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Wednesday Wind Down: Full Circle

Good Evening, Sweethearts!

So, a beautiful thing happened this month and there were 3 messages that were so clear to me. I chewed on them a bit before sharing them with you and now I’m ready. But first, the context.

On Saturday, February 16th, the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation hosted A Conversation with Dr. Angela Davis at the historic Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama. I had the honor of performing Glory (from the Selma movie soundtrack) with my childhood friend G.I. Magus in front of Dr. Davis and a potpourri of historical and political pillars. I was appreciative just be a piece of the puzzle and I couldn’t have written a better chapter in my life story. Besides the obvious prestige, let me tell you why this was a jewel of a moment.

In elementary school, I saw a photo of Dr. Davis and was entranced. She was a beautiful mix of political prowess, academic excellence, and natural beauty. I loved the way she wore her freedom like a long technicolor cape. Her hair, her voice, and her facial expressions screamed confidence. It was official – she was a shero. The more I read about her, the more fire I felt and I was proud to know that she was a native daughter. I was convinced that I would have an afro just like her when I found the courage to do so. For over 10 years, I did and still do.

Seeing her this month was the culmination of multiple dots connecting to create a beautiful experience, which leads me to the first message – your past can touch your future at any moment, so spend your present well. You never know how hello’s can turn into a double helix of lifetime connections. The people I met in 7th grade, high school, and college would become creative geniuses, community organizers, academic powerhouses, and prolific speakers. Any way you slice it, the fingerprints of my past were all over my future and I was in awe of the masterpiece.

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It’s a blessing to genuinely develop relationships over time, which leads to the 2nd message I heard that week –  your character will follow you wherever you go. This past weekend was a reminder that how you treat people goes far beyond the present moment. I’m not perfect, but I am so grateful that my rapport was strong enough to last a decade or two and some awesome individuals thought positive of my footsteps. That is a gift I will never take lightly… as long as I live. I hate it when people size me up based upon what I can do for them. That’s why I love learning about the spirit behind the job title and socioeconomic status.  In the end, we all appreciate being seen as a person. We appreciate a chance to disrobe our character and let it walk freely ahead of us.

The third message was just as loud – your help is waiting on you. I couldn’t have performed with confidence without the support of my tribe. The prayers from my mother, the love from my small group, the perfect track from my friends, the training from my mentors… there were familiar faces in every facet of this opportunity, each of them believing in God’s gift in me. I am forever grateful. Forever appreciative that when I asked for help, many hands opened wide. Pride keeps a lot of people in the jail cell of their souls’ contempt. I was once a prisoner of that warden and never will be again. This experience was a reiteration that some are still held captive.

Sweethearts, you are exceptional. Stop trying to be perfect. See everyone around you as an individual, not as a marketing tool. Try to be a better version of yourself than the day before. Whether you know it or not, everything will come full circle if you let it. I am so glad I did.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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Wednesday Wind Up: Make It Stop

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

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

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

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

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

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

#bloglikecrazy: Day 30 – Love It Up

The Good

#30 – I spent mother-daughter time at the beach!

These posts have not been published in the order of importance, but I definitely saved the best for last. It was desperately on my heart to enjoy the King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort with my mother during the Word of Faith Love Center‘s At The Table Women’s Ministry Retreat. This is not your stereotypical Christian retreat. You know the ones… you’re not super saved unless you wake up at 5:00 AM to pray with everybody, attend 5 breakout sessions with 10 different speakers, 2 prayer meetings, then snot-nose-cry on the floor well after 1 AM. Not that I have never been a broken piece of clay at a spiritual event (because I have), but if you tell me that I’m attending a retreat, that is what I expect. I shouldn’t need a vacation when I return home. That’s what I wanted for my mother. After the decade she has had, a time to refresh and replenish her spirit was not part of the calendar. So, that’s exactly what we did and it was the really Good stuff of this year.

The Lesson

Allow your love level up.

I had attended the retreat twice before, but this year was different. It seemed like everything in the world tried to prevent me from going (just like the previous years), but instead of focusing on the obstacles, I was relentless about the outcome. My mother was coming with me no matter what. And guess what? She felt the same way. We double-teamed our discomfort with faith and action. We declared and decreed that we would not only attend the retreat but that we were going to have a fabulous time together. There was a season in our relationship where that was not our warcry, so I was so full to be able to say those words.

Love overrides obstacles every time. The obstacles will be there, but they don’t have to shine. Don’t be afraid to let love surpass the pain, the frustration, the history, the cracks, and bruises. My mother is the most resilient person you will ever meet. She greets challenges with a smile and hammer ready to work. Every day. Since I’ve been born, she’s been on the grind and it healed my soul to see her singing in the ocean, trying new foods, embracing her natural hair and new makeup, and connecting with other phenomenal women – including me. I love her more now than I ever have. Because we decided to “level up” our love, I am able to witness the expansion of her courage in real time and be an active participant of her regeneration. Love breeds love, so all we have to do is let Him breathe between us.

Peace & Thanks for listening! I appreciate you hanging with me again this year during #bloglikecrazy. It’s been a blast. See you next week on our regular Wind Down Wednesday schedule. God bless you all and enjoy your weekend, Sweetheart. I love you too. *hug*

#bloglikecrazy: Day 27 – Level Up

The Good

#27 – I got to “birthday chill” with Kendra Dear!

Well, that’s not her real name, but it’s what I call her. She began to know me as her high school teacher and now she’s my performing arts troupe teammate and sister. Sounds weird? Not really once you know the backstory. I don’t make a habit of turning former students into friends, but this one? A rare occasion that was worth every step of the journey. The result was the opportunity to celebrate her birthday with food, exercise, and fun this year and I couldn’t have asked for a better time. We had excellent conversation and I was so grateful to celebrate her life.

The Lesson

Be willing to walk the journey. 

I didn’t expect to be on the same team when we met, but I truly believe that God knitted us together as family. Despite her youth, she has been as loyal and encouraging to me as one that has known me for a lifetime. What she doesn’t realize is, while I mentor her, she fortifies me every time she overcomes an obstacle… and trust me, she’s had more than her fair share. She is my mentee, but she has proven to be my friend in sensitive times. On the phone when I was studying or grading papers late at night, calling to see if I made it home from work when she knew I was sleepy, and checking to be sure I ate when she knew I didn’t want to – these are just the minor leagues in comparison to the sincerity, joy, and downright determination she gives to those around her. My life has been enriched because she’s in it and going forward, I will continue to be appreciative every step of the way.

Peace & thanks for listening, Sweethearts! “See” you tomorrow!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 21 – ThanksFORgiving

The Good

#21 – My colleagues became my teachers!

This is for every teacher out there that gives of their time, talent, and treasure in order to see their students “get it.” My co-workers gave me the gift of their professional passion and I couldn’t be more grateful. While I was in therapeutic massage school, they volunteered their wisdom in various ways and enjoyed pouring into all of us. From 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM every day, I was a student and I received all of their awesomeness. Truthfully, I became their fan. They were not colleagues during that timeframe; they were my instructors and their goal was to see me succeed in my new journey. They helped me study and practice after school when I needed it and cheered when I passed my boards and landed my first independent contract. They also hugged me as I cried. I couldn’t have asked for better gurus for uncharted waters.

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Kate the Great is what we call her because she does whatever it takes to help you learn.

The Lesson

You truly do give what you get.

I can’t count how many times I stayed after class, drove to campus on my days off, and counseled students to pursue their passions in the midst of adversity. It didn’t matter that I was exhausted or that my bank account was coughing dust… I wanted to give the gift of care to people that were transitioning into their next levels. I didn’t think I would receive all of that back from people that I admired as my friends. The best gift was to be an open vessel in their classrooms. It is truly possible to receive what you pour into others and I appreciate every drop.

Peace & Thanks FOR giving. I love you all.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 20 – Happy Feelings

The Good

#20 – My mother got a great doctor’s report!

I was able to attend my mother’s check-up visit and her doctor gave her rave reviews. Mind you, my mother only schedules early morning appointments. No, really… if they opened up at 5:00 AM, she would be the first patient. So, I was grateful to go with her before my morning class and hear that her numbers were good. She has been working hard to be a healthier version of herself and I was so proud of her in that exam room.

The Lesson

It’s OK to switch places for a bit. As I sat there with my mother, I thought of how many times she was in my position – at the doctor’s office waiting for the all-clear. Now, here I was doing the same thing. Yeah, my prayers and expectations were up, but it didn’t stop the wait and wonder. When I got in the car, I was overwhelmed with gratefulness that I could be there with my mother like she was there for me. I was appreciative for a caring mother that I could care about that day and every day.

Peace & Thanks for listening! “See” you tomorrow!

 

#bloglikecrazy: Day 19 – Friends

The Good

#19 – I had a lunch + chat with Laura!

Laura is my secret weapon. If you pass by her in a hallway, she has so much wisdom and humor in 1 minute that it will leave your head spinning. She’s witty and brilliant and has beautiful salt-n-pepper hair. We were co-workers for 5 years and that title morphed into friends over my teaching career. You know how you say “Keep in touch! Let’s have lunch!” and you truly mean it, but you never do it? Well, we grabbed intention by the ears and actually did it and I enjoyed every minute.

The Lesson

Friends can be found anywhere and age has no boundary when you have kindred spirits. Kindness can exist among generations and workplaces. Laura and I would check on each other throughout the workday and combine our educator superpowers to increase student achievement. I didn’t know I would have a friend like her in my life when I accepted the job offer, and now I can’t imagine my life without her in it.

Be on the lookout for authentic people. They truly are everywhere.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 17 -There Is Repair

The Good

#17 – I spent time with Sorors that I haven’t enjoyed in years.

Before I was a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc, I joined Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority. While in undergrad, I was lied on about a sensitive issue and the hurt resulted in me deciding not to remain connected to my chapter. I was close to a few Sorors but was not interested in repairing relationships as a whole. This year, I made a point to be emotionally transparent enough to allow love to flow in that vein again. Best decision made. We laughed, ate great food, exposed our thoughts, and vowed to excavate the ugliness and start the repairing process. I have had an absolute blast with these lovely ones ever since.

The Lesson

Repair is possible if you want it to be. When teaching introduction to communication, I use the following definition found in Communicating for Success by Cheryl M. Hamilton: Communication is a transactional process by which people, interacting in a particular context, negotiate the meaning of verbal and nonverbal symbols in order to achieve shared understanding. 

There are some relationships that served their purpose and I am not interested in repairing, rebuilding, or refreshing them. Then, there are some that all it takes is the commitment to seek understanding for something beautiful to grow. Even if we don’t agree, we can agree to have a meaningful transaction full of honesty, sincerity, and just plain old love. Yes, I can love you and not become intertwined into your life again if it is not a safe place for me to breathe, but if there is life there… there is the opportunity to repair, rebuild, and refresh. If both parties desire to do so, it is possible to communicate in a healthy way to allow aeration of the soul. What happens after that? *shrugs* That’s the part you have to let go. That’s the part that isn’t wrapped up nicely in a bow. You may pour your heart out to each other and still decide that you do not want to repair, but at least you created the space for Truth to flow. And that was the Good part.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 14 – Wisdom Walking

The Good

#14 – I enjoyed the presence of mentors.

Tena Wilson. Annie Joe Edwards. These ladies are legends and I can’t talk about them without beaming with adoration. Honestly, I’m a fan of their artistry and their queendom. Whenever I can watch them perform, I treat myself and marvel at their creative excellence. Then, when it’s all over, I get to hug these two powerhouses and they shower me with wisdom, humor, and love.

Queen Tena (as I call her) is on the far left of the photo. Actor, music educator, and vocalist extraordinaire – opera, jazz, spirituals, you name it – she can sing you into euphoria.

My SoRHOr Annie Jo is in the middle and she still hand-scores her music. *insert emoji face with heart eyes here* Music educator, actor, songwriter, playwright, pianist, and comedienne.

Between them, they have decades of entertainment experience and touring under their belt and they’re also great friends.

The Lesson

Sit under wisdom and stay there. “Yes, ma’am” freely leaps from my lips and pride is nowhere in the room. I listen. I learn. I obey. I accept. I pay attention and I leave richer than I came.

When you see wisdom walking, stop and soak, especially when someone wants to share her with you. Proverbs 1:20-29 says that wisdom cries in the streets with the hopes of gaining your attention. Too often, we’re just too stupid to listen to Her. Consequently, we succumb to negative effects and wonder why they happened to us.

Wisdom is not far away and you may be surprised at how freely She flows when you ask for Her.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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