Sundays With Rae

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

Halfway There

Believe it or not, we’re almost halfway through 2020. With everything going on, it certainly feels like we’ve been in 2020 longer than six months. Never in a million years could I have imagined that we would be where we are when I wrote down my goals for 2020. From pandemic to protests, these past six months have not been for the faint of heart. But even with so much going on, you are here! You are alive and breathing, and that’s worth celebrating.

At the beginning of every year, a lot of people set goals for the year. Some call them new year’s resolutions, some call them a vision board, some call it a plan, and for some it’s just some stuff they want to get done. Whether it’s lose weight, write more, read your bible, go to church, go to therapy, start your business, eat better, draw more, get a new job, meditate, save more, whatever it is, I’m encouraging you to revisit it. You may have had more time or less time these past three months to accomplish your goals, just know there is still time. We have no idea what tomorrow holds but choose to do something towards your goals today.

One of my goals for this year was to read ten books. I certainly have had more time to get this done but I realized today it’s been a month or so since I finished my last book and I still have six more books to go. So I’m going to choose a book today and continue pursuing that goal. It’s that simple. Just because you’re not where you thought you would be this time of year, doesn’t mean you can’t get there. I know you paid for that gym membership and the gyms closed; start walking around your neighborhood or find some workouts on Youtube that you can do at home. I know you started saving money, then you got let go; even if it’s two dollars from that unemployment check, save that. I know you were set to launch that business and now everything is at a standstill; keep networking and promoting yourself.

When I played basketball, during halftime if my team was down, my coach would always say, “we have another whole half to go. We can do this.” You have another whole half to go. You can do this. We’re only halfway there.

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ

 

June 2020

Loving A Black Man

Inhale love for the black man, exhale love for the black man.
Inhale love for the black man, exhale love for the black man.
Inhale love for the black man, exhale love for the black man.

Sometimes I get upset that I allow tears to pierce the corners of my eyes. Once they are there, I cannot stop them from falling and it scares me that I will never be able to. That this feeling of despair is a prerequisite for loving black men. It is required learning, understood as necessary to carry such a love. And as difficult as it may be at times, I will carry it just as naturally as I carry the air in my lungs. When it gets hard to breathe, I will inhale a little deeper, soak up the particles of black boy joy floating in the air. The ones they do not want to see because they are too busy seeing a threat. I will hug a black man much tighter and much longer than I ever have before, allowing the sound of his heartbeat to be music to my ears. It will be a reminder that all of the good do not have to die young; that street pavements do not have to serve as death beds for black bodies at the insistence of white hands. I will let a black man see me cry, an act of vulnerability my own mother cannot tell you the last time she saw. Even with the tears falling against my will, my soul will be cleansed after it has been seen by this black man. I will pray I will be as safe a space for him as he has been for me. And I will breathe a bit easier and continue to breathe for all of those who no longer can.

Inhale love for the black man, exhale love for the black man.
Inhale love for the black man, exhale love for the black man.
Inhale love for the black man, exhale love for the black man.

Genesis 2:7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

By Jalethea Byrd

 

Filling Time With Feelings

I recently told someone it’s been May 20th the past couple of days in my world. Time has become such a fluid concept for me (which I’m sure my bosses did not appreciate considering I had deadlines to meet). However, as a child, I was obsessed with time. I wore ugly sports watches well into high school because I always wanted to know what time it was. Now, it just doesn’t seem to be that important. The days come and go. I’ve had really great days and other days, not so much. I’ve talked to friends a lot more than I usually would have. I’ve stayed up way past my bedtime most nights. I’ve read books. I haven’t written as much as I’ve wanted to. I’ve cooked (yes, me, I cooked). I’ve done bible plans. I’ve exercised. I’ve loathed video conferences. I’ve cried. I’ve taken breaks from social media and the news. I’ve prayed. I’ve laughed. I’ve done a whole lot since the world took a “kind of” pause but I’m realizing through writing this, that I’ve let a lot of time just go by.

Some days I’ve been really intentional. Sometimes I intentionally rested and sometimes I intentionally completed tasks, but I haven’t had enough of those intentional days. With that in mind, I’m going to do more to fill my time with things I set out to do (being intentional) instead of just going to bed at 4am, clueless as to how it got to be so late and unsure of what I’ve done with the day (being lazy). That may look like me sleeping in until noon some days and other days getting up at 8am (probably not going to do much earlier than that unless I’m highly motivated). That may look like reading a book for four hours or binge watching “A Different World.” That may look like praying/mediating for an hour or listening to music while playing Candy Crush Soda Saga. That may look like doing a video call with my college friends or harassing my younger sister about whatever comes to mind. That may look like writing about everything and nothing or looking up recipes I’m not going to make. And that may still look like, “today we’re going to just see what happens,” sometimes. We don’t all have to start a new business or become fitness gurus (shout out to those of you who did though; I can’t tell you how proud I am to call y’all friends!) but we all have to be responsible for what we do with our time. I want to fill my time with things that feel right for me. I want to look back and be able to say time did not pass me, but I decided how I passed it.

As in control as I thought God was, this whole pandemic has shown me just how true that is. He is working things out for good, and even after we get to our new normal, I always want to fill time with feelings.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

May 2020

From the Front Line

Whether or not we like it, we are all being affected by this pandemic. We do not have to know anyone personally who’s been infected by the virus or even died from it to feel its impact. We know we wash our hands more frequently and we wear masks everywhere we go and we can’t go and sit down anywhere outside of our homes to enjoy a meal. These slight inconveniences start to add up and can become overwhelming at times. We just want to go back to life as we know it but for too many, there is no such thing. COVID-19 has taken parts of them, they will never get back. I am grateful to have friends who risk their lives and well-being as they do their best to save others in a number of ways. Each of their perspectives helped me to complain a little bit less, knowing that although some states are opening some businesses, there are a lot of people still suffering.

 

 

What’s the most heartbreaking part about this pandemic?

The most heartbreaking part of this pandemic has been seeing these patients suffer and have no one there with them. Families talking with their loved ones through a phone, saying goodbye through FaceTime. It breaks your heart. – Jenn

The most heartbreaking part of this pandemic is seeing people die alone. At the most, we will set up FaceTime or something to let families see their dying loved ones. But for quarantine reasons no visitors are allowed in with patients who have the virus. – Ramone

The most heartbreaking part of this pandemic is the older people that are in lock down in the retirement homes in the city that I work in. Almost all of these people don’t have a lot of family in the area because they are snowbirds and can’t return home and their families can’t visit them. We offer free delivery at my company, but we don’t deliver over-the-counter items so for a lot of the residents, it’s hard for them to get supplies and you can hear the desperation in their voices. Even the delivery driver is scared to deliver to these retirement homes because one of the locations had a case. – Susan

One of the most heartbreaking aspects of this pandemic is hearing about and seeing families who have lost loved ones but were unable to attend their funerals or have optimal support during this time due to social distancing guidelines.  It is also extremely difficult to watch people and their families suffer due to not being able to work or provide the level of income necessary to sustain their livelihood at times where depression, uncertainty, and anxiety already have strongholds over their lives. – Anthony

What is most frustrating?

The most frustrating thing is people not taking this seriously, rushing for things to be “back to normal,’ thinking it’s fake news. They are not here at the bedside seeing these people struggling to breathe, flipped on their bellies to allow their lungs more space to expand, on multiple lifesaving medications, and people think it’s a hoax. I wish they could be in our shoes. I’d love to be at home ‘bored” instead of being paranoid 24 hours thinking that I could possibly get my husband or my son sick. – Jenn

The most frustrating thing is seeing all these protesters claiming this is an overreaction or hoax. Some say, “my body, my choice.” Truth is, it isn’t just your body; it’s an entire population safety concern. If it is “American” to only care about yourself, then I don’t want to be American. – Ramone

The most frustrating thing is the misinformation in the media. There was this whole drug regimen of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin that was a potential cure for the virus. It has no substantial evidence proving that it was effective. It got to the point where we couldn’t order hydroxychloroquine from our wholesaler. They put a hold on the drug. It really affected people who were on it for other medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. We had to limit these patients to 2 weeks supply. – Susan

An area that continues to frustrate me as a responsible member of society is the misinformation, politicization, and polarization of a world crisis that has severe crippling effects at a time where unification and compassion are most needed to build resiliency.  It is a daily struggle to help people cope and stay grounded when any time they attempt to amass hope, it is met with confusion from the national and local levels. – Anthony

How have you been personally affected?

My love language is physical touch. [And it’s been difficult] being unable to hug and kiss my family as much as I want to because I’m afraid of getting them sick. [My son and husband] have asthma, so I have to be extra careful and more cautious than most. I have nightmares now and trouble sleeping. It’s mentally and physically exhausting. – Jenn

It’s very difficult to complain since I am lucky enough to still have a job and income. It’s heartbreaking to see what nonessential workers are going through. Yes, it personally sucks to come home to an empty apartment and have very little interaction with the outside world aside from phone calls and FaceTime. I turn 30 next week but unfortunately it won’t be anything more than a small celebration to myself. – Ramone

I just miss the simple things like going out to eat, walking around the mall, seeing my sister. She has asthma and since I work with the public she doesn’t want to be around me. – Susan

Both my aunt and grandmother are in the hospital struggling with the virus at the moment to which we have found different ways as a family to connect, support each other, and yet feel helpless all at the same time. – Anthony

Have there been any highlights?

Our patients are doing better and recovering faster than the national average. We were able to flatten the curve in my state because residents came together and took necessary precautions. We have a bomb ass governor who quickly took action. – Jenn

The highlight of my day is seeing how the non-medical and medical community have really come together through all of this. There is a level of comradery we have not seen before. Local restaurants often cater food to support front line workers. Everyone is doing the best they can in a difficult situation. – Ramone

I am so grateful to still have a job and that my routine hasn’t been interrupted that much. – Susan

There have been quite a few positive takeaways from this crisis as people have found unique ways to come together against a common threat.  Families have had opportunities to bond and share in experiences that they have probably not shared in a while or for that matter at all in their lifetime. I have noticed even in my own neighborhood families walking together, walking their dogs, speaking to their neighbors, and others acts of kindness at places like the grocery stores.  People have also been more open to seek out therapy services as well as engage in online sessions due to relaxed tele-mental health guidelines, which has allowed for individuals and families to access increased mental health services from their own homes thereby decreasing significant barriers.  – Anthony

Colossians 3:14-15 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. (NLT)

Hearers and Doers

With this whole quarantine situation, access to multiple church services and bible studies has to be at an all time high. Many churches were already streaming their services but now if pastors want to continue to connect with their members, they have no choice. If you don’t like one service, you can literally click over to another. You can’t go anywhere so you find yourself going back to listen to messages you missed earlier. And for the most part, we’ve been getting a good word from multiple sources. If I’m not careful, I will look back at this time in my life and be able to say I got a good word but did not live a good life.

Life was so busy before all of this. We didn’t have time to pray in the morning because we had to beat rush hour traffic. We didn’t have time to read our bibles because we had all these places to go. Sure, you may have to work from home and help your kids with their school work and some people may be essential workers so not much has changed with their schedule (and if anything they’re busier), but for most of us, we now have the time. Well, we’ve always been able to make the time, but now we don’t have the excuses.

If you’re like me, you’ve caught up on all your shows and watched shows and movies you probably wouldn’t have watched under different circumstances. Maybe you’ve been cooking more (I haven’t done that). You may even have picked up a new hobby or an old hobby. Just this past week I realized I haven’t picked up my bible nearly enough. I’m not sure my prayer to tv watching ratio would show up as a decimal on a scientific calculator. I haven’t reached out as much as I could to those who may be in need, even if just to say I’m thinking of them. I haven’t been the Christian I’ve heard about these past few Sundays. So, I’ve decided this week and every week after, will be different. I won’t just be a hearer; I’ll be a doer.

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

 

My inspiration to be a doer (December 2019)

Empty Sanctuaries

It was March 12 when I got an email saying my school would be closed for the next two weeks. Two weeks. Of course I was ecstatic I would be able to work from home for two weeks. I had settled in my mind that after the two weeks, this would be over, things would be back to normal (I actually told my friends all of this seemed a bit excessive). Well, that was a month ago, literally a month ago, and things are still pretty abnormal. Today, many of us would have put on our very best (I already had my outfit ready) and all across the world we would have gathered together in sanctuaries to celebrate a resurrected King. Unfortunately, if you had taken today to travel to city after city and town after town, you would have found empty sanctuaries.

These empty sanctuaries are a reflection of what we’ve experienced this past month. In a month’s time, I was reminded how much I despise conference calls, I canceled birthday plans (y’all I had a whole dinner planned and I was supposed to go see Hamilton!), I canceled flights (see you another time Ramone), and I received so many emails in one day I was almost in tears. This past month, many have lost their lives with their loved ones unable to give them a proper farewell and many more have suffered in hospitals alone and even more than that have been sick and recovered. Traffic has been little to none (yes, even in Atlanta), some have loss their jobs, others have learned new technologies to work from home, others have no choice but to go to work. Maybe last week or the week before (it’s hard to keep up with time nowadays), I had a moment where I truly could not believe we were in this situation; I was legitimately sad about it. But today, as I think about empty sanctuaries, I am reminded of an empty grave! This gives me hope.

Empty sanctuaries may reflect what’s going on in this world but it doesn’t have to be a reflection of what’s going on in our hearts. As believers, we are in this world, not of this world. Our daily lives may be affected, but our daily devotion to a living God doesn’t have to be shaken. We have a peace that surpasses all understanding. The social climate doesn’t change that. Social distancing doesn’t make God distant from us. Jesus came that we may have life and have it more abundantly. My plans for living my best life this past month didn’t happen but God’s plan to reconcile the world back to Him, is still going forth. Sanctuaries may be empty, but let an empty grave fill your empty heart.

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

 

When going outside was a thing (February 2020)

30 is Almost Here…

Last year I created a list of 29 things I wanted to accomplish by my 30th birthday (click here). Well, I didn’t get everything done but…

1. See Kirk Franklin in concert

My only goal was to go to Kirk Franklin’s concert but an opportunity presented itself in June to hear him speak, then I waited in a lonnnnngggg line to take a picture with him and it was amazing. I went to his concert in July and my sister and I met his tour manager, randomly, who gave us a heads up that Kirk Franklin would be taking pictures with fans after the concert. So, right before the concert ended and they announced to everyone what would be taking place, we made our way to the line and that’s how I became best friends with Kirk Franklin!

June 2019

 

July 2019

2. Go to Poets in Autumn

This has been a tradition for me and my friend Kahri for the past 5 or so years (although I abandoned her in 2018, a little bit lol).

October 2019

3. Go to the beach

I went to the beach quite a bit my 29th year of life which makes me smile.

December 2019

4. Get a massage

I also got a few massages this past year and they were well needed.

5. See Alvin Ailey Dance Company

I’m honestly sad I didn’t take pictures at this event. But it was such a great experience.

6. Go to a karaoke bar

This almost didn’t take place but a wonderful person made sure it happened. I wasn’t nervous about it until I realized I was really doing it and I’m so glad I did. (this is a screenshot of the video)

March 2020

 

7. Go to a vegan restaurant

It was edible. I’m glad I was able to support a black business and that a black business offers food options such as this. Nothing I would eat on a regular basis though.

October 2019

8. Get laptops for my class

I was able to do this because of my wonderful friends and family and I’m grateful for them all!

9. Be featured on someone’s blog/vlog/column

My best friend, Crystal, launched into the blog world this year and I’m so proud of her. She gave me a shout out on her Valentine’s Day post. Click to read all about it!

Is Love Possible For You?

10. Go to therapy

Crystal also encouraged me to go to therapy. When I initially put this on my list, I was in a different emotional place and I actually tried one therapist and it didn’t work with that one. By the time I talked to Crystal about therapy again, some time in November, life wasn’t terrible but I knew it could be better. I wrote about my experience here.

11. Get my hair done consistently

Consistently is a strong word. I got my hair done more than I usually do though, so go me! Shout out to my stylist, my sister, Jalethea.

June 2019

12. Go on a hike

So I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember going hiking but I’m pretty sure I did so we’re just going to say I did.

13. Go to a house warming

My friend Gary got his own place and I was fortunate enough to celebrate with him!

14. Meet someone new, who I know will be a lifelong friend

I’ll write more about this at some point but know that God will send you who you need when you need them and it’ll be life-changing.

15. Go camping

This counts. I was in a tiny cabin in the middle of nowhere. It counts.

July 2019

16. Hold a conversation with someone I don’t know but look up to

At the Kirk Franklin concert I got to talk to Ezekiel Azonwu, one of the poets from Poets in Autumn who I believe is one of the masterminds behind the tour. I was able to tell him how much I enjoy his work and how I appreciate his dedication to his craft and it shows in the quality of his content. It was a great moment.

17. Show up for a friend who really needs me

I was blessed to show up for a few friends this year and I’m grateful.

18. Take my goddaughter to a tea party

This wasn’t an actual tea party but we did go get tea together from a tea shop. She wasn’t a big fan but I was happy to be with her. (she also stepped in dog poop that day so I got the pleasure of cleaning that. Precious memories.)

September 2019

 

I have a day to get the rest of this stuff done…

1. Go to a dance class (If not for the Coronavirus…)

2. Perform at an open mic (And yet again, the Coronavirus…)

3. Do at least 3 Testimony Tuesdays (I did do one)

4. Buy another book bag (someone’s getting this for my birthday)

5. Go to Colorado (I was supposed to go on April 9 but the… yea, you know)

6. Write a full song (I wrote lines for multiple songs)

7. Pet a monkey (I did see them!)

July 2019

8. Read 10 books (I read 3)

9. Write a happy poem about my dad (this might happen tomorrow)

10. Finish one of my book ideas (I have started the first chapter)

11. Speak at an event (not including my local church; I was actually supposed to but we ran out of time)

My 29th year of life was AMAZING. I accomplished so much, went to so many places, and enjoyed the company of so many great people. I don’t know what 30 will bring but I pray you’ll join me for the ride! HAPPY (early) BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!

 

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

Pause in the Plan

Guess who doesn’t have to go to work until further notice? Me, I don’t. Of course I’m beaming with excitement! I thought I would get a day or two but it’s going to be at least a week, probably two. As a single person with no kids who will still be getting paid, this is honestly like an early Spring Break for me. We’ll probably have to make up some of the time, but I’ll deal with that then. In the midst of my joy, I realize what I’m considering a vacation, for many it’s a disruption in their life they didn’t see coming and they don’t know how they’ll recover.

Their kids are out of school, but they have to go to work. They don’t have to go to work but they’re also not getting paid. One of their family members is sick and they have to take care of them. Appointments they’ve had for months have been canceled because offices are closed. Events they have been looking forward to are no longer happening. Trial dates have been postponed. They have no idea what their tomorrow will be. It’s like everything has been put on pause.

We’ve all experienced a pause in our lives, maybe not to this degree, but in some way or another, things don’t end up going the way we think they will when we think they will. We wait. And we hope. And we pray. This is the trying of our faith. Can we really trust God? Will He really see us through? Did we hear Him right? Yes, yes, and yes! This pause doesn’t mean the plan won’t come to fruition and it doesn’t mean it won’t be difficult but know that God is working it out. There is a grand scheme of things we are not privy to. It’s easy for me to say all these things while sitting in the position I’m in but trust me when I say there have been so many moments when I didn’t believe, and I desperately wanted to. God is faithful, He always has been and always will be. Lean into Him through this pause and know that you’re coming out on the other side.

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

February 2020

To read more about waiting, click here and here and here

Loved Me Clean

I can recall going to babysit my goddaughter and when I arrived, she and her sister were outside coloring with chalk. Some of the chalk made it on the sidewalk but most of it was on her. Like, all over her. As soon as I got out of my car, she yelled “Hi, Jocee! I coloring.”  To which I responded, “I see,” and prayed to God she didn’t touch me. I know I work with kids but I was off the clock. And I’m not saying I wouldn’t have cleaned her up if necessary, but thankfully her parents were there. Without a second thought, when it was time to clean up, they worked together to get the two colorful ones, less colorful, and I played with the clean third child. God is more like my goddaughter’s parents and less like me. It doesn’t matter what mess we’ve made, He loves us all the same and is more than willing and able to clean us up.

My goddaughter was completely unbothered by the mess she made. It was fun and she probably would have stayed out there all night if her parents had let her. She didn’t realize it probably wasn’t a good idea for the chalk to stay on her and if she didn’t wash it off it would get on everything she touched, even the things she didn’t want it to. This is how sin affects us. We think we’re living our best life, not realizing we’re making a mess. What was only suppose to go on for a little while, ends up becoming our lifestyle.

Thankfully, God loves you enough to clean you and every part of your life that was affected. He doesn’t focus all of His attention on those who are already clean; He specializes in those who are a mess. Sometimes He has to clean you while you’re kicking and screaming, but choose to want to be clean today.

Psalms 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

June 2019

Hurdles Are Not Finish Lines

I ran track in middle school. I was slow so I ran the mile but I was always infatuated with the hurdles. My teammates, who were much faster and more athletic than me, made jumping over each one look easy. I tried a number of times and every time I got to the hurdle, running full speed ahead, I would stop. No matter how much I talked myself up and how encouraged I felt, when I got to the hurdle, that was it. Finally my friend, the expert hurdler on the team, got tired of seeing me struggle, and she said “girl, just jump! You’re stopping before you start.” And she was right. The hurdle always ended my race. What was meant to propel me forward, I let stop me. We do the same thing when faced with challenges in life. Instead of jumping over to the other side and continuing the journey we’re on, we stop.

The loan didn’t come through. No one showed up at the event. The reviews weren’t good. They died. You didn’t pass the test. They picked someone else. The marriage didn’t work out. There are all types of hurdles that look like finish lines. We say, “well, I tried” or “I guess it wasn’t meant to be.” We close that chapter, not realizing there was more to the story. Keep going. Keep trying. Jump! I did, and I made it across the first hurdle and all of the others.

Today I’m encouraging you to jump over that first hurdle you come across; don’t let it end your race. Ok, you’re uncomfortable. Ok, it took longer than you thought. Ok, it’s going to take more money. Ok, you have one less friend. JUMP! And keep running the race. God hasn’t brought you this far to throw in the towel. He’s more than able to help you over that hurdle. Trust Him.

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

February 2020