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#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #1

Well, here we are.

One day, I was questioning Your existence and the next, You grew to be the most intimate Friend I could ever have.

I remember those confusing days. Going to church not knowing if You loved me the way You loved the people around me. Wondering if the sometimes-wild-yet-intriguing “Holy Ghost shout” would hit me next. I knew You were real; You just didn’t feel real to me. Then, I prayed earnestly with the fervent hope that You would answer in some way, shape, or form. I wondered… I waited… I wanted to experience what I heard every Sunday. I didn’t want to just read the stories, close the Book, and leave the faith between the pages.

I was hungry for it.

I was hungry for You.

I had questions and everyone kept saying You had answers. So, one prayer led to another… then another… and another…

Photo by Aslak Su00f8nderland on Pexels.com

Now, my faith encompasses everything I do. My identity, which once felt foreign, now is the super-suit in which I walk because I am confident in Your Creation. I am confident in You. My skin, my voice, my need to understand the world around me — all of it comes from You. They not only make me unique; they are proof that You exist. Who else could generate such biological genius that we have yet to discover? Who else could create underwater miracles that have yet to be named by scientists? No one. No thing.

So, my letter to You is one of Love, Gratitude, and Honor. I appreciate my mother for saturating our home with Your Word. I appreciate my father for allowing me to write down his sermon thoughts and outlines. Those were the best bible studies. Asking questions of my pastor and researching psalmic histories made me thirst for intimacy between us. No longer were You a long-distance love, but an everyday companion. The Greek. The Hebrew. The context. The maps. I found it all fascinating yet so expansive that I would get overwhelmed… but it left me wanting to know more. When I cried alone, I began to feel the warmth of Your comfort. When I was scared and needed a miracle, no explanation would fit except that You heard me.

Thank You for hearing me. Thank You for being with me. Thank You for being in me. I couldn’t do this life without You and thanks to our relationship, I never will.

Sincerely,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: Vitamin Boost

Hello, Sweethearts!

I wanted to share four verses that may help you get through this week or this season. Think of them as vitamins for your spiritual immune system. You may be taking a hit between current events, homeschooling your kids, caregiving for a loved one, or juggling work deadlines. Your spiritual armor may have a few dents in it and that’s OK. That means you’re fighting. That means you’re surviving. That means you’re winning. So, let’s power up a little. There’s nothing wrong with taking your vitamins.

  1. “But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” – Psalm 59:16 NLT

    When we drench ourselves in Love, He makes our hearts impenetrable to anything that looks otherwise. It’s a way to gear up with what’s true instead of the fiery darts melting away your joy. Clothe yourself in what’s true. Armor yourself with the Truth that you are loved. Reach out to someone that loves you to circulate that superpower.

2. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

His bowels were hanging out. They had beaten him beyond recognition. He wasn’t as white and clean as we’ve seen in pious paintings. He was bloody and his hair was matted from to his scalp underneath the crown of thorns. After all, when blood dries, it isn’t glamorous. Jesus knew what it was like to be deemed inferior, yet He tells his disciples to take heart because He already overcame the world… before He is arrested to die for it (John 18). You have the right to take heart too. I promise.

3. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

It’s hard to look someone in the eyes and know s/he/they are lying to you. It’s frustrating to explain why you’re wearing your protective mask when it seems obvious. It can make you angry for someone refuse your help. Let me help you, Sweetheart. You’re fighting a spiritual battle. The quicker you remember that, the less those darts will hurt. Does this mean you’ll be invincible? No. It means you won’t let those darts stick because you’ll separate the person you love from the behavior you hate.

4. “Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” – Ecclesiastes 10:10

Boost your spirit with wisdom. Now, in order to that, humility must come with you. To gain wisdom, you have to admit that you are not all-knowing. Pride damages armor. What a foolish decision for a soldier to run in front of a formidable straight line of opponents without protection. This is how we look when we leave wisdom behind to pursue items on our own accord. Like the Word says, sharpen your ax. When the ax is sharp, the skill is able to shine.

Well, Sweethearts, I hope these vitamins help you go a little further on your journey. I love each and every one of you, so if you ever feel like you’re drowning in your situation or that your suffocating under the “I’m fine” syndrome, call the number — 800-273-8255. Counselors are available 24/7.

Peace & Blessings! Thank you for listening and stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Great Expectations

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts!

How have you been? Glad you made it.

Let’s look at the connection between what we pay for and the quality we expect.

At a restaurant, we will return an unsatisfactory plate. We will refuse a hotel room that is subpar. We will share a social media post about incompetent service from a clothing store associate. Our extension of payment is related to our expectations. We like quality. We like an even or greater exchange.

Photo by Artem Podrez on Pexels.com

When it comes to voting, I see it as civically paying for an expected service. We expect for elected officials to represent our voices behind closed doors. Here’s the thing — I don’t think we truly expect what we pay for. Maybe it’s that they are out-of-sight and out-of-mind. Perhaps it’s because we’ve lost faith; nevertheless, they are our representatives. You may think all politicians are evil or incompetent. You may believe there is no point in voting because your voice will never be heard. You may think that faith transcends politics and voting is futile. I don’t know your reason, but I encourage you to use your expectations as your weapon. If we can expect divine promises from God, why can’t we hold our fellow humans accountable to our civic expectations?

After all, American colonists fought for their right to make their own governmental decisions and various ethnic groups have even died in the pursuit of this opportunity.

I’ve often wondered what my ancestors would think if they saw some of us not cashing in their blood, sweat, and tears. One of my favorite movie lines could possibly describe their sentiments. If you’ve seen Madea’s Family Reunion (2006), you must recall Cicely Tyson’s invigorating soliloquy on the steps of their ancestors’ home. It was sparked by the following question from the Simmons’ 96-year-old matriarch named Ruby who was disappointed at her family’s behavior.

“Is this what we paid for?”

– Ruby (the late Actress and Educator Georgia Allen)
Madea’s Family Reunion
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

Lately, I’ve asked myself this question while imagining my elders’ perspectives. Their civil rights marches. Their sit-ins. Their clocking into work for disgraceful pay. Their face freshly spat upon. Their back sprayed with lashes from their masters. The lies defaming their character. The many times nothing was done against their accusers. Then to look into the future to see people say they aren’t voting or that they don’t care; they’ll just pray about it and love everyone. We must not forget that the church was the heartbeat of the American civil rights movement approximately 60 years ago. They prayed and they organized. They prayed and they boycotted. They prayed and they voted. Their faith and their movement went hand-in-hand. They held the government accountable to its purpose and the elected officials to their word.

Sweethearts, let us be motivated to get what we civically pay for — to receive the quality of service we expect. If we can do it for tangible products, we should expect as much for the greater good. Simply put, we can’t expect more from a restaurant than we do from our elected officials.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: See The Proof

Well, Sweethearts, we made it to another week!

I’m glad you’re here and if no one has told you — you did a good job making it from last week to now.

With the news of ongoing injustice about our sister Breonna Taylor, it is easy to ask what more is needed beside the obvious to escort justice to the front row. It’s easy to feel the effects of gaslighting because that’s exactly what this is.

If you’ve never heard of gaslighting, let me tell of its evil doing. Have you ever been mistreated and the offender did not take responsibility for the offense? When you brought it up, s/he said you misunderstood the action. If you react or respond, they said you were wronging them. You begin to question whether you experienced what you did. The offender inadvertently tells you that you’re at fault or that your feelings are insignificant… that what they did is acceptable. Sound familiar? Congratulations — you’ve been gaslit.

Photo by suludan diliyaer on Pexels.com

It causes you to question your sanity and it creates a pipeline of exhaustion in the relationship. Then, as soon as you stand up for yourself, you’re the bad guy. You’re the one with the attitude. You’re the culprit. Well, you’re not alone, Sweetheart. I’ve been there.

What gets me through those moments of anguish is this new fact that I learned during the pandemic — I have the power to absorb the proof. Overall, I always ask God to show me what I need to see. This year, I had to learn to include gaslighters in that prayer. When they show you who they are, start thanking God for the proof.

Yes, be angry.
Yes, be annoyed.
Yes, be tired.
Yes, be confused.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

Galatians 6:7

After you’ve been all of that, tell God that you appreciate the truth in front of you. It truly is a present. That’s what I have had to do to keep from exploding during those moments. Remembering that Truth aerates freedom (John 8:32) and that gives me the authority to release the reins of manipulative powers. I no longer have to be inflamed by their invisible fumes. I don’t have to play the game. I see the proof and it’s all I need to make a healthy decision.

I pray that you find your proof during these unprecedented times, Sweetheart. It’s easy to get lost in the waves of despair, but the Truth stands between Breonna Taylor and her murderers. He stands between you and your offenders. He is Jehovah El GemuwalThe Lord God of Recompense – and justice is never pristinely wrapped. Don’t let current events sweep you away from the Truth. See the proof and move forward in your freedom.

I love you and pray that you are staying safe out there. Peace & Blessings!

Wednesday Wind Down: Transfiguration

Hi, Sweethearts.

I hope you’re doing well out there. I’ll pick up on the birthday shenanigans next week, but first, I have a confession to make. It’s a little lengthy, but it’s what we need to hear.

I’ve been in an unapologetic thuggish mode lately. In a good way, I believe. For example, I was in the grocery store with an arm full of items (the I won’t need a cart/basket phenomenon got me) and I paused to the side to let a tall man pass me. He was on his phone and didn’t look at his path. He headed straight toward me and almost knocked me down. I firmly said “Excuse you.” He kept going. Under usual circumstances, I would have shrugged it off, but I wasn’t game for being invisible and disrespected simultaneously that day, so I spoke up.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

In another instance, I wanted to tell a fellow Christian to change Saviors because she obviously wasn’t interested in serving the one she chose. I wanted to abruptly end the conversation because I saw no point in continuing it. I was annoyed that she professed Christ’s Love over her life but was missing the beams of bias in her eyes. I listened and nodded and let the conversation naturally dissolve. This leads me to the “For Real” meaning of the blog post title… and the conviction behind my spiritually thuggish season.

We can’t say we love Jesus and desire be like Him but not allow Him to change us for the better. Remember that Vouchers post? We can’t sing songs like “Fill Me Up” and “Reckless Love” then cement the door on the parts of our hearts that need that prayer, e.g. bias, bigotry, addiction, abuse, etc. We can’t raise our hands to the heavens, but then mow over the hurt of our brothers and sisters? For some reason, we can let the Holy Spirit work on areas of disbelief, pornography addiction, drug recovery, and even murderous thoughts but if the flashlight of the Lord hit in the other dark corners we stand in front of it and say “That doesn’t apply.” Let’s take a brief look into our faith-filled fishbowl.

We are still telling brothers and sisters in Christ that racism and discrimination are not real and all they have to do is love Jesus to transcend it all.

I’ve watched Christians be more loyal to their political affiliations than to the Word of God.

I’ve observed Christians respect the American flag and the President more than their neighbor.

I’ve witnessed Christians speak vile things to each other, but separately speak kindness to their like-minded/similar-faced friends.

Photo by @thiszun (follow me on IG, FB) on Pexels.com

If we proclaim to be the children of God, we should look alike even we don’t agree. We shouldn’t have so much sibling rivalry where entire classes of people feel outnumbered. Right now, we don’t look alike and frankly, it makes the name of Jesus look bad to those seeking refuge from the chaos.

I have a prickly question for you Sweethearts — Are you allowing God’s Word to examine your heart in this season of quarantine? The hideaway coves. The cozy places. The rock-hard political stances. The back porch rhetoric. The no-holds-barred approaches to changes… are you letting the mirror of God’s Word create transfiguration in you? If not, why did you say Yes?

That’s where I am. It’s where I’ve been for a while.

I have a holy annoyance with members of my faith community because we’re arguing over simple topics and opposing the very thing God sent His Son to die for — equal access to Him. But we set His pillars on an isolated hill like the one in the featured photo, never to touch again. We go to church. We do the things. But we don’t let the transformative power of Jesus into our lives. We let the Cross stay there as a relic on the lawns of our hearts. We rant on social media, sip and talk smack at the water cooler at work, and all the while remain indignant about what God said about brotherhood, loving your neighbor as yourself, exercising the greatest commandment of Love, being a whole body made up of many parts, doing good unto others, bearing one another’s burdens, etc. It’s like something my mother said one day — there’s something wrong when a supervisor is eating steak and the employee has to eat bologna everyday and better be happy about it. In other words, we profess Christ’s Love for all, but we don’t exercise it as we should. We live in a culture where the norm is to maintain a gap of intangibility. Are there opportunities for all, sure! We see it every time another minority group breaks a ceiling to be the first to do something. Nevertheless, there is a pressured thumb on certain individuals while others reap the benefits of their labor. And it doesn’t take an expert to see it. Let’s take another dip in the fishbowl one more time.

What is the rationale of having a minimum wage that barely taps the poverty line for the basic standard of living?

Where is the recompense when journalists, humanitarian workers, and missionaries are captured and/or killed overseas?

How can we boast in providing the best opportunities in the world yet not provide adequate resources for the homeless/transient community?

Why were we accepting of athletes receiving a season off with pay to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but government officials strong armed educational workers to teach in person?

Photo by Chait Goli on Pexels.com

Some things simply do not make sense, Family, and we can’t lay a blanket of faith on it and call it well. We have to acknowledge, accept, and acquiesce to His Way. The problems have been here; we were finally still enough to see and feel it. This year brought the mirror and we can’t let it go to waste.

As I exit, I want you to reassess why you accepted Jesus as your Savior and if you are allowing Him to do what needs to be done in you. We can’t ask for His likeness if we aren’t ready for it. When we accepted Jesus into our hearts, that wasn’t a period. It was just the beginning. It was the starting point to transfiguration. If you think that the only thing the Holy Spirit was sent to work on was your patience and hope, think again. He works on it all and it’s our season to get out of the way and let Him do it. For the better.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and Love well too!

Wednesday Wind Down: Stretch Marks

Good Morning, Sweethearts!

I hope you’re doing well. I have a short stop for your week about stretch marks. I was doing laundry this week when I heard God’s voice loud and clear.

“Stretch marks are allowed in this season.”

– Heard Monday 7/13/20

It was randomly befitting and it made me pause. It was God giving me permission to be uncomfortable to grow.

Now, here’s the fun fact – I’m in love with my stretch marks. Once puberty hit, bam — there they were. I made a decision right there in the bathroom that I was going to embrace them fully. Fast forward to my pause in laundry moment and I remembered that coming-of-age resolve. Then, my mind traveled to the significant coolness of stretch marks. They come about as a result of growth, change, and birth. Something expanded and the skin could not contain it.

This year, that’s what I’ve felt like. When I said “OK” to being comfortable being uncomfortable, I forgot about the stretch marks that would come with the journey. They don’t scare me, but I have to acknowledge that they are there. Emotional and spiritual stretch marks from being swelled with baggage I needed to release. Physical stretch marks from losing weight. They are a testament that change has taken place. That I’ve birthed something that belonged outside of me.

Sweethearts, I pray that you familiarize yourself with your stretch marks. They are proof that you’re still alive in spite of the change. Do not shy away from the discomfort of this season. It’s OK to have stretch marks after this is over. It’s OK to embrace them as beautiful parts of you just like your smile.

I admonish you to stretch. Keep stretching. Keep growing. Keep birthing. Keep being. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from being a fruitful human being. We all have permission to grow into better versions of ourselves. That’s exactly what I’m doing.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: I Say A Little Prayer

Hey there, Sweethearts!

We made it to Thursday (it’s after midnight here) and I’m proud of us. So proud. I hope you’re doing well. I’ve been praying for you.

Tonight, I want to share a few prayers that I’ve said to cover you over time.


“Father God, I pray their hearts are healed and whole.”

“Lord, please be with them wherever they are.”

“Lord, keep them safe.”

“God, I thank you for them all.”

“Hold them close.”

“Lord, give them everything they need and more.”

“Remind them that they’re beautiful today.”

“Help them hear Your voice.”

“Give them something to laugh about today.”

“Let them know that they are special to you.”

“Lord, wrap them in Your Love right now.”

“Please give them strength, in the Name of Jesus.”


I pray that you felt remembered, motivated, strengthened, or calmed at some point while visiting my writing home.

Just like I hoped one of these prayers reached your need, I encourage you to say yours to do the same for someone else. We need each other now more than ever and this is not the time to withhold a prayer of any size. All are welcome and necessary.

“Prayer is simply talking to God like a friend and should be the easiest thing we do each day.”

– Joyce Meyer

This week, try exhaling a line of prayer from your heart. Don’t tell yourself that it isn’t good enough to say aloud. Those are lies from the pit of hell. Breathe it. Speak it. Whisper it if you have to. Just don’t trap it inside because of the lie. It could be the very prayer someone is praying for.

Stay well out there, Sweethearts. Peace & Thanks for listening.

Wednesday Wind Down: 2 for 2

First, I pray that you and your family are doing OK.

I know there’s a lot going on in the world, so I decided to take a practical approach with this week’s post.

Emotional digestion has been on my mind. Here are 4 things that can help with that process — two for my fellow Black community members and two for members of other races and/or ethnic groups.

MY BLACK COMMUNITY

  1. Breathe. No, seriously… breathe. You need oxygen between the sprints toward racial equality, past due justice for lives lost to racially-motivated crimes, and police brutality. None of these are going to stop tomorrow, so be careful about overwhelming yourself and taking on the good fight 24/7. You’re human… and I get it, you’re also a soldier for the cause. So am I. Even soldiers need to rest and recoup. Why else would they have “lights out,” “chow time” and “rations?” Taking it further — how else will you have enough oxygen to forgive when the time comes? Yes, I said the f-word. I know right now that is not swirling in your soul, but if a friend pleaded for you to forgive him for his bias and culturally insensitive actions, would you do it? Would your heart be so full of rage that you would be deaf to his cry? This is what happens when we don’t breathe. We die of asphyxiation by racial trauma and emotional bondage. It’s not worth it. Keep fighting for basic human rights, but don’t die from your own anger. Take a minute from social media. Pause the news if needed. Breathe so you can fight again.
  2. Don’t judge each other’s gloves. There are different shades of fight that can work toward the same goal. The worst thing we can do is judge each other’s fight style. Some acts are foundational, such as voting and teaching our children what to do if they feel like their lives are in danger during a traffic stop. Other acts are forged with specific passions to deliver a powerful punch in the wall of racism, such as songwriting, education, science, public speaking, or marching in the streets. Whatever it is, we can’t afford to judge each other’s punches because they don’t look like ours. If they land, they’re working. I know it’s difficult not to see everyone express themselves like you, but take heart in knowing that the collective approach will be effective for generations to come.


COMMUNITY BROTHERS & SISTERS

  1. Listen. You are being asked to lend your ear and your heart right now. Yes, I know that you have experienced disgrace in some form, but you are not in our skin and your children’s/brother’s/sister’s/mother’s/father’s name isn’t on the growing list of police violence. So, take note of this Chinese symbol for “listen.” I have used it in my communication classes to reiterate one simple principle – listening and hearing are not the same. It requires effort and sincerity. It requires a pause on your feelings to highlight the concerns of others.
  2. Acknowledge and explore. We all have biases — this is a fact. Would you not want to hire your cousin over a stranger? It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a nepotist; it could be that you truly want to see your cousin be successful. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when the stranger is the best fit for the job and she is denied the position because of that familial tie. The problem comes in when you won’t let your child sleepover at your neighbor’s house because they don’t look like you. The issue may come to the surface when he brings a Black woman home as his girlfriend. You may not know how you feel until it’s right in front you. So, one thing you can do (that won’t require a Facebook fight everyday) is acknowledge that you are an imperfect human that may have an ancestral seed of racism. It’s OK. I know that’s asking a lot, but if Black communities can assimilate into predominately White board rooms by changing their hair, speech, and demeanor, certainly our fellow brothers and sisters can take a magnifying glass and do a spot check on their souls. Here’s a couple of verses that may help as you explore yourself. I allow the Holy Spirit to take a deep dive at least once a year. It helps greatly and I always discover something that needs removal.

Maybe you’re inundated with opinions. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with social media. Maybe you’re exhausted from empathy. Whatever it is, you deserve to be healthy enough to handle it. I pray that these notes help you function at a higher level.

Another name of God is Jehovah El GemuwalThe LORD God of Recompense. As a Body of Christ, we do pray for righteousness to be served for lives that have been lost unnecessarily. Here are just 110 of them. There are many more and in most cases, they resulted in delayed justice or no charges at all. I place them here so you can pray for their families and remember that they did not come home to them one day. I also hope it serves as a somber reminder that one of these names could be mine.

Peace & Blessings, Sweethearts. Breathe. Heal. Serve. Fight. As always, Thanks for listening.

Wednesday Wind Down: TBD

Hi, Sweethearts.

I hope you’re doing OK out there. It’s rough in some places; I won’t lie. There’s a lot of hurt in the world… a lot of anger, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of anguish. Before today, I had another message in mind, but the only I could think to share was what I said on Sunday. How crazy is that? I just posted about Love (the real stuff, not that fake mess) being the foundational solution to our divisive American society and here we are days later… another life added to the list of fatal injustice.

So, Love is what circulated in my psyche all day. I scrolled through my phone and reached out to as many Black/Brown men that I could. Violence, racism, economic dishonesty… it won’t go away tomorrow, but I could at least check on my tribe. My people. The ones that have been my friends and my family. I could extend a listening ear, an empathetic heart… I could show Christ. Despite the rampant racism that continues to spread like wildfire, there are people like my diverse group of friends who say enough is enough. They are teaching their children that discrimination is wrong and how to spot it. They are having difficult conversations with their loved ones. They are standing with people of color in solidarity.

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

I have to hold fiercely to the fact that Love can multiply just as much as hate…. just as much as the supremacist rhetoric. After all, Jesus came to save the world and he was hated by those who kept asking for the Messiah’s arrival — totally missing that the Messiah was Him.

So, what inspiration/motivation do I have for you this week? To keep going. To speak out. To keep working. To defy the stereotypes. The defeat the odds. To go to college. To pick up a trade. To invest in your community. To teach your children. To serve the less fortunate. To love the unlovable. To vote. To pray. To read. To listen. To hold yourself accountable for your own biases. To listen to God’s Voice and adhere to His directions over your own opinion.

It takes work, but it’s worth it and it’s the only way we fight to win and not just yell to be heard. Like I said in my post 50 Shades of Fight, There are boxing gloves that can fit every hand for the fight against injustice. The question is whether you are going to use yours.

Here’s some prior posts that may help you get through the week.

I’m thinking about you all and, as always, you are in my prayers. Stay safe and stay well. You matter here.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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