Today I wanted to share my thoughts on one of my newest hats –
Aside from his love, the greatest gift, and responsibility, that Danny has given me is being a stepmother.
The idea frightened me at first because it was a concept foreign to me except from what I saw in movies and books.
In my mind stepmoms always got a bad wrap –
The kid(s) never liked them.
The mother of the child(ren) hated them.
Scenes from the movie Stepmom with Julia Roberts and images of the wicked, evil stepmom from the fairytales were my reference points.
I did not want to be that.
The reality of becoming a stepmom sank in when we got engaged.
I will confess that throughout our engagement I was an emotional wreck in that area. One moment I was at peace with the idea the next moment I was in tears because I could not articulate the anxiety I was feeling. Becoming a stepmom was a BIG deal and I did not want to fail.
So in that way – I experienced the worry of all new moms – a fear of failing.
After spending quality time with Azariah, I can no longer imagine embarking on the journey of motherhood any other way.
And while I did not experience the miracle of childbirth with Azariah, I have certainly experienced the miracle of unconditional love.
But let me take a moment to honor the moms out there.
Mamas are superheroes in my book.
After all they are the ones who carry these blessed gifts of love for all those weeks growing inside of them.
The ones who stand witness as their children let out their first cries, take their first steps, and say their first words.
They are the ones who lose sleep.
They are the masters of diaper changing.
The mighty wipers of runny noses.
The cleaner-uppers of mayhem and messes.
Highly exalted teachers of all that is wrong and right.
They are preparers of food, personal stylists, and stand up comedians.
Mamas are magic.
And I vow to remind Azariah of that truth about her own mama every chance I get.
Stepmoms…well, we are creatures of a different kind.
More often than not stepmoms do not have the privilege of hearing a child’s first cries or seeing their first step or listening to their first words.
Stepmoms experience “firsts” too
A stepmom’s “firsts” are very different – especially when she has had no other children.
And as a stepmom, as Azariah’s stepmom, I am humbled to have these firsts with her…
The first time I heard her voice.
The first time I saw her.
The first time we spent time together.
The first time we cooked together.
The first time we danced together.
And I am looking forward to the many other firsts we will share together.
Now that Danny and I are married, Azariah is my daughter. When people ask if we have children I say yes, we have a daughter.
I may be a stepmom but I could never consider Azariah my stepdaughter because I love her as my own flesh and blood. Giving birth to her could not have made me love her any more.
Stepmoms were not created to compete with mamas. How can they? There’s no competition!
All a stepmommy like myself can do is love outrageously and live generously.
I will never attempt to take the place of Azariah’s mama, that is a sacred, God-ordained position. But I will continue to do everything in my power to make her feel that she is my own.
My hope for Azariah is that she will grow up with more love than her mom could have ever wished for her.
Good mamas want the best for their children and Azariah’s mother is as good as they come – Azariah is a direct result of that.
Even at 4 years old we can all see how brilliant you are. Your smile lights up the darkest rooms. Your laughter is music to our ears.
The three of us – me, your mom, and your dad are blessed to have a hand in guiding you during these formative years. And we look with expectation toward the woman you will become. A generous, wise, confident woman who loves God. A woman whose love for her neighbors will inspire her to change the world.
How blessed we are.
I am thankful for the faith Danny had in me and grateful for the calm reassurance of my own mother. Ultimately it God’s love and Azariah that gave me the courage to embark on this journey.
Now Azariah and I swap stories about the evil stepmothers in fairytales without any distress on my end.
We both know that when it comes to evil stepmothers, I’m not one of them.
May the remainder of your week be filled with gratitude, kindness, and productivity.
I pray this post finds you well. It has been six weeks since my last post. I stepped away from the blog for a time in order to focus on all the adjustments that needed to be made from transitions at work to just focusing on being married. It’s be a LONG while but I believe it was indeed a very needed and necessary break.
In other news –
Danny and I have been married for 4 months!
It’s been more of a blessing than we could have ever imagined, and also more of a challenge than we could have ever prepared for. But we’re doing it.
Marriage is certainly not for the faint in heart.
Marriage and the Freeze. Fight. or. Flight. Responses
The acute stress response in physiology is described as a physiological reaction to a stressor that is perceived as a harmful attack or threat to survival.
People normally respond in one of three ways – Freeze. Fight. or. Flight.
Freeze – To freeze is to do nothing. Essentially you believe the situation is hopeless and there’s Nothing you Can do.
Fight – To fight is to oppose or come against the threat
Flight – To flee the environment in which the threat exists.
But what happens when the “perceived threat” is in your marriage?
Are Freeze. Fight. And/Or Flight? The correct responses then?
This is the first X-Ray Wednesdays post of the New Year AND I have a MAJOR announcement.
First, let me tell you about last week.
Last week was a challenge! I didn’t have a chance to post last week because Danny and I were busying running errands and taking care of overdue business. I took it on the chin as much as I could; but Thursday when I looked at the curve balls we had been thrown, the mounting costs, and our limited funds I really got discouraged. Still, I leaned on Danny’s cool composure, trusted in his God given strength and didn’t give up hope.
Earlier that week a friend wrote an encouragement on Facebook reminding me that GOD is a GOD of infinite possibilities. I meditated on that throughout the week as Danny and I went from appointment to appointment. I reflected on it at my lowest point, choosing to believe GOD and worship Him anyway. Sure enough as we took care of one thing at a time JESUS provided and made a way.
Even though last week had its difficult moments, God continued to shower us with grace and favor. I’m thankful that we were able to recognize that. JESUS provided me with an opportunity to prove myself so I could land a position I had been searching for and finally found. With His help, I passed, which only led to another opened door for Danny and I.
However, the culmination of these blessed events happened yesterday –
hence my MAJOR announcement.
I received an email from a teacher and this is a little of what it said,
“We have an MLK Remembrance and Celebration quickly approaching, this coming Sunday in fact.
Our school hosts the Youth Celebration. Students from all over the Archdiocese have written essays and created posters honoring Dr. King and incorporating the theme “come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden”
There is a program of events including a number of Musical selections and honors on Sunday at our school, but we are in need of an opening. Doing a bit of digging, I came across your blog and found the excerpt from your play “Do you believe in Majick” I was moved and impressed and really thought it was just the workings of the Holy Spirit that lead me to your blog! I would love 2 of our students to open the Celebration with a Dramatic Reading of this Monologue, if that would be okay with you.
If you will permit I think this would be a very poignant way to open our Program on Sunday. I have 2 – 8thgrade students who would orate this selection beautifully!”
I was speechless! I got it together and of course I agreed!
But that’s not even the BEST part…
A little back story –
I wrote the play “Do you believe in Majick?” almost four years ago during one of the most difficult times in my life. It was the apotheosis of an independent study course I took in my last semester for my B.A. in English.
“The play is an exploration of black stereotypes down through the centuries – with a focus on the idea of ‘magical niggers’ [entertainers that existed for the consumption of White people] and ‘militant negroes’ [fighters that threatened White society].”
My professor gave me and A and told me to seriously consider publishing the play and taking up songwriting.
Almost two years ago I posted this on Facebook
After that post I spent a few weeks working towards the goal I had set but I allowed life to get in the way and soon forgot about it.
For the most part I forgot about the play, except for when I occasionally checked my blog stats and saw that people were still reading that old post. But never, ever could I have imagined anything like this. What an honor to have my work included in a school program celebrating a man as profound as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The fact that JESUS has allowed children to be exposed to my writing as if it were a textbook is deeply, deeply humbling.
The Best Part
The school is here in Georgia!!
That means Danny and I get to be present at this Youth Day MLK Celebration.
This is the first time I get to witness my work being read by someone else. Ever.
If you’re in the Atlanta area and would like to come out to the Youth Day program you’re invited!
The Program begins at 3pm this Sunday, January 18th
St. Peter Claver Regional Catholic School
2460 Tilson Road
I have done “work” in other areas but I didn’t work for this. I had absolutely nothing to do with this. I’m so glad this teacher recognized it as the work of the Holy Spirit because only JESUS could do this. This is for His glory and out of His sheer pleasure to be unreasonably kind.
I am eternally grateful. Most of all because of Christ’s assurance that I am walking in my purpose. It doesn’t matter how many other people write, it doesn’t even matter how many people will read my writing, writing is what JESUS has called me to do and I will never stop.
This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
The dramatic reading that will open the MLK Youth Day Program will be of the following slave monologue. The character, Aaron, is based on one of the slave narratives I read during my independent study course.
Aaron: (standing up) I was born a slave!
(soft singing in the background “No more auction block for me…No more auction block for me…etc” until Aaron finishes his monologue)
But glory to God no more auction block for me! The auction block was a sight to see. A range of Blacks aged gray and white haired to infancy. Souls being sold at the sound of a hammer. Families that God had joined together were separated forever. Blacks bartered for cash, counted as property, whipped and lashed. Broken. Their black bodies broken. Their spirits broken. The only way to survive was to live with a hope in – God. Even when I became free I found life to be hard. They thought they was using me when they came to me and asked me to tell my story but really I was using them in hopes to see the brotherhood of all humanity. It was a lesson to be learned. That people should never be converted into property. Men should never be made merchandise. As all men bare God’s image they should never be turned into instruments. Thank God for the day freedom came. I traveled the white world preaching in Jesus’ name. Yeap, (sitting back down) no more auction block for me.
I truly believe the greatest honor any writer can receive, is not some prestigious award from a bunch of snobby critics, but to hear someone from a younger generation read and engage with their work. JESUS has bestowed that honor upon me at the age of 25 and it’s just another reason, on a long list of reasons, why I owe Him my life.
So do Danny and I believe in Majick? No, not in any form. Neither one of us subscribe to the negative stereotypes of Black people seen in the media – from music to film. We don’t believe in magic or luck either. But we DO Believe in Miracles and the miracle worker – JESUS.
Pilgrims I cannot say enough about Pursuing GOD and pursuing His purpose for your life. In Christ, there will be difficulties and there are challenges but there is also unfathomable fulfillment.
“I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought, in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine.”
Such an intriguing story! The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that is. Dr. Jekyll was a reputable professor who became consumed with the contrasting elements of good and evil. Jekyll concocts a potion that is intended to bring out the good in him. This potion was designed to maximize his potential for good and put his benevolent characteristics on display.
But the morality serum had a reverse effect.
It did the complete opposite, transforming the doctor into a menacing brut know as Mr. Hyde.
Hyde is villainous, he is the antithesis of everything good and he represents the bad that lives inside or Dr. Jekyll. However, although Hyde is wicked and his intentions criminal, the doctor feels liberated when his evil alter ego is in control.
He feels free when trapping his victims; he comes alive as a ravenous murderer.
Twisted isn’t it?
I wonder if Dr. Jekyll’s identity crisis still permeates today…
In fact, it does!
We all posses the capacity to be moral or immoral, good or evil, Jekyll or Hyde. For the majority of my life I roamed the streets as Mr. Hyde, preying on women and anyone I deemed weaker than me.
Mr. Hyde is the external expression of an internal deficiency.
We can call it the flesh or our human nature, but Hyde is easily summed up as the result of our degenerate way of thinking.
When our minds have not been changed by the power of God’s word, being impressed upon by popular trends and the status quo is inevitable. This way of thinking is characterized by violence and lust, greed and selfish ambition.
My view of a husband was created with this thinking.
I thought that a “good husband” was corny.
He was always chipper and pleasant.
He was a yes man and his wife wore the pants.
He was happy and singing and prancing…[in short,]
He was Wayne Brady.
Yes, that’s what I thought;
Wayne Brady was my image of a “good” husband.
I thought, “How stupid is that? That’s not me, I’m not that guy and I don’t ever want to be!”
The sad but true realities of young black men [in America] may have had a hand in shaping my view of a good husband.
Many of my childhood friends and I hail from dysfunctional matriarchal households. That’s no knock against single mothers, but if we’re honest we would agree that its not God’s intent for the family. Because of this incomplete upbringing, my view of certain things, namely a good husband, was just as incomplete. And even more than that, it was twisted.
What I saw as chipper and pleasant was really JOY.
What I demonized as a yes man was really a PROVIDER.
His wife doesn’t wear the pants, he TEACHES her submission by submitting to her first.
He is not Wayne Brady,
he is not corny or lame,
he is CHRIST.
“Girl I love you like Christ loves the church”
…Probably the weakest line that has ever been quoted, but its derived from one of the strongest marital teachings in all of scripture. Paul instructed husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church to the extent of giving up his life for the purpose of her holiness, to cleanse her and make her presentable. Then he says again, love your wives as you as love your own bodies. [Ephesians 5:21-33]
Did you eat? If so, why is she hungry?
Do you have on lotion? If so, why is she ashy?
By following Paul’s instruction I can be certain that both the spiritual and natural needs of my wife are met.
Dr. Jekyll soon discovered that his evil counterpart was not the split personality that he first assumed it was. He realized that Mr. Hyde wasn’t a person he became when the moon was full; rather it was who he already was even in the daytime.Hyde was simply an external expression of an internal deficiency.
Similarly, we don’t sin because all the stars are aligned and there was no way of avoiding this inevitable pit fall.We sin because our way of thinking says its okay.Even when your conviction is SCREAMING at you to run in the opposite direction this way of thinking finds an excuse to override it.
This way of thinking is what nudged me to critique a good husband rather than learn how to be one.
It’s extremely poisonous to have an unchanged degenerate way of thinking.
What kind if person thinks murder is good or compassion is weak?
Who can say that mistreating your wife is admirable?
“They don’t make no award for that!”
Isn’t it better to LOVE than to hate,
to FORGIVE than condemn,
to UNDERSTAND than be understood?
In marriage it is.
In 3 days, Cara and I will enter into a life-long covenant and one of the things I’m most thankful for are high-ceilings. Naturally you’re thinking of decadent living rooms and chandeliers but I’m speaking of potential, the headroom necessary for growth. Growth to escape that which we thought was liberating but is actually entangling and growth to carry the mantle of a leader.
Hyde was a sickness similar to a severe heart condition. And just like any heart condition, without proper monitoring, it can return.
The best EKG is walking with The Lord daily in humility.
I pray that your mind would be renewed, your twisted views straightened out, and that there would be nothing Hyde-ing in your heart.
It is my sincere wish that all of you are living and thriving on this day in your journey called life.
It’s such a simple word. One we encounter so often that it is easy to take it for granted.
But as for me, at least on this particular day, its a word that I can’t simply shrug off.
Life is one of the many miracles we experience daily.
The fact that human life begins with the convergence of a microscopic sperm and an inanimate egg,
The fact that you went to sleep last night,
And yet your heart kept pumping and the blood kept flowing and even your brain was still at work
The fact that you woke up
Is a miracle!
I know weddings and miracles don’t have an obvious connection at first look but in my case it certainly does.
It would also be remiss of me not to talk about it after the events of the past few days –
Last Friday. Danny and I picked up our marriage license.
(Woot Woot!! It’s almost official!! 🙂 #buteverybodyknowsalmostdoesntcount #saythat)
That was definitely exciting and for me it was a surreal moment that I did my best to take in…#sothisisreallyhappening
We went to the clerk’s office first thing in the morning. We had to raise our right hand and swear that the information on our application was true. (#swear) Danny took control of the official document because I was leaving him and the clerk’s office to go straight to work.
I also aced an interview that takes me one step closer to my ultimate goal of freedom within my purpose. It was a great day!!
To be honest, Saturday morning is a blur. All I can really remember is not eating. I had a scheduled 1:00pm trial run with the make-up artist for the wedding.
I didn’t make it to my appointment.
I do remember talking to my big sister. General talk. Towards the end of our laughter and catching up there was talk was talk about hair and make up for the wedding. I whined about wishing she could go to the trial with me. I promised to take before and after pictures. And she gave me some additional pointers to ensure even from a distance that the trial run would go successfully.
The appointment wasn’t far from where I live but I did have to take the highway. For 30 minutes I sat in stand-still traffic a mile away from my exit because of roadwork. (Why Atlanta decides to do roadwork on the highway in the middle of the day on a weekend? I’ll never know.)
I let the make-up artist know I was running late and what was going on and she told me she had another appointment at 3p. I thought to myself then, that maybe it would be best to re-schedule and that maybe I should go home. But to turn around and go home I would still need to get off at the same exit. Finally traffic started to move and I decided I would still try to make the appointment.
I got off at the exit. Took the road I have traveled many times to get to church. Rounded that last and final corner at 35 mph both hands on the wheel and
Suddenly my car starts to HYDROPLANE
Its veering off into the other lanes and towards the lanes designated for oncoming traffic
No other cars are around
I try to correct but have no control of the car until suddenly it jerks overcorrects
And sends me spinning
And I’m heading directly into a light pole
I whispered “Jesus”
It wasn’t a fearful whisper
In fact if I had to unpack the tone behind that whisper this is what it would be –
“Well, Lord I wasn’t expecting it to be today but since it is okay, I’m coming home.”
The car hits the light pole
It spins forward and finally stops.
The light pole has now fallen on top of the car.
And finally there’s one last
The light pole has rolled off of the car.
I’m completely in tact. Not a scratch. I’m not in pain. But I’m shaking. I was prepared to go but since I’m still here I’m in shock and disbelief.
Shaking, I put the car in park and turn off the engine.
Grab my phone
I’m at 8% battery life.
But I’m okay. I can’t get out of the driver’s side because the door won’t open so I climb over and get out the door on the passenger side.
No other car was involved. Do I call the police?
I call Danny (who is at work), voice shaking. “I, I was in an accident, I hit the light pole. There’s no other car. Do I call the police. I…” I’m half-way hysterical, (but without the crying).
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, I think so.”
“Where are you?”
I told him my location.
“Call the police. I’m on my way.”
“Okay. My phone is going to die, I only have 8% left.”
“Call the police. Call me if something happens before I get there.”
I call the police. Take pictures of the damage. I tell kind passers-by that I’m fine and help is on the way.
The police arrive. Take my statement. Call for a tow truck to tow my car.
Finally my knight in shining armor arrives. He gives me the once over asks me if I’m okay then springs into action. He looks at the damage. Danny, perfectly calm and helping me take the necessary steps.
On our ride back in his car, he asks what lesson I’ve learned.
“Thank GOD and Don’t take life for granted?”
“That’s a given. And?”
“I don’t know. Keep my phone charged?”
Of course he proceeds to explain how having a dead phone could have been problematic and a point of worry.
So Miracle #1 I got into an vehicular altercation with a light pole and lived to tell the tale. Sure I wrecked my car but there are worse things than not having a car. (The insurance verdict is still out but the tow truck man said it’s totaled – 8 years that car and I have been together – SO many memories from high school until now)
Miracle #2This heavy duty light pole, that weighs maybe a ton, did not slice through the car.
Miracle #3The light pole rolled off my car. By itself. That should not have happened based on how the light pole fell on the car. It should have remained on top of the car until someone or something moved it. But Someone did move it! (winks, shout out to my Heavenly Father and His crew of angels)
Miracle #4my 8% battery life survived the ordeal. Believe me, my phone has died on me for lesser things with like 15% remaining and sometimes as much as 75%. Yes, there was that one time I dropped it in the sink but still. It shouldn’t treat me that way. And Yes, I will do my best from now on to keep my phone juiced up.
Danny asked if I had eaten I told him no. He asked me many times if I was sure I was okay. We stopped at the store on the way back.
And he cooked for me!! 🙂 Which is really nothing out of the ordinary except that I really like when he gets fancy with the presentation.
His boss called and told him not to worry about coming back in for the rest of the day. So Danny just stayed there and made sure I was okay.
Miracle #5 The Miracle of Love.
I’m still amazed at the way Danny can put me before himself. It’s beautiful. I only hope that I’ve made him feel the way he makes me feel. I know I’m safe. Sometimes that’s been difficult for me to accept and it shows up most in my verbal communication. With 16 days remaining I know that’s an area I need to work on. It gives me cold feet.
Since I was 9 years old (I remember I was 9 because I got a Spice Girls Diary from one of my friends for my birthday, it was my first diary, and I have had many more since that first one) I have turned to GOD and writing to work out my deepest thoughts and feelings. That was it. Of course I had secrets and feelings that I shared with my big sister. But the things that hurt the most or that I feared the most I kept to myself.
I am used to spilling my guts, tears, fears and emotions onto paper, not a person. Using a pen. Not my voice.
(The transparency of this blog is a direct result of my always writing, to clearly and articulately express myself.)
And yet, the truth that has been in my face (for at least the last 10 months if I’m not going to count all the years we’ve known each other,) is this: there is a physical person, Danny, who I can see and touch, who is willing to bear the weight of my thoughts, and insecurities, and angst – in a way that I’ve only allowed paper and pen to do until now.
But my attempts at deep, naked, intimate verbal communication with Danny often leave me frustrated. I become a bumbling sap who stumbles over her words rushing to get them out so I can feel validated and understood by him.
How can someone so articulate and generous with sharing as a writer be so terrible at sharing through verbal communication? #KirkCobain #Ididittomyself. All it took was a few years of bad practice.
I have much to unlearn.
And even more to learn. It’s going to require a lot of practice.
Things that I once embraced like turning to pen and paper I need to exchange for better things like turning to Danny. (I need to say that to him, hey, #judgeme #idontcare, it’s still progress. And yes, Danny does occasionally read these posts #incaseyouwerewondering)
He sees my frustration and is patient with me. He continues to point me back to lessons we learned in premarital class about how to form healthy habits of intimate communication. It’s been a bumpy ride.
But the Miracle of Love is being able to love through the crashes, and kinks, through the bumps and hitches.
Eden comes easy –
The experience of falling in love –
“Sensing the God arranged the meeting.
The feeling of amazement.
Feeling a sense of belonging to each other.
Knowing that you were meant for each other.
Feeling something within each of us that cries out for something deep within the other” – Gary Chapman
(Covenant Marriage, Chapter 17 Intimacy: Naked and Unashamed, Page 151)
But I’ve learned that the Miracle of Love is the endurance and effort required and provided to achieve and maintain that relationship paradise.
I Thank GOD for my Adam and for the miracle of love at work in our lives.
It’s the middle of the week!
Miracles are happening in and around us everyday. Recognizing them is a lesson we should all learn. I pray we all learn to do that without needing a physical crash course.
Count the Miracles at work in your journey today.
(Two more Wedding Wednesdays posts to go until I’m a married woman, Lord willing.)
Peace. &. Blessings
Honey Fund Says: Daniel and Cara-Marie’s big day is fast approaching! 16 days and counting…
On another Wednesday. I hope everyone is having a spectacular day!
And if you’re struggling with that any at all, here’s a helpful hint – spectacular days start with grateful hearts, positive attitudes and “accurate” perceptions (seeing life as GOD sees life).
Here’s an Update on Our Planning Process:
Our invitations are finally, FINALLY done and have been sent out and people have started receiving them. FINALLY Done! It was such a task! Collecting all the addresses, making sure the addresses were correct and that no information was missing …AND I didn’t even do any of the really hard work – printing, stuffing pockets and envelopes, going to the post office to mail them off…but still, lol.
**One thing I’ve learned is that procrastination has been kind to me when it only affected me alone. Obviously, now that I’m getting married, my procrastination no longer affects only me and it’s affected a lot of others who have been helpful in this planning process (My bad! Truly), so I’m hoping I’ve learned my lesson there, lol.**
The invitations came out beautifully! Danny and I couldn’t be happier.
Now that the invitations are out – the REAL fun starts – receiving RSVPs and working on the seating plan.
In addition to that I still have to figure out a few technical details for our centerpieces, which are simple (on purpose) and makes the technical part all the more strange. But, whatever, its necessary.
We also met with the ministers (our premarital class facilitators who are also) officiating the ceremony and we’re excited about what we have planned.
THE MOMENT ALL BRIDES LOOK FOR
“Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this…” – Kelly Clarkson
**For the record, I am a Kelly Clarkson fan, that is, I thoroughly enjoy the music she makes. #RockOn! #IDigress #MovingOn**
SO I’m going to be honest…
Up until the moment I saw the finished invitation, I didn’t really have the “Oh my gosh I’m marrying the love of my life!” moment.
Even when I was trying on dresses, it all seemed so foreign to me.
The closer I get to the wedding day, the more I lean and include Danny in all the planning and the more I text my sister every wedding thought I have when it hits the more I have felt like a bride.
But yesterday my moment came. When I saw the completed package and held the invitation with our names and saw my name, my dad’s name, and Danny’s father’s name – I was overcome with happiness, my eyes welled with tears…
“I’M GETTING MARRIED!”
And yes, the marriage is way more important than the wedding. And again, let me be honest here: I have struggled with having a wedding. One minute I was at peace with the idea and other times I felt like it was more trouble than it was worth.
But GOD has totally changed my perspective on that.
This wedding is a BIG deal!
To our families? Yes.
But even more so because of what it means to me…
This wedding is the tangible reality of a promise GOD made to me six years ago.Even beyond that, GOD is using this wedding to show Himself strong to my parents, reminding them of where they started and the position HE has placed them in now.
When GOD brought that to my attention, and I REALLY understood it, I looked at this wedding, at this entire process in a very different light.
Sure…it’s about Daniel and I coming together but that wouldn’t have been possible without
The Orchestrator of it all,
Who thought of me,
HE laid the foundations of the earth.
This wedding is about GOD being GOD in my life, in Danny’s life, in the lives of our families…and I’m so thankful for the people who will be able to celebrate and witness this next step with us.
Which brings me to my next and final points.
One thing that was emphasized in our pre-marital class was having a plan in place (for conflict, for dealing with money, etc.) and practicing those principles even before you say I do. Sometimes practice comes in the form of actions , like in the middle of a misunderstanding, and sometimes practice comes in the form of discussion, like planning out a budget. for your family.
One area I’ve needed practice is in handling conflict and putting right thinking into action (not just knowing the correct thing but actually doing what I know to be correct).
Other areas people can practice are speaking highly of your spouse-to-be and never speaking ill of your spouse-to-be. That goes for men and women but particularly to us as ladies, because we can get overly emotional and have the “need” to “vent” – I spoke about that more in detail in last week’s post (Bridesmaids).
Marriage is a private, intimate, and sacred thing instituted by GOD.
In a world where so much of our lives seem lived for the sole purpose of sharing it on Social Media it’s good to have this reminder – that some moments are so intimate, so special that they should be kept private and that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes.
You don’t have to share everything with the rest of the world.
The day-to-day inner workings of your marriage should not be disclosed to other haphazardly. If you’re married we shouldn’t be able to tell that you and your spouse just had a disagreement because of your latest post. You don’t have to share every time your spouse surprises you with a gift just because.
Private moments aren’t just found in marriage they’re all around us. I had the opportunity to work with author Lana Reid and she truly is wonderful at what she does. I loved what she said in this quote –
Don’t get me wrong, there is much insight that can be gleaned by others through our sharing private moments with others. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t have this blog. However, sometimes I think we share things prematurely and it can become a situation where we, intentionally or unintentionally, begin to rely on the attention and approval of others as a measuring stick for our happiness.
I just wonder…if Social Media existed during Bible times would David have taken a selfie right after he had been anointed by Samuel to be the next King of Israel? David didn’t become King until years later.
What if David would have taken a selfie and posted it on Instagram like
#anointed#nextKingofIsrael#SaulImcomingforya#bowdown – how would we feel about him today?
People, especially loyal servants of King Saul, would probably leave comments like #boystop#pumpyourbrakes and maybe even death threats (since apparently you can use social media for that kind of thing).
My point is, before David became King he had to go through a process – an intimate and private process with GOD. Yes, we can read about it now and it resonates with us and it’s because David went through that process the right way. David didn’t seek to promote himself, he waited on GOD to do the promotion.
If GOD has given you something precious, be it a marriage, a child, a goal, a book idea, anything – be careful of sharing prematurely and attempting to make it happen according to your time. Check your motives for sharing. You don’t have to cause a ruckus just to inform the world of your next move…just make it.
Every good and perfect gift comes from GOD (James 1:17)
Promotion comes from GOD (Psalm 75: 6-7)
And Your Father who sees what is done in private will reward you openly (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18)
And when GOD rewards you openly, you don’t have to hide it….
Go ahead share that thing ALL Over social media – lol
Just remember to tell the whole story – the days you were discouraged, the tears you may have shed along the way, the times you may have failed and yet GOD remained true to His Word.
It’s Practicing. Private. and ultimately Sharing –
The right way.
Wishing you wisdom, courage, love and peace along your journey,
The closer I get to my wedding day the more my mind drifts to topics of love and marriage.
But today I want to pause and highlight the role of BRIDESMAIDS.
Well first, what is a bridesmaid? And what is her role?
But even before that can we talk about how hilarious that Bridesmaids movie was? Because it was pretty freakin’ hilarious #okayimdone
On the most basic level – a bridesmaid is a lady (usually unmarried) who “attends” the bride at a wedding.
The first time I was a bridesmaid I was 16 years old and it was in my sister’s wedding. I remember it like yesterday – it was such an honor!
Now I have the honor of having her as my Matron of Honor and having our younger sister as a junior bridesmaid. Candace has me beat! I was 16, she’s 11.
Of course, bridesmaids are much more than attendants – these are some of your best friends, they’re your confidantes, your partners in laughter and crime, your girlfriends
BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY
After you say “I do” these women should be a buffer and a safety net in times of forgetfulness.
What do I mean?
First let’s discuss rule number one in marriage:
RULE NO. 1 in Marriage Ladies (after keeping GOD First)
NEVER talk bad about your husband.
I cannot stress that enough. I’m not big on the use of absolutes but I mean it with every fiber when I say – NEVER talk bad about your husband. Never. Never. Never. And if you need a scripture here you go: “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.”Proverbs 18:21 #yourewelcome
Speak life over your marriage and your husband. NEVER follow up on negative emotions or thoughts with negative words. And that’s not just for marriage that’s for life in general.Choose your words carefully. Why would you want to talk bad about your husband anyway? Talking about him negatively is to talk bad about yourself – you two are now one, remember?
I have had this rule drilled into my head since I was a young girl. I have also witnessed the damage that can be done when that rule is not adhered to. It’s really important. And as emotional beings, we as women, usually turn to our friends when we want to “vent” but marriage is a whole different ball game.
Once you’re married your spouse automatically becomes the best friend trumping all other best friends– and any “venting” that you feel needs to take place should happen with your spouse, NOT with an uninvited, unauthorized and unwelcome third party.Any venting including any frustrations you feel towards your spouse needs to be directed to GOD and your spouse. Besides they are the only ones who can directly address the situation anyway.
So, in the event that you “forget” and call up one of your bridesmaids wanting to “vent” they should be so full of integrity that they stop you in your tracks; should you haphazardly veer from rule number one.
Your entire bridal party (bridesmaids and groomsmen included) should be FOR your marriage and want to see it succeed to the point that they will do whatever they can to protect it-
That means they should be the type of friends who refuse to let you come over if you’re trying to “escape” after a disagreement with your husband.
They should be the type of friend that will not tolerate you talking negatively about your marriage and your husband.
They should encourage you, respect you, respect your husband, and respect your marriage.
They should understand that no one, themselves and parents included, should have any input or influence on your marriage, and will do whatever it takes to ensure that, including Shutting People Down.
These are the types of friends who will not tolerate gossip or negativity surrounding you or your marriage.
Marriages have literally failed because of the negativity of people who should have been acting as buffers but instead acted as demolition teams and wrecking balls.
With ALL that being said – I am SO thankful for the AMAZING women I will have at my side. They are each extraordinary in their own way.
WHAT KIND OF BRIDESMAIDS’ BRIDE AM I?
I would say I am a LAISSEZ-FAIRE bride. Very non-authoritarian.
My bridesmaids were given full power to make decisions while all I asked is that those decisions line up with basic guidelines.
I understand that unity and uniformity are not the same thing and unity of heart mattered more to me than uniformity.
Thus, each of my bridesmaids had the option to turn me down lol.
I’m sure you’ve heard horror stories about bridesmaids who hated their dresses – I love my girls too much for that. So my bridesmaids picked their own style of dress. I asked them to order from the same dress company so that it would be the right color but other than that it’s a style they can make all their own and hopefully it will be something they like enough and to wear again since they are spending their money. Also, it allows each of them to wear a dress that compliments their body type and unique style.
They get to choose their own shoes. I just asked once again that it be the color I chose.
They’re free to do their own hair and way they want and accessorize the way they want.
I was trying to find a better image to articulate what I was saying for this section but I found none with Black people and I wanted some Black people. #personalbias
I wasn’t super anal, badgering them at every twist and turn, going with them to make sure they ordered the correct size, or even sending weekly updates. We’re all adults and I trust them and if something doesn’t work out well – #theshowmustgoon
We’ll see how my laissez-faire approach turns out, lol. I’m really not worried about it though.
So Introducing the Bridesmaids of the Taylor Findlay Wedding
The Littlest “Angel” – My monster. My baby sister – Candace.
She just started middle school :whines: Ugh, I’m so not ready for boobs and boys and all that other stuff that comes along with puberty but #readyornot it’s that time. I’m so proud of her. She loves to dance. She’s feisty when she’s ready. She thinks she can do everything I can do since we’re just about the same height. She’s brilliant and beautiful and I’m happy she’s happy to be a part. I love her to life. I tell her all the time “I’m old enough to be your mom!” #sortakindanotreallybutyes It’s so amazing to watch her grow in my mom’s belly to see how the world has changed so much since she’s been here. It’s hard to remember life before she was here.
Citizen of the World – Kelly.
This pretty lady spent two years in Mozambique, Africa working with Peace Corp! She’s a real go getter and was the first friend I made while at the University of Florida. She showed me the ropes and looked out for me “Never go to a Q party wearing a skirt…” She’s hilarious! “Cara, that was saucy, I thought you were just a quiet church mouse…” She’s a true humanitarian. She’s in grad school doing great things and she has a heart of gold. Ours is a friendship that survived across continents.
The Bilingual Mamacita – Angela.
Pretty brown eyes? Look no further! This amazing lady is bilingual. She’s been on mission trips working as a translator in local clinics in Dominican Republic. Her day job though is a Spanish teacher. She LOVES the language and LOVES teaching. She teaches because she truly finds it rewarding to be able to influence the next generation for good. We’ve been friends for over 7 years now and we’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve always got each other’s backs when it comes down to it. Some of my favorite memories? Her showing up on my doorstep one Valentine’s weekend during a particularly depressing time in my life, she lied and told me she sent me a package. Deciding last minute to drive up to Atlanta 8 hours in the car total. 6 hours in Atlanta. #Nosleep for 48 hours.
The Sister-in-Law that’s more Sister than In-Law – Chennia.
So yes she’s Danny’s sister but she has always been a true friend and sister to me. Chennia is not only beautiful, she’s kind! When she loves she will go all out. She’s ambitious. Her work ethic is mean! She definitely embodies “work hard play hard.” Her sense of style is on 100 (out of 10 lol #offthecharts). She’s not afraid to take risks. My sincere desire is that everyone marry into a family as amazing as the one I’m marrying into. Even when Danny and I weren’t together Chennia treated me like family. She gave me advice and cared about me a part from in relation to her brother. I’m not sure if she knows it but she’s VERY protective of her family and her brother. She definitely watched me intently when we first met. Chennia will not bite her tongue for anyone so its best to come correct the first time, lol.
The Movie Star – Mercedes.
Believe it or not I’ve known this lady for 12 years! That’s wild. We’ve known each other since middle school!! She was shorter than me then and she could do a mean lip sync to “Silver and Gold” by Kirk Franklin. We went to Middle School of the Arts, I was a vocal major and she was a theatre major. Even from that time Mercedes knew that GOD called her to be an actress. She wanted to shine in the movies so that GOD would get the glory from her life. We lost contact for a few years in high school but got back in contact right before she was about to enter college. I told her if she came to UF we’d reconnect and that’s exactly what happened. She was part of a weekly Bible study that Kelly and I were apart of and it was just great. Two years ago, only six days after graduating from UF she packed her bags and flew to Los Angeles to pursue the call GOD had on her life. It’s been a journey and she’ll be the first to say it wasn’t easy but since that time she’s made 25-30 appearances in TV shows and films. It’s so awesome to have witnessed her growth and to watch GOD ‘s hand on her life. And I’m honored she’s taking the time out of her superstar schedule to celebrate with me.
The Surprising Soulmate – Zipporah.
Last but not least. There is so much I could say about this beauty right here but hopefully I can paint a picture of what it was like to find a soul like Zipporah.
Imagine- the first day of summer classes before you start high school – you feel someone watching you – you turn and see this girl that you assume is an upper classman and wonder what the heck you did that made her notice you and wonder if this is your future bully? Then the first day of 9th grade you end up sitting right in front of her. Oh my gosh! Wait, she’s in 9th grade too? What do you do? Well, you speak of course. What do you say?
Me: “I’m sure you hear this all the time but you look like Alicia Keys.” Hahahahahaha
And literally the rest is history.
I fully believe in soul mates I don’t think it’s just one person of the opposite sex either, I think it can be a number of people that GOD places along your life path whose souls are cut from the same soul-cloth your soul is cut from, for lack of a better way to articulate what I mean.
Everyone knew Zipporah and I were best friends in high school. But they didn’t understand why. I don’t think the stuff of soul mates can ever really be explained. It’s just a clicking that takes places – like a latch plate (the head of a seatbelt) sliding into the latch and locking. It’s a God thing. And somehow even with all the other students there during those summer classes before 9th grade Zipporah and I knew there was something about the other. Zipporah was my anchor in high school. Rarely were we seen without one another. I was happy to have met someone who was beautiful, warm, soulful, poetic, fun and who loved Michael Jackson as much as I did. We were true partners in crime and sisters. I remember leaving for school with three lunches one for me, one for my brother, and one for Zipporah. People don’t understand the depth of our friendship but we saw each other through some really difficult times and that solidified the bond between. It was heart wrenching to be separated from her when we went off to college but our bond has survived distance and time and when we get together we don’t skip a beat – #backatitlikeweneverleft
I don’t mean to write a book but Zipporah witnessed a lot of the formative years for Danny and I. She was friends with Cara the teenager and she’s still friends with the Cara in her mid-20s. She’s seen me laugh uncontrollably, she’s seen me mad, and she’s seen me cry. 10 years later and we’re still by each other’s side in the best way!
Each one of the ladies means the world for me! I love them all dearly. I would fight for them, bail them out of jail, take their collect calls, and give my left boob to make sure they’re okay.
Did I mention none of them live in Georgia? So yeah – I’m ultra excited about reuniting with them!
I didn’t include my older sister and Matron because literally that would be a book. But maybe one day I’ll tell that story.