lets the children of Israel have it. In modern terms, this is also called “giving the business” or “reading” someone. *lol* Whatever you want to call it, God let them know He was not happy with their fasting foolishness.

Then comes this passage which has been a breath of fresh air to this season. Every time I read it, I think about the water cycle. Remember that from elementary school? It’s a beautiful reminder that God’s strength is never-ending and that He has plenty for us. I love that the water never runs out during the water cycle. You can read more about how water reminds me of God’s awesomeness here.

That “continually” part is everything to me. The Lord’s guidance will never run out on you. Your strength will be replenished well enough for you to be well-watered in a dry place. I don’t know about you, but I could use some water right now. Like clockwork, when I feel like I have nothing left to give — like an empty garden — God always give me more… more oxygen, more strength, more peace, more of something to go a little further. I may be emotionally drained, then someone calls and asks for prayer. I may be hurting and I will feel a supernatural boost to help someone in need. He never fails and, like that ever-flowing spring, our Source is everlasting. Since He is everlasting, we do not have to be. What a blessing that is! How relieving it is that we do not have to water ourselves! You and I both know that we try to reach that aerial bar with much failure at our feet, so I pray that you bask in that truth today and every day.

What I also love is that as He replenishes us, we will be infused with enough to be rebuilders and restorers. We can go from being a desolate place to building life around us. How cool is that?

I love you all and I’m praying for you. Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Love in Living Color

Hey, Family!

It’s Valentine’s weekend and everywhere you go, there’s red hearts, candies, and roses to be had. Some couples and singles have plans while others plan to do nothing. There’s the usual Galentine’s festivities and even February 15th is dubbed National Side Chick Day, but that’s for another conversation.

What will you do if you’re feeling blue on Valentine’s Day? I’m glad you asked! Below is a verse to consider as you enjoy the weekend.

2 Corinthians 4:18So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

It’s so easy to get caught up in gift-giving, but Jesus’ Love came with the ultimate red bottoms. His blood was shed so you would remember how loved you truly are and we can stand firmly on that foundation.

Photo by Konstantin Mishchenko on Pexels.com

It’s the mindset we should have during hardship.
It’s the vision we should maintain when we can’t see a way through adversity.
It’s the platform we stand on in the middle of our stormiest seas.
It’s His Love that allows us to Love others.

Flowers are beautiful but for a season. Gifts are exceptional until they are lost or discarded. The Love we share with others will be remembered most. Think of it as a highlight reel on a television screen and you’ll see that His Love exceeds any money you may spend.

I ask you this, Family – Do you love in a way that will outlive you? Do you love in living color? If you didn’t say a word, could love be easily identified in you?

Consider this your reminder to start today as those questions simmer in your spirit. No holiday necessary.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Unpack the Bag

Hey, Family!

Here’s a short shop for your week!

You know how society stresses the importance of securing the bag? If you’ve never heard of this colloquialism, it means to take advantage of a financial opportunity, obtain the funds, snatch the coins… you get the drift.

Well, for some of us, I say it’s time to unpack the bag. *raising my hand too*

I’ve been undergoing this uncomfortable adventure with my therapist recently. As faith-filled as we may be, there’s a bag of stuff that we keep tucked away or in my case, that we never knew existed.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

So, how does a Christian begin the process of unpacking an emotional suitcase? First, you need two guides – The Holy Spirit and a professional counselor/therapist. If you’re new here, welcome to my blend. I’m an avid advocate for mental health and I believe God gifted persons with the ability to help us navigate difficult waters. If you need a starting point, let me know. I have a list of exceptional professionals that can either help you directly or refer you to someone who can.

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

As you find a match for your wellness needs and prepare for the journey, here are three things to remember –

  1. Remember you serve a God who cares.
    • WORD: Psalm 147:3 NLT – “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
    • NOTE: Whatever the weight, He can handle it. Start unloading.
  2. Remember you are an exceptional creation.
    • WORD: Psalm 139: 13-14 NLT – “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it.”
    • NOTE: Your baggage doesn’t change who you are.
  3. Remember freedom is yours.
    • WORD: Psalm 34:14 NLT – “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.”
    • NOTE: You do not have to live in your baggage. The suitcase is not your home. You can be freed.

Family, don’t forget you are not alone and you have everything it takes to begin the journey. I pray you have the courage to take the first steps necessary toward a healthier you. I know I am.

Peace & Thanks for listening to my under-500-word Tiny Desk Ted Talk! *lol*

Wednesday Wind Down: No Shade

Hi, Family!

I hope you’re doing well out there. If not, I hope this short stop helps.

Have you ever had someone judge your plate? You know the type. They throw side-eye shade about your chicken alfredo between their green smoothie sips. They may even comment about the calories and how you should try their diet of the month. How rude.

When I sit down to enjoy a fun meal, I have no regrets. Why? I remember all the vegetables I ate and the carbs I declined. I smile at the fruit I ate instead of chocolate and the extra cardio I enjoyed (dance is my favorite cardio by the way). I let that shade stay on their side of the street. Why again? Because I know the truth. I know my plate is my reward.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

This week, I encourage you to stick close to the Truth and throw off that shade. No one knows your internal struggles but you and God. You’re the only one that lives in your skin. Pray that you are infused with divine strength to withstand the shade of judgment. Nothing but toxicity grows there, so stay on the side of Truth. Here’s three quick vitamins to help with that –

  1. Say to whom you belong, e.g. “I am yours; you are mine.”
  2. Tell yourself one truth about your plate, e.g. “I’m going to enjoy this moment, then continue my journey.”
  3. Remind yourself that judgment doesn’t stick to you, e.g. “I don’t have to own what you give.”

I love y’all and I’m praying for you as you navigate those shade trees. While you’re at it, read Ephesians 6:10-17 and do right by your body so you can have that alfredo. *lol*

Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: What A Day

Well, my original first-Wednesday-of-the-year message has been altered a bit.

I’ll keep one part of the initial plan — to change my affectionate name for you. I thought it befitting to call you Family. After all, we’ve shared a whole heap of life events together (5 years worth come January 26th actually). So Sweethearts is retired and Family are you. 🙂

On to the different message.

I’m watching. So should you.

My eyes and spirit are keen and I am not dismayed by what happened in Washington, DC.
I’m not surprised.
I’m not angry.

I’m watching… and I’m actually glad we saw the attempted coup of the U.S. Capitol.

Photo by Thiago Matos on Pexels.com

Why? Because proof can not be ignored. A mirror is still a mirror even when it’s broken.

More people were able to see behind the veil of privilege and democracy (and this is from a social science educator). For America to lift up her skirt and show her tail to the world was exactly what we needed to affirm how damaged we truly are. Hypocrisy spills from her lips every time she tilts her liberty-crowned head back and scoffs at other countries for their supposed lack of governmental and military prowess. The last 3 months show how much pride is around our borders and how much ache is in our souls.

On numerous occasions, I’ve written about my love for America (just search “America” on my blog) and that I don’t always likes what she does. So what do you do in a moment like this… when you don’t like what you see and you can’t un-see it? When you’re trying to digest your sentiments with friends and family and they refuse to respect your thought?

You watch.

You pay attention and take notes.

You don’t let anyone infiltrate your peace of mind.

Photo by Barik5ive on Pexels.com

You can be sad, upset, confused, frustrated, but don’t let it alter your personality. Don’t let it harden your heart. I hate that people attach the name of Jesus to the foolishness we saw, but I refuse to exhibit behavior that would cause even more people to turn away from His Love. And that storming of our democratic symbol was no where near it.

Another tip – Be ridiculously aware. Pray for wisdom and I guarantee the Holy Spirit will be your navigator in these uncharted waters. Hone in on who is saying what and why. Notice their actions. Seek for alignment between word and deed. Ugly or not, the Truth is always present. This one is just more personal (and uglier) than we thought.

Family, you can navigate through the smoke.

You can disagree without losing your wits.

You can be disgusted with the haps and shine at work. Being temperamental is what the darkness wants you to do. So, don’t give your heart away and while you’re taking notes, remember this one – Galatians 6:7-8 New Living Translation (pretty easy to remember the number sequence, right?)

“Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.”

Courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

It may get worse before it gets better, but keep watching. Keep paying attention to God’s move in and out of you. Keep sowing the good seeds.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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