Let me start w/ a self disclaimer. Yes, I am an African American however I don't speak for the whole African American community. These are just a few of my own views and experiences.
For the longest I've always been intrigued when someone would say, "I don't see color." I believe people typically mean well by this statement, but I honestly just don't get it. It sounds like something said by someone who may have never had color or race used against them. I've talked w/ family and friends about this and some are just like me and can't stand the phrase, and some say its a cliché way of saying I don't judge or treat people differently based on race. Yes, this is the ideal way to live and our world would be a much better place if we all exhibited this in our actions, but lets be real we DEFINITELY see color.
I think my biggest issue with this statement is, why is it really such a big deal to not see color/race anyways? God created each of us the way he intended and it is beautiful that we come in many different shades. I love being around people of all different cultures and I love seeing our differences. About a year, a little girl who was white, was sitting next to me and she held out her arm to mine smiling and said I'm vanilla and you are chocolate. She wasn't judging or being rude just stating what she saw. We are going to naturally notice what makes us different, but it's what we do with that information and how we should also seek out more importantly, the characteristics that bring us together as one.
My fear at times is preparing my girls for the world that we live in. I desire for them to be surrounded by a diverse group of people. I teach them to love and treat everyone with respect but I can't control what others may be teaching their own children. If you don't believe race still affects the world then maybe it's because it just doesn't affect your life and that's all that matters. I get frustrated when people say that someone is "playing the race card." For many, unfortunately it is their reality. Over the past couple of months I've seen many articles about the rise in hate groups and that Tennessee ranks fourth among states with the most hate groups. You and I may not be the ones contributing to this divide, but we can't pretend as if it is not affecting someone, somewhere, closer than you may think.
I recently watched a documentary about race in America and it showed an old clip with black children being asked questions about white and black dolls. The kids would point to the black dolls for any negative description (which doll is ugly, bad, etc) and point to the white dolls for all the positive descriptions (which doll is pretty, good, smart, etc). This was heartbreaking and disturbing to watch. Well shortly after I saw this, an elderly neighbor brought by some dolls she was getting rid of. There were two white dolls w/ colorful nice dresses and hats and one black infant doll. The black doll had wrinkly infant skin, no hair, and just a plain white shirt and diaper on. No frills or accessories. I showed the dolls to my daughters (no questions asked) and I kid you not both of my girls fought over the little black doll. Although trivial in the grand scheme of things my heart was warmed especially after seeing that documentary clip because my girls seemed to have positive feelings towards the black doll.
I pray that my girls choose their friends and people they associate with, not based on color but based on character and morals. This is what I mimic to them in my own life, however this doesn't change the fact that I absolutely see color on a daily basis. Trust me, I know when I'm the only black person in the room. I see color every time I drop my daughter off at her Mother's Day out program. Its an excellent program filled with Christ's love, with little to no diversity when it comes to students and staff. I've seen color my whole life in church. I'd say every church setting I've ever been apart of has either been predominantly black or predominantly white, with little to no diversity in members or staff. I chose my college to attend and my Sorority to join because it was Historically Black filled w/ deep rich history and culture. Color unfortunately even determines when driving out of town, whether or not I will stop off at an exit for gas late at night in a small southern town I don't know.
I'm not at all complaining about my situation as they make up some of the very unique parts of my life. So what can we do to move forward? Ask yourself how often do you expose yourself to anyone of a different race, religion, and/or economic background than yourself outside of work or places you have to be? Although uncomfortable at times its a blessing to get outside of your comfort zone. Instead of making assumptions, maybe ask a person of a different race what affects their lives and be open to understanding. The conversations don't have to always be about race however its always refreshing to me to be around people, who even if race doesn't affect them personally, can understand and be sympathetic that it does affect others. It's humbling to me for them to be open about what they have experienced and seen themselves and I appreciate it. Yes, I see color everyday but I can't let it define me nor affect how I show the love of Christ to others.
About two years ago I was on social media much more. I was posting pictures, updating my timeline, commenting and liking pictures up a storm. I wouldn't say I was a fanatic but I was definitely more in the loop of things. When my first daughter Malachi was born I would post monthly update pictures and whatever she was doing that was either cute or hilarious.
I’m not sure if it was after my second daughter was born or maybe it was even while I was pregnant, that I was either too sick, too tired or whatever to post. I slowly started doing a random dump of pictures every few months, which eventually turned to every six months, and so on. I definitely also noticed that during the presidential campaign and when several black men were shot and killed by cops, being on Facebook and Instagram felt more and more depressing for me. I was angry, sad, and frustrated. Race and politics covered my timeline and the ignorant comments the ensued caused me to avoid it as much as I could.
Then I had a newborn and a toddler at home that required most of my attention. Going from one kid to two kids seriously rocked my world. Between being exhausted and stressed out, social media was just the last of my cares. There are super women out there that can do it all, but I just didn't feel like I was one of them. Sometimes I would think there was something wrong with me when compared to all my Facebook mom friends that looked fabulous, well rested, and loving life when I was just barely surviving. I was desperately just trying to figure out all of my responsibilities and expectations as a wife, mom, and a woman of God.
Trust my posts wouldn't have been that awesome anyways unless people wanted to hear about nursing issues, a financial setback, how to get a toddler to stop whining (seriously how?? I really still NEED to know). Would anyone have cared to hear me complaining about functioning on a few hours of "interrupted" sleep, what to cook for dinner that would require me not to cook anything at all or if it is even possible to go to the bathroom in peace without a child in tow? Seriously being in the same outfit for days on end could never compete with say pictures of being at a Beyonce concert or on a beach someplace relaxing… so really what’s the point haha.
I've actually enjoyed my hiatus from social media. I meet up with friends and go on dates with my husband that surprise, I haven't posted a picture of. Now it’s kind of cool for me to just be in the moment without always feeling like I need to snap a picture or maybe 5 because we all know the first few never look right anyways. Don't get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with posting. I really enjoy reading and seeing pictures of other people's lives. It was just hard for me to not scroll through my social media pages and look up and an hour had gone by. I just didn't have the time for that so I had to prioritize.
Well now that my life has calmed down...sike... like a very itty teeny bit, I feel like I don't even understand how to navigate social media anymore. Also let’s face it with Trump in office, things feel crazier than before with politics and racism. Sometimes I feel like I can't even keep up with technology. So this must be how the older generation feels? I recently got a Twitter account (yes I'm slow) mainly to share my blog posts, and I’m never on it because I really don't know what to do or where to even start. I have three people following me-two of which are family so its safe to safe I'm not exactly #winning on Twitter ;-). I never feel like I have the time to invest but hopefully I wont stay clueless forever.
I suppose in the end, all that matters is that I am doing what I am called to do. I know that being a wife, mom, writing and openly sharing the craziness called “my life” with others is part of that calling no matter what medium I decide to use. So thank you to all that support this blog! Thank you for taking the time to read what I write. You are appreciated!
I'm sure we've all seen the movies especially any story where the setting is in a high school and there is some sort of popular girl clique or the jocks, and they are just downright mean to anyone not like them. I remember being picked on in school. I wouldn't say I was bullied but I was definitely teased occassionally. I remember being nervous about one class in middle school that had a few of the most popular girls in it and they would tease me bc my pants were too short (I can remember I was definitely prepared for a flood ;), or the way I wore my hair, and for not having on name brand shoes, etc. I remember wishing I could be like them, eat lunch w/ them at the "cool table", dress and style my hair like them. Now that Im older, Im glad I was not like them at all. It has taken time and maturity to really understand that during those experiences I was not the one who was at the disadvantage. Being the type of person who treats others like they are less than who they are, should never be envied no matter what that person may have that you don't.
Ive seen countless documentaries and read many stories of people who while growing up were picked on for many reasons such as being too tall, too fat, too different, too poor and the list goes on. Some said they didn't have a lot of friends, felt bad about themselves, and some may even had thoughts and attempts at hurting themselves due to their circumstances. Many of those same stories however evolved and many years later as adults, they have embraced whatever it was that made them different. They have led successful lives and careers using those differences to open doors for others.
What is it about being different that people fear? Do you have to look like me and come from the same economic background for me to embrace you as a human being? This world is made up of so many different people and it would be quite boring if it were not. I am grateful that as a military kid, I was able to go to many schools that had kids of all different cultures. I had many friends who were asian, white, black, mixed, hispanic, etc and it was a great experience that unfortnuately ieveryone doesn't get the ability to experience.
I often thank God that I didn't grow up in a time of cyber bulling, facebook, and instagram where kids are being tormented from behind closed doors. When I was in school the only way you knew about a fight was if you was present or heard about from someome who was there, but never could someone record it on their cell phone for the world to see over and over again. Its disgusting seeing and hearing about what people will do to each other and how some people won't step up to stop it or speak up for the victim at the time- NOT after its been recorded 1st. What kind of person do you have to be, to want to watch someone being tormented and think nothing of it? This has got to stop and we as parents, mentors, grandparents, friends, family, church members, etc, we need to instill in our children grace, love, and acceptance of our differences through being a good example to them of those characteristics. Often times kids learn these discriminatory and evil behaviors from the examples that adults set. Lets just face it -mean kids sometimes become mean adults. What if we treated everyone like a child of God because we understood that He created and loves us all. God didn't make any mistakes when he formed us in our mother's wombs, so lets teach our kids this when they encounter people who may look, speak, think, sound different.
My prayer for my girls and for my life is to embrace the differences in the world. No matter how smart my kids are, how well they are in sports, or even what college they may get accepted into, it would warm my heart and make me more proud to see them befriending and loving on people who are treated in disgust. I would love for my girls to be the kind of kids at school who invites the bullied child to eat lunch w/ them bc they see they have no one to sit with. I would love for them to go through their things and ask if we can donate extra stuff to a classmate that they may see in need instead of only thinking of themselves. I would be overjoyed for them to befriend a refugee kid or a kid who might live at a homeless shelter at their school who feels alone, different, and maybe even embarrassed about their hardships in life. The hearts of my girls to want to serve and love others is what my husband and I want to foster and praise MORE than looks, possessions, and abilities.
Do you remember the answer Jesus gave when asked which command in the law was the greatest most important request?
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39
In order to love our neighbors in the way God expects we must love God. If we first love God, we will then come to understand the way he loves others. Jesus spent time with sinners, people who were sick, disabled, poor, rich, hurting, VERY different from himself and the list goes on. He was also purposeful in his time spent with these individuals. I wonder would would happen to our world (or even on a smaller scale- our communities) if we put His example into our everyday lives and were more loving of people especially of people who are different from ourselves...
Isn't that what everyone wants...to just be happy? I know at times in my life, happy was all I wanted to experience. As I have grown and experienced many different things in life I realize more and more "Happy" is just a feeling that can easily come and go depending on my specific circumstance in life, but JOY is what I truly want and need. It hasn't exactly been times of happiness in my life that has stretched me the most and matured me it has truly been the moments I have had to really seek God and wait patiently (or not so patiently) for his guidance.
Lets face it life isnt always happy and it definitely has a way of throwing curve balls; A loss of a job, a death in the family, work stress, kids driving you crazy ;0, a big unexpected expense, shoot even my overfilled sink of dishes can change my attitude for a moment. I personally feel most happy when im serving others especially others who are in need. I've found from experience that its not easy to wallow in my own pity party when im helping someone else in the midst of a difficult time or experience.
I remember many years ago being in Haiti on a mission trip and the smiles on the kids faces at the orphanage and the loving hugs they gave that warmed my heart. I also remember a sweet lady who invited me into her home and was so proud to show me around. She seemed happy although im sure her experiences in life could have made her bitter. Her home had dirt floors, it was very small, no air conditioning, had a mattress on the floor with thin sheets but the joy in her heart and openess to share what she had made the home feel so rich, warm, and inviting. It made me embarrassed to think of the times in the past when I didn't want to invite people over to my small apartment JUST because it wasn't decorated as nicely as I would have desired.
Im learning to have joy during the stuggle, to be more patient without being complacent, to be content without becoming stagnant, and to show more grace without becoming a doormat. Spending time with my family, creating new memories/traditions, reaching goals, and showing God's love and grace to others is what creates true Joy in my heart.
Being in the midst of the holidays and possibly being bombarded with all the good and maybe the stress that this time often brings try to keep in mind Jesus. When he was born, it was to bring Joy and redemption to a fallen world. He unfortunatly didn't come with the sole intent to make us Happy.
This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones Proverbs 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:3
Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know the testing of your faith produces perserverence. James 1:2-3
Have you ever been asked the question, "How are you doing, and the programed response you've used all day long was- good, great, going well, awesome, blessed, I can't complain....? I was thinking the other day that these are sometimes my go to phrases and responses to that question. Now let me ask how often you have asked that question to others and really don't even pay full attention to the answer because you are just expecting one of the typical responses above? Im guilty! No I'm not necessarily expecting someone to pour out their heart each time I ask that question or give me some sad detailed story buuut would it really be so bad occasionally for people to feel like they can be genuine in their responses? (S/N-if those responses really do explain how you feel-Im not referring to you haha) For example yesterday, Im sure I was asked several times at church how I was doing and Im about 100% sure I said a few of my go to lines to many people, but if I was being vulnerable some of my actual responses would have been more like: exhausted, emotional, confused, conflicted, waiting to hear from God, feeling pulled in multiple directions, and I have some big decisions to make. Honestly a couple of those feelings came over me just from an experience that occurred at church.
Why is there this need for everyone to always look like they have it all together? Don't look or seem fragile, don't share what is really going on in your life Heaven forbid we actually experience issues and or conflicts in life. I feel like one of the worst things I can do is pretend that I have it all together. I would hate for people to look at me as a person, wife, mother, friend and think WOW she has it ALL figured out because I truly don't!! I'm always making mistakes and lately Im a bit of a basket case when it comes to figuring out my life. I often wonder if God probably chuckles at me when he sees how all over the place I am, all MY hardcore planning/ ideas that jump all over the place, coupled with my limited listening skills when he is trying to help guide me. I know it's exactly what I do when my own child Malachi, asks me for something and then tries to boss me through the whole process and I'm thinking "girl just let me handle this-I know what Im doing." ;)
I'm typically an open book. I have to say after a lot of crazy and hard times from my youth, a time in my life when I didn't want stand out from the crowd and I just wanted to be "normal" (whatever that is??), I eventually found my place and voice. I finally got beyond myself and realized that my story and experiences can actually help others. I also realized that my testimony is the best way to share my faith. I know that God had been watching over me all these years even though some of my experiences were hard and I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemies. The fact that I am still standing today can only be explained through my faith in God, because I know I could have taken a much different path in life without him. Being a self-discloser has also helped me build REAL relationships with others and some of my favorite people are so open and real about life.
Sure I want to live my life and experience the JOY that only God gives, so that my feelings and/or mood isn't contingent upon what is going on in life around me- but I'm also human! The next time you either ask or are asked "How are you doing," I want you to remember that even if things are perfect in your life, someone else may be experiencing a lost job, a exhaustion from a newborn baby, issues at work, financial strain, extended family issues, relationship expectations, student loan woes, and the list goes on. Also just because someone may say things are good, doesn't mean we can't always be praying for them anyways.
So we officially have a new President elect- Donald Trump. Yes I am shocked at the outcome in the sense that I just wasn't expecting him to win; although I am not naive enough to believe that he didn't have a chance in the world we live in. I really just don't have the energy to truly express he level of anger and frustration because I don't like conflict, and really at this point what would it change now (although I do understand people's need to do so). Im not a super political person because honestly politics is frustrating to me in general. I just don't have a lot of trust for most politicians and there are too much behind the scenes corruptness/fakeness that I will never really understand. So when it comes to voting in Presidential elections I just cannot say wholeheartedly that I am Republican or Democrat but I will say in this election I just could not ever allow myself to vote for someone who has spewed so much racism, sexism, and hatred for others. I don't vote just based on party labels, I go off who is running and who I feel is the better candidate at the time, I then exercise my right to vote, and let God handle the rest.
Everyone has the right to vote for whoever they want and I've always been a person who tries to see both sides of situations but it hurts when some people just can't understand or even admit that some horrible things were said and done by Trump. I try as much as possible to stay off social media b/c I would probably delete half of my "friends" (Most of which are Christians) at the horrible things said that would only create more hate in the world. Ultimately I believe God is the one who is leading me and the country and I'm 100% positive God knew that Donald Trump would be our next President and trust me there have been worst "rulers" in biblical times. Ultimately many people one way or the other was going to be upset at the outcome of this election for many different reasons. It is however not fair or right for people to assume and expect others to "just get over it" especially when if we look over the past eight years many people are still not over President Obama being voted President either.
Sure, I felt heaviness in my heart the day of the election, but honestly all the racism, sexism and hatred that I saw during his campaign was unfortunately already in the world. It was definitely brought out more freely in the open (which was absolutely disgusting to watch) but those particular people (NOT ALL REPUBLICANS) were that way before Trump and will be after Trump too. All I can control right now is how I react and what I decide to do to move forward, which lately has been biting my tongue...A LOT! I can only pray for him as President. When Barack Obama was President I was always completely confused to how angry people (ESPECIALLY Christians) can be and the lack of basic respect they had for him at POTUS. Even if you didn't vote for him, like what he has done in office, or like him as a person ultimately he was the President and at the VERY LEAST respect that. Am I happy that Donald Trump is President?...absolutely NOT...but am I going to do the same exact thing I watched people do to Obama for eight years...nope but I will say at least give people time to fully grasp how it may affect their lives! At this point, I can only give him a chance to prove himself one way or another and if he succeeds he succeeds and if he fails then let it be what it is.
My women's devotion: 5 Minutes with Jesus- Making Today Matter by Sheila Walsh surprisingly landed on "Worshipping in the Dark" the day after the election. Luke 7: 23 "Blessed is the one who is not offended by me". It talked about when John the Baptist was being held in the dungeon of King Herod's palace and the doubts and lies that were probably swirling around in his mind; "What if you got it all wrong John? What if you identified the wrong man? Besides where is Jesus now?" This was a great reminder to me. Just because I follow Jesus, doesn't mean that all the things in life is going to work out the way I want or that things will be easy or even make sense. It is scary what is going on in the world today and it would be amazing for people to try to think about others. Just because you don't experience racism, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Its important that IF you are friends with people of different races, that you ask questions and genuinely have open dialogue about how it may affect them because I think you would be surprised what you find out. I know my husband and I have only had less than a handful of people ever have an open conversations w/ us about race and those people are very special to us and they feel like they truly care.
In the end my role right now is to be a Christ follower, to be the light in darkness and to not join in on all the craziness and hatred shown in the world. I don't know what is in store for the next several years, but I do know WHO is really leading the country- God! Sure I have many fears or concerns, but lets just try to focus on God and take this day by day.
Well sometimes it is...between all the decisions, checklists, to-do lists, meetings, being an adult can feel like an ongoing business deal. As a kid, I couldn't wait to grow up and make my own decisions- "do what I want when I want." Some of it was because I dealt with a lot of things growing up that were out of my control that I didn't want to deal with anymore but some of it was that I just wanted to be grown because it seemed ideal not having to ask permission to do what I wanted.
Little did I know that growing up wasn't only about what I wanted to do and that it comes with a lot of responsibility that isn't always fun or exciting. Are there great times, of course there is, and your life is what you make it but sometimes I feel like I spend most of my days just making decisions.
Our family probably isn't much different than most when it comes to the decisions and choices we make throughout each day. Going to work, paying bills, taking care of kids, what to eat for dinner. what school your children will attend, what vacation to take, budget/savings, date night, babysitters, new opportunities, retirement goals/our family's future, politics, and the list goes on and on.
Sometimes I'm just OVERWHELMED by all the decisions we have to make (maybe a little more than sometimes). I know this is just part of life-being a responsible mature adult and all, but how fun it would be to go back to the days where my decisions consisted of what I was going to wear to school each day and what I was going to do on the weekends.
I am going to try my best to allow my girls to just enjoy being kids- to play, learn, and grow and not worry so much about adult stuff. When they try or desire to grow up too fast, which I'm sure that day will eventually come, Im going to try to help them understand that (Lord willing) your time being a kid is much shorter than the time you will have to be an adult and make adult decisions.
But for now, on to making my grocery list.... ;-0
I just started reading this amazing book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, by Mark Batterson. In the first chapter he wrote,
I have a simple definition of success: Do the best you can with what you have where you are. In essence, success is making the most out of every opportunity...seizing God-oranined opportunities...at the end of the day success equals stewardship and stewardship equals success.
He goes on to explain stewardship and some of the skills it would take to become a "lion chaser." Chasing Lions, is a metaphor for whatever dream or opportunity that may scare the living daylights out of you that you need to conquer.
So what does success mean to you? For some people, their financial status is the only important thing to them when it comes to being successful. Maybe in this day and age the lives we lead (Or pretend to lead?) on social media will prove our success. It could be starting a business or working our way up the "corporate ladder." It could be being a good person or fulfilling what God has for your life. I cannot define what would make someone else feel successful but I believe it is imperative that as Christians we look at what's important to God too. I believe that God knows the desires of our heart and it is not wrong to want to live a nice life, to travel, to be financially secure, etc. We also need to know that in the end we cannot take any of those "possessions" with us- so please make sure that in your success you are doing those things that matter the most to God. Love God and Love our neighbors.
Im am guilty of getting caught up in sometimes not feeling successful b/c I don't have my dream home, dream car, dream bank account, and the list goes on. But when I actually sit down and focus on the things I DO have and the continuous blessings Ive seen God pour down on my family I know that I am successful to God and really thats all the matters. I know that I have MUCH more work to do. I need to shed my fears and step out to seize those God-ordained opportunities.
In closing I came up with my own list of what success looks like to me (trust some areas are a working progress-I definitely don't have it all figured out):
1. Love and Serve God
2. Being a wife that supports and uplifts my husband
3. Being a mom who loves and teaches my children to Love the lord/Raising kids who add positively to the world around them
4. Financially secure- debt free, being smart with my money and not trying to keep up w/ others
5. Being the type of person I can be proud of; kind, loving, forgiving, open, helpful, friendly, hospitable
6. Conquering the Fears in my life
7. Travel, go on Mission trips, and be able to volunteer as much as I want