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Shaken AND Stirred

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts. How are you? I pray you’re doing well. As I wind down, here is a thought for us to chew on.

When James Bond orders his signature martini, he likes it one way and one way only – shaken, not stirred. There’s a lesson to be learned in that phrase. 

Sometimes we need a shaking. We get settled in a rut of disappointment or in the complacency of goodness. The best parts of us can settle to the bottom, to the core of who we are and all anyone can taste is the supplemental contents of our purpose. 

Shaking up anything doesn’t feel good, including our inner selves. There’s a chaotic mess that’s supposed to be good in the end. Did you know that the shaking of a cocktail provides aeration which changes the texture and consistency of it? How many of us need a texture change so we can live life as a better version of ourselves? 

Stirred. At least stirring looks organized. It seems civil, right? It is anything but. Consider a dizzy symphony of ingredients learning that they need each other in order for the best flavor to be experienced. It’s strategic. Even the ice cube size matters.  Needless to say, we need stirring too. The events of life make us loopy sometimes and we can’t see the flavor it brings to us in the mix of the moment. Remember, flavor is meant to tasted, and texture is designed to be seen and felt.

It may be unfair, chaotic, frustrating, or even exhilarating, but I guarantee that you become a more refined being after trials and joys of life are experienced (Romans 8:28). Wisdom ensues and anyone who meets you will be able to enjoy the divine blend of a beautiful creation called YOU.

I choose not to drink alcohol, but I respect the skill and the artform of bartending. Perhaps we should ask God for the same treatment… to blend our gifts, talents, life lessons, scars, and accomplishments into the best refreshment the world could have ever consume. We all need to host flavor AND texture. There’s a lot of thirst out here.

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

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Wednesday Wind Down: Stormy Weather

Good Evening, Sweethearts.

When a sisterfriend asked me how I’ve been doing since we had last spoken, I replied. “A little bitter mixed with the sweet, but it’s all good.” It wasn’t one of those fake answers you give the lady in the supermarket as you keep rolling down the aisle. It was real and I was actually cool with the words leaving my lips. So, one of the sayings my mother has uploaded into the world and I downloaded into my spirit is the following: “This is just a season, and seasons do change.”

That reminder coupled with my response to my sisterfriend made me want to share what I’ve been sipping on to get me through recent storms. Below are four videos to chew on while the winds are blowing in your life and things seem to be crumbling around you. They have helped me greatly and I pray that they build you up as well.

 

Steven Furtick, Senior Pastor
Elevation Church

Sermon: Overwhelmed… But Not Outnumbered

 

Michael Todd, Senior Pastor
Transformation Church

Series: U R Loved (Watched all of it.)

 

Sarah Jakes Roberts, Pastor
The Potter’s House – One LA & Denver

Sermon: Firefighter

 

Paul Daugherty, Senior Pastor
The Jesus Tempo

Series: Tempo

 

It’s severe weather season here in the south USA, so wind down safely, Sweethearts. The storms are passing and season do change.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Wednesday Wind Down/TM Lesson #4: Arrhythmia

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts!

We learned something cool in therapeutic massage class about the heart and I underlined it in my book as a reminder to share it with you. I remember learning it in college, but something about this time around was louder.

Did you know that the heart has its own rhythm? As in, every organ is co-dependent except the heart, which can beat (for a short time) outside of the body. It has a natural pacemaker (the sinoatrial or SA node) that initiates the electrical sequence for the heart beat, and that the blood turbulence in the atria and ventricles create your heart sounds. Neat, right?! So the SA node kicks off the rhythm of your heart like a drummer giving the band 4 counts to start a song and your valves keep the sound flowing in the right direction – in, out, up, down, arms, legs, lungs, head… it’s all coordinated with the heart’s rhythm. And if the beat is off, well… that’s not good.

Image:
Venzella “Joy the Drummer” Williams

What I extracted from that lesson was God made us with our own rhythm. We walk around with this customized drum set in our chests at all times. Never do we say “Hold on, let me check my pulse. It may have stopped today.” No, we just keep going through life – talking, laughing, living. We trust the rhythm and it keeps the rest of our body on beat. So, what happens when the rhythm changes? Then, my friends, there is arrhythmia. Not all rhythmic changes are fatal, but some warrant close attention.

 

Some arrhythmias are so brief (for example, a temporary pause or premature beat) that the overall heart rate or rhythm isn’t greatly affected. But if arrhythmias last longer, they may cause the heart rate to be too slow or too fast or the heart rhythm to be erratic – so the heart pumps less effectively. (American Heart Association)

CJW and Sheila E.
The legend herself, Sheila E.

In life, the very same thing happens. We can be on a path that feels so good and then something small can throw us off. On the other hand, that steady pulse of life can be disrupted by something large and it can feel like the entire band needs to walk off stage and go home. Whatever the sound, you’ll feel the rhythm of life change. Maybe it changes your daily routine at home or your financial distribution. Maybe it skews your speech or the way you see someone. I believe we experience spiritual arrhythmia and I am convinced that we either learn to adjust or, like the heart, we simply stop. We wander through life on autopilot and wonder why we don’t feel anything. Maybe it’s because our heart is offbeat and we need a pacemaker to jump it off. Well, God is the ultimate heart regulator. I know this from personal experience. When I felt like the walking dead, he resurrected me to see life through different lenses and I haven’t forgotten that gift, even if my heart skips a beat or two along the way.

You don’t have to die from arrhythmia of the mind, body, or spirit. If you find yourself reading this and you are in need a heart check as you wind down tonight, I am praying with you. Contact me and I’ll pray with you via email. Just don’t live off beat and by all means, don’t stop. You are needed in the symphony.

Want to learn more about the heart? Check out this link from the American Heart Association. It has explanations, videos, and downloadables. A nerd’s dream come true!

Sheila E. photos courtesy of moi at the Sheila E. Concert (epic.)
Joy photo courtesy of: NBC News

Wednesday Wind Down: Dichotomic 

Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.

Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked. 

What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience? 

  • I hug my students.
  • I even hug strangers. 
  • I pray for people I don’t know.
  • I say thank you. A lot.
  • I love big and I retreat quickly.
  • I boldly express my care.
  • I can speak up when I’m scared.
  • I can ask questions unapologetically. 
  • I seek to understand. 
  • I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
  • I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
  • My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
  • I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
  • I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
  • I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)

So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.

The message?

It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges. 

What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation? 

What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space? 

What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

Wednesday Wind Down: These Three Things

Where was the Wednesday Wind Down last week? On the road. To Indianapolis, Indiana. So, you have a bit to catch up on.

20180331_145318
I just had to pause and take this shot of Jesus waiting for the curtain to open. 

On Easter weekend, Upon This Rock (UTR) Productions celebrated 34 years of theatrical passion with a trailblazing rendition of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that could rival any Broadway play. Hands down, Sweetheart. It was exciting, invigorating, and  empowering.

 

The day before the last rehearsal, I left Alabama with a worn out spirit, waiting to be refreshed. I won’t lie and say that nothing good happened to me leading up to my departure. Actually, God the Father sent distinct reminders after I cried my eyes out the prior week. I don’t cry often, so why the tears, you ask? Because I felt like a wrung out dish rag. Strong will plus a caring spirit, coupled with a loving heart can create opportunities for people to minimize you. Because I am not boisterous, it is sometimes assumed that I am resilient enough to be kicked around like kindergarten ball at recess.  If you’ve ever felt this way, you know that at some point, you deflate a bit.

Well, since the beginning of the year, there have been significant instances where this assumption occurred, and by late March, I had reached my quota. I recall feeling so low a couple of weeks ago that I pulled over at a parking lot to gather myself on the way home one night because my silent frustration was so loud. There I was, battling the Truth against what was true – 1) that as much as I sincerely give of my time, talent, and treasure, there will always be someone that will disregard it, 2) that I can not control whether someone values my gifts, 3) that at times I feel invisible – trudging along some days just to stay positive and uplifting, 4) that in the midst of invitations to birthday shindigs, bridal showers, baby showers, gender reveals, organizational celebrations, etc. I somehow felt good enough to celebrate with, but not enough to contact otherwise, and lastly 5) that I was God’s Beloved and that I shouldn’t be feeling down in the first place. Ever been there? It’s not a “Woe is me” moment, but a “I’m tired of getting screwed over and fighting for the basics” moment. The vest that was once girding and protecting me was now suffocating me. It needed to come off for a minute. Just for one minute so I could catch my breath from the blows… then, I could strap back on my armor and return to the battlefield. *smh* But, two weeks

20180330_194828
My Sister for Life – Producing Actress/ Vocalist/ Comedienne Moneca Reid 

 ago, I just needed a minute. That minute turned into an hour of outcry over the phone to my sister (with whom I would attend UTR) who understood exactly what I was experiencing. She decoded my tears and congratulated me on giving my frustration a voice.

 

So, now you see my mindset and spiritual state by the time I had to travel to Indiana. I came with a positive outlook, ready to receive whatever God had to show me. Whatever He had to say, I was beyond all ears. My prayer included the resolve that I was coming to Indianapolis empty-hearted, but would not leave empty-handed. I was spiritually hungry, and everything in me was open and available. My assistant role was clear and I was excited to serve and experience my first UTR Production.

In the midst of working backstage, I was absolutely filled. There were 3 things that I heard from God and three responses I released to Him.

  1. “You do all things well.”

  2. “How dare I accept less than what I am worth?”

  3. “You really do know how I feel.”

 

20180331_012130
Living Testimony / Executive Director Sharon L. Hill

Though some loved ones are no longer here, God does all things well. The adversity that we live through brings us closer to the people who need our story. This is the case for Executive Director Sharon L. Hill. Her testimony manifested in the form of Upon This Rock Productions. The smiles you see in that photo are not results of everything being perfect, but of God doing everything well from one point in life to another and another and another…

 

So how dare I accept anything less than what Jesus paid for my heart when He came with my end in mind? He values me so much that He continues to give His Love in exchange for my tainted version. Friends, Lovers, Family… it doesn’t matter. You can not – hear me clearly – you CAN NOT allow yourself to absorb the value that someone has placed on you. Check yourself for “stickers” that others have put on you and remove them quickly. You may need the Father’s help, but you can do it.

When I saw the actors cast as Jesus experience everything I had cried about just days before, it humbled me… quickly. He truly does know how I feel. Now that I’m back home, I can’t imagine the thought of forgetting that Truth. He knows what it feels like to be me. After all, that was the soul purpose of Jesus coming to Earth, destroying the religious status quo, loving the discarded, and obliterating hell’s power. He had to experience life in my shoes. At times, He retreated to pray and regroup. Sometimes, He was frustrated. He was sad. His authority and identity were questioned. He felt loved. He felt happy. He felt betrayed. He felt forgotten. He felt victorious. He is the perfect example of finishing a mission. He is the perfect depiction of Love.

One thing is for sure — everyone who experienced Jesus then and everyone who experiences His Love now have probably said one or all of those three responses above. As you wind down tonight or get ready to start your day, I pray that you are reminded of God’s Love toward you.  I had to get that off my chest before I went to bed, so I hope you feel the virtual hugs through your screen.

Peace, Love, and Thanks for listening, Sweetheart.

 

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 2 – power

Power.

That word alone gives me chills. Always has.

It can be clothed in danger or fitted with finesse as it walks into the room. It has a resonance that stops the steps of all that surround it. You can detect it, feel it… even the its pheromones smell different. Power stands out, or does it?

What if power was a fragrance that pride liked to wear? Spraying it on before walking out of a house of insecurity and riding in a car full of guilt. High-stepping into a boardroom or a networking event and waiting for onlookers to stare. Humor me for a minute as I go deeper.

What if the fragrance we were attracted to when that person walks in the room wasn’t their power, but their hubris, confidence, or even humility? Then, what does that say about us and our spiritual receptors? What if the scent of power masks the ambition underneath? We see someone who looks wealthy and our eyes can’t stop gazing. We see an expensive car speeding down the interstate and we can recall the make, model, and customization in seconds. We admire the influence of an industry leader and hang on their every word to grab crumbs of wisdom to take back home with us. Did we absorb their power or what was underneath it?

I’ve learned over time that power can be quiet and strong, simultaneously. As a performing artist, I’ve also learned that power can be explosive and exuberant. Whatever the type, power is an expression of what is underneath the surface, not what you see. It’s an emittance, not a cover-up.

Check out Thayer’s Greek Lexicon for the word. It may surprise you. My favorites were –  a) the moral power and excellence of soul,
b) the power and influence which belong to riches, and
c) power consisting in or resting upon armies, forces, hosts.

Imagine which one you have and which one you’re most attracted to. I believe we are a fan of all of them in some capacity, even if our definitions of “riches” are different. Somehow, we can manage to exude power from within our soul and from the confidence of God’s might.

So, check your power this week. I’m definitely checking mine. Let’s be sure we’re radiating the Real Thing.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

If you want to #bloglikecrazy with See Jane Write Birmingham, click here and join the fun!

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com. DISCLAIMER: I’m not the spokesperson for the brand in the featured photo, but feel free to shop for your power blazer here. I found a few that I liked… A LOT. *lol*

– Here’s a short stop for your week. God bless! – CJW –

The church is not aWhen God breathed into Adam, the Breath kept going (Genesis 2:7). Think of all the people in the world and how many breaths are taken each second. That’s a lot of breathing.

If we look at the Church as the Body of Christ, then inhaling and exhaling take on a new meaning. Church is not a social club. It’s a place for the Breath to resuscitate the Body so it can leave the building and touch the world. It’s a well for the Body to be refreshed enough to share the Living Water with others. It’s a hospital for the Body to be mended during war so that the battle scars become proof of life.

Don’t hold your Breath. It is literally the Ruach Elohim… the Spirit of God. Exhale His goodness. Exhale His grace. Exhale His Word.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Transpiration

There have been a lot of deaths around me in the last few weeks. Friends, family, students, and co-workers have lost loved ones unexpectedly. I know that within the silence of poverty and conflict, people die everyday, but in recent news, there have been outbreaks of crime like sporadic wildfire. Random shootings, suicides, and bodies found. When clusters of deaths happen around the same time, I always ask the question “What does this mean? Why now?”

What I got was the message below. It came so fast that my hands could barely keep up as I wrote it on a nearby sticky note. IMAG3365

Transpired is not the same as expired.
We transpire, not expire.
Our lives are transpiration; the transpiration
should be inspiration.

I must admit – I didn’t know transpiration was a word. I figured it had to be because of expiration and inspiration. So, I looked it up. You won’t believe what I found (unless you’re a hydrologist).

“Transpiration is the process by which moisture is carried through plants from roots to small pores on the underside of leaves, where it changes to vapor and is released to the atmosphere. Transpiration is essentially evaporation of water from plant leaves.” (U.S. Department of the Interior/U. S. Geological Survey)

My eyes got so big after reading that definition, and so did my understanding of the words I heard. Check this out.

Since we are the seeds of God and He formed us from the ground, we are essentially spiritual plants on Earth. Have you ever heard of “Bloom where you’re planted?” There you go. Well, when we die, we return to the dirt from whence we came, yet our souls are not expired. They are transpired from our bodies. If you read my post Water Proof, you’ll see where this is headed.

We are made of water and dirt. How appropriate for a seed to transform into a plant. Since we have been planted, at some point, we must be harvested. It’s gruesome to think about. It makes me cringe, but it’s the truth. The fruit of us – the lives we’ve touched, the people we’ve birthed, the service we’ve rendered – lives beyond the harvest. Essentially, we pass from one state of being into another in a form, i.e. spiritual transpiration. We don’t expire when we live in Christ. We don’t choose the manner in which loved ones transpire, but if they have been an ambassador for Christ on Earth, drenched in His living water… I believe we transition in Him as well.

Some believe in reincarnation while some believe there is no eternal home for the soul, and I respect your beliefs with sincerity. The following prayer is mine:

May we all transpire after we have expired all that
we were purposed to inspire on Earth.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of picture-perfect-world.tumblr.com

The Plan

​Perfect timing.

Just when I was questioning the blueprint and the Architect’s design, He gives me this beautiful reminder. He knows the Plan. I just need to keep walking in His direction.

I mean, really… who argues with the Architect? Especially years after the Masterpiece is built. Who questions the plan after perfection is proven? Certainly not me. An architect knows the pressure that each beam can hold. She knows which materials are best for the purpose of the house. He calculates the foundation and its ability to host the vision. There’s wisdom and care that materializes into a physical plan… a plan for a future and hope.

Because I trust the Architect, I put my faith in the blueprint. It just seems like the journey is dysfunctional and pieces won’t fit, but the Builder used a wooden cross as the Architect instructed so I have no need to worry about the structural integrity of my life. It has an expected end, a hope, not some aimless steps that happened to host good things along the way. He knows the Plan. I just have to keep walking.

Jeremiah 29:11 was a good dose of medicine for my aching soul. Take some for yourself.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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