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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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happy new year

Wednesday Wind Down: Don’t Play With Me

Hi, Sweethearts!

It’s the last Wednesday Wind Down for the year and I want to talk about two women and a surprise.

Let’s talk about the two women first.

They’re both in the same place. That don’t-play-with-me-i-ain’t-got-time-for-your-foolishness-today place.

You know what I’m talking about. You arrive to Don’t Play With Me Land after you’ve been duped… after you’ve experienced pain… after you’ve lost something or someone. You’re driving down Happiness Street with smiles and rainbows shooting out the tailpipe until the road suddenly looks dark and the trees are creepily crooked. The warmth of the sun turns into a bitter cold and emptiness surrounds your shoulders. You keep driving though you’re unsure of this area. Eyes ahead and sometimes darting left to right, you move forward believing the brightness of your headlights will carry you through the darkness. Then the road smooths out and the sun reappears above your head. Birds chirp joyfully and you’re left with a “whew!” in your chest. You made it, but you don’t want to go through it again.

Photo by Matu00fau0161 Burian on Pexels.com

That’s where these women were in 2 Kings, Chapter 4 — one of my absolute favorite chapters in the Bible.

At one point, everything was fine then it wasn’t. Here comes a prophet asking them to hope again — believe in God again — but they were hurt. They had experienced a dark part of the road. Enter the prophet Elisha with the divine audacity to put God’s infinite power to the test.

For Woman #1, it’s a debt she can not pay.
For Woman #2, it’s a dream she does not want to resurrect.

Woman #1 is a widowed mother with a voice of desperation and some olive oil.
Woman #2 is married, wealthy, and hopeless with a guest bedroom.

Woman #1 reminds Elisha that her late husband was one of his faithful servants (verse 1).
Woman #2 reminds Elisha not to get her hopes up about having a child (verse 15).

Photo by Fillipe Gomes on Pexels.com

In my modernized heart and mind, this is what it would sound like —

Woman #1: “My husband devoutly worked for Your prophet and reverenced Your Word and now, I’m about to lose my sons? After everything we’ve done for God, now we have no money?”

Woman #2: “I’m fine. I gave up on that dream. I finally made peace with the fact that it’s not going to happen and you want me to dig all of that back up? It’s just not in God’s plan and I’m cool with that.”

I believe both women were saying the same thing — God, don’t play with me. They reached out to Elisha at different times along their journey, but don’t discount their fortitude and faith walk.

Woman #1 had to have a lot of courage to borrow empty jars from her friends and neighbors. At this time, debt collectors didn’t call you on the phone. They came to your house — aggressively. Everyone that lived nearby would have known she was a widow and that her family owed money. Can you imagine having to knock on each door in your neighborhood to borrow jars after being ruffed up by bill collectors all because a man of God told you to do it? That’s some fire in your bones. Period.

Let’s look at Woman #2. She’s also a bad mama jama — just read the whole chapter. When her child died (yes, the one she thought she couldn’t have), she fiercely told her servant to take her to Elisha pronto! So, not only does she have to reach down into her soul and grab some dusty hope to become a mother, but she carries that hope with her to remind Elisha that she didn’t ask to be let down again in this area of darkness.

Neither woman asked to meet that part of their faith journeys, but there they were… at Don’t Play With Me Land. Both of them were at a point of “God, you gotta do something. It’s gotta be better than this.”

Both said I’m going to hope one more time.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Maybe that’s you as you’re reading this post. The year is coming to a close and you’re tired of hoping. Trust me, I’m on that patch of road too about some things. You’re not alone.

I encourage you — encourage us — to try again, hope again, and keep driving through the dark place. The road is bumpy, but it’s not eternal. The branches are crooked, but they bloom in the spring. This is just a patch. It’s not the journey. It’s not the end. We have headlights of faith to see ahead. The engine of God’s Word is proven to be steady, so we have no fear in being deserted in the dark. This is not the end. OK? OK.

Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

Well, here goes the surprise real quick. Ready? Keep reading!

Next year (2021), I will launch an inspirational/meditative podcast made with you in mind. I can’t wait to share short tidbits of love and empowerment to help us walk this faith journey out. We’ll continue to listen at the speed of life together as I step outside my comfort zone yet again. Will you join me there? I hope so! Stay tuned for the date and details!

Here’s to us staying on the road. Here’s to the Son shining on our shoulders. Here’s to meeting 2021 with a better version of ourselves. *clinks glass*

Peace, and as always, thanks for listening. Happy New You!

Wednesday Wind Down: Home

Happy New Year, Sweethearts! I hope you’re somewhere safe and enjoying your clean slate.

Last night, I did exactly what I wanted to do and I took no prisoners. I was in Landover, Maryland visiting Zion Church. Every year, they host new year’s eve worship services and an after-party. Two years ago, while serving online as a prayer/chat host, I said the following to myself: “I’m going in person. Just give me a couple of years.”  Well, I made it and it was incredible.

The welcoming spirit of the people bounced between the walls and spilled through the doors and into the parking lot. The line to attend each service resembled that of rock concerts. Trays of sparkling apple cider and snacks were served as we waited outside. The cold wind whipped around our smiles but couldn’t wipe them away. My sisters and I were simply excited to be there… together.

From beginning to end, their hospitality was genuine and infectious. I am still a prayer/chat host in their iCampus ministry and a small group member, so when I introduced myself, the sparkle in their eyes increased and their sweetness expanded. I was already welcomed beautifully when I arrived just like everyone else. That’s what made the visit so lovely. Love was everywhere and it fueled each part of the experience. Then, I thought of us as human sanctuaries. I’ve thought of our hearts as homes before, but last night, a prayer came with that idea.

Lord, I want my life to be as welcoming as this sanctuary. I can’t let everyone live in my heart, but my Light should welcome others to know You. God, please clear my sanctuary for Love to roam free.

People that didn’t know each other hugged like old friends and danced together like they had a rehearsal yesterday. It was exhilarating, warm, and free — and exactly what I prayed for two years ago. Every day won’t be a party, but moments like last night can live forever with the right ingredient… Love.

The basis of Pastor Keith Battle’s message was Isaiah 43. Here’s a verse from the sermon to uplift your week and your new decade.

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Peace, Thanks for listening, and See you next week!

Happy January: A 2019 Preview

Happy New Year again! I hope you had a safe, sweet, and fun New Year’s Week!

Last year’s preview went pretty well, so my no-cliché-resolution self is making another preview this year. Here’s what I did in 2019 (in other words, these are things I want to do).

  1. Paid off all of my installment accounts except my student loans. I was ecstatic to finally do this. It took a lot of work, a lot of discipline, and a lot of balance. The goal was to only have my student loan payments in 2020, and with God’s provision, I did it. Whew… what a load off.
  2. Maintained my self-care promise of two massage appointments per month.  I learned that being a choreographer, performing artist, massage therapist, public speaker, and writer meant that my muscles needed to be in their most efficient state at all times… like a good logophilic creative muscle kneader’s body should be. The massages were not designed to be a treat here and there; they were necessities to keep me going. I learned the value of maintenance versus damage control this year.
  3. Launched my 2nd book and enjoyed my book signing. Oh, what fun it was! I had an absolute blast and it was so good seeing my friends and family enjoy the moment. I didn’t just accomplish a goal, but I breathed in the life it brought to my life. It felt good to birth the dream.
  4. Grew my therapeutic massage practice. On November 19, 2019, I celebrated my practice being a 1-year-old blessing. It’s been a great ride and I’m looking forward to more of it. I felt so alive being an entrepreneur this year and to create hours flexible enough to eat lunch with my mother or read a book for leisure was priceless.
  5. Created my home office, bedroom, and bathroom sanctuaries. It was on my heart to reflect my internal spiritual balance in my home that would spark joy (thanks, Marie Kondo). Now, they look amazing to me. My home is full of peace, and now I smile and enjoy being in every room.

What’s your preview for 2019? Write 3 previews for this year that you can truly see coming true and write them down. Place them in places where you’ll see them often.. and be sure to include a personal development goal somewhere.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Blessings to your journey!

Walking out of 2018 like…

My performing arts troupe has a saying “No scratch, no burn, no nothin’.” It references the Bible’s account of  3 Hebrew boys that were delivered from death by fire (Book of Daniel – Chapters 1-6). It’s our battle cry when we go through tough situations.

That’s where my mindset has been since December 5, 2018, when all of my employer’s campuses received word that we were permanently closing before the year’s end. Unless you were teaching a class or part of the skeleton crew designated to carry out closing duties, your last day on the job was the same day you got the news. It was horrible.

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Motivation visuals of my “why.”

Sprouts of fiery frustration, confusion, and anguish spread like wildfire among employees and students alike. It was an ugly, messy, inconsiderate break-up and there weren’t enough gauze in the world to cover the wounds. My heart bled for my work family and numerous students affected by the mud of bureaucracy. I was emotionally full and saddened that our academic and professional journey had to end in such a way.

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My office bulletin board above my desk. Before & After.

December also hosted multiple milestones that reminded me of my late former husband. So, I took the time to digest it all. To let healing have her perfect work. To let the process continue instead of stifling what I didn’t want to feel. And like my #bloglikecrazy posts expressed, all of 2018 was not bad. There were some exceptional moments in there that I will never forget.

 

So, going back to December 5th aftermath – the million dollar questions floating in the hallways were “So, what are you going to do?” “Do you have another job lined up?”

woman in peach color and red floral sweatshirt holding gray jacket
Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com

I had planned to proceed full-time in my entrepreneurial lanes in March, but upon receipt of the closing news, I heard in my spirit “It’s time.” Time to trust and do exactly what I was called to do, but was too afraid to do in the past. To everything, there is a season, and apparently, this was mine. I was so sad that the ending was so abrupt and widespread, but honestly, I was at peace and filled with unparalleled determination. This wasn’t my first rodeo in dealing with layoffs, but it was my first experience of this kind. I said to myself, “I’m done. I won’t lay me off.”

I’m launching out into the deep. Full emersion into the fullness of my workmanship. I don’t have all of the answers, but I have the orders and I’m not afraid to keep building on my dreams.

What are you willing to end in order to begin? Are you walking tall into your God-given gifts or slumping over in defeat? To all of my students, use the blunt news as the jolt you need to assess your passions, write down your dream steps, and catapult you into the very thing you’ve been talking about doing all these years. I know the way it happened sucked rotten eggs, but I’m looking forward to celebrating your new reality. I’m definitely moving into mine. All I needed was a YES from God and I got it.

Peace & Happy New Year, Sweethearts! I love you!

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Wednesday Wind Down: The End in the Beginning

On January 1st of this year, I posted Happy New YOU. Instead of new year’s resolutions, I shared 5 things I “did” by the end of 2018. Let’s see how it went, shall we?

  1. Created more unapologetic boundaries. Over time, I got better at this, but there were some points last year where I stepped over those lines in the sand and let the ocean of my emotions wash them away. So, in 2018, I created safe and healthy boundaries where I otherwise disregarded them. YEP. I DID THAT. *fist bump*

  2. Continued my self-care promise of nail appointments. While pedicures are a non-negotiable for me (choreographers need their feet), I took a break from polished fingernails for years until creating a regimen last year. And I loved it. Nothing extra. Just basic color. Polished, basic-manicured nails make me happy and when they look nice, I feel a bit more… well, polished. After graduating from therapeutic massage school, yes, I did! I even had a revelation of where that quirk was birthed. Thanks, Grandma. *smile*

  3. Launched my 2nd book, a continuation of The Morning After. I must admit, Sweethearts… it’s been a fun ride letting the characters write their stories through my hands. There’s some twists even I didn’t expect. I can’t wait until you read about their journeys! Ew. Didn’t do this one. Life events created a vacuum of writer’s block (see past posts), but I’m about 90% finished to date. This one will carry over into 2019 and I’ll throw it in the “celebrate pile” anyway. lol
  4. Completed my therapeutic massage program. This was a big one. Over 10 years ago, I wrote this as a long-term goal so I could be a more effective choreographer and understand how to better maintain the dancer’s body. Being a student again was not in my line of sight right now, but I had such peace about walking through this door. Plus, it was nice to awaken this item on my goal list. I had given up on it. Oh, yeah. You already know. #CJWLMT *fist bump and runnin’ man*
  5. Took two real vacations. Last year, I took my first vacations in years, and it was AH-MAZING. I looked forward to doing it again in 2018 and it was epic. To be away from home and not think about anything except enjoying your surroundings… that was a true blessing. I did, and the best part was that one of those two vacations was with my mother. I loved watching her freedom in motion. *beaming*

Well, Sweethearts, it’s actually Thursday morning on my side of the planet (1:31 AM to be exact). I’m a bit late posting because I wanted to be a good steward over a friend’s heart as they poured it out. So, I remained in the moment instead of trying to beat the midnight deadline. As you know, I try to write you in “real-time” as much as possible, so thank you for understanding.

I hope my top 5 gives you the encouragement to create your own 2019 preview. I haven’t finished mine yet, but I can’t wait to share it with you next Wednesday. It’s not about making goals for me; it’s about truly growing into a better version of myself every year. Besides, we have a full life to live and we might as well start today.

I love you all and thanks for sticking with me this year. I’ll check in again on New Year’s Eve. Peace & Blessings!

Happy New YOU: A 2018 Preview

Happy New Year! I hope you had a safe, sweet, and fun New Year’s Eve!

Instead of doing a review of 2017 yesterday, I decided to do a preview of 2018 today.

Here’s what I did in 2018 (in other words, these are things I want to do).

  1. Created more unapologetic boundaries. Over time, I got better at this, but there were some points last year where I stepped over those lines in the sand and let the ocean of my emotions wash them away. So, in 2018, I created safe and healthy boundaries where I otherwise disregarded them.
  2. Continued my self-care promise of nail appointments. While pedicures are a non-negotiable for me (choreographers need their feet), I took a break from polished fingernails for years until creating a regimen last year. And I loved it. Nothing extra. Just basic color. Polished, basic-manicured nails make me happy and when they look nice, I feel a bit more… well, polished.
  3. Launched my 2nd book, a continuation of The Morning After. I must admit, Sweethearts… it’s been a fun ride letting the characters write their stories through my hands. There’s some twists even I didn’t expect. I can’t wait until you read about their journeys!
  4. Completed my therapeutic massage program. This was a big one. Over 10 years ago, I wrote this as a long-term goal so I could be a more effective choreographer and understand how to better maintain the dancer’s body. Being a student again was not in my line of sight right now, but I had such peace about walking through this door. Plus, it was nice to awaken this item on my goal list. I had given up on it.
  5. Took two real vacations. Last year, I took my first vacations in years, and it was AH-MAZING. I looked forward to doing it again in 2018 and it was epic. To be away from home and not think about anything except enjoying your surroundings… that was a true blessing.

What’s your preview for 2018? Don’t think of them as resolutions. Sounds too lofty and final. Write 5 previews for your new year and be sure to include a personal development goal in there. That’s how you can evolve into the happy new you!

Happy New Year, Sweetheart! Peace, Thanks for listening, and Blessings to you!

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