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Storms


In 2005, there was much devastation around due to Hurricane Katrina. It was responsible for over 1,800 lives lost and over $100 billion in damages, yet dissipated 7 days after it started (8/23 – 8/31). The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina couldn’t fully be articulated as families were destroyed, dreams deferred, and hopes dashed. In a twist of fate, it was exactly 2 weeks prior that I was evicted from my apartment of 5 and ½ years and lost my temp job within 24 hours of each other (with losing Joi’s dad, an ex and having major surgery just a few months before that). Joi had just turned 4 years old, and I was bouncing from couch to couch and zip code to zip code as others took us in…we were homeless. My storm never dissipated however, it raged on and on and on. I eventually became angry and numb at the same time, a very dangerous combination. I honestly felt like the walking dead and saw no hope, though I was in church every Sunday. And I threw myself into giving my time and energy at various donation centers that were created to assist those impacted by Hurricane Katrina (but if it weren’t for some of those donation centers, we wouldn’t have had clothes and shoes).
During that time, a few knew of my full circumstances and extended love and compassion towards us. There were also those that knew that treated me like the scum of the earth (talk about kicking someone while they are already down…whew!). It hurt. Like hell. I didn’t defend myself, I just took it and added it to the long laundry list of things that I was being told was wrong with me. I was hurting. I was in pain beyond what I could even comprehend, but I didn’t even know how to put it into words to share my heart and my soul. I could barely think straight my head was so cloudy. It took 7 months for me to eventually secure shelter of my own and begin the process of becoming wholly healed. Because in addition to the losses, I was dealing with residuals of abuse and rape that I never shared with anyone.

Now here we have Hurricane Irma that happened almost exactly 12 years later (8/30 – 9/14) causing 81 fatalities and over $60 billion in damages. Immediately I started receiving text messages and phone calls asking if Joi and I were okay and if we were prepared. I know everyone was referencing food, gas and supplies, but all I could ask myself was “Are you ready for the storm…again?”. Truth is, the storm never stopped. As with many of us, there is so much that we go through that sometimes we just cry out and ask God can we get a breather. Just one moment where the seas are calm and the sun is shining. When I lost my Mom last year, I felt a familiar pain…the one I felt 12 years prior. My heart was broken in places I didn’t know existed and my head was cloudy. Just like it was also 12 years ago, there were those that extended love and compassion, and are continuing to do so. And then there are those that aren’t quite as nice…eh. So, I sat and braced myself for the storm (ironically, we only received a little rain), and as I did so my Mom’s favorite gospel left my lips in a quiet hum. Before I knew it, I began to belt the words out as a personal testimony rising from the depths of my soul with tears flowing freely down my cheeks. I can’t sing worth a lick, but it was music to my own ears. 

Whether  it’s a figurative storm or a literal one, I’m reminded that my soul is anchored…thank you Mommy! (Hebrews 6:18-20)

My Soul Is Anchored by Douglas Miller – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENv7zIo_j9M

Though the storms keep on raging in my life; 

And sometimes it’s hard to tell the night from day; 

Still that hope that lies within is reassured 

As I keep my eyes upon the distant shore; 

I know He’ll lead me safely to that blessed place He has prepared. 

But if the storms don’t cease, 

And if the winds keep on blowing in my life, 

My soul has been anchored in the Lord.

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Move IT Out of the Way

Yesterday I went to the grocery store to get a snack since it was on sale. Once I got to the aisle and the section where the snack was, I was immediately disappointed because it looked as if what I wanted was gone. But y’all I wanted my snack really bad, so I started moving other items out of the way in hopes that I’d find some. And sure enough, tucked in the back unharmed and seemingly untouched was a package of cinnamon bun Oreos (yaaaassss!!!!!). This is just a reminder that sometimes you have to move some things and possibly some people out of the way to get what you want. Well, I’m grateful for good rest and no pain, so I know it’ll be a #WowGodDay. Know that you want may be there, but there may be something or somebody blocking it. Don’t abandon the desire, just be focused on the goal and have a MOVE-IT-OUT-OF-THE-WAY MONDAY!!!

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IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!! Well, 1/2 Birthday that is…

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The last few weeks I haven’t written anything due to illness and just being down in the dumps overall (sometimes the ones that encourage others need encouraging themselves). So yesterday I celebrated my ½ birthday (yes, that is a thing) with cake and ice cream…white chocolate cake and peach cobbler ice cream to be exact. I know that sounds a bit childish and to some it may even be immature (though Bahama Breeze and Michaels agrees with my notion by sending me coupons), but let me tell you the top 3 reasons why I did it:

  • Reflection is good for the soul – lately I’ve encountered some things that put me in a sour mood. Was overwhelmingly missing my Mom, had a few health challenges and financially I was running on empty. To top it off, it seems as if everyone turned a deaf ear to me and everything I wanted to do or trying to do was stopped dead in its tracks. For a moment, I had to step back and think about everything I’ve already done by the age of 40 and ½ (see, that ½ is important). I’ve written a book (shameless plug – https://www.amazon.com/Can-Power-Embracing-Blessings-Philippians/dp/1490768890/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=) and contributed to a few others, I’ve gotten several degrees (a bachelors, 2 masters, 2 graduate certificates and will begin the journey to complete my MDiv next month), I have a beautiful daughter, I’ve experienced homeownership (hoping to experience it again soon), bought a brand new car off the lot, etc., etc. Lesson learned: Never focus so much on what you don’t have, that you forget what you do have.
  • Life is always a reason to celebrate – it wasn’t until my 35th birthday that I started actually celebrating myself in terms of having a get together or something of that nature. It took for me to experience some health challenges (I believe I’ll experience COMPLETE healing) in addition to caring for an ailing parent to convince me that my life mattered, and those that agreed would help me celebrate. I must admit that there have been times that nobody celebrated with me, and there are times that everyone that has been invited celebrated me. Either way, as long as I celebrated me, that is ultimately what mattered. It really is okay for us to clap for ourselves, pat ourselves on the back and throw a party if we must to celebrate ourselves. Because if we don’t believe that our lives are worth living and that our presence serves a purpose, nobody else will. Lesson learned: There is a difference between living and existing, and we must choose to live!
  • YOLO is bad advice – I honestly believe that because we tell ourselves that we only live once, we use that “one” opportunity to do something big or impactful. We save up to take that big trip in 5 years because you know, YOLO!!! We go sky diving for our milestone birthday because you know, YOLO!!! We do this and then we do that because you know, YOLO!!! Truth is why wait to do it? You have the opportunity to do something you love, or have been wanting to do EVERY.SINGLE.DAY!!! Living by the YOLO mantra unknowingly has put many of us in a box (I USED to be guilty) and it doesn’t make sense to think outside the box either (because the box is still there), but eliminate the box altogether. Make a “Life List” (no bucket lists allowed), remove the limits and do everything your heart desires (legally of course). Lesson learned: YOLO is a lie, truth is we have the choice to live every day!

Well, I’m still celebrating and will continue to find ways, big and small, to live my best life and enjoy every moment of it.

Remembering My Superwoman

My thoughts, my words: Today marks 1 year since my beautiful mother made her transition into eternal rest. I’m not sad today though I miss her more than mere words can ever express, however, I am reflective. During the 6 years my Mom was sick I was unemployed for 3 and ½ of them, my wedding was called off, my house was foreclosed and I moved within a week, faced health challenges due to a Cancer scare, my job at the time caused high blood pressure and my grades dropped significantly in school. So it was becoming increasingly difficult to see her because of financial, physical, mental and emotional strain overall. I never allowed my Mom to see my cry, but many times I cried the whole 5 and ½ hours back to Georgia. I had car issues and encountered obstacles at times while I was there due to varying expectations concerning her care. Yet still, I was always reminded of her resiliency and tenacity to never give up (I mean she was still enrolled in school y’all…seriously). It is THAT in which I leaned on to get me through her celebration of life and to this point.

There are no words to express my gratitude to the loving, supportive and encouraging members of Turner Chapel AME Church in Marietta, GA and the AME church overall. With the grace of God and your presence/presents you kept me from giving up and giving in, and for that I am eternally grateful. To this day many of you still check on me and reach out to me knowing what I really go through. For 6 years I experienced a different level of grief every time I lost a part of her, and my losses on top of that took a toll on me in ways I didn’t expect. Without going into detail, never discount someone’s cry for help due to their display of strength. Well today I honor My Superwoman and thank God for giving me such a beautiful, intelligent, strong and selfless example of motherhood and womanhood overall. I miss you much, I love you more, and I will see you again! #TheOriginalDiva #MySuperwoman #Strawberry #Nanalicious #MSFighter #Strength #Resiliency

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Dear Mommy…

I cried and I prayed, I prayed and I cried. I felt numb for a number of minutes, then the rush of emotions hit me and took my breath away. The selfishness of being your daughter wants you here with me. Even in seeing you suffer and fight for 6 years, I just wasn’t ready. I struggled with knowing that you were approved to move here the very week you left us. I wrestled with giving up my life as I knew it and move just to be closer to you. I pondered taking another job so that I could afford to see you more often. 

Can I be honest? It was seeing you fight through everything that came at you that gave me the strength to fight through everything that was coming at me. Nothing seemed too hard because I was going to do what was necessary to make sure you knew I was there. When you left, I felt as if all my strength was gone. 

And then I remembered when I asked you a long time ago why it seemed as if you pulled back when I needed you. You made me some pancakes, sat me down and said “Shanah, you gone be alright…I’ll never have to worry about you”. That frustrated and slightly angered me initially because I honestly thought it was a cop out, but you were right Mommy. You have taught me so much, and though I drew my strength from your fight, ultimately I know Who my strength comes from.
So to the most beautiful, knowledgeable, generous, loving, God-fearing, well-dressed, sassy, resourceful and strong woman I know…My Superwoman…The Original Diva…Strawberry…I miss and love you more than mere words could ever express. Thank you for giving me the most beautiful gift I could ever receive on a day like today, the gift of being the daughter to the best mother ever…your legacy of strength will forever live on!!!

Wherewithal To Wear It All

It can be a challenge to work within limits set by someone else designed by someone else. Whether it is on a job, in an organization, as part of a ministry, and sometimes among family and friends; we attempt not to disrupt the status quo. Yes, that can be a challenge. But I think the bigger challenge is stifling your growth, creativity, spark, passion, intelligence and all the other wonderful things you wear because of those limits. This is nothing more than a reminder to put on who you are every day, because you were created on purpose, for a purpose and with purpose. My morning has already been wonderful, so I know it will be a #WowGodDay. Just remember to be you and have a WHEREWITHAL-TO-WEAR-IT-ALL WEDNESDAY!!!

 

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Make Meaningful Work

Last Friday I had the amazing opportunity to attend Leadercast 2017 in Duluth at the Infinite Energy Center. And it was so refreshing and empowering to see so many leaders in one place, and to hear from so many amazing speakers. One of those speakers was Jess Ekstrom of Headbands of Hope, and there was something she said her mother said to her that keeps echoing in my head. She said “Your book doesn’t have to be on the New York Bestsellers list to have meaning”. CATCH THAT!!!

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All too often we get caught up in positions, platforms and profit that we forget that we’re making the most profound impacts in our homes, in our churches, on our jobs, at our schools and within our communities. *confirmation for ME* Well, I’ve had a blessed weekend overall and looking forward to a week that is just the same, so I know it will be a #WowGodDay. Just remember that your purpose isn’t like the next person, so don’t focus on them, focus on what God has given you to do and have a MAKE-MEANINGFUL-WORK MONDAY!!!

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