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Wednesday Wind Down: Listen Up

Hi, Sweethearts!

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 –

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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?

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart!

Sunday Special: Newsflash!

Hi, Sweethearts!

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!

QBL CityView Coming Post

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.

  1. Visit our podcast page and listen to the trailer. 🙂
  2. Click here to join our email family so you can be updated on what’s next!
  3. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We’re new, so let’s grow together. 🙂
  4. Check out my co-host at www.season26.com.  She’s really got the tea.

Peace and I can’t wait to start this adventure with you all. Stay safe out there and Let the Queendom begin!

 

Wednesday Wind Down: For The Village

Hi, Sweethearts.

In times like these, we desperately grasp for shredded remnants of words and memories to stuff into the holes of our despair. We don’t know what to say. We don’t know what to do. We don’t know if we want to breathe. We just know what we had, what we wish was left, and what we never want to let go.

Times like these also force us to do things. They make us pause, be more grateful, drop the petty ish (hopefully), and love deeper. The pain is horrible, but it does make us pour. We release empathy, tenderness, compassion, and camaraderie. Right now, I’m thinking about that outpour. The tighter grip we place on what we value most… each other. I’ve seen hashtags, photos, and videos that celebrate family, fatherhood, motherhood, athleticism, discipline, achievement, entrepreneurship, teamwork, leadership, and friendship — all the things that surpass materialism and fame.

So, let’s take note of what matters… what makes us tick day-to-day. We don’t get to let up on that outpour. If anything, tragedy should encourage us to increase Love to maximum levels. Could any of us leave Earth at any moment? Sure, but more importantly, we have the gift of family, friends, and networks that can house incredible memories that outlive our mortality. We have passions that could leave a perpetual imprint on the world.

Make your mark, Sweetheart. Savor opportunities to create meaningful relationships. Capture moments to love on people. Pause to admire God’s handiwork. Do random acts of kindness. It’s not about beating the clock of death; it’s about expanding and producing within the time you have. I, for one, plan to continue that mission.

Peace, Blessings, and Thanks for listening! Let’s go!

Ephesians3.19
Bible verse image courtesy of YouVersion

Wednesday Wind Down: notre petite fleur

Hi, Sweethearts.

This one was a difficult piece to begin writing. My heart is still aching over the dismal news of 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney and 5-year-old Nevaeh Adams. While in different states, both were found dead and discarded like trash this week (Kamille’s body was in a dumpster and Nevaeh’s body was in a landfill).

Both cities are in mourning and our communities are hungry for clarity and directional blame, yet this isn’t a soliloquy of how disgusted I am over this tragedy.  In the meantime, I’m at home sifting through a few questions that are also on the table — what do we do now? How do we still pray when such indignant evil deeds run rampant? What do we do with the anger and despair? How do we prevent this from happening again? 

The truth is not pretty, but I don’t know any other way to say it — There are evil people in this world and there’s nothing you can do to eradicate them. It’s sad and repulsive; however, as long as there is free will, evil will be present. People decapitate others for religious beliefs. Humans mutilate fellow humans because of their sexual preferences. Abusers beat their spouses to the brink of death. Corruption begets embezzlement. The current dose of diabolic behavior makes my soul hurt for those innocent babies. Our babies. It was enough to make me reconsider birthing life. I had to ask God what to do with this sickening feeling since Tuesday’s press conference. Here are two steps where my faith walk has taken me so far.

  1. I can’t blame God for everything. It’s difficult, and trust me… I’ve been tempted to do the same, but I have to still believe in the Good. The fact that hundreds of planes fly over my head without crashing every day provides a drip of faith into my spiritual IV. Witnessing a stranger help another at the grocery store yields another drip. Benevolence. Love. Camaraderie. Drip. Drip. Drip. The crimes are horrible, but I can’t place blame where it doesn’t belong.
  2. I must continue to be a support system and advocate for children around me. In a world of pedophilia/ephebophilia, sex trafficking, and abuse, it can be difficult to trust anyone with your child.  Regardless of these realities, there are people like me that have integrity. The hope is that we minimize these tragedies by planting and watering seeds needed to grow healthy adults. We’re in the business of empowering others. With this in mind, parents must be vigilant but not paranoid. Everyone doesn’t want to harm your child. We’re your educators, volunteers, counselors, coaches… we’re your village. So, let’s act like it. Let’s work together instead of against each other.

When I began this post a couple of hours ago, I didn’t know how long it would take to release my words from captivity, but I did pray for a shortstop. Drip.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I appreciate you and let’s keep going.

Wednesday Wind Up: Make It Stop

I knew what I was going to post tonight. I had it all planned out; then, I saw Prayers Up for Jussie Smollett in my inbox and everything about my Wednesday Wind Down changed. I simply couldn’t wait. This isn’t about creating a literary bouquet of flowery words on my blog for lament and catharsis. Despite the disgust I experienced, this post is about obedience and attention.

Before I explain, let me share my immediate reaction. My mind kept trying to compute the Essence article because I couldn’t believe what I was reading. The man who stopped to speak to me and my Sorority sister in a Michigan airport had been attacked. The same human being who was on his way to advocate for Flint’s water solution. The same spirit that smiled and said that I looked like someone who knew and wasn’t walking with an entourage. The horror and hurt grew exponentially as I saw the slurs he heard and the pain he felt. My heart cracked in a matter of seconds and I cried inside and out. The worst sting was reading the end of their rationale – “This is MAGA Country.”

I had thought of Jussie Smollett all day yesterday, and not in the way of an admiring fan. I kept being compelled to pray for him, for his heart. Now, I pray for celebrities all of the time because the weight attached to their gifts, talents, and purposes can be too much to carry, but this time was different. Throughout the day, before I knew anything about the hate crime, I prayed for his spirit… that it wouldn’t be downtrodden, that he would be well and not tarnished by evil things around him. I prayed for his peace of mind and his strength. Never once did I pray for his physical health. I wasn’t led to. It was all about the pain that couldn’t be seen and didn’t need to stick to his soul. Then, to run across that article right before I was going to bed, it was gut-wrenching and I couldn’t sleep. The last moment of serendipity was that this photo was taken on January 30, 2016, three years ago today. I was speechless, then I prayed again. Lord, just make it stop.

Screenshot_20190130-133426_Instagram.jpgJussie

Jussie, I am so sorry that happened to you. I hate that you were the subject of their spew. My heart is with you and please know that while I can’t explain where God was to prevent the experience, I can truly say that He had you in the spirit of someone miles away from that horrific moment in time. Your spirit can not be broken and what you are doing in life matters in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Apparently, you are breaking boundaries that need to be broken and making demons float to the surface. That’s the only way I can see anyone trying to hurt you in such a repulsive way. Even though you were tired, your heart was brighter than the sun that day at the airport. My Soror and I could feel it well after we left. I had to share how much I appreciate you and that you are covered. My prayers will continually be with you.Sweethearts, we have to do better at spreading Love. We teach those around us by living it out. Every day. No matter what. We have to teach our children, our co-workers, our neighbors that hate is not allowed to multiply near us. To have people physically assault one’s life is an act that should unsettle us all. Regardless of your religious or political affiliation, hate is not a validated battle cry and somehow the current temperament in America has created this warped sense of safety for ignorance to run free. The invisible seething waters of hate are tumultuous enough to reach out and grab us while we’re simply walking down the street. And don’t pretend that you don’t hear it in your cubicles, coffee shops, churches, and around your dining room tables. We do and we look away. We make excuses for it. We say it’s free speech, but is it liberating anyone? We say to just pray for them, but do we actually do it? You do realize that Jesus came so that individuals such as the ones who attacked our brother could not only receive the opportunity to turn from hate and receive Love but to also know that judgment was near, right? This MAGA mantra has nothing to do with Christian values. Stop sewing them together. Be careful to the extent to which you stretch your loyalty. Claim Christ more than your political party, more than your social justice agenda, and more than your generational ideology. We can’t stop hate forever, but we can stop it wherever we are, whenever we hear and see it.

This moment in time has rocked me to my core and taught me that absolutely nothing happens by chance, not even prayer. Be diligent and keep fighting using whatever means you were born with.

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

#bloglikecrazy: Day 18 – B.I.G.

The Good

#18 – I witnessed the 2018 Winter Olympics & the Closing Ceremony (on TV)!

Every 2 years, there’s B.I.G. in the Winter or Summer Olympics and I eat it up with a big spoon. All of those countries, all of the colors, all of the sports, all of those smiles, all of the grit… it’s B.I.G. – Big International Goodness and I absolutely love it. On most occasions, I’m not available to see it live, but this year I was. My heart swelled like Grinch on Christmas morning (mine wasn’t small, to begin with) as I watched athletes compete with all of their might. Opposing country representatives hugged each other, the epic choreography was displayed, and I was introduced to K-Pop. Pyeongchang did it up this year and I was happy to be a virtual spectator. With all the craziness in the world, I’ll take a helping of B.I.G. whenever I can get it.

The Lesson

When we want to, we can get along and represent well. All it takes is the effort. Now, don’t think I’m jaded and have no clue at the various social injustices that swirl around the Olympics business. I’m quite aware, but no one can deny the emotion that cries out of an athlete when they win or lose and the passion that pours from the host country to be sure everything is in place. Everyone wants to look and be their best. That desire is authentic. That is what I see when I see the Olympics. What would happen if we strived to be our best selves outside of the competition?

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweethearts! “See” you tomorrow! If you want to check out the awesomeness of the 2018 Winter Olympics closing ceremony, click here. FYI: There’s commentary until around the 10-minute mark then the show begins. Enjoy!

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 12 – See So Much

I’ve had the pleasure and pain of seeing a lot around me…and so have you.

After a week of hateful spew oozing from the news channels, it was apparent that my eyes and my heart was in an overloaded state. I needed a break, a muse, a wisp of hope to flutter before my eyes and awaken my spiritual senses. Where was it?  The flutter. The glimpse of shimmer in all that was covered in coal. I couldn’t see it amidst the racial slurs on television, small-minded retorts, strong-willed behavior, and effervescent paranoia. My glass was half-full, but the vessel was cloudy enough to block the view that something good could be inside of it.

Then I came home to find a card in my mailbox from two friends checking on my health. The warmth of the contents were already seeping from the envelope, so after reading the beautiful words, I pressed the open card against my chest and felt the love that poured out of it. I remembered that in the same week, two friends invited me to their son’s birthday dinner because they saw me as part of their family. I recalled kind words, sweet gestures, and bleeding love from sincere hearts. Hearts encased in different shells than mine. I was grateful for my family’s consistency; however, the breath of fresh air at the top of that half-full glass was the perfect reminder that all is not toxic in the world of black, brown, white, etc.

For every thing I saw that ransacked my optimism, there were people with genuine respect that reminded me of something I had heard in my spirit earlier that week and that came up in conversation earlier that evening.

Hate the systems more than the people.

This was a hard pill to swallow and a difficult truth to hear. If I inflict the pain that I felt toward those who support what I despise, I am no better than the racists doing the same toward me. I can’t be vindictive toward every White person I encounter. I simply can’t. I don’t have the right to generalize no matter how angry I am at the mountains of ignorance on both sides. I don’t live in a mental utopia, and I definitely do not encourage the use of a band-aid to cover up our wounds, but my anger has to go somewhere constructive before it causes me to see through its glasses alone. Swirling inside of my chest and making me sick to my gut are not the best activities for it. Paying attention to our local government is a productive start for us all, but first, we pray to see that which we are truly fighting. We pray not to plow over the good stuff to scream about the bad. In all of our ranting, we have to see. And honestly, I see so much. So much beauty in the ashes of this aftermath that are waiting to be fragrant. Such an open road between two mountains. Sincere people going to work everyday trying to make a difference. I see the wisps. The shimmer. It doesn’t extinguish my flame, but at least it can materialize into hope.

I truly see so much. Thank God for that.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 NASB

Peace & Thanks for listening.

Photo courtesy of The Open Road

#bloglikecrazy: Day 7 – Pray for Rain

I saw something beautiful on the news today. A rarity, I know, but such a convicting sight it was.

My state is enduring a drought that has affected its agricultural production and marine life. Farmers are hurting financially and hoping that rain will come in time to rectify the damage of the dryness. It’s painful to see their livelihood be as parched as the soil beneath their feet. Each day, the meteorologists deliver the same news – beautiful sunny day, maybe some clouds, no rain. A disheartening report when you’re watching your crops die. I thought to myself – Too much sunshine is just as deadly. Rain or shine, we complain either way.

Then, I saw the beautiful thing.

A group of Muslim men and women had gathered to pray for rain. Prayer mats were sincerely used in the background while the Imam of a local Islamic society spoke on their behalf. The ritualistic gestures of the covered women resembled a secret poetry spoken between them and God in untainted prayer. The leader then said words that matched the beauty my eyes beheld on the television screen-

“We show our love for our country and our people and we expose ourselves to the mercy of God asking Him to send rain to all of us. We’re all in the same boat and all facing the same challenge of drought and as American Muslims, we are doing our own part in praying to God asking for relief because we share the concern like everybody else.”
– Imam Dr. Sameh Asal (read the full article from WBRC, Fox 6 here)

With so much hatred and ignorance in the world, I was oxygenated by the news story. As a Christian, I was convicted. How many times have we complained about thunderstorms and dreary overcast days? Personally, I love rainy days, but that’s definitely not the norm. When it’s summer, it’s too hot. In the winter, it’s too cold. Too windy. Too humid. Too this. Too that. It’s sad that a creation would be fickle about another creation, both not in control of the other.

What happened to being grateful for sun and rain?
*insert that Walter Hawkins gospel classic here*

What happened to praying for what we need instead of wishing for it and complaining when we don’t get it in our timing? We may not have the same religious beliefs, but I respect their humility to ask God for a need that affects us all. Here they were…such beautiful people engaging in unity within a country that sometimes disrespects their practices.

One need. One accord. One community. May we all respect that trinity as well. May we all mimic that practice during the personal droughts of our lives. May we pray for rain.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

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hannah brencher.

honest essays about growing up, faith + loving others well.

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