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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. 

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Protect Your Merry!

Merry Christmas, Sweethearts! I know a photo of Serena may not be your thought of Christmas, but allow me to explain why it perfectly fits mine.

I had to protect my Merry yesterday (and for the last couple of weeks, for that matter.) I mean, I fiercely protected it like Serena Williams defending her side of the tennis court. A few people got clap-backs that they inadvertently signed up for. Rude shoppers, irresponsible drivers, and inconsiderate individuals/former friends in my circle could have sucked the happy right out of my bubble, but I swatted them like flies… and I have no remorse.

They didn’t know that I had to fight to gather my Merry.

I searched for its pieces while crawling through the barren forest of my spiritual winter. I scrounged. I foraged. I created little piles of joy around me, forming a 360-degree barrier between me and the world – me and the reality of my bank account, professional transition, and life changes. I replayed fond memories of my father instead of anticipating his absence on yet another holiday.  Four months later and I still patch the holes of my heart with thoughts of his smile to protect the cracks of my heart from the cold winds of grief. My piles of Merry were the only boundaries I had to keep the darkness from penetrating my oxygenated peace.

So, you had best believe, that I defended my happy with everything I had yesterday. To keep from crying sporadically in public places, I thought of his spirit dancing and I spoke to him.

“I love you.”
“I know.”
“I’m trying.”
“I miss you.”
“Thanks for everything.”

DP1745482_xmas_trees_Glass_OrnamentsTo keep from royally cussing someone clean out (as we say in the South), I retracted the sporty backhand that was perfectly poised under my tongue and said “Have a blessed day.” Friends that were jolly as long as I supported them have surprisingly fallen away like leaves from trees when reciprocity made sense. I stuffed a little happy there too so the wind couldn’t get in and make me bitter. I let the angels do their jobs. I summoned God the Father to comfort me and the Holy Spirit to keep aerating my Merry with reminders of Truth. I let a harvest of joy grow from seeds of gratefulness. As I stood in front of my heater, I thanked Him for warmth. As my feet hurt from working, I thanked Him for the opportunity. As I drove on lesser gas as I normally do, I thanked Him for my wheels. As I coughed and massaged my face from sinus pain, I thanked Him for life. When I ate leftovers, I thanked Him for provision. Upon receiving random messages from sweet friends, I released the expectation from hearing from certain ones and truly let the peace of God rule and wash the hurt away. These things fortified my Merry and I wasn’t letting anything rob me of it.

Maybe you’re like me. You’re holding onto your Merry with both hands and you’re trying to keep it alive in the midst of hardship, loss, or change. I pray that you protect it with everything you got – that you exhibit the grit needed to keep the light in your spirit on, that you regain the strength and courage to fight for your happy, fight for your joy, and fight for your right to live. Don’t be distracted by what you don’t have. Defend what you have and let God heal the cracks. Let the angels of protection do their jobs. Hold fiercely to the Truth that Jesus was born so you could live.

You are loved.
You are cared for.
You are the reason Christmas exists, and your Christmas is Merry because Merry is a state of mind.

I love you and Merry Christmas, Sweethearts! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo of Serena Williams courtesy of Tennis.com
Photo of Christmas tree ornaments courtesy of Lowes.com

5 Things You Must Do On A Snow Day

Good Afternoon, Sweethearts!

Did you enjoy the snow? Is it still around? Here in Birmingham, Alabama, it’s starting to melt, but ice is still lurking on the roads. I hope you’re safe, warm, and smiling.

The snow day couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I just closed the fall quarter and I hibernate the day after finals to recuperate my mind, body, and soul. Even my mother tries not to call me the day after finals. Sweet Woman.

Since God blessed me with snow on my day off, I did 5 things that made me feel awesome. I think they make fine ingredients for any snow day to feel like the Son is shining on you. If you did anything that made your day, share it!

  1. SLEEP! SLUMBER! REST!
    • Confession – This is one thing I do not do well on a consistent basis. Running a performing arts troupe, writing your soul free, and educating Birmingham’s Finest can make make feel like I’m running on fumes at times. So when my friend texted me a snowy picture, I smiled. It was officially a rest day. I think getting a few winks in when you’ve missed a million is a great way to recharge!
  2. REFLECT.
    • There’s something about the stillness of snow that makes me just sit and watch. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to drive. I want to reflect on how cool it is…. fluffy goodness floating from the sky. It quiets the world for a little bit. It makes me be careful. It forces me to gaze at the winter wonderland around me that I zoom past everyday. So, I took a few pictures to remind myself to do more of that when life gets busier in 2018.
  3. PLAY OUTSIDE!
    • After the spiritual battery has been charged, then I want to play. My footsteps make art as I look back at them in the snow, plus my miniature schnauzer had a blast trying to eat it. I laughed watching my aunt make snow angels. There’s just something about snow that makes the 5-year-old you feel safe to show out. Throwing snowballs and trying to make snow sculptures are what snow is made for, right? lol
  4. EAT!
    • When it’s cold outside, you simply must eat something warm inside. My vice of choice yesterday? #1 – PANCAKES! I was so hungry when from my self-care, that pancakes and hot tea were the only items on my menu. #2 – QUESO and tortilla chips. But, it’s not just any queso dip. I made my favorite recipe that I conjured up in college. Dorm living will make a chef out of anyone. lol It includes shrimp, ground turkey, cilantro, corn, and diced tomatoes (and sometimes a hint of bacon). The dip was oh so heavenly as I curled up to watch one of my favorite movies.
  5. WATCH A MOVIE.
    • Me, my bowl of queso, my sweatpants, and my fuzzy socks enjoyed one of my favorite movies – Something New (2006). If you’ve never seen it, get ready for some humor, some sensitive topics, and just good old-fashioned Rom-Com (romantic comedy) moments. Curling up on the couch after a long day of self-care was the perfect ending to my classroom duties and the perfect beginning of a well-deserved break.

What do you like to do during a snow day? Do you have favorite foods that taste better during winter weather? Are there movies that you must watch?

Peace, Thanks for listening, and Stay safe out there!

Photo of my awesome aunt and my super dog courtesy of moi.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 23 – Thanks

Thursday, November 23, 2017 = Thanksgiving. You know what that means. Football, Food, and Shopping were the menu for most people. Me? I was just glad to make it to the day.

I didn’t know what it would be like having the first family holiday without my father. Would I write about my feelings I dreaded to experience? Would I cry and sluggishly get dressed? Would I opt out of attending Thanksgiving dinner altogether? All three options were fair game.

I was used to monitoring his plate and cleaning his face. Massaging his neck as his head sunk into deep slumber. Holding his hand so his spirit knew I was there. Making sure he was positioned in the car just right so the seat belt would go over him properly. He wasn’t there, but I was making it. It was then, at the dinner table when I looked over at the chair where he would normally sit, that I said to myself – “Thanks for letting us have him.”

IMG_20131225_151833223
Pop

He was truly a gift, and the gift wasn’t taken away. He continues to live every time I think about him.

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving, Sweethearts. A special prayer went to heaven for those who are missing loved ones too. I got your back.

Peace & Thanks for listening. XOXO

Chair photo courtesy of Ethan Allen

Pop’s photo courtesy of me

#bloglikecrazy: Day 18 – Together

Three people. One day. All the feels.

It began with a tutoring appointment with a former student who is determined not to let anything stop her from graduating, including her English paper. I challenged her and she made me laugh. She stepped outside of her essay-writing comfort zone and I helped her see her thoughts on paper. She left the session equipped and excited to keep going. It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes and made me proud to be an educator.

Next, I had lunch with sweet friend from high school. She and I were in band together and I always thought her hair color and freckles were cool. She had a quiet strength that I admired and we became friends quickly. Now that we’re grown, we had grown-folk conversation and it was lovely. We vented, we cried, we laughed. I was proud to be a friend… and her freckles and hair color still rock.

Then, it was time for my cousin’s baby shower which, might I add, was a night time swag affair. Live music, baby shower games, good food and laughs made this shower worth the cold rainy drive. I’m well acquainted with both parents, so it was great to anticipate my new cousin’s arrival. As I helped clean up, the running theme was clear. I was proud to be family.

Afrer all three settings, the word that stuck out was TOGETHER. My former student’s essay challenge wasn’t so mountainous after we met for tutoring. My friend and I didn’t feel alone in our life lessons after lunch. My family’s shower was better because everyone could share the experience. On that day, life was better together. 

Sweethearts, I pray that if you’re feeling lonely and life’s bumps are giving you bruises, that you remember that you are not alone. Lonely and alone are not the same. You can feel lonely in a crowded room. I’ve been there, and wisdom has taught me that you have someone who wants to be better together with you. Be careful, but let her or him in your heart’s circle and watch the healing begin. We were not designed to do life alone. Your problems may not go away quicker, but you’ll be stronger together as the storm passes by.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 16 – Forever 

Forever is a long time to grow. Are you willing to do it?

I mean it. Are you willing to a make a pact with God that you will grow as long as you live here on Earth? After all, we are the seeds of Adam and Eve and quite frankly, there’s still some growing to do. If plants can do it, why can’t we? Why can’t we do what seeds do – germinate and multiply? 

It seems hard to think about, but we are designed to break free from the shell of innocence and yield a life with more seeds to plant. With our words, deeds, and talents, we were created to expand and produce a harvest for others to courageously do the same. 

So, when I say “Forever is a long time to grow,” I intend to invoke conviction of every intrapersonal and interpersonal interaction you will have for the rest of your life. I want you to think about the seeds your fruit is producing for others to ingest. I want you to think about forever

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. 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 3 – rewind

Backing up and starting from the beginning are two different things.

When we want to get something over with, we tend to start over from the beginning to create a clean slate. On the contrary, rewinding means that we go backward toward the direction of a starting point – which can be difficult to locate at times. Looking back, the weeds of bitterness or sorrow may have grown around the sidewalk edges. Cracks of time have gotten wider between some relationships and behind you, it looks like a lonely journey of self-discovery.

How often do we skip the steps of searching backward because it looks scary?

Most say that going backward will stagnate your forward movement. I agree, to an extent; however, the likelihood of repeating the same mistake is inevitable if you don’t travel back to find the glitch. Imagine you are lost while driving on a two-lane road at night. The trees create a dark canopy that causes you to change your mind about continuing forward. You are tempted to stop, but you’re too afraid to turn around. Only two things can happen at this point… A) you can go forward, or B) you can rewind. Both directions have risks, so it’s just a matter of which one you’re going to take.

Discovering why you are a compulsive liar, why you lash out at the people who love you most, why you’re an alcoholic, why you’re a hoarder, or why you’re repulsed by your spouse will not host the sweetest back steps, but it can help move you forward… for good. When I listen to music or watch a movie, sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll miss the part I need to see or hear again. So, I rewind instead of skipping the seconds. It wouldn’t be so bad if we did the same thing in our lives. Starting over is a beautiful thing, but it doesn’t mean rewinding is a bad one. It may get ugly as those cobwebs are cleared out to reveal the part you need. THAT’S OK. You’ll be able to “wind” again if you start the process now.

Don’t be afraid to rewind. Don’t be afraid to find the glitch. Don’t be afraid to press play… again.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

No Matter What 

Flight Write: ATL -> DCA -> PVD

No matter what, God is good. 

His goodness is not contingent upon my feelings,  reactions, or justifications. He is good. Period. And His mercy endureth forever (Psalm 136:1) – which means whatever I’m going through, whenever I’m going through,  wherever I’m going through it, He is still good. He transcends time and situation. There is nothing too far where God’s mercy can’t reach; He’s already tHEre. There is nothing too hard for Him where His goodness will not reign.Psalm 136.1 YouVersion

I have a list of things that went wrong in the last 7 days, but I also have a list of what went right. They combat each other, and then they balance each other out.

How can you laugh when your license plate was stolen off of your car in broad daylight? You get grateful that your car wasn’t missing too.

How do you not be upset that you have to work on your day off? You become grateful for employment. 

How do you breathe when someone leaves your life? You begin to thank God for the time you had, knowing that s/he could have been born on the other side of the world and you would have missed out on her/his awesomeness.

I’ve grown in this area, this No Matter What territory. Life’s challenges continue to improve my agility. I’d like to think that I came straight from heaven with it, but it was forged in me through my parents and mentors that served as night lights along the way. 

CAUTION: This No Matter What mentality is not for the faint of heart. It comes with distractions sprinkled like glitter on a carpeted floor, luring your focus away from your purpose as you attempt to walk forward. It has splashes of anger as you recall the sacrifices you made while fighting your demons… alone. It requires you to acknowledge the bad stuff, square up, and say that all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)… and believe it. It means crying tears of courage that leak from your broken heart.

No Matter What takes practice. Expect bruises. Check for sores. They’ll be there, but keep walking, keep praying, and keep fasting from the feast of your fears.

Believe, no matter what.

Give, no matter what.

Go, no matter what.

Love, no matter what.

And while you’re standing there braving the winds or bent over wounded from the blows, remember that Jesus is Immanuel. He is with you… all the time…

no matter what.

Peace and thanks for listening!

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