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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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personal development

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 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.

#blogbetter: How to Mistreat Yourself

Hi, Family!

During my teaching career, I showed a presentation called “How to Fail Ms. Wade’s Class.” It was my way of warning students of expecting positive outcomes after engaging in negative academic habits.

It’s a simple mirage that dupes so many – my bad habits will produce positive results. Well, since last fall, I’ve been rearranging some emotional furniture and excavating unnecessary items. One of them being mistreating myself. Overall, my self-care is sufficient but I didn’t allow it to evolve. I didn’t allow the strategies to stretch so they could breathe into my current stage of womanhood. So, from my personal vault, here are three ways to mistreat yourself in hopes that you sincerely stop the madness. None of these behaviors will yield the best you, so here we go –

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
  1. Tell yourself you have infinite strength. Say it every time you’re tired. Every time you don’t get enough sleep. Every time you know you don’t ask for help. Tell yourself that you don’t need to power up. Tell yourself that you’re weak or lazy when you need rest and rejuvenation. After all, if you don’t show up for everything at all the times, you’re a terrible person, right?
  2. Morph yourself to fit into the mold of others. Squeeze all of your awesomeness into every size of person that comes into your life. Like a shoe that is too small or a suit that is too large, your shape shifting will be uncomfortable, but you’ll get used to it. In most cases, it will serve you well because you’ll be well liked. In other situations, it will blowback as you miss the mark, but you’ll readjust and figure out what works to mask your true self.
  3. Lastly, break promises to yourself… often. Big or small, a promise to yourself is the closest thing you have to making laws. Think of your body, soul, and spirit as your personal Congress where your resolutions are scarce. Who cares about having peace with your decisions and camaraderie among the three branches of you? Who cares about prioritizing what God speaks over your life? Tell yourself everything and honor nothing. It will sharpen your self-deprecation skills and reinforce #1 and #2 – that’s a win-win.
Photo by Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels.com

See how ridiculous these sound? How can we expect a beautiful version of ourselves if we engage in habits that tear us down? Did one, two, or all of these apply to you? If this list was a mirror, negative results are coming. A discouraged and unhappy you is coming soon or is already in the seat of your heart. I pray the Love of God washes over you like a refreshing shower. And it’s OK if you to allow Love to cleanse you more than once. That’s how Christianity works. We are renewed daily by dying daily to decaying actions. There’s no shame in messy progress.

Peace & Blessings to your day. Much Love to your journey. As always, thanks for listening. Treat yourself like you would treat someone you love… because you should Love yourself like God loves you.

#blogbetter: Lessons Learned

Hi, Family!

Thanks for joining me for the first entry of the See Jane Write #blogbetter challenge (formerly #bloglikecrazy)! That Friday surprise didn’t work out, but it’s coming! Until then, here I am with a Tuesday post instead of a Wednesday, so let’s chat a minute!

One of the hardest things to do is to accept the truth after lying to yourself. Your cozy chrysalis breaks open and you’re exposed to the air. Truthful, piercing air. The kind of experience that creates a huge breath of freedom. That’s how the following lessons arrived in my life and I’m so glad they did.

📝LESSON #1 – Stop expecting others to act like you.

Have you found yourself caring about someone and not experiencing reciprocity? Same here. Sweet gestures simply weren’t enough to crack the code to their heart space. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is platonic or romantic, it hurts. I pray those moments do not happen often for you, but when they do, remind yourself of Lesson #1 – Stop expecting others to act like you.

You may extend yourself in ways that others do not. It doesn’t mean that your heartstrings are defective. It doesn’t mean you are too nice, too helpful, too considerate… too anything. I’ve heard it all and worn all the stickers.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

You are you for a divine purpose on this Earth. They are them; you are you. Separate what God tells you to do from who they are and how they may receive it. Once you get that Truth serum in your spirit, the heartbreak of caring for others will start to melt. When you do something for someone and you only hear from them when they need something (you know how that goes), it will hurt less over time. You’ll remember the reason for your extension of Love is just that… Love. Every time I have extended Jesus’ hands to someone, God has always returned that Love to me somehow. The law of the harvest is not a lie. The pain from not receiving the Love you give can cause your heart to rot; it’s not worth it. God made that heart to hug others, so let it flow… unapologetically.

Quick Sidebar: The crazy thing about this lesson is that it applies to petty people too. You may dish out gossip, but that doesn’t mean the other party will do the same. Let that prick your petty heart the next time you mistreat someone.

📝LESSON #2 – Your words will outlive you.

When someone dies, the first warmth I feel is from their words. Whatever they said, I grasp on and hold tightly, pulling that blanket up to my chin then over my head to bathe in their presence. I remember moments, not things. Even if I hold an item of theirs, their words and the moments flood me. If words are so potent, it is imperative that we leave as many good ones behind as possible. Those are the kind of seeds I want to be remembered by.

📝LESSON #3 – Progress isn’t pretty.

Perfection is cute. It has a nice little bow and a sweet fragrance. It beams beneath the limelight of filtered social media posts. Perfection is what we aspire to obtain, but what you really need is progress. She is treated like the ugly stepsister when she’s really the star. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Progress isn’t pretty but she’s necessary. When you see an artist’s work or an athlete’s performance, you may not see Progress. She usually brings a cocktail of sweat, tears, financial stress, doubt, with a splash of dreaming on the rocks. All of that stuff in that glass may taste terrible, but just like medicine (not the cocktail up there), it will make you better. Progress improves us on the way to excellence. So, drink up!

📝 LESSON #4 – There are people in the Bible just like me.

One of the best lessons I learned is that every feeling I have felt has been felt by someone in the Bible. If I’m frustrated, I can read about David or Job. If leadership is feeling a little heavy, I can read about Moses and Joshua. When I feel like a mountain is in front of me, I can read about Jesus.

The Bible is not an archaic book of fiction to me. It hosts examples for my everyday life, examples of people that were fragile just like me… examples of imperfection, love, and miracles wrapped up in one place. Reading about their experiences helps me see myself when times are difficult.

Peace & Blessings, Family! As always, thank you for listening!

Were any of these lessons helpful to you? Let me know in the comments and on social media (when I post it there later today). Stay well out there and I love you!

Wednesday Wind Down: I Love Me Some You!

Hi, Family!

While I do “love me some you,” I wrote that phrase as an example of how you should talk to yourself. Here’s a short stop for your week.

When was the last time you spoke kind words to yourself?

If it’s been a while, try these truths.

  1. I am a masterpiece.
  2. I am a blessing.
  3. My breath has meaning.

Tonight’s post is a quick reminder that being kind to yourself is vital to your health. Like a relaxing shower, speaking love over yourself is what you need after defending your worth in various arenas. It’s the medicine you can’t depend on anyone else to give you except God.

Maybe you’re wondering why I said “some.”

The colloquialism “I love me some you” is expressed when you can’t get enough of someone and you love to swim in their presence. The truth is most folks need a little time to love all of themselves. All of the ugly parts. The unfinished places. The scrapes and bruises. The dark corners. It takes the unmatched Love of God to love all of that and multiply that Love among others. Until that time comes, I encourage you to look in the mirror and say positive things. Start with one sentence if you have to – one word even. Say sweet words your soul can eat. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, but it needs to be real. A real step in forming a healthy habit.

Look at yourself and speak the Truth to you. That you were made by an incredible Love this universe can not contain but left undeniable proof in the form of your awesomeness.

Here’s to you smiling at you. Sooner than later.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love you and stay well out there. Inside and out. 🙂

What’s a truth that you can or would like to speak to yourself?

Wednesday Wind Down: Check Your Work

Hi, Family!

How’s your side of the planet? How was/is your day? I snatched a nap under a pretty tree that made me smile, so that’s a win. We made it to another week, so that’s a win too. 🙂

This week’s wind down may sting a bit, OK? Cool.

Remember when you finally completed a math problem only to hear “Check your work” from the teacher? Math wasn’t my strong subject, so I checked my work repeatedly to the point of obsession. As for the “check your work” mantra, it’s applicable in more than academic arenas. I believe God is encouraging us to do that very thing during this pandemic season.

What do I mean? I’m glad you asked. 🙂

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Sunday is a fellowship day for many Christians. We sing songs of praise, ask the love of Jesus to saturate our lives, and pray for expedited miracles. We exhort, cry, and pledge to be more like the One who saved us. We review teachings of Christ, catch up with fellow church members, and proceed into the week after a hearty Sunday dinner (which really happens at lunch time, but I digress). Unfortunately, the rest of that week brings a slew of words that do not exemplify the very thing we commemorated on Sunday. I’ve heard the following commentary while frolicking in the public on a Sunday afternoon or during a workday:

“That’s what’s wrong with America… they just let anybody in.”
“The Mexicans are taking over.”
“They need to go back to their own country.”
“They come here illegally and get away with it.”
“Well, I did it and so can they. We got to stop giving handouts.”

Sidebar: That’s one of my pet peeves when discussing social issues. Say who you mean instead of shooting “they’s” and “them’s” around folks like stray bullets.

Now, I could dissect those statements better than a frog in a high school biology class, but I won’t. My point is that we have ethereal (or ritual) experiences on Sunday and barrage a group of people with the same tongue that blessed God. We can’t possibly think that is OK.

Here’s how God sounds in my creative mind –

“So, you don’t like them, huh? You don’t want them to live next to you? They’re fine until they date your son or daughter? That’s right… you don’t see color and love everybody. Yeah, I heard that line last week. Prove it. Love them like you love yourself.”

You know I believe the Word of God applies to real life, so check out James 1:26.

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.”

James 1:26, The Holy Bible, New Living Translation

That’s straight from the brother and former mocker of Jesus. James, who saw his resurrected brother, says your claims of faith are worthless if you don’t control your tongue. Since the tongue expresses what it is in the heart, there lies the reason to “check your work.” To check the work of your hands and make sure it matches the beat of your heart… the heart that celebrates Christ on Sundays.

Photo by Shelagh Murphy on Pexels.com

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month and I’ve been reflecting on the grit it takes to be Hispanic and Latinx in America. To be born here and assumed to be born elsewhere. To be bilingual or to speak broken English the best you can. To navigate homogeneous spaces where you may not be welcome. To be stereotyped as being less than a contributing member to society. To be mislabeled as a non-citizen when you have your credentials. To serve in this country’s military while waiting on citizenship approval. Remember that commentary up there? Does that sound like Sunday? Does that sound like the love of Jesus?

If you need a starting point, here are three quick items that may need a checked.

  1. Everyone that “looks Mexican” is not Mexican. Beware of this assumption.
  2. Everyone that “looks Mexican” is not beneath your social class.
  3. If you can appropriate it, you can learn about it and honor it properly (food, music, holidays, etc.).

When we say we want Jesus to be in our lives, that means all of it… especially our habits. I know they’re comfortable, but they aren’t traits of Who we worship.

Check your words. Check your work. Check your heart.

I love you and I’m praying for you.

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: Keep It Up

Good Morning, Family! Happy September!

I hope that you’re doing well out there. I’m glad you made it to another week.

There’s a lot going on and I’m not oblivious to it, but whew… it can be a struggle to keep your spirits up. One thing I remember my late father saying is “If you look down, you go down. If you look up, you go up.” I used to think “Man, that sounds so easy, Pop. It sounds good, but it’s not that easy.”

But to him, it was. It truly was.

Photo by jonas mohamadi on Pexels.com

Between racial injustice, church scrutiny, and near-death experiences, he endured more than his fair share of adversity. He lived through so much turmoil that I guess he had no other choice but to look up. Looking down in despair would have surely taken him out of this world sooner than appointed. When I am surrounded by dark clouds, I find myself grasping for Pop’s determination to look up… to look up past the hovering gloom. I know it wasn’t easy, but somehow he kept his spiritual chin up. Being a deacon-turned-pastor would probably cultivate that strength within any person. The grounds of his heart had to be rich with fertilizer to grow such wisdom and unbothered-ness.

Photo by Lara Jameson on Pexels.com

So, how do you keep your spiritual chin up when your head and heart feel heavy? I’m glad you asked. Here’s three practical things that help me save myself –

  1. I religiously use my Google Chromecast. Whether it is instrumental jazz for four hours or a feel-good movie, I take news breaks so I am not overwhelmed via heart and mind. Seeing division and unrest rips my heart to shreds. Social and political misrepresentation squeezes my analytical educator brain. Hypocrisy makes me sick. Modern-day Pharisees give me hives. The perpetual dismissal of the obvious can make my chest heat up. So… I utilize my Chromecast to the fullest before I get full. On many days, I feel more like the God in Amos 6:8-14 than the Peter in 1 Peter 2:12. Streaming a mental palate cleanser works like a charm.
  2. I remember I am just a piece of the puzzle. Say it with me, Family – “I can not fix all of this.” Say it again if you have to – “I can not fix all of this.” Replacing “everything” with “all of this” makes my typical mantra plop down on the doorstep of my heart, right there with the rest of the world’s problems. I cannot look at pain and not be moved. I cannot see an opportunity to help and not flinch like a track athlete ready to run at the gun’s fire. I’m not built that way… yet, while I believe my puzzle piece has purpose, I am still just one piece. I don’t have the capacity to eradicate racism or provide a limitless supply of homes for the unhoused. I certainly can’t fix everything I see. I just have to make sure to do what I can. In other words, think micro when you’re overwhelmed with macro. Ask yourself, “What’s my piece of the puzzle?”
  3. I save my voice. Listen, I’m going say this with a sharper sentence – don’t lose your voice screaming at people who aren’t listening. Period. In a time where all sides are shouting, someone has to have Peace at the center of the conversation. Someone has to let Love rule the table… even if it’s piercing. As my Pop would say, “Somebody gotta have some sense.” I watched my dad stay silent in the most heated debates. When he was done talking, he was done talking. It’s like a switch flipped and he knew it would be a waste of time to speak further. Like the Holy Spirit gave him a baseball coach’s signal and he knew to stay on base. I admired that about him so much. Over the years, I’ve acquired it, but even past the grave, his mastery is well above my level. One thing that doesn’t happen anymore is me being physically or spiritually hoarse. By saving my voice, I save myself.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

I hope one or some of these tips help you this week and beyond. After all, it’s the second day of September and there is much opportunity for goodness to happen to you, through you, and around you. I know it’s difficult to be in the midst of turmoil, but remember that you are a vessel of Peace. You may not can stop everything bad that is happening, but you can stop letting it control your heart. Take charge of your eyes and ears and take care of your spirit. You are worth the Love.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there and I love you!

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