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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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Friendships

Wednesday Wind Down: A Secret Addiction

Good Morning, Family!

I’m glad you’re here. Thanks for stopping by. Let’s dive into this short stop for your week (it’s less than 500 words).

I woke up this morning and asked God about a particular situation where I believe the art of listening wasn’t valued. This phrase breathed into my spirit – addiction to defiance.

The ceiling above my head looked like a blank canvas as I replayed the situation. Immediately, I saw evidence of what I heard. Immediately, I changed the original idea of this post.

Family, I believe some people are high on defiance. It deafens their ears and their hearts. If you tell them not to touch the mailbox because it’s freshly painted, they’ll go outside and lick it. OK, maybe not, but they’ll definitely leave a fingerprint. Getting into conversations with those with such an addiction can be mind-numbing. Fruitless and frustrating. So, it’s not worth it.

You heard me – save your breath.

Photo by Kelvin Valerio on Pexels.com

In some instances, defiance is a viable force for such cases as human rights. In other scenarios, it is a way to charge an internal battery. Perhaps that battery turns over by fear or anger. Residue from being abused by authority. An indoctrination of defiance being the only way to assert one’s self. Fear of extracted freedom. Lack of verbal resources to comprehensively express one’s opinion. Whatever it is, it can materialize into an addiction that harms budding and long-term relationships.

When I was a teenager, my dad would test my strength and will via foot races and wrestling. One time, my mother asked my dad to let me go during a mini-match in the living room. She was being a mom, what can I say? 🙂 My dad, on the other hand, was definitely being a dad because he asked if I was OK while in a pin. I said yes. Then he asked “You give?” I said no with gritted teeth. I tried to wiggle out of his pin, but it didn’t work. “Do you give?” he asked again. “No!” I yelled, still twisting myself toward freedom. There was something about the defiance that strengthened me. I used it as fuel. Somehow, I found an out and my dad congratulated me. I later heard from my mom that he said “Whew! She almost got me that time!”

That will to break out of the pin was helpful then, but my prayer is to never be saturated with it. I never want to be numb to the humanity of those around me. So gritty to defend that I refuse decipher. My prayer is that you do the same. Listen to the heartbeat of those around you, even if you don’t agree. Stay pliable enough to see the fingerprint of God on each creation, even if you have to grit your teeth.

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

Wednesday Wind Down: For Lovers and Liars

Hi, Family!

Here’s a shortstop for your week. It applies to life partnerships and friendships alike, but it’s a dose of tough love. Ready? Let’s get it.

Have you heard men and women ask where the “good” ones are? Me too. *Insert eye roll here*

Here’s the first punch – the “good ones” are everywhere. Either you aren’t in a space to receive or commit to that type of love or you may be blind to the “good ones” around you.

Frankly, I can’t stand seeing thirsty posts. You know the ones that scream “I’m on the prowl” and “Somebody pick me.” I’ve never been a fan of waiting on a life partner to live anyway. If you’ve been around my blog for a bit, you know this truth about me.

Speaking of truth, here’s the second punch – stop saying you want a “good man/woman” when you are a terrible friend.

Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels.com

What do you think you will be to your partner for the rest of your life? What do you think the “good one” will desire? Another “good” person! The same awesomeness you keep screaming that you want. Another caring human being that will throw her/his heart into this enigma called life and create something beautiful out of it. Another person that will say “I choose you everyday.” I would bet that your life partner wouldn’t want to only hear from you when you want something or endure your horrible listening skills.

So, start there. Start with your friendships after you’ve learned to love yourself. Get that part right first. Maybe then, God will give you the desire of your heart because He knows the other human will be in good hands.

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.

Photo by Evelina Zhu on Pexels.com

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!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #25

To Wanda Dear,

Once upon a time, I left my house with a prayer. I was a fresh out of grad school with boots on the ground trying to secure a teaching job. My phone had just been stolen as I was using pay phones to call schools and possible leads. I had gone to the library to print out directions because GPS was not an option. The summer heat was not my friend and I was beyond hot — inside and out. So on a day in June, I said “Lord, I need to work somewhere. Just tell me where to go.”

I drove straight to that store and took a deep breath before walking inside. It had been a couple of years since I had worked retail and frankly, I was not looking forward to it. “You’re allergies are going to freak out,” I muttered to myself as I walked through the store, “but you gotta do something.” Your frankness and your warmth sold me from the jump. I knew you were the real deal, but I didn’t imagine that you would become family.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

When my sweet friend Nancy passed away, you showed me empathy by letting me work in the backroom so my tears could flow at will. When my former husband’s diabetic skin needed suggestions, you always made sure to keep me updated on the best products to soothe its agitations. I appreciated your humanity. And while I appreciate every supervisor I’ve worked for, I have comprehensively learned more from you than any corporate experience I ever had. I learned more than how to run a store. I learned how to use discernment during the hiring process, how to mix grace with facts, how to manage personalities, how to work that calculator and know your products like you know your name, how to provide a positive customer experience, and how not to be pissed off everyday. I would tell myself after a long day or a hard shift, “If Wanda can do it, I can do it.” We made it through holiday rushes, limited staffing, late night inventories, and ridiculous floor sets. Every time, I would tell myself that same sentence.

You know my family because you’re woven into our tapestry. My mother respects you and when my father and former husband were alive, so did they. Your heart is bigger than most people I’ve met and I am so grateful you’re in my world. Like I tell anyone that acts sideways – “I’ll fight you over that red-head. She’s family.”

Wanda, I pray that every single seed you have sown in the lives of others will come back to you 100-fold. I have no worries about your future because you’ve planted so richly. You know I have your back no matter what and you know I’m not the only one that will say the same thing. All of us are so much better because of your awesomeness.

I love you big,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #14

Shawn!

You would be having a complete field day right about now! For real!

Between the pandemic and pandering politics, we would be having the best conversations if you were still here. Seriously. Your wit would be making me laugh aloud and you would be amen-ing your frat brother Roland Martin’s commentary per usual. I can hear your quips as I type — coming at me like rapid fire.

Can you believe that people are making political stances about wearing facial coverings to slow the spread of a virus? I just heard you chuckle. lol

Science. That was your jam and I know you would have something sarcastic to say about all of this. We would probably chat around mid-afternoon and about the latest foolishness concerning our country and the world-at-large. Our conversation would undoubtedly include the current state of educational affairs be it that you were an exceptional educator. You were the physics half and I was the social half of our scientific duo, but we met in the middle when it came to distress of public education. *insert fist bump here*

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Part of me is glad you’re not here to experience this mess and part of me wishes you were so we could decompress at length. You said I was the pontificator between the two of us, but seriously… that was you. You knew how to make a kid’s meal out of the most difficult math and physics problems. The context in which all of this craziness is floating is complex to say the least — the perfect ingredients for your beautiful mind.

We would be having some hilarious conversations right now, my friend. I believe that. We had finally reached that place before you left Earth and for that I am grateful.

Rest In Peace,

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Week 5 + 6

September is here, Sweethearts!

I pray that your month has had a good start and if not, an insightful one. Allow me to share some happy and wrap up my August with you.

I grooved with my Crew.

Workmanship Incorporated was at it again and I was right there soaking it up. There’s just something about being in a dance studio that gives me beautiful vibes and creative electricity. It’s my second sanctuary (first is the beach). Being there with my sisters in movement ministry made it all the better.

I had a sweet chat with my Sorors.

In the midst of a meeting, a loving wind of sisterhood resuscitated us all as we shared why we joined the alumni association. It was so beautiful to be vulnerable together.

I saw Coach Bill Clark.

OK. I saw him on my screen during the UAB Alumni Association‘s 2020 Annual Meeting. In a land of social distancing, this is probably the closest I will get to meeting him for a while, so I was grateful for the moment. He addressed the upcoming football season and shared great information about the team’s diligence against the spread of COVID-19 and their annual outreach efforts.

I had hearty laughs with the Janes.

Every week, Founder Javacia Harris Bowser of See Jane Write, LLC carves time and energy out of her schedule to host a virtual writing session with her writing tribe. I’ve been joining in as a personal commitment to not only complete my 2nd book but to also bond with others that want to slay their goals. I love the time we set aside to check in with each other, write in silence, then check in again. It’s so nice.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

My sister and I sharpened our iron swords.

In case you missed it, I co-host a real talk faith-based podcast called QueensBeLike with The Jasmine T. Before the month was out, God dropped an incredible Word that fit both of our seasons. We rooted for each other. We sharpened each other’s spirits. We laughed uncontrollably. Get you a sisterfriend that you can win with and as you’re waiting on the “W,” you fix each other’s crowns and walk uphill together.

Last, but not least —

I had wonderful sister time with Ashlee
(click the link to see why she’s dope).

I shared an open letter to my younger self and a photo with my Facebook friends (this open letter and more coming in November for #bloglikecrazy so stay tuned).

Yep. Hair, Make-up, & Photo by Desiree Danielle again.

Wherever you are, I pray that you are well in mind, body, and spirit. It takes work, but it is well worth it. This month taught me how to appreciate the journey I’ve had so far and the balance I’ve obtained to hold it in the road. I do all I can to keep it and I thank God that He reminds me of His Love in every way. A supportive mother, a ride-and-live family, a tight circle that I don’t have to second-guess, career paths that are purpose-filled, and peace of mind that makes a mighty fine pillow. No, everything isn’t perfect (actually I had a stream of bad news this month), but it sure isn’t diabolical. Remember, you do have time to enjoy something you love every week — no matter what.

Here’s to your September being exactly what you need it to be — the good, bad, or the ugly. Whatever comes to you, you are equipped to handle it and you are not alone. I love you all!

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Week 4

Hello, Sweethearts.

We’re in week 4 and I have to admit — it was rough. If we keep it authentic (which I always do with you), the whole month has been a fight to find my happy. I had valleys and mountains in clusters, but I meant what I said last week — you have the authority to do something you love every week. So, I did.

I got a legs/feet massage with my pedicure.

It costs a little extra, but it was so worth it. I’m used to getting 1-2 massages a month to maintain the physical demands of my work life. Well, COVID-19 has trashed that schedule, so when I saw the chance to upgrade my pedicure to include the massage, I snatched it. Unapologetically.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I spent quality time with one of my village kids.

She has a beautiful smile. She let me shampoo and detangle her hair. She cried a little. She let me hold her. We had a dance off. She won.

I caught up with my big sister.

The alumnae and undergraduate members of my sorority do our best to keep in touch. Sometimes, life events create some cracks in communication even though the bond is still there. I had a beautiful and hilarious conversation with one of my big sisters and it was epic.

I kept my hair appointment.

OK, this seems trivial to some, but I felt like a dirty Q-tip with a worn Brill-o pad sitting on top of it. Based upon those valleys and mountains, I had every reason to cancel it, but I didn’t. I stood up for myself and said “I deserve it.” It doesn’t hurt that Desiree Danielle turned my head into a masterpiece (yep, the same creative that took my blog branding photos).

Photo by Mateus Souza on Pexels.com

I let myself speak… and cry.

I’m pretty good at pushing through, but the morning of my birthday, I received difficult news. My default setting of “quiet” was wrestling with my need to emotionally vomit. I didn’t want to say anything, but I needed to say everything. So, when one of my friends called and asked “How’s your day going?” I gave myself permission to cry and untwist the pressure valve a bit. I needed it. You may be thinking — how does this fit in the birthday mantra? Because I allowed myself to do something that would usher relief and joy. It was totally worth it.

I provided someone a chance to relax.

Everything that could have caused a delay or cancellation tried to occur, but I was determined to provide time and space for her to exhale and regroup. It brought me joy to hear her appreciation and for me to say “No problem. You’re worth it.”

I drove over an hour in silence.

I have a worksite that is over an hour away and I usually listen to a sermon, something meditative, or pray. On this drive, I did neither. I let my mind breathe. Every time I wanted to think about something particular, I let it wander. It felt amazing.

Remember what I said, Sweethearts. Don’t get lost in the hamster wheel. People die there. I pray that you discover that you can do something you love every week. I was determined to do that no matter how many audibles I had to call.

Here’s to you having some positive moments of your own this month. I look forward to hearing about them soon. If you already started, drop one of them in the comments. Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: I Say A Little Prayer

Hey there, Sweethearts!

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

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


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

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

“Lord, keep them safe.”

“God, I thank you for them all.”

“Hold them close.”

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

“Remind them that they’re beautiful today.”

“Help them hear Your voice.”

“Give them something to laugh about today.”

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

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

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


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

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

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

– Joyce Meyer

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

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

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #13

Prayer: “Lord, please help my friend.”

The worst feeling for me is wanting to provide assistance but something is blocking me from doing so. I’ve experienced blockages of both distance and spiritual directives when it came to those situations. There were times when I truly wanted to extend myself and God told me no. That hurt just as bad as not being physically present in their time of need. Now, my friends (and I don’t take that term lightly) know they can call me at any time. If I can, I will — they know that too, but what do you when your hands are tied? When you know that this is a lesson they have to learn on their own? When you want to do it for them, but you know it will handicap them instead? When you’re hundreds of miles away? I had to learn to release that control freak to God too.

I say this often — I’m not Jesus, but I do listen to Him. I can’t be everywhere for everybody. I can’t make every baby shower, wedding shower, bridal party, funeral, birthday party, retirement party, hospital stay, court hearing, church event… you get the point. Trust me, I tried and it was an exhausting lesson of my finite abilities. I had to make peace with that unfortunate truth and send prayers where my hands couldn’t reach. Sometimes, I’ve sent prayers and a PayPal blessing where my pockets permitted. Other times, I stopped what I was doing, tucked away in an empty classroom or closed the door to my office and interceded on their behalf. Whether through my hands or my lips, through a text message or through a hug, my friends are always on my prayer list and I have learned to let God move through me however he wishes in order to confirm His Love in their situation. I’ve gone through some doozies with my tribes, but they always appreciate prayer… and so do I.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts! Keep praying for your friends and listening for your next steps! I love y’all!

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