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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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nature

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: Pick One

Hi, Family!

I hope your day went or is going well (shout out to our international family members).

I heard a Word in my Spirit over the weekend and I am so excited to share it with you!

Let’s look at half of one of my favorite passages – Psalm 1.

Psalm 1:1-3 (New American Standard Bible)

(1) Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! (2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. (3) He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither. And in whatever he does, he prospers.

OK, so I want to highlight the “sit in the seat of the scoffers” part. What is a scoffer? According to dictionary.com, it is a person who speaks derisively; ridicules; mocks; jeers. Isn’t that happening right now over various topics? Sure it is! The phrasing indicates that the man doesn’t sit in their seat. He doesn’t get comfortable in barbaric conversations where love and listening are not welcome. He doesn’t delight in mocking others. That’s not where he lives; it’s not where he thrives. He does not breathe there.

This passage came to mind after I heard the following in my spirit over the holiday: They want a religion that will not change them.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Whoa.

I paused what I was doing and let the gravitas float in the air. The Holy Spirit was spot on (per usual) and I shook my head in disappointment.

Although Sunday is deemed a sacred day in many communities, I believe it became more ritualistic than life-changing. This was never the intent. Never in the Plan. I truly believe the upside of the pandemic is that this comfy church blanket was ripped from our hands and more importantly from our internal dictionaries. When we couldn’t go to an edifice, we had to create space in our homes for Christ to inhabit. We had to sit with ourselves or with our families, pause some duties, and cultivate intimacy in our belief systems. More importantly, we had to create space in our hearts.

Let’s go back to Psalm 1:1-3. The only way for that man to be like a tree is to have a consistent supply of nutrients. He meditates day and night on what will foster growth. The tree is planted by water and the last time I checked, trees have all sorts of things crawling and growing around them, but they keep being a tree. They keep rising, sometimes growing against seemingly impossible odds. They grow. They bear fruit. They release leaves. They do what they were created to do.

Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Pexels.com

Are we the man in the passage or are we stuck in the ritualism of our faith with no intention of growing – attending church events with no appetite for the Word to purify our lives?

Even David mentions a similar frustration in Psalm 4:2“O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception?”

Now check out Proverbs 15:12“A scoffer doesn’t love to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.”

As believers, we can’t want the highlights of our faith without the grittiness of growth. What the world ends up seeing is a group of hypocrites scorning them, which is actually closer to the origin of the Hebrew word for “scoffer” used in Psalm 1.

Not Love.
Not Wisdom.
Not Correction.

Scorn.

So, the latest additions to my prayer life have been the following:

“Lord, I don’t want to be in the way of someone seeing You.”
“Growth is a continuous expectation. Let me be at peace with the process.”
“I have an appetite for Your Word to live in me.”

Some years back, I picked one. I picked life. I picked growth. I picked the streams of water that channel the Love of Christ into my spirit over getting into petty debates about mask wearing and vaccines (Family, remember what I always say – it’s not worth the neurons. I picked the opportunity to not be a living thing that does not grow.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Don’t Play With Me

Hi, Sweethearts!

It’s the last Wednesday Wind Down for the year and I want to talk about two women and a surprise.

Let’s talk about the two women first.

They’re both in the same place. That don’t-play-with-me-i-ain’t-got-time-for-your-foolishness-today place.

You know what I’m talking about. You arrive to Don’t Play With Me Land after you’ve been duped… after you’ve experienced pain… after you’ve lost something or someone. You’re driving down Happiness Street with smiles and rainbows shooting out the tailpipe until the road suddenly looks dark and the trees are creepily crooked. The warmth of the sun turns into a bitter cold and emptiness surrounds your shoulders. You keep driving though you’re unsure of this area. Eyes ahead and sometimes darting left to right, you move forward believing the brightness of your headlights will carry you through the darkness. Then the road smooths out and the sun reappears above your head. Birds chirp joyfully and you’re left with a “whew!” in your chest. You made it, but you don’t want to go through it again.

Photo by Matu00fau0161 Burian on Pexels.com

That’s where these women were in 2 Kings, Chapter 4 — one of my absolute favorite chapters in the Bible.

At one point, everything was fine then it wasn’t. Here comes a prophet asking them to hope again — believe in God again — but they were hurt. They had experienced a dark part of the road. Enter the prophet Elisha with the divine audacity to put God’s infinite power to the test.

For Woman #1, it’s a debt she can not pay.
For Woman #2, it’s a dream she does not want to resurrect.

Woman #1 is a widowed mother with a voice of desperation and some olive oil.
Woman #2 is married, wealthy, and hopeless with a guest bedroom.

Woman #1 reminds Elisha that her late husband was one of his faithful servants (verse 1).
Woman #2 reminds Elisha not to get her hopes up about having a child (verse 15).

Photo by Fillipe Gomes on Pexels.com

In my modernized heart and mind, this is what it would sound like —

Woman #1: “My husband devoutly worked for Your prophet and reverenced Your Word and now, I’m about to lose my sons? After everything we’ve done for God, now we have no money?”

Woman #2: “I’m fine. I gave up on that dream. I finally made peace with the fact that it’s not going to happen and you want me to dig all of that back up? It’s just not in God’s plan and I’m cool with that.”

I believe both women were saying the same thing — God, don’t play with me. They reached out to Elisha at different times along their journey, but don’t discount their fortitude and faith walk.

Woman #1 had to have a lot of courage to borrow empty jars from her friends and neighbors. At this time, debt collectors didn’t call you on the phone. They came to your house — aggressively. Everyone that lived nearby would have known she was a widow and that her family owed money. Can you imagine having to knock on each door in your neighborhood to borrow jars after being ruffed up by bill collectors all because a man of God told you to do it? That’s some fire in your bones. Period.

Let’s look at Woman #2. She’s also a bad mama jama — just read the whole chapter. When her child died (yes, the one she thought she couldn’t have), she fiercely told her servant to take her to Elisha pronto! So, not only does she have to reach down into her soul and grab some dusty hope to become a mother, but she carries that hope with her to remind Elisha that she didn’t ask to be let down again in this area of darkness.

Neither woman asked to meet that part of their faith journeys, but there they were… at Don’t Play With Me Land. Both of them were at a point of “God, you gotta do something. It’s gotta be better than this.”

Both said I’m going to hope one more time.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Maybe that’s you as you’re reading this post. The year is coming to a close and you’re tired of hoping. Trust me, I’m on that patch of road too about some things. You’re not alone.

I encourage you — encourage us — to try again, hope again, and keep driving through the dark place. The road is bumpy, but it’s not eternal. The branches are crooked, but they bloom in the spring. This is just a patch. It’s not the journey. It’s not the end. We have headlights of faith to see ahead. The engine of God’s Word is proven to be steady, so we have no fear in being deserted in the dark. This is not the end. OK? OK.

Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

Well, here goes the surprise real quick. Ready? Keep reading!

Next year (2021), I will launch an inspirational/meditative podcast made with you in mind. I can’t wait to share short tidbits of love and empowerment to help us walk this faith journey out. We’ll continue to listen at the speed of life together as I step outside my comfort zone yet again. Will you join me there? I hope so! Stay tuned for the date and details!

Here’s to us staying on the road. Here’s to the Son shining on our shoulders. Here’s to meeting 2021 with a better version of ourselves. *clinks glass*

Peace, and as always, thanks for listening. Happy New You!

Wednesday Wind Down: Remember When

Hey, Sweethearts!

This post is dedicated to the “survivor you.” You know — the part you tucked away because you thought you were done with that season? That you. Right there. We’re going to tap into that person again.

Which person was you?

  • College student with minimal income and a heavy semester course load
  • Single parent trying to stretch a minimum wage check
  • Homeless person avoiding an abusive home
  • Fresh out of school and figuring out how to budget expenses
  • Sick at home and not able to work
  • Laid off from work and working a lower paying job
  • Caregiving for a loved one and trying to balance work demands
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

If none of these fit you, fill in the blank with whatever lean state you’ve experienced in your lifetime. Now, let’s revisit some ways you can survive this season too. You can’t be too high and mighty to dig into the following three tips. Ready? Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.


Survival Reminder Tips

  1. Stretch those meals.
    Remember those ramen noodles? I hope I didn’t make you gag. lol Essentially, you ate within your budget. You made one pizza last two days. You got creative with pasta. You could eat off of $10.00. You knew each restaurant’s deal days. This may be a different time, but you may need to dig into that mindset for a bit. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you have to feed that family on spaghetti, make it happen. When I was an RA in college, I created a study break for my residents by buying about six boxes of kiddie cereal and various types of milk and setting up a cereal bar. Do what you need to do, Sweethearts. Create that magic!
  2. Go outside.
    It’s no secret that when we were younger, we went outside more. Yes, there’s a pandemic out there, but there’s a reason why my grandparents would always tell us to play outside. Remember when you had to walk because you didn’t have a car or you took public transportation to the nearest stop? It expands the mind, strengthens the body, and uplifts the spirit. Take advantage of parks and hiking trails. Those are excellent places to create beautiful memories within social distancing and budgeting parameters. So, explore your city, county, and state!
  3. Sharing is caring.
    Back in the day, my college friends and I shared meals. Between three of us, we would conjure up a protein and some sides. This may be a little interesting with the virus, but it won’t hurt to buy a couple of frozen dinners or cans of soup for your neighbor. If you’re that neighbor, it won’t hurt to accept the kindness. The more we stay in silos, the more likely we are to die in them. Be careful? Yes. Be caring? Yes again.
Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

I truly believe that COVID-19 has been a great equalizer and everyone has the opportunity to tap into the survival skills that got them through the tough times of yesteryear.

The pandemic won’t last forever. We just have to make it through this chapter. Don’t be afraid to dig deep to see it through. Don’t be afraid to let that “survivor you” float to the surface and do what s/he does best. Then look in the mirror without shame and smile at that awesomeness.

I’m rooting for you!

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Stick in the Mud

Happy Wednesday, Sweetheart!

How was your week? Mine was pretty great. If yours wasn’t, it just got better. *smile* Keep reading to get a shortstop for your week.

I was walking Sammy after a rainy day and noticed the ant mounds. They had been pounded by what probably seemed to be gigantic raindrops in their eyes. If I were an ant, I would have abandoned the mounds; they looked unlivable. Some had already dried to form a semi-hard crust of mud. Then, God whispered a reminder in my ear.

Ants don’t leave when it rains.

They stay and rebuild because they know the mud will harden and create protection for what lies beneath. How often have you wanted to quit when it rains? How many of us think of rain as a bad thing? Consider this — the very thing that appears to be destroying what you’ve built is actually creating the form for what you need. The storm is causing you to anchor deeply into your faith. The wind is forcing you to stand firm on what you profess. The lightning flashes jolt you into awareness that life is not a game and that you have a purpose. You could apply this to relationships just as much as your personal life too.

We could learn a lot from ants. Storage, communication, unity… I vote to add resolve and perseverance to their coat of arms as well. I bet I could add those words to yours as well.

Still praying for you all! Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #5

Prayer: “Your handiwork is breathtaking. You made me so well.”

Hey, Sweethearts. Welcome to Day 5 of #bloglikecrazy. Thanks for reading!

So, I have a confession to make. I have never struggled with body positivity in regards to my shape. Yes, I realized I was skinny as a kid — especially when my grandmother’s friends told me that my hips were sticks — but, I recall letting their comments bounce off my little breastplate and going outside to ride my ten-speed. I have never fought the battle of hating my form. Now, my skin tone? We had to work on that.

In elementary school, I was called nigger, inkblot, darkie, blackie, midnight, holy draws, goodie-two-shoes, etc. The verbal attacks were always related to my color, my faith, or my virginity. By the time I reached high school, you couldn’t tell me that my skin wasn’t comprised of chocolatey goodness. I had developed confidence without forming an ego. Before #melaninpoppin became a thing, God opened my eyes to how beautiful I was in His eyes. I remember the moment distinctively. Puberty was in full swing and I noticed stretch marks and… wait for it… hips! Instead of being horrified, I traced the new wavy lines on my body. They seemingly appeared overnight and my nerdy self was fascinated. I squeezed the new fluffy additions on my hips and smiled in the mirror. They were soft and looked sweet, especially since I was an aspiring doctor and admired all things anatomy. I was ready to wear them with pride.

Oftentimes, I look in the mirror and speak those words of prayer. I let the Creator know that He did an exceptional job. My mind, body, and spirit do amazing things on this Earth and I am grateful for what I see. I love the thickness of my thighs and moles on my face. Now, Myrtle (my encroaching gut) has gotten rude and out of hand due to various factors, so she’s got to go starting after Thanksgiving, but I don’t hate her. She just needs to be checked so some of my favorite clothing items can fit the way I want them to (I know… purely carnal). I don’t model my body according to societal standards. I just want to be the best creation I can be to show my Creator that I appreciate His Masterpiece.

I pray that you appreciate the same about yourself, Sweetheart. Pray that prayer as you look into the mirror once a week if needed. Do what you got to do. Love that body and do right by it.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and pray those real prayers, Sweethearts!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #4

Prayer: “What am I doing here? I don’t see the point.”

Have you ever been in a cubicle (or at a desk, on a job site, in a building, whatever’s clever…) and wondered why you were wasting your life in such an excruciating manner? I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve had jobs that I’ve hated too. I’ve had seasons where I’ve looked around in confusion and couldn’t grasp the ridiculous reality of my life. Passion-less days were prevalent and despair was an unwanted partner. Sometimes it even felt like an out-of-body experience. On more than one occasion, I prayed that prayer above. People around me seemed to be flourishing and I definitely felt like a fish out of water. I just didn’t see the point of being where I was. I wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere else.

Now, that I’m on the other side of some of those days, the point is clear. A person was encouraged by my integrity. Someone needed a shoulder to cry on. It was time for me to grow. Those are clear points in hindsight, yet there are still a few foggy experiences out there and I may never get my why. I had to accept God’s Peace about those accounts.  Maybe you need to make peace with that unknown variable too. Know that wherever you are, you may not even be there for your own benefit. You may the sidekick in someone else’s story. Be well with that possibility and just be your best self in any situation. It all works out in the end and you are never in a pointless scenario. Here’s a verse that has helped me in those moments –

1572930104688_1280x1280.jpg

Tonight, I pray that your points become well-defined as the days go by… that whatever you’re in right now becomes a past point to which you can smile and say “I’m glad that’s over.” I’m praying for you, Sweetheart, and rooting for you all the way. Keep praying and rooting for yourself too.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #3

Prayer: “God, you’re so cool.”

So, on several occasions, I say those words. Awe hits me at random moments and I have to admit how cool He is. The oddest truths arrest my thoughts and I go with it like a free bird – wings wide open. Some of them include the following:

  • An open road with beautifully lush green grass and intoxicating blue skies
  • A mountain chain
  • Rivers flowing around Mount Ranier
  • Muscle/organ functions (Check out this post as an example.)
  • Fog hovering over my head

I look around me and see so much that sends me into a tailspin of amazement. I’ve learned to allow myself to swim in His glory. If it means that I stop on the side of the road to drink it all in, then that’s what it means. I go with it. How else can I expect to refuel my soul if I keep driving past it, talking through it, and working in it? I need to pause for a minute and say wow. That’s what keeps me sane. That’s what keeps us close. That’s what keeps the lines of my prayer communication fresh and exciting. I’m able to connect with the majesty of God on organic levels in real-time. There’s nothing like it.

Below are a few moments I captured this year.

I pray that you have those moments too. If you need some help, just check in with your child, niece, nephew, or friend’s child and s/he will take your crusty glasses off and replace them with wonder-filled lenses.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart! Keep those real prayers going!

Wednesday Wind Down: Over & Over

Hello, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop for your week instead of the birthday month recap (because the celebration is still going). I hope it helps!

I had an epiphany while driving to work last week. As I saw mountain peaks in the distance, I thought about the song For Every Mountain by Kurt Carr. A fitting song for my surroundings, I went along with it for about 5 seconds. Then, I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit to notice the mountains. I scanned along the horizon and sighed in amazement.

Alabama is home to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Their beauty can arrest your awe on any given sunrise or sundown. It should also be noted that the mountains create a chain — a series of peaks and valleys that can cripple the strongest warrior. As I looked at each forest-covered mountain, I noticed their repetition and various sizes. Then, my understanding opened.

man wearing brown jacket and blue pants sitting on green grass holding rectangular case
Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Mountains rarely stand alone. When we conquer a challenge in life, we consider it a victory… and we should. The truth is, we have another mountain coming. And another one. And another one. We can’t rest for long after the climb; we should prepare for the next trek.

The second truth is that the peak may even be the same height… the same vice… the same person… the same enemy. After the victory, you usually run up against the same issue you dealt with and conquered. I can’t tell you how many times I have beat something that I beat a long time ago. Some things are easy, like smoking. I have no interest in creating that habit. Other things, such as insecurity in crowds, rear their ugly heads more than once. What I am learning is that the next peak comes to test the muscle strength you acquired on the previous one. This means that you should train for the mountain chain and prepare a chain reaction to win.

I encourage you as I encourage myself. Don’t be caught off guard, Sweetheart. Don’t assume that once you’ve reach the top that you don’t have to climb down and back up again. Gear up for the chain and complete the victory.

We don’t get to rest after one victory. We get ready for the next one.
And the next one.
And the next one.

Peace & Keep conquering. I see you and I’m rooting for us.

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