#4 – I get to do life with Workmanship Incorporated!
No matter how tired I am after a long day at work, rehearsing with my Troupe always energizes me. It fills me up. Workmanship Incorporated is an exceptional hodgepodge of spiritual, intelligent, quirky artists that love God, love people, and go hard in the paint every day. In January, we kicked off a rebranding campaign and geared up for a new performance season. While rehearsing with them, I often ask God how I could be so blessed to know them, let alone work with them. Being around them blesses me inside and out. We laugh, cry, and serve together. We can be transparent with each other without judgment, accepting the messy version of each other at the drop of a dime and uplifting each other. I may be the founder/leader, but this fantastic group of humans has stuck with me through the most difficult seasons in my life and I am humbled to be a page in their life story. They are definitely some Good!
At one point, everyone in these photos was a stranger. What made us family is that we took a chance on becoming friends. Can you imagine how many family members you’re missing out on because you won’t get out of your comfort zone? Let’s take it a step further – are you around people that bless you internally? Do you refill them as well?
What makes my Crew amazing is that they’re tangible, not perfect. You may not have a group of people to be perfectly imperfect with, but there’s at least one person that fits the description in this world. She or he just may be a stranger right now. Don’t be afraid to fill and be filled.
Those are the three words that have been sitting in my spirit since September. I even got three lotus leaves shaved in the nape of my new ‘do to represent each word for the special occasion. Who is “we?”
“We” includes my late father, who chose to love and encourage an angry, confused 12-year-old until she melted in his arms and trusted him with all of her heart.
My former husband, who carried the bills while I finished graduate school and mentored me in the education profession which created a segue for me to teach at my newly-added alma mater.
My family and my very much alive and awesome mother, who was my cheerleader and the perfect example of love, loyalty, strength, courage, wisdom, and fight.
My performing arts troupe, also known as my tribe, that kept my creative lifeblood flowing, balance out the academic grind, and navigated the ship when I was weak.
My pastor and church family that, with open arms, understood every worship rehearsal night I missed due to working and studying and always had a prayer in their pocket.
My beautiful small group of strong and Godly women, which created a spiritual safety net for all of my hills and valleys.
My incomparable instructors who collectively created a safe space to learn, grow, and heal with insurmountable passion and sincerity.
My friends that texted jokes, encouraging words, and random “I’m checking on you” messages to ensure that I knew that my goal of being a licensed massage therapist was well within my reach.
My complimentary massage clients that trusted me with their physical and spiritual well-being.
Twas the Wednesday before graduation weekend and I am one blessed creature. Why? Because I had a “we,” and truth be told, you have/had a “we” somewhere in your life too. Think about one person that was supportive and inhale that gratefulness, then exhale that truth into a message to let them know. If they are no longer on Earth, smile and support someone else in their honor.
Peace, blessings, thanks for listening, and wind down safely, my loves!
I am so grateful that last week’s post reached your heart. You told me in person, on Facebook, and through direct message how much it helped you and that you are keeping me and my family in your prayers. You are why I take the time to write each week. (((HUGS))) to all of you and thank you again for your support.
Below is a post I wrote in August 2017 and I’m ready to share it. Oddly enough, these lessons still apply. Hope it helps. If it does, let me know. – CJW
It seems like life slowed down a lot after my father passed away. I’ve been on auto-pilot, getting things done on the list, but vitality is a visitor. And no, this isn’t a sad soliloquy about how much I’ve lamented over the last three weeks. This post is actually a summary of how much I have learned experienced in the month of August and some of the lessons completely surprised me.
I listened to a few friends who felt like they have lost themselves in their parental and marital roles. I realized I don’t know how to do that. I think no matter what I do, how full my schedule may be, I always have a sense of self. I may not like her sometimes, but I always know who she is. That may repel some and draw others, and I am at peace with that.
When someone loves you, s/he will show it. Maybe not the way you want them to, but they’ll respect you enough to try. I am so grateful for people that do. I get distracted by those that don’t, but I’m working on shutting those blinds and pulling those curtains for good.
Pull people closer if they are worth the intimacy and don’t be afraid to say how you feel. If you’re hurt, say it. If you’re happy, say that too. Don’t just welp when you’re wounded. Say something when your soul is happy.
Allow friends to “see” you… in all of your messy glory. The best friendships I have are because of this rule. They’re the grittiest, most beautiful kaleidoscope of experiences I could never describe with justice. I share moments with people. That’s my gift and my desire. But, some moments multiply exponentially into priceless relationships. Keep watering those and they will refresh you too.
No matter what you do, someone’s lie will always be the truth to her/him. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Save your energy. Literally and spiritually. Let them live with the lie.
Honor is an big word. You have to open your heart wide to do it. Some flies get it in, but that’s part of the price. To honor is to open yourself and be humble toward someone’s esteem. And it doesn’t end after death.
Family is anywhere Love lives. What a sweet feeling to be counted as a family member by the blood of Love alone. You are born into one, and there’s something special about being adopted into another.
Legacy is everything and we are building it everyday… good and bad. My sisterfriend shared the legacy of her family and I was excited to see the fruit of her family’s labor. What a beautiful aftermath bore in the midst of segregation, heartbreak, economic development, and old-fashioned hard work. What legacy are we leaving? Bullet holes? Student loans? Shattered hearts?
Seek your insecurities and stare them down. Talk directly to them and don’t let them wiggle out of your sight. Don’t let them shade the truth with a different color.
God knows where you live. You don’t have to hide in your dark hours. You have a Father that knows your name and each star in the sky and each animal on the planet. You don’t have to fear your humanity; just know that you are clothed in divinity through the blood of Jesus and He gets it.
It’s OK to retreat. You need to refuel and recharge sometime, just like a car and a cell phone. No one has the right to make you feel guilty about doing so. Instead of fighting from fumes, choose to regroup so you can live more efficiently. Now, don’t randomly disappear where your loved ones think you’re unsafe. You are loved and will be missed, OK? OK. So, at least tell one person that you’re taking some time.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts. Keep shining, keep breathing, and wind down safely. I’m praying for you!
It’s been two weeks since I’ve blogged because my reservoir of words was empty. Now, I can connect again, so here goes. As always, I hope my transparency can help you as it is helping me heal and grieve.
Peace & Thanks for listening in advance.
I’ve only had two boyfriends in my life and the second gentleman became my husband. That should tell you how stringent I am when it comes to making decisions. My forever made it a point to let me know that he was intentional about me and what can I say? He passed my tests and I said yes.
So, when the best friend of my former husband called on Father’s Day and said “It’s not looking good and…,” my answer was the same. I knew I had to be there. No matter what. I immediately adjusted my route and was at the hospital in about 25 minutes. It was the least I could do. The least I could be for the man I vowed to love forever, regardless of what those papers said.
We had a beautiful beginning, a sweet middle, an amicable denouement, and a beautiful friendship all over again. It’s not what normally happens, I know, but it was us.
Was everything perfect? Of course not, but we had a love and respect for each other that wouldn’t disintegrate. And I appreciate that part of God’s plan. The fragments of questions that float around in my mind, I will never understand and I try to not to marinate on too much. It was devastating to say the least, watching him fight and knowing he was going to let go. As I walked into his hospital room, my heart began to throb in pain. I felt like someone had loosely stitched it together in light of my father’s passing less than a year ago, but the inner part of me was about to make it burst. We had gone through this before, he and I… the undulation of health. Like a Pavlovian subject, I switched into “wife mode” – talk to God, talk to him, touch him gently, kiss his face, rub his head, listen to the nurses, watch the monitors, ask questions, remember names the medical team, notate medicines given, nap during sponge bath, keep up with anything he needs to know when he wakes up… Something was different this time. Every beep echoed sadness in the hallways of my soul and the tears just wouldn’t stop stampeded down my face.
Being a Christian, of course I was hoping for a miracle of any kind, but I could feel that prayer request being removed from my fingers every time the medical team told me differently. I took a picture of me holding his hand so I could show him when he woke up. We were supposed to have lunch that week and I thought it would be a great topic of discussion. A part of me wanted to ask him over shrimp and grits to describe what he saw, felt, and heard as he lay in that bed. Did he hear us? Could he see angels? Was he talking to God Himself? Silly, I know, but I wanted to chat all about it as we laughed about another school year down in the books. Singing and praying and crying and meditating, I held his hand along with Mark and his wife. The lower the blood pressure, the less strength in those stitches that held my heart together. At the last beep, they couldn’t hold any longer and my heart bled mercilessly.
Needless to say, I’m letting myself feel everything now and staying soaked in prayer along the way. I couldn’t start grieving for my father until months after he passed away and this time, I am allowing myself to just be. If tears fall at school, so be it. Just the other night, I screamed and cried out in anguish on my way home from work. The outpour of support has been amazing, but some fail to realize my spirit has an open wound that resembles more of a widow than an ex-wife. And that’s OK. It had only been a little over a year since we divorced and we weren’t bitter. We weren’t angry. We were simply us and I now understand what he was trying to do. I hate the pain, but I get it. Before, during, and after our marriage, the most important title was Friend. Such a rarity it is to come full circle with someone. I couldn’t have asked for a greater honor in this life.
It was a pleasure to love you, Shawn, and that love extends beyond the grave. My heart cries into the heavens as you enjoy your new home, but I’m so happy for your relief. The world may have lost your beautiful mind, body, and spirit, but your legacy will live in us all. Always and forever grateful.
I share this not as a lament, but to encourage anyone who is grieving a loved one anywhere in your soul. Be present. Be human. Be tender. It doesn’t mean you’re not a “good Christian” (whatever that means anyway) and that you just need to “get over it” (insert same sentiment here). Jesus cried too and He understood what it meant to grieve the inevitable. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Yes, joy comes in the morning, but there is a new morning everyday, so it’s OK if you have to get a refill on that joy more than once. He has plenty and will never run dry. That’s what I’m leaning on right now.
I love you and I’m praying for you. Keep me in prayer too, please. In the words of my mother, God’s got a whole world out here, so let’s make the best use of our time while we’re here, OK?
I’m winding down after administering final exams to my students and I kept asking God what to share with you tonight. Nothing seemed to fit, so on my way home yesterday, I asked again and I got the answer. Simple, but ruthless.
It cut me to the core because I’m an intimate relationship person. I have an outer court and an inner court, but sometimes I want everyone on the court. (lol) And I’m sure God looks down from heaven, shaking His head wondering why His daughter keeps roping people into such a sanctimonious space, but I forget at times. Then my heart gets hurt, I feel disrespected, or I get angry when all I had to do was remember the first lesson.
So, tonight, this is your reminder too. Let your friends flow in different orbits. You’re still in the same universe. You’re not required to rope everyone in. Do what you can, but keep the courts separate. That’s not being mean, bitter, or rude. It’s being wise, healthy, and purposeful.
When we see something awesome, we gaze. We don’t stare as if we’re trying to figure it out. We behold it. We soak it in. That’s what I did this week on my way home.
I gazed at twinkling stars for about 5 minutes at a desolate exit ramp. Don’t worry; I was safe. But boy did it feel good to just sit and watch.
When is the last time you star gazed? What about gazing at the Stars in your life? Those special people are worthy of beholding. They are amazing creations fashioned with the amazing hands of an amazing God. What would it cost you to acknowledge their greatness for a few minutes?
Have you ever looked at the calendar and realized that you haven’t spent time with someone? I have, and this year, I became more vocal about it to certain people that came to mind.
My sisterfriend from college and I made a pact to remedy the “Let’s get together, but we never do” syndrome by setting dates to eat and chat. We may have to squeeze it in, but we make it happen… even if it’s for an hour. While family and work demands have changed since college and we are now forced to pull out our phones and make appointments with each other, we don’t judge each other’s schedules and we don’t mind the effort of collaborating availability.
She’s a productive professional, non-profit regulator, live music enthusiast, wife, and mother. She could easily say that she doesn’t have time, but she never does. Neither do I. We make time to pause.
I practice the same pact with other beautiful people in my life. It works for me… to press pause in other other’s lives to say “How are you?” instead of reading about what they are doing on their timelines. Social media is a great way to monitor the happenings of people we love and network with people we need, but I don’t believe it should be a substitute for intimate connections among those you hold dear. The next thing you know, it’s November, and your bestie is just another person that you scroll through on your phone screen when you could converse in real life using the same device.
With whom do you need to pause? Consider reaching out to your inner circle or those you wish to draw closer and simply tell them that you need to press the button with them. It may be a weekender or a 30-minute video call, but your relationship (and you) will be better for it and with all of the technological advances we have, distance isn’t an excuse. Put it on your calendar and keep the appointment. Make intimacy a priority. After all, those responsibilities aren’t going anywhere. They are guaranteed to be present everyday; people are not.
Guess what my pastor preached the following day? ENDURE: Running the Race. I included some of my tweets below. It’s one of the ways I like to take sermon notes.
(Sidebar: I love it when God layers His Word. Don’t you? 🤗)
Hebrews 12:1 (NASB) – Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
One of my highlights was Ecclesiastes 4:12 – Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.Essentially, we fight better together. That’s what church services are to me. Yes, we are there to collectively worship God, but I also like to think of it as a pit stop where you can pause and regroup with other runners. Knowing that you’re running in the same direction, having similar experiences along the way, and celebrating our different journeys forge our faith. It strengthens the spiritual muscles.
Running together. What a beautiful, yet simple solution to many of our problems. What do you think?
It began with a tutoring appointment with a former student who is determined not to let anything stop her from graduating, including her English paper. I challenged her and she made me laugh. She stepped outside of her essay-writing comfort zone and I helped her see her thoughts on paper. She left the session equipped and excited to keep going. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes and made me proud to be an educator.
Next, I had lunch with sweet friend from high school. She and I were in band together and I always thought her hair color and freckles were cool. She had a quiet strength that I admired and we became friends quickly. Now that we’re grown, we had grown-folk conversation and it was lovely. We vented, we cried, we laughed. I was proud to be a friend… and her freckles and hair color still rock.
Then, it was time for my cousin’s baby shower which, might I add, was a night time swag affair. Live music, baby shower games, good food and laughs made this shower worth the cold rainy drive. I’m well acquainted with both parents, so it was great to anticipate my new cousin’s arrival. As I helped clean up, the running theme was clear. I was proud to be family.
Afrer all three settings, the word that stuck out was TOGETHER. My former student’s essay challenge wasn’t so mountainous after we met for tutoring. My friend and I didn’t feel alone in our life lessons after lunch. My family’s shower was better because everyone could share the experience. On that day, life was better together.
Sweethearts, I pray that if you’re feeling lonely and life’s bumps are giving you bruises, that you remember that you are not alone. Lonely and alone are not the same. You can feel lonely in a crowded room. I’ve been there, and wisdom has taught me that you have someone who wants to be better together with you. Be careful, but let her or him in your heart’s circle and watch the healing begin. We were not designed to do life alone. Your problems may not go away quicker, but you’ll be stronger together as the storm passes by.