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Wednesday Wind Down: Help Wanted

Hi, Sweethearts!

I have a quick stop for your week.

Help comes in different forms. The question is — do you want it?

Now, before you respond with hearty yes, take a minute a think about your answer.

Help sounds heroic, urgent, even sexy. We revel in being the helper. I’ve seen pre-Kindergarteners fight over who would help the teacher and adults battle in a boardroom to supply the solution. We like to help, at least most of us do. Sometimes this heroic (or altruistic) gesture comes with a price. We end up being horrible at accepting help when it’s our turn. I heard a preacher say once – everyone wants a miracle, but no one wants to be in need of one.

Fast forward to the next dot on this shortstop — What do you do when you need help? And I mean, you know you need it, but being in the mess feels good. It feels cozy. Comforting. Familiar. You may start to indulge in thoughts that keep you bound in the mess… recounting the past or imagining a future that may never arrive. Next thing you know, the thought clouds pass and there you are… still captive in the muddy mess. Let’s go practical.

Rom 13.14
Courtesy of YouVersion

In order to wrap yourself in the presence of Jesus instead of marinating in the warm, cozy mess, you have to accept help. Your heart has to be open enough to receive it. This sounds easy, but it can be difficult to release what feeds our monsters. When we do, the presence of Jesus creates a new blanket for us to curl up in. The downside? We can sometimes use our faith as an excuse not to seek help.

So, whether it is gluttony via extra trips to fridge or lack of self-control by mismanaging your funds, you need help and it’s up to you to accept it.

It’s mental health awareness month, so there are professionals available to help you through the rough patches. I have a shortlist of counselors/therapists I can share if you need a starting point; just private message or email me and I will send it to you. After all, God made therapists too. That’s a form of help you may be avoiding. That’s a healthy journey to receive the peace of Jesus’s presence in your life.

So, I’ll circle back to the beginning — Help comes in different forms. The question is — do you want it? What do you do when you need it? 

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Learning Again

Hi, Sweethearts!

Two years ago, I wrote a short stop entitled Learning to encourage you to be comfortable with your vulnerable process. What more of a reminder do we need than right now?

I’ve been keeping a running tab on all of the things I have done and learned during the quarantine. The items range from refreshing my French via Duolingo to shredding unnecessary paperwork. The list also includes life lessons. I’m going to share two of them with you and I look forward to hearing yours.

  1. I still have enough pride not to ask for help. So, I thought I got rid of all of my pride when I was unemployed during graduate school. I truly thought I passed that course, but apparently, a smidgen of it is still left and boy, did it get dealt with.
  2. I had a necessary and challenging conversation with a friend. A conversation I avoided for months because I was overly accommodating. It took more than one phone call, but the result was a friendship on the mend instead of another carcass in the desert of emotional dishonesty.

I know everyone isn’t staying at home, but I’m sure this season is giving us all another life lesson opportunity of some kind. Are you willing to learn again? Are you teachable? When it’s all said and done, we can’t say we didn’t have the chance. So, what is something you’ve learned so far?

I’m praying for you, Sweethearts! Keep shining!

Wednesday Wind Down: What It Takes

Hi, Sweethearts! I hope that you are well wherever you are.

Right now, it’s a double national appreciation week highlighting teachers and nurses. *insert confetti party here especially for my fellow educators!* Both superheroes spar in different arenas, but I believe they face the same dragons that we all deal with.

  1. They know what it’s like to prove themselves.

    Ask a teacher or a nurse to recall their first time in the field and they can describe it vividly. Perhaps their hands shook as they searched for the vein to administer medicine. Maybe they rocked the 1st period and the 2nd period was an epic fail. They were nervous. They encountered self-doubt. They had a challenging colleague or supervisor. At some point, schooling had to meet real life. The rubber had to meet the road. Along the same continuum, they had to dig deep and find their grit. In both careers, they are in direct contact with the ones who need them. That comes with a certain level of pressure to sink or swim.

    YOU MATTER Mondays (9)

    Next, think about the last time you were taught by a male teacher or had a male nurse… if you had one at all. In America, we are accustomed to seeing female teachers and nurses more often than male ones. Why? I believe it’s that both occupations are seen as nurturing. This can be discouraging for men who want to pursue those careers and their choice in career paths can oxygenate discrimination once they get there. For example, a friend of mine taught science but was often mistaken for a coach. He was often asked what sport he coached when he attended educational conferences and they were shocked when he said robotics. Another friend is an excellent elementary school teacher, but we both know that unless he is a principal, he always watched closer to be sure he isn’t inappropriate with his students or deemed “soft” among his friends.  So, he works harder not to be viewed as a pedophile or homosexual even though he is neither.

  2. They know what it’s like to press pause for the cause.

    I remember being on a 10-minute break between classes and crying my eyes out for 8 of those 10 minutes. Yes, eight. I was still processing my father’s death and something reminded me of him. I fought through the memory in class, but once that break came I calmly yet briskly walked down the hall and out the door. Sitting in my car felt cozy and safe for my tears to flow. I set my alarm so I wouldn’t lose track of time and let the air of humanity flow through that superwoman vest of mine. It felt tight all day and I needed a break from being the oracle in the room. The alarm punctured time and I was thrust back into the reality of students waiting for the 2nd half of class. So, like an athlete at after half-time, I wiped my face and geared up to go back in.  I drank my water, glossed my lips, popped a Ricola drop, and walked into the building like a rockstar model. Why? Because my students needed me more than I needed to cry and I had one minute to get to class. That was reality.

    YOU MATTER Mondays (8)

    What nurse or teacher hasn’t had that moment? We know there are students and patients that care, but they are not always positioned to be empathetic. So, we suck it up. We press pause and we continue. Continue to give. Continue to empower and encourage. Continue to listen. Continue to problem-solve. Continue to serve.

    We continue.

Nurses and teachers of all kinds and specialties, I see you and right now, I believe the world sees us all the more. Thank you for doing what it takes. We will get through this together.

Peace & Thanks for listening. Be kind to each other out there and stay well.

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: 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: Stick in the Mud

Happy Wednesday, Sweetheart!

How was your week? Mine was pretty great. If yours wasn’t, it just got better. *smile* Keep reading to get a shortstop for your week.

I was walking Sammy after a rainy day and noticed the ant mounds. They had been pounded by what probably seemed to be gigantic raindrops in their eyes. If I were an ant, I would have abandoned the mounds; they looked unlivable. Some had already dried to form a semi-hard crust of mud. Then, God whispered a reminder in my ear.

Ants don’t leave when it rains.

They stay and rebuild because they know the mud will harden and create protection for what lies beneath. How often have you wanted to quit when it rains? How many of us think of rain as a bad thing? Consider this — the very thing that appears to be destroying what you’ve built is actually creating the form for what you need. The storm is causing you to anchor deeply into your faith. The wind is forcing you to stand firm on what you profess. The lightning flashes jolt you into awareness that life is not a game and that you have a purpose. You could apply this to relationships just as much as your personal life too.

We could learn a lot from ants. Storage, communication, unity… I vote to add resolve and perseverance to their coat of arms as well. I bet I could add those words to yours as well.

Still praying for you all! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: DNA

Hi, Sweethearts!

I had a thought this week and I hope it encourages you as it did me. I always say that what’s in you will come out of you. Let’s look at that from a biological perspective.

The famous double-helix of deoxyribonucleic acid. It’s a pretty cool construction of genetic material. Some genes are prominent while others seemingly appear out of nowhere such as eye and hair colors. Genes can also remain recessive and others express themselves loudly and proudly. Remember that Punnett square from biology class? That was one of my favorites in school.

punnett square khan academy
Courtesy of Khan Academy

Speaking of dominant vs. recessive, I recall times in class when I knew the answer but was discouraged to share it. You know how it is… it is easier to blend into academic cultures if you don’t seem like a know-it-all. How unfortunate that I was coerced to snuff my intellect to make my classmates and teachers feel more comfortable. I was ridiculously shy and my comfort in learning was never intended to create a shadow on those who I hoped to be friends with at some point in childhood. I felt that I studied the content, did the homework, and came prepared to share it with others. I just didn’t understand why they were so reluctant to share their thoughts too. What they didn’t know was that I was always nervous. Always afraid that I would be misunderstood. I also didn’t like the teacher standing there wanting someone to just show some effort and looking disappointed at the silence. Then came math class — my nemesis. I wasn’t so excited to share in that arena. I felt dumb and inadequate, but I still tried to express my desire to learn. After all, I still studied the content and still did the homework; I just wasn’t good at it, but I wanted the teacher to see that I tried. The life lesson I gleaned from my childhood was that dousing my abilities cost me peace. The less I allowed God to simply shine through who He made me to be, the more unrest and insecurity I experienced.

This week, God brought that back to my remembrance. The heaviness of hiding is such a difficult cloak to wear. God made us so beautifully different that it would be a discredit to his creativity to be anything else than yourself. Taking it a step further — my faith is part of my spiritual DNA. When Jesus died for me, His blood provided all the divine genetic material I need to walk confidently in faith. Sweethearts, allow your spiritual DNA to shine through just as strong as your natural one. Whether you’re a science wiz, nail polish lover, or welding enthusiast… be that. Own that. Flourish in that. If your spiritual gifts include hospitality, prayer, or influence… walk in that. Flourish in that too. Time’s up for decreasing what makes you exceptional.

I believe God’s grace is in my DNA. His loving fingerprints are all over my soul and I am unapologetic about that Truth. My chocolate skin can’t hide herself. My tone and texture are distinctive to my vocal cords. My faith has expressive DNA as well. I’ve been through the rounds and my scars have created a battle cry that I can’t suppress. So, oh well, if it makes others uncomfortable. I can not sit quietly when I know the Answer… and His name is Jesus.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m praying for you during this holiday season.

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