Sundays With Rae

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

You Can’t Save Everyone

One of my biggest struggles as a teacher is knowing that I won’t be able to reach all of my students. No matter what techniques I use, no matter how patient I am, I may not see the fruit of my labor. Similarly, this is true of some people I encounter in my personal life. No matter how much potential I see in them and how much I may like them; I can offer advice and be a voice of reason, it’s not my job to save them.

My husband and I have an ongoing debate about whether or not I’m an empath (a person highly attuned to the feelings and emotions of those around them- https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-an-empath-and-how-do-you-know-if-you-are-one-5119883), and I’m convinced I am. I can be nonchalant. I can be detached. I can be anti-social. But all of that is an attempt to ward off the effects of being an empath (well, maybe lol). Growing up, I got a spanking because I was trying to save my little sister from getting a spanking she rightfully deserved. While I was in graduate school my professor’s father suddenly passed away and with the way I cried, you would have thought it was my dad who had passed (this happened before that). After I found out one of my 16-year-old client’s father was on drugs (and so was my client), I didn’t sleep for a week. Without thinking about it, I take on people’s pain as my own. I get wrapped up in their joy, but it is their pain that I want to save them from. This is neither healthy nor helpful for me.

Things happen, people make choices, and my world doesn’t have to crumble as a result of others experiencing pain. I can say and do all of the things, and their feelings may remain the same. I have learned (well, I’m still learning) that it’s possible to support people without being burdened by the responsibility to “fix” their problems and save them from distress. Let God do that; trust that God will. Often times, you just showing up to remind them that you’re there is enough. I once read that great therapists don’t have great answers, they have great questions. You can be curious about someone’s pain without getting entangled in it. You can cry with them and answer their midnight calls and help them research options and still enjoy your life without being paralyzed by their sadness.

You can’t save everyone and you don’t have to. Growth can happen in painful situations. Sometimes God will use someone else to reach someone you can’t seem to get through to. Sometimes people aren’t ready to be different. Under any of those circumstance, you don’t have to drown in other’s people’s sorrows. Throw out the life boat from the ship and let God do the saving.  

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

July 2022

Sometimes Forever Don’t Last

Family

The day was warmer than expected for it to be late November in Atlanta. Well it wasn’t really Atlanta; it was north of Atlanta but it felt like the middle of nowhere, the kind of place you go to take a break from civilization. It all kind of seems like a blur now. My younger sister was getting married to a man she had introduced me to a few months ago. They hadn’t been dating long and the engagement was quite short but if I saw nothing else in my sister’s eyes that morning, I saw certainty. She was sure about the decision she was making.


There were less than fifteen of us there. My brother made a surprise visit and walked my sister down the aisle. The officiant did a wonderful job. In such an intimate setting, you could feel the love my family had for my sister. She may have been sure, and although happy for her, we weren’t as certain. That’s the thing about love and marriage though. The only people who have to be sure and confident in their choice, are the two people making the commitment.


The commitment my sister made that day was made with forever in mind. She committed to a future full of understanding and joy, laced with experiences and forgiveness, fueled by the promise of love. Knowing ups and downs would come, she could have never anticipated the end would be divorce but it was. And it was absolutely devastating. That future she envisioned on that beautiful November day was no longer and she had to figure out a way to re-envision a new future for herself, by herself.


How did you feel when you realized you were definitely getting a divorce?
Even though I knew I was going to get divorced it didn’t seem real at first. It’s like feeling you’re in a fake reality but it really ends up being your life. Initially, I felt like I was just a person helping someone with their divorce. It didn’t become real to me until I saw my name on legal documents. Then it felt like my world was crashing and I have no choice but to let it crash. But I also kept in the back of my head that, if it all crashes then I can rebuild it however I want.


What was the hardest part about going through a divorce?
The hardest part about going through a divorce is grieving the life you thought you were going to have; doing life without this person even though you know they’re not good for you. When I have new experiences, I’m excited about them but there is also a part of me that is sad because I’d pictured doing these new things with him. Those moments are constant reminders that I’m not where I thought I’d be but they’re also reminders of how far I’ve come and I’m proud of that.


What did you learn about yourself as you went through the divorce process?
1. God really does not take you out of a bad situation and put you in another bad situation.
2. I learned that my support system really loves and supports me. It’s okay to lean on them when things are too heavy for me to carry alone.
3. Throughout the divorce, I was able to forgive myself for some of the decisions I made. This led to me rebuilding trust in myself and being okay making mistakes and just doing the work to correct them along the journey.


What would be your advice to someone going through a divorce?
Stay true to yourself. You know the ins and outs of what you’ve been through so you’ll know what to do.


What are you looking forward to regarding your future?
I look forward to enjoying whatever God has in store for me, like really appreciating and enjoying life; living and not just existing.


Around the time my sister was going through her divorce, a close friend was also going through a divorce. I knew people who had been divorced but I never had such an up-close view of the experience. Watching my sister and my friend question their judgement, make decisions they never thought they would have to make, doubt their abilities, and combat the feeling of failure was heart-breaking. I am so proud to call my sister, my sister (and my friend, my friend) and to watch her overcome her own fears. That certainty about life I saw in her eyes on her wedding day had faded away and been replaced by shadows of doubt. I’m happy to see that certainty returning back and those doubts fading. If I’m being honest, supporting someone going through a divorce isn’t easy. You want the best for them and sometimes you think you know what’s best for them (most of the time you don’t) and it’s just hard to watch them struggle through such a major life change. Just as my sister had to trust the process, I did too. I had to trust that God would see her through and He did.

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Buy Black 365 (Part 2)

Whether you’re looking for something that is good for and feels good on your skin or you’re looking for something sweet to eat or a t-shirt with a message, I got you covered! Today we celebrated our ancestors being free(-ish), and we also celebrate what we have managed to build since then. In 2020, I featured three Black-owned businesses (click here) and I’m honored to feature three more this year! Scroll down to learn more about these three businesses and the faces behind them, and make sure to place your orders!

Luxe Body Bar

1. What’s the name of your business? What services do you offer?

The name of my business is Luxe Body Bar and we specialize in handmade soaps and personal care products.

2. What was the inspiration behind creating your business?

My daughter’s struggles with eczema and having scars because of it inspired me to start creating products that were all natural to cater to her skin’s needs.

Sabrina Hall, owner of Luxe Body Bar

3. What’s been your proudest moment as a business owner?

My proudest moment as a business owner was when a customer said my products helped them feel better and more confident about their skin. Their increase in confidence has motivated them to cut back on wearing so much makeup to hide their true beauty.

4. What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner?

My biggest challenge has been expanding my audience beyond social media. I have recently been exploring local vending opportunities to become more known in my community.

5. What are you looking forward to the most in the future of your business?

I am looking forward to the many other all natural products that are to come as well as one day having my own physical store where people can come shop and interact with me.

6. What does it mean to you to be a black business owner?

I take pride in being a black business owner. Black businesses have a tendency to get a bad rap because of various reasons. I try extra hard to be more than just a black business but to be a successful business that has a rap for being professional, timely, and delivers the expectation of my customers. I try my best to consistently deliver a quality product and customer service so people will want to come back for more. I want nothing but the best for my customers as well as my black community and I believe we can go beyond the expectations of the nay sayers.

7. How do we reach you?

www.shopluxebodybar.com

IG: @luxe.bodybar

Facebook: @luxebodybar1

Nick’s Sweet Treats

1. What’s the name of your business? What services do you offer?

Nick’s Sweet Treats is located in Daytona Beach, FL but I do ship! My specialties are sweet potato pies and pound cakes and we make so much more including bundt cakes, pineapple upside down cakes, peach cobbler pound cake, vanilla cream cheese pound cake, sour cream pound cake, lemon pound cake, and red velvet cake.

2. What was the inspiration behind creating your business?

Nick’s Sweet Treats started when I had a craving for a sweet potato pie. I asked my mom and mother-in-law and a coworker, if they knew how to make one and they didn’t so I made a trip to the store and asked God to tell me what should go in a sweet potato pie and it was like I was being led on every aisle to pick every ingredient. That was in 2014 and to this day, I use that same recipe to make my pies. My biggest inspirations are my grandmother Shelly Booker and my great aunts Virginia Booker and Genetta Jones. They allowed me to shadow them in the kitchen at an early age. They let me sift the flour and measure the milk for their cakes. They played a big part in teaching me and grooming me to be the baker that I am.

Nicholas Ackron, owner of Nick’s Sweet Treats

3. What’s been your proudest moment as a business owner?

My business has allowed me to connect with people I could not have dreamed of. I had the opportunity to work with the mayor of Daytona Beach. I have also had the opportunity to share my pies with musical artists such as The Slide Brothers, Zakk Wylde, and PJ Morton.

4. What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner?

My biggest challenge as a business owner is inflation. As the cost of everything goes up, I have to increase my prices. Shipping is also a challenge because sometimes postal workers and other carriers are not cautious about what they’re handling.

5. What are you looking forward to the most in the future of your business?

I’m looking forward to getting back into supplying my products in different restaurants and stores to make sure that everyone has a chance to taste the treats from Nick’s Sweet Treats. My motto is “we’re serving love one slice at a time” so I want to continue spreading joy and love and resurrecting the memories of that homecooked sweet treat that grandma and granddad used to make.

6. What does it mean to you to be a black business owner?

It means a lot because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My grandfather, Johnny Booker, owned a construction company with, I believe, an elementary school education. It means a lot to stand on his shoulder, a man who was determined to make a better life for his kids and grandkids.

7. How do we reach you?

Facebook: @Nick’sSweetTreats

TikTok: @nickssweettreats

Be. Apparel Brand

1. What’s the name of your business? What services do you offer?

The name of my business is Be. Apparel Brand and we offer dope streetwear/casual apparel that is designed to remind, empower, and mobilize this generation to be exactly who they were created to Be PERIOD lol

2. What was the inspiration behind creating your business?

I think that one of the biggest issues with people, especially in our community, is that we have no clue as to who we are. We don’t really understand that we literally breath God’s breath, we were created to be just like Him. To share in His power. We were chosen to be ROYALTY. Soooooooooo much of what we see happening with our young people, mass killings, violent crimes, drug dealing and use, sexual promiscuity and so much more would change if they knew who they were. So the inspiration was to give them that message but to package it in a way that they can rock with. Everyone loves tees, right? Everyone likes to look dope. When you put the message of IDENTITY on a t-shirt it hits different, and also sparks conversation. I wanted people to wear Be. and whenever they put it on to know that they were not created to be less than, or even average, but because of who they are and WHOSE they are, they were created to be legendary. I pray that I’m inspiring them to be just who they are and wear it well.

Tamika Murphy, owner of Be. Apparel Brand

3. What’s been your proudest moment as a business owner?

The proudest moment was when a customer reached out in the store chat, and at that time we were selling the Be. Bold tee for women with Proverbs 28:1 on it. She said she was just looking around and when she saw that tee she started to cry because she’d asked God earlier that day for a sign that she was being called to ministry. She said she saw that tee and knew God was speaking to her. To know that what I was blessed to create truly inspired her to know her call and purpose has been the thing that has kept me on this journey even when times are rough.

4. What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner?

I think, well I don’t think I KNOW the biggest challenge has been marketing. With so many changes in ads, IOS updates impacting Facebook and Instagram ad reach, social media, etc., trying to get the brand greater exposure in a super digital world has been my greatest challenge. I am constantly trying to find dope ways to create content for the brand while remaining authentic to the brand message and my core beliefs. I’m grateful that I’m starting to see the light there. 

5. What are you looking forward to the most in the future of your business?

I’m looking forward to seeing the manifestation of what I know God is going to do and that is to make Be. a brand with great reach, known for bending culture TO faith and not the other way around and impacting people in ways that go so far beyond clothes.

6. What does it mean to you to be a black business owner?

It means A LOT. When I consider that not only am I Black but I am a woman, I cannot help but think about those that couldn’t do what I’m doing or those that could do it but didn’t realize that they could. I also think about those that inspired me to push past seeking to excel in corporate, towards creating something that was mine. It means to me that I can now inspire someone else to do it because I have become the manifestation of what so many before me could only dream of. It means I have a responsibility to operate in excellence and to honor every black woman and every black man that did the heavy lifting so I can not only dream but manifest and that for me is EVERYTHING. It’s legacy.

7. How do we reach you?

www.beapparelbrand.com

Facebook: @BeApparelBrand

Instagram: @BeApparelBrand

They Stole My Purse

Imagine, worshipping the Lord aside thousands of others with your arms raised, belting out your favorite Maverick City Music songs when all of a sudden you look down and you notice your purse is gone. It was between my feet and then it wasn’t. It wasn’t under my chair or the chair next to mine. It wasn’t on the floor behind me. It was gone.


A panic immediately grasped my soul but before I allowed myself to freak out, I took a breath. My friend suggested I go check lost and found and after walking to one side of the amphitheater, only told me told I needed to go to the other side, searching high and low along the way, there was no purse. Thankfully I had my phone in my hand during my praise so I called my husband and told him he may have to come pick me and my friend up. Just as I was getting ready to walk away from lost and found, a woman who worked at the amphitheater walked up with MY purse. The relief that flooded my body once I got my hands on my keys can’t be explained. My wallet was missing and as much of an inconvenience as it is to replace debit cards and IDs, replacing my keys would have been far more of a headache.


As I searched for my purse, I was thinking rationally enough to lock my credit/debit cards so no purchases could be made. Stealing is never a good choice but I did think to myself that perhaps they needed to buy something they just didn’t have the money for. Except, they didn’t. They were trying to buy something off of Shein! Like, tried multiple times with multiple cards. The nerve!!! They also tried to get gas and $200 worth of stuff from Walmart… But Shein, though?! I’ve had my home broken into a couple of times and the feeling of violation that comes with knowing someone rifled through my things and took what was mine was similar to how I felt about this situation but what made it worse was they had to get super close to me to do it. That is a scary feeling. And all of that, for a couple of outfits. May God have mercy on their souls (and they come up with the money to get they little outfits).


I couldn’t help but think how much worse it could have been. My phone could have been in my purse. They could have taken my keys. They could have thrown my purse in the trash. I could have been so distraught that I didn’t think to lock my cards. Even in a terrible situation, I still have so much to thank God for. The concert was amazing and I left settled about all the things God told me. Me getting my purse stolen didn’t change any of that. He’s still a man of His Words and though the storms may come and the winds may blow, I’ll remain steadfast. They may have stolen my purse, but they couldn’t steal my joy.


1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

June 2022


Vacation Me

Growing up, vacations only existed in the context of basketball tournaments, church conventions, and family reunions. The idea of going to another place, just because, was a foreign concept to me. That was something rich people did and I definitely wasn’t that. The idea of traveling always sounded good but seemed far out of my reach until my friend Susan invited me to go camping.

I’m actually not sure whose idea it was but Susan and I decided we would rent a cabin during Spring Break of our freshmen year of college and go “camping.” To our surprise, we learned that you had to be at least 21 years old to rent a cabin at this particular place so instead we got a hotel and had a fantastic weekend exploring Jupiter, FL. It was a small city but there was something freeing about being in a place away from home with no events scheduled, staying in accommodations we chose, with the freedom to do the activities we like to do. Our purpose was simply to exist; no demands or expectations. During that trip it felt like I’d been granted access to a whole new world and ever since then, I’ve always aimed to see and enjoy more of it.

Compared to a lot of people I know, I haven’t been a lot of places. I’ve been to 22 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Canada, and the Bahamas. Some trips were planned well in advance, others were spur of the moment, some better than others, some for the weekend, others just for the day, some far more expensive than others, all of them worth it. I’ve come back from several trips with a list of complaints about what could have made the experience better but I can’t say I’ve ever regretted going on any of them. I’m grateful that most of my travel has been for pleasure and I’ve been able to visit some of my favorite places multiple times. I’m grateful I was able to create memories with wonderful people and memories by myself. I learned my limit when it comes to traveling with others. I learned what kind of hotels best suit me. I learned what kind of activities I liked the best. I learned to stick to a budget (well I’m still learning this one). I learned about other cultures. I learned to enjoy the silence. I learned to slow down and take a moment to breathe. I learned to be more grateful for life.

The pandemic put a halt to achieving some of my traveling goals and honestly, even when I did go places after some restrictions were lifted, there was a lot of anxiety surrounding my travels (ask my younger sister about the plane ride to Pennsylvania). Eventually things will look and feel even more normal than they already do and I can get back to crossing places off my bucket list. If you don’t have a bucket list of places you want to go, I encourage you to create one. It doesn’t have to be far, you don’t have to stay away long, but just think of a few places you want to visit. You don’t have to go this year if you’re not comfortable doing so. Maybe you want to splurge on the hotel or the food so perhaps you need to save up. Whatever it takes, work towards existing somewhere else for a little while; no demands, no expectations.

I don’t usually need a reason to travel but I must say, the month of May has been long so go ahead and vacation me.  

Ecclesiastes 3:13  And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

My Most Recent Vacation (Hilton Head Island, SC, January 2022)

*BONUS CONTENT*

My Travel List (some of these places have a permanent spot on the list no matter how many times I visit):

  • Tulum, Mexico
  • London, England
  • South Africa
  • Nigeria
  • Bora Bora
  • Canada (again)
  • Jamaica
  • Boston, MA
  • Myrtle Beach, SC
  • Seattle, WA (again)
  • New Orleans, LA (again; one of my favorite cities)
  • Anywhere in Hawaii (again; probably my favorite place)
  • San Diego, CA (again)
  • Puerto Rico (again)
  • Panama City Beach, FL (again)
  • Savannah, GA (again)
  • Washington, D.C. (again)

To read other posts about my travels click here and here.

Lessons from Pre-K

My first year teaching Pre-K has come to an end (well, we have one more day left). Here are three lessons I’ve learned after 180 days with twenty-three four and five year-olds (not to mention my bonus child from the other Pre-K class).

Lesson 1: Mrs. Johnson is my “real name.”

I told my class my new last name was Johnson, but four and five-year-olds have very selective memories so to them I was still Ms. Howard. As all teachers know though, there’s always that one student that notices everything. Let’s call mine Ashley. After Ashley heard one of my colleagues say “Hey, Mrs. Johnson,” she looked at me with the serious face she was accustomed to making and with a slight attitude she said, “so that’s your real name, huh?” I burst out laughing and with her mask under her chin, she smirked at me as though she uncovered my secret. It was no secret but she was right, I was in fact, Mrs. Johnson. I previously wrote about changing my name here and all of those feelings were reified by my class. To my students, I was who I was. My expectations of them were the same. We still laughed at the same things. Learning was still fun (I hope). And if I’m being honest, a part of me was grateful that in a season of so many changes, my students were a constant. This will be my only Pre-K class that knows me as Ms. Howard and I thought this truth would sadden me but I’m not sad at all. This year, Ashley and I may be the only ones who knew my real name was Mrs. Johnson, but I’m excited to introduce myself as Mrs. Johnson to all of my future Pre-K students.

Lesson 2: It’s okay not to be great. Just keep working towards it.

As go with the flow as I am, I can be a perfectionist (read more here). I want to be good at most things, even if I’m not the best. I want to do everything right on the first try. I know this isn’t realistic but it doesn’t change how I feel. Even though I could see the growth my students made and their parents told me I did a good job and my co-workers complimented me, there were still moments I felt like my students deserved so much more than me. I wanted to give them all the things and as a first year Pre-K teacher, I didn’t feel like I had the experience I needed to do that. But I realized what I gave them meant something; there was value in it. I have lots of ideas I gained from co-workers and experiences I gained from my students to help me be better. I don’t know that I’ll ever be satisfied with the level of work I do because I think there will always be more to learn, but I can stay on the track towards greatness, picking up tools along the way.

Lesson 3: Little humans are humans.

Okay, so this wasn’t a lesson I learned but it was a lesson that was reinforced every day. At such young ages, my students had very strong opinions about things and thoughts that were worthy of my attention. Sometimes I lacked the patience to hear them out but when I did, I marveled at how much they knew. In the future, I hope to celebrate more of who they are, quirks and all. One of my students had a habit of asking me questions she already knew the answer to and moving forward instead of being annoyed, I hope to be more curious. Sometimes I did do a better job of being more curious and patient. My bonus child repeated random phrases (“My daddy’s going to get my cat car.”) and often times instead of simply ignoring him, I would ask him more questions. He usually just repeated his phrase but it was our way of bonding. Children at this age are learning how to relate to others and the world around them. As their teacher, I play a vital role in what that looks like. They may be little now but soon they won’t be and in the story of their lives, I don’t want to be one of the people who overlooked who they were because I was big enough to; I want to be one of the people who treated them like the humans they are.

Over the years, I am sure I will learn a lot more lessons. Bring it on, year 2!

Matthew 19:14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

May 2022

This is Us

For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed a good TV show, with the emphasis being on good. If I’m watching a drama, it’s usually a medical drama or something related to law enforcement. One of my biggest rules for TV shows, specifically dramas, are the main characters can’t get killed off every season (sorry Grey’s Anatomy). Another rule is there cannot be too much drama and if there is a lot of it, the writers have to do a good job of making it make sense (sorry Queen Sugar). The show This is Us was a true wild card for me. No one works in law enforcement or the medical field. There is only one Black main character (and his Black family). And as a show, they managed to get everything right.


I’m honestly not sure what drew me to This is Us but I decided I would give it a try when it first premiered and from the first episode, I was hooked. Perhaps I was biased because I could identify with losing a parent and how that experience defines the rest of your life. All of it felt so real, like I could be one of the characters or they could be my friend. I saw so much of my mother in Rebecca. Beth is everything I aim to be as a Black woman supporting a Black man and raising a Black family. They covered almost every topic you could think of from mental health to abortion to alcoholism to adoption and foster care to divorce to creating a work/life balance to teen pregnancy to finding your passion to parent-child and sibling relationships to the LGBT community to race and discrimination to body image to getting older to career changes (the only thing me and my co-worker decided they didn’t touch on was religion). They touched on all of this in a way that humanized every character. No one was the hero; everyone had their own faults and shortcomings they were continually addressing and strengths and accomplishments I came to admire.


Most shows struggle to have a firm grasp on a basic storyline but This is Us was able to connect the past to the present to the future, flawlessly. The acting was amazing. The writing was/is the best I’ve ever seen. And the storyline, even with all of its twists and turns, was perfection. I would love to sit with the producers and writers to discuss how they developed such a perfect script every episode, every season. Lots of shows get it right a season or two then lose steam and things just fall out of place, but This is Us got better and better season after season. Even though this is the last season, they still have not allowed the ball to drop. All of the loose ends are coming together beautifully. Often times when a series ends, I don’t feel like I have closure or whatever closure they’re trying to provide just doesn’t make sense. With only two episodes left, I feel like I already have the closure I need but I’m still looking forward to what’s to come.


The messiness that being a family can sometimes bring has been so wonderfully portrayed. In the best of TV shows, what you want to happen may not happen but when the writers get it right, you see how it was better. Sometimes I wanted Jack to be more perfect than he really was but it added so much context to Kevin’s path. I wanted Kate to figure out what she wanted and to just do it, instead of constantly second guessing her worth and her talent, but she had to do it in her own time. I wanted Randall to chill out and just go with the flow but how he entered the world and the Pearson family made that almost impossible. Rebecca gave up a lot of herself to raise her family and if asked, I think she would do it all over again if it meant they were better because of it.


This is Us is such a perfect body of work and will always hold a special place in my heart. It truly helped me give grace to the role I play in my family and the roles my family members play and to extend that grace as roles evolve with life changes. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly makes us, us and I am and will always be grateful for us.

Romans 12:9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. (NLT)

March 2022



The GOAT: My Mother

Jen, mommy, maaaa!, lady. I call my mother a lot of names and most of the time she answers to them. The running joke in my family is although I’m not an only child, when it comes to my mother, I have only child tendencies. I want all of her time and attention even though she insist on having a life outside of me and loving my siblings as much as she loves me. We talk every day on my way to work. She knows most of y’all business and loves y’all anyway. She has overcome so much and made it look easy. I have always known how blessed I was/am to have her as a mother and how blessed the people who get to encounter her are.

The older I get, the more I see her in myself. As confident as I believe myself to be, I haven’t always seen myself as courageous and capable of having difficult conversations and securely and consistently standing in my own truth. These were qualities that I had resolved my mother possessed but I didn’t.  Despite her best efforts to convince me of otherwise, it wasn’t until I was put in certain situations that I accepted that what my mother said about me hadn’t fallen on deaf ears. For me, this is the beauty of having an amazing mother. No matter how much I question my ability to be great, she continues to tell me I am. And no matter how much greater than her she wants me to be, I’ll always see her as the greatest.

Proverbs 31: 10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

January 2022

Adjusting to the Dark

Certain parts of my house are darker than others at night. With shades drawn, no light illuminating from the television, lamps resting in the off position, there is a spot right outside my bathroom door that envelops darkness. I used to be startled by this darkness, stumbling along a familiar path into objects that have not moved. I eventually realized that if I stood still, my eyes would adjust to the dark; it would capture light from somewhere. If I took just a couple of seconds to stop and look, even when I couldn’t see anything, I would gain access to everything I already knew to be there and to be true. There may be darkness, but if you stop while you’re in the midst of it, you will adjust and find the light in the darkest of situations.

Darkness can come in different forms. For me it was my dad passing away but it’s also having a whole attitude when my friends change plans at the last minute. Very different things but my initial reaction to any kind of change (disappointment, unforeseen circumstances, unfulfilled expectations, deferred timelines, etc.) can be very strong, maybe even dramatic (so my family says). My response isn’t always steeped in reality and the things I know to be true; I just stumble in the darkness of whatever feeling I’m feeling and rant on about it. These moments usually don’t last very long and thankfully the people in my life love me enough to let me do my song and dance then come back to reality, but I’m aware that it doesn’t take all of that. If I choose to pause and give myself time to adjust to the change (my perceived darkness), I can move about with ease knowing everything God said about me or the situation is still true. Even with the death of my father, it wasn’t until going to therapy and allowing myself to stop roaming around in the darkness that I realized I could be processing my feelings in a healthier manner. I didn’t automatically stop being sad about my dad being gone but the dark didn’t seem as scary anymore; I started to see the shadows of the truth of God’s love for me. No matter what form the darkness may take, if I choose to pause, I can make my next move wisely without all the stumbling around, allowing the faintest of light to lead me.

Your darkness could be a rejection letter or a poor health prognosis or unemployment or a divorce or a bad grade or a miscarriage or a cancelled trip. You get to decide what your darkness is, no matter how big or small it may seem to others. As much as we would love for a light switch to be flipped and the darkness to be eradicated immediately, sometimes we have to stand in it and let our eyes adjust to what is there, having faith that the light, no matter how little, will show up. Morning will come with the bright light of the sun, but even in the darkest of night, you can adjust.

Psalm 18:28 You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness. (NLT)

April 2022

Identity

To put it lightly, I’m obsessed with my name. I always have been and I probably always will be. Even though I remember crying as a young child because in my household I had the most letters in my first name and I often get nervous when I have to introduce myself to new people because I know I’ll have to say my name more than once and at certain times in my life I’ve considered it too ethnic (read Black); I love my name, all of it. Over the course of my life I have perfected my signature. Some of my most cherished gifts are the ones that display my name. Whether it’s my first name or just my last name or only my initials, my name is very much a reflection of who I am. I am my name. So imagine how I felt as I considered changing it…

Before I met my husband I always knew I would change my last name when I got married. I looked forward to being introduced as Mrs. (insert name), signifying the merging of my life with the love of my life. But I wasn’t prepared for the emotional response I would have. As excited as I was to change my name, I was also kind of sad to “lose” my name. It felt like I was ending a really good chapter of an amazing book. My previous name has taken me places; we saw things and we got degrees and awards. We counseled people and taught students and recited poems and created a blog. I accomplished so much with my previous name but I look forward to all that I’ll accomplish with my new name.

There are several times in the bible where God changed someone’s name (Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul). Often times through these name changes, He delivered on His promises. He received glory and praise. One’s faith was increased through a name change. It did not matter how successful they had been or even how unsuccessful they had been, when God changed their names, things got better. Sarai was barren but Sarah gave birth to a son. Jacob wrestled with the angel but Israel was the father of the people of God. Saul was a sinner but Paul was a soldier in God’s army.

My children will know me by my new name. Any awards I receive in the future will be with my new name. The book I write will be written under my new name. I’m as wonderful of a human being as I was before I changed my name, if not better. Changing my name doesn’t mean I have changed; it simply means my amazing story continues. I have to remind myself of this truth. As good of a life as I was living with my previous name, life with my new name is the good life too (cue *I’m living my best life*).

So much of who I am is wrapped up in what I do. I am a teacher who teaches students. I am a Christian who serves God. I am a writer who writes. So much of who I am is tied to who I am connected to. I am a daughter to my mother. I am a sister to my siblings. I am a godmother to my goddaughter. Through all of these roles and labels my name was still my name. And now I’m a wife to my husband which comes with a new last name and my name is still my name. I am still my name.

Genesis 17:15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.