Sundays With Rae

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

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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.

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.

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