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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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motivational

Wednesday Wind Down: Application

Hi, Family!

Thank you so much for being patient with my posting gaps this year. I’ve been realigning my lifestyle and it has been WHEW! Effective yet difficult. That’s actually what I want to talk to you about.

When it’s done properly, application will ruffle your feathers and question everything you know.

It will straighten you up and make you walk properly. It will wreck your familiar and reconstruct a new normal.

And that’s what it’s been doing to me.

While I was used to writing you every Wednesday before bed, my body demanded more rest. My mind yelled for change. My spirit heard the divine directive to write earlier in the day and sometimes, days prior. “But where do I fit that in?” I asked numerous times. “I’ll just write it Wednesday night.” Yeah, we see how that turned out. What you don’t see are the multiple blog drafts where I started the message and fell asleep in the middle of production. What good did that do?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

That’s not application. That’s not where growth lives.

And I’ve been allowing God to rearrange everything – from my mental furniture to my spiritual operating system. I would love to tell you that, in October, I have all the new gears running but that is a big fat NO.

I’m still working on it.
I’m still digesting.
I’m still getting acclimated.
And I’m all in for the application.

Imagine how spiritually strong we would be if we digested every scripture we heard from every sermon. Now, imagine how gluttonous or emaciated some of us are from not allowing the Word of God to nourish our spirits. It’s crazy, isn’t it? To envision a physical representation of both spiritual extremes. To fathom the notion that we are not growing to our purposeful capacity. That as many YouTube sermons, Instagram sermon clips, bible studies, and inspirational books we consume, we are still somehow unwell. Unstable. Angry. Confused. Hurt. Longing. Wandering. Scared.

Allow me to share what I heard this week –

“You can know scripture all day long, but until you apply it – you don’t know it.

– heard 10/17/22 @ 2:00 AM

You can’t apply the Word like makeup. It isn’t meant to cover and disguise. It is meant to clean.

In the world of make-up artistry, an applicator is used to place or spread make-up on the body without transference to and from the make-up artist (MUA). The Word of God is designed to seep into the deepest parts of you, not spread across the surface. Until you apply it, it will sit on the surface of your heart for decades. Big Christian conferences and all.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Application requires vulnerability and annihilation of pride. It requires the ability to open your heart to change. It’s a statement. Even when you apply for a job, you’re opening your skills and schedule to meet the need of an employer. The application is a gateway agreement that states “I will share myself with you and you will share yourself with me.”

Courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

I used to tell my students that until they could explain the concept to someone, they didn’t understand it. And if they didn’t understand it, they didn’t know it. Until I saw application, I wasn’t convinced they absorbed the information. I believe God wants us to understand His Love beyond memorizing verses. I admonish you (and me) to submit your application to the Word of God. Make the statement. Surrender the contract to let the Scriptures live in your life. Only then will change come true.

That’s what I’m doing, and it’s uncomfortable and invigorating. Just like we develop physically, I am determined to constantly develop spiritually. It’s worth it. I don’t want to die in a stunted state.

My prayer for you is to be open to true spiritual growth. I pushing through the dirt just like you.

So, what are you working on?

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love you all.

Wednesday Wind Down: The Breath of History

Hi, Family!

I’m still on high from last night. I had to throttle down enough to share a slice of it with you and make it a short stop (500 words or less). Here we go!

“And what did you say your name is?”

“Christina… Christina Wade, like wade in the water.”

“Ah, Christina…” she stretched her hand toward me and smiled beautifully. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

I looked down at her hand, snatched a quick breath, and smiled too. Then I remembered handshake etiquette 101 – don’t leave the person hanging. Her hand was delicate but strong. Her eyes were bright. I was fascinated at the opportunity to experience Ms. Ruby Shuttlesworth Bester, daughter of the late Civil Rights Activist Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth. Don’t worry, this all happened in a nanosecond.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you too. Thank you for everything.”

I’m never star struck. I’ve always been able to see the humanity in public figures, but tonight I touched history and I felt it. The same as when I toured Talladega College in Alabama as a Black History Month adventure and when I sat in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

History. Living history.

Meet Ms. Ruby Shuttlesworth Bester.

It elevated my senses and I didn’t want to run over the gravitas. There were community leaders, civil rights activists, non-profit champions, educators, authors, lawyers, artists, neighbors, and more. I shook their hands and we exchanged rich dialogue about hosting history in schools and in our hearts. With the artwork of Rico Gatson at the helm, everyone in the room beamed with the energy of Shuttlesworth’s progressive movement.

When I saw the image of his mural on the screen, it felt like wings of inspiration were hovering over every conversation. Illuminating us just like its subject. The room vibrated with goodness. Past met present and the future was born as we left the Birmingham Museum of Art.

I touched history last night, and it touched me… again.

And it pushed me further into my destiny to ensure its breath lives on.

Thank you, Panelists. You sowed in us all.

I leave you with this question – What part of history can you breathe life into? I know the sentence structure is incorrect, but that’s how we talk to ourselves when we have real conversations within.

Pray.
Breathe.
Listen.
Receive.

Then, go forth and change history. The future is waiting on you. On us.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Growth Rate

Hi, Family!

Here’s a shortstop for your week (500 words or less).

Seeds grow at different times.

I walked in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens recently and heard that in my spirit. It was like a gift I didn’t see coming. I looked around and saw all of the different types of trees, grasses, and flowers and noticed how harmoniously they lived together. I was in wonder enough, then that sentence dropped. Wow, I replied internally, that’s so true. We get so caught up on where everyone else is in life that we forget we’re seeds too and we are on separate timetables. There’s no race to the finish. No checkpoint to reach before our competition catches up. There’s not even competition around you – it’s in you. The more you focus on the growth track of those around you, you’ll stunt the growth in you… but I won’t digress. Let’s keep going. Here’s the next thing I heard.

We need to let a seed be a seed.

Seeds don’t grow into trees overnight. They take time and the right conditions. They require nutrients from the air and the soil. So that means we do too. Our environment affects our growth mindset – words said around us (air) and where we’re planted (soil). We must be patient with ourselves and each other because only God knows the timelines. He is the Master Gardener and He knows exactly what we need to grow to fill what is needed in this world. In the process, He also grows us up… and we can’t rush that. What parent looks at their children and say “Tommy, it’s March. Your sister learned to write her name in March, so you have until the end of the month.” Umm… nobody. Furthermore, you have some growing to do in an area that is probably behind someone that you know and love. We’re all seeds and I thank God that He knows what each seed needs for each season. I would totally messed this world up with too much water, sunlight, or something else. *lol*

I hope you’re having a good week. My prayer is that you are filled with pauses that make you wonder. They’re good for the soul. And if you’re in Alabama, visit the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. It’s a beautiful place. The pictures in this post came from my camera.

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

Wednesday Wind Down: So, here we are…

Hi, Family.

It’s been a minute. A lot has happened since the last post in May. While I could try to catch you up on everything, I’d rather tell you where I am for now. It’s shorter. I also added my first audio clip to help the cause. 🙂

MIND

I have the clarity I prayed for.

I know where I am and where I’m going in all facets of my life.

At times, it’s electrifying and outrageously overwhelming. It feels amazing, yet I still say “How in the world am I going to do all of this?” Like a child looking at a perfectly seasoned porterhouse steak, I’m enticed, intrigued, and also anticipating about how to proceed with what’s before me. The good part is my mind is focused and unclouded on my calling and I’m humble enough to accept the Father’s daily bread. I literally ask “OK, what do you want me to do right now?” The opposite of my long-term planning self. It’s uneasy sometimes, but it’s good. It’s good to hold God’s hand and take baby steps. It keeps my mind from getting too full too often. Just last week, I had to pause and breathe in the middle of walking my dog. Each time, it was evening and the sky was clear enough to see every star. I pretended to throw my anxieties up to the dark blue velvet in between them. “I can’t do anything with this. You’re going to have to help me,” I said aloud. Add that to monthly therapy sessions with an amazing professional and that’s what’s been happening to keep my mental health, well… healthy. Bite-size isn’t so bad. Try it!

Sammy was on watch while I prayed. I love my dog.

BODY

Short version – my body is healing well. Faster than I expected. The health choices I made in November are finally paying off. According to my massage therapist (who has wisdom in her pants pockets), my musculoskeletal system is finding a new baseline of function.

And I can feel it.

In the past 45 days, I taught several step dance workshops and performed twice with no knee brace, no asthma, and no back pain. Don’t get it twisted – I still had to ice my knees and stretch to minimize soreness, but nothing like I used to have to do. I was accustomed to tolerating pain at high levels to function and work daily. No painkillers, just praying and pretending as much as I could. It became normal to wake up and go to bed hurting for almost 3 decades. Now, if all goes well, I’ll be released from medical care next month – just in time for my birthday. *smiling* I’m so excited to feel a new normal. To learn what my normal actually is. Still working on quality sleep and eating breakfast every day, but my nutritionist is a huge help. I recommend getting one if you can – gamechanger. Keep praying for ya girl over here. We’re headed in the right direction!

SPIRIT

Hey, Family!

Listen. My spirit is fortified. Everything isn’t going perfectly, but there is so much resolve inside of me that it doesn’t even matter. I created a new morning time to pray, listen, and meditate because my work schedule changed. So far, so good. Next, I need some serious download time. That’s what I’m working on right now. I got it in January and now I feel like I’m at halftime and the coach is calling me to the sideline for updates before the clock runs out. I have a vacation coming up this fall, but I feel a serious swelling of anticipation like God is waiting on me to be still and alone sooner than that. So, I just carved out space to hear from him without the restriction of a timed agenda. And if He requires more, I’m ready to make that happen because it’s that serious. I can’t navigate this new personal and professional space without Him at the helm. After all, that’s what this blog is all about – listening to the voice of God BEFORE all hell breaks loose. I’m determined to do just that.

I was set on keeping this post under 1,000 words and I just grazed 700 with that last paragraph. Woohoo! Reach out and tell me how you’ve been. I missed y’all!

Peace & Thanks for listening and stay well out there!

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: 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!

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