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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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perspective

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!

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: 5920

Hello, Sweethearts!

On social media this week, I shared my love for construction as the 5920 Bridge Project announced completion (I’m @thewritewade on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter if you want to check out my ode to their work). Most don’t know that little fact about me and I decided to take the insight a bit further on the blog. After all, who hasn’t undergone a construction season? Below are four lessons to refresh your spirit.

  1. You can’t rush it. Reconstructing the interstate junction didn’t start the first day that workers stepped onto the grounds. It began as a thought… an intangible construct that foreshadowed the negative impact of stagnation. The engineers did their research. The consultants gave their wisdom. The construction workers deciphered the plan. Although the 5920 Bridge Project was completed ahead of schedule, parts of the process couldn’t be rushed such as inspections and transporting of materials. You can’t rush the construction, Sweetheart. Each detail is important to create the end result.

    architect architecture artist blur
    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  2. You are protected during the process. Those workers did not have to fend off the masses alone. Law enforcement had their backs. The officers’ cars and their weapons provided backup for everyone to complete the project. You are protected also. Being under construction puts you in a vulnerable position, but you are not alone. God has angels all around you as a spiritual backup while you make progress, so you have nothing to be ashamed of. Check out Psalm 59:16-17 to remember that Love is near you in this season.
  3. You have everything you need. Headgear. Vests. Lights. Portable restrooms. The workers had everything they needed to complete the project. It may appear differently, but you have what you need to pursue what God has started within you. One of the mantras I learned last year was if I don’t have it, I don’t need it. I made a habit of using what I had instead of calculating what was missing. Get to work with what you got, Sweetheart. No excuses.

    collection of construction safety helmet
    Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com
  4. It’s going to get better. One of the reasons I love construction is that it doesn’t last forever. Greater is coming. We just have to grow in patience until we get there. Sure, the detours are an inconvenience. When the 5920 Bridge Project began, I heard so many people complain. They didn’t hide their aggravation and disgust for over a year. I watched drivers defy detour signs and create more havoc among us all. Despite the traffic jams, I noticed that certain parts of the Project were coming together. Some roadblocks were lifted and before we knew it, 2020 was here and we were driving on a beautiful piece of manifestation. Regardless of where you are now, there is something better on the other side of the disarray.

You CAN make it through your construction zone. I’m praying for you, Sweetheart. As my mother always says “This is just a season, and seasons do change.” Have a great week!

Wednesday Wind Down: Stick in the Mud

Happy Wednesday, Sweetheart!

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

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

Ants don’t leave when it rains.

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

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

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

Wednesday Wind Down: Thank You

Good Evening, Sweethearts! How are you? I hope you’re doing well. Here’s a thought for your week just in case.

I find myself saying “thank you” for the oddest things. Just this week, the wind wrapped Himself around me and it felt like a supernatural hug. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness, so I looked up and smiled at the sky. To someone else, that doesn’t make sense, but to me, it’s how I choose to live.

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7

It’s easy to thank God for the good stuff. The stuff that feels warm and fuzzy. The good stuff that you don’t see coming. It takes skill to be grateful for the stuff that feels awful and unexpectedly hits you. You read correctly — I said skill, as in something you learn and hone over time and experience. Now, I don’t believe that God plays chess with our lives; some things we bring upon ourselves. It’s called volition and it can be a help and a hindrance.

The ability to make decisions is what saved my mouth from going into overdrive while I was paying a bill over the phone. I could have invoked the Earth-given privilege of speaking my mind, but in actuality, it would have been speaking my emotions. It would have been sharp, egregious, and unapologetic. In the mix of the moment, I chose to be grateful instead of spiteful. I thanked God that the payment amount was at the level I needed it to be and that my account was current. I also thanked the Lord that I had the money in which to pay it this month. It was a split-second decision (with a dash of reluctant maturity) to be grateful for the Truth and not distracted by the disrespect. It made me think of how quickly things can escalate at the drop of a word and how gratefulness saved the future chain of events.

person holding cactus on a stick
Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

This week, my prayer is that you find gratefulness in the little things that are truly big things to someone else. I pray that you say thank you to all of the “sandpaper” people in your office because they are making you smoother for your future. Find the moment. Dig for it if you have to. You don’t have to like it, but you may need to hold that “thank you item” in your hand to keep from crying or doing something destructive.

Have an awesome week out there. No stoking the fires, OK?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 6 – Meeting of the Minds

The Good

#6 – I played two roles – leader and follower!

In my performing arts troupe, I play both sides of the field. It’s a delicate balance, really… one that took time and heaping spoonfuls of humble pie over the years. My Troupe has committees, each serving as a gear to make the machine called “us” run smoothly. There is plenty to do and while I am proud to lead such a fabulous group of professionals, I am even more proud when they don’t need me to turn a dream into reality. Last year, I vowed to be a better follower and when the situation called for it this year, I truly enjoyed wearing that hat.

I am on two committees and I loved meeting with my committee teammates, brainstorming and executing our plans, and presenting ideas to the Troupe like other team members. It was fun and it gave me a grassroots view upon which to compare my aerial one. My ideas were not always chosen and they didn’t play favoritism just because I’m the founder. We worked together and I loved every minute of it. In the end, I felt more well-rounded as a leader and collaborative as a follower!

The Lesson

As a leader, my job is to create other leaders, not do everything myself. Now, there something you should know – I’m a perfectionist, so when I founded this organization, I truly felt like I had to do everything and as a result, my Troupe didn’t feel like I didn’t trust them to do anything. Over time, we communicated openly and worked on being a well-oiled machine instead of a bunch of squeaky gears. The result is a group of 10 people that know their roles, serve in them well, and be interchangeable as needed.

IMG_20180106_135101-1.jpg
Teammates down, Coach.

Are you allowing yourself to be a team player? Do you listen to the heartbeat of your team or do you just push them to exhaustion?

What would happen if all of our leaders learned how to be exceptional followers?

Peace & Thanks for listening! #ivoted

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Dichotomic 

Recently, I felt the pain of a woman who’s only desire was to provide the best solution for her children at the expense of what she wished for them. She cried after we prayed together. I bought the items she needed and she agreed to a massage therapy session. I just wanted to help, wanted her to know that I see her. She was the 2nd person for I whom I prayed and to whom I had given. The first person was homeless and when I asked him for a prayer request, his response was to pray for his family. How selfless. These opportunities started hours after I received news that my income would decrease… again. Perfect timing, right? Exactly. That’s what I said too.

Now, I’m not monetarily rich. I’m not a superstar. I don’t have someone taking sensational photos of me at every turn so I can post them on the ‘gram. And I’m definitely not a selfie girl. I just… listen. I sincerely try to listen to God’s voice everyday and anywhere. That’s how this blog Listening at the Speed of Life was born. So, when those opportunities presented themselves, I had to be obedient. No questions asked. 

What have I learned about myself along this journey of obedience? 

  • I hug my students.
  • I even hug strangers. 
  • I pray for people I don’t know.
  • I say thank you. A lot.
  • I love big and I retreat quickly.
  • I boldly express my care.
  • I can speak up when I’m scared.
  • I can ask questions unapologetically. 
  • I seek to understand. 
  • I generally stay to myself, yet I have meaningful relationships.
  • I am a delicate, and resilient balance of mind, body, and spirit.
  • My introversion is beautiful, not a defect.
  • I don’t have to be loud if I don’t want to be.
  • I don’t have to be in the mix to feel included.
  • I like breathing and being, and sometimes these come at the cost of being misunderstood. That’s OK with me now. (It wasn’t when I started.)

So, back to the moment. She was grateful. I was humble. We connected.

The message?

It’s time that we slow down and feel the heartbeat of one another. We’re all humans trying to navigate through this life, and if you’re a Christian, then you’re trying to adhere to a certain compass as you travel on your path. It’s not easy, and we are all doing it… walking it out, journeying into the next dimension of ourselves, and feeling our way around in the darkness of tomorrow’s challenges. 

What would it hurt to wave to the service worker? Speak to the custodian? Give a thank you card to the teacher? Buy an extra meal for the hungry? Or simply hug your friend without it being an obligatory salutation? 

What happened to us orbiting together instead of spinning around each other, being afraid to bump into one another’s space? 

What happened to running the human race together and checking on others along the way?

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 15 – Inside-Out

In class on November 15th, we discussed correctional facilities and prison reform. I posed the following question to my students: Are correctional facilities designed to “correct” behavior or character? Most of them said “both,” but some said neither. What do you think? 

As we go about our holiday season, I think of those who are unable to have food, family, and fun – at the same time. Needless to say, there are individuals who have committed crimes unthinkable, yet there are some who have not. Are their lives being changed while on the inside of confinement? Are our lives being enhanced while we are captive to our vices? The truth is if we were caught in our everyday violations of malice, greed, and pride, we would be incarcerated right along side of our brothers and sisters. 

So, I pose these questions to you… What are you chained to? What mental or emotional prison are you in? Is your “facility” correcting or enabling the behavior that got you there? 

Perhaps, we all need reform from the inside, out. 

Peace & Thanks for listening. 

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