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#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #25

To Wanda Dear,

Once upon a time, I left my house with a prayer. I was a fresh out of grad school with boots on the ground trying to secure a teaching job. My phone had just been stolen as I was using pay phones to call schools and possible leads. I had gone to the library to print out directions because GPS was not an option. The summer heat was not my friend and I was beyond hot — inside and out. So on a day in June, I said “Lord, I need to work somewhere. Just tell me where to go.”

I drove straight to that store and took a deep breath before walking inside. It had been a couple of years since I had worked retail and frankly, I was not looking forward to it. “You’re allergies are going to freak out,” I muttered to myself as I walked through the store, “but you gotta do something.” Your frankness and your warmth sold me from the jump. I knew you were the real deal, but I didn’t imagine that you would become family.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

When my sweet friend Nancy passed away, you showed me empathy by letting me work in the backroom so my tears could flow at will. When my former husband’s diabetic skin needed suggestions, you always made sure to keep me updated on the best products to soothe its agitations. I appreciated your humanity. And while I appreciate every supervisor I’ve worked for, I have comprehensively learned more from you than any corporate experience I ever had. I learned more than how to run a store. I learned how to use discernment during the hiring process, how to mix grace with facts, how to manage personalities, how to work that calculator and know your products like you know your name, how to provide a positive customer experience, and how not to be pissed off everyday. I would tell myself after a long day or a hard shift, “If Wanda can do it, I can do it.” We made it through holiday rushes, limited staffing, late night inventories, and ridiculous floor sets. Every time, I would tell myself that same sentence.

You know my family because you’re woven into our tapestry. My mother respects you and when my father and former husband were alive, so did they. Your heart is bigger than most people I’ve met and I am so grateful you’re in my world. Like I tell anyone that acts sideways – “I’ll fight you over that red-head. She’s family.”

Wanda, I pray that every single seed you have sown in the lives of others will come back to you 100-fold. I have no worries about your future because you’ve planted so richly. You know I have your back no matter what and you know I’m not the only one that will say the same thing. All of us are so much better because of your awesomeness.

I love you big,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #24

Dear Future Self,

Girl, you did it.

You’re enjoying your life to absolute fullest, even more than you were before. Beach waves are rolling nearby and an organic smoothie is within arms reach. Your upcoming trip is booked and the next one is already planned. Did I say how good your hair looked today?

I am so proud of you. The birthing of your books continue to yield much fruit. While challenges still arise, you digest them with wisdom on your fork. Remember the financial pressures that came like tsunamis? I’m glad you didn’t drown. I’m glad you didn’t give up. I’m glad you gathered the shreds underneath your feet and walked right over them. Everything you experienced made you the force that you are now.

You shine. I can feel it from yesteryear.

Photo/Hair/Makeup by Desiree Danielle Beauty.
Assembly – my sisters Desiree, Ashlee, & Miyoka

Your “no” is still strong and your “yes” is still formidable. I’m smiling right now just thinking of how courageous you are. Nothing was able to hold you from fulfilling your purpose and I’m so grateful you didn’t quit. Sitting at that desk writing your heart out is exactly what you should be doing. Inspirational speaking is your jam. Loving is your armor. Massage therapy and wellness are still your advocacy vehicles and your practice is flourishing beautifully. I’m so proud of you for hiring others so they can be empowered as well. Those properties and those investments are going to serve you well.

Girl, keep shining. Keep doing what God tells you to do because it only gets better. They say to check on your strong friends, so just know that I’ve been praying for you for a long time. I don’t know if you’re married, but if you are, I know he’s dope. If you’re not, I know your solitary life is dope.

Can’t wait to see your awesomeness. No rush. I’ll meet you there, Queen.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #23

Dear Sweethearts,

You know I couldn’t leave you out of this challenge and I didn’t want to wait until the last letter either.

Every week, we connect on many wavelengths to get through life together. Our topics range from work frustrations to crazy things Christians believe to losing a loved one. When I started this blog, I remember thinking “Is anyone even going to read this? Oh well, here goes.”

And here we are! You listen to my heart on these pages week after week and I hear yours in your responses. Some of you tell me your thoughts via text, email, and in the blog comments. I’m grateful for it all, but it always catches me by surprise when you tell me in person. One time, a student told me in the hallway that she read a post. I froze like I was in a game of tag. Another time, I was at a wedding reception and three SoRHOrs talked about how a particular post resonated with them. In another instance, a Soror said that she looks forward to the Wednesday Wind Down as a spiritual check up for her week. What can I say? You keep me going!

Are you following to me on Instagram?

I never wanted to write just to write; I prayed to write with purpose. My writing guru Javacia asked me to describe my niche during a coaching session one day. I shared that I wanted to create an inspirational home for busy humans, provide a realistic approach to faith, and encourage people to listen for God’s voice in their everyday lives. Over the last four years, I believe we’ve been running in that lane and I appreciate you being with me in the process!

Sweetheart, I pray this place continues to inspire you to be human and to let God help you through it all. I love you and I pray God’s blessings shine on you wherever you are. OK, enough mushiness. lol In essence, you rock my socks, so let’s keep going.

Peace & Thanks for listening (as always),

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #22

To my Fellow Retail Slayers:

First of all, you rock. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

You’re probably gearing up for the holiday weekend right now and while this year looks a little different, it is still projected to be busy nonetheless. Around this season, for some reason, the public seems to lose its wits. Rudeness flies freely like the wicked witch’s monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. It’s repulsive and I don’t condone it one bit.

Whether you had to take a retail job to secure your family or you’re just trying to make some extra cash, you deserve to be treated with dignity. I wish I knew why people toss their money at cashiers, don’t read their coupons, or insult your intelligence, but after 17 years of retail experience, I can’t say that I’ve found the master key to that one yet. Even when I was in leadership and managed a high-volume store, I still had people question my ability to assist them. I am convinced — when some customers cross the threshold of your store, something happens to their neurons and they are draped in a disgusting cloak of indignation and entitlement. It can make you angry if you let it.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

May we all show each other some grace this retail season and thereafter, but truthfully, there’s a lot of stress in the world. So, gear up. Someone will probably try to degrade you today or yell at you over something beyond your control. I’m sorry about that. When you put on that uniform or that nametag, remember that you are simply fulfilling a role. You are not what you do. You are not a peon. You have exceptional skills and you are valuable to all who enter. You are still the fantastic phenom you were when you got out of bed this morning and you will be when you lie down tonight.

I don’t care who comes into your establishment, remember that you are the heartbeat of the company. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise, OK? Don’t let it stick.

Work that shift. Make that money. Help those people. Go home proud.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #21

To my Cousin BJ:

I love you so much — and not because of what you do. I could go on and on about that, but your actions are an extension of who you are and who you are is amazing.

I could mention plenty of things about you that make me smile within – like how you make sure I get in the house safely. No matter how late it is, if I’m outside, you’re outside to be sure everything’s copasetic. If I need help, your hand and heart are available. And I love that we love the same music but I won’t digress.

I appreciate the protector in you and the warmth of your soul. When Pop and Shawn died, I came home after a long day and you hugged me with the best words I had heard — “You’re doing a great job.” That sweet sentence brought tears to my eyes that night as we stood there. You don’t know how much that soothed my spirit. I needed it. I was truly doing my best but I was running on fumes — barely-there fumes. Your encouragement that evening went such a long way and I thank you for letting me exhale a bit.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com

You always make sure that I’m OK. Our “I love you’s” are not scarce and we got each other’s back. From being handyman to dog walker, you help me with skill and a smile.

When we were growing up together, I always admired your eyes and your smile. Both of them were so bright. Your laugh would make me laugh without either of us saying a word. I remember when you burned your arm. I wanted to hug you so badly. Somehow, I thought that would make it all better. Playing Nintendo was the highlight of our day and whenever we weren’t together, it felt like a piece of sunshine was missing.

You’re so smart and you have done so much in your years on Earth. I’m proud of you, BJ. You don’t let anything stop you from doing what needs to be done and God knows, you are the absolutely fearless.

My prayer for you is that you continue to grow as a man of God. I pray that you receive every great seed that you’ve sown into others. You do so much behind the scenes and God takes care of you well. In Jesus’ Name, you will be protected as fiercely as you protect us and you will prosper as your soul prospers. I got your back, B. Always.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #20

Dear Big Sister Hannah,

We were divinely brought together and I’m so glad about it.

You look just him, ya know…. the warmth in your eyes and the high-rise of your cheeks when you smile… and your laughter lights up my planet, Big Sis. On top of all of that, you and Pop are so similar in spirit. The parallel is uncanny both inside and out.

What I appreciate about you is that you instantly treated me like family. Your loving arms wrapped about my teenage self and said “Hey, Lil Sister!” The sentiment was foreign and I loved it. I could tell you meant those words with every fiber of your being. Age wasn’t a factor. Distance wasn’t a distraction. Bloodline couldn’t block it. You loved me and I could feel the warmth of your heart.

Photo by Kartik Gupta on Pexels.com

Thank you so much for being my sister. I didn’t see you coming! Sound wisdom via God’s Word always drips from your words. Delicious food is always on the stove. Hugs are always available. I couldn’t ask for a better compilation.

Hannah, you are such a blessing to the world. The kindness you show me is your normal setting for everyone. You mind your business and mind the needs of others simultaneously. You have stern direction and a quick sense of humor. You’re easy like Sunday morning and any time I’m in your presence, I’m at home.

My prayer for you is that you continue to overflow in peace and joy for the rest of your years… that Fruit from the Spirit will overtake you and it will make your heart leap at any moment. I pray that you will continue to reap every beautiful seed you sown; they are many.

I love you so much and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #19

Dear Mentors,

Our God definitely takes care of you well and I’m so glad He does.

I appreciate your everlasting giving tree. Your leaves take on the storms of life and still remain shiny enough for us to see. The fruit of your labor feeds everyone around you.

No matter what state I was in, you always seemed to have more to pour, more to share, more to inspire my heart with.

Thank you.

Just one phone call would yield a lifetime of wisdom I would chew on for years to come. Plenty of times, I just knew that I wasn’t making sense as my emotions tumbled out of my mouth, but you allowed me to be vulnerable and scarred without judgment. After laying my confusing all out on the table, you infused strength in my legs so I could stand on my own and keep walking forward toward my destiny.

Thank you.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Seeing you soar in business and the arts has been one of the most beautiful highlights in my life. You have superpowers the world has yet to honor and for a big chunk of it, I had a front row seat. It was a treat every time with no chance of overdose. I could watch you shine forever and those memories will stay in my soul’s locket.

What a blessing. What a privilege.

Thank you so much for everything you’ve been in my life. I learn a plethora of lessons with every encounter and our laughs echo in the hallways of my heart. The following verse comes to mind when I think of you – “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you…” – Philippians 1:3. It was not by chance that Our Father crossed our pathways so I could be a better version of myself. For that baseline, I am grateful ten times over.

I pray every seed you sowed into me and others will germinate in your lives as well. I also pray that you continue to be showered with gratitude for changing lives and touching the future. May God richly bless the soil around your feet and lift any clouds around your head. I love you all and thank you again for being in my life.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #18

To my Church Families:

Lee’s Chapel Baptist Church in Brookside, AL
First Baptist Church Graysville East in Graysville, AL
St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church in Graysville, AL
Mason City A.O.H. Church of God in Birmingham, AL
First Baptist Church Carver in Bessemer, AL
Cathedral of the Cross in Birmingham, AL
Gateway Family Church in Trussville, AL
Zion Church in Landover, MD

In some way, shape, or form and at some point in time, you completely changed my life for the better. Each church listed up there hosts memories from my childhood to now and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

Cold ankles in lacy socks at Sunday School. Red Baptist Hymnals. Your sense of community. The smell of wooden pews. The whir of the Leslie when I turned on the organ. Music bouncing off the walls. Sausage and biscuit breakfast before worship service and free lunches every summer. The smiles on your faces and the sternness of your voices. Sequins and pearls adorning your suits. Tie pins and cufflinks that could rival any corporate executive’s attire. I remember thinking that you were the smartest people in the world when you read verses aloud. You were walking art and I was your canvas.

Photo by Dan Whitfield on Pexels.com

I call you family. Whether you prayed for me at the altar or laughed with me in the church parking lot, you played a major part in the woman I am today. You taught me that community is more than a word, it is an action that is always in season. We fed the poor, tutored children, taught God’s Word, and consoled each other at funerals. We forgot about the troubles of the week together. We danced until we felt free. Our hands lifted up and so did our hearts. God met us both inside and outside of those buildings.

Thank you.

I appreciate your light and life lessons. I pray that you continue to shine just as brightly as you did in my life. Keep smiling. Keep saturating yourself in the Word. Keep being a light. Keep encouraging youth so they can grow up to be grateful like me.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #17

To my Homeless/Transient Brothers & Sisters:

I love you.

So many of you have stories that have never been told, let alone understood. As some of you told me — you were doing well before you got here. You moved down South to assist a family member get off drugs and lost your sustainability trying to help them. You lost your job and your home in the same year and couldn’t gather funds to recuperate. Instead of letting your whole family suffer the blow, you moved out so they could stay safe. You were a veteran who kept getting the runaround instead of a call back. You had a life… a whole life before being someone people ignore. You are someone’s son or daughter. You are important.

You aren’t lost causes, but your needs often get lost in a crowd of bureaucratic tomfoolery. I’m sorry about that. Instead of just throwing food to fix your hunger during the holidays, it would help if we talked with you about your skill sets and your health. Unfortunately, money makes things move, so that hinders you from getting what you truly need — a long-term solution.

When I see you, sometimes I stop to give you food or water, sometimes we pray together, and sometimes I pray for you as I drive by. One of the stereotypes is that you are mentally-ill drug addicts who are incompetent of taking care of yourself. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Your weathered skin wraps around your warm soul. You’re a survivor and I admire your grit.

As a sisterfriend schooled me once — most of you have a place you call home; it just doesn’t like ours. So, keep taking care of yourself. Keep taking care of each other. Make sure you save the coins you get so you can eat and ride the bus. If you have a child with you or you’re staying in your car, hold tight to the Truth that your current situation is temporary… hence the phrase “transient community.” You are moving toward the next chapter; just keep taking the next step. Please don’t give up,

I pray for your all the time, especially when the weather is cold, rainy, or both. If nothing else, remember that God definitely has you some angels out here.

Sincerely,

CJW

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