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In the Moment

Good Day, Good People!

I had a great conversation with a girlfriend of mine on March 14, 2017. We established that fear of the good is real. What do I mean by the good? You know, the good stuff in life. That moment when you have a smile on your face so bright that it could burn the sun. The moment when all feels right with your world. The instant you close your eyes and tilt your head back. When the good happens, you know it. You feel it. Everywhere.

Unfortunately, you can have so many scars from the not-good (because there are some that feel the bad are just “life lessons”) that you expect it to come around the corner at any moment. Lurking like a burglar, the not-good appears to be ready to stand in your sunny spot on the concrete and steal your shine. Fear of the not-good coupled with a fear of the good can cripple the strongest of souls. You can be scared of success and fulfillment and the responsibility they could bring to your current and future statuses. You could also be terrified of the good holding hands with an invisible evil twin that could devastate your life in a single breath. Both fears are real. That’s what she and I discovered that night. That’s what we share. What a beautiful moment of transparency.

Fear has the capacity to suck in all the hope you had in your hands and leave you cold and isolated. It’s a sad transaction. The exchange of wanting more out of life and being anxious of the deficit of despair in return. Who doesn’t want to take a month long vacation? Or sail on a cruise ship more than twice in a lifetime? Or sit still in a cabin in the mountains and drink hot chocolate while gazing at God’s Handiwork? What would actually happen if in the moment, we absorbed the good? Not anticipating the bad news, the hiccups in the plan, or the no-show of the crowd, but soaking in the goodness of expectation? It can actually be sweet, you know. I’ve tasted it once or twice or three. Somewhere along the continuum of God’s favor, grace, and purpose lies me… scared of both ends. Then, there comes a time when you are simply sick of being afraid. You want to drink the sunshine with the biggest cup you can find in your heart. You want to dance the street (with or without rhythm) because you got the best news of your life. You want to walk into the interview like a victor, expecting to get the call back. It doesn’t matter if 5 minutes from that moment you get a phone call that’s nerve wracking. Maybe the sunshine in which you chose to stand can grow your tree of hope a little taller and set the roots a little deeper to withstand the winds of the storm ahead. You won’t know until you stand in the moment and the take the good and all she has to offer.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

I’m convinced that the power, love, and discipline (also called “sound mind” in some versions) come from standing strong in the good and soaking it well beyond your pores and into your soul. Beyond that polarized fear, there’s all Three waiting to secure our hope, to anchor it down deeply in His omnipotence. That’s the power of the good. It serves as a reminder when the not-good comes.

So, what’s stopping me from hugging the good with both arms? Absolutely nothing.

What about you?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of The Chicago Now

I held it in my open-faced hands like gold from a Pharaoh’s tomb. It was here. Finally. And I was touching it with my soul.

The connection I felt when I slid my fingers across the slick cover… it was an intimate moment. I had done it. I had published a book. My book. The one that I started nine years ago after being laid off, wondering what I was going to do next. I thought I had found my dream job, but the garden in which it was located could no longer provide financial fruit. The book was my private little project. For awhile, no one even knew that I was writing. It was preciously scary. I didn’t want to contaminate the imaginative outcome I steadily played out in my head – girl writes book, book does well, girl gets paid, girl travels the world and girl works for herself. It was a ludicrous movie that replayed over and over again and I didn’t want it stop, so I didn’t tell anyone. I kept the tickets to myself and attended my cerebral theater alone throughout graduate school, until she came. Nancy. A she-fox that would rock my planet with the belief that my little secret movie could be realized. Here she was in Birmingham, Alabama with a publishing company, books, paintings, jewelry, music… and all I could think was “How?” and “Can I do it too?” She forced me to see beyond my sight and work toward my vision. I let her in and she got a front row seat to my secret movie and didn’t flinch. She smiled and I felt safe. She began to share with me and I with her. I had a gained a friend and Shero.

I’ll never forget the thorns and rocks along this road, the people I’ve gained and lost, the tears I cried in angst, the prayers I repeated, the fear hovering  nearby in trees of doubt, and the joy I felt when I typed END on the manuscript. The breath I held the first time I gave it to her seemed to last forever, just like it did when I heard she died. I stopped walking along the road and let the vines grow into my secret theater. I didn’t want to write and it pained me to think about it. Spiritual cobwebs caught my words every time someone asked “So, how’s your book going?” I dreaded the answer. It was deathly to think of cracking the doors open and letting sunshine in the wounded halls of my heart… but I did. Now, my book, the fruit of hands, was sitting in my lap and it was seducing me. I wanted to open it up and enjoy the exterior all at the same time. After holding it next to my heart for a few minutes, I laughed at the rear view of the road to fruition. I couldn’t believe how faithful God had been. When He said that He would bless the work of my hands, I didn’t fathom that some days my hands would feel empty and barren. That materializing my thoughts wasn’t a lie I kept feeding myself. I was a writer. Always had been. In the back of my grandmother’s car was always a writing stick and some paper. I even found out along the road that my biological father wrote poetry. So, my secret movie wasn’t so secret after all.

We can all be discouraged as we peer down the road ahead and see the shadows of the unknown. But we have to keep going. We have cling to the truth that we are seeds and seeds have to buried and/or watered in order to fulfill their purpose. The dirt will be isolating and the water will make us feel like we’re drowning, but we are made from both elements, so we will not die. We will grow. We will thrive. We will live out loud. After all, someone needs the fruit that we are destined to produce. Keep dreaming, keep walking, and keep working, my friend. You’re on a road, not in a box.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

*By the way, I found this daffodil beauty along my walk this morning. Sweet.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 28 – Detour

Another short stop to get you through the week. Hope it helps!

I was on my morning commute to work last week and on target to arrive early…so I thought. When I turned on GPS to check the traffic report, it indicated a 13-minute slow down. I was disappointed needless to say. Then, about 10 minutes into the drive, an alternative route option appeared and I accepted the helpful alert. It was quicker, but definitely unconventional. I never take that route to work because it has too many bottlenecks, but I trusted the notice and exited early before hitting the jam that I couldn’t see. There were more traffic lights and smaller streets, but no traffic. No bottlenecks. I was stupendously surprised. And what do you know… I totally missed the slowdown and got to work with 5 minutes to spare.

We must trust God in the detour.

That’s what I heard that morning. Just like I trusted my GPS to get me around the traffic jam, I trust the Father to lead me around, through, and over the difficult areas in life. I have to believe that His plan and sight far exceeds mine.

I thought of each time I thought I had it all figured out and how wrong I was. How many beautiful people I met on the road I didn’t want to travel. How much money I wasted trying to save a dying mode of transportation that I thought was a lifeboat.

The Truth is I can’t see what’s ahead. I can only guess. I can only estimate and plan accordingly. I can’t know what will happen, but God isn’t bound by time on Earth. He supersedes it effortlessly because He made it. So, it’s only practical that I trust His GPS over my calculated fears and prideful steps. Often times, we have both hands in those messy roadblocks. Other times, we can’t see them coming. Either way, listening to the voice of God will help us greatly. Simply put, He knows more than we do. He is trustworthy in the detours.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 27 – The Mix

Good Day, Good People. Here’s your quick short stop reminder for the week.

You can’t just pick the good parts.

It takes the bitter to make everything sweeter. Let talk cooking for a minute.

Cake ingredients taste separately horrible. Who wants to eat plates of flour, salt, and baking powder? Um, no. Who will eat two servings of delicious cake? Me.

Other scenarios to think about: Salt is often added to chocolate to enhance its flavor in your mouth. Salad dressing needs oil and acid in order to accentuate your leafy greens. Marshmallows balance out with cereal. Sand needs heat to make beautiful glass. Your fresh fruits and vegetables need fertilized dirt to grow. And trust me, there’s nothing sweet about fertilizer.

Now let’s talk life. You can’t just pick the good parts out of people when you choose relationships. There is an ugly part in everyone. It’s part of our organic makeup. After all, we’re dirt ourselves (if you need a reminder, take a bath). Just like you can’t pick out parts of people, you can’t dissect the map of your purpose journey either. There are some rocks, trees, desolate places, and cold nights in the midst of those sunny steps. It doesn’t mean you stop walking. You know the purpose overrides the bad parts. That’s how “all things work together” in Romans 8:28.

Lastly, the Truth of God’s Word may not be the icing to your situation, but It works together just like those cake ingredients. Get some encouragement as you go through The Mix. You’ll be better for every part of it, not just the marshmallows.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of the SavorySweetLife.com.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – Opposite Day

After reading Genesis 41:41-57 –

What if we did the opposite of what is expected? In times of opulence where more is more, what if we exercised the wisdom of restraint? Instead of gluttony and racing toward a fabricated finish line, what if our actions were governed by the Truth?

Joseph envisioned a day when years of plenty would run out, so he stored accordingly. Isn’t it interesting that the famine still occurred (it was predicated on his preparation), but Egypt wasn’t affected (which was predicated upon preparation)? The world was in the middle of the same timeline, but not experiencing the same thing. They were having opposite day because wisdom had her way for seven years. Then, to top everything else that was “a-plenty”, he was blessed with two sons. God must have known they would not lack as well because of Joseph’s track record of obedience. The truth was, if you read Joseph’s story, he had a lifetime of opposites and lived with flying colors (pun intended).

I love that last part – verse 54 – “but in all the land of Egypt, there was bread.” Even though times were shiny and bountiful, Joseph acted upon what He was shown… and stayed true to it. This resulted in a series of events that affected others positively. There was harvest in famine and all benefited…the economy, the families, and the leadership.

God keeps walking me down this “we’re all connected” trip. One act, one word, one person affects another. What we do now has a trickle down effect on the present and the future. Our obedience and disobedience makes pathways before us and others. I pray that I make a positive road as my obedience grows stronger. Then, I can be well on opposite day. When things aren’t lovely and plentiful, I can still smile.

What about you? Have you experienced moments of plenty and didn’t prepare for opposite day? What do you do differently now?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com/Orla via timeanddate.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 21 – How to be a Bounty Hunter

Quick tips for the holiday weekend via Daily Prompt: Bounty

Today marks Christmas Eve and there are people scrambling to find the perfect gift at the perfect price – or perhaps a gift that will “do” for the last person on their list. The adrenaline rush that comes from finding that jewel in the haystack is an addiction for the last-minute shopper and while that may be attractive to some, I travel on a different route this time of year. I give to people around me all year at very random times because I love surprising people with love. I am not in the rat race of marathon shopping, but I can help. My name is Christina and I am a bounty hunter.

#1: Know what you’re looking for.

The first step in being a bounty hunter is knowing what you’re looking for. I know… that sounds counterproductive. You’re out looking right now because you DON’T know what to look for, but honestly, you do. You know you’re looking for something that will make the person smile, laugh, and/or feel loved and appreciated. You’re looking for a glimpse of them in the item. If you pick it up and you don’t see them smiling or using it with pride, put it down. You’re settling and the receiver will pick up on that.

#2: Bow down to the truth.

You waited until the last minute. Stop being childish and frustrated toward workers and other shoppers for your misuse of time and resources. Be truthful and be patient. You may not can afford that $100 watch, but you can give a thoughtful $25 blanket in their favorite color because you know they always get cold during movie night. You’re not going to find the perfect gift without it costing you time or money, so just be humble, breathe, and go into that store or into that kitchen with the receiver in mind – not your inconvenience.

#3: Focus on the Bounty.

Christmastime is when the world gives presents and spend significant amounts of time with friends and family. It’s imperative to remember why people travel great distances to sit and drink hot chocolate, watch football, enjoy a movie, sing hymns, and share pictures. The real bounty is the time, not the gift. If anyone makes you feel the opposite of that truth, accept that whatever you give will not be “good” enough. You could spend all of your savings and that person will still think of something else you could have bought. I don’t suggest cutting off your cousin, but you may need to check your heart at the door of the department store. Give what you can and let it fall as it may. Focus on the real Bounty, the generous gift, the true compensation – YOU.

You are the gift of premium price. No one can replace you or cover up your existence. Your birth was trumpeted in heaven and has since made a mark on this earth that can never be erased or validated by dollar sign. You are the wealth. You are the opulence. Every person in your life should see you as the prize, not just what you have in your hands. That applies both ways, too. See people as bountiful blessings and you’ll always find the perfect gift.

Now go out there and smash that to-do list, my fellow Bounty hunter. *wink*

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Day 19 – No Place Here

Know your place and theirs too. 

People in your life come and go for various reasons. Not every entrance and exit can hold the same weight. Some were meant to teach us, reach us, expose us, ignite us… similar to the famous adage about people coming into your life for “a reason, a season, or a lifetime.” A few years ago in my quiet time, God gave me a visual of this people-flow and placement. It was plain as day and it made so much sense. His lesson was for me to learn where people need to be at certain points of my journey and that being offended about their placement (or mine in theirs) is not an option. What a harsh, but valuable classroom experience it has been.

Imagine a two story house in a suburban neighborhood with a beautiful front yard and fence. Now, let’s go to the scenario He showed me. Keep in mind that throughout your life, you may have the same person weave in and out of these areas. It doesn’t mean that if s/he is in the yard, s/he doesn’t love you. You have to look at all of the players on stage within the proper context of the story. Remember, you’re part of someone’s story and you have a place too. That’s why you can’t get offended. *whew*

The Street – minimal connection; not interested in engagement; “checking in” as they pass by; sees snapshot of the outside and creates a portrait; may include gossip about snapshot; primarily public interaction

The Sidewalk – stops by to check-in every once in awhile; satisfied with snapshot plus a peek into small details; keeps walking; may or may not smile as they continue toward their aspirations, so don’t revel in their responses; download the intentions and let them pass

The Yard – play and have a good time, small talk to catch up, still at a distance but closer than the street and sidewalk, within the fenced boundaries of respect to private life, permits sharing of life details at will; still open and free

The Steps – more intimate than the yard; small talk to catch up with more details included; cognizant of yard, sidewalk, and street people’s view of you; people on the fence of your heart tend to congregate here – maybe too afraid to get close, but too invested to go away; be careful of those that linger here with ill intent

The Porch – close, but not close enough to come inside; like the feel of outside, but enjoy the presence of you; insightful conversations can to spark here due to vulnerability

The Living Room – for the good times; communal; entrance and exit easily accessible; enjoy the moments and leave soon after; can relax around them; be careful here if you keep having to serve them and it is not reciprocated; meaningful conversations can grow here; bad interactions can be stopped here before they germinate

The Bedroom – usually located in the back or upstairs of the home; the inner sanctum of your heart; intimate conversations and moments are shared here; full disclosure and trust; not afraid of the ugly; good and bad interactions can thrive here, so be careful who has access; can spill into living room

My #LATSOL Lessons

  1. Everyone doesn’t belong everywhere, and that’s OK.

  2. Be mindful of where people want to be in your life. Respect that space.

  3. Be a vessel of love with a fence to protect it. Love doesn’t let us abuse it.

What about you? Have you had similar lessons about people placement? Can you add to the list above? Did you have to swallow this pill and/or implement your boundaries?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo courtesy of Homeplans.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 17 – I Can Do It Better

“Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you!”

Have you ever heard that song? It’s one of my favorites. I know the feminist undertone makes it an anthem, but my truth is that there are some things that I can not do better than someone else. On the other hand, there are things that I truly can do better… but it doesn’t mean I should.

Here’s a short stop for you before the workweek hits you like a ton of bricks.

Analyze what you can do and whether you do it well. See if there is anything holding you back from doing it better. Seek ways to enhance yourself. Regroup by reading. Sign up for a free class or lecture. Shadow someone you deem an expert and even someone you deem less than perfect. You may think you can do a lot of things better than someone else, but the passenger-seat-syndrome will do that to you. Instead of competing against someone, compete with yourself. You won’t get it all at once, but you will get it.

If I can teach a 65-year-old miner how to use email and he used that skill to change careers, you can get better at something too. Be patient and apply everything within you to beat your last score.

You can do it, Champ. I believe in you. I believe in us. Let’s do this.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo from Annie Get Your Gun

#bloglikecrazy: Day 16 – Soup or Naan

One thing about me that you should know… I love to enjoy my food. So, these last few weeks of getting acclimated to this post-wisdom teeth-extraction diet has been an adventure.

I’ve always loved soup, but lately, it’s been a power player in my pantry. Comforted and warm describes how I felt when I placed the first spoonful of Campbell’s Slow Kettle Style Tomato and Sweet Basil Bisque in my mouth. It was the middle of the day and I had managed to sneak a peek at a lunch break which usually hosts a student or two or three. I only had 10 minutes of bliss to salvage and I was determined not to leave hungry. I had told myself that the naan would be too tough for me to chew. I thought about it and decided to go for it anyway. Naan has always been a favorite of mine, but the way that Indian bread stood up to that soup was pure magic. I sat back in my chair and enjoyed the experience. Then that’s when I heard His voice.

“You never know what little thing can bring comfort to others.”

We don’t realize how often small things are taken for granted. Soup and bread. Precious staples during harsh times in history and right then, they were an edible blanket of security for my busy day. I was so appreciative, so grateful that I could eat a meal. What some would call meager, I tasted fine dining. It wasn’t so much about the brand; it was the state in which I was in to receive it.

“Humility makes everything taste better.”

How humble are you willing to be in order to receive what you need? I would have loved to have eaten a steak after days of mashed potatoes, but that was not intended for me on that day. On a larger scale, consider the following: The very thing that you pass up could be exactly what you need, but your pride is too big to see its value. With your prideful glasses on, the little thing that could bring comfort to your spirit will appear to be less potent. So, it’s not the thing… it’s you. Your mindset. Your heart space. Your spirit setting. Humility can make everything taste differently, and that’s a diet everyone could use.

So, you want soup or nah?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

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