Category Archives: Thoughts

X-Ray Wednesdays: The Musings of A Stepmommy

Great day pilgrims!

It’s the middle of the week again 🙂

Thank you for lingering a moment with me.

Today I wanted to share my thoughts on one of my newest hats –

STEPMOMMY.

Aside from his love, the greatest gift, and responsibility, that Danny has given me is being a stepmother.

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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.

wickedScenes 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. supamom

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.

Super snugglers.

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. 

magicsparklerMamas 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.
But

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…
CMD-edit-1175The 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.
CMD-1590Now 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.
Sweet Azariah,
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.

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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.

Blessings always,

-CN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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X-Ray Wednesdays: Marriage And The Freeze. Fight. &. Flight. Responses.

This post has moved to: http://www.findlayhouse.com/the-bedroom/2015/03/04/x-ray-wednesdays-marriage-and-the-freeze-fight-flight-responses

Here’s an excerpt!

Happy Wednesday Pilgrims!! 

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

fight-flight-freeze

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?

arguing-couple

Are Freeze. Fight. And/Or Flight? The correct responses then?

X-Ray Wednesdays: Do You Believe in Majick?

A most Happy Wednesday to you dear pilgrims!!

And an even HAPPIER
and healthy
New Year!!

 

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.

About the play:

Callender's_Colored_Minstrels_plantation_sceneFrom the original blog post that the teacher referenced:

“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].”

militants

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

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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

Decatur, Georgia.

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.

auctionblockAaron: (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.

Sending you so much love & light,

-CN

 

 

 

 

 

X-Ray Wednesdays: Living the Dream

Happy Wednesday!!

It’s a new dawn. It’s new day. It’s a new world for me.

…and I’m feeling Nina Simone good. :winks at you:

I’m going to be honest, I used to get annoyed when I asked people how they were and they replied with,

“Living the dream.”

My first thought would be,

‘Are you REALLY living the dream? Are you really living at the pinnacle of your life? If so, congratulations. But I’m so confused, you were just blanking and complaining to me yesterday.’

Whenever the question, ‘How are you?’ was posed to me, I never responded with, “Living the dream.” Because in my mind there was too much that I still wanted to achieve and to accomplish before that could be a true statement.

BUT I’ve changed my mind.

I AM Living the Dream.

And what is “the dream?”

Maybe there is no “the dream” because dreams differ from person to person. But then again maybe there is.

You might think it would be better to say ‘I’m living MY dream’ rather than ‘I’m living THE dream,’ but in my case that’s simply not true. The dream I’m living isn’t exactly mine. It’s not one my feeble mind could create. The dream I’m living is greater than what my own heart and mind can comprehend.  

Unfortunately, in American society “The Dream” is often associated with a fabulous lifestyle. “The Dream” is associated with ease and an absence of struggle. “The Dream” is supposedly the ability to buy whatever you want or go wherever you want freely; without having to worry about the confines of a budget or a price tag.

paperchaserIn American society “The Dream” is finally capturing the “riches” at the end of the paper chase. It’s amassing more cars, more stuff, more people to wait on you hand and foot, than you could ever ask for.

But is that truly “The Dream?”

And what about the” American dream?” americandream

Assuming “the American Dream” applies to all cultures and creeds, regardless of gender or racial identity. Is going to school, having a higher socio-economic status than my parents, working until I die (I mean “retire”), and “amassing” a spouse (or two), a few kids, a large house, luxury car, and a pet (or two) in the mean time, all there is to life? Really???

I’ve always had a problem with that. 

So then why do I say that I’m living the dream?

I’m living the dream because I’ve found joy and contentment.

Living the dream requires striking a certain balance. It requires the exact amount of ambition and contentment. While that may seem tricky, it can be done.

I am working daily to both strike and maintain that balance. I understand that –

My path is my own. I can. I will enjoy my journey.

live5  Ways You Too Can “Live the Dream”

Be at home in your skin. Stop comparing yourself to other people. Accept and love yourself. I have learned to embrace every stretch mark, every scar, every kink and curl in my hair, and every other skin-deep “flaw” my insecurities found and at one time obsessed over. Our bodies are exactly that ours.   Your body, your temple, your home, your tent while here on earth so it is your responsibility to love it and take care of it.

Love. Have love. God is Love. John 3:16. Receive GOD’s love for you. Accept the love others freely give you and love everyone you come in contact with. I have embraced GOD’s love for me and I’m constantly learning how to empty myself so that I might be filled with His Love. I am able to love. The ability to love is a gift. By allowing GOD’s  love to fill me I can (and will) love those who are easy to love and those society deems unlovely. I’m married! I have found the greatest love adventure this side of heaven with Danny and daily working to make the most of it. Whether you’re in a romantic relationship or not, you can still make the most of the love found in your other relationships.

Have HOPE. The world is ugly and gloomy sometimes. But its also filled with indescribable beauty. To simply ignore the fact that world is falling apart is to be numb and desensitized to the evils around us. The key is remaining sensitive enough to be concerned and deeply affected.  Hope ignites the desire to be light; its believing that we can make a positive difference. To be so sensitive without hope would mean insanity and literally losing our mind.

Know your purpose and walk in it. Everyone asks themselves at some point or other what they should do with their life.  Unfortunately, not everyone takes the time out or puts in the effort to truly discover their purpose and so they end up settling. When it felt like I would never find my purpose I simply created one, “MY dream.” I had an elaborate life plan that blew up in my face. Finally, I turned to the manufacturer of All life, GOD, and I simply believed what He said. As a result I know that writing, and sharing, is something I was born to do, and so I do it. This blog and my commitment to it is a large part of that. But I have also found other ways to use my gift in writing and it’s even producing income. Is it full time yet? No. But the progress in that area proves that GOD has endorsed and authored it.

Use “The Struggle.” Learn to be thankful for every obstacle, every challenge, every disappointment, and every setback. When faced with difficult circumstances we have two options – give up or continue to push through and persevere. I have learned, and consequently chosen, to persevere. Perseverance exercises our inner strength and builds our character. There Is an END to every difficulty. I’m thankful that I’ve learned to embrace the tough times and thankful for the lessons and strength that result from “struggling.”

I write this not having achieved all there is to achieve or having accomplished all I will IMG_0012accomplish. I do not have a luxury car or even extravagant designer clothes and shoes. I do not have a house. BUT I am content. I have a place to lay my head and I’m continuing to make it a home with my husband.  I have clothes and shoes. I share a car with my husband. I love myself! :Kendrick Lamar voice: and I’m progressing in my purpose.

I AM Living the Dream. That doesn’t mean I won’t aspire to higher heights it simply means I can be grateful right where I am. 

Finally, I’ll share the first message Daniel and I got on our ask.fm

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 6.40.31 AM

That matters so much!

What other ways do you think we can “live the dream” right where we are? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

There’s a song they sang in the church I grew up in that says,

“If I can help someone along the way, then my living will not be in vain.”

Let’s not live in vain and let’s not live vainly.

Sending you light,

-CN

Chat with Cara and Danny here: Ask Us Anything

For more ways to BE light and get involved with X-Ray Wednesdays click here. 

Wedding Wednesdays: Life Under the Microscope

Happy Wednesday Pilgrims!!

If you’ve been watching the news any at all you know that a lot has been going on in the world’s current events…

From the verdict in Ferguson to a plague outbreak in Madagascar.

Somehow – (GOD) – the world keeps turning

And in just a few more hours on this side of the world the Thanksgiving holiday will be here.

Gobble. Gobble.

Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart as Danny and I got engaged on Thanksgiving last year.

Here we are a year later, and almost 27 days into marriage.

This year, I’m officially taking on the role of my mother, in my home with Daniel, and I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner. We’re already looking forward to the leftovers! LOL

Danny and I want to wish you a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving! May it be filled with love, laughter, family and friends, and a heart of sincere gratitude. Count your blessings, and pray for those who are less fortunate.

Life Under the Microscope

American society is a pro at zeroing in on certain aspects of life as seen through social media and news media.

Yet, a lot of us struggle with good communication, intimacy, and trust.  

Transparency and the revelation of our true character is often something we reserve for a select few – mainly GOD, if we believe in GOD, and ourselves. (One can’t hide from one’s self forever, even if we do manage to deceive our own heart.)  And sometimes, maybe, MAYBE, there are one or two others who we have dared to entrust our deepest darkest secrets.

The truth is, for the most part, we’re in the dark about the real issues.

And that’s a problem.

I used to take every opportunity I could to shy away from living my life under the microscope. I avoided the spotlight because flaws and failures are often revealed there. (I would often wonder about those who willingly thrust themselves into the limelight of front and center. I am certain no one ever set out to be another news circus on a stranger’s social media timeline. )

IMG_3565However, I have found that when I voluntarily and sincerely place myself under a microscope three powerful things happen. One, I am open to receiving love (not just criticism) for all that I am, the good and the bad. Two, I am free to receive correction or more information, which helps me gain more insight. And three, someone else is encouraged and others reminded that they are not alone. 

With scripted “reality” TV shows and social media gimmicks, true transparency has become a dying art.

Thus, Danny and I hope to bring you some salt, some hope, and some insight through –

X-Ray Wednesdays: Living.in.the.Light

As Promised here is a sneak peek at our new project, which debuts next week –

[Our newest platform includes a new youtube channel and a video series entitled Findlays’ First Year – short videos where we discuss our first year of marriage. ]

As we celebrate Thanksgiving let us remember to have love for our family, compassion for strangers and a heart of gratitude at all times.

Have a blessed and peace-filled Thanksgiving Holiday,

-CN

Wedding Wednesdays: November Wedding Bells

Happy Wednesday Ladies and Gents!!

I don’t mean to cause any alarm BUT there are only 5 more Wednesdays before Christmas and only 6 more Wednesdays left in the entire year, if the LORD tarries (delays His coming)!!

Speaking of Wednesdays, and the LORD tarrying, lol…all being well, Danny and I will debut our new project right here on Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014! Two, short weeks from now. I’m excited about this multi-faceted project and all that comes with it, so stay tuned.

Next week, we’ll have an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek!

In other news, I heard from our wedding videographer and we should be receiving the DVD of the wedding any day now.

I hope I get it in time for the weekend so Danny and I can make a movie night of it.

It will be interesting to watch it, as opposed to living it. Living it was surreal. I look forward to experiencing it as an on-looker rather than a participant.

Of course once we watch it, we’ll share some clips here…

NOVEMBER WEDDINGS

Apparently, Danny and I weren’t the only ones who thought November is a great month to have a wedding!

Personally, I love Autumn! However, studies show that the changes in weather (colder temperatures, less daylight hours, etc.) cause a lot of people to fall (pun intended) into a state of melancholy which often deepens to depression during the winter months. With that being said, outside of the happiness of the Holiday season, many people think of November as a dreary month.

carrides2

 

 

But from one November bride to the next – I wish these beautiful brides unconditional love, forthright forgiveness, and a lifetime of marriage bliss…

 

Congratulations to my beautiful cousin who tied the knot with her handsome groom in New York on November 13th!

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I love the pop of color in my cousin’s bouquet! Her jewelry is sweetly understated and really compliments the romantic headpiece. I also like the lace appliquĂ© on her dress and veil. But by far the best accessory is her handsome husband on her arm!

While I’m no celebrity buff, a huge Congratulations to Solange Knowles who married Alan Ferguson in New Orleans on November 16th. 

solange-knowles-marries-alan-ferguson-wedding-day-1

solange-knowles-435

I don’t know very much about her as a person but at the very least I enjoy her music and can say I like her carefree black girl style.

Can we just talk about this bride’s flawless fashion? Loved, loved, LOVED her afro and all six of her wedding weekend outfits (only 5 pictured here). The capes were epic!

sol's5weddingoutfits

So what’s the secret to these November weddings? November is the best month to get married of course! (joking…sorta, kinda)

5 Reasons Why November Is the Best Month to Get Married

(Yes, this is totally biased)

  • If you’re not particularly fond of November that’s a great reason to get married in November! Why? Because it gives you something special to look forward to in one of your least favorite months.
  • November is typically associated with giving thanks (and the Thanksgiving holiday) it’s a great time to celebrate with gratitude the love you have in your life. 
  • Family. Most Families usually try to get together if no other time of year then at least  for the holidays. Holiday dinners (such as Thanksgiving and Christmas) are usually associated with family gatherings and even reunions. A November wedding is a perfect reason to get extended family to come together in celebration. 
  • Comfortable Temperatures. November is  a beautiful ” just right” month  – not too hot. Not too cold. The leaves are changing color and the crisp Autumn air is simply lovely. The  average temperature here in Atlanta is supposed to be a high of 64 degrees and a low of 45 degrees. Although, we’ve been experiencing below average temperatures this year. It actually snowed in the early morning hours of our wedding day!! 
  • Stand Out While You Save. A November wedding date is more uncommon. Peak wedding season is in the warmer months (April to October). Generally, weddings occur less frequently during the holiday and winter months (November to March). Although, the closer you are to a holiday the more expensive it may be, even in the off-peak season. Sometimes venues and vendors offer discount on their prices during the off-peak months.

November, like life, is what you make it. Make it great!

Thanksgiving is next week! I’m looking forward to my first holiday as a married woman :giggles:

Until next time.

Grace.&.Peace,

-CN