Sundays With Rae

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

Leaning into Good

I’m really good at being sad. I’m good at getting through disappointment. I revel in grief. But joy and happiness and all the other good things, I struggle to bask in. I’m always grateful when good things happen but at times it makes me quite uncomfortable. I don’t know if it’s the attention that comes with accomplishments or I feel like I don’t deserve whatever it is I have received; it’s all feels like too much to take in.

I never want to be seen as someone who is boastful or thinks of herself as better than others. Other people do great things; I am no different than they are. Why should I be celebrated and recognized when others are doing much, much better? I have struggled to answer that question but I have also come to terms with not having an answer. I do amazing things worth celebrating and I don’t have to celebrate by myself. I don’t have to do it quietly. I don’t have to do it quickly. I can stand firm in the good and feel good about it.

Jonathan McReynolds made a post a while ago basically patting himself on the back. Not to broadcast his accomplishments but to simply acknowledge them. Too often we downplay our success or our happy because we’re worried about what others will say. And it’s true; many may have things to say about why you’re happy or how you’re being celebrated, and that’s okay. When I talk to people about grief, I usually end up telling them to be okay with where they are and don’t let anyone tell them to be anywhere else. I’m going to take my own advice and be okay being happy, being celebrated, doing the celebrating, embracing the good, and not let anyone (myself included) tell me otherwise.

Proverbs 17:22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. (NLT)

September 2021

Peace on an Island

I was having a conversation with my mom about the passing of my dad. My mom and I have always been close but now I truly cherish every moment I get to spend with her. Grieving the loss of Josh made me reflect on my trip to Hawaii with my mom. We were supposed to go last year for my 30th birthday but you know, Corona… So we rescheduled for this year and I’m glad we did. It was refreshing to disconnect from normal life and sit and do nothing in paradise. All my worries were casted into the Pacific Ocean. There was a stillness within me that made breathing easy. I had to return to life as I knew it but I still carry what I received on that island.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

My Sweet Joshua

Prior to last night, I’ve never felt like I’ve been punched in the guts before; like all the wind had been knocked out of my body. I’ve experienced great loss, unexpected loss but for whatever reason, this was different. My sweet Joshua left this earth a few days ago. He wasn’t a best friend or even a close friend, but Josh had a way of making everyone who came in contact with him feel special. We spent two years together in graduate school and during that time, I watched Josh transform into living unapologetically as himself. Occasionally, he would give me a pep talk using colorful language and as I sobbed in the bathroom at church today while the praise team sung, “live, live, live, live, live,” I summed up those pep talks as Josh daring me to live. Him telling me to be okay where I was.

Moments like these I can find myself being in a dark space but today I didn’t go to that place. I was surrounded by friends and reminded God was still good. I stared at my fiancé and was reminded that God was still good. I celebrated the birthday of a woman diagnosed with cancer a year ago and was reminded God was still good. God is still good. Today I am weak, and He is still strong.

August 2012

I am forever grateful for Joshua’s life and the influence he had in mine. And I’ll always choose to dare to live.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Not So Merry Christmas

If you’re reading this, you lived to see Christmas 2020 and that in itself, is a blessing!  Maybe you were happy, maybe you grieved your way through it, maybe you were surrounded by family, maybe you celebrated alone; whatever your situation was, God saw fit for you to be here. Even with a heart full of gratitude, it’s been a rough week for me. 

This was the first time in some years that I wasn’t dreading the coming of Christmas. I didn’t spend the weeks leading up to it, wondering how I would feel when the day arrived. I didn’t walk around in a daze. I didn’t cry. But as soon as I walked in the home I spent my whole childhood in, a depression set in that I couldn’t get rid of.

Being home for the holidays has been difficult since my dad died but I think this year was the worst it’s ever been. I was only there for a week but each night I was excited I was one day closer to getting on a plane and getting out of there; I was literally counting the days. I felt like a stranger in a place I should have been familiar with which was a new feeling for me. I’m used to feeling sad or not wanting to get out much, but this was different. Everywhere and everything reminded me that my dad was missing from my life. Home didn’t feel like home. Streets I traveled countless times made me feel like I was in a distant land. I could not identify with these places and spaces without my father. It took all the energy I could muster up to interact with people outside of my mom and younger sister. And the anxiety of this pandemic added fuel to a blazing fire.

It took a while to recognize my emotional state. I knew something was off but I don’t think I wanted to admit it. Even though I know grief is a process (in a lot of ways, a cycle), I definitely thought I had gotten over this part. Clearly, I had not. My sister said she noticed at Christmas dinner I was present, but checking in and checking out. She was right. I thought about the tips I gave for dealing with grief last week (click here) and had to put them to use. 

With all that was going on inside of me, I still managed to laugh from the depths of my soul, thank God for my family, dream about the one I love, celebrate friends, and be hopeful. This year I have learned the art of two things being true. I have learned to live with “both/and.” I can be sad and hopeful. I can be both drained and inspired. I can feel lost and know I’ll be found. One feeling does not negate the other, and there is enough room for both. Hopefully, your Christmas was a lot merrier than mine but even if it wasn’t, let this be a reminder that you’re not alone and we’re all doing the best we can do, you included. 

Psalms 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

December 2020

Grieving During the Holidays

Here are 4 tips to get you through Christmas as you grieve.

1. Breathe

Something so simple can have a major impact. We can spend so much time trying not to cry, trying to smile, trying not to feel, we forget to simply breathe. When you find yourself almost consumed by the sadness, take a deep breath. Then, take another. (You can find more about breathing, here)

2. Cry

For some, this may seem counterproductive (it certainly did to me) but bottled up tears don’t just disappear. Give yourself space to cry. Whether you do it when you first wake up and that aching hits you in the chest or after you make it through the day as you realize time didn’t stop because your loved one passed. You may have to go in the bathroom in the middle of the festivities and that’s okay. If you feel like crying, cry.

3. Fake It

This may sound contradictory to the above but stay with me. Maybe you have kids and a family depending on you to prepare Christmas dinner or maybe you’re in charge of organizing the annual family talent show. Maybe you have to go to work and literally can’t afford to stay in bed like you want to. Your responsibilities don’t care about your grief. Fake your way through it. If you have to put a timer on your phone to go to the bathroom every hour and give yourself a five minute check-in, do that. If you have to spend your lunch break crying in your car, do that. And the rest of the time, smile even though it hurts. Try to muster up the strength to find a joke to tell. You may look back and realize this wasn’t a very happy Christmas, but you did what you had to in order to get through the day. 

4. Talk 

Grief can feel like our dirty little secret. We don’t want anyone to know we’re struggling. We are held captive by our own emotions. It doesn’t have to be that way. Find someone who you know will be supportive and tell them how you’re feeling. Tell them your mad or you’re sad or you don’t feel anything. Tell them you can’t wait for the day to be over. Tell them you tried to fake happy and just couldn’t. And after you’ve done that, talk to God. Even if you’re mad at Him, even if you don’t think He can hear you, do it anyway. 

Psalms 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. (NLT)

December 2020

To read more about my grief journey:

Good is Coming

My dad dying was like God taking my favorite vase and dropping it on purpose and the shock of it all left me speechless. But I let my silence speak volumes, because I had nothing to say to God. As far as I was concerned, He’d made a mess and left me with the broken pieces. I know the Bible says all things work together for the good of them that love the Lord but maybe I didn’t love the Lord because surely no good could come from this.

Those were (sometimes still are) dark days. I’m grateful I’ve grown to a place where those days are few and far between, but when those bad days come, sometimes it’s really bad, making the good seem nonexistent. And it’s a pity, because there’s so much good. So much, that even if I tried to hide from it, the good would find a way to me. And maybe this seems impossible to believe right now. Maybe you don’t have dark days, but you have dark weeks and it’s been months since you said the word good and meant it. Misery may love company, but you’re doing just fine all by yourself. I know that feeling.

Grief is difficult. It just is. There are no shortcuts. You are where you are. Other people may not understand it and they don’t have to. You don’t have to see it right now, you don’t have to feel it, and I’m somewhat tempted to say you don’t even have to believe it (although, it helps if you do), but know that one day you will be able to genuinely smile again. You won’t measure time by loss. God will be friend to you instead of betrayer. He won’t just be seen as taker, but giver. One day, your bad days will be few and far between because good is coming to find you.  

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.

Enjoying the good (November 2020)

Allow Yourself To Be

October 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope Through Thorns

Death always has a way of shaking my faith. Even before my father passed, I can remember being broken up when the singer Aaliyah died and crying real tears when my college professor’s father died. These are people I’d never met before but their deaths, along with many others, always made me give God the side eye. How were those closest to the deceased supposed to do life without them? Even before experiencing my own greatest loss, this seemed like an impossible task. And after living out the impossible daily, my faith is still shaken. Not broken, just shaken. This may be the thorn in my side and I’ll live with it, knowing God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 9:12).

So this week I’ve been waiting for the latter part of what Jesus said in that verse, for His strength to be made perfect in my weakness. A gifted producer and songwriter named LaShawn “Big Shiz” Daniels died in a car crash on September 3, 2019. He was not someone I knew personally, in fact, the only reason I knew of him was because my sister made me watch the show “Tamar and Vince,” and he made frequent guest appearances. I had recently stumbled across his Instagram and marveled at him and his wife’s love for each other. It’s what I love and hate about social media: it gives you access to people’s lives you wouldn’t regularly have access to, which most times brings a smile across my face. However, on Wednesday instead of bringing a smile, it brought tears I refused to cry in the middle of the day but would eventually let flow like a leaky faucet. It brought uneasiness and a restless night in which I tried desperately to find sleep. Every post I saw spoke so highly of LaShawn and how he brightened every room he walked into. He was unapologetically himself no matter what crowd he was in. If any good could come from the past five days, it’s that I am encouraged to be who and how God made me, wherever I am.

This wasn’t really my loss but I grieve the suffering those who know him are experiencing. It was their loved one this time, but it could very well have been mine. None of it makes sense and it doesn’t seem fair, but as believers even when faced with such pain, we still choose to trust God. It’s been hard to say that these past few days. Literally, bringing tears to my eyes because my heart and mind don’t believe it but my soul knows it’s true. I have hope and I pray LaShawn’s wife, children, family, and friends find a way to have hope too.

Romans 8:24-25 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

August 2019

Say Something

Per usual, I was having a conversation with a friend about grief and I told her that healing doesn’t mean not feeling. I thought about all the times I walked around not feeling anything because I didn’t have the energy or time to do so. There was always something more important to focus on. Work, church, family, friends, always something. I didn’t realize my cup was full and this grief was spilling over into every area of my life. I didn’t notice how many plans I cancelled or didn’t bother to make. I didn’t notice how careful my interactions were with others, afraid they’d ask too many questions. I didn’t notice how quiet my dreams had become.

I told my friend a lot of stuff that she probably already heard or wasn’t interested in hearing, but I wish I told her about Job. When my dad passed, I turned to the Book of Job, for what I thought would bring me hope and solace, after all, growing up in church I always heard how Job was faithful to God even after he lost everything… That’s not exactly how the story went. Job was not praising God all the day long while he went through. He wasn’t pretending nothing was wrong. To put it quite frankly, Job was not here for what God was allowing him to go through and he didn’t mind telling his friends and God about it. Maybe Job didn’t curse God, but he cursed the day he was born. He had no problem displaying his grief by tearing his clothes and shaving his head. In fact, in Job 7:11, Job says he won’t be quiet, but he’ll talk about his anguish and he’ll complain from his bitter soul. Job refused to suffer in silence like so many of us do. We think we’re doing everyone a favor, including ourselves, by not grieving so loudly, but it’s killing us softly. Job was as faithful as they come, and even he acknowledged the pain he endured.

Everyone’s process is different but I’m of the belief we can’t talk grief out in our heads. For some it means going to counseling, for others it means going to lunch with a friend, for others talking to God out loud, and still others it means writing a book about it. Or you may be like me and have to do all of the above (a lot of times). Just because you can’t “feel” grief or maybe you ignore it, doesn’t mean it’s not there, begging for your attention, wanting you to share it so you don’t have to bear the load by yourself. Your display of grief may not be as elaborate as Job’s, but its affect on your life can be just as impactful. I’m going to tell you like I told the little girl at my school who wouldn’t speak up for herself: “you better open your mouth and say something.”

Chicago, IL (April 2019)

Everyone’s Happy but Me

November 2018

Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas is on the way. Everyone’s excited about the food, gifts, and family getting together. Everyone’s happy, but you. If you’re being honest with yourself, it’s not just this time of year that leaves you feeling this way. You wake up with it and it tucks you in at night. Maybe it came about after a loved one passed or it started off as a random sadness that never left. Whatever its origin, its presence has taken over your life.

I have been in that place and at times desperately tried to get out and other times simply accepted it as my reality. You feel powerless to your own emotions and even if you were given control you wouldn’t know what to do with them. You have been in this space so long it feels like home. And in a sick, twisted way it’s comforting. Happiness and joy are strangers to you and you don’t have the energy to become familiar with them. I have good news! This does not have to be your forever. It may very well be your right now and even your tomorrow, but not your forever. So, what to do while waiting for your morning?


Everybody has told you to do it but you don’t want to. Or maybe you do it, but it doesn’t seem to help. Do it anyway. And I don’t mean the “fancy” prayers you hear in church. I mean the ugly, truth-telling prayers that you only want God to hear. I didn’t want to have a conversation with God but countless times I told Him, “I can’t do this” (“this” ranged from getting out of bed to going to work to smiling) and I told Him how upset I was with Him. It was all I could say and it was all I needed to say. Eventually God showed me that I could do “this” and He wasn’t scared of my unpleasant feelings. In the midst of our sadness, we often times don’t have a lot to say to God or rather what we deem to be constructive things to say to God, but it’s important that we say something, keeping the line of communication open.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing

Confide in Someone

Maybe you’re not a talker, maybe you don’t want everyone in your business. Be careful because your silence can kill you. Whether it is your best friend, your parent, your sibling, your pastor, talk to someone. Emotions are heavy and they become heavier when you carry them by yourself. A lot of times those around us don’t know what to say, but you telling someone calls out what you’re feeling. It’s not a secret you have to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. It is where you are in the moment and it is okay if someone else knows that; it is helpful that someone else knows that. Whoever you confide in should be someone who builds you up, not makes you feel bad for feeling how you’re feeling. They point you back to Jesus and remind you who you are in Him. They know how to give you space while checking in with you. They may not be able to solve all your problems, but a listening ear can help you get up the next day.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.

Seek Professional Help

When do you need to seek professional help? When you’re ready. I did it as a last resort and wish I had gotten help earlier. My heart had been so broken, I wouldn’t even let God pick up the pieces to put it back together. I talked about it with family and friends, but I was still too fragile to do anything about it on my own. So when I had enough, I sought professional help. I didn’t go to a Christian counselor and I honestly can’t tell you why (yes, I can, I went with who my insurance covered), but after reading my counselor’s website and reading about her approach to problems, I felt like she would be a good fit for me. If this is the step you want to take, I encourage you to do the same. Do your research and find someone who will be a good fit for you and if they’re not, find someone else. Talking to a counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist, life coach, or whoever you decide to talk to doesn’t make you crazy or weak. If you decide to take medicine, that doesn’t make you crazy or weak either. Whatever route you decide, remember all your help comes from God so whoever is doing the helping should be pointing you back in His direction.

Proverbs 19:20 Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. (NLT)

Get over it. (You can’t)

Just pray. (You did)

It’s not that deep. (It is)

You’re being extra. (You’re not)

That was 10 years ago. (It feels like yesterday)

Why can’t you just be happy? (You don’t know)

Pull it together. (You tried)

If it were that simple, you would have done it already. Whatever you are feeling right now is a very real feeling but it’s not who you were created to be. You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139:14). You are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). God is always with you (Isaiah 41:10). By His stripes are you healed (Isaiah 53:5). This is your truth. Feelings are fleeting, they come and go, but what God says is forever. Everyone else may appear to be happy, but trust that your joy is coming in the morning. As you go through this holiday season and the new year rolls in, believe that you will be happy too.