I have a reminder for you as we embark upon fall responsibilities.
As the school year is underway, there are so many puzzle pieces at work. So much grace to give out. So much love that’s needed.
I keep imagining the 60-year-old educator doing his best to teach with virtual tools he just learned from his daughter last month. I see a first-year teacher on revision #5 of her weekly lesson plan. I’m thinking of the administrator who is juggling conference calls, professional development meetings, paperwork, and emails then going home and doing it all over again tomorrow. The parent helping her child before heading to work. The grandparent trying to read the teacher’s instructions.
Behind those screens, there’s a person. Behind that cell phone is a life. A human that may need a peek of Light to brighten up the day.
Sweethearts, be that Light. You have a responsibility to share the God in you. The goodness in you. The greatness in your heart. It’s easy to cop out and unload your frustration on the nearest soul, but it takes incredible substance to share grace instead.
Let’s remember that we’re in this together.
We’re not enemies. We’re a tribe.
A group of people, not individuals in silos.
We can do this. We can make it through this… with grace.
Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts! Stay well out there!
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.”
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.
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, Morocco… 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 –
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.
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.
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).
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?
I have a quick story to tell you. Are you ready? Me too!
Once upon a time, I joined See Jane Write.
Next upon a time, I met Jasmine T.
Now upon a time, we’re launching a podcast!
Yes. Right now. In the midst of a pandemic. Why? Because we decided not to scratch the Plan. This journey began last summer when Jasmine T. and I had a divine connection that developed into a comical and truthful sisterhood with a lot of “Same here!” moments. Who knew that I would meet a sisterfriend that understood parts of my journey that I had not been able to share with others? Who knew that she was an introvert as well? Who knew she would ask me to be her partner-in-podcast? Not me, that’s who. Let her tell it, I was an answered prayer, but truly she is mine.
I knew I needed to launch a podcast 2 years ago, but frankly, I didn’t want to add anything else to my plate. So, I sat on it and told God “OK, I’ll get around to it.” Hey, don’t act like you’ve never been disobedient by delaying obedience (I saw that side-eye). So, while my podcast sat on the backburner (more like locked in the cabinet), here comes the infamous Jasmine T. and my spirit instantly agreed with hers. *cue time-lapse work montage*
After prayer, research, and collaboration, we set a launch date. Then, we had to move the date. Then came COVID-19 and everyone had to move everything… except us. My co-conspirator and I adjusted our crowns and tweaked our plans to follow His. Since we don’t have an end-date on the quarantine, we’re rolling it out so we can reach you!
So, I introduce to you the QueensBeLike Podcast hosted by The Jasmine T. & C. J. Wade! Women serve so many roles in so many areas of life that it is important to remember that we are always Queens. No matter what. In addition to that reminder with feature topics, we will have special guests and experts to weigh-in from time to time. It’s a judgment-free zone, so get ready for Real Life, Real Talk, and Real Faith on Monday mornings every season.
In times like these, we are reminded that we are not alone in anything and here’s how we can support each other.
Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.
Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked.
What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience?
I hug my students.
I even hug strangers.
I pray for people I don’t know.
I say thank you. A lot.
I love big and I retreat quickly.
I boldly express my care.
I can speak up when I’m scared.
I can ask questions unapologetically.
I seek to understand.
I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)
So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.
It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges.
What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation?
What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space?
What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?
There are few times when I travel backward in my mind and find nuggets of perfect synchronicity in a fraction of a second. Saturday was one of those times, so allow me to walk you through the steps. Bear with the chain link of events below as I bare my soul.
STEP 1: THE PLAN
It all began with an idea to have a fun-filled, let-your-hair-down kinda day for my performing arts troupe, which consists of experienced professionals in various industries. They’re amazing superheroes in their respective fields and on any stage of creativity. A beautiful dichotomy of talent if you ask me. This delicate balance needed a breeze of fellowship, so August 13th was set for Summer Fun Day at Avondale Park. I could hardly wait.
STEP 2: THE CONSIDERATION
One of our members attends graduate school out-of-state and was making the trek to spend time with the team, so I watched the weather closely to ensure that she could travel to us safely. I didn’t see some responses from my crew (which I later discovered was due to a technical glitch), so I considered canceling it altogether. After all, we had received bursts of thunderstorms every day that week and Saturday was going to follow suit. I decided to keep the plan based upon the forecast, and added some extra prayer to the meteorologist’s news. So glad I did. The weather was perfect.
STEP 3: THE IDEA
On the previous evening, we held rehearsal and one of our members brought up the notion of eating at Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Avondale, Alabama. I had never been, so I immediately was intrigued and ready to go. The dance of overcasting clouds and sunshine made for a mean game of volleyball and Uno. We were having fun, exactly what I prayed for. It seemed only fitting that we carry the good vibrations over to the restaurant.
STEP 4: THE GOODNESS
The food was delicious and so was the laughter. We sang along to the old school soul music showering over our cozy little table of five. We were enjoying each other’s company, exactly what I prayed for. Then, enter a smiling stranger who politely asked us if we were about to leave and if he and his family could have our table. If you’ve been to Saw’s in Avondale, you know the severity of this request. There are less than 10 tables in this eatery and the line to obtain one when they open at 11 starts at 10:40 AM at best. I’m ashamed to admit that I shook my head “no.” Thank God for my friend, who apparently was closer to Jesus than I was in that moment, that said yes and my stone-faced look morphed into a smile and a nod. He was kind and respectful, and I was proudly selfish. I’m usually the person that is cognizant of busy hours and needed seats, but on that day, I didn’t want to be considerate. I was marinating in the loveliness of time that our team rarely experiences without the demands of a deadline. I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want it to end…
but it was time.
STEP 5: THE SUGGESTION
After releasing our table, the same friend that suggested Saw’s pointed our attention to a thrift store nearby that she loves to visit. Sozo Trading Company was the destined place. Being the economical giants that we are, we jumped at the chance to embark on another adventure. Like giddy children filled with wonder, we walked inside and immediately felt peace. Dakota greeted us with a smile and noticed our matching shirts. She inquired of our talents and we agreed to perform a human video before we left.
STEP 6: THE CRUX
Remember when I gave you the demographics of the team in THE PLAN? The challenge that comes with our creative make-up is that schedule clashes are inevitable and not everyone learns the same piece at the time it is taught. In this instance, there was also the factor that one of our members had not performed with us in over a year. So, the suggestions started flowing. “What about this?” “Were you here when we did that song?” “I don’t know that one, but I can learn it.” The communication about the business at hand resulted in my spirit being nudged to return to the first song I heard in my soul stereo – How He Loves Usby Jesus Culture featuring Kim Walker-Smith. It fitted the mission of Sozo perfectly, so I shared those thoughts with my team. So, in true Workmanship Incorporated anointing, we quickly forged as a unit and half of our quad learned the piece in the back of the store. The funny part is that no one batted an eye of curiosity or annoyance. They just shopped around us as if our full-bodied belonged in the setting. In less than 45 minutes, we were all caught up and ready to serve.
STEP 7: THE BLESSING
We ministered. Right there inside of the front entrance doors.
If you’ve never performed a human video, it requires all of your muscles to cooperate and be in sync with those around you in order to present the storyline clearly. Two of us were negotiating with our bodies about previous injuries, two of us had learned the piece in minutes, and all of us were in sync. It was beautifully amazing. As usual, we performed for an audience of ONE – the ONE who gives us Life and the ONE who needs it. Dakota recorded and took pictures. When the song was over and we expired all we had, Dakota was teary and patrons were nearby. A man approached us with watery gratefulness in his eyes and hugged us, thanking us for the message of Love. His courage to be touched is what sincerely touched me. An open masculine heart is said to be soft, weak, or feminine by society’s standards unless they’re crying about winning a championship, but at that moment… he felt loved and reminded, and that was all that mattered. Then, it dawned on me. He was my blessing. Dakota was my blessing. Austin and Amanda (fellow Sozo staff) were my blessing. The gentleman at the restaurant was my blessing. Steps 1 through 7 were the blessing that led to the makarios moment… this man hugging people he didn’t know because of a Message that we said silently. We were presented with the opportunity to eulogeó (to speak well of, praise, or bless) God in the presence of His people and it resulted as a makariosexperience for ourselves and others (refers to the believer in Christ who is satisfied and secure in the midst of life’s hardships because of the indwelling fullness of the Spirit).
What did I learn that day?
That your plans are never yours. They always affect someone else, even when you don’t know it. And you’ll be better off letting God lead the choices you make because He always has a two-edged blessing waiting for you. Blessings are always simultaneously designed. They are never unilateral.
To learn more about Greek words related to “blessing/blessed,” click here and here. I hope you enjoy the insight as much as I did.
Peace & Thanks for Listening. (I know it was a long one this time, so really… thank you.)
Caution: Let’s go swimming in our thoughts for a bit…. 622 words deep to be exact.
I don’t know how to swim (effectively), but I love the beach. I see a swimming pool and I want to jump in like an Olympic diver and scuba diving is on my LTD (life-to-do) List. With all of this enchantment over water, such a simple necessity, it would make sense as to why God would use it to get His points across.
THE LATSOL MOMENT
One morning while I was walking my dog Sammy, I noticed the dew on the grass. My dog loves to slurp it off the grass in order to prolong his morning ritual. It was nothing new, but the temperature had been consistently 90 degrees or more in Alabama for a week and even the evenings felt like a cough of heat from the daytime. On this particular morning, the dew arrested my attention. How was there dew on the grass in the midst of heat?I know the scientific answer, but that wasn’t satisfying at that moment. Then I heard God say gently…
“No matter how hot it gets, there’s always dew on the grass in the morning.
That alone should be proof that I will take care of you.”
Wow. That was my water proof. Finally. See a few years ago, I asked for God to help me understand him more… to make himself tangible to my curiosity and satisfy my itch to learn Him in a deeper way. So in order to understand my excitement about this “theorem,” you must hear my “proof.” (Hey, math teachers… two points?)
We need God. He created water as something that we must consume and depend on in which to live. We need Him.
We are made of God. God created each of us in His likeness.
God can affect, penetrate, or saturate anything over time. He is all-powerful.
God is underneath us, with us, and above us. He is omnipresent.
God has 3 forms and each has a specific purpose. The Holy Trinity consists of God the Father (the Protector and Judge), Jesus the Son (the Savior and Advocate), and The Holy Spirit (The Comforter and Guide).
God was made to move. He is omnipotent and can not be contained.
God can be customized. He manages to speak to anyone who desires a relationship with Him regardless of geographical location and demographics.
Proof: God is like water.
It is a representation of His deity and awesomeness and is not bound by circumstances.
Lastly and personally…
To say that water fascinates me would be an understatement. The shower is my thinking placeand a warm bath is a cozy envelope for my questions and feelings of frustration. I leave them there, in the envelope, to go down the drain forevermore. When I step out of the shower, I am new. I’m ready for the day or evening and mentally prepared for what’s ahead.
So, when I saw the blades of grass with dew and Sammy was enjoying the natural refreshment in spite of the heat, I felt like God gave my proof some recognition. More like I finally listened to what He had been saying all along. I am God. I will provide. I am not affected by your changes. I am always here.
I took a deep breath that morning and my soul agreed… and I felt amazing.
If you try to reach me using Facebook, good luck. I’m simply not as big of a user, especially of the messaging system. I turned off the notifications to my phone a long time ago. “This person like your picture… this person commented on a picture you liked… This person liked the same picture you liked…” It was becoming too nerve-wrecking. Then there’s the infamous question:
Did you see my post/get my message on Facebook?
My usual response – No. Do you still have my number? Why didn’t you just call me?
Sure, I understand that social media is the wave of the future in terms of communicating with the masses and with loved ones abroad. It makes perfect sense to use it in that fashion; however, if you truly want my attention for a time-sensitive matter… call me. That’s the direct line to anything you need from me. I’ve often wondered how we moved so far from using the phone for its intended purpose, yet claim that we can’t keep in touch? Don’t hide. I’m guilty too.
With so much technology, you would think the ties that bind us would be stronger, but instead, they’re sparse and brittle.
While I was wandering around this topic, I heard God say the following:
“You have complete access to me, but you always choose a 3rd party to reach me. You have direct access and barely use it.”
Wow. I couldn’t believe the conviction and hurt in His voice. We listen to sermons, read devotionals, attend bible studies, all to receive a Word from God. He loves that about us… that we seek Him diligently and collaborate with others to sharpen our Faith. Nevertheless, there is nothing like that sweet alone time with God. Our Father is lovingly waiting for us to use the only liaisons we need… His Son and His Spirit. The requirement to patch through to Him is Jesus. That’s why Jesus died on the cross. His Spirit allows us direct connection any time we wish and without delay.
I encourage you to use your hotline today to say “I need you” or just to say “hi.” You can use any of the above mentioned methods to dig deeper in His Word, but He truly loves to hear your voice. He knows what you sound like.
Its timbre is sweet to Him
because He made it the perfect pitch
and wavelength; it is a custom fit for His ear.
Isn’t that amazing? Out of the 7.4 billion people in the world, He leans forward when you say His name in passion and sincerity. Speak with the Holy Spirit, by way of Jesus the Son, to your Father. Use your party of Three to be heard by the One.