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Sunday Special: Incline Your Ear

Happy Palm Sunday, Sweethearts!

I just had a “listening at the speed of life” moment.

I was sitting on the couch and noticed my dog’s ears. They were turned outward while he was lying on his bed. I needed him to move so I wouldn’t step on him (he likes to move his bed close to my feet). I shifted my weight and one of his ears turned toward me. I whispered his name and he looked up.

Now, when Sammy and I lock eyes, I know he’s paying attention; however, when he hears my voice, his formerly-outward ears rotate toward me.

Pause. Take note of that for a second.

His eyes can be on me and I know he will hear my words, but the moment I call his name, the orientation of his ears always changes. He not only recognizes my voice, but he is waiting to hear from me. It doesn’t matter what is on television or what music I’m playing, he hears me over the noise.

The Holy Spirit used this as a teachable moment and I said a quick yet sincere prayer right then.

Lord, may I always incline my ear to You. Your voice supersedes every sound around me. I want to always be ready to hear your voice — whatever it is You have to say.

Here’s a verse to chew on that relates to this prayer – Isaiah 55:3: “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.”

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Courtesy of my YouVersion – Bible App

Here’s the next step. While out for our walk today, I heard more from the Holy Spirit. “He even inclines his ear when you shift.” It made me pause again. I shook my head and said, “Lord, please let me be so sensitive that I listen when you move.” Think of how much spiritual sensitivity and intimacy that takes… to change the orientation of your heart, mind, and body when God shifts his movement around you and in you. To turn your ear toward Him at a moment’s notice because You don’t want to miss what He has to say. That’s how I want to be. It’s how I am now, but I want it even more so.

I pray that your ears become inclined too. That during this season and beyond, you will hear the voice of God as clearly as you hear a parent’s voice. I pray that you recognize it clearly as the stillness of the world is commanded among us. Here’s a hint – His voice is usually not loud, but it is clear. Keep reading the Word and saying real prayers, Sweetheart. He is there and he is also listening out for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening to me. 🙂

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Corners

Happy Thursday, Sweetheart.

Yesterday, I took a break for in-home self-care and went to sleep soon after. It was so relaxing… so much so that I missed our weekly Wednesday check-in. I apologize. I did think of you before the slumber though. Below were my short-stop sentiments. I hope they help you through the rest of this week.

During this quarantine, we have a valuable opportunity. Yes, me too. Along with my cleaning fits (the Marie Kondo method continues), I am also allowing God to sweep the corners of my heart. You know, those rooms that you close the door to when company comes over? Well, those are the doors I decided to open to my Father for the last 20 days and it has been liberating. A little raw, a little ugly, but liberating. There’s something about being completely vulnerable with nothing holding you hostage. It’s a comforting bar of safety that supersedes this world.

On Tuesday, my church hosted a virtual devotional via Facebook and I used Mark 6:31 as my foundation verse to lead the meeting. In this passage, Jesus says something so sweet. He knew his disciples were exhausted from ministry travel and what else would be perfect than stillness and food? Sounds like a nice “welcome back” homage to me.

I don’t struggle with balancing stillness and productivity. It was a lesson I learned a long time ago; however, I am using this season as an opportunity to open the doors and let some fresh air flow through those rooms.

Sitting in one of those corners was the fear of being finite. That I’m on this continuum that will not stop until I expire. That I am not able to rewind. It only moves forward and I only move with it. I gave that over to the Creator along with a couple of other dust bunnies that were found. That’s what the Word does… it helps you see yourself. The one that God created. The masterpiece He had in mind. It illuminates those corners and creates a desire to live free and clear.

In this season, I pray you will allow the same sweep to take place inside of you. Every time you reach for your broom (or the disinfectant wipes), I want you to think about your heart. Think about those rooms. Before quarantine, many of us were able to restrict those areas, but now we are probably finding it difficult to do so… and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with vulnerability. There’s nothing wrong with being open. You just have to do with the right One.

I’m praying for you, Sweetheart. Much love and hugs to you. We got this.

Wednesday Wind Down: Listen Up

Hi, Sweethearts!

Before I get into the inspiration/motivation for this week, I wanted to shoutout my readers… that’s right, you. 🙂

Every time I sign into WordPress, I smile. People from all over the world visit this blog. Singapore, Romania, Iceland, Brazil, India, South Africa, The Philippines, Morrocco… just to name a few. People in my personal circles read this blog too and I sincerely appreciate their support. I will never take your visit lightly and I am so grateful for every heart that reads mine through this site. Thank you and I pray for you all.

Secondly, here’s a quick word of encouragement — don’t forget to listen up. I understand the severity of COVID-19 and how important it is to listen out for facts over rumors. Quick sidebar: For accurate updates and well-explained information, check out Dr. Bertha Hidalgo at Chic in Academia. She’s a scientist and a fellow See Jane Write member. I love reading her Science Says posts.

One of the traps we can fall into is listening out for information without listening up for spiritual guidance. When I say “listen up,” I’m referring to infusing your spirit with God’s Word. Here are a few ways to do that –

  1. Go outside for a walk (while maintaining social distance, of course). Take a notebook with you or use the voice recorder on your phone to capture what God whispers to you.
  2. Since we’re in quarantine, utilize this time to digest one verse a day (I suggest YouVersion – The Bible App). If it won’t overwhelm you, read a chapter and chew on it for a week. I like to research historical and geographical information surrounding the passage I’m reading to gain context and expand understanding.
  3. Meditate for 5 minutes. Meditation comes in various forms, so don’t be intimidated by that word. One of my favorites is from AmaZen Yoga by Kimberly Snell. She combines scripture with yoga to create a spiritual meditation. It’s great for beginners. If you’re working during this time, here’s a post called work time yoga (it’s less than 10 minutes).
  4. Pray words of gratitude and authenticity. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I’m an advocate for real prayers. Being grateful for what you have and being honest with God about how you feel are therapeutic for the soul. It’s a way of releasing what is inside of you

Listening up keeps me refueled when I’m submerged in times that can tap me out of the game. It looks like we may be virtually stuck together for a while, so I pray that you are forged into a stronger and healthier you during this time — inside and out. That’s my mission. How’s yours going?

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart!

Wednesday Wind Down: Touch

Hi, Sweethearts! *waving through the screen*

So, we’re in a season of social distancing to decrease the spread of COVID-19. As a performing/teaching artist and licensed massage therapist, I depend upon social interaction for income generation, so this self-quarantine is not amazing for business. *shrugs* Facts are facts.

While I’m using this time wisely, I can’t help but fantasize about teaching a communication, psychology, sociology, or economics class during this time. A field day would be had, I tell you. A deliciously nerdy field day with activities, discussions, and all.

On the flip side of this universe, I am equally excited to chat with you about the power of touch and its significance to our well-being. Right now, there are individuals working through anxiety and depression. Parents are re-arranging their schedules to stay at home with their children who are temporarily displaced from school. Healthcare professionals are desperately trying to douse a fire and save the world — simultaneously. The mandate of minimizing physical contact sounded easy until we realized how often we do it… and need it.

hands in front of white and black background
Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

Every day we touch each other’s lives — both inside and out. Our hearts are connected whether we want them to be or not. Those are the facts too. It’s how we were created. We were created to work as an organism not as disjointed and aimless beings. More like interdependent parts that need each other to survive. The spread of the flu and COVID-19 can’t stop us from reaching out in the name of Love. Food runners are delivering groceries to community members. Social media is actually being used as it was intended. People are socializing with members of their own homes instead of being daily ships passing by one another. Touch has so many forms that stopping the physical component isn’t enough to plug its power. It’s like trying to stop a leaky dam with a piece of chewing gum. Love is that water and He releases infinite power in the midst of impossible odds. Somehow, someway we leak and we can’t help it. I pray that we never stop.

Sincere prayers for my fellow entrepreneurs, creatives, and LMTs out there. We’re going to make it. Peace and Thanks for listening. I love y’all and stay well.

Wednesday Wind Down: Help and Hurt

Hi, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop for your week. I hope it helps!

I work in two career paths that require interaction with people in vulnerable positions. As an educator, a student’s esteem can be elevated or obliterated in one assignment. During a massage therapy session, a disrobed client is trusting me to be knowledgeable, skillful, and respectful. In both seemingly non-related professions, I had to consider the same question: “How do you help them without hurting you?”

That’s the conundrum, right? In light of recent health precautions, many must consider this item for physical reasons, but I am challenging you to look at your relationships and pose the same question.

Familial: Do you have a social circle outside of your family? How do you refuel in order to pour out to them? Do you suffer from parental guilt when you’re not with your children?

Professional: Are you a workaholic? Do you need to reassess your work-life balance? Have you created an on/off switch for your work mode? (Trust me. There is one.  Celebrities and executives do it all the time.)

Personal: Do you have friends that only communicate with you when they need something? Are your bills behind because you keep loaning funds or playing taxi?

Be honest with God. Be honest with yourself. The lie is that if you don’t almost die in the process, then you didn’t give it your all. You didn’t truly sacrifice until you pass out trying. Let me help you, Sweetheart. Stop living (and almost dying) in that lie.

Every ounce of you does not need to be squeezed out before God honors your faith. There is rest. There is fun. There is help. Pour all of that into a beautiful mug of humanity and it will make the rewards of your relationships taste so much sweeter.

Here’s some Bible verses to guide you through those questions up there.

Stay balanced out there, Sweethearts. Remember… you should not be dying so others can live — Jesus already did that. I love you all!

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Background

Hi, Sweethearts!

Since we’re walking from the boulevard of Black History Month and onto the street of Women’s History Month, I couldn’t be happier about this blog post because it serves a dual purpose.

I have some dope Black women in my circle doing dope things like revolutionizing cancer treatment, encouraging community healing, progressing health equity, and changing the narrative of our senior neighbors. There are undoubtedly more sisters around me and I am simply honored that we are connected, but they are only shining in these pathways because darkness once drowned what was needed. Their voices were once in the background, but now they are at the forefront. And because they chose to narrow their focus and quiet the noise, a plethora of needs are being met and solutions are illuminated for all.

In that same vein, I thought of my cell phone battery when I thought of you. There are no games on my phone, most of my push notifications are disabled (including social media and email), and the number of applications running in the background is minimal. While I don’t practice this behavior simply to save my battery, it helps me to stay focused when I’m on my phone. I mute what I don’t need in order to maximize what I need to do. Now, if we can do that with our cell phones, what is stopping us from doing the same thing in life? What is unnecessarily running in the background that is draining the energy required to fulfill your purpose?

woman in black crew neck shirt wearing eyeglasses
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

For me, the “background app” is fear and I’ve been attacking it head-on. What’s yours? How are you creating room for maximum life efficiency? You’ve already read about my relationship with my communication device, but that’s just one step that eventually became my 15-year norm. Now it is time to step it up to mute the noise that could distract me from this newly shifted gear.

So, let’s talk about your awesomeness. Think of the spiritual cacophony in your life playing like a terrible marching band, the physical barriers, and the mental challenges. Now, think of what you want more than those hurdles. Lastly, mute the background, Sweetheart. Do what it takes so the brilliance of your soul shines through the cracks of life. I guarantee you that every last one of those women up there had opposition and “noise” that could have caused them to stop. The reason why you can read about them is that they decided the service was greater than that opposition. You, my dear, have the opportunity (see what I did there? *smile*)

Peace & Thanks for listening! Close those “apps!”

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: Instrument

Hello, Sweetheart! Here’s a short-stop for your week.

“Musicians must clean their instruments. If they don’t, the quality of their sound is affected. You are an instrument. What is affecting your sound?”

I heard this in my spirit on Sunday, February 16, 2020 at 10:16 AM. I grunted in confirmation of its profundity. The question was legit and it made me take a quick peek inside my soul. What’s the sound, you ask? My life.

My life is a sound that reverberates through time and space. So, what speck of dust or sticky residue is affecting my sound? After all, I am God’s Instrument. I am fashioned to make physical and spiritual noise while I’m here on Earth. His hands created my vocal cords, shaped my lungs, and He blew His breath into me, so of course, I’m designed to change the atmosphere every time I breathe. Just like an instrument in the hands of a musician, my life has the opportunity to change the world around me.

monochrome photo of man playing saxophone
Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

Taking it a step further, I thought about Black History Month and how the lives of those we read about left an exceptional mark on the Earth simply by allowing their divine sound to be heard. Some weren’t trying to be heroes; they just wanted to exhale what was breathed into them. And the sound… the sound that came from their lives was (and still is) amazing. The supernatural part is that we’re still hearing it.

So, what’s affecting your sound, Sweetheart? What’s preventing you from being an Instrument in optimum condition? What are your blockages and are you willing to let them go?

I know I am. I’ve allowed the Love of God to do a lot of cleaning in the last 5 years and there’s no way I can go backward. My prayer is that you’re able to say the same. If not now, soon. Just start with a step and keep walking.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Where and When

Hey, Sweethearts!

I have a reminder for you this week that I heard while cooking dinner.

Whatever you need, God knows where it is.
Whoever you need, God knows where s/he is.

A romantic relationship. A career opportunity. A miraculous provision. It doesn’t matter. God knows where it is and how to present it to you.

Let’s look at Genesis 2 and the creation of Woman in verse 22. We always assume that Adam met Eve immediately after God made her; however, we don’t know that. We can not trace this experience based upon our timetable. The Word says that God brought Eve unto Adam. He never prayed for Eve, yet God had foresight into his need and presented an exceptional solution.

Flip through the Old Testament and you’ll find supernatural food provisions and miraculous victories. Head over to Jesus’s time on Earth and notice how He always placed himself in the path of a need.

man wearing yellow jacket
Photo by Ivy Son on Pexels.com

So, keep that in mind as you stand in need of something or someone. As your heart pants for everlasting love or your home falls apart or your car needs to be repaired, remember that God always meets the need — even the intangible ones. He always knows where to find you and how to reach you. It’s not guaranteed to be pretty or without sacrifice, but you can believe that it will be exactly what you asked for (or didn’t know you needed).

What do you do in the meantime? Good question! Here are 3 things that have helped my sanity in those times.

  1. Read the Word according to what you need. If I feel emotionally exhausted, I read about times when others felt the same. The beauty of this tip is that we have the Internet — full of bible study tools to find something that relates to your season.
  2. Pray about everything. Don’t hold it in. Imagine having a loved one that wouldn’t let you help her because she doubted your ability. You would be hurt. Nothing would fortify you more than to have her relinquish her fear and accept your assistance. So, do the same with God.
  3. Do the work. Analyze the parts you can control and see where you need to improve. Maybe you eat at restaurants too often and it’s causing financial tension in the house. Perhaps you can discover parts of yourself that need healing before you bond souls with someone else.

I’m praying for your meantime, Sweetheart. I know it’s rough and I’m right there with you. Your solution is already created just for you. Keep going and keep being a better version of yourself every day. Peace & Blessings as you continue. We got this and God’s got us.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

 

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