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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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letters

#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 look 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 protection 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

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #16

Dear Aunts & Uncles,

This may sound elementary, but I mean it — I think you’re cool!

I know I wrote about you before, but I just had to say it again. You’re so diverse and wise. I soak up your spirit when you’re around.

Thank you for never telling me I can’t do something. Whether it was nailing shingles on the roof or planting seeds, you always said “Go ‘head. You can do it.”

Uncles, you always made me feel safe — safe in your wisdom and your presence alone. No matter where we were, I knew I was good hands. I knew that you would fight for me as fiercely as my mother would if anything happened. I trusted that you had my back. You had a way of treating me like a strong soul instead of a fragile princess. Thank you for that. It made my feminism formidable.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Aunts, you always taught me something. Both of you are so creatively crafty. You can literally take something ordinary and make something beautiful. It’s amazing to watch your mind work fast and your hands work even faster. And let’s not forget our talks… they were and still are epic. If I felt misunderstood, you listened and spoke my language. Lastly, you’ve lived through so much that it seeps from your pores. I am so appreciative that you share yourself with me.

I reflect on my childhood often and see flickers of your sweetness everywhere. I am so grateful for you. My mother had a tribe to help her raise me. She had a support system that cared so deeply. The fruit of your love sprinkles to those around me, especially to my village kids. My prayer is that I can show them at least half of the awesomeness that you showed me… that they feel empowered and enchanted. Thank you so much for being in my tribe. I forever love you.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #14

Shawn!

You would be having a complete field day right about now! For real!

Between the pandemic and pandering politics, we would be having the best conversations if you were still here. Seriously. Your wit would be making me laugh aloud and you would be amen-ing your frat brother Roland Martin’s commentary per usual. I can hear your quips as I type — coming at me like rapid fire.

Can you believe that people are making political stances about wearing facial coverings to slow the spread of a virus? I just heard you chuckle. lol

Science. That was your jam and I know you would have something sarcastic to say about all of this. We would probably chat around mid-afternoon and about the latest foolishness concerning our country and the world-at-large. Our conversation would undoubtedly include the current state of educational affairs be it that you were an exceptional educator. You were the physics half and I was the social half of our scientific duo, but we met in the middle when it came to distress of public education. *insert fist bump here*

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Part of me is glad you’re not here to experience this mess and part of me wishes you were so we could decompress at length. You said I was the pontificator between the two of us, but seriously… that was you. You knew how to make a kid’s meal out of the most difficult math and physics problems. The context in which all of this craziness is floating is complex to say the least — the perfect ingredients for your beautiful mind.

We would be having some hilarious conversations right now, my friend. I believe that. We had finally reached that place before you left Earth and for that I am grateful.

Rest In Peace,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #13

Dear Children That I May Have,

The first thing I want you to know is that I love you already. By this time in my life, I thought there would be two or three of you bugging me about our next family trip or having a dance-off in the living room. Since you’re not here (possibly yet or not at all), I’m having enough cool experiences to share plenty of memories with you.

Let me be clear — I didn’t wish for you when I was child playing with dolls. I didn’t pine for you to be here faster because I couldn’t live without you. There will never be a lie between us (that’s how my parents raised me, so, you’re stuck with that), so I won’t start with those. I did know that if you showed up that I would welcome you with an open heart and my love would pour all over the place. That’s just how I am and that’s probably how you will be too.

Thank you, Desiree Danielle Beauty & Photography. You always slay.

You have a dope mom. Yep, I said it. It’s OK… you’ll find out if you get here. I learned to be a strong woman in the midst of adversity yet soft enough to listen to your spirit. I learned to encourage myself when no one was around and I learned to lean on Jesus for my Peace of mind. I pray that is passed down to you as well. Your mother is a survivor and you will be too. I’ll do everything I can to help you, but I won’t coddle you one bit. I give you my word that I will laugh at you when it’s funny and hold you when it’s not. I’ll have your back and your front. No matter what gender you are, I’ll remind you it’s OK to have a sensitive heart and a strong will. Both of them can co-exist.

You’ll be amazing humans that will find your own way. You will grow up in a loving environment with plenty of culture and dialogue. It won’t be perfect, but it will be healthy… and I promise to let you and God have your own relationship. Period.

I hope you make it here, but if you don’t, your mom loves you and I’ll see you when I get up there.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #11

Hi, Military Family.

This letter is going to sound so random, but I guarantee it will host everything I want to say without the whole thing sounding sad. OK? OK.

Many people say thank you (me included), but I want to be specific in my gratitude. I appreciate your ability to say “yes,” when most of us would say “no way in hell.” Your yes provides us the opportunity to sleep well at night because we know you’re on 3rd watch. I know you hear it all the time, but it truly is a sacrifice and I never take that lightly.

The sacrifice you made/make causes me to pause at every soldier I meet and say “thank you for serving,” but I often pray that we continue to serve you and your family once your assignment is over. It angers me that some retire well and some end up homeless. When I taught veterans at a career college, it infuriated me to hear of the repeated runarounds of their simple requests at the VA or that their mental health wasn’t being taken seriously.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

That’s another thing… your state of mind. It takes a lot to do what you do — to be trained to be a machine on demand. I appreciate your ability to do that too. Undoubtedly, it is necessary. It’s the 2nd half of this call-to-action is the aftermath. I’m sorry that you have to experience PTSD in various forms. Yeah, I know… don’t feel sorry for you, it was an honor to serve, and you love your country. I’ve heard it all. My family tree and friend circle are full of Armed Forces and I’ve seen the effects. Your honorable nature doesn’t detangle the mess it can leave behind.

So, I pray for you often. I pray for your safety and for your fight. I pray your skills stay sharp and your family bonds stay tight. I hope that you never forget to tell corny jokes as necessary and to remember that you matter. Remember funny stories about basic training and don’t forget to help others thread memories together so they can stay warm out there too.

I appreciate you all. I love you big. Thank you for being you.

Sincerely,

CJW

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