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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.

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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 #5

Prayer: “Your handiwork is breathtaking. You made me so well.”

Hey, Sweethearts. Welcome to Day 5 of #bloglikecrazy. Thanks for reading!

So, I have a confession to make. I have never struggled with body positivity in regards to my shape. Yes, I realized I was skinny as a kid — especially when my grandmother’s friends told me that my hips were sticks — but, I recall letting their comments bounce off my little breastplate and going outside to ride my ten-speed. I have never fought the battle of hating my form. Now, my skin tone? We had to work on that.

In elementary school, I was called nigger, inkblot, darkie, blackie, midnight, holy draws, goodie-two-shoes, etc. The verbal attacks were always related to my color, my faith, or my virginity. By the time I reached high school, you couldn’t tell me that my skin wasn’t comprised of chocolatey goodness. I had developed confidence without forming an ego. Before #melaninpoppin became a thing, God opened my eyes to how beautiful I was in His eyes. I remember the moment distinctively. Puberty was in full swing and I noticed stretch marks and… wait for it… hips! Instead of being horrified, I traced the new wavy lines on my body. They seemingly appeared overnight and my nerdy self was fascinated. I squeezed the new fluffy additions on my hips and smiled in the mirror. They were soft and looked sweet, especially since I was an aspiring doctor and admired all things anatomy. I was ready to wear them with pride.

Oftentimes, I look in the mirror and speak those words of prayer. I let the Creator know that He did an exceptional job. My mind, body, and spirit do amazing things on this Earth and I am grateful for what I see. I love the thickness of my thighs and moles on my face. Now, Myrtle (my encroaching gut) has gotten rude and out of hand due to various factors, so she’s got to go starting after Thanksgiving, but I don’t hate her. She just needs to be checked so some of my favorite clothing items can fit the way I want them to (I know… purely carnal). I don’t model my body according to societal standards. I just want to be the best creation I can be to show my Creator that I appreciate His Masterpiece.

I pray that you appreciate the same about yourself, Sweetheart. Pray that prayer as you look into the mirror once a week if needed. Do what you got to do. Love that body and do right by it.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and pray those real prayers, Sweethearts!

Wednesday Wind Down: Woman Up

Hi, Sweethearts!

I’m so glad you made it through another week. *fist bump* You’re still here. That makes you a survivor and if no one has told you lately, I’m proud of you. Want to chat about dirt? Great!

I was in a good place before it all went down. For weeks, I kept thinking about Earth… the ground, the air, the resources. Someone even asked me about global warming recently and I shared my sentiments. God didn’t make us dump trash in the oceans and hurl pollutants into the air for decades. We did that. And when was the last time you recall such frequency of turbulent and abnormal weather patterns? Alabama was still breaking heat records with 100-degree days well into October. So, do I also think Earth is aching (Romans 8:19-23)? Absolutely. I believe we are experiencing two forces at work every day — divinity and volition. After all, we are made of dirt and water, right? Anywho, I digress… let’s keep going!

ball shaped blur close up focus
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Take this same battle to an internal level and I see the same tug-of-war. The person we became based upon the decisions we made vs. The person God created us to be. It’s a realistic struggle, yet we also have to factor in situations that happened to us, not because of us. This is where I was spiritually before it all went down Tuesday… in a good way. Let me explain…

The Birmingham stop of the Women Evolve Night in the Wild Tour sold out four hours before I got off work and could purchase my ticket. So, I pouted for a few minutes and faced the fact that I wasn’t going. The next day, I heard God’s voice clearly say “You need to go.” The only available ticket was for the Nashville, TN and I just knew that wasn’t the method on deck. My financial basket wasn’t prepared for the road trip. I figured someone I knew wouldn’t be able to go in Birmingham and she would miraculously let me know. So, I waited it out. I even had a Gideon moment. If the Nashville stop still had tickets available that Monday, I would go. Needless to say, He tested my faith and I drove peacefully up I-65 to receive the spiritual refreshment I needed. Like soil, I gathered the broken pieces of my heart and prayed that God would nourish it when I got there. My knee burned fiercely, two women cut me off in the parking lot, I had to walk an incline and a significant amount of stairs, but it was minor in comparison to the vulnerability I would face and the strength I would receive. I took this picture before service because I had a gut feeling that I wouldn’t care to take one later. I was right.

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During worship service, I held those pieces of my heart as my hands flew up to the heavens. I traveled solo, so I didn’t know anyone which meant there were also no inhibitions. I was determined to get what I came for.

Within the Word, Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts mentioned the importance of women recognizing themselves as beautiful and formidable soil. She invigorated our supernatural selves and I found myself in a sanctuary full of other women that brought their cardiac fragments too. The atmosphere was safe. I cried freely. When she asked for women to come forward if they needed to uproot toxic seeds, I didn’t hesitate to limp down those stairs and receive the necessary work on the soil of my soul. I had roots of abandonment, depression, despair, and pessimism hiding deep within and at the most inconvenient times, they would germinate and I would feel ashamed. The crazy part is that I could see each seed and I knew exactly how it got there. So, those pieces that I brought with me were really sprouts from past pain both inflicted by my decisions and by things that happened against my will. Healing was one thing; I had undergone that spiritual surgery. Allowing infusion of strength in exchange for those pieces was a completely different story. It required a deeper layer of trust — a full submersion into my vulnerability — to the only One who wouldn’t hurt me. It sounds like an easy surrender, but vulnerability makes me itch before I have to do it. When you’re already at a low point, you have nowhere else to look but up. The difficult part is relinquishing your strength in exchange for His once you’ve stood up.

That’s what went down… well, up. And I’m so glad it did. Sweetheart, I encourage you to allow the Lord to aerate the soil of your heart. In the beginning, it may hurt like hell, but that exchange is necessary no matter how many times or levels you have to experience. Each time, remember that you’re beautifully crafted and God wants nothing more than to help you up so awesome seeds can grow out of you.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday Wind Down: Regroup You

In The Valve, I described what it felt like to reach a pressure point. Tonight, Sweetheart, I’m going to give you some practical tips to regroup after you’ve emptied out. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but the more you do it, the easier you can reach for it when you need it.

  1. Remember who you are, not what you feel. I read Bible verses that remind me of whom I belong. I may feel like crap or be treated like it in a situation, but how I feel doesn’t reprogram the Truth of who I am. What I feel is valid; however, I have to live like I’m still wearing a crown. If you need suggestions, here are a few.jeremiah 31-3
    Song of Solomon 4-7
  2. Write it out. If you’re like me, sometimes (who am I kidding… most times) I don’t feel like talking when I need to do so. On most occasions, instead of venting to a friend, I’ll release it on the page. I have cheap notebooks and fancy journals — it doesn’t matter. A page is a page. The beauty of writing is that it’s between you and you. Sometimes I talk to God through the pen and by the end of the sequence, His spirit has answered my questions.
  3. Be still. When was the last time you paid attention to your breath and heartbeat? One of the most valuable lessons I learned in college was how to stop for a few minutes to check-in with myself. Each heartbeat is a blessing. Each breath is a beauty. If you have a high-energy personality, set a timer for 15 seconds. Put your hand over your heart and focus on it. Tune everything else out. After a few days, try 30 seconds. Work your way up to 5 minutes. You can say truthful sayings or Bible verses between exhales or stay silent. This practice saved me on many lunch breaks so I could return to work in a calmer state of mind.
  4. Solo jam. – If you know me personally, you know that music runs through my veins. Another way I fill up is to jam to some favorite songs. I could be driving, standing in a check-out line, walking, or in my kitchen. The location is irrelevant. If you have a friend that can jam it out with you — even better.
beautiful-cellphone-cute-761963
Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

So, if you see me out and about and I’m bobbin’ my head and snapping my fingers, you know what’s up. Ask me what I’m listening to and join in. lol

Peace & Thanks for listening! Regroup you!

Featured Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

Wednesday Wind Down: Thank You

Good Evening, Sweethearts! How are you? I hope you’re doing well. Here’s a thought for your week just in case.

I find myself saying “thank you” for the oddest things. Just this week, the wind wrapped Himself around me and it felt like a supernatural hug. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness, so I looked up and smiled at the sky. To someone else, that doesn’t make sense, but to me, it’s how I choose to live.

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7

It’s easy to thank God for the good stuff. The stuff that feels warm and fuzzy. The good stuff that you don’t see coming. It takes skill to be grateful for the stuff that feels awful and unexpectedly hits you. You read correctly — I said skill, as in something you learn and hone over time and experience. Now, I don’t believe that God plays chess with our lives; some things we bring upon ourselves. It’s called volition and it can be a help and a hindrance.

The ability to make decisions is what saved my mouth from going into overdrive while I was paying a bill over the phone. I could have invoked the Earth-given privilege of speaking my mind, but in actuality, it would have been speaking my emotions. It would have been sharp, egregious, and unapologetic. In the mix of the moment, I chose to be grateful instead of spiteful. I thanked God that the payment amount was at the level I needed it to be and that my account was current. I also thanked the Lord that I had the money in which to pay it this month. It was a split-second decision (with a dash of reluctant maturity) to be grateful for the Truth and not distracted by the disrespect. It made me think of how quickly things can escalate at the drop of a word and how gratefulness saved the future chain of events.

person holding cactus on a stick
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

This week, my prayer is that you find gratefulness in the little things that are truly big things to someone else. I pray that you say thank you to all of the “sandpaper” people in your office because they are making you smoother for your future. Find the moment. Dig for it if you have to. You don’t have to like it, but you may need to hold that “thank you item” in your hand to keep from crying or doing something destructive.

Have an awesome week out there. No stoking the fires, OK?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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