Sundays With Rae

a blog for women by a woman who is trying to get her life together while still loving Jesus

Promise Not to Tell

Silence gives consent. Silence kills. If you don’t say anything, it’s like it never happened. We usually hear these phrases when something bad happens. But I’ve noticed that I often remain silent when good things happen. I remember when I bought my house a couple of summers ago and my coworker asked why I didn’t share during the meeting when the principal asked if anyone had any good news. It’s like I was embarrassed God allowed me to accomplish such a goal. Or like me and the devil had promised each other I wouldn’t share what God had done. What have you unknowingly promised the devil you wouldn’t tell?

It’s not that serious. No one cares. I don’t want to come off as conceited. I’m just a private person. We use every excuse we can think of not to tell of God’s goodness. Even when given the opportunity to share, we make His glory a secret. We hold on to it like our grandmother’s finest china that will break if anyone but us knows what God has done. We call it modesty, not wanting too much spotlight. That modesty can also be translated into fear. If people find out, will they hold you to a certain expectation? What happens if they think that you think you’re better than they are? Do they even know how much you trust God with your life? And if they do find out, will you be “too saved”?

Sometimes we share what we have, but not who gave it to us. We worked so hard to get to where we are, and if we’re not careful we’ll have people believing we did it by our self. I’m soooo guilty of all of the above. Either I don’t say anything at all or I just casually mention my accomplishments with no mention of the God who I know helped me achieve those goals. I would tell myself that people already know I love God so surely they know I realize it’s because of Him that I’ve been able to do what I’ve done… But why not take every chance to remind them? Why not say it out loud so I know it’s real? Why not show the devil that me and him don’t have any secrets?

I am committed to telling people how good God has been to me (not what I’ve done, but what He’s done), with the hope of inspiring them to pursue whatever He’s purposed in their hearts because if He’s done it for me, surely He’ll do it for them. This doesn’t mean making a Facebook status about everything good that happens to me with the hashtag #allglorytoGod or posting a picture on Instagram of every place I’ve been blessed to travel to. I’m definitely not opposed to sharing what you want on your page but don’t ever feel obligated to do so. It can be as simple as texting a friend “God did it again! I passed my test!” Or while at dinner sharing how thankful you are that God blessed you with the job of your dreams. Or talking to young people about where you were at their age and how God brought you out. All of this is part of moving beyond just telling what we’ve done and truly telling someone about the Source of our resources. So if you too are committed to making God famous, hold up your glass of apple cider and let’s make a toast to breaking the promise of not telling!

Psalms 109:30 I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.

July 2019

Allow Yourself To Be

October 2020

One of my absolute favorite things to do is laugh. So much so, when I was a member of an acting group in college, they nicknamed me “Te-He” because I laughed so much. I laughed so hard at a funeral, people thought I was grieving (not my proudest moment). My younger sister and I bond over finding humor in situations that no one else seems to notice. It’s a gift, really. But after my dad died, it was difficult to use this gift without it hurting. It was painful to even smile. Earlier last week I could feel this familiar feeling settling in. I did everything I knew to do to make it go away. I read, I wrote, I talked, I slept, I prayed, I listened to music, I did it all. After a couple of days of this, I had enough and scheduled an appointment with my therapist. The appointment wasn’t for another three days but I figured I’d just suffer through. Then something happened.

I had the opportunity to do something for someone I love. Not because they asked me to and not because they needed me to (in fact, they refused… I did it anyway though), but simply because I wanted to. Being able to show one act of kindness put the biggest, pain-free smile on my face. I felt better that night than I had all week, probably all month. I was able to just be who I was without the pressure of trying to force myself to not be sad. As much as I want there to be, there is no time limit on grief. You don’t get to decide how long you feel how you feel, but you do get to decide what you do while you’re feeling it.

It’s important to have coping mechanisms (I read and write and talk and pray and sleep and listen to music). They help us deal with our feelings, not get rid of them. I’m an advocate for faking it until you make it. Sometimes you do have to smile to keep from crying and sometimes you should hang out with a friend even if you don’t feel like it. But I’m also an advocate for allowing yourself to be where you are as long as you need to be there. I struggle to practice the latter consistently because I’m terrified that I’ll get stuck there. I don’t want to be sad forever! But time has shown me, I won’t. After I decide to be okay with not being okay, it frees me up to just be. I can be sad. I can be unhappy. I can be lazy. I can be helpful. I can be thoughtful. I can be kind. I can be generous. I can be loving. I can even be happy. I can be everything I am when I choose to allow myself to be.

I could have cancelled my session with my therapist but I’m glad I didn’t because she helped me connect the dots. She reminded me I could still laugh through pain. She gave me that word “allow,” and I plan on applying it more frequently. Being sad doesn’t have to stop you from being who you are. You’re allowed to be it all.

Psalms 30:5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. (NLT)

If your inability to function (be all the things) starts to negatively impact your health (physical – not eating, losing/gaining weight, or mental – suicidal thought, etc.), job (not showing up, getting fired, etc.), or family (physically or verbally abusive, neglecting children, etc.), I would strongly recommend seeking out professional help immediately. https://openpathcollective.org/

But What If?

September 2020

So I was watching this movie called “Irreplaceable You.” If you’re looking to cry and be in your feelings, this is the movie for you. If not, just read this post and be happy. At some point in the movie, they talked about planning and being prepared for the what if’s of life. It sounds like the responsible thing to do and in a lot of ways it can be, but it can also serve as a distraction from what is.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know I’ve been planning my wedding since I was a little girl. You know I can be a perfectionist (read more here). You know I have an interesting relationship with time. You know I missed out on a lot of the good after my dad died (read more here). And as carefree as I can be with my day to day plans, sometimes I struggle with letting God be God over my future (read more here). This past Summer, I talked a lot about trusting God through this pandemic. It got to the point though, that I was worrying more about the what if’s than trusting God with right now.

Of course, we have to plan for our futures and make responsible choices and prepare for the unexpected as much as we can, but we also have to live now. We can go over one thousand scenarios of how a situation may play out and still not account for some random factor that influences the outcome. All that time spent trying to predict the future, only to be met with a circumstance you never saw coming. I’ve done it too many times. Despite the many conversations I’ve had with God about giving my future to Him and allowing my desires to be His desires, and trusting His plan, I still have to tell myself, “Jocee, He’s got this. Enjoy your right now!”

What experiences and memories are you creating today that you will be able to look back fondly on? How are you spending time with the people you love today? What are you doing in terms of self-care this week? Spiritually, what can you do today to grow in the areas you need to grow in? The what-ifs of life will always be there. Because of them, we have to make certain adjustments and consider certain options but we don’t have to stop living life. So today, I’m reminding you that God’s got this and all you truly have is now.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Related

I have an older brother and sister, as well as a younger sister. My older siblings and I are over a decade apart, almost two (they won’t appreciate me saying that lol), while my younger sister and I are two years apart. Maybe it’s because of our closeness in age or us growing up in the same household, but it is because of my younger sister that I understand the complexities of relationships and how different they can look over time.

If you were to see my younger sister and me out together, you’d think we’ve always been two peas in a pod and in some ways that’s true. We have a similar sense of humor that often times makes sense to no one but us. We have similar taste when it comes to clothes (yesterday she showed up at my house wearing the same brand of shirt unplanned, see below; this actually happens a lot). In a lot of ways she knows me better than I know myself. Countless times, I’ve had to ask her what some of my favorite things are (music, stores, etc.) and she’s right every time and I do the same for her. We used to watch a show called Twinning, where twins were tested to see how well they knew each other and we would answer the questions as though we were on the show and got a lot of the answers correct. There are things she can tell me and if no one else understands, she knows I will, and vice versa. With all of these similarities, people still see us as night and day. She can appear a lot friendlier and more outgoing than me (keyword: appear). I’ve been described as quieter than her. Contrary to popular belief, she’s more sensitive than I am (well maybe that belief isn’t so popular). We have very different ways of handling conflict. Our idea of a good time can also look quite different. But as we’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that for years, I’ve allowed these differences to color how I’ve viewed our relationship instead of paying attention to how our shades of similarities filled in so much of my life.

When I was in high school (maybe a freshman in college), I told my younger sister that if we weren’t sister, I wouldn’t be her friend. Ouch, I know. I wasn’t angry with her. We weren’t in the middle of a heated argument; I was just making an observation. She agreed with me but it wasn’t until years later that she told me I hurt her feelings (in the middle of a heated argument). Back then, we both understood we didn’t get along. We laughed and dealt with each other but that was as far as that went, at least that’s how I saw it. Once I left for college, weeks would go by without us talking. We weren’t upset, nothing major happened, we just knew where we stood with each other.

Even through this physical and emotional distance, there was still an undeniable bond. When my parents decided to buy me a car, she was at the dealership texting me about what they were looking at. When she was having a rough time in college, I sent her a care package with some of her favorite things. I used to send her a scripture every day for years (okay, maybe it was a year), and when I would forget, she would remind me. When I didn’t believe I could accomplish certain goals, she was the one I felt most comfortable confessing those things to and she was the one encouraging me. It was so easy to forget all of these things and tell people I didn’t get along with my sister but that simply wasn’t true.

To this day, I tell people no one can get under my skin like she can. I thought it was because we were so different but I now see it’s because our bond is so tight. When she offends me, it’s not someone just hurting my feelings, it’s the person who knows me best hurting my feelings, and it’s the same for her. We tend to focus on the negative feelings when it comes to our relationships, especially those within our families but take time to look at the positive.

As the big sister, I realize I was trying to raise a mini me. I would encourage my younger sister not to talk to other people because I didn’t talk to other people. I wanted her to like the same music I liked. I didn’t give her much space to be herself and when she would attempt to create that space, I would see her as doing life wrong because she wasn’t doing it like me. I now see the flaws with that mindset and as adults our relationship has improved exponentially because we’ve both become more accepting of who we are as individuals. We still call each other out when we’re tripping, but it’s not because we don’t like each other as people but because we love each other and know we hold the power to encourage each other to be our best selves.

So I said all that to say, show grace when dealing with family, even the ones you can’t stand. Yes, they’re your family, but they’re people and a wise man once told me that people are going to people. They’re going to let you down, they’re going to upset you, they’re going make dumb decisions, just like you will. It may very well be true that if they weren’t related to you, you wouldn’t be caught in the same room as them but don’t say that out loud (learned that the hard way) and don’t be so quick to write them off. It’s easy to throw the whole relationship away, but sometimes it’s not only unnecessary, it’s detrimental. You’re right, you all may never be besties and that’s okay but you don’t have to be miserable around each other. Find ways to connect with each other, whether that’s watching a TV show together or sharing a meme. One of me and my sister’s favorite things to do is complain about our mother to each other. Whatever works for you! My life would look much different if not for my younger sister. Through the good and the bad, we’ve decided to let the good outweigh the bad. I’m glad we’re related.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

edandearl.com (September 2020)

Seek Help

I would describe myself as a fairly independent person. I don’t ask for help very often, not because I think it’ll make me look weak, but it just seems like more of a headache than I want to deal with. I would have to explain what I need help with and how I can best be helped. And there is always the risk of someone agreeing to help and not following through or simply not being as competent to help as you thought they were. Or sometimes you just can’t find someone willing to help. Again, a headache. If something needs to get done, I’d rather do it myself. As true as this is for me, I was having a conversation with my father figure and it really made me reflect back on various points in my life where having help made life so much easier.

More than anything else, I am likely to ask for advice. I enjoy talking through situations and weighing my options with people who know me well and have valuable input to add. Through the years I’ve had to balance this with seeking God first (where all of my help comes from), while not ignoring the wisdom of the people God has placed in my life. Whether it’s job related or romantic relationships or spiritual guidance, I’m blessed to be in a position to call on multiple people for help. I remember when I wanted to be a nurse and I talked through it with a friend and she helped me realize, I liked the idea of being a nurse more than I did the actual job of being a nurse. This forever changed the trajectory of my life because I sought out the help.

Asking for advice is one thing, but when it comes to asking people to actually do something for me… That’s another story. If I’ve asked you to do something for me, it’s usually because I’ve spent five hours trying to figure out how I could do it on my own, to no avail. One time, I walked over two miles back to my apartment in the middle of a Tallahassee summer day after dropping my car off at the car shop because I didn’t want to ask someone to give me a ride home. Keep in mind, I don’t like exercising so that definitely wasn’t the motivation and I had more than one friend I could’ve called on. When my friend eventually found out, she made me call her when I needed to pick my car up so I wouldn’t have to take that walk again. I’m still forever grateful for her. Although I never want to feel like I’m inconveniencing someone, I’m learning that when asked, a lot of times people don’t mind helping.

I do my best to help where I can and recently I’ve attempted to give others that same opportunity when it comes to how they can help me. Even though it is difficult at times, it is worth it. In a lot of ways, America is a “do it yourself” society, but God has created us to be relational beings who are to be of help to one another. So no gold star for you (or me) because you did it by yourself. Don’t just give help, but seek help.

Proverbs 11:25 The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. (NLT)

August 2020

Destinations and Journeys

Pursue purpose.
Be a goal digger.
Turn your hobby into your hustle.
Do the work you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

It’s what I keep repeating to myself, but I don’t seem to be measuring up to the expectation. Starting to second guess myself, every move I make drenched in hesitation. If what’s for me is for me, why do I have to work so hard? Why am I constantly having to pick myself up off the ground and lick my own wounds? No one said it would be easy, I just didn’t think it would feel like cruel and unusual punishment. That is until I suffer a win and my labor doesn’t quite feel like it was in vain. Long nights seem worth it. It’s only then that I embrace disappointment and failure no longer seems like an option. And I tell myself…

Pursue purpose.
Be a goal digger.
Turn my hobby into my hustle.
Do the work I love and I’ll never work a day in my life.

So even when I grow tired and weary, God help me remember this is who You called me to be. Head bowed under an open sky, trying not to cry, help me remember I was made for this and I’d be remiss if I let it pass me by. Remind me stop signs aren’t dead ends, there’s plenty of road ahead. So pedal to the metal, I can’t give up now. Keep me in the fast lane, I don’t want to slow down. There is no destination, this is the journey with plenty of sights to see. Help me take it all in as I…

Pursue purpose.
Be a goal digger.
Turn my hobby into my hustle.
Do the work I love and I’ll never work a day in my life.

 

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible

 

June 2020

 

To read more about overcoming obstacles, click here.

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Well, kind of. Tomorrow the students in my district will return back to school virtually. I’ve technically been back a week (virtually), but tomorrow everything will be official, official. This is probably the most unprepared I’ve felt returning from Summer break. Thankfully, I’ll be able to do everything from the comfort of my home but there are so many unknowns. I’m nosey and like to know things before they happen, so this doesn’t sit well with me. But after talking to God and my coworkers and my friends and my family, I’ve decided it’s not going to be so bad. How do I know? Because I’ve decided it’s just not going to be.

I’ve also decided I’m going to set myself up for greatness and control what I can control. And I encourage you to do the same thing. I was always one of those people who said I could stay home by myself and be happy not going anywhere but this pandemic has shown that to be a lie. My home was/is my safe haven and comfort zone but now it’s become my workplace, and I don’t like that. I don’t have to like it but I have to deal with it, so my goal is to do the following to balance my life out a bit:

  1. Only do work in one area of my house
  2. Stop working at 6pm (I’ve already failed at this today, y’all pray for me)
  3. Get a schedule and keep a schedule while remaining flexible
  4. Schedule time to do nothing
  5. Read my bible
  6. Make spending time with family and friends a priority
  7. I can vent but I still have to get the job done
  8. Get out of the house (safely)

Whether you’ve been back at work for a while or maybe you never left or maybe you have no idea when you’ll return to work or when you’ll get another job, it’s necessary to take steps to create the life you strive to live, even under the strangest circumstances. God has full control and this pandemic is proof of that, if we needed any. He’s given us tools and people to help us navigate through uncertain times. You don’t have to suffer in silence. You don’t have to stay at a standstill. Decide that today will be better than yesterday and live like it. So even as I return back to a new normal, feeling completely out of control, I’ve decided my reality won’t be so bad.

Matthew 6:34 So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (NLT)

May 2020

Know That I Know

August 2020

If you know me well, you know I love weddings! Not even COVID-19 could stop love from being celebrated, and taking all the necessary precautions, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of two wonderful people recently. It was easily one of the best weddings I’ve been to! Aside from the bride and groom being the stars of the show, the officiant, who is also a friend of mine, made the whole experience a memorable one. The bride and groom are both family therapists (they met in graduate school, how cute is that!), so most would consider them experts in relationships. The officiant (a pastor, as well as a family therapist, shout out to Valdosta State!), acknowledged this fact and used the analogy of Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player there is, but even in all his greatness, he still had a coach. The officiant reminded the couple even though they may be great family therapists and know a whole lot about relationships, they still need a coach and that coach is God. They could have passed around a collection plate at that point. I literally had to stop myself from shouting, “alright!”

I started to think about the areas in my life that I consider myself to be the best of the best, a know-it-all, if you will. With such high regard for myself in certain areas of my life, sometimes I don’t think I need a coach, meaning God. We don’t always do this consciously, but we do it. Maybe you feel you know your spouse like the back of your hand, so you don’t ask God about how you should talk to them. You’ve done all your research about the company trying to hire you and you know they’re going to pay you top dollar and they have great benefits, no need to inquire of God on His thoughts about the matter. Your child literally has half of your DNA and you’ve raised a few before this one, you don’t need to consult God on how to handle certain situations. You’ve been at your job sixteen years, you can do your boss’ job better than he can, no need to worry about what other plans God has for you. You got it. That is until you don’t.

This was often my mindset when it came to teaching. I knew my content. I knew strategies. I knew my students and their families. I knew who was going to cry. I knew who was going to turn in their homework. I knew who I was going to have to send out. I knew which parents were going to answer the phone. I knew who was showing up for conferences. And I knew I was miserable, considered it part of the job description I read over. Even with all the craziness that went on last school year with the world shutting down and realizing I want to work with a different population, it was the first year I wasn’t miserable. It was also the first year I truly sought God on how to be a teacher and be sane. I did good work the previous years, but last year I did better work because I had a coach who I actually utilized.

I’m learning life is so much easier when we invite God to play an active role, when we allow Him to be the coach. He’s given us the talent, but we have to let Him develop it. So even when I know that I know, a celebration of love reminded me that God knows even more and it’s going to take Him to get me to the next level.

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Give and Take

It’s difficult to see God as a giver of love when you feel like He ripped it away from you, pulled it from underneath you while you were floating on cloud nine. You quickly realized, there really is no sunshine when they’re gone. You were taught God is love but the evidence you possessed of that love has vanished so you’re forced to truly learn to believe in what you can’t see. You don’t do this overnight. There are times when it doesn’t feel like God’s for you. When you not only question if He’s love, but you start to wonder if He’s even good. These are dark days and long nights but time passes and things happen, and light starts to peak through. One smile turns into another and joy no longer feels like a stranger. You no longer equate proof with truth. God helps your unbelief. You find a way to have hope and wait patiently for what you don’t yet see. You cling to a faith you didn’t know you were capable of holding on to. And soon enough, God reminds you that He’s still who He said He was. That He’s good and He’s love. And He may take, but He certainly gives.

Keep believing in what you can’t see and one day you’ll look up and find love staring you in the face.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Failing Virtually

If you’ve been reading my blog since the pandemic has started, you’ve probably read about my disdain for virtual anything. Calls, conferences, meetings, workshops, workouts… I’d rather you email me. I’ve unmuted myself by accident (thankfully I didn’t say anything too crazy). I’ve fallen asleep and woke up long after the meeting ended. One of the things I’m dreading happens is I’m called on to speak but I don’t realize it because I’m not listening. I’m relatively tech savvy and definitely see the benefits, given the current state our world is in and I’m grateful people who don’t mind this medium have access to a variety of content and resources, but it’s difficult for me to sit in front of my laptop and be engaged (which is kind of strange considering the amount of TV I watch, but that’s a story for another day). With all that being said, I can feel how I want to feel about it, “virtual things” aren’t going anywhere any time soon. I recently had the opportunity to present virtually and it was a fail guys. Well, a fail by my standards.

I wrote previously about me being an undercover perfectionist so it should come as no surprise this carries over to me presenting virtually. Why do I think I failed? Basically because things did not go as I thought they would. At one point, I was talking while music was playing loudly in the background without me realizing it, so the participants couldn’t hear me. I couldn’t do the interactive game the way I wanted to so I had to come up with an alternative. I wish I had incorporated more information from the topic I was given. Although some people responded to my questions, I thought we were going to have a livelier discussion. I could honestly keep this list going but I kept thinking about how different all of this would have been if we didn’t have to do it virtually. I wondered how many people it would take to tell me that I did a good job in order for me to believe it, and I realized that number did not exist. I had to accept defeat and try harder the next time. Or so I thought…

As I was complaining about all the “terrible” things that went wrong, I finally said I would accept the success I did have, and a wise person told me to CELEBRATE the success. Afterall, so many things went well. Children from different areas got to meet each other. I was able to share scripture and talk about the wonderfulness of God and connect it to their daily lives. Even if the children didn’t do very well on the interactive game, they were exposed to new information. Some children received monetary prizes. I became more familiar with how Zoom works and different features available. It was a success worthy of being celebrated.

As we navigate this virtual world and life itself, I encourage you (and myself) to acknowledge what you may deem as failures but don’t forget to celebrate the successes. Don’t just accept it, don’t push it to the side, don’t minimize it, CELEBRATE SUCCESS!

Proverbs 16: 3 Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed

July 2020

If God Said It…

So I was teaching Sunday School this morning and we were talking about Abraham and how God kept His promise to give Abraham and Sarah, his wife, a son and he would make Abraham the father of many (Genesis 15, 17). God didn’t do it right away and while waiting, Abraham and Sarah became doubtful, but God still delivered on His promise. This made me think about a previous post I wrote in 2017 called Promise Keeper, and I’m amazed at how I’m living out some of those promises God told me back then.

It’s so easy to get distracted by what we don’t have and the more time that goes by without it, the further away it seems. But today, I was reminded that God is still a promise keeper. In 2017, those things God had promised me were nowhere to be found (like they may as well have not existed). And since then, I’ve had all kinds of doubts but just like God delivered on His promise to Abraham, He’s delivering His promises to me.

I like to plan things and know when they’re going to happen but I’m grateful God is the ultimate planner and didn’t come through with the promises when I thought I was ready but waited until He knew I was ready. There are a number of opportunities I would have missed out on if things went according to my plan (I’m talking life changing experiences). I’m grateful God knew I needed more time so I could truly appreciate His blessings and was mature enough to handle the parts of the blessings I didn’t expect.

God keeps His promises. He always has and always will. Put your trust in what He said, not in how you feel. Take joy in knowing He will show up when He’s supposed to show up. He’s not going to forget (which, honestly, was one of my greatest fears). I don’t know who said it but I do my best to live by it: starve your fear, feed your faith. And remember, He said what He said, He promised.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

July 2020

If you’re struggling to believe God, I encourage you to read Promise Keeper.