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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.

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  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.
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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.

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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: Pillars

Hi, Family!

Last week was rough.

I wanted to post, but after a couple of deaths in my circle, I just wanted to go to bed after work. Usually I can push through and even blog the next day, but I simply didn’t have it in me… so I thought.

When I’m full (sad, tired, excited, all of it), one of my coping behaviors is to free write. Whatever is on my mind ends up on the page. Sometimes it’s difficult to read later, but at least it isn’t swirling in my soul without a place to land or filling my mind with stress. In this case, I was sad and frustrated at the grieving process. In essence, I wanted the rawness of the loss to pass. The part of grief where everything is firing and numb at the same time. So, I wrote the following to keep the process moving. I hope it gives you hope if you’re experiencing the same.

When Pillars Pass

When a person that has shaped your life passes away, the Earth shifts a little. She knows she is carrying a heavyweight. She welcomes the return. She exhales in relief and says welcome home. When her role is fulfilled, the spirit of that Pillar ascends to its Originator and the sky opens up her arms and smiles. “Hello, Baby,” she says like an 85-year-old grandmother with cocoa-weathered skin and a warm smile spread across her face. Head slightly tilted to let you know it’s real. I believe that’s what happens when we die.

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

But when Pillars pass… when a person who amplified divine gifts in you, there’s more. Let me explain how it feels to me.

Pillars aren’t supposed to move. They’re the support beams of your existence. All around, you can find their impact on your life. So when they die, a vacuum effect removes the land from beneath your feet. All that you know and reverenced. All that you upheld now feels like grains of sand you can’t stop from falling between your fingers. It’s an alternate reality. Your footing feels off like you’re in a wicked funhouse. You can tell your axis has changed, but before you lose all control, those grains of sand start filling the holes beneath your feet. You remember the words he said and the cakes she made. You hear his laughter as the sand migrates toward your heart. Wisdom. Jokes. Phone calls. Food runs. The memories overtake you and suddenly, you are sonically surrounded by the beauty of her voice.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Then, you smile.

The sand starts to feel more like a warm blanket of comfort. It doesn’t take away the sting of their absence, but it does create a force field of love around you. Whatever she deposited in you floats to the surface. His life-giving words are saturated enough to water your soul again.

That’s the beauty of Pillars. Although it hurts like hell to lose them, they give you everything you need to stand on your own. Everything you need to continue.

Photo by Hert Niks on Pexels.com

I wish I could press a big pause button that would prevent them from passing away, but deep down we know those people in our lives will transition at some point. So, what do you do when it happens? You remember their gifts. You recall their lessons. You remind yourself that you were a vessel they valued and that they shared priceless oil with you.

I know it’s difficult.
I know the tears are inevitable.
It doesn’t mean your grief is weak.

It means you were blessed to be born into her family. You were favored to cross paths with him. Take daily comfort in knowing that s/he knew you were good ground to sow their seeds. The same seeds of wisdom and skill they could have died with are now in you.

So use them and sow them well. Don’t let their teaching die with you. Don’t let the natural process of grief choke the new growth that is happening inside.

Grow up and be a Pillar to someone else.
The same oil is still needed.

I’m praying for all of you that are missing your loved ones. I’m so sorry you’re hurting. You are surrounded by prayers of love, peace, comfort, and warm memories that make you smile. 🙂

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Got A Buck?

Hi, Family!

I know it’s not Wednesday. I also know that you wouldn’t have wanted me to type anything last night as sleepy as I was. I felt like a restless cranky kid fighting bedtime. I told my aunt “I’m so sleepy, but I need to write my blog post… but I can’t do it!” *insert fake-cry-almost real cry here* She told me I should go to bed, so I did… and the sleep was glorious. I missed you, but the back of my eyelids made good company too.

On the flip side, I knew exactly what I wanted to say, so here we go. 🙂

All day Wednesday, I heard the same thing in my spirit.

Are you on Instagram? Great. Me too.

I instantly thought of political parties, countries, families, corporations… a plethora of complex organisms. The back-and-forth on who should pay for healthcare, if redlining is real, if dad should be in an assisted living facility, or why historical injustices should be recognized as a repellent for the future is enough to make anyone throw up her hands and say “forget it.”

But, then what? We end up being two sides of one coin trying to separate from its core. As a faith walker, the tension will make you want to stay out of conversations that need your voice… or make you pass the buck to someone else. Unfortunately, that is not what we are called to do as the Body of Christ.

That’s right. I said it. Christians skirt around responsibilities and tough conversations too. Don’t confuse arguing and debating with digesting communication. They are not the same. We tend to pass the buck when ideals do not align to ours. Disagreements will exist; so, do our responsibilities.

We are called to stand up for the voiceless. We are commanded to love the difficult heart. We are commissioned to serve the those that are without. These are non-negotiables. So, when a member of God’s Kingdom tells another member of the same Kingdom that their experience is false, unimportant, or discounted, we are passing the buck. We are saying “That’s not my responsibility” and I beg to differ that Jesus would use the same words in our current environment.

Do you know one place where the buck doesn’t get shuffled around? Your body.

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You’re equipped with various methods to fight illness and injury at any given time. You have different types of pain receptors the assist with proper pain management assessment and microphages that destroy harmful organisms on a regular basis. Your body doesn’t say “That’s not my problem” or “You’re making excuses.” It says I feel you and we’re in this together.

What buck are you passing around at work or home? What are you dodging instead of acknowledging both? This is an internal and external means of accountability. Bottom line – own it. Whatever it is. Maybe it’s that conversation you’ve been avoiding with your spouse or child. Perhaps it is that offensive statement you made to a friend that you have yet to apologize for. When the buck stands still, it doesn’t create a vortex of pain between the parties at play. That’s where we get the phrase the buck stops here. Who cares who pays for healthcare if it means a citizen doesn’t have to choose going to work over a doctor’s appointment? What difference should it make if a Latinx family moves into an all-White neighborhood? Why shouldn’t a someone be empathic when he hears of a racist act? Family, the buck should stop with us because we are representatives of the Blood of Christ. Matthew 12:36 states the following: But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.

As long as we deflect responsibility, we will never work together as a seamless organism. So, I encourage you to survey your internal and external grounds (like I am) to check for those roaming bucks. Call them to order and live in dominion over them all.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Double Vision

Hi, Family!

You’re receiving this post on Thursday because I fell asleep early last night. I decided not to wait until next week to share this short stop, so let’s go!

Have you ever taken an eye exam? If so, you recall closing/covering one eye to read a line of letters. You read what you could, then you repeated the same activity with the other eye.

Did you notice that your previously closed/covered eye was blurred when you switched? Your eyes had to adjust to the change.

In light of everything transpiring in the world, the Holy Spirit reminded me that there is a reason we have two eyes. Using one doesn’t mean that you are incompetent, but it does disadvantage your range of vision.

Photo by Dazzle Jam on Pexels.com

Right now, both eyes are not working together in the Body of Christ and beyond. They want to work independently instead of interdependently. When body parts don’t work together, there’s chaos, inflammation, and disease.

Today, remember that you’re part of an entire organism. Your role is integral in the lifework of this world, but my darling, you are not independent. Yes, you can catch a peripheral view, but it takes both eyes to determine the object’s value. That’s why we turn our heads or glance over when we see something on one side.

You are not a lone ranger. You are not a solo.

Your job as a follower of Christ is to work alongside the rest of the Body even when it seems impossible. To make the whole function better than the part. It’s easy to lose sight of that in the heat of passion or fear, but if we constantly close each eye, we’ll eventually be blinded to each other’s needs as well as blind others from seeing Christ. After all, isn’t that the whole point? To let Him shine through us?

As I celebrate the life of a friend who passed away, I remember God’s Light shining in her. I remember her words, her smile, and her extension of Jesus to me. That’s a part of her that will never die. That’s the part of you that needs to be experienced by someone else.

So, do that. Use both eyes. Don’t let anyone or anything persuade you share the Love of Jesus with total vision. I’m praying for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Cash and Carry

Hi Sweethearts!

Twas the day before the night before Christmas, huh?

I hope you aren’t stressed and that you and your family are safe and sound.

Here’s some motivation for your holiday week.

What are you willing to cash in order to carry your purpose? Spoiler Alert: I’m not talking about money here. Ready for a quick dive? Let’s go!

When Mary received the news that she would be carrying the Messiah of the World in Luke 1:26-38, she had two reactions – “How?” and “I’m in.”

Two reactions.

Now, I can’t lie to you — my reactions would have been multiplied, starting with “You talkin’ to me?”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I guess that’s why she was found to be honorable and favored (verse 28). *lol* She trusted God enough to be a daughter (“How?”) and a servant (“I’m in”) and God trusted her enough to allow her to be the mother of Jesus.

Quick detour– have you ever heard of cash-and-carry? A good bit of these stores no longer exist, so it’s OK if you haven’t. Cash-and-carry is a term that indicates a direct exchange of currency for products instead of offering financing options. These stores usually host wholesale or big ticket items.

Let’s look at Mary.

When she asked how, she gained understanding of what this type of motherhood would cost her. As a Jewish girl, she was aware of the scriptures surrounding the Messiah. She knew she would receive ridicule and mockery. She knew that it was an odd mode of delivery because He was expected to come to Earth in grandeur. She knew she would have to watch Him die for the sins of the world. She quickly analyzed her cash — the sacrifice of being physically, spiritually, and emotionally attached to the lineage of Jesus. That’s some serious dough.

She said “I’m in.”

My question for you again is What are you willing to cash in order to carry your purpose?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Mary decided to walk into her purpose heart-in-hand beyond baby-in-belly. She and Joseph both cashed in their conveniences to carry their purposes. Joseph as a carpenter, not a corporate executive. There wasn’t a significant amount of funds for such a surprise as this. He was also within his cultural right to disown Mary immediately, but his heart was found righteous in God’s eyes. Let’s not run over the fact that the angel encouraged him to take Mary as his wife — his co-laborer, his laughing partner, his forever home — not just an appendage to take care of the baby. This was a long-term commitment. This was a serious sacrifice. This was serious LOVE.

So, what’s my cash? My vulnerability is definitely part of my heart-in-hand. As an introvert, I value intimate relationships over large crowds. I power up in solitude. Extending vulnerability is huge for me, yet I’m called to do it every week on this blog, my book, speaking engagements, and other avenues. That’s the interesting part about currency — it varies among us. In exchange for this discomfort, my purpose is fulfilled. Another person realizes he is not alone in his struggles. Another woman accepts that she has a life worth living. Another life is empowered. Another soul is loved.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

That is worth the sacrifice. That is worth the cash (again, not real cash).

So, I ask you and myself as this year comes to a close, What are you willing to cash in order to carry your purpose? Maybe you need to write yours down. Do what you need to because it is a question to consider going forward. That’s what I’m doing over here.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well and I love you!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #21

To my Cousin BJ:

I love you so much — and not because of what you do. I could go on and on about that, but your actions are an extension of who you are and who you are is amazing.

I could mention plenty of things about you that make me smile within – like how you make sure I get in the house safely. No matter how late it is, if I’m outside, you’re outside to be sure everything’s copasetic. If I need help, your hand and heart are available. And I love that we love the same music but I won’t digress.

I appreciate the protector in you and the warmth of your soul. When Pop and Shawn died, I came home after a long day and you hugged me with the best words I had heard — “You’re doing a great job.” That sweet sentence brought tears to my eyes that night as we stood there. You don’t know how much that soothed my spirit. I needed it. I was truly doing my best but I was running on fumes — barely-there fumes. Your encouragement that evening went such a long way and I thank you for letting me exhale a bit.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

You always make sure that I’m OK. Our “I love you’s” are not scarce and we got each other’s back. From being handyman to dog walker, you help me with skill and a smile.

When we were growing up together, I always admired your eyes and your smile. Both of them were so bright. Your laugh would make me laugh without either of us saying a word. I remember when you burned your arm. I wanted to hug you so badly. Somehow, I thought that would make it all better. Playing Nintendo was the highlight of our day and whenever we weren’t together, it felt like a piece of sunshine was missing.

You’re so smart and you have done so much in your years on Earth. I’m proud of you, BJ. You don’t let anything stop you from doing what needs to be done and God knows, you are the absolutely fearless.

My prayer for you is that you continue to grow as a man of God. I pray that you receive every great seed that you’ve sown into others. You do so much behind the scenes and God takes care of you well. In Jesus’ Name, you will be protected as fiercely as you protect us and you will prosper as your soul prospers. I got your back, B. Always.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #20

Dear Big Sister Hannah,

We were divinely brought together and I’m so glad about it.

You look just him, ya know…. the warmth in your eyes and the high-rise of your cheeks when you smile… and your laughter lights up my planet, Big Sis. On top of all of that, you and Pop are so similar in spirit. The parallel is uncanny both inside and out.

What I appreciate about you is that you instantly treated me like family. Your loving arms wrapped about my teenage self and said “Hey, Lil Sister!” The sentiment was foreign and I loved it. I could tell you meant those words with every fiber of your being. Age wasn’t a factor. Distance wasn’t a distraction. Bloodline couldn’t block it. You loved me and I could feel the warmth of your heart.

Photo by Kartik Gupta on Pexels.com

Thank you so much for being my sister. I didn’t see you coming! Sound wisdom via God’s Word always drips from your words. Delicious food is always on the stove. Hugs are always available. I couldn’t ask for a better compilation.

Hannah, you are such a blessing to the world. The kindness you show me is your normal setting for everyone. You mind your business and mind the needs of others simultaneously. You have stern direction and a quick sense of humor. You’re easy like Sunday morning and any time I’m in your presence, I’m at home.

My prayer for you is that you continue to overflow in peace and joy for the rest of your years… that Fruit from the Spirit will overtake you and it will make your heart leap at any moment. I pray that you will continue to reap every beautiful seed you sown; they are many.

I love you so much and I look forward to seeing you soon.

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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