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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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personal growth

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!

#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: 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!

Sunday Special: My Birthday Gift

Hi, Family!

I hope you had some goodness last week. I didn’t post last week, but I prayed for you. If things didn’t go well, just know that you were not forgotten and it just got better. 🙂

Let’s jump right in. My birthday was Friday and I had a simple plan to just be in it. Be present in my mind, body, and spirit and feel the essence of being in that space of time. I was reflective as usual. You know that about me by now. 🙂 One of the things that kept resurfacing during my meditation this weekend was the best birthday gift I could have ever asked for – knowing who I am and walking tall in it.

One of the things I planned for my birthday was to stroll through the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The bamboo forest was beautiful. I had to snap a photo along the way.

I vividly remember when it wasn’t this way. So uncomfortable in my own skin. If the DeLorean had been available, I would have been a frequent flyer to skip all awkwardly frustrating moments. The conversations that my words never seemed to fit in. The weird encounters where I wanted to say something but was too afraid. The situations where I sincerely wanted to shoot my shot, but backed out because I thought I wasn’t good enough. The repetition of accepting less than what I was worth. Just beam me out of there!

Today, I had one of my intentional solo dining experiences. The kind where you pick a restaurant that is designed for two and utilize the space for you and you. *lol* I reflect on then and now and see how each moment made me pine for this one – the season of confidence that I unapologetically walk in. No, I didn’t get everything I wanted and some things haven’t come true, but the greatest gift on this birthday is that those weird moments are no longer normal.

Confusion and anger are not my bedmates.
I speak up when I need to and keep them guessing when necessary.
I love everyone and I understand where certain people fit in my life.
I am in the career lanes that I prayed for.
I love my chocolate skin and what it represents.
I appreciate my body and I listen to her.
My spirit is attuned to God’s Spirit and I pay attention when they speak.
I got Vibes.
I walk into a room and Peace walks with me.
I love intimately, sweetly, and consistently.
I leave when I need to without FOMO tugging at my shirt.
I don’t feel like I’m scratching my way through life trying to reach a pinnacle.
I don’t feel like I am merely surviving until the next day.

It’s beautiful here. It’s not perfect, but it is exquisitely warm. To be able to sit in this space and time and not feel compelled to satiate the appetite of others is a blessing. A blessing this former people-pleaser asked for decades ago.

So, this tree bark and my hair were twinning.

That’s my birthday wish for you, Family. If you’re not already there, I pray you receive and experience this level of Peace too. I pray that you walk in your divine purpose on this Earth so your loving spirit can multiply in others after you’re gone. I pray you are exceptionally well in your mind, body, and spirit and that you take nothing less for that alignment to occur in your everyday life. I pray that wherever your feet tread that you send seismic warning shots to any dark forces that may be lurking nearby. I pray your smile lights up your life first. I pray you exceed your own expectations. I pray you look in the mirror and nod in agreement to the Masterpiece looking at you.

I love you all and there’s nothing you can do about it. We’re family. We’re connected. I’m rooting for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening! *throws birthday confetti*

P.S. – I’ll post a few photos from my birthday-month fun on social media later this week. Here are my links –

Wednesday Wind Down: Receive

Hi, Family!

I hope your week is going well so far; if not, it just got better. 🙂

I have a confession – I’m not a good receiver. In the words of Shonda Rhimes in Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person , I should say thank you, shut up, and smile. That’s it. The end. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go that way. I’m working on it, but there’s no oak tree just yet though progress has been made. My immediate response is to reciprocate out of fear of being misunderstood as a taker. I also loathe being indebted to someone. Those that know me personally know I have a giving heart; nevertheless, the reaction is instinctive. How? Negative repetitive experiences. They rewire us – it’s science. In the case of receiving beautiful gifts from people I cherish or from strangers with big hearts, this science works against me. So, what you may see when you give me something is an attempt to recircuit myself. A small smile. A slight lowering of my head. A significant exhale. Whatever it takes, I’m working on it.

Well, here I am minding my ongoing personal growth business when a beautiful moment happened this week.

The place: in the shower. I was listening to a meditation of bible verses and it was nourishing. When it ended, I heard a voice in my spirit say “Do you receive it?” I took a deep breath, like someone had just snatched the check after a meal and placed their credit card on top of it. I immediately knew the rewiring process didn’t just apply along horizontal lines. I was being challenged to accept God’s opportunities and promises as well… and that was difficult for me. The truth is my relationship with God has holes in it. He’s ever faithful and His Spirit has guided me to places I could have never imagined, yet, I still feel like He’s going to let me down sometimes. That the prayer won’t be answered. That I won’t get the opportunity. That I won’t hear from that certain person. That the bottom will fall from beneath my feet. Call what you will, but I say it’s doubt based on a history of unfortunate events. Just enough for me to take a deep breath before saying my prayers sometimes.

Photo by Dom J on Pexels.com

But when I heard that Voice, it was sweet. It was loving. It was empathetic and understanding. It carried a tone that said “I know you’ve been hurt, Daughter, but will you trust me again?” I felt the sincerity deep in my bones. And I opened up. I felt like the sun was radiating through my skin.

So, I opened my hands and received the water from the showerhead. Overflowing with a oasis of clarity, I lifted my palms and splashed the water over my face. Over and over again. With every wave, I said “I receive it.”

*splash*
“I receive it.”
*splash*
“I receive it.”

Every time I said it, my smile on the outside matched the revelation on the inside. I smiled so big that a laugh escaped. Why couldn’t I receive God’s Love as easily as I received this water? Here it is, pouring freely, and all I have to do is stand under it (and pay for it, but you get the drift).

*splash*
“I receive it.”
*deep breath*
“I receive it!”

I feel like I had more than a shower. I had a growth spurt. My prayers sprouted green leaves of trust this week and it feels amazing. I pray that you experience the same and it’s OK if you feel like you need baby steps to walk along that journey. I have plenty of baby steps on my own.

As you allow your spiritual relationship to heal, I also pray that you recall when things went well. When it did work out. When you did get the call. When you did laugh with that person. Those moments were promises kept and I have to believe that if I don’t have it, I didn’t need it. I believe that I am worthy of receiving goodness in my life just as I am. I am worthy of being a receiver. I am a sincere and insatiable giver, so why wouldn’t Father want me to receive Love in the same spirit from which I pour?

Just something to think about. Something to stand on. Something to clutch close to your heart. I know I am.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I’m rooting for you, Family. 🙂

Wednesday Wind Down: Witnesses

Hi, Family!

I hope you’re having a good week. If not, it just got better. *fist bump* Here’s a short stop for your week.

If you’ve been hanging with me for a while, you know that I love the Olympics. I’m all in when that time rolls around. The camaraderie. The sportsmanship. The celebration of culture and collectivity. I could swim in a pool of it forever.

What I also love about the Olympics is the opportunity to see the human form do supernatural things. I mean, c’mon… the length of that long jump. The strength of that wrestler. The speed of the BMX rider. It’s something to behold – something to marvel.

We can’t help it. When we witness someone excelling in their God-breathed purpose, we pause. We admire. We stand in awe. We scream. We cry. I believe what we are experiencing is a glimpse of Majesty. A peek into God’s infinite power in human form. After all, we were made a little lower than the angels. When I watch the athletes compete, I believe God shows us proof of spiritual potential. The training they endure, the mental agility they curate, then the perfect mix of energy and control spills out of their pores. We see heights, distances, and strengths that we note for future generations to honor. We witness greatness and if we let it, it can generate greatness in us.

Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

As the Olympic Games close in a few days, I reflect on these beautiful moments we have witnessed. The courage of mental health advocacy and the power of unity. The reward of physical conditioning and the fragility of time. Now that we have witnessed such things, such superlative things, we are accountable to it. How can you see someone be the best at what she does and not do your best at work and at home? How can you listen to their stories of sacrifice and not be moved to elevate your daily efforts?

Over the course of these games, we became witnesses of greatness in real time. We saw potential realized. We saw divine purpose in every runner’s stride and every plunge of the jouster’s lance. And when they reached the pinnacle of their performances, God confirmed that there was more in them than may have realized. Medal or not.

Photo by Jewel Tolentino on Pexels.com

My prayer is that we absorb what we see and germinate what we know – that our spirits have the power to spread greatness and goodness to one another. That when we see glimpses of God manifested in each other, that we pause and awe. We acknowledge and congratulate. That we cheer and encourage. That we support. Even if our religious and political preferences are different, we can be connected… if we want to be. We have the potential to be witnesses and replicators of Christ’s Love. The Olympic Games are our proof.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Post-Op

Hi, Family!

I hope you had an enriching day. If not, I hope these words give you some solace.

Let me start by saying that today was a hard one. As I claw my way out of depressive waters (thank you Jesus and Therapy) and realign my life, there are days like today that make me wander down a rabbit hole of “why’s” and “what if’s.” I know what you may be thinking… “Why would you wander down a road of why’s? What good does it do?” It’s not a place I wanted to be, but somehow I ended up there today and whew… talk about a headspin. Next thing I know, I was sitting in my car with a pen in my hand trying to write my way out of a dark hole of loneliness. While that’s not the cool thing to say in Christianity, we keep it real around here.

So, what happened next was a beautiful reminder in the form of a whisper. Pen still in hand with about a half-page of spillage, I heard “You’re in post-op.”

It made perfect sense… instantly. In 2019, I told a friend that I felt like I was in spiritual surgery – like God wanted to rearrange some things in my life and all He wanted was my yes. I remember saying “OK, let’s go. Whatever You want to do, I’m in.” I had just transitioned into full-time entrepreneurship and felt like I was already skywalking on faith anyway. So in 2020, when depressive waves crashed into my soul, I remember saying “OK, so isn’t it over? Is the surgery incomplete? Am I still going through it? This is rough.”

*insert radio silence here*

Me and my frustration cried and yelled feeling like a used discarded sweater. Meanwhile, my body felt limp and expended. What in the world was happening? Was this the second phase or something? Whatever it was, I wasn’t a fan and it was lasting too long.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

*insert timelapse here to present day*

I sat in my car, lamenting on paper, then I heard that whisper and I saw it clearly. Me + hospital gown + hospital bed + tubes + monitors + four sterile walls. I knew the scenary all too well. There I was, lying there, eyes closed. I took a deep breath and realized what the Holy Spirit was telling me.

Occasionally in the vision, a nurse came in to check on me. A doctor had already spoken to my family. Limited visitors, one or two persons. I slept mostly. Limited words left my lips because my throat was still sore from anesthesia and/or the surgery itself.

After surgery, I think I should be up and running like a car after a tune-up. I always think that even though I know better. Once a procedure is completed, there’s a place called post-op and there are post-op instructions. Even same-day surgery has a post-op period. Nevertheless, what do I do? A slight tip over too much. *SMH* Why? Because I think it’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.

Well, Family, that’s how depression hit me like a freight train last year. I had a series of “it’s time to move on” lies in my head that lasted over a decade. Each compounded over the other. I still had joy. I still had divine anointing over my life. I still used my gifts in church, and yes, I still inspired others. And I did it well. And I meant it. But when I gave God permission to rearrange and extract as needed, I tried to apply the same lie – “OK. It’s over. It’s done. It’s time to move on.” Meanwhile, in the batcaves of reality and against my desire, I’m in post-operation recovery. Some friends have been removed. Some boundaries have been implanted. Some desires were shifted underneath others. Some thought patterns have been rewired. Stitching of redefined faith is in place and my insides are learning to work with them. I don’t feel like talking much because it hurts as it heals. I’m relearning my voice and its abilities. I’m raw, fragile, and strong at the same time.

I’m healing.

I’m healing.

I am healing.

And I can’t rush the post-op. “Change my heart, God!” “I want to be like You!” “Make me over!” Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, if you want it, this transition can not be skipped. There are instructions that must be followed so the healing can continue past the operating room.

Photo by Nguyu1ec5n Thanh Ngu1ecdc on Pexels.com

Tonight, I want to share some grace with you in the form of this reminder – make peace with the post-op period. It’s uncomfortable, I know because you want to jump into the swing of normal, but truthfully, your normal is different after you ask God to change it. After you want to level up inside. After you say yes. When I said “OK, let’s go,” that meant that some people, things, thoughts, and habits could not go with me… and I didn’t get to decipher which ones stayed. I won’t lie to you, Family. It’s been the rawest experience of my life to date but the best decision I’ve ever made. If you’ve been here for a while, you know attention is not my cozy place, but with this experience, I’ve had to speak up more and share my heart past the uncomfortable part of me. Every time I do, someone says “Me too.”

Hence the entire reason for this blog. I don’t want anyone to be afraid of the process of Jesus’ Love. I don’t anyone to be ashamed to say “I need a therapist.” I don’t want anyone to feel alone in their walk of faith. If no one has told you lately, you are not alone. You have value and you have purpose on this Earth. You also have a right to be the best version of yourself… the version God had in mind when He fashioned you with His hands.

My prayer is that you embrace the discomfort of recuperation knowing that healing is a process and wholeness is on the other side of it.

I love you. Peace & Thanks for listening. Stay well out there and reach out if you need to.

Wednesday Wind Down: A is for Advocate – PART 2

Happy Thursday, Family!

Since last week’s post, I have spoken to 10 people about self-advocacy – some strangers and some within my circle – and I don’t think this is by accident at all.

What I’ve realized is that humans (including myself) are willing to put up with abusive behavior from all angles. When we think of abuse, we often imagine physical turmoil, but it has many forms. By a singular person or by collective experience, we allow a cycle of abuse acceptance.

Photo by Joey Kyber on Pexels.com

When you’re a Christian, this cycle has multiple rings like an old tree. We are told that there is no glory without suffering, and while that is true in some capacities (just think of an athlete training for the Olympics), it should not be the soundtrack for our daily lives. We tell ourselves a lie that the more suffering, the closer to God we are and that being meek and humble means not being assertive. This loop of lies causes us not to self-advocate when needed and so the cycle of abuse acceptance continues. In essence, we abuse ourselves. I’m not talking about letting something slide for your peace of mind’s sake. I’m referring to always placing yourself in 2nd place or even worse, at the back of the line.

Photo by KoolShooters on Pexels.com

Here’s a recent example –

A health provider presented appointment time options. I wanted the 10:30 AM appointment, but I have a client that usually books a noon session. Now, the client’s session was not on the calendar yet, but my first inclination was to schedule the health appointment around the possible session. A few seconds after the thought leaped from my lips, I stopped the cycle. I confirmed the shift with a verbal affirmation. “I am important enough to be on my calendar. Please put me down for the 10:30 appointment. Anyone booking me will have to catch me after that time.” I blocked the 12:00 hour in my booking software to provide the necessary space. She nodded her head and proceeded to schedule me. I needed to do that… for me, for my heart, for my mental health, for my spirit. I needed to remind myself that my health was the priority instead of making myself available for something that may not happen.

Photo by Orione Conceiu00e7u00e3o on Pexels.com

That’s why some of these posts have been on Thursdays lately. I had to ingest my own wisdom when I’m too exhausted to post quality thoughts. I have to say, “Pushing through this moment will not yield the best of me. I need to go to bed.” So, instead of beating myself up about missing a Wednesday, I relinquish my pride and go to sleep. Why? Because Jesus snatched solitude when He needed too (Mark 1:35). He paused and prayed to refuel his spirit (Luke 5:15-16). He did not allow his ministry to deplete Him. *insert record scratch here* Let me say that again – He did not allow his ministry to deplete Him. He knew there was a divine appointment that would need all of his focus and he geared up for it along the way.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Self-advocacy preserves us for our purpose. It allows the mind, body, and spirit to be healthy enough to do exceptional things and have beautiful moments with others. It is not selfish when it is in your best interest. This is why the backlash against Naomi Osaka does not surprise me. We celebrate exertion over well-being. We would rather look good than be well. We prefer to say “If you can’t handle the pressure, change jobs.” instead of saying “I respect your decision. How can I support you?” We perpetuate the cycle of abuse acceptance both inside and outside of ourselves and that is by design. I believe evil forces seek to stress and tire you out before your divine appointments arrive. So, when it’s time to activate the excellence within you, you’re depleted. Well, I’m on a mission to change that for myself.

My prayer for you, Family, is that you join me in making small changes in your schedule… small changes with your interactions… small changes in your workplace. Ask God to show you what you need to function optimally and I guarantee He will show you. I am a witness of this truth. He cares about our earthen vessels and I care about you too.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: A Is For Advocate

Good Afternoon, Family!

I hope you are doing well. If not, it just got better. I missed you last week, but I prayed for you. 🙂 I kept falling asleep trying to post last night, so it was best to share with you today. Trust me, you would have been all kinds of confused looking at that jibberish. lol

Well, let’s get into it. I’m taking you on a journey today.

I’ve been in a strong self-advocacy mode this year. January began with one question –

What will it take to keep Christina healthy?

It was fully-loaded, but I accepted the gravitas.

While my self-care habits are solid, I felt like there were pockets of deficiency that couldn’t matriculate into the next decade. I truly wanted to live my best life and, for me, it all began with that singular question.

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What I Did

I looked at it from four angles – physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. In my imagination, this question looked more like a Rubik’s cube than a spreadsheet. There were so many parts that needed to work together in order for me to be the best me. I wasn’t overwhelmed though; I was intrigued. What would it truly take to unlock me?

With meticulous care, I listed items under each category of what it would take for me to be my best self. That meant everything and everyone had to be on the chopping block so I could obtain an aerial view of my needs. It meant that my current plate needed to be clean so I could determine the essential ingredients needed to nourish CJ 2.0. Nothing or no one was “canceled,” but all parties were up for re-election.

So, I started this process with a prayer and a plan. I was going to be a healthier version of myself starting this year – no matter what. I had already resumed therapy to kickstart the mentally column. I asked God to help me not to grow weary quickly and he led me to the physical area next.

Let’s Get Physical

What would it take for my body to be in the best position to do what I am called to do?

I lined up my current medical team like a fresh roster of football players during camp (in my mind, of course). Primary Care, ENT, OB/GYN, Dermatologist… everyone was on trial. Aside from integrity, each practitioner had to make me feel like we were in a partnership. What I needed was well beyond the power of a good gym sweat. I needed to be in solidarity with my doctors and they needed to be in alignment with my CJ 2.0 vision. Everyone had to get in formation and I needed to feel 100% comfortable in their care. I needed medical support beams in my life not benchwarmers giving me prescriptions. That was officially non-negotiable. So, I went down the line and determined which professional needed to be traded so I could get to the healthy championship.

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How It’s Going

So far, so great! The year isn’t over and the journey has just begun, but I’ve already got further than I ever have. Thanks to referrals and research, I have two new doctors who are committed to my vision and do not sugarcoat the data. They don’t talk over me when I’m explaining my experiences. They don’t dismiss my questions. They don’t make condescending comments.

They listen, assess, and deliver information honestly. What a concept.

I felt an ocean of emotions the first time I received an infusion I needed. I kept saying “Lord, thank you for being my advocate.” I flipped the timeline in my mind to the countless doctor visits where I felt diluted and depleted by the lack of empathy. The cold exam rooms. The thin paper gowns. As if it were muscle memory, I would slide off the exam table, gather my things, and attempt to walk out with my head high. Once again, my concerns were unanswered and once again, a medical bill would shortly be in my mailbox.

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“Something’s not right. I’m not getting better.”

“I need a copy of my medical file, please.”

“Will you explain the side effects of this prescription?”

“Which lab tests are you running?”

These were on repeat like a Marvin Gaye tune. Before Google was born, I researched as much as I could in books and would write down questions to prepare for medical visits. I was diligent, but after the repetition of disappointment, I was exhausted. Advocating for yourself is a job, you hear me? A full-time job if you’re doing so in the medical arena without insurance, which was where I was during two seasons of my life.

So, when I asked what would it take?, I knew it would require me to squeeze another gallon of self-advocacy out of my spirit. I had to have an “I’m the captain now” attitude. I took the approach of shopping for a car, a house, or even fruit in the grocery store. If I could have standards about my purchases, I could have standards for my medical squad.

Sometimes, we forget how simultaneously fragile and resilient we are. Yes, we coexist with others in this Big Brother house called Earth, but we are not infinite beings in these bodies. We are not endless supplies of anything. We are fueled by what we’ve been given. Self-advocating in these truths created an anchor for me. Many Christians will have you believe that the less you speak up for your needs, the closer to God you are. The more you grit your teeth and bear it or take whatever is given to you, the more jewels you get in your crown.

That’s a ridiculous lie.

Photo by Chad Witbooi on Pexels.com

I guarantee that if your meal was subpar at an upscale restaurant, you wouldn’t just “live with it.” You would expect to receive not only the advertised product, but the staff’s best service.

Self-advocacy doesn’t require rudeness, but it does demand a certain level of confidence. It may even require firm pressure to the powers that be.

I know it’s exhausting and can feel downright degrading at times, but I encourage you to keep advocating. Keep praying that God leads you to the best match for your needs. Divine navigation is real and I’m a witness of it. Every time I felt a “nope” in my gut, I respectfully declined to continue their services and crossed them off the list. It wasn’t an emotional decision; my life was (and still is) on the docket and I believe God wants me to have the best version of this life possible.

Finally. Photo by me.

My prayer is that you know advocacy is not a sin and self-advocacy is not being selfish. There’s a whole world out here (quick shoutout to Diagnosis on Netflix), so there is an empathetic match for you.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 says “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” As much as we work, we should be able to enjoy a positive quality of life. Self-advocacy is just as “saved” as reading my Word. It reaffirms the quality of my Craftsmanship. My DNA was created by a divine being and that alone makes it worthy to cherish.

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. – 3 John 1:2

When the Creator placed you on this planet, you were not designed to take whatever you can get. In January 2021, I officially denounced that theory when it came to my health. I pray you do the same from here on out.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family!

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