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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!

Wednesday Wind Down: Stick in the Mud

Happy Wednesday, Sweetheart!

How was your week? Mine was pretty great. If yours wasn’t, it just got better. *smile* Keep reading to get a shortstop for your week.

I was walking Sammy after a rainy day and noticed the ant mounds. They had been pounded by what probably seemed to be gigantic raindrops in their eyes. If I were an ant, I would have abandoned the mounds; they looked unlivable. Some had already dried to form a semi-hard crust of mud. Then, God whispered a reminder in my ear.

Ants don’t leave when it rains.

They stay and rebuild because they know the mud will harden and create protection for what lies beneath. How often have you wanted to quit when it rains? How many of us think of rain as a bad thing? Consider this — the very thing that appears to be destroying what you’ve built is actually creating the form for what you need. The storm is causing you to anchor deeply into your faith. The wind is forcing you to stand firm on what you profess. The lightning flashes jolt you into awareness that life is not a game and that you have a purpose. You could apply this to relationships just as much as your personal life too.

We could learn a lot from ants. Storage, communication, unity… I vote to add resolve and perseverance to their coat of arms as well. I bet I could add those words to yours as well.

Still praying for you all! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: DNA

Hi, Sweethearts!

I had a thought this week and I hope it encourages you as it did me. I always say that what’s in you will come out of you. Let’s look at that from a biological perspective.

The famous double-helix of deoxyribonucleic acid. It’s a pretty cool construction of genetic material. Some genes are prominent while others seemingly appear out of nowhere such as eye and hair colors. Genes can also remain recessive and others express themselves loudly and proudly. Remember that Punnett square from biology class? That was one of my favorites in school.

punnett square khan academy
Courtesy of Khan Academy

Speaking of dominant vs. recessive, I recall times in class when I knew the answer but was discouraged to share it. You know how it is… it is easier to blend into academic cultures if you don’t seem like a know-it-all. How unfortunate that I was coerced to snuff my intellect to make my classmates and teachers feel more comfortable. I was ridiculously shy and my comfort in learning was never intended to create a shadow on those who I hoped to be friends with at some point in childhood. I felt that I studied the content, did the homework, and came prepared to share it with others. I just didn’t understand why they were so reluctant to share their thoughts too. What they didn’t know was that I was always nervous. Always afraid that I would be misunderstood. I also didn’t like the teacher standing there wanting someone to just show some effort and looking disappointed at the silence. Then came math class — my nemesis. I wasn’t so excited to share in that arena. I felt dumb and inadequate, but I still tried to express my desire to learn. After all, I still studied the content and still did the homework; I just wasn’t good at it, but I wanted the teacher to see that I tried. The life lesson I gleaned from my childhood was that dousing my abilities cost me peace. The less I allowed God to simply shine through who He made me to be, the more unrest and insecurity I experienced.

This week, God brought that back to my remembrance. The heaviness of hiding is such a difficult cloak to wear. God made us so beautifully different that it would be a discredit to his creativity to be anything else than yourself. Taking it a step further — my faith is part of my spiritual DNA. When Jesus died for me, His blood provided all the divine genetic material I need to walk confidently in faith. Sweethearts, allow your spiritual DNA to shine through just as strong as your natural one. Whether you’re a science wiz, nail polish lover, or welding enthusiast… be that. Own that. Flourish in that. If your spiritual gifts include hospitality, prayer, or influence… walk in that. Flourish in that too. Time’s up for decreasing what makes you exceptional.

I believe God’s grace is in my DNA. His loving fingerprints are all over my soul and I am unapologetic about that Truth. My chocolate skin can’t hide herself. My tone and texture are distinctive to my vocal cords. My faith has expressive DNA as well. I’ve been through the rounds and my scars have created a battle cry that I can’t suppress. So, oh well, if it makes others uncomfortable. I can not sit quietly when I know the Answer… and His name is Jesus.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m praying for you during this holiday season.

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #28

Prayer: “Thank you so much for loving me back. I don’t know what I would do without You.”

Reciprocity of love is such a beautiful thing. I snuggle in it. When you extend yourself to someone and s/he does the same, it develops a level of unparalleled trust. That trust is then strengthened to a force that can never be broken.

That’s how I feel in my relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I believe in the Trinity and that each form envelops me in Love in different ways… and there’s nothing like it. I appreciate the fact that in my faith, God loves me back. I could never return the same Love, but the Love I have is welcomed and appreciated. There’s an exchange between the Creator and me and it has formed a bond of trust that I can not denounce. I smile and I feel Him smile back. I look at nature and see a nurturing mother providing for her children. I show Love to people to sow into the spiritual connectivity of mankind. It encircles us all if we let it.

I pray that you experience reciprocity of Love as well. You deserve it. Hugs, kisses, warmth, all of it. I truly never feel unloved and you are worthy of the same Truth.

Peace, LOVE, and Thanks for listening, Sweetheart!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #24

Prayer: “God, I want you to be comfortable in my praise. I want you to live here. I want my heart to be your home.”

There may come a time when you desire more out of a relationship. More intimacy. More time. More something. When that moment comes, how will you express this craving? I’ve experienced this sentiment and it took me on a deep dive into my faith. It also created unrest when I sat in church. I wanted more than a script. More than an agenda. I wanted God to sit with me and not just walk by. I wanted to be comforted, surrounded, and in companionship.

To this day, when I open my mouth to sing or fling my arms in dance, I want God to feel at home. I want Him to expand His awesomeness in the room and be comfortable enough to stay there in enjoyment. You know, the same way you feel when you visit someone who has sweet hospitality. It doesn’t matter if the person lives in an apartment or a mansion — if they make you feel comfortable, you want to stay. You want to be there and they are not required to entertain you in order for you to relish in the welcoming atmosphere. You kick back in the chair or cozy up with the blanket. You may even fall asleep or be completely energized when you leave. That’s how I wanted the Spirit of God to live in the thanksgiving of my lips and the offering of my movement.

I pray that you experience intimacy in waves of grace and truth. There’s safety there. I love you all and look forward to “seeing” you tomorrow. Peace & Thanks for listening!

 

#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 #21

Prayer: “God, you gotta help me get rid of this. It’s eating me alive.”

Bitterness is such a tricky thing. First, it seduces you like a delectable dessert. With every bite, it becomes part of your spiritual DNA… infecting the entrails of your common sense. You become infused with anger as it dilutes your happiness. Its roots take hold of every good thing that has happened to you and you become a hostage in your own skin. The bars seemed passion-retardant and kindness-resistant. On the outside, you’re doing fine but on the inside, you’re a caged phoenix.

That’s what a particular season of bitterness had done to me and I had finally reached the point where I could admit it. And I was bitter for a good reason if you ask me. A viable reason. One-hundred-percent-not-my-fault reason… but I was only one harboring the storm in my spirit while the offender seemed to frolic in a sea of Dutch tulips.

During my prayer, the words didn’t sound right to me and I’m so glad it didn’t matter. I let them out anyway. All I knew was I felt like I was choking in the vomit of my pain and I couldn’t take it anymore… and He heard me. I would be lying if I said I only dealt with bitterness once in my life. The cool difference about now and then is that I recognize it before that bite. I see it for what it is and I ask God for help much sooner than I used to.

I pray that you do the same. Don’t let it reel you in.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart.

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