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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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truth

Thursday Love: Purple People Pleaser

Hi, Family!

First things first – guess what? I intentionally went to bed before midnight last night. *gasp* I know! I’m surprised too! Usually I stay up to write you, but I was led to turn in early… then my dog decided he wanted to frolic up and down the street without returning home for about an hour.

When you know you messed up… #SammysWorld

I growled, retrieved him, and still managed to throttle down before midnight. I say that’s a win. Thanks for celebrating with me. lol

Before I went to sleep, I knew the contents of this post and I’m so excited to encourage you today. It’s a little meaty, but there’s good stuff and pictures, so let’s get into it!

I want to talk about Aaron, Moses’ right-hand man and priest to the Israelites. He’s one of my favorite Bible profiles to study because he had such an interesting life. Here’s some facts you may not know.

  • He was older than Moses by three years (Exodus 7:7).
  • He was commissioned to be Moses’ eloquent mouthpiece as he confronted Pharaoh (Exodus 3:14).
  • His staff turned into a serpent in front of Pharaoh and ate the other magician’s staff-serpents (Exodus 7:8-12).
  • He made the infamous golden calf that caused Moses to flip his lid and break the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32).

Yes, you read that right. Aaron made the golden calf. From the Israelites’ earrings. Ear-rings. Let that sink in.

Photo by Rafael Barros on Pexels.com

To put this in a present-day perspective, imagine you and your older brother (emphasis on older) built a company from the ground up and he sells it to the lowest bidder without telling you. So, you come to work one day, and the employees are having a fully blown party. Cake. Balloons. Alcohol. Dancing on desks. Everything. Then your brother says he didn’t know how the sale took place, that he just gave the people what they wanted. That would make you angry, yes? I know I would be furious.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well, that’s a small equivalent of what happened between Moses and Aaron. Moses trusted Aaron to be his go-to. They confronted Pharaoh together. Traveled the wilderness together. Beheld the intricate assembly of the Tabernacle (their mobile place of worship) together. Saw God rain manna (small pancake-like food) from heaven together. While the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites, Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms so they wouldn’t lose (Exodus 17:8-13). He was bestowed the responsibility of priesthood to lead alongside Moses. He was even outfitted with custom threads made to God’s specifications to represent his leadership calling (Exodus 28). So, you can imagine the disgust Moses wore on his face after he comes down from Mount Sinai with God’s Words in his arms, still beaming with glory from meeting the The Most High to find out that his older brother was the culprit of the calf and leader of the party. Then, to make matters worse, Aaron gives a lame excuse and says the calf just came out of the fire (Exodus 32:24). Really, dude? <— my real life response. See what I wrote next to the verse.

I write what I think as I read the Bible. Good ol’ reading comprehension skills happening over here.

Now, before we judge Aaron and his tomfoolery, let’s recall when we did something not-so-great under the pressure of others. Here he is, among the anger of thousands, wondering how much longer his brother was going to take in the mountains. “He’ll be back soon,” my imagination hears Aaron saying to himself. “Just be patient.” The grumbling grew to insurmountable degrees. The legal matters multiplied as he judged with his best intentions. Their piercing eyes alone would have made anyone nervous to come out of his tent. Then one day, he cracked and gave in to the people. This is where I wanted to bring you into the picture. The “you” that tends to say yes when you should say no. The “you” that accepts the invitation when you should respectfully decline. The “you” that foregoes your preferences for the comfort of others. That “you.” That’s who I want to bring to the table to meet Aaron. Meet the leader. Meet humanity. Sometimes we forget that as we read God’s Word that there were people in it. Blood, sweat, and tears. Skin. Fear. Love. Admiration. Ambition. People-pleasers. For a moment in time, Aaron set aside his divine directive to oversee the Israelites while Moses was gone and gave them what they wanted instead of what they needed. How often do we do the same? Setting aside our divine instructions for a temporary moment? Throwing up our hands instead of squaring our shoulders? The answer is probably more often than we think.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

My favorite part of the story is that God didn’t throw Aaron away. Not only was he outfitted in customized priestly garments, but so were his sons. In Exodus Chapter 39, we see the same attention to detail and craftmanship put into his attire as in Chapter 28… and this is after goldencalf-mageddon. He reminded Aaron of his identity. He reminded him of his purpose. It comes full circle when you research Aaron’s garments. Part of God’s instructions were to engrave the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on two onyx stones. Onyx has been known throughout the ages as representing protection and forward movement from the past. I believe Aaron the priest needed that prayer just as much as his people. His breastpiece included jewels that represented each of the 12 tribes and a linen pouch sown inside of it carrying the Urim and the Thummim, which were stone-like objects used for divine decision-making. He was to wear this breastpiece over his heart when he entered the Tabernacle as a reminder that he would carry judgment for all 12 tribes (Exodus 28:29-30). How befitting… that God would give him such responsibility before and after the decision to create the golden calf.

If you find yourself being a chronic people-pleaser, know that you’re not alone, that it is easy to fall down that wormhole, and that you can get out. My suggestive start is to say no to one thing a week that you usually say yes to and that you would probably feel guilty about later. Just one no once a week until you’re comfortable with that level. It doesn’t have to be a rude one and you don’t have to overexplain it. Just exhale it and let it breathe into the moment. Start there. Pray about where you should be so you don’t overbook and overwhelm your schedule. I do it all the time and it started years ago with a prayer and a stressed-out face looking at my calendar – “Lord, where do I need to be?” As a result, I haven’t been stressed about my schedule again.

Wherever you are on the spectrum of people-pleasing, I pray that you uproot insecurities and fear of rejection. I pray that Love wraps around you so warmly that you remember exactly who you were fashioned to be. People-pleasing is a dangerous trap that always leaves you as the victim. My prayer is that you remember that you are the survivor.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Movie Night

Hi, Family!

You made it to another week and I’m glad you’re here!

So, I made a goal to catch up on Marvel and DC movies starting this month. I’ve missed quite a few over the years (don’t throw me away, Squad), but I’m determined to see them all.

So far, I have seen Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, and WW84. I’ve been a feminist since before I knew the word (just ask my mother), so I decided to begin with these titles. Let me tell you – I saw divine lessons all up in those movies. There were too many gems to cram into one post, but I’m excited to share three of them from Captain Marvel with you tonight (Spoiler alerts below if you haven’t seen it). Being still in geeky mode, I’m only going to use character names, OK? Great!

Captain Marvel

Lesson: When you know who you are, nothing can stop you.

I felt empowered watching Carol Danvers (known as Vers for half the movie) discover the strength in her true identity. She literally lit up. The more fire flew threw her veins, the more I nodded in affirmation. My spirit rose to the surface of my skin when she said, “I’ve been fighting with one arm tied behind my back, but what happens when I’m finally set free?” I’ve asked myself that question more than a time or two.

Family, when we know who we are in God – when we know who we were created to be – no evil force can overcome us. Period. C’mon… did you see her break through that stronghold? Did you see her flex on those bad guys after she removed that device from her neck? Then she said, “I have nothing to prove to you” when taunted by Yon-Rogg to engage in fist-to-fist combat, right before dragging him (literally) by his arm to his flying vessel. Perfect.

Photo Courtesy of IMDb

Lesson: The power is your mind not your hands.

Vers was used to fighting with her fists. She believed they housed her power. The force of her potential was realized when her mind was free. How cool is that for us to remember in times like these? So often, we are shadowboxing through life… transferring anger to anyone within earshot. Once we are free in our mind, we do not need to prove anything with our might.

Lesson: Everything isn’t as it seems. Pay attention to the Truth.

I wasn’t expecting the aliens to be the good guys based upon how the movie began. What a perfect twist and a great reminder for us all. We’re so used to absorbing stereotypes about people and ideas without seeking the Truth for ourselves. Once Carol slowed down to listen to the heart of the Skrulls, she was able form context around her experience with them. I thought of how often our story is the only one we bother reading. I thought about how comprehensive our understanding could truly be if we listened to each other. How often we block beautiful possibilities due to the earplugs of pride. Like I told my students, know who you’re mad it and be sure you’re mad at the right thing. There’s nothing worse than misdirected anger. Perhaps we can adopt her sentiment – “I’m not going to fight your war. I’m going to end it.”

Have you seen this movie too? If so, what did you see in it besides Stan Lee’s regular guest appearance? 🙂

I love you all and I believe in your purpose. Stay well and stay encouraged.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Thursday Love: Don’t Curse Your Current

Good Afternoon, Family!

As I prepared for bed last night, this short-stop message floated in my spirit just for you.

Say this phrase with me –

I will not curse my current.

Say it again if you have to –

I will not curse my current.

That’s what I’ve had to say aloud a few times this year. I’ve had to remind myself that my current situation is the very thing that will carry me into the next breakthrough. The current is a current and cursing it doesn’t help. Let me explain.

You can swim or ride a boat in the right direction, but if you don’t understand the currents, you can still drown. The water doesn’t just flow straightly; it has unexpected curves and riptides. The current is always changing and you have the choice whether to move with it. I guarantee if take Jesus into your current, you will always have an anchor. A safe place in your boat. A reference point. A compass. It won’t matter if the current feels like it’s taking you under or it’s sweeping you off your feet like a gust of wind. Even if you don’t know why you are where you are, you can be assured that you are on your way to a purposeful destination and that your current has a purpose as well.

Photo by julie aagaard on Pexels.com

So, what do you do in the meantime, especially when it seems like water keeps getting into your boat? You refrain from cursing where you are and be thankful for the current. It’s the very place that will grow you into the person you were designed to be… the person needed to handle the destination. Be mindful that when you curse your current phase, you block your opportunity to develop into a better version of yourself. I’m an avid believer that every difficult situation is designed to teach me something and to make me better. I may feel completely clueless at the time, but when I look back at every riptide, I can see how it strengthened my spirit for the next chapter. I’m also reminded that it eventually dissipated; currents do not last forever.

Family, no matter how tempting it is, do not curse your current. Seek God for direction and understanding, but don’t curse it. You’re unknowingly cursing your gift of the future.

So, let that current develop your discipline. Let it stretch the boundary of your skill set. Let the experience trim profanity from your daily dialogue. I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for us!

Stay well out there and love you much!

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: Now Trending

Hi, Family!

How’s your week so far? Terrible? Great? Both?

I feel you and you are allowed to feel all of those. Yesterday, I celebrated one year of co-hosting QueensBeLike Podcast, but on Monday, I had a mini-meltdown, so hey… no judgment here. We’re in this thing together. *fist bump*

Tonight’s wind down is a tough love post. It’s also a short stop. 🙂

Here we go.

As we close March, we mark one year since the world acknowledged the dangers of COVID-19. I believe it was spreading before we took it seriously, and just like other times in history, we missed the warning signs. It was a conspiracy theory or no different than the flu until there were body bags. Until workers were fatigued. Until healthy patients died next to chronically sick ones. We missed it. That’s all there is to it.

Photo by Rodrigo Santos on Pexels.com

Other warning signs we’ve missed this decade (yes, I said decade) are too blatant to ignore.

One sweep of severe weather and possessions are ruined.
One month of unemployment and salaries feel like peanuts (or they always were).
One minute of wildfire and homes are lost.
One second of a decision and a lost life is a hashtag.
One virus and confusion germinates.

All it takes is one anything and our lives can be disheveled and we are eye-level with our transient brothers and sisters. There are no stables for our high horses and the reminders keep coming.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How many reminders do we need? How many times does God have to knock down our philosophical towers of babble formed with bricks of insatiable egos?

COVID-19 still permeates between geographical boundaries leaving trails of anguish behind. Political unrest and social injustice are yet seething underneath tectonic plates of arrogance. We are deafened to the cries of innocent immigrant children while justifying the economical rape of those we sabotage.

The more we bury our heads in warm jackets of jaded comfort, the more I believe God sighs for us to catch the hints… to notice the following trends:

  1. All it takes is one thing to change everything.
  2. We can’t say we love God and not love each other.

When “Get a better job” is the response raising minimum wage, we’ve missed it.
When we enjoy art and education from professionals then refuse to pay them fairly, we’ve missed it.
When we arrest a congresswoman for knocking on a door, but allow rioters to attack other humans, we’ve missed it.

Once again, Jesus looks at our hearts and wonders where He fits. There is little room for His Love to multiply and the world is watching.

Family, we need to listen to the loudness and move in the stillness of Truth. We need to synchronize in empathy. We need to be the Body we were created to be.

Pray this prayer and pray that you mean it – “Lord, show me my blindspots.” Let that trend.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #4

Pop, you’re the real MVP.

After raising children on your own, you decided to accept a single mother as your wife and a bitter pre-teen as your daughter. I couldn’t be more grateful for you.

I’m so glad that I was able to tell you everything I wanted to while you were here. I have absolutely no regrets in our relationship. My love for you grew into a beautiful tree that I still pick from well after you’re gone. The fruit of our memories are so sweet.

Photo by carol wd on Pexels.com

One day, I watched you walk down into the dog lot and I said to myself — “They’re Friends.” You walked with God daily. I could hear you praying through my bedroom wall every morning. I saw you bless those that outwardly cursed you. You didn’t just pastor a church; you lifted the Word from the pages and let them saturate your life. You helped widows. You kept deacons out of trouble. You sat at the dining room table with at least 5 books open as you combed the Scriptures (Internet who?). You gave vegetables from your garden to anyone who wanted them. You mentored other ministers. Even when rif rafs broke into our home more than once, you said “Let it go.” I simply remember your kindness toward people and toward my mean self too. It wasn’t you. It was my fear leaking into my actions. I was scared that my mother wouldn’t have enough space in her heart to love us both — after all, it had just been the two of us for all of my life at least. It’s so ludicrous to say aloud, but it was definitely how I felt back then. I’m glad we ended up talking about that too and hugging it out. Your arms were wide enough to handle anything I brought to the table.

I remember the time the school office called you because I needed to be checked out. Mommy was at work and you were at home being amazing as usual with home-cooked meals, clean laundry on the clothes lines, and a freshly mowed lawn. After your stroke, you couldn’t go back to work, so you took care of our home lives without a shred of complaint. That day, severe menstrual cramps caused me to vomit and shiver. I was doubled over on that carpeted floor in anguish. I couldn’t sit up let alone stand up. Trying to hold on to my perfect attendance, I held on until after lunch then I caved and agreed to let them call as I rolled over to my side. With no cell phone in our worlds, you came to the rescue in that old pickup truck with the dog pen in the back like real Marvel Comic hero. The limp from your stroke couldn’t stop you. Your swollen hand couldn’t prevent you from steering to me. It never did. You were the cavalry that day and all the others thereafter.

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

What about when you washed my clothes and the whole load turned pink… *giggle* I was so mad as I pulled my shirts and underwear out of the washer like they were sprayed by a skunk. Then, I heard the Holy Spirit say “At least they’re clean.” *laugh* I couldn’t debate that. Then came Mommy’s wisdom about you being man enough to do my laundry while I was at school and how I should be grateful. Needless to say, I didn’t complain again.

I sure do miss you. The snowy white strands of hair on your head. Your quick wit. The multiple pair of overalls. I can still hear your voice clearly giving sound counsel when I want to go off on someone. You had so much trust in me… that I would make wise decisions. You even helped my mother to trust me too. As I write this letter, I am smiling so wide because I had the best experience as your daughter. I was in good hands. You told my mother that you wanted me to feel a father’s love. Well, congratulations Pop, I did.

I love you always. Have fun up there.

CJW

Wednesday Wind Down: See The Proof

Well, Sweethearts, we made it to another week!

I’m glad you’re here and if no one has told you — you did a good job making it from last week to now.

With the news of ongoing injustice about our sister Breonna Taylor, it is easy to ask what more is needed beside the obvious to escort justice to the front row. It’s easy to feel the effects of gaslighting because that’s exactly what this is.

If you’ve never heard of gaslighting, let me tell of its evil doing. Have you ever been mistreated and the offender did not take responsibility for the offense? When you brought it up, s/he said you misunderstood the action. If you react or respond, they said you were wronging them. You begin to question whether you experienced what you did. The offender inadvertently tells you that you’re at fault or that your feelings are insignificant… that what they did is acceptable. Sound familiar? Congratulations — you’ve been gaslit.

Photo by suludan diliyaer on Pexels.com

It causes you to question your sanity and it creates a pipeline of exhaustion in the relationship. Then, as soon as you stand up for yourself, you’re the bad guy. You’re the one with the attitude. You’re the culprit. Well, you’re not alone, Sweetheart. I’ve been there.

What gets me through those moments of anguish is this new fact that I learned during the pandemic — I have the power to absorb the proof. Overall, I always ask God to show me what I need to see. This year, I had to learn to include gaslighters in that prayer. When they show you who they are, start thanking God for the proof.

Yes, be angry.
Yes, be annoyed.
Yes, be tired.
Yes, be confused.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

Galatians 6:7

After you’ve been all of that, tell God that you appreciate the truth in front of you. It truly is a present. That’s what I have had to do to keep from exploding during those moments. Remembering that Truth aerates freedom (John 8:32) and that gives me the authority to release the reins of manipulative powers. I no longer have to be inflamed by their invisible fumes. I don’t have to play the game. I see the proof and it’s all I need to make a healthy decision.

I pray that you find your proof during these unprecedented times, Sweetheart. It’s easy to get lost in the waves of despair, but the Truth stands between Breonna Taylor and her murderers. He stands between you and your offenders. He is Jehovah El GemuwalThe Lord God of Recompense – and justice is never pristinely wrapped. Don’t let current events sweep you away from the Truth. See the proof and move forward in your freedom.

I love you and pray that you are staying safe out there. Peace & Blessings!

Wednesday Wind Down: Help Wanted

Hi, Sweethearts!

I have a quick stop for your week.

Help comes in different forms. The question is — do you want it?

Now, before you respond with hearty yes, take a minute a think about your answer.

Help sounds heroic, urgent, even sexy. We revel in being the helper. I’ve seen pre-Kindergarteners fight over who would help the teacher and adults battle in a boardroom to supply the solution. We like to help, at least most of us do. Sometimes this heroic (or altruistic) gesture comes with a price. We end up being horrible at accepting help when it’s our turn. I heard a preacher say once – everyone wants a miracle, but no one wants to be in need of one.

Fast forward to the next dot on this shortstop — What do you do when you need help? And I mean, you know you need it, but being in the mess feels good. It feels cozy. Comforting. Familiar. You may start to indulge in thoughts that keep you bound in the mess… recounting the past or imagining a future that may never arrive. Next thing you know, the thought clouds pass and there you are… still captive in the muddy mess. Let’s go practical.

Rom 13.14
Courtesy of YouVersion

In order to wrap yourself in the presence of Jesus instead of marinating in the warm, cozy mess, you have to accept help. Your heart has to be open enough to receive it. This sounds easy, but it can be difficult to release what feeds our monsters. When we do, the presence of Jesus creates a new blanket for us to curl up in. The downside? We can sometimes use our faith as an excuse not to seek help.

So, whether it is gluttony via extra trips to fridge or lack of self-control by mismanaging your funds, you need help and it’s up to you to accept it.

It’s mental health awareness month, so there are professionals available to help you through the rough patches. I have a shortlist of counselors/therapists I can share if you need a starting point; just private message or email me and I will send it to you. After all, God made therapists too. That’s a form of help you may be avoiding. That’s a healthy journey to receive the peace of Jesus’s presence in your life.

So, I’ll circle back to the beginning — Help comes in different forms. The question is — do you want it? What do you do when you need it? 

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Learning Again

Hi, Sweethearts!

Two years ago, I wrote a short stop entitled Learning to encourage you to be comfortable with your vulnerable process. What more of a reminder do we need than right now?

I’ve been keeping a running tab on all of the things I have done and learned during the quarantine. The items range from refreshing my French via Duolingo to shredding unnecessary paperwork. The list also includes life lessons. I’m going to share two of them with you and I look forward to hearing yours.

  1. I still have enough pride not to ask for help. So, I thought I got rid of all of my pride when I was unemployed during graduate school. I truly thought I passed that course, but apparently, a smidgen of it is still left and boy, did it get dealt with.
  2. I had a necessary and challenging conversation with a friend. A conversation I avoided for months because I was overly accommodating. It took more than one phone call, but the result was a friendship on the mend instead of another carcass in the desert of emotional dishonesty.

I know everyone isn’t staying at home, but I’m sure this season is giving us all another life lesson opportunity of some kind. Are you willing to learn again? Are you teachable? When it’s all said and done, we can’t say we didn’t have the chance. So, what is something you’ve learned so far?

I’m praying for you, Sweethearts! Keep shining!

Wednesday Wind Down: Fruit For Who?

Hey, Sweethearts!

This is a shortstop for your week.

I was talking with a friend recently and the Holy Spirit said something through me. I chuckled and couldn’t wait to share it with you too. It’s quick, so here goes!

Trees don’t eat their own fruit.

I know. Simple, right? Here’s the next part.

Who’s eating your Fruit? For whom are you growing?

The fruit of the Spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 comes from spiritual development. While it would be lovely to be born with all 9 attributes, that’s just not how it goes. Undoubtedly, we wouldn’t need a Savior, and how else would you acquire temperance, but I digress…

I used to think of the fruit of the Spirit as a bowl of apples, oranges, bananas, etc. Later in life, they seemed more like a cluster of grapes to me (I mean, who can eat just one grape?). Each grape works together to create the fruit of God’s Spirit in our lives. And that fruit… it’s not designed for you. Sure, you are a better version of yourself with it, the fruit is meant to be consumed by others not the tree. Period. If you clicked the link in the previous paragraph and scrolled down, you saw that each fruit was described using a feminine singular Hebrew word. I don’t think that’s by accident. Once a tree “births” fruit, it releases it, rests, then grows more. Sounds just like a woman huh?

So, in that case, how can you keep love to yourself? Even peace and self-discipline benefits those around you. The fruit developed in you was created for someone else to consume and grow as well. Now, let’s go back to that 2nd question and wrap it up…

Who’s eating your fruit? For whom are you growing it?  Hopefully, you have answers to these questions. If not, let me help. Anyone within eye view and earshot is in that number. I don’t care if you’re in the grocery store or liquor store, anyone is fair game to see fruit in you. The question now is what are you showing them?

Sweethearts, someone is watching you grow. It doesn’t mean you have to be a perfect work in progress; it means that your fruit may be just the nourishment they’ve been waiting on. So, just keep growing.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Have a great week!

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