On May 13, I wrote a note in my phone, “Life with you is good. So, so good.” It was a regular Thursday; I was at work, you were at work. The night before, I cooked us dinner (and it was amazing!) and we talked and laughed. I don’t remember anything specific from that night but that Thursday I remember sitting and being so grateful I was sharing my life with you. It was in these simple moments that the fabrics of my love for you were being stitched together.
You do grand gestures well, leaving me speechless with my cheeks hurting from smiling. Those moments are the icing on a delicious cake. They leave me floating in the clouds questioning if this is my life. But I am aware this love is rooted in those small moments I previously mentioned. I can float freely in the clouds because I know when I come back down to earth, the air is just as lovely down here.
One would say a proposal is one of the grandest gestures one could make, and somehow you managed to make such a huge moment, the most intimate I’ve shared with you to date. Under a gazebo in front of a couple of friends and strangers going about their day, we decided to pursue forever together. If I thought I was floating in the clouds before, I certainly had reached another part of our solar system that day.
I did not make it back down to earth until a couple of days later while sitting at work, feeling similar to how I did that Thursday. I made the mistake of watching the proposal video for the third or fourth time and after it ended, I thanked God for everything it took to get to that moment. As the tears flowed, I knew how undeserving I was of such an extraordinary love. There was nothing I did to earn it, but God’s faithfulness towards me led me there. His grace and mercy covered me. I could have not chosen this path for myself but an intentional God saw fit to bless me in His perfect timing. And I’ll spend the rest of my life thanking Him for it.
I look forward to forever with you because life with you is so, so good.
Mark 10:6-9 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
As most of you know by now, I absolutely love talking about relationships and not just romantic relationships. I’m fascinated by how fluid relationships can be. How you relate to someone today can be very different from how you related to them ten years ago. Often times these difference are rooted in changing seasons in our lives. How we see someone changes as we change. This sentiment is true of daughters who are now mothers. I asked family and friends how their understanding of their mothers have changed since becoming mothers; what lessons they have taken away from their experience as daughters that they hope to teach their children.
“I can say to continue the path of keeping God first in their lives like my mama did us!”
“The great work that goes into it, namely for mothers, whether or not the dad is present. The sacrifice and riskiness of pregnancy. The physical, emotional and maybe even mental tolls of bringing a child into the world. I guess it’s more so a greater appreciation for her and what she had to do and give up to bring us into the world and to raise us.”
“Something I understand about my mother now that I am a mother is how much she sacrificed herself to make sure that we were all good. I know, I know cliché! But I think about the days she would wake up early, get us dressed for school and herself ready for work, take four children to school then go work an eight hour shift. After all of that, she’d pick us up from our various after school activities, sometimes go to parent/teacher conferences and/or church, come home and cook a meal, get us off to bed, and finally…FINALLY, she would have time for herself and my dad. Wow! I’m tired just reminiscing! I look at my own life as a wife and a mother and I pray that I can measure up to at least half of the woman that she is.”
“My entire life I looked at her as a mother, I never looked at her as a person. I never realized how much she gave up for us to be our mother. She had goals and dreams. She had plans, but she chose to become a mother and that comes with sacrifices.”
“After becoming a mother I understood that my mom was not just a mom, but a person. And she did the best she could. When I became a mother I decided that I wanted to be better. Not better than her, but better than who I was at the time. The best I could was not enough. I wanted to unpack all my baggage and offer my children the best version of me. As I worked through my own trauma and unresolved issues, I realized how difficult it is to parent through pain. I began to understand my mother had probably been doing the same thing. I understood how exhausted she must have been. And how strong she was. I understood that there was no way for her to know if she was doing it right or if we would “turn out ok”. (Especially the difficult child *raising my hand) I understood how terrifying that must have been. I accepted that her best had been good enough.”
“How intentional she was about having us around people, outside of her and my dad, who genuinely loved us. Currently I’m trying to build that for my children. This was beneficial [for my parents] because they had a lot of quality time, but creating a community of love for us was important as well. And I see the importance of that, and being intentional about it, now that I’m a mother.”
“When you think your kids aren’t listening, they really are.”
“Since becoming a mother, I understand better the love and forgiveness that
my mother exemplified. Her love was not one size fits all, but she catered to our individual needs like only a mother can. As far as forgiveness, I can still hear her show us and tell us ‘Don’t turn rail for rail.'”
Whether your baby is still a baby or you’re mothering a pre-teen or you have adult children or you’ve been blessed to now be called a grandmother, I pray you remember that even when it doesn’t seem like it or you don’t feel you’re equipped, God is using you to influence generations to come.
Psalms 139:13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
I’ve never been one to wear my clothes tight. My younger sister would always yell at me and tell me I look homeless because I preferred my clothes to have a little breathing room. Well, that was the first clue that something was different; there was less and less breathing room. I understood the pain Beyonce was speaking of when she mentioned jumping to get into jeans. Dresses I’d worn several times through the years, didn’t fit the same. I never had to struggle to put certain shirts on but now I did. So finally, I stepped on the scale and I was shocked. I thought it was broken, so I tried it again and again the next day, but it said what it said.
I know, I know, I’ve heard it all before:
“You’re still small.” “You have nothing to worry about.” “You could stand to gain a few more pounds.” “You’re gorgeous at whatever size you are.”
I get it, I really do; but sometimes I don’t care about any of that. It’s less about what I look like or feel like right now and more about what I looked like and how I felt, and honestly, what the scale used to say. I’m comparing myself to myself and as much as I’ve grown to love where these extra pounds have landed, there are days (and outfits) when I would prefer fewer of those pounds.
Call it happy weight, thank the pandemic, however we got here, here we are. I’m still learning to appreciate every curve and lump and bump. I’m learning my metabolism is not what it used to be. I’m learning to go up a size when necessary. I’m learning to make healthier eating choices. I’m learning to exercise consistently. I’m learning to be kind to myself at whatever size I am. I’ve never been short on confidence and what the scale says certainly won’t change that. I’m actively working to get back somewhat close to where I was but I won’t be held a prisoner in my own body because of what the scale said and I hope you won’t either. I’ll make my younger sister proud and enjoy a little less breathing room for now.
Psalms 139:14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
One of the greatest feelings I’ve been able to experience is the joy that comes from watching my friends dreams come true. Raynard, we are learning together that they do indeed come true. Those dreams we’ve dreamt together that seemed so far away, almost out of reach, now have a face and a name with the promise of forever.
We have walked this single journey together and I am thrilled to see it coming to an end for you. I have watched an intentional, surprising, confident love blossom. This love has shown us what it means to live out Hebrews 11:1 (“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”). This love causes us to reflect on 1 Corinthians 13:13 (“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” – NLT). This love brings to our remembrance Ephesians 3:20 (“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us”).
I use the terms “us” and “we” and “our” and “together” because Raynard and I are a package deal. It’s not something many people understand and we’re okay with that but I’m grateful his future bride has welcomed me with open arms. I’m grateful he has someone in his corner who will always be on his team, who he can share his hopes, dreams, and fears with, who will love him through his high highs and low lows. She is someone who will elevate his already successful ministry, and again, for that I’m grateful.
There’s so much more I want to say but I’ll save it for the wedding! CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord
“You got up so I could get up again.” He is risen and I’m glad about it! Resurrection Sunday could not have come at a better time. The past month or so, I’ve felt like I’ve been running in place, not really getting anywhere. Work has been annoying, my allergies have been trying to take me out, and I’ve been having hard conversations with myself. Although there have been multiple bright spots, as a whole it still felt like blah.
Today reminded me that after Jesus was crucified, Saturday (or whatever day came before He rose) came and went. The day before Jesus rose, people were still sad and scared; they thought that’s where the story ended. Even though Jesus had already said what He said, Jesus’ disciples and followers, had no idea Resurrection Sunday was going to happen. They thought they’d just have to adapt to their new normal. But the waiting was all a part of the plan.
So perhaps this running in place does feel like Resurrection Eve, the longest Saturday ever, but I’ll trust God because the same power that got Jesus up from the grave, is the same power that lives in me. I’ll be like Noah and keeping building with no rain in the forecast. I’ll be like Mary and carry what God gave me. I’ll be like the woman with the issue of blood, pushing through the crowd to touch the helm of His garment. I’ll rise with victory. Happy Resurrection Day!
Luke 24:6-8 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” Then they remembered that he had said this. (NLT)
Today I was telling a friend about a funnel cake I bought last night. I didn’t go to a fair or attend a special event; I just know a place that sells funnel cakes and after I went to the track, drank some water, and ate some cucumber slices, at 7pm I decided that I also needed a funnel cake. To make matters worse, the hole-in-the-wall shop that sells these funnel cakes had one thousand people in there (well not one thousand but we’re still in a whole pandemic so ten looks like one thousand) and I could tell they were moving slowly. So what did I do? Sit in my car for half an hour until it cleared out and got my funnel cake and it was delicious. Some may think this isn’t a big deal; sometimes we want what we want. But I realize this is the person I have become. It doesn’t matter what I say I’ll do, it doesn’t matter what the wiser thing to do is, it doesn’t matter how much time I have, I’m going to choose to do what I want to do every time.
I could get lesson plans completed during the week, but I always wait until the night they’re due to get them done. I could be on time most places I go, but I always want to get fifteen more minutes of sleep. I could cook more and inadvertently save more money, but stopping to get something just feels more convenient. I lack discipline and it touches almost every area of my life. We all have bad days and bad weeks and maybe even bad months, but I realize my poor habits are the result of a poor lifestyle I’ve chosen. Don’t get me wrong, my lack of discipline doesn’t hinder me from getting important things done, which almost makes it worse because my every day life isn’t compromised but I know I can be and do so much better.
I am very much an advocate for showing yourself grace and participating in self-care, and I do both of those things often, but I need to do a better job of holding myself accountable. If I say I’m going to get up at 6am, I need to get up. If I say I’m going to work out, I need to work out. I’m okay with not getting it right 100% of the time, but I want to at least strive for 100%. I juggle a lot of things and responsibilities and relationships and that’s not going to change. In the midst of all of that, being disciplined enough to do what I set out to do when I set out to do it, should be a part of that juggling act. So here is a reminder to you (and of course me), that you owe it to yourself to show up in every area of your life as the best version of yourself and that requires discipline. God? Yes. Faith? Yes. Grace? Yes. Perseverance? Yes. Rest? Yes. Support? Yes. Discipline? Definitely.
Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
A year ago we had no idea that life as we knew it was getting ready to change, drastically. I remember telling several people after the country shut down that we would be back to normal in two or so weeks. Surely this wouldn’t last longer than that… It was around month two I realized things were indeed not going back to normal and they probably never would.
A sincere panic (read here) set in. How was I going to function in this new world? I already didn’t care for virtual anything, now I was supposed to deal with it as my new normal? Well, yea. I have and so have you. If you had told me last year I would have survived teaching virtually a year, I would have called you a liar. If you had told me I wouldn’t be going to church for a year, I would have called you a liar. If you had told me I would be wearing a mask every time I walked into a building, I would have called you a liar. All of this seemed inconceivable but here I am living it out.
The devastation our world has experienced often times seems unfathomable, but God saw fit to keep us here. If I’ve learned nothing else this past year, I’ve learned the meaning of the saying “nothing is promised.” Nothing. Not events, not jobs, not income, not life. So even if we find ourselves in a similar situation another year from now, rest in knowing God is in control.
Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Valentine’s Day is here!!! I have felt all the love this weekend and so much more. I’ve been asked several times why I love Valentine’s Day and the simple answer is, I love love. I always have, I always will. My mom would give my sister and I Valentine’s Day gifts and decorate the house. Even after we went to college, she would send us goodies. It was never just February 14 in my family. My parents never did a whole lot to celebrate the day but it was always acknowledged. It’s something special to me about taking a moment, a whole day, to bask in love. I know some people say it’s a commercialized day and blah blah, but to be wrapped up in something as powerful as love is a feeling I can’t describe. To be able to send gifts and cards to others, to see smiles on my goddaughter’s and her sisters’ faces, to gaze into the eyes of the one I love…. ::deep sigh:: It just fills me with so much joy. Valentine’s Day is a reminder of God’s love and how capable I am of giving and receiving that love. So if no one else has told you today, let me be the one to say HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!!!
1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
Over a week ago, rioters (posing as protesters) stormed the Capitol building in Washington D.C. As I watched the events unfold, I was speechless. A day I would have celebrated Georgia helping Congress turn blue, I spent glued to my TV screen trying to convince myself I wasn’t watching a movie. The more I watched, the more enraged I became. There was no revolution, just an ugly truth being televised.
My friends will tell you, I hardly ever keep up with politics. What little I do know, comes from them and the minimal research I make myself do. These politics influence the decisions that are made which impact my daily life and my future, and although important, I’ve never found them interesting. There are certain political figures I’ve taken a liken to based on speeches I’ve heard them give or learning about how they’ve helped their constituents or honestly, because they’ve looked like me and represented what was possible in America. Unfortunately, January 6, 2021 was a reminder of what was also possible in America. People drunk with lies and false narratives, weaponized their privilege and showed who they were and have always been. It was never about all lives or blue lives, just not black lives. It was never about making America great again, but simply wanting to make America theirs, and only theirs.
This upcoming Wednesday, God willing, a new dawn and a new day will descend upon us. My faith has never been in this government but in the One whose shoulders it rests on. If nothing else, I’ll remain hopeful because it’s really all I have left. God bless America.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
When asked to tell my favorite story, I imagine I’ll always tell this one.
Chai Latte A South-Asian flavored tea beverage made by brewing black tea with a mixture of aromatic Indian spices and herbs. We steam our Chai with local milk creating a wonderful sweet and slightly spicy comfort drink.
This was the description I read online as I prepared for my date. We were meeting at a coffee shop and although I don’t like coffee, I love coffee shops. He didn’t know this about me yet, but the coffee shop was his idea and I was thrilled. Aside from my love of coffee shops, if the date wasn’t going well, I could leave after I finished my drink. The pressure to sit through a dinner or a two-hour movie, did not exist. I could do thirty minutes of terrible and be on my way. I just had to figure out what I would order. Usually I get hot chocolate when I go to these places, but I told myself I needed to get a grown-up drink and then I stumbled upon the chai latte. Bingo!
I pulled up to the coffee shop, upset I forgot to put on my eyeliner and mascara, but thankful I remembered to put on my favorite perfume. I must admit, I was terrified. The week before I had gone on a not so good date (read here), and as much as I tried not to get my hopes up for this date, I was really interested to learn more about this guy. This interest didn’t supersede my nervousness though. So, while sitting in my car, I called my friends, Kristal and Ray, for a pep talk. Up until that point, they had been leading and guiding me through this dating process and per usual, they told me to relax and just enjoy the experience. I took a deep breath and went with God.
As I entered the coffee shop, I could feel my heart beating in my stomach. I told myself to put one foot in front of the other and try to smile like a normal person. He was seated at a table quite a distance from the door and I was grateful because it was cold outside, and I wanted to be far away from that. I breathed a sigh of relief when he looked up and his face matched his pictures. He was taller than I imagined and had such sincere eyes. We had just met, but I could feel myself getting lost in those eyes. He greeted me with a hug and guided me to the counter so we could place our orders.
“I’ll have the chai latte,” I said. (I noticed he smiled after I said this)
“I’ll have the chai latte as well,” he said. (That’s why he was smiling)
I believe God gives us signs but at the same time, I don’t think everything is a sign. Looking back though, this was definitely a sign. We had quite a few things in common, but there was something special about both of us ordering chai lattes. Maybe it was the fact that neither one of us like coffee or the fact that I strongly considered ordering a hot chocolate instead. Either way, it was a sign that we were off to a great start.
Over the next two hours, the time flew by. From music to college to living in Atlanta to family to expectations to careers, we talked about it. I felt like I was meeting up with a handsome friend I hadn’t seen in a while, and I was grateful he was still single. We probably could have sat in that coffee shop and spent the day trading stories and sharing dreams until they closed, but this was a good start; a promising start. We got up to leave and he said he was going to use the bathroom before he headed out, so he gave me a hug and sent me on my way. No numbers were exchanged. No second date was planned. I was slightly devastated.
As soon as I got in the car, I called my father figure, Raynard, and told him how amazing of a date it was but was disappointed that I could have been the only one who may have felt that way. Maybe the chai lattes weren’t a sign. Maybe the conversation wasn’t as effortless as I thought it was. Maybe he had better options awaiting him. Of course, Raynard tried to talk me off of this ledge but being true to myself, once I make up a story in my head, it’s the reality I live in. After fifteen or so minutes of me discussing the many highs and one low, something happened. Through the app he messaged me and told me he enjoyed talking to me and sent me his number!!! I’m pretty sure I screamed. The wave of relief that washed over me is an unexplainable feeling. I hadn’t misinterpreted things! The conversation was as good as I thought it was! The chai lattes were a sign!
Neither of us could have known the love story that was being birthed in that coffee shop as we sipped chai lattes and discussed life. We were hopeful, but not quite sold. We were inspired by the idea of what could be, but not sure it would be reality. In 2019, I wrote about extraordinary love. I said I wanted it, but I wasn’t truly convinced that I could get it. Now that I have it… ain’t no turning back! The bar has been set and if it isn’t this, I’m never going to want it. This love is transformative, propelling me to be the best version of myself. It is a reminder of everything good in this world. It is not afraid of my dark. It is exposing the not so pretty parts of me and choosing to stay. It is healing. It is spilling over in every area of my life. If I hadn’t believed in God, this love would make me a believer. Only the God of the universe could have orchestrated such a love.
That day in the coffee shop feels like yesterday and forever ago, but I’m grateful that as time has passed, this story is still being written. And every day, I’m reminded why it’s still my favorite.
1 Corinthians 13:13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (NLT)