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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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motivation

Thursday Love: Assembly Required

Good Evening, Family!

This post has a couple of layers, but the main idea is this – Compassion and Accountability can co-exist.

For some reason, we think the are opposing forces in every situation. This mirage of dissonance manifests into online arguments, silent family tables, and disjointed communities. What gets left in dust is our humanity and our faith. Let me explain. It may sting a little bit, but this is safe place to grow.

The first thing you think of is “Well, what did they do to deserve it?” when you hear of tragedy, you’re acting just like the Pharisees in the book of John, Chapter 8. Do you know what makes me chuckle about that story? The facts that they called Jesus “Teacher” when they ran up on Him (woman in hand) and the fact that Jesus had a whole Jeopardy-waiting-theme-music moment before they filed out one by one. Seriously, I scoff every time I read those parts.

Photo by Armin Rimoldi on Pexels.com

Why?

Because you would think the Pharisees would know better than to try to trap Jesus in a social and religious debate, but no… they didn’t. Just like today, they wanted to see what He would say so they could claim He wasn’t who He was. They were determined to make the issue bigger than the Savior. Personally, I would have taken that waiting period before He answered as a hint to leave… quietly… right then. Something inside of me would have had to click in a different gear to say “Hold up. I think He’s giving me a chance to correct myself.” Anywho…

If you have an insatiable need to consume news and gossip, check your intentions.

Are you praying for the murdered and the murderers?
Are you praying for public officials?
Are you involving yourself in local avenues of service?
Are you listening to your hurting friends?
Are you making sure you aren’t part of the problem?

What are you doing with all of that information anyway? Morning, mid-day, evening, and late night, what you’re really doing is getting full of yourself. I’m not saying you should pretend like nothing is happening, but I am very much saying that you should not be consumed by all that swirls around you.

Look on the flip side and survey your intentions in consuming faith-building content. Newsflash: It’s not for Sundays only.

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

What a concept, right? I know! It sounds simple until we’re bombarded on Monday with an annoying co-worker or when someone cuts us off during our morning commute. Family, we are required to apply what we learn from those sermons, podcasts, life groups, Bible studies, YouTube videos, etc. All of that should amount to something. Everything. More than the things of this life. We should be growing to greater. Growing into the best version of ourselves.

As seasons change, so should we. So should we develop and stretch and evolve.

Take all of that Word you get every week and curate it into a life force that this world needs. A beacon for your street. People’s hearts are aching out here… to see the beauty in the mess. To see something better than what’s crumbling in front of them.

I’ll say it until my last breath – You can’t say you’re a Christian and not act like Christ. Seeing hurt anywhere should hurt you because Jesus’ compassion was epic. He could have easily grilled the woman in John 8, but instead, He showed her compassion before He issued accountability (verse 11).

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

The last time I checked, we’re required to work together down here. You don’t have to like everything your co-worker likes or agree with everything your neighbor does, but you do have to love them. Even Paul said to live peaceably with everyone as best you can. He knew it would be difficult. And it’s hard for me to watch us not doing that in such a time as this. We would rather use buzz words and jargon instead of talking to humans like they’re related to us.

Be mindful of how you’re representing Christ out here. The world is watching. Your friends are watching. Your family is watching. Imagine how full we could actually be if we emptied ourselves first? Imagine how powerful God’s Love could be through us if we implemented every verse we read, every song we sang, and every Biblical message we’ve heard in our lifetimes thus far. Now imagine it starting with you… today.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family! Stay well out here and I’m rooting for you!

Thursday Love: Poetry – FOREVER ME

Hi, Family!

So, Sunday didn’t happen… and Wednesday didn’t either. I apologize for not keeping my posting promise. Unexpected goodness absorbed the week, but I got you today! In honor of National Poetry Month, I made a goal to share a poem or spoken word piece each week and well, we’re in here now. *lol*

I wrote this piece in the spirit of gratitude. Thanks in advance for reading it!

FOREVER ME

When it’s all said and done
I will be Forever Me
The purest form of myself before I got to know who she was
Quiet
Smiling
Curious and cautious
Caring
Relatively fearless
Foreseeing
Loving
The spirit God planted inside of this shell
The original.

I look down into my arms and see her smiling back at me
“You’re going to be just fine,” I say, rocking her slowly
Smooth as chocolate
Back and forth
Ebb and flow
Like the waves she will encounter
“Just keep growing,” I whisper, “… and don’t let this world turn you to stone…”
I bless her face and peer into the horizon of her future
Back, forth
Ebb, flow
Peace, storms, then peace again
“You’re going to be just fine.”

Then, I see her in the distance
Walking like a warrior over Earth’s edge
Tattered armor, strong legs
Bulging courage
Breathing deeply
Battle scars
Sword of Truth in her right hand
Testimonies in her left
Sharp mind
Focus, keen
She sees me
Through me
In me
And we share a breath
of hope recognized
Confirmation that we didn’t quit
We kept growing
Kept loving
Kept soaring, despite the dips and blows
Ebb and flows
Back and forth

I appreciate her.
So, I might as well get to know her now
Love her curves and all her edges
She is perfect imperfection
Legend
And I love Forever Me
Because when it’s all said and done
And the warrior stops walking
That is all that I will be.

Have you ever seen a vision of your future self? Mine is amazing. Tell me about yours?

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Poetry – I SALUTE YOU

Hi, Family!

In honor of National Poetry Month, I made a goal to share a poem or spoken word piece each week. Well, last week, I feel off the rocker, so I’m posting one tonight and another on Sunday!

The piece below was written exactly one year ago in February while contemplating the past and present sacrifices made in my culture. Thanks in advance for reading it!

I SALUTE YOU

For every elder that was asked “How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?” before casting their vote

I stand for you.

Hold my head up high and walk into work every day for you.
Go to class and flash my smile and say “Yes, I’m here” for you.

For my sisterfriend on the verge of killing cancer dead in its tracks
Intelligence questioned by White men, assuming her competence is thin and porous
For every train car that clickety-clacked with Pullman porters, chins up and hands out in superior service

I stand for you.

This isn’t just Black History to me. This is a perpetual ceremony where you are the guests of honor.

I get the privilege of cooling in your shadows, walking in your footsteps, glowing in your Sonlight, basking in your love for my future.

For every lash received with outstretched arms and naked backs
I proudly stand for you.

Clap my hands, hoot and holla any day for you, because you did what so few could do.
You kept clocking in when they spit on you.
Breastfed their children when they wouldn’t feed you.
Sang and danced like a beautiful Black angel when they wouldn’t even pay you.
You lived when they tried to kill you.

I stand for you.

Grandma, washing clothes of White families over the mountain, feet filled with fatigue
In fatigues, Grandpa called “boy” while lacing up his combat boots getting ready for war
Fighting for rights that didn’t see the light of day… back home

Accepting substandard pay and being told to comb your hair
Swallowing your pride and pushing down your voice
Diluting who you are to match someone else’s choice
Being a superhero for your children when you were just treated like a child
Making me smile after a long hard day
Washing my socks on your hands before Sunday morning
Dressing me like a chocolate doll and telling me I’m beautiful
Even though you couldn’t afford to buy your food

You will never be forgotten.
I appreciate you.
I stand for you.
I salute you.
Forever, and ever…
Amen.

***

The Magic City Poetry Festival is going strong here. Check out their events and read about the founder of the festival who is also first Black and youngest poet laureate of Alabama. How cool is that? I salute you, Ashley M. Jones.

Peace & Thanks for listening! 🙂

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate the Break

Hi, Family!

I have a shortstop for your week, so let’s jump into it!

Break.

When you hear that word, what do you think? What do you do?

In my mind, I see two things when I hear “break” – a bridge and a beach vacation. They seem like they don’t match, but both host a gap in time and/or space. Space from a hectic schedule. Space from a physical location. Time away to recuperate. Time to cry between pain and wholeness. A gap between two points.

A break.

When someone’s at the pinnacle of stress, a break is usually the answer. But when we are unable to control the details of that space in time, the uncertainty and frustration can create even more stress on our weary spirits. Our fragility seeks security in the gap and when we don’t obtain it, we can also break… in sanity.

Photo by Leif Bergerson on Pexels.com

In some of my darkest moments, the break didn’t feel welcoming. It didn’t feel like a garden for my best self to bloom, but I did. In other gaps between life events, I received enlightenment and strength. The break always worked in my favor to connect my former mistakes to my future wisdom. And as for those dark moments, there always came a break in the clouds to let the sun pour on my soul. The airy depth before rock bottom was rich in nutrients for me to grow in every way. It broke what could no longer travel with me and allowed me the opportunity to release it in the valley.

The break doesn’t have to break you, Family.

My prayer for you is that you appreciate it. Everything it brings will create a better you.

Breathe through it. Pray through it. Dance through it. Rest through it. Do what it takes to get from one side to the next because where you are is not the end.

I’m proud of you for making it this far. Keep going. 🙂

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate the Mess

Hi, Family!

I hope you’re doing OK out there. There’s a lot going on, so keep praying for each other. Like how you want someone to pray for you. 🙂 Here’s a short stop for your week.

There’s two things about messes that can make us better –

It’s in the mess that we realize what matters.

It’s the mess that makes us remember.

Whether we’ve made it or whether it happened to us, a mess in any stage in life is inevitable. A mistake at work, a car crash, a financial fiasco, a rough relationship… whatever it is, I bet it taught you something. I bet it gave you a clearer picture of what you want and what you don’t want. It created an opportunity to regroup and realign after you remember how you felt in it.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com

That’s because messes teach us lessons we need for the next chapter. They can cleanse impurities from our spirits and prepare us for the road ahead. They can extract what could destroy our futures. As terrible as they are, they make us better… if we allow them.

Ask the Lord about the messes. Pray for guidance to not repeat the mistakes. Engrave the lessons learned on your heart’s tablet. Allow the Peace of God to pour over the wound and set your eyes to being a better version of yourself.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and you are loved!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Your Growth

Hi, Family!

Last month, it was Appreciate Your Attributes. This month, it’s about your growth.

I’ll start with mine.

Once upon a time, I was too scared to be a full-time entrepreneur. I also knew I would be one, but the older I got, the more I thought it would reckless and expensive. The thought of depending upon others to provide my income carried anxiety with it. Strong, stinky, paralyzing anxiety. If you’ve been on the blog with me for a while, you remember when I stepped out on faith in November 2018. I heard God say “It’s time.” and I threw my whole self into my businesses. To still be here on that Word, that’s growth.

Another example is my “no” game. It’s stronger now than it ever was. Saying “no” felt like a sinful act of pride or disobedience. Now, I walk in the truth that my “no” protects my health and I use it as needed. I allow wisdom to navigate my life instead of letting guilt reign over my decisions. That’s growth. Serious growth.

Courtesy of YouVersion.

Regardless of your age, I believe there’s plenty of learning to do in this world. Plenty of opportunities to be the best version of yourself. And with the world wide web, those opportunities are growing exponentially. Courses, webinars, workshops… take your pick. In the midst of your everyday grind, I challenge you to review how far you’ve come. Maybe it was being a doormat in your relationships or exploding anger on the people you love. Maybe it’s reclaiming your time for self-care or spending more time with your family. What about your patience or your lying habit? Are those areas sprouting green?

Growth is more than monetary or intellectual results. It’s more than congregation numbers and stock markets. While we’re here on Earth, our spiritual growth has great value. Every year, we should aim to grow closer to the Son. Just like the plants do. A branch of your spirit can sprout peace in the darkest of nights. A leaf can express colors of gratitude when seasons change.

Photo by PhotoMIX Company on Pexels.com

When I feel like I’m treading water, I recall my less-than-lovely moments. How I treated someone. How I handled a situation. How I didn’t speak up for myself. Then, the Truth reaches out and brings me back to shore. Acknowledging my growth is the secret sauce that keeps me hopeful every morning. I still overthink things at times, but I’m not easily offended. I still get scared of the future every now and then, but my trust in God is stronger than ever. Perfection will never be reached on Earth, yet we are in control over how much we can learn while we’re here… how much we can grow.

Celebrate your wins, then pray for God to show you another growth opportunity. Are you going to church every week but not applying the Word among your family? Is Sunday morning or Bible Study Night a ritualistic checkmark on your calendar? Do you still manipulate others to get what you want? I promise that if you ask, He’ll show it to you.

Growth isn’t a stagnant thing. It’s a cycle. A continuous act. Trees may be stationary, but the impact of their roots and seeds spread beyond their visible location. You have that same power, Family. You truly do.

The feature photo on this post? That’s me walking into my massage practice… the same building where I attended yoga sessions. The same building where I said “It would be cool to have my practice here one day, but…” Then, faith said otherwise, and I agreed. And I love every step of it. That’s some growth right there.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Celebrate those sprouts and stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Your Attributes

Hi, Family!

How are you? I hope you’re doing well out there.

I missed connecting with you while I was out. It feels good to be on an upswing and back on the page.

I thought about what I would say and the only thing that kept resurfacing was love, more specifically how to love yourself. Yes, Valentine’s Day is approaching, but that doesn’t mean that all of the love has to pour out and leave you behind. Plus, it sounds great, but sometimes you need night lights to lead you in the best direction.

Loving myself has been a journey with several moving pieces. I loved the parts that I loved, but it took work over the years to love the parts that were quirky, annoying, and confusing. When I was child, a constant question was “Lord, why did you make me like this?” I didn’t hate myself, but I disliked the parts that didn’t make sense to me. Being in what Jane Fonda calls the “second act” of life – between 30 and 60 years of age – has brought with it a deeper sense of self. A deeper understanding of what makes me an exceptional Creation of God. A sweeter Peace that passes all understanding.

In January, there’s natural talk about goals, developing new habits, healthy decisions, new career moves… things you will activate in the new year. I want you to consider a February resolution – to embrace every part of yourself.

My challenge is for every month of the year, I want you to locate and ask God to illuminate part of your design – your purposeful DNA, your spiritual architecture. If once a month is too daunting, just start with this month and see how it goes. You may even focus on the same attribute for a while. That’s OK. It’s not about quantity here; it’s about the quality of self you were designed to live with.

Courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

In your stillness, ask “OK, what is it about me that you made that is meant to multiply? What is it about me that is meant to elevate this world before I leave?” Maybe it’s your ability to make others feel comfortable in your presence or your ability to navigate difficult situations. Maybe when you hug people, they feel comforted. It could be your expressive nature that empowers others to lift their hearts, their voices, and their actions. Whatever it is, it’s important. It’s vital to this life down here.

We are often asked to cherry-pick our attributes and sometimes they bleed into stressful situations. I believe there is more than one thing that is awesome about you and I’m asking for you to begin learning how to love all of them. All of you. Starting this month.

Notice your design. Notice your stellar nature. Notice how God carefully created you.

While I pray nothing bad happens to bring out your awesomeness, the truth is crap happens. And sometimes it happens in clusters, to good people, at inconvenient moments, etc. So, if you naturally give comic relief in sensitive moments, embrace that. The more you illuminate how God made you and recall how He sees you, it will strengthen you when feel like you don’t have purpose and that you aren’t fearfully and wonderfully made. Because you really are.

My prayer is that you see yourself as different pieces that make up a mosaic, a beautiful piece of art… and I say that intentionally because we’re all a piece that’s designed to work together (1 Corinthians 12). Instead of boxing yourself as being one-dimensional or ordinary, I would like for you to ask God to show you what He made.

I love y’all! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Sunday Special: Processing

Happy Sunday, Family!

I hope you had the weekend you needed!

Christmas is my favorite holiday, but I’ll be honest with you (because we keep it authentic around here), I was unsure how it would go this year. There was a nervousness attached to it because this has been a season of processing a pendulum swing of intensities.

I gained wisdom.
I lost 8 loved ones due to death.
I acquired insight.
I lost a dream.
I gained stronger relationships.
I lost ties I thought I had.
I developed a deeper love for myself.

Sweet and bitter. That was the mix I couldn’t bypass. I tried, but it didn’t work. I screamed in both victory and in anguish this year and frankly, the velocity of the pendulum swing was nauseating. As we speak, I cried tears of appreciation and grief in less than 5 minutes. So, I paused, prayed, made some hot tea, and returned to writing this post. A post for processing smiles and frowns and to let you know you are not alone.

It’s OK to be excited about a new home, new family member, or new career venture, and yet be nervous your stewardship of it. I’m crazy enough to believe that God can handle that dichotomy of emotions.

Processing on a work day…
…and on a rest day.

You may not be finished processing everything, and that’s OK too. It truly is. Don’t let anyone stamp an expiration date on your journey; only God knows when and how. The Holy Spirit can walk you through a season until it is digested and He’ll even give you certain hands to hold along the way.

I also want to stand with you and say “You made it.” You made it through one of the most intimate holidays of the year! Keep breathing through the rough patches and celebrating the good parts. That’s what Christianity truly is. It’s giving God our broken pieces instead of hiding them and it’s appreciating His divine communion as we take one step at a time.

Process it, Family. Everything doesn’t bounce off you and everything shouldn’t stick to you either. Digest as you need it so you won’t be imprisoned by it. That’s what I’m doing… and it’s working.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love y’all and stay well out there!

Written in honor of Alana, Kevin, Courtney, George, Mrs. Packer, Brian, Aunt Janice, Mr. Larry, Deacon Welch, Daddy Wade. I am so grateful to have experienced this life with you. You will forever be missed.

Wednesday Wind Down: What’s the Plan?

Hi, Family!

I have one question for you tonight – how are you healing?

If you’ve been around for a while, you know I am a work-in-progress when it comes to the physical healing patience. I can deliver dishes of grace and empathy to family, friends, and strangers yet when it comes to myself, the plate is usually empty.

Until now.

Part of refining your spirit is God teaching you about your design and I’ve been listening a lot about mine this year. Self-care begins to expand into understanding what you need versus what you think you need. It is asking God for the blueprint of your awesomeness so you can learn how to maintain it.

If you’re like me, this isn’t an easy ask. It feels weird. Healing is an enigma only the superhuman and uber-holy obtain… at least that what I’ve always told myself. It was unreachable. Prayer of all kinds still rendered surgeries, medicine, and bills.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Was I “less saved” than my sister or brother on the same church row? Did I not believe enough? Did I even have time to heal with all the work I had to do? How long could I be evasive before a progress report on how “better” I felt was due?

It took my aunt passing away and disheartening medical news colliding within 24 hours to humble my inner superwoman this year. I had a break between clients and a broken heart. Right then, I asked myself the following question:

What do I need right now?

My answers were warmth and comfort. The manifestation was a muffled sob wrapped in a serape blanket and silent ringtone topped with a nap. I needed that moment to make it through the rest of the day. It didn’t cure anything, but it was a balm on my open wounds.

It also led to me creating a healing plan for my surgery recuperation so depressive thoughts wouldn’t drown my hope. I needed to uproot those old questions that curated anxiety and plant seeds of self-care… proactive self-care. So, I added two questions to my aerated heart in preparation for the healing journey ahead.

What brings me comfort?

Who makes me feel loved?

The first question forces you acknowledge your present need and dull the noise around you. The second question ushers comfort into your hurting space. The third question allows Love to walk with you during the process, helps you to eliminate the fake stuff, and stretches your ability to receive.

Lately, these three questions have created a divine blanket around me physically and spiritually. I rest without guilt. I let the Holy Spirit guide my day. I practice expressing what I need. I bare my weakness before God and He comforts me. Burying my frailty in my faith did not serve me well, so I offer my brokenness with trembling hands if necessary. I pray with a certain rawness that only my heavenly Father can understand. And this is all part of my healing plan.

Before I head to bed, I’ll give you (us) another note of encouragement that I recently heard in my spirit. Christians love to quote 2 Corinthians 12:9 but they don’t like being weak (me included… I’m working on it). The only way to receive the miraculous power mentioned in this verse (see Greek interpretation) is to be in a state of humble acceptance. To be empowered and infused is to be open enough to let Love in. Pride blocks healing. Pride blocks the infusion. Pride says “I don’t need help… I don’t need to heal because I’m not hurt.” Pride essentially says “I don’t need Love.” All of which leads us to walking wounded in phantom armor we’ve built to protect our pain.

When we are intentional with our healing, as I am learning to be, we admit that we need the power of God to be whole. So, I ask you again – how are you healing?

Stay well out there and pray about your plan. Peace & Thanks for listening!

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