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listening at the speed of life

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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: Slumber

Well, Sweethearts… I have a confession to share.

I’ve been sleeping pretty well and not at all — and it’s been great. Let me explain.

You already know that I’m a night owl. That’s when my creative juices come out and play.  Sometimes their stride can generate a supernatural momentum, so much so that the sun and I say hello the next day. When that happens, I don’t just get a lot done; I am infused with energy to execute the plan laid out before me.  If there are obstacles in my way like a bunch of linebackers, I feel inoculated against them and empowered to run them right over. Lately, this is how those sleepless nights have been.

woman in black overall lying down on wooden dock
Photo by Tomas Anunziata on Pexels.com

Then, there’s the flip. Aside from a few not-so-great health days, my sleep has been sound. Ridiculously sound. It doesn’t hurt that my work commutes have stopped under quarantine, so that created a lot of room for naps as needed. For someone who usually spends 4-5 hours a day in a car, those naps have been golden.

I remember a season when this wasn’t the case. I used to have repetitive nightmares of various kinds. They would feel so real that I would delay going to bed. I would tire myself out in hopes that I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night. I felt tormented instead of settled at sundown. Then, this verse changed the game.

1587611324558_verse_image.jpg

I realized had control over my rejuvenation. The tumultuous overnights were actually an evil scheme against my productivity and my Peace. So, I took my sleep back. I quoted that verse every night before I went to bed. More than once if necessary (which was often).

My encouragement to you is that you re-possess your rest. When you sleep well, your body rebuilds. Your mental prowess increases. You power up to be a better version of yourself. Now, you can see why it was such a perfect plan… to steal something that would enhance your God-given awesomeness. Don’t let it happen especially in this season. You deserve to be your best self, so do what it takes. Speak with Word over your rest.

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart. Here’s to those sweet dreams too.

Sunday Special: Incline Your Ear

Happy Palm Sunday, Sweethearts!

I just had a “listening at the speed of life” moment.

I was sitting on the couch and noticed my dog’s ears. They were turned outward while he was lying on his bed. I needed him to move so I wouldn’t step on him (he likes to move his bed close to my feet). I shifted my weight and one of his ears turned toward me. I whispered his name and he looked up.

Now, when Sammy and I lock eyes, I know he’s paying attention; however, when he hears my voice, his formerly-outward ears rotate toward me.

Pause. Take note of that for a second.

His eyes can be on me and I know he will hear my words, but the moment I call his name, the orientation of his ears always changes. He not only recognizes my voice, but he is waiting to hear from me. It doesn’t matter what is on television or what music I’m playing, he hears me over the noise.

The Holy Spirit used this as a teachable moment and I said a quick yet sincere prayer right then.

Lord, may I always incline my ear to You. Your voice supersedes every sound around me. I want to always be ready to hear your voice — whatever it is You have to say.

Here’s a verse to chew on that relates to this prayer – Isaiah 55:3: “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.”

1586117155759_4772214-1586117097345.jpg
Courtesy of my YouVersion – Bible App

Here’s the next step. While out for our walk today, I heard more from the Holy Spirit. “He even inclines his ear when you shift.” It made me pause again. I shook my head and said, “Lord, please let me be so sensitive that I listen when you move.” Think of how much spiritual sensitivity and intimacy that takes… to change the orientation of your heart, mind, and body when God shifts his movement around you and in you. To turn your ear toward Him at a moment’s notice because You don’t want to miss what He has to say. That’s how I want to be. It’s how I am now, but I want it even more so.

I pray that your ears become inclined too. That during this season and beyond, you will hear the voice of God as clearly as you hear a parent’s voice. I pray that you recognize it clearly as the stillness of the world is commanded among us. Here’s a hint – His voice is usually not loud, but it is clear. Keep reading the Word and saying real prayers, Sweetheart. He is there and he is also listening out for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening to me. 🙂

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Corners

Happy Thursday, Sweetheart.

Yesterday, I took a break for in-home self-care and went to sleep soon after. It was so relaxing… so much so that I missed our weekly Wednesday check-in. I apologize. I did think of you before the slumber though. Below were my short-stop sentiments. I hope they help you through the rest of this week.

During this quarantine, we have a valuable opportunity. Yes, me too. Along with my cleaning fits (the Marie Kondo method continues), I am also allowing God to sweep the corners of my heart. You know, those rooms that you close the door to when company comes over? Well, those are the doors I decided to open to my Father for the last 20 days and it has been liberating. A little raw, a little ugly, but liberating. There’s something about being completely vulnerable with nothing holding you hostage. It’s a comforting bar of safety that supersedes this world.

On Tuesday, my church hosted a virtual devotional via Facebook and I used Mark 6:31 as my foundation verse to lead the meeting. In this passage, Jesus says something so sweet. He knew his disciples were exhausted from ministry travel and what else would be perfect than stillness and food? Sounds like a nice “welcome back” homage to me.

I don’t struggle with balancing stillness and productivity. It was a lesson I learned a long time ago; however, I am using this season as an opportunity to open the doors and let some fresh air flow through those rooms.

Sitting in one of those corners was the fear of being finite. That I’m on this continuum that will not stop until I expire. That I am not able to rewind. It only moves forward and I only move with it. I gave that over to the Creator along with a couple of other dust bunnies that were found. That’s what the Word does… it helps you see yourself. The one that God created. The masterpiece He had in mind. It illuminates those corners and creates a desire to live free and clear.

In this season, I pray you will allow the same sweep to take place inside of you. Every time you reach for your broom (or the disinfectant wipes), I want you to think about your heart. Think about those rooms. Before quarantine, many of us were able to restrict those areas, but now we are probably finding it difficult to do so… and that’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with vulnerability. There’s nothing wrong with being open. You just have to do with the right One.

I’m praying for you, Sweetheart. Much love and hugs to you. We got this.

Wednesday Wind Down: Listen Up

Hi, Sweethearts!

Before I get into the inspiration/motivation for this week, I wanted to shoutout my readers… that’s right, you. 🙂

Every time I sign into WordPress, I smile. People from all over the world visit this blog. Singapore, Romania, Iceland, Brazil, India, South Africa, The Philippines, Morocco… just to name a few. People in my personal circles read this blog too and I sincerely appreciate their support. I will never take your visit lightly and I am so grateful for every heart that reads mine through this site. Thank you and I pray for you all.

Secondly, here’s a quick word of encouragement — don’t forget to listen up. I understand the severity of COVID-19 and how important it is to listen out for facts over rumors. Quick sidebar: For accurate updates and well-explained information, check out Dr. Bertha Hidalgo at Chic in Academia. She’s a scientist and a fellow See Jane Write member. I love reading her Science Says posts.

One of the traps we can fall into is listening out for information without listening up for spiritual guidance. When I say “listen up,” I’m referring to infusing your spirit with God’s Word. Here are a few ways to do that –

  1. Go outside for a walk (while maintaining social distance, of course). Take a notebook with you or use the voice recorder on your phone to capture what God whispers to you.
  2. Since we’re in quarantine, utilize this time to digest one verse a day (I suggest YouVersion – The Bible App). If it won’t overwhelm you, read a chapter and chew on it for a week. I like to research historical and geographical information surrounding the passage I’m reading to gain context and expand understanding.
  3. Meditate for 5 minutes. Meditation comes in various forms, so don’t be intimidated by that word. One of my favorites is from AmaZen Yoga by Kimberly Snell. She combines scripture with yoga to create a spiritual meditation. It’s great for beginners. If you’re working during this time, here’s a post called work time yoga (it’s less than 10 minutes).
  4. Pray words of gratitude and authenticity. If you’ve been with me for a while, you know that I’m an advocate for real prayers. Being grateful for what you have and being honest with God about how you feel are therapeutic for the soul. It’s a way of releasing what is inside of you

Listening up keeps me refueled when I’m submerged in times that can tap me out of the game. It looks like we may be virtually stuck together for a while, so I pray that you are forged into a stronger and healthier you during this time — inside and out. That’s my mission. How’s yours going?

Peace & Thanks for listening, Sweetheart!

Wednesday Wind Down: Help and Hurt

Hi, Sweethearts!

Here’s a shortstop for your week. I hope it helps!

I work in two career paths that require interaction with people in vulnerable positions. As an educator, a student’s esteem can be elevated or obliterated in one assignment. During a massage therapy session, a disrobed client is trusting me to be knowledgeable, skillful, and respectful. In both seemingly non-related professions, I had to consider the same question: “How do you help them without hurting you?”

That’s the conundrum, right? In light of recent health precautions, many must consider this item for physical reasons, but I am challenging you to look at your relationships and pose the same question.

Familial: Do you have a social circle outside of your family? How do you refuel in order to pour out to them? Do you suffer from parental guilt when you’re not with your children?

Professional: Are you a workaholic? Do you need to reassess your work-life balance? Have you created an on/off switch for your work mode? (Trust me. There is one.  Celebrities and executives do it all the time.)

Personal: Do you have friends that only communicate with you when they need something? Are your bills behind because you keep loaning funds or playing taxi?

Be honest with God. Be honest with yourself. The lie is that if you don’t almost die in the process, then you didn’t give it your all. You didn’t truly sacrifice until you pass out trying. Let me help you, Sweetheart. Stop living (and almost dying) in that lie.

Every ounce of you does not need to be squeezed out before God honors your faith. There is rest. There is fun. There is help. Pour all of that into a beautiful mug of humanity and it will make the rewards of your relationships taste so much sweeter.

Here’s some Bible verses to guide you through those questions up there.

Stay balanced out there, Sweethearts. Remember… you should not be dying so others can live — Jesus already did that. I love you all!

 

Wednesday Wind Down: Noted

This week, I learned a valuable lesson. I mean really learned it. You know how you know something, but then at some point, you know it? Well, that’s what happened while I was minding my merry business.

On Sunday, I had a conversation that left me uneasy for 3 days. My chest felt tight every time I thought about it. After all, I had extended so much grace toward this particular entity, and there I was in a conversation about something beyond my control. I told the person in charge that I wasn’t offended, but truthfully, I was trying not to be offended. I was calm at the moment, but on the way home, I vented to God about it but it didn’t help. I was still tinged.

classic photo of a woman holding a tea cup
Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I knew I wasn’t upset with the person in authority. After some deep me diving (my emotional intelligence is high), I tapped into the real reason I felt “some kinda way.” I hate for my character to be in question and that was the spot that Sunday’s conversation hit on. So, before bed, I prayed that God would take away my default setting of retraction. I wanted to decrease my workload from this entity and let them know why. I wanted to open the box of grace extensions and remind them how they were not reciprocated. Forcefully, I thanked God for the work and tried to settle into a slumber, but I kept tossing. Still don’t know how I got to sleep, so I’ll chalk it up to divine intervention.

Thanks to the YouTube ministry, I watched a sermon by Bishop T. D. Jakes called God Smells Honor on the way to work (it popped up twice). I had heard the story of Noah a plethora of times but never thought of how the very thing Noah built for safety was also a smelly mess. Just think… animal and human waste + one window. *shudder* Then, Bishop Jakes mentioned that he pastored a church of fewer than 100 members for 10 years in West Virginia. He said it was there that God developed his leadership, integrity, patience, discipline, etc. The main idea of this part in his sermon was that the very place that is uncomfortable, messy, or claustrophobic is the very place you need to grow. So, I paused the video and prayed another prayer that went something like this — “God, whatever it is that you’re trying to develop in me, I accept it. Please help me to understand what I need to learn while I’m here. It’s only going to make me better, so I’m open.”

woman closes her eyes raising her right hand
Photo by Asa Dugger on Pexels.com

Within seconds of that prayer, I received a phone call for more work from that same entity but a different person. Now, what if I was in a petty state of mind at the time of that call? I would have rationalized a reaction that would have actually stunted my growth and my income. Instead of saying no to the work, I said yes… with a clear heart. Then it clicked. The entity is my soil not my enemy. Anything else is smoke and mirrors.

That’s a tactic of the dark forces that be — to create a spirit of offense so that you essentially attack yourself while you’re under construction. You forfeit your growth opportunity and end up being stunted in that area. Maybe it’s something tangible like organization skills or intangible like patience. This is where the Word goes beyond Sunday and meets you in the middle of the road. The broken one that you don’t want to be on.

Tonight, I pray that you grow up and pray a grown prayer. I pray that you see the soil for what it is… a divinely-purposed place to develop something within you or extract something that could negatively affect your future self. I learned that this week in a new way. It’s not easy at all, but anything that has to be birthed, is going to be messy and as long as I allow the smoke and mirrors trick to work, I won’t be able to turn into the improved version of C. J. Wade. I won’t be able to show the version of Jesus that someone needs to see. After all, my character can stand on its own.

By the way, you’ll have to check out Bishop Jakes’ tie between the ark, a cocoon, and a mother’s womb… an epic correlation. 

Peace & Thanks for listening! Here’s to aerating that soil!

 

 

Wednesday Wind Down: For The Village

Hi, Sweethearts.

In times like these, we desperately grasp for shredded remnants of words and memories to stuff into the holes of our despair. We don’t know what to say. We don’t know what to do. We don’t know if we want to breathe. We just know what we had, what we wish was left, and what we never want to let go.

Times like these also force us to do things. They make us pause, be more grateful, drop the petty ish (hopefully), and love deeper. The pain is horrible, but it does make us pour. We release empathy, tenderness, compassion, and camaraderie. Right now, I’m thinking about that outpour. The tighter grip we place on what we value most… each other. I’ve seen hashtags, photos, and videos that celebrate family, fatherhood, motherhood, athleticism, discipline, achievement, entrepreneurship, teamwork, leadership, and friendship — all the things that surpass materialism and fame.

So, let’s take note of what matters… what makes us tick day-to-day. We don’t get to let up on that outpour. If anything, tragedy should encourage us to increase Love to maximum levels. Could any of us leave Earth at any moment? Sure, but more importantly, we have the gift of family, friends, and networks that can house incredible memories that outlive our mortality. We have passions that could leave a perpetual imprint on the world.

Make your mark, Sweetheart. Savor opportunities to create meaningful relationships. Capture moments to love on people. Pause to admire God’s handiwork. Do random acts of kindness. It’s not about beating the clock of death; it’s about expanding and producing within the time you have. I, for one, plan to continue that mission.

Peace, Blessings, and Thanks for listening! Let’s go!

Ephesians3.19
Bible verse image courtesy of YouVersion

Wednesday Wind Down: Home

Happy New Year, Sweethearts! I hope you’re somewhere safe and enjoying your clean slate.

Last night, I did exactly what I wanted to do and I took no prisoners. I was in Landover, Maryland visiting Zion Church. Every year, they host new year’s eve worship services and an after-party. Two years ago, while serving online as a prayer/chat host, I said the following to myself: “I’m going in person. Just give me a couple of years.”  Well, I made it and it was incredible.

The welcoming spirit of the people bounced between the walls and spilled through the doors and into the parking lot. The line to attend each service resembled that of rock concerts. Trays of sparkling apple cider and snacks were served as we waited outside. The cold wind whipped around our smiles but couldn’t wipe them away. My sisters and I were simply excited to be there… together.

From beginning to end, their hospitality was genuine and infectious. I am still a prayer/chat host in their iCampus ministry and a small group member, so when I introduced myself, the sparkle in their eyes increased and their sweetness expanded. I was already welcomed beautifully when I arrived just like everyone else. That’s what made the visit so lovely. Love was everywhere and it fueled each part of the experience. Then, I thought of us as human sanctuaries. I’ve thought of our hearts as homes before, but last night, a prayer came with that idea.

Lord, I want my life to be as welcoming as this sanctuary. I can’t let everyone live in my heart, but my Light should welcome others to know You. God, please clear my sanctuary for Love to roam free.

People that didn’t know each other hugged like old friends and danced together like they had a rehearsal yesterday. It was exhilarating, warm, and free — and exactly what I prayed for two years ago. Every day won’t be a party, but moments like last night can live forever with the right ingredient… Love.

The basis of Pastor Keith Battle’s message was Isaiah 43. Here’s a verse from the sermon to uplift your week and your new decade.

IMG3870432726647843040.jpg

Peace, Thanks for listening, and See you next week!

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