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Wednesday Wind Down: Shift

Hey, Sweethearts!

I have a shortstop for you this week.

Brace for the shift.

Yep, I said it. I know people want to cancel 2020, throw it in the trash, and light a match, but I believe we need to be preparing for a shift. A good one.

A shift toward a better version of ourselves.

A shift to drop the weights that easily veer us off the purpose path (Hebrews 12:1)

A shift to receive the love we deserve

A shift to throw away procrastination so we can level up our businesses

A shift to collaborate in uplifting families and communities

Photo by Gotta Be Worth It on Pexels.com

September is the perfect time to write down what you want to leave behind and notate what you want and who you want to become. Why? Because it’s before the holiday rat race when work and home tug at you on both ends. Take 5 minutes on your lunch break or pull over during your commute and write it down… unfiltered. Give yourself the grace to change. Grace to evolve. You do have the ability to shift into another gear.

I know I am… and it feels good. It feels right. It feels holy.

I’m praying for your shift, Sweethearts. I pray that you do not lose hope in whatever situation you are in. I pray that you continue to dream, build, and rest. I believe your shift is coming and it starts with you.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there! I’m rooting for you!

Wednesday Wind Down: Stretch Marks

Good Morning, Sweethearts!

I hope you’re doing well. I have a short stop for your week about stretch marks. I was doing laundry this week when I heard God’s voice loud and clear.

“Stretch marks are allowed in this season.”

– Heard Monday 7/13/20

It was randomly befitting and it made me pause. It was God giving me permission to be uncomfortable to grow.

Now, here’s the fun fact – I’m in love with my stretch marks. Once puberty hit, bam — there they were. I made a decision right there in the bathroom that I was going to embrace them fully. Fast forward to my pause in laundry moment and I remembered that coming-of-age resolve. Then, my mind traveled to the significant coolness of stretch marks. They come about as a result of growth, change, and birth. Something expanded and the skin could not contain it.

This year, that’s what I’ve felt like. When I said “OK” to being comfortable being uncomfortable, I forgot about the stretch marks that would come with the journey. They don’t scare me, but I have to acknowledge that they are there. Emotional and spiritual stretch marks from being swelled with baggage I needed to release. Physical stretch marks from losing weight. They are a testament that change has taken place. That I’ve birthed something that belonged outside of me.

Sweethearts, I pray that you familiarize yourself with your stretch marks. They are proof that you’re still alive in spite of the change. Do not shy away from the discomfort of this season. It’s OK to have stretch marks after this is over. It’s OK to embrace them as beautiful parts of you just like your smile.

I admonish you to stretch. Keep stretching. Keep growing. Keep birthing. Keep being. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from being a fruitful human being. We all have permission to grow into better versions of ourselves. That’s exactly what I’m doing.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Message Received

Hello, Sweethearts!

I’m glad you made it to another Wednesday. If no one told you lately, let me say I’m proud of you. You’re still here. You’re still breathing. You’re making it and I’m glad you stopped by.

I’ve been chewing on a simple doozy the last few weeks. I can’t wait to hear your take on it.

Be ready for what you pray for.

We tend to say that directive when it’s a blessing and we experience overwhelming joy upon receipt or when someone says something that could be disastrous. This time around, it’s not the joyous feeling yet. I’m nervous and need to throttle down from the clouds of anxiety about what lies ahead. Let me explain.

Somewhere along this faith walk, the following sentences are usually said in prayer or song:

“Use me, God.”
“I’m available to You.”
“I’ll do what You say.”
“Send me, I’ll go.”
“Fill me up, God.”
“Do whatever You want to do.”
“All Glory to God.”
“I surrender all.”

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Well, I’m going to give it to you straight — those words are like vouchers and they get cashed in. Every time, my face resembled the woman in this post’s feature photo. Right before the new year’s eve countdown came to an end, I asked for opportunities to let God shine regardless of my comfort zone. I said I was ready for whatever. I meant it. I really did, but I didn’t say it with expectation (remember, this is a no-judgment writing spot). It sounded good too as I looked up and said it with a smile. Then came some wisdom from my sisterfriend — it’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable. As soon as it left her lips, it penetrated my soul. I knew it was for me, but I didn’t greet it with a warm welcome. At all. The resonation sounded like a gong and it’s been reverberating ever since. I had questions when it sunk in – What in the world is that going to look like? Where would I be? What would I have to do? Could I live up to the assignment? I had no clue what was coming, but that uncomfortable factor was guaranteed and I had better brace for impact.

Since then, I have experienced blow after blow of growth opportunities. I see the buds of development in my gifts and fruition of my desires. It’s been uncomfortable but necessary and appreciated.

I’m definitely not complaining. If you follow this blog, you know I am a grateful spirit. It’s a way of life for me; however, I have never craved the spotlight and right now, I feel like a bright one is over my head. So, I’m determined to get these butterflies in my stomach to fly in formation so I can rock what’s ahead in Jesus’s Name. I am reminded that these are God-given opportunities and answered prayers no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Those words I said from my heart with seconds left in 2019 had a date and now is the appointed time with more to come. Vouchers, I tell you… vouchers.

In essence, review your prayers, Sweethearts. Mean what you say and get ready to follow through with God’s purpose in you. We are instruments and instruments are designed to produce sound. I pray that your comfort zones continue to break open so you can produce the music written on your heart by the Creator. You were designed to grow. To develop. To produce. To flourish. All of those are traumatizing processes for the seed, but necessary for the fruit to come forth.

Here’s to our growth processes, Sweethearts. Stay encouraged and walk right on it. That’s what I’m doing. As an example, I wrote a devotional for the 8th day of Zion iCampus’s 10-day Corporate Fasting & Prayer. I rarely share my work outside of this blog and social media, but I wanted to show that I’m practicing what I’m preaching. God will be glorified beyond my comfort zone.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Fruit For Who?

Hey, Sweethearts!

This is a shortstop for your week.

I was talking with a friend recently and the Holy Spirit said something through me. I chuckled and couldn’t wait to share it with you too. It’s quick, so here goes!

Trees don’t eat their own fruit.

I know. Simple, right? Here’s the next part.

Who’s eating your Fruit? For whom are you growing?

The fruit of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 comes from spiritual development. While it would be lovely to be born with all 9 attributes, that’s just not how it goes. Undoubtedly, we wouldn’t need a Savior, and how else would you acquire temperance, but I digress…

I used to think of the fruit of the Spirit as a bowl of apples, oranges, bananas, etc. Later in life, they seemed more like a cluster of grapes to me (I mean, who can eat just one grape?). Each grape works together to create the fruit of God’s Spirit in our lives. And that fruit… it’s not designed for you. Sure, you are a better version of yourself with it, the fruit is meant to be consumed by others not the tree. Period. If you clicked the link in the previous paragraph and scrolled down, you saw that each fruit was described using a feminine singular Hebrew word. I don’t think that’s by accident. Once a tree “births” fruit, it releases it, rests, then grows more. Sounds just like a woman huh?

So, in that case, how can you keep love to yourself? Even peace and self-discipline benefits those around you. The fruit developed in you was created for someone else to consume and grow as well. Now, let’s go back to that 2nd question and wrap it up…

Who’s eating your fruit? For whom are you growing it?  Hopefully, you have answers to these questions. If not, let me help. Anyone within eye view and earshot is in that number. I don’t care if you’re in the grocery store or liquor store, anyone is fair game to see fruit in you. The question now is what are you showing them?

Sweethearts, someone is watching you grow. It doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect work in progress; it means that your fruit may be just the nourishment they’ve been waiting on. So, just keep growing.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Have a great week!

Wednesday Wind Down: Noted

This week, I learned a valuable lesson. I mean really learned it. You know how you know something, but then at some point, you know it? Well, that’s what happened while I was minding my merry business.

On Sunday, I had a conversation that left me uneasy for 3 days. My chest felt tight every time I thought about it. After all, I had extended so much grace toward this particular entity, and there I was in a conversation about something beyond my control. I told the person in charge that I wasn’t offended, but truthfully, I was trying not to be offended. I was calm at the moment, but on the way home, I vented to God about it but it didn’t help. I was still tinged.

classic photo of a woman holding a tea cup
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I knew I wasn’t upset with the person in authority. After some deep me diving (my emotional intelligence is high), I tapped into the real reason I felt “some kinda way.” I hate for my character to be in question and that was the spot that Sunday’s conversation hit on. So, before bed, I prayed that God would take away my default setting of retraction. I wanted to decrease my workload from this entity and let them know why. I wanted to open the box of grace extensions and remind them how they were not reciprocated. Forcefully, I thanked God for the work and tried to settle into a slumber, but I kept tossing. Still don’t know how I got to sleep, so I’ll chalk it up to divine intervention.

Thanks to the YouTube ministry, I watched a sermon by Bishop T. D. Jakes called God Smells Honor on the way to work (it popped up twice). I had heard the story of Noah a plethora of times but never thought of how the very thing Noah built for safety was also a smelly mess. Just think… animal and human waste + one window. *shudder* Then, Bishop Jakes mentioned that he pastored a church of fewer than 100 members for 10 years in West Virginia. He said it was there that God developed his leadership, integrity, patience, discipline, etc. The main idea of this part in his sermon was that the very place that is uncomfortable, messy, or claustrophobic is the very place you need to grow. So, I paused the video and prayed another prayer that went something like this — “God, whatever it is that you’re trying to develop in me, I accept it. Please help me to understand what I need to learn while I’m here. It’s only going to make me better, so I’m open.”

woman closes her eyes raising her right hand
Photo by Asa Dugger on Pexels.com

Within seconds of that prayer, I received a phone call for more work from that same entity but a different person. Now, what if I was in a petty state of mind at the time of that call? I would have rationalized a reaction that would have actually stunted my growth and my income. Instead of saying no to the work, I said yes… with a clear heart. Then it clicked. The entity is my soil not my enemy. Anything else is smoke and mirrors.

That’s a tactic of the dark forces that be — to create a spirit of offense so that you essentially attack yourself while you’re under construction. You forfeit your growth opportunity and end up being stunted in that area. Maybe it’s something tangible like organization skills or intangible like patience. This is where the Word goes beyond Sunday and meets you in the middle of the road. The broken one that you don’t want to be on.

Tonight, I pray that you grow up and pray a grown prayer. I pray that you see the soil for what it is… a divinely-purposed place to develop something within you or extract something that could negatively affect your future self. I learned that this week in a new way. It’s not easy at all, but anything that has to be birthed, is going to be messy and as long as I allow the smoke and mirrors trick to work, I won’t be able to turn into the improved version of C. J. Wade. I won’t be able to show the version of Jesus that someone needs to see. After all, my character can stand on its own.

By the way, you’ll have to check out Bishop Jakes’ tie between the ark, a cocoon, and a mother’s womb… an epic correlation. 

Peace & Thanks for listening! Here’s to aerating that soil!

 

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Bypass

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts.

I have a little example for us, but it will still be a shortstop (500 words or less). Are you ready? Great!

Imagine a neighborhood where Love walks around like a 6-foot model wearing a floor-length silk robe. Every step is like art walking. She’s majesty in human form. She smiles with the warmth of a soft spring sun, and as she walks down each street, life spreads. Grass is green. Flowers are in bloom. She’s beautiful and free. Her light flows into every house, on every block, and into every heart.

Now, let’s talk about the heart, more specifically a damaged one. If a heart’s function is impaired and a person’s life is at risk, a doctor may suggest coronary bypass surgery. This requires a healthy blood vessel to be taken from one part of the body and transplanted to the heart in order to create an alternate (and more efficient) route for blood to flow. If this is difficult for you to visualize, just think of your nearest interstate. The bypass was created to alleviate traffic congestion. Not sure if your commute includes one? Here’s a clue: it usually has 3 digits.

i-059_nb_exit_137_03
Photo courtesy of AARoads

One of the realities about the heart is that a damaged one can only be repaired to a certain extent; otherwise, it must be replaced. A bypass is designed to create a new pathway for blood to bring life to the rest of the body, but it is not a transplant.

With that said, let’s tie up the loose ends.

Right now, there are formerly covert ideologies that are showing like a woman’s white slip at a country church. Why? Because there is toxic congestion where the Blood of Jesus should be flowing. Everyone might as well be honking each other during rush hour. You may hear racist comments at the store or made to feel that you are incompetent at work. Perhaps you even heard some of those comments at church. No place seems to be safe except the heart and it’s difficult to love people who view you as inferior. Here’s a reminder that I have to constantly tell myself; they aren’t the problem — their hearts are. I know it seems they will forever be saturated in ignorant privilege, but trust me. It’s a heart thing. Wherever Blood flows, there is Life.

So, wouldn’t it be great to create a bypass for Love to walk freely like that model up there? For Life to grow and bloom wherever she goes? Guess what… you can. Every time you arm yourself with facts instead of sensationalism, you create a bypass. When you perform in excellence, that’s a bypass.

It is imperative that keep your vessel as clear as possible. Create a bypass. Make it a quadruple one if you have to. The down lookers will get over it.

Peace & Thanks for listening! By the way — yes, this post made it in the shortstop category. 🙂

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Photo courtesy of YouVersion – The Bible App

Wednesday Wind Down: Produce

Hello, Sweethearts!

We made it through another week, didn’t we? What a blessing! We’re 15 days into 2020 and the new year is going fast!

While walking my dog this week (which seems to be my secondary #LATSOL hotspot nowadays), I thought about Jennifer Lopez. I had just binge-watched Hustlers and Second Act, and being a long-term supporter of J. Lo, I imagined how she must have felt after producing these two films… pride, relief, and excitement. She’s known for not putting her name on anything she does not fully endorse and she exudes excellence in every mission set before her. In her words, she doesn’t see herself as getting older — she just strives to be a better version of herself year after year.

With that said, I pulled a virtual chair next to Ms. Lopez and I kicked my feet up for a split-second. We recalled her body of work on stage, on screen, and behind the camera. She has and continues to produce a broad spectrum of art. We nodded in approval as photos of movie posters circulated in front of us like a carousel of colorful horses.  Then, I absorbed the lesson of the moment.

Be proud of everything you produce.

Now, that’s a tall order, but it is definitely doable. You see, we are soil. God created us out of dirt (just take a look in the tub next time for verification), but I believe we host spiritual soil inside of us. It is capable of growing amazing things because everything God made can produce something. That’s the God-like quality in us — to produce inanimate creations like music and lively humans called babies. Part of the reason I appreciate the prowess of Jennifer Lopez is because she is always proud of her work… her produce… the fruit of her labor. How many of us can say the same thing?

So, if we’re the soil, where are the seeds? Where’s the light? Who’s got the water? I’m glad you asked! We host seeds from various places. They’re a special blend of our parents and our experiences. All of them have a chance to grow, but the goal is to produce the best fruit we have to offer the world before we leave here. With Light from the Word of God and a flow of guidance (Water) from the Holy Spirit to nourish us daily, we can produce exceptional things in this life. And let’s not forget Love… that beautifully gritty fertilizer.

Need some help getting started? Here’s a few verses for your journey.

Matt 5.16Galatians 6.10Hebrews 10.242 Cor 9.6

My prayer is to die empty and I can only do that if my soil produces fruit that I am proud to present to my Father and to His Creations. The beauty of it all is that I have this remarkable opportunity every day.  So do you.

What are you producing, Sweetheart?

Peace & I’m praying for the soil of your heart. Thanks for listening!

Bible verse visuals courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

Wednesday Wind Down: Birthday Behavior

Hello, Sweethearts!

As promised, I’m sharing this year’s birthday behavior with you. I altered my original plans a bit as my knee recouped, but I definitely did something I wanted to do every week. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with my annual ritual, let me catch you up.

Each week in August, I do something that fills me with joy or I’ve been postponing, then I continue the celebration once per month until the end of the year. Catch last year’s behavior by reading Birthday & Beast: Part I and Part II. This year, I am full of gratefulness and blessed to be here again to share with you.

Week 1: Rest. Much needed rest.

white bed linen
Photo by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com

Week 2: Fun Rehearsal with my Troupe. Self-care Nails Day. Fun performance with my African dance company teammates. Rest again. Much needed rest.

Week 3: Great conversation with an old friend and a new friend. Online dinner date with my long-distance sister eating one of my favorite meals at Olive Garden. Recorded a back-to-school video clip with my Troupe. Attended the birthday party of my friends’ twins (that game of musical chairs was something serious) and ran into another member of our old Crew. Enjoyed my favorite milkshake – the limited time peach goodness from Chick-fil-A.



Week 4: Great food and conversation with my mother. A beautiful conversation over prime rib with my sister. Self-care Pedicure Day. High Tea at the lovely Smith-Byrd House with my favorite tea-drinking sister. Girls’ Night Out with lots of dancing and laughs.

Week 5: Facilitated an absolutely fun step dance class that almost didn’t happen but I’m so glad it did. Self-Care Massage Day. Shared an uncomfortable, yet necessary detail of my personal growth with my Troupe. Had a complete blast at my alma mater’s first football game of the season with my friend and sorors. Searched for new Bluetooth wireless earphones so when it’s in the budget next month, I’ll be ready.

IMG_20190814_111434_046.jpgIMG_20190830_123119_760.jpg20190829_212804.jpg

So, why do I share this list with you? Because I want to show you that it can be done. That joy can be visible when you’re willing to look. That you can and should live a life that is fulfilling from the inside out. Today, I encourage you to create your own personal law.  If you’re caught in the hamster wheel of work-sleep-repeat, you’re missing out on beautiful moments that won’t break the bank. Furthermore, when you’ve had near-death experiences (as many of us have), you should definitely invest in those moments on the regular. I engage in things I love all year, but during my birthday month and for the remainder of the year, I kick it up a notch to celebrate that I’m still here, reward myself for being on the grind, and refuel my spirit for what awaits me in the next year.

Lastly, I share this list with you because if my stretch marks make you feel more confident about yours, I’m for it. The older I get, the more I am compelled to peel back the layers of my soul. I’m OK with that. I’m at peace with the woman that continues to evolve inside of me. I love her and she appreciates the opportunity to stretch, learn, and breathe. Maybe your inner self has a message for you too. I hope that this post helps you to hear her/him and oblige accordingly.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts. Here’s to your week!

Wednesday Wind Down: Over & Over

Hello, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop for your week instead of the birthday month recap (because the celebration is still going). I hope it helps!

I had an epiphany while driving to work last week. As I saw mountain peaks in the distance, I thought about the song For Every Mountain by Kurt Carr. A fitting song for my surroundings, I went along with it for about 5 seconds. Then, I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit to notice the mountains. I scanned along the horizon and sighed in amazement.

Alabama is home to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Their beauty can arrest your awe on any given sunrise or sundown. It should also be noted that the mountains create a chain — a series of peaks and valleys that can cripple the strongest warrior. As I looked at each forest-covered mountain, I noticed their repetition and various sizes. Then, my understanding opened.

man wearing brown jacket and blue pants sitting on green grass holding rectangular case
Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Mountains rarely stand alone. When we conquer a challenge in life, we consider it a victory… and we should. The truth is, we have another mountain coming. And another one. And another one. We can’t rest for long after the climb; we should prepare for the next trek.

The second truth is that the peak may even be the same height… the same vice… the same person… the same enemy. After the victory, you usually run up against the same issue you dealt with and conquered. I can’t tell you how many times I have beat something that I beat a long time ago. Some things are easy, like smoking. I have no interest in creating that habit. Other things, such as insecurity in crowds, rear their ugly heads more than once. What I am learning is that the next peak comes to test the muscle strength you acquired on the previous one. This means that you should train for the mountain chain and prepare a chain reaction to win.

I encourage you as I encourage myself. Don’t be caught off guard, Sweetheart. Don’t assume that once you’ve reach the top that you don’t have to climb down and back up again. Gear up for the chain and complete the victory.

We don’t get to rest after one victory. We get ready for the next one.
And the next one.
And the next one.

Peace & Keep conquering. I see you and I’m rooting for us.

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