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Wednesday Wind Down: Forever…

Hi Sweethearts.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve blogged because my reservoir of words were 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.
– CJW


FOREVER…

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.

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Q: Where do two nerds spend their first wedding anniversary? A: at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, FL

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.

IMAG0280
What teachers really do on snow days in Alabama

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. 2It 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?

Peace, Love, & Thanks for listening.

CJW

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Wednesday Wind Down: BOOM

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.

And ain’t nothing wrong with that.

Peace & Love you, Sweetheart. Wind down safely.

Wednesday Wind Down/TM Lesson #4: Arrhythmia

Happy Wednesday, Sweethearts!

We learned something cool in therapeutic massage class about the heart and I underlined it in my book as a reminder to share it with you. I remember learning it in college, but something about this time around was louder.

Did you know that the heart has its own rhythm? As in, every organ is co-dependent except the heart, which can beat (for a short time) outside of the body. It has a natural pacemaker (the sinoatrial or SA node) that initiates the electrical sequence for the heart beat, and that the blood turbulence in the atria and ventricles create your heart sounds. Neat, right?! So the SA node kicks off the rhythm of your heart like a drummer giving the band 4 counts to start a song and your valves keep the sound flowing in the right direction – in, out, up, down, arms, legs, lungs, head… it’s all coordinated with the heart’s rhythm. And if the beat is off, well… that’s not good.

Image:
Venzella “Joy the Drummer” Williams

What I extracted from that lesson was God made us with our own rhythm. We walk around with this customized drum set in our chests at all times. Never do we say “Hold on, let me check my pulse. It may have stopped today.” No, we just keep going through life – talking, laughing, living. We trust the rhythm and it keeps the rest of our body on beat. So, what happens when the rhythm changes? Then, my friends, there is arrhythmia. Not all rhythmic changes are fatal, but some warrant close attention.

 

Some arrhythmias are so brief (for example, a temporary pause or premature beat) that the overall heart rate or rhythm isn’t greatly affected. But if arrhythmias last longer, they may cause the heart rate to be too slow or too fast or the heart rhythm to be erratic – so the heart pumps less effectively. (American Heart Association)

CJW and Sheila E.
The legend herself, Sheila E.

In life, the very same thing happens. We can be on a path that feels so good and then something small can throw us off. On the other hand, that steady pulse of life can be disrupted by something large and it can feel like the entire band needs to walk off stage and go home. Whatever the sound, you’ll feel the rhythm of life change. Maybe it changes your daily routine at home or your financial distribution. Maybe it skews your speech or the way you see someone. I believe we experience spiritual arrhythmia and I am convinced that we either learn to adjust or, like the heart, we simply stop. We wander through life on autopilot and wonder why we don’t feel anything. Maybe it’s because our heart is offbeat and we need a pacemaker to jump it off. Well, God is the ultimate heart regulator. I know this from personal experience. When I felt like the walking dead, he resurrected me to see life through different lenses and I haven’t forgotten that gift, even if my heart skips a beat or two along the way.

You don’t have to die from arrhythmia of the mind, body, or spirit. If you find yourself reading this and you are in need a heart check as you wind down tonight, I am praying with you. Contact me and I’ll pray with you via email. Just don’t live off beat and by all means, don’t stop. You are needed in the symphony.

Want to learn more about the heart? Check out this link from the American Heart Association. It has explanations, videos, and downloadables. A nerd’s dream come true!

Sheila E. photos courtesy of moi at the Sheila E. Concert (epic.)
Joy photo courtesy of: NBC News

TM Lesson #2: With ALL My Heart?

So, the Holy Spirit connected some things for me recently while we were learning about the muscular system in therapeutic massage school. Do you know what that means for you? We’re playing connect-the-dots today! Are you ready? lol

DOT #1
“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and
with all of your soul and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

1517368961654_imageHave you ever heard of this verse?  It first appears in Deuteronomy 6:5 after as part of Moses’ reiteration of God’s laws (The Ten Commandments) to the Israelites. It’s also sprinkled throughout the rest of the book and is referenced again by Jesus in the three of the four major gospels – Matthew, Mark, and Luke. So, I guess you could say it’s pretty important. After all, that’s how God loves us, by the way. It is only befitting that He requests reciprocity. Don’t you have the same request of someone you love?

DOT #2
“…out of the heart flow the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

One of my favorite translations of this verse is the Hebrew Names Version (HNV) which reads “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it is the wellspring of life.” Wow, a wellspring… source, originator, supply. Since it is so vital of a source, I should allow Peace to keep watch of it instead of relieving Him of His duties. Let’s go to next dot, then we’ll connect them all.

DOT #3
Heart: The Organ

The heart is designed to pump blood, nutrients, and waste products in and out of it. Yes, circulatory waste. Your heart muscles have a beautiful rhythm that consists of an involuntary symphony of contractions and relaxations… all to ensure that you stay alive. A myocardial infarction (heart attack) occurs when there is blockage in your arteries and the heart is deprived of oxygen. The beautiful rhythm is disrupted and muscle tissue can die.

NOW, FOR THE LINES…

If we are to love the LORD with all of our heart (DOT #1) and out of the heart flows the source of our physical and spiritual lives (DOT #2), then what issues are blocking you rhythm of love toward Him and others (DOT #3)? Are we not supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves? What if we ignored the effects of a spiritual myocardial infarction? Is there dead heart tissue causing disruptions in our relationships?

Your heart is truly the seat of your decisions, not your head. It holds your emotions and your brain creates circuitry to remember what you felt within positive and traumatizing experiences. Have you ever had your heart broken and actually felt a heaviness or tightness in your chest? It wasn’t just stress, but also the essence of you aching. The experience created a blockage in your spiritual circulatory system.

So, that’s the connection that made me pause. There are damaged parts of me that are hard to pump the Love of God through. Those cells have lacked oxygen for quite some time. And there’s supposed to be an exchange – in and out, arteries and veins, circulation – that keeps me alive and flourishing. In Deuteronomy, the heart is listed first. I believe it is listed before soul and might purposefully. I can’t see myself loving God or anyone on Earth without my heart being in the front seat.

1517369020834_image-1Next, am I truly keeping my heart guarded diligently? Am I letting Peace do His job? This doesn’t apply to just romantic relationships; it covers every communicative intercourse. Most think that it is a primarily reference to being in love with the right person, but I believe that Peace needs to guard your heart in every transaction – familial, professional, romantic, and platonic. Out of each of those interactions can flow the essence of you. And I wonder how well our heart pumps and receives the Love of God for our well-being and for the lifeblood of those around us.

To love the LORD with all my heart is a tall order, but I am on a mission to give it to him, even the diseased parts, the angry parts, the fractured parts, the confused parts… In the words of my mother, ALL means ALL. I don’t get to pick and choose when it comes to Him. If I can accept all of His Love (which was a cool experience I should add), I have to complete the cycle so my heart can be healthy.

Peace & Thanks for Listening! Keep rocking your week!

TM Lesson #1: Balance That Care

In case you missed the sidebar announcement on Instagram, I began therapeutic massage school this month and it has been eye-opening and fun every single day – sincerely one of the most enlightening learning experiences I’ve ever had. Along with notes of history and technique, self-care instructions flutter throughout the chapters.

One of the first things my instructor said was that our hands were our tools and we should protect them at all costs. Furthermore, our bodies are our tools, so it’s imperative to keep them healthy. I wrote a special LATSOL message in my  notebook that day because the Holy Spirit’s voice was so clear. 

“You’re the channel for healing others. You can’t heal others if you’re sick.”

That was so loud to me. I have spent the majority of my life giving until I pass out or run out. Have you? You run yourself ragged believing that the more you squeeze out of your time, talent, and treasure, the more Christ-like you are. The more Jesus you’re showing other people. The more glory God gets. Well, Sweetheart, I am happy – no, absolutely ecstatic – to inform you that this is a lie! There is no more work you can do that will justify you sacrificing yourself to death. Now, I’m not talking about people that are modern martyrs for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’m talking about you lying in a hospital bed because you have spent your life to death thinking that it was for the best, that no one else could do it, or that your ego told you it was the only option. The truth is, only Jesus was the perfect martyr, so you don’t have to die trying to move the bar.

God wants you to love Him and His Love circulates back to you as he enjoys loving on His Creations – which includes you! You can’t heal people if you’re sick, Love. Your hands are the tools God have you to give generously and wildly to the one who needs it; not to work feverishly into a stressful ball of frenzy, anguish, or remorse. Your entire body is needed to be the conduit through which Love flows. Words of healing turn into gestures of wholeness and you can’t do that when you’re dead from stretching yourself too thin and overworking your body for the sake of the cause. Even while I’m administering massage techniques, I am required to practice proper posture so I don’t damage myself in the process of client therapy.

Check this out…  even Jesus said “Let’s slow down for a minute.” in Mark 6:31 NLT

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”


He said this because there were so many people coming and going that
Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat.

Balance the care – input and output. Maybe your self-care is a day of fishing or a road trip to your favorite hiking spot. Maybe it’s a relaxing spa experience or an expression of community service. Whatever it is, do it. There is nothing sinful in balancing God’s Love in you and through you. He is a never-ending supply. You, my Dear, are not.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Balance that care!

5 Things You Must Do On A Snow Day

Good Afternoon, Sweethearts!

Did you enjoy the snow? Is it still around? Here in Birmingham, Alabama, it’s starting to melt, but ice is still lurking on the roads. I hope you’re safe, warm, and smiling.

The snow day couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just closed the fall quarter and I hibernate the day after finals to recuperate my mind, body, and soul. Even my mother tries not to call me the day after finals. Sweet Woman.

Since God blessed me with snow on my day off, I did 5 things that made me feel awesome. I think they make fine ingredients for any snow day to feel like the Son is shining on you. If you did anything that made your day, share it!

  1. SLEEP! SLUMBER! REST!
    • Confession – This is one thing I do not do well on a consistent basis. Running a performing arts troupe, writing your soul free, and educating Birmingham’s Finest can make make feel like I’m running on fumes at times. So when my friend texted me a snowy picture, I smiled. It was officially a rest day. I think getting a few winks in when you’ve missed a million is a great way to recharge!
  2. REFLECT.
    • There’s something about the stillness of snow that makes me just sit and watch. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to drive. I want to reflect on how cool it is…. fluffy goodness floating from the sky. It quiets the world for a little bit. It makes me be careful. It forces me to gaze at the winter wonderland around me that I zoom past everyday. So, I took a few pictures to remind myself to do more of that when life gets busier in 2018.
  3. PLAY OUTSIDE!
    • After the spiritual battery has been charged, then I want to play. My footsteps make art as I look back at them in the snow, plus my miniature schnauzer had a blast trying to eat it. I laughed watching my aunt make snow angels. There’s just something about snow that makes the 5-year-old you feel safe to show out. Throwing snowballs and trying to make snow sculptures are what snow is made for, right? lol
  4. EAT!
    • When it’s cold outside, you simply must eat something warm inside. My vice of choice yesterday? #1 – PANCAKES! I was so hungry when from my self-care, that pancakes and hot tea were the only items on my menu. #2 – QUESO and tortilla chips. But, it’s not just any queso dip. I made my favorite recipe that I conjured up in college. Dorm living will make a chef out of anyone. lol It includes shrimp, ground turkey, cilantro, corn, and diced tomatoes (and sometimes a hint of bacon). The dip was oh so heavenly as I curled up to watch one of my favorite movies.
  5. WATCH A MOVIE.
    • Me, my bowl of queso, my sweatpants, and my fuzzy socks enjoyed one of my favorite movies – Something New (2006). If you’ve never seen it, get ready for some humor, some sensitive topics, and just good old-fashioned Rom-Com (romantic comedy) moments. Curling up on the couch after a long day of self-care was the perfect ending to my classroom duties and the perfect beginning of a well-deserved break.

What do you like to do during a snow day? Do you have favorite foods that taste better during winter weather? Are there movies that you must watch?

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Stay safe out there!

Photo of my awesome aunt and my super dog courtesy of moi.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 12 – Full

In one day, I felt loved, supportive, proud, sad, exhausted and grateful. On, Sunday, November 12th, I was full.

  1. My agenda consisted of waking up to a smile from being enveloped with Love from God Himself. I was daughter that felt safe in the arms of her Father. It was good to be alive. It was good to be loved.
  2. I went to church with my teammate/sorority sister. It was her last Sunday due to a move and I promised that I would attend with her and it was nice to be in her world and nice to see people I knew that attended the same place of worship. I love it when someone finds their fellowship home and I love being supportive.

    20171112_110816
    Beauties.
  3. Next, I drove to my late grandparents’ church for their 85th Church Anniversary Program. My grandmother was a pillar in her community and at her church. One of the members invited me to attend and I was so glad to be able to make it, even for an hour. I sat on the back pew and listened to the guest minister preach with heart and conviction. I kept glancing over the pews in the front right wing seeing my grandmother’s presence sitting proudly at the progress of the church’s history. I was proud right along with her. Proud of her legacy and her investment in me. That was the piano and organ that I learned to play… the choir stand my elementary school friends sang in… the fellowship hall I where I ate with cousins. It made me proud to just be in the building. It made me proud to represent my family.

    20171112_132309
    Legacy.
  4. My father’s hospice service memorial program was the next stop. A sweet friend gave me all the giggles and endorphins I needed before I approached the door where the service was held. The company that helped our family had been more than gracious during the last few weeks of my father’s life and I was happy to support my mother in person. But my mind wasn’t ready to travel down memory lane. My glass of emotions was getting full and I didn’t know it. My mother asked me to light the candle when his name was called, and I felt the loss of his presence. I wanted him, not the sound of his name. It was odd to be in that space, in this sweet mourning society, for someone that seemed so super human. I didn’t feel that being sad was a transparent option at the moment, so I tucked it away and saved it for later.
  5. Next up was dress rehearsal for my Troupe’s performance. Wow. What a change of pace. Music, laughter, people… it was a barrage of sensation and I was in the middle of it. Final touches, band run-throughs, and technical notes were in full effect. I was exhausted by the end of the night, but I sure was grateful. My team was ready and in sync with each other. I was doing what I loved in the place I wanted to be with the people I wanted to be with – not to mention, it was the Founders’ Day of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. (#EEYIP). Yeah, I was full.

Have you ever had one of those full days? I compartmentalize pretty well so the residue doesn’t transfer to the next place, but it doesn’t come without some pause buttons along the way. How do you handle multiple emotional states in a day?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 11 – Breakfast

Anyone that knows me knows that I struggle with breakfast. It is just not something I put on my agenda to do. Even my former doctor told me that I need to eat breakfast to regulate my health issues. That’s pretty bad when your doctor prescribes breakfast.

So, if “breaking the fast” is good for me, why don’t I do it? On most mornings, my sinuses drain so badly that I get nauseous at the thought of eating anything. Juice (100% only), fruit, and crackers became my standbys over the years and I fit oatmeal and cereal in where I can.

The idea is to break the fast from the night before. This fast can last up to 12 hours and my parasympathetic nervous system triggers my digestion to get to work as I sleep; however, sometimes I’m simply scared to eat breakfast for fear that it won’t stay down. What are you refusing to do in fear of the possible outcome? Better yet, what good thing are you refusing because it didn’t turn out well the first time?

We’re supposed to break the fast daily. Perhaps that includes the spiritual ones as well. What fasts are you willing to break everyday?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of IHOP

– Here’s a short stop for your week. God bless! – CJW –

The church is not aWhen God breathed into Adam, the Breath kept going (Genesis 2:7). Think of all the people in the world and how many breaths are taken each second. That’s a lot of breathing.

If we look at the Church as the Body of Christ, then inhaling and exhaling take on a new meaning. Church is not a social club. It’s a place for the Breath to resuscitate the Body so it can leave the building and touch the world. It’s a well for the Body to be refreshed enough to share the Living Water with others. It’s a hospital for the Body to be mended during war so that the battle scars become proof of life.

Don’t hold your Breath. It is literally the Ruach Elohim… the Spirit of God. Exhale His goodness. Exhale His grace. Exhale His Word.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

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