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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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women

Wednesday Wind Down: Matri

Happy Wednesday, Family!

Mother’s Day is near and I’ve been reflecting lately on lessons I’ve learned from the matriarchs in my family. Before I dive into that pool of goodness, I must acknowledge the mamas in this virtual living room and those mourning their mamas. I love you all and I see you. I appreciate you and I’m hugging all of you right now.

April is a reflective month for me because two of my late grandmothers’ birthdays are in that month. When May comes, the flutter of mother’s day rests on my heart in the same sentimental space. It’s a peaceful area. I feel the spirits of my matriarchs everywhere and their wisdom wraps me up and steadies my seas. Below are four lessons that steer my life to this day.

Photo by Timothy Paule II on Pexels.com
  1. Keep your mind sharp.
    When my great-grandparents drove down from Ohio to visit us in Alabama, it felt like Christmas morning. Not because they had a bag of presents, but because Great-Grandma Coffee was my mental playmate. I was nerdy elementary kid and she reveled in it. A few books of word search puzzles was always in her bag and my eyes lit up every time she held it in her hands. When she calmly pulled out a pen from her purse and rested her knees in that rocking chair, I knew what time it was. The challenge was on to see who could finish a page first. We could go through 50 puzzles in a matter of days. She had a head full of trivia. If I beat her, it was a miracle. Our word search battles were the stuff of gladiators. Her daughter, my grandmother, was the same way… always stretching her mind. Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy were constantly playing on the television and I loved it all. Thank God for matriarchs that weren’t afraid to show their wit.
  2. We are stewards of the Earth.
    My paternal grandmother taught me early that God gave us a divine charge to take care of this planet. Recycling was non-negotiable and eating fresh foods was normal. She read every label and screened every meal to ensure it was nutritionally balanced. Aloe plants thrived in her apartment It’s because of her that I only purchase 100% juice and that I can tell you which vegetables contain certain vitamins. She’s why I eat broccoli like candy and monitor my fried food intake. Her mantra was that we were made from the Earth, so She had everything we needed to survive. I loved that about my grandmother and I appreciate her wisdom in marrying our faith to Mother Nature.
  3. Do it well or don’t do it at all.
    One thing about my grandmothers and my mother, they were/are notorious perfectionists. My aunts are the same. What you could not do was do something halfway and they find out about it. No way. Make that a hell no with stadium lights around it.. My grandmothers could dress to the nines and could organize an event better than any professional planner. They stressed that the only thing you truly own is your name and is imperative to keep it intact. Whether it was re-applying the crooked stamps on the envelopes or making sure my choir robe was pressed, everything has the stamp of your name on it, so care about everything that leaves your hands.
  4. Serve from the heart.
    I watched my matriarchs serve people from all walks of life when they needed Love most. Their hands were extensions of God. I saw grace with my own eyes from elementary school onward and it germinated grace in me. My mother called the parents of her Sunday School students every Saturday to ensure they were coming the next day and to offer a ride if they needed. The little brown Chevette carried a caravan, you hear me? Every week, she picked up youth choir members and anyone who wanted to go to church. That single mother on a shoestring budget made several trips if necessary. My mother. Every week. Rain or shine. My aunt wakes up asking God to show her who to help today, then… she actually does it. No matter what it is. When you serve others, you do it from the heart of God, or don’t do it at all. Period.
Photo by Akil Mazumder on Pexels.com

None of my grandparents are living, but they live within me. Their wisdom stands around me when life gets rough. I appreciate everything they instilled in me and all that my mother still pours into my soul. It’s a priceless gift.

I pray that you are surrounded by maternal wisdom from surprising places if you’re not able to retrieve it from your family. Matriarchs are all over the place – in your community, your church, your neighborhood senior living center or retirement community… anywhere. Reach out for it and be amazed at the richness you’ll find.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Family. I love you and stay well out there!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #12

To my RHOyal SoRHOrs of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. –

Happy Founder’s Day and Happy RHOvember! I won’t be too mushy — promise. lol

Here we are celebrating 98 years since our Founders agreed to spread more service into the world.

It was a risk. Being women in college was an accomplishment alone. Being Black women on the predominately White campus of Butler University in the 1920s was a rarity. Organizing to uplift other women in times of suppression was deemed a sign of protest. I think about these factors often when facing hardship especially during times like these. The opposition was immense back then, but they did it anyway. They extended help for present needs while keeping the future in mind. They had us in mind.

I know the world gravitates toward the photo opps, but prior to social media and ready-to-snap cameras, all they had was each other, their word, and their actions. That’s it. If no one saw it, the impact was still made. They knew the fruit of their labor was real.

SoRHOrs, may we be encouraged to take that same spirit of tenacious scholarship, sisterhood, and service and multiply it everywhere. No service is too small. No act of sisterhood is too far. No scholarship is too great. Let’s continue to check on each other. Let’s support each other’s efforts and hug each other’s children. Let’s continue to be there for the wins and create a strength circle around the losses. Our seven Founders knew those sentiments all too well as they were called derogatory names and fought through obligatory and ridiculous red tape. They knew that every closed door meant another one had to open for another woman. They kept going and I’m so glad they did. I wouldn’t have met you.

Of course, we believe Sigma is the best and my God, are we diverse. lol I pray that the authentic spirit of our Founders causes a tidal wave of solidarity among all Black Greek Letter Organizations. We were founded on greatness — all of us were. I hope we pump lifeblood into every situation. I pray that we are breath of fresh air in our personal and professional arenas. I want every industry to have poodle prints all over it. It’s not up to our famous SoRHOrs to do it — every member has that power. That’s how we got here. We saw a Sigma and she made an impression on us enough to take a step toward doing the same thing for others. We decided to multiply.

Remember why you joined. Remember why you stayed. Remember why you’re here. I love you all.

On The Shield Always,

CJW

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!

#bloglikecrazy: Peep My Prayers #5

Prayer: “Your handiwork is breathtaking. You made me so well.”

Hey, Sweethearts. Welcome to Day 5 of #bloglikecrazy. Thanks for reading!

So, I have a confession to make. I have never struggled with body positivity in regards to my shape. Yes, I realized I was skinny as a kid — especially when my grandmother’s friends told me that my hips were sticks — but, I recall letting their comments bounce off my little breastplate and going outside to ride my ten-speed. I have never fought the battle of hating my form. Now, my skin tone? We had to work on that.

In elementary school, I was called nigger, inkblot, darkie, blackie, midnight, holy draws, goodie-two-shoes, etc. The verbal attacks were always related to my color, my faith, or my virginity. By the time I reached high school, you couldn’t tell me that my skin wasn’t comprised of chocolatey goodness. I had developed confidence without forming an ego. Before #melaninpoppin became a thing, God opened my eyes to how beautiful I was in His eyes. I remember the moment distinctively. Puberty was in full swing and I noticed stretch marks and… wait for it… hips! Instead of being horrified, I traced the new wavy lines on my body. They seemingly appeared overnight and my nerdy self was fascinated. I squeezed the new fluffy additions on my hips and smiled in the mirror. They were soft and looked sweet, especially since I was an aspiring doctor and admired all things anatomy. I was ready to wear them with pride.

Oftentimes, I look in the mirror and speak those words of prayer. I let the Creator know that He did an exceptional job. My mind, body, and spirit do amazing things on this Earth and I am grateful for what I see. I love the thickness of my thighs and moles on my face. Now, Myrtle (my encroaching gut) has gotten rude and out of hand due to various factors, so she’s got to go starting after Thanksgiving, but I don’t hate her. She just needs to be checked so some of my favorite clothing items can fit the way I want them to (I know… purely carnal). I don’t model my body according to societal standards. I just want to be the best creation I can be to show my Creator that I appreciate His Masterpiece.

I pray that you appreciate the same about yourself, Sweetheart. Pray that prayer as you look into the mirror once a week if needed. Do what you got to do. Love that body and do right by it.

Peace, Thanks for listening, and pray those real prayers, Sweethearts!

Wednesday Wind Down: Woman Up

Hi, Sweethearts!

I’m so glad you made it through another week. *fist bump* You’re still here. That makes you a survivor and if no one has told you lately, I’m proud of you. Want to chat about dirt? Great!

I was in a good place before it all went down. For weeks, I kept thinking about Earth… the ground, the air, the resources. Someone even asked me about global warming recently and I shared my sentiments. God didn’t make us dump trash in the oceans and hurl pollutants into the air for decades. We did that. And when was the last time you recall such frequency of turbulent and abnormal weather patterns? Alabama was still breaking heat records with 100-degree days well into October. So, do I also think Earth is aching (Romans 8:19-23)? Absolutely. I believe we are experiencing two forces at work every day — divinity and volition. After all, we are made of dirt and water, right? Anywho, I digress… let’s keep going!

ball shaped blur close up focus
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

Take this same battle to an internal level and I see the same tug-of-war. The person we became based upon the decisions we made vs. The person God created us to be. It’s a realistic struggle, yet we also have to factor in situations that happened to us, not because of us. This is where I was spiritually before it all went down Tuesday… in a good way. Let me explain…

The Birmingham stop of the Women Evolve Night in the Wild Tour sold out four hours before I got off work and could purchase my ticket. So, I pouted for a few minutes and faced the fact that I wasn’t going. The next day, I heard God’s voice clearly say “You need to go.” The only available ticket was for the Nashville, TN and I just knew that wasn’t the method on deck. My financial basket wasn’t prepared for the road trip. I figured someone I knew wouldn’t be able to go in Birmingham and she would miraculously let me know. So, I waited it out. I even had a Gideon moment. If the Nashville stop still had tickets available that Monday, I would go. Needless to say, He tested my faith and I drove peacefully up I-65 to receive the spiritual refreshment I needed. Like soil, I gathered the broken pieces of my heart and prayed that God would nourish it when I got there. My knee burned fiercely, two women cut me off in the parking lot, I had to walk an incline and a significant amount of stairs, but it was minor in comparison to the vulnerability I would face and the strength I would receive. I took this picture before service because I had a gut feeling that I wouldn’t care to take one later. I was right.

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During worship service, I held those pieces of my heart as my hands flew up to the heavens. I traveled solo, so I didn’t know anyone which meant there were also no inhibitions. I was determined to get what I came for.

Within the Word, Pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts mentioned the importance of women recognizing themselves as beautiful and formidable soil. She invigorated our supernatural selves and I found myself in a sanctuary full of other women that brought their cardiac fragments too. The atmosphere was safe. I cried freely. When she asked for women to come forward if they needed to uproot toxic seeds, I didn’t hesitate to limp down those stairs and receive the necessary work on the soil of my soul. I had roots of abandonment, depression, despair, and pessimism hiding deep within and at the most inconvenient times, they would germinate and I would feel ashamed. The crazy part is that I could see each seed and I knew exactly how it got there. So, those pieces that I brought with me were really sprouts from past pain both inflicted by my decisions and by things that happened against my will. Healing was one thing; I had undergone that spiritual surgery. Allowing infusion of strength in exchange for those pieces was a completely different story. It required a deeper layer of trust — a full submersion into my vulnerability — to the only One who wouldn’t hurt me. It sounds like an easy surrender, but vulnerability makes me itch before I have to do it. When you’re already at a low point, you have nowhere else to look but up. The difficult part is relinquishing your strength in exchange for His once you’ve stood up.

That’s what went down… well, up. And I’m so glad it did. Sweetheart, I encourage you to allow the Lord to aerate the soil of your heart. In the beginning, it may hurt like hell, but that exchange is necessary no matter how many times or levels you have to experience. Each time, remember that you’re beautifully crafted and God wants nothing more than to help you up so awesome seeds can grow out of you.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday Wind Down: The Valve

Hi, Sweethearts.

My smiles this week were a direct descendent of my cries this past weekend. Yes, I said cries. There were definitely more than I expected.

I knew they were coming because of a series of unfortunate events this year, but I didn’t know when. Friday was a low point and a couple of tears leaked down my cheeks, but no more than that. Then, Saturday, there was a straw that broke this camel’s back. My hands started shaking and my heart rate increased. In less than five seconds, unintelligible speech spilled from my lips and my sweet sister was able to catch every drop of my pain on the other end of the phone. While she assured me, the waves of tears came so strongly that I muted the phone. I knew the scream was coming with more tears in tow. I tried to muffle that duo for months, and now they were inevitable. The next day, I had a terrible headache and my eyes were tender. Regardless of the discomfort, I felt… lighter. Not necessarily better, but lighter, which was more valuable to me.

Because of that cry — that release –, I was able to smile in the photo below and mean it. This was taken at a book club event hosted by my writer’s community See Jane Write. I was chosen as Member of the Month and my book was chosen as a summer read. I was able to soak in a beautiful experience with these beautiful souls. I was able to sparkle in a grateful moment instead of listening to the cacophony within. I don’t cry easily, but I learned a long time ago that there are only so many times you can twist that valve to the right and say “Nope, not today.” The muted mixture needed a sound because three days later my spirit would desire to smile.

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So, I am sharing this with you so you can allow your valve to be open too. Whatever cry you need to see a genuine smile on your face and feel yourself radiate the purest happiness one minute of life can bring… it is worth the flow. There’s something lighter on the other side of that scream. I also encourage you to provide a safe space for someone else to not feel alone in their tsunami. Someone you know may need to turn the valve to release the pressure as well. He needs to be heard. She needs you to listen. And if the tears fall and the scream reverberates, they need you near. There’s no better support than sharing the same comfort you received.

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I pray that you have a wonderful week until we meet again. Peace & Thanks for listening. Check that valve.

#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*

Can You Help A Mother Out?

Good Day, Good People!

So, it’s the day after mother’s day and I intentionally planned to post this message today. Yesterday, I chose to be present in my mother’s presence. No social media, a few quick texts to give my well wishes, and that was it. I absorbed the day with my parents and loved every minute of it.

Well, consider this the morning after Mother’s Day (see what I did there?) and you have a special treat. Below is a link to my free downloadable 3-day devotional called “Can You Help A Mother Out?” I wanted to share words of encouragement based upon the experiences of my friends and family. Hopefully, this eBook will envelope someone in positivity this month – long after the flowers and cards. If you’re not a mother, please share this free eBook with a mother near you (plus three more).

Here’s the link: Can You Help A Mother Out by CJW

Peace & Thanks for listening (and Happy Mother’s Month)!

Dance Your Heart IN: Part 2 – We Got SOLed

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You need a session. Trust me.

After an invigorating dance-in-the-dark party in February, I was all about having my private party on the night before my August 20th birthday. What better way to celebrate my fresh wind of feminism than with other Wonder Women? I hand-picked a few close friends that I thought would appreciate the unique experience and invited them to dance their heart in with me. When the dust settled, seven ladies were confirmed and I was elated to rock with them.

Related Sidebar: I’m an Olympics fanatic. Seriously. I try to watch everything. You know how the U. S. Women’s Gymnastics Team is usually earmarked with a nickname? We’ve witnessed the Magnificent Seven (Atlanta 1996), the Fierce Five (London 2012), and recently in Rio, the Final Five to commemorate the retirement of legendary gymnastics coach Martha Karolyi. Epic.

I decided to jump on board and nickname these seven sisters + our beautiful host Shannon. They were the Exceptional Eight and this new band of supersheroes were about to embark my birthday SOL ship voyage. Sidebar complete.

I’m a thinker, so I reviewed the dynamics. Three of the attendees were my sorority sisters. Two of the eight ladies I knew since grade school. The remaining two women, I met in college. And Shannon? She was a sister on-site. Our kindred spirits kindled a positive energy that burned over emails and spilled over into our face-to-face encounter. I loved how she fit right into our type of crazy. I even had an icebreaker planned just in case my multiple circles needed some communicative coaxing, but as Shannon pointed out, they already had something in common…me. Each one of them represented a part of me that identified with them, so why wouldn’t they blend? I must admit. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure how the session would turnout for them, but it resulted in an explosion of laughter mixed with bursting sounds of pure joy and freedom. I couldn’t have asked for more. It was a beautiful blend.

Soon, it was lights out and we danced the night away to a perfect mix of my favorite jams (Did I mention perfect?). We ate until our sweet tooths were satisfied. We shared words of love and humor and you could see the strings of sisterhood weaving among us. We were SOL-tied, a band of professional women that had worked hard during the day, but needed the unique forge of fortitude that night. One of my sisters even had to get up for work at 3:00 AM the next day, but was still energized when she woke up. It was that electric. I saw their faces relax and for a moment, we weren’t wives, mothers, students, caregivers…we were an assembly of queens drinking from the pool of cooling strength and being fitted in new armor for the world that awaited us. The shattered stress from our daily roles lie on pieces of pink paper around us and no one walked out in the same manner in which they entered. Everyone returned to the lobby a little taller, brighter, and ready to obliterate any obstacle in her path.

We were walking with sunlight in our pockets and positivity in our hearts.
Our steps had rays of sunshine beaming underneath as we matriculated to our night-kissed cars.

To say that those dance steps charged our feminine energy packs would be an understatement. We may have put on the same shoes, but they didn’t feel the same.

We got SOLed.

So can you.
Sole definition google Thank you, Google.

Peace, thanks for listening, and Happy Birthday to all of the August babies! We ROCK!

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