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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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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: Matri

Happy Wednesday, Family!

Mother’s Day is near and I’ve been reflecting lately on lessons I’ve learned from the matriarchs in my family. Before I dive into that pool of goodness, I must acknowledge the mamas in this virtual living room and those mourning their mamas. I love you all and I see you. I appreciate you and I’m hugging all of you right now.

April is a reflective month for me because two of my late grandmothers’ birthdays are in that month. When May comes, the flutter of mother’s day rests on my heart in the same sentimental space. It’s a peaceful area. I feel the spirits of my matriarchs everywhere and their wisdom wraps me up and steadies my seas. Below are four lessons that steer my life to this day.

Photo by Timothy Paule II on Pexels.com
  1. Keep your mind sharp.
    When my great-grandparents drove down from Ohio to visit us in Alabama, it felt like Christmas morning. Not because they had a bag of presents, but because Great-Grandma Coffee was my mental playmate. I was nerdy elementary kid and she reveled in it. A few books of word search puzzles was always in her bag and my eyes lit up every time she held it in her hands. When she calmly pulled out a pen from her purse and rested her knees in that rocking chair, I knew what time it was. The challenge was on to see who could finish a page first. We could go through 50 puzzles in a matter of days. She had a head full of trivia. If I beat her, it was a miracle. Our word search battles were the stuff of gladiators. Her daughter, my grandmother, was the same way… always stretching her mind. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy were constantly playing on the television and I loved it all. Thank God for matriarchs that weren’t afraid to show their wit.
  2. We are stewards of the Earth.
    My paternal grandmother taught me early that God gave us a divine charge to take care of this planet. Recycling was non-negotiable and eating fresh foods was normal. She read every label and screened every meal to ensure it was nutritionally balanced. Aloe plants thrived in her apartment It’s because of her that I only purchase 100% juice and that I can tell you which vegetables contain certain vitamins. She’s why I eat broccoli like candy and monitor my fried food intake. Her mantra was that we were made from the Earth, so She had everything we needed to survive. I loved that about my grandmother and I appreciate her wisdom in marrying our faith to Mother Nature.
  3. Do it well or don’t do it at all.
    One thing about my grandmothers and my mother, they were/are notorious perfectionists. My aunts are the same. What you could not do was do something halfway and they find out about it. No way. Make that a hell no with stadium lights around it.. My grandmothers could dress to the nines and could organize an event better than any professional planner. They stressed that the only thing you truly own is your name and is imperative to keep it intact. Whether it was re-applying the crooked stamps on the envelopes or making sure my choir robe was pressed, everything has the stamp of your name on it, so care about everything that leaves your hands.
  4. Serve from the heart.
    I watched my matriarchs serve people from all walks of life when they needed Love most. Their hands were extensions of God. I saw grace with my own eyes from elementary school onward and it germinated grace in me. My mother called the parents of her Sunday School students every Saturday to ensure they were coming the next day and to offer a ride if they needed. The little brown Chevette carried a caravan, you hear me? Every week, she picked up youth choir members and anyone who wanted to go to church. That single mother on a shoestring budget made several trips if necessary. My mother. Every week. Rain or shine. My aunt wakes up asking God to show her who to help today, then… she actually does it. No matter what it is. When you serve others, you do it from the heart of God, or don’t do it at all. Period.
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

None of my grandparents are living, but they live within me. Their wisdom stands around me when life gets rough. I appreciate everything they instilled in me and all that my mother still pours into my soul. It’s a priceless gift.

I pray that you are surrounded by maternal wisdom from surprising places if you’re not able to retrieve it from your family. Matriarchs are all over the place – in your community, your church, your neighborhood senior living center or retirement community… anywhere. Reach out for it and be amazed at the richness you’ll find.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family. I love you and stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Real Prayer Time

Hey, Family.

Tonight, it’s real prayer time and I’m going to share some real talk I had with God this week after reviewing the details and footage of 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario’s case and a few other atrocities.

My prayers also include you… that your spirits will be malleable enough to empathize and fortified enough to carry out the duties of the days ahead. It’s been a difficult week so far for some of us, but we are a family in the eyes of God, and families stick together, so let’s approach the Throne of Grace… together.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Father God, in the name of Jesus –

America the Beautiful is not America the Perfect and sometimes those imperfections are hard to see, hard to digest, and hard to admit.

We’ve come a long way, but we have a ways to go… but let some folks tell it, we’re just fine. Nothing’s wrong. Everything is as it should be. I couldn’t disagree more.

I’ve seen tears and anguish once again and it seems there is no end in sight. Every hail of accomplishment seems to carry with it another blow, another dismissal of human dignity.

I’m coming to you in a state of gratitude right now. Grateful there’s proof of what we need to fix. Grateful that for the countless others who were never filmed, there is a dossier of visible scars that never healed. At some point, the disjunction has to be undeniable and our shades must be removed so we can see the full picture. We need Your grace to helps us with that because we suck at it right now.

Sometimes our teeth grit and we square our shoulders ready to combat anyone that can take the brunt of our pain. Unwarranted words filled with bile fly back and forth between us. I can’t believe we’re in 2021 sometimes with the things I see and hear.

We are sick in need of a Cure, yet You’ve given us the anecdote to eradicate the invisible virus that is truly keeping us apart. I know utopia is not an option. I’m not oblivious to the fact that things will worsen as You prepare to return; however, I pray that the saturation of discord and rhetoric decreases, in the name of Jesus. Cut off the pipelines of hate on every side. I know it will never leave, but at least it doesn’t have to thrive. Not like this.

Help us to see each other as part of the same whole… that helping or listening to our brother doesn’t discount us in any way. That we are spirits in human form.

Keep correcting us, O God. It hurts, but it’s necessary. Again, you remind us that we can’t say we are your children yet we treat each other otherwise. 1 John 4:19-21 states that we can’t love You and not love each other.

We say “Fill me up,” “I want to be like You,” and “Show me Your face,” but…

You keep showing us our hearts instead. We can’t even get the fundamentals right… the love You with all of our heart and to love our neighbors and ourselves… those… right there, those keep tripping us up from the Kingdom. You gave us the greatest commandment and I can only imagine Your face as we beg for more to follow.

Keep exposing.


Keep irrigating the wound so it can heal correctly somewhere… anywhere… everywhere…


Keep bringing us closer to where we should be instead of our cozy places. Only You can change the heart, but You also give us the free will to let You.

Keep my readers safe from all harm seen and unseen. Keep their minds clear and their hearts open to receive the Love you have so readily available to us all. Keep their ears open to hear Your voice and willing hands ready to serve.

In Jesus’s Name I pray, Amen.

Be safe out there, Family. Peace & Thanks for listening. I love y’all. Have a great week! 💙

Wednesday Wind Down: Now Trending

Hi, Family!

How’s your week so far? Terrible? Great? Both?

I feel you and you are allowed to feel all of those. Yesterday, I celebrated one year of co-hosting QueensBeLike Podcast, but on Monday, I had a mini-meltdown, so hey… no judgment here. We’re in this thing together. *fist bump*

Tonight’s wind down is a tough love post. It’s also a short stop. 🙂

Here we go.

As we close March, we mark one year since the world acknowledged the dangers of COVID-19. I believe it was spreading before we took it seriously, and just like other times in history, we missed the warning signs. It was a conspiracy theory or no different than the flu until there were body bags. Until workers were fatigued. Until healthy patients died next to chronically sick ones. We missed it. That’s all there is to it.

Photo by Rodrigo Santos on Pexels.com

Other warning signs we’ve missed this decade (yes, I said decade) are too blatant to ignore.

One sweep of severe weather and possessions are ruined.
One month of unemployment and salaries feel like peanuts (or they always were).
One minute of wildfire and homes are lost.
One second of a decision and a lost life is a hashtag.
One virus and confusion germinates.

All it takes is one anything and our lives can be disheveled and we are eye-level with our transient brothers and sisters. There are no stables for our high horses and the reminders keep coming.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How many reminders do we need? How many times does God have to knock down our philosophical towers of babble formed with bricks of insatiable egos?

COVID-19 still permeates between geographical boundaries leaving trails of anguish behind. Political unrest and social injustice are yet seething underneath tectonic plates of arrogance. We are deafened to the cries of innocent immigrant children while justifying the economical rape of those we sabotage.

The more we bury our heads in warm jackets of jaded comfort, the more I believe God sighs for us to catch the hints… to notice the following trends:

  1. All it takes is one thing to change everything.
  2. We can’t say we love God and not love each other.

When “Get a better job” is the response raising minimum wage, we’ve missed it.
When we enjoy art and education from professionals then refuse to pay them fairly, we’ve missed it.
When we arrest a congresswoman for knocking on a door, but allow rioters to attack other humans, we’ve missed it.

Once again, Jesus looks at our hearts and wonders where He fits. There is little room for His Love to multiply and the world is watching.

Family, we need to listen to the loudness and move in the stillness of Truth. We need to synchronize in empathy. We need to be the Body we were created to be.

Pray this prayer and pray that you mean it – “Lord, show me my blindspots.” Let that trend.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Hero

Hi, Family!

Get ready for your short stop.

I saturated myself in the Inauguration yesterday. I always do. Why? Because I’m a nerd, an educator, and a communication specialist. I’m a nerdy educational communicator. That’s a serious trifecta.

It means that I analyze communication like a scientist studies petri dishes. I dissect verbal and nonverbal behavior like a mathematician breaks down equations. I love social sciences. It’s my jam.

Gotta love the National Park Service.

So, I watched the pomp and circumstance as I do every 4 years. I observed body language, vocal inflections, artifacts (objects people use to express themselves), and communicative congruency. I noticed hairstyles, tie colors, and this year — masks. The music. The military. The tradition. I love it all.

After weaving in and out of the little known facts yesterday, I heard the following in my spirit:

“No one is a Savior, but everyone can be an example.”

I paused and wrote it down as I do with these type of moments.

America easily idolizes leaders in various capacities —- especially when it comes to government and religion. No matter which side of the aisle you’re on, our idea of leaders can creep into deity status. That’s the trap. That’s a diabolical rabbit hole we can’t afford to travel down every 4 years.

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

God has called us to be everyday examples of His Love. His compassion should flow through our hands and deposit into the others. Here’s the kicker — titles aren’t required to do what is right. Prestige is not important when Love cries out. Everyone has the same opportunity to be an example because everyone was made in the image of the Father. So, president or janitor, God has given us the same orders. There are giants to slay, hearts that need mending, and lives that need enriching. He armed us with His Love. My prayer is that we accept this precious call and carry out the greatest mission in the world.

One of my favorite songs is “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner. It grounds me and uplifts me at the same time. The lyrics are poignant and we could use the reminder as faith walkers.

Respect every office, family, just don’t forget your own cape. God has given you the power of Love and the sword of His Truth to be an example every day… to be a hero for someone in your family, at work, or at the coffee shop.

Stay well out there. Love y’all. Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Remember When

Hey, Sweethearts!

This post is dedicated to the “survivor you.” You know — the part you tucked away because you thought you were done with that season? That you. Right there. We’re going to tap into that person again.

Which person was you?

  • College student with minimal income and a heavy semester course load
  • Single parent trying to stretch a minimum wage check
  • Homeless person avoiding an abusive home
  • Fresh out of school and figuring out how to budget expenses
  • Sick at home and not able to work
  • Laid off from work and working a lower paying job
  • Caregiving for a loved one and trying to balance work demands
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

If none of these fit you, fill in the blank with whatever lean state you’ve experienced in your lifetime. Now, let’s revisit some ways you can survive this season too. You can’t be too high and mighty to dig into the following three tips. Ready? Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.


Survival Reminder Tips

  1. Stretch those meals.
    Remember those ramen noodles? I hope I didn’t make you gag. lol Essentially, you ate within your budget. You made one pizza last two days. You got creative with pasta. You could eat off of $10.00. You knew each restaurant’s deal days. This may be a different time, but you may need to dig into that mindset for a bit. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you have to feed that family on spaghetti, make it happen. When I was an RA in college, I created a study break for my residents by buying about six boxes of kiddie cereal and various types of milk and setting up a cereal bar. Do what you need to do, Sweethearts. Create that magic!
  2. Go outside.
    It’s no secret that when we were younger, we went outside more. Yes, there’s a pandemic out there, but there’s a reason why my grandparents would always tell us to play outside. Remember when you had to walk because you didn’t have a car or you took public transportation to the nearest stop? It expands the mind, strengthens the body, and uplifts the spirit. Take advantage of parks and hiking trails. Those are excellent places to create beautiful memories within social distancing and budgeting parameters. So, explore your city, county, and state!
  3. Sharing is caring.
    Back in the day, my college friends and I shared meals. Between three of us, we would conjure up a protein and some sides. This may be a little interesting with the virus, but it won’t hurt to buy a couple of frozen dinners or cans of soup for your neighbor. If you’re that neighbor, it won’t hurt to accept the kindness. The more we stay in silos, the more likely we are to die in them. Be careful? Yes. Be caring? Yes again.
Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

I truly believe that COVID-19 has been a great equalizer and everyone has the opportunity to tap into the survival skills that got them through the tough times of yesteryear.

The pandemic won’t last forever. We just have to make it through this chapter. Don’t be afraid to dig deep to see it through. Don’t be afraid to let that “survivor you” float to the surface and do what s/he does best. Then look in the mirror without shame and smile at that awesomeness.

I’m rooting for you!

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #23

Dear Sweethearts,

You know I couldn’t leave you out of this challenge and I didn’t want to wait until the last letter either.

Every week, we connect on many wavelengths to get through life together. Our topics range from work frustrations to crazy things Christians believe to losing a loved one. When I started this blog, I remember thinking “Is anyone even going to read this? Oh well, here goes.”

And here we are! You listen to my heart on these pages week after week and I hear yours in your responses. Some of you tell me your thoughts via text, email, and in the blog comments. I’m grateful for it all, but it always catches me by surprise when you tell me in person. One time, a student told me in the hallway that she read a post. I froze like I was in a game of tag. Another time, I was at a wedding reception and three SoRHOrs talked about how a particular post resonated with them. In another instance, a Soror said that she looks forward to the Wednesday Wind Down as a spiritual check up for her week. What can I say? You keep me going!

Are you following to me on Instagram?

I never wanted to write just to write; I prayed to write with purpose. My writing guru Javacia asked me to describe my niche during a coaching session one day. I shared that I wanted to create an inspirational home for busy humans, provide a realistic approach to faith, and encourage people to listen for God’s voice in their everyday lives. Over the last four years, I believe we’ve been running in that lane and I appreciate you being with me in the process!

Sweetheart, I pray this place continues to inspire you to be human and to let God help you through it all. I love you and I pray God’s blessings shine on you wherever you are. OK, enough mushiness. lol In essence, you rock my socks, so let’s keep going.

Peace & Thanks for listening (as always),

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #19

Dear Mentors,

Our God definitely takes care of you well and I’m so glad He does.

I appreciate your everlasting giving tree. Your leaves take on the storms of life and still remain shiny enough for us to see. The fruit of your labor feeds everyone around you.

No matter what state I was in, you always seemed to have more to pour, more to share, more to inspire my heart with.

Thank you.

Just one phone call would yield a lifetime of wisdom I would chew on for years to come. Plenty of times, I just knew that I wasn’t making sense as my emotions tumbled out of my mouth, but you allowed me to be vulnerable and scarred without judgment. After laying my confusing all out on the table, you infused strength in my legs so I could stand on my own and keep walking forward toward my destiny.

Thank you.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Seeing you soar in business and the arts has been one of the most beautiful highlights in my life. You have superpowers the world has yet to honor and for a big chunk of it, I had a front row seat. It was a treat every time with no chance of overdose. I could watch you shine forever and those memories will stay in my soul’s locket.

What a blessing. What a privilege.

Thank you so much for everything you’ve been in my life. I learn a plethora of lessons with every encounter and our laughs echo in the hallways of my heart. The following verse comes to mind when I think of you – “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” – Philippians 1:3. It was not by chance that Our Father crossed our pathways so I could be a better version of myself. For that baseline, I am grateful ten times over.

I pray every seed you sowed into me and others will germinate in your lives as well. I also pray that you continue to be showered with gratitude for changing lives and touching the future. May God richly bless the soil around your feet and lift any clouds around your head. I love you all and thank you again for being in my life.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #18

To my Church Families:

Lee’s Chapel Baptist Church in Brookside, AL
First Baptist Church Graysville East in Graysville, AL
St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Graysville, AL
Mason City A.O.H. Church of God in Birmingham, AL
First Baptist Church Carver in Bessemer, AL
Cathedral of the Cross in Birmingham, AL
Gateway Family Church in Trussville, AL
Zion Church in Landover, MD

In some way, shape, or form and at some point in time, you completely changed my life for the better. Each church listed up there hosts memories from my childhood to now and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

Cold ankles in lacy socks at Sunday School. Red Baptist Hymnals. Your sense of community. The smell of wooden pews. The whir of the Leslie when I turned on the organ. Music bouncing off the walls. Sausage and biscuit breakfast before worship service and free lunches every summer. The smiles on your faces and the sternness of your voices. Sequins and pearls adorning your suits. Tie pins and cufflinks that could rival any corporate executive’s attire. I remember thinking that you were the smartest people in the world when you read verses aloud. You were walking art and I was your canvas.

Photo by Dan Whitfield on Pexels.com

I call you family. Whether you prayed for me at the altar or laughed with me in the church parking lot, you played a major part in the woman I am today. You taught me that community is more than a word, it is an action that is always in season. We fed the poor, tutored children, taught God’s Word, and consoled each other at funerals. We forgot about the troubles of the week together. We danced until we felt free. Our hands lifted up and so did our hearts. God met us both inside and outside of those buildings.

Thank you.

I appreciate your light and life lessons. I pray that you continue to shine just as brightly as you did in my life. Keep smiling. Keep saturating yourself in the Word. Keep being a light. Keep encouraging youth so they can grow up to be grateful like me.

Sincerely,

CJW

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