An Open Letter to the Brokenhearted on Mother’s Day

My Dear Sweet Friend,

What I have to say isn’t for those on a sentimental high of celebratory accolades and recognition. This isn’t your typical Mother’s Day blog post full of ironic humor and adorable pictures of frazzled moms and food smeared chubby toddlers. I’m pretty sure you won’t have a hard time finding something like that elsewhere, if that’s what you’re looking for. But, you won’t find it here.

This is an open letter to the brokenhearted. An acknowledgment of those who may feel as though they reside on the outskirts of society on days like today. Who think that they are alone in their pain. This is for those whose mothers have passed, and the only way they can give them flowers today is to lay them on their graves. This is for the women who have made their homes in the valley of barrenness. This is for those who look into the beautiful faces of their children and still see the ghosts of what could have been, what they feel should have been. This is for those whose arms ache with the emptiness of loss and hope. This is for those who have piles of home pregnancy tests stashed all over their homes, waiting for that confirmation of life. This is for those who are haunted by the guilt of choices that can’t be undone and wonder, what if? This is for those who gave their children away long ago and wonder what became of them. This is for the children of mothers who gave less than they needed and are still left with the void. This is even for those who shrug and think, it’s just another day when, in the space of truth that lies beneath, they know that it’s not. This is for the woman who puts on a brave face and smiles until her cheeks hurt, only to steal moments alone with her head tilted back, fingers gently patting away tears before her concealer breaks and her mascara runs.

I’ve carried a burden for you. Yes, you. I thought of you and your pain and laid it along side my own burden of brokenness, before hoisting it onto my back and wearing it for the last week. I counted down the days till Sunday, sadness tinging each moment, sighs escaping my mouth at will and without conscious provocation.  As I sit here snuggled up on my couch in a velvety soft blanket, my stomach is in knots at the thought of going against the grain and speaking to a population that many people would rather pretend don’t exist. I guess I’m unique in that I belong to both groups. There have been times when I would rather not deal with the messiness of sadness and loss. When I found it easier to pretend. But that’s exhausting and tiresome and debilitating and any other number of words you can think of to explain that it’s no longer worth my time.

I am the mother of a stillborn. An oxymoron of an existence. Do I count as a mother? Do I ignore the pain that fills me like air on days like this? Do I pretend that I don’t feel the undercurrent of pain that my eyes were opened to the moment tragedy struck?

I won’t do that. I won’t pretend that I don’t see you. I see you, I feel you and I care for you. For lack of a better way to put it; it sucks to be us right now. The truth is that if we’d had a choice, none of us would have joined this club.

But we’re here now and I found myself asking God, “What do I say to them, Lord?” I didn’t feel that I had anything to offer until I remembered that we don’t have to keep carrying our burdens . It’s a choice we make. I’m not going to give you a Christian cliche and advise you to lay your burdens down. I prefer to think of it as simply letting go. That’s what I did.

I gave birth to my deceased daughter, and had her cremated. Then, I had no choice but to learn how to live in The After. Some things forever change you, without fanfare, quietly and totally. This was one of those things. I railed against God. I was consumed with a simmering rage that only seemed to grow as, even in my grief stricken state, I realized that I needed Him. And the whole time, He was right there. Through my rage, my numbness and my years of insidious resentment. He was right there.

Because you see, the Lord is near to the brokenhearted* and binds up all their wounds**.
I know this, not because I read it, but because I lived it. He was faithful to walk with me through sorrow, and I came to know Him in the fellowship oLetting Gof His suffering. My point is that I never had to lay my burden down. I eventually let it go because it’s hard to hang on to your stuff when you’re constantly in the presence of the Almighty. It really is darn near impossible. Trust me, I tried.

He bound up my wounds, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still hurt. Pain is a part of the healing process. I had surgery months ago, and I still hurt at the site of the wound when it’s going to rain. I’m still healing, and those twinges are part of that healing. I might feel those twinges for the rest of my life, but that’s OK. The pain that led me to the surgical table was far more excruciating than the twinges I feel now. The same is true for the emotional and spiritual trauma we can’t see. Over time, you will still feel sadness. You will still shed tears.

But, you won’t be broken forever.

When the pain is overwhelming, when you can’t see past it and wonder how you’ll go on, just remind yourself that it won’t be like this forever. Shed your tears, remember the good, take a few deep breaths and know that you can go on.

He said, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21

XoXo,

Faith

*Psalm 34:18, **Psalm 147:3

Ummm, So I’m Kinda Really Feeling This YouTube Thang…

What’s up, y’all? Your girl has been slacking. I haven’t been sharing my thoughts and encouragement here lately, but it’s not for lack of the desire to do so. I’ve just been dealing with a lot of things related to my health, and one of the side effects of that is brain fog. Like, serious “what’s my mama’s name, again?” brain fog. I send text messages that need Google Translations to decipher. Writing this post alone is taking me longer than I care to admit.

Me being me, I decided to make an effort to connect with you all, no matter what. If I can’t write like I want to (at least for right now), I can still flap my gums! So, that’s what my YouTube channel is all about. In some ways, connecting with you on that platform provides a unique opportunity for me to share my life with you in a far more intimate manner than this blog. I think that’s a good thing, and I hope you guys do, too.

But, don’t worry. This blog is my baby and I’ll definitely get back to going hard on it again once I get my health in order. If you’re curious as to what kind of health issues I’m dealing with, check out my videos. I’m not shy about operating in full disclosure (as you might have noticed by now, lol) but I go a little deeper on my YT channel.

My goals there will be the same as my goals are here: to transparently share my life and thoughts for the purpose of encouragement. I promise to keep it all the way real (like FO’REAL) because I’m learning that perfection has no place in my life. Plus, if I can continue to put one foot in front of the other, despite the hardships of life, someone watching will see that they can, too.

You all are my people. My tribe. My fam. It is my hope that the community I eventually discover on YouTube is as awesome and inspiring as the community that I’ve found here. I have a feeling that adding that platform to my repertoire is going to result in a wild ride. A beautiful mess that I can’t wait to share with you! The blessing that is our future is waiting.

Let’s get it.

XoXo,

Faith

 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1: 1-4

Oh and before I go, don’t forget to subscribe to my channel, so you won’t miss a thing. I’ll continue doing my Conversations with Faith, but I’m adding weekly vlogs as well. Plus, soon there’ll be a series called Confessions of Faith, where I talk about the MANY mistakes I’ve made in the past and explain how God’s grace brought me through. Don’t be a stranger, come holla at me over there. 🙂

Confessions of Faith: Temper Tantrums and Attitude

Picture it: a perfectly lovely spring morning in Memphis. The sun was shining, the humidity was practically non-existent, the birds were chirping and the scent of magnolia trees at least 100  years old rose gently on the breeze.

But, ask me if I noticed any of that at the time. Nope, sure didn’t. Why? Because I was too busy grumbling about the inability of the people I shared the road with (I won’t call them drivers, because drivers know how to drive) to stay in their lanes, not finding a good parking spot at work and a plethora of other things before I copped an attitude with God.

Uh-huh. I copped an attitude with God. It’s not the first time, and unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last time. I had an attitude because it was His fault I even had to deal with incompetent road hoggers, bogus parking arrangements and waking up at the crack of dawn. Because if He was doing things the way I wanted them done, I’d be a full-time writer well on my way to selling the rights to my books for film options.

I proceeded to tell God that I just didn’t see why He hadn’t come through for me in this respect yet. I complained that there was no way He’d actually want me to work full-time for someone else’s vision, no matter how noble it might be, and then relegate my vision to nights and weekends. And furthermore, I didn’t think it was right that I should have to sacrifice my health to pursue my passion. No way could he expect me to operate on a few hours of sleep on a regular basis in order to produce books at the rate I want to. It just wasn’t fair!

Well, after my little temper tantrum, God responded the way He typically does; in a still, small voice. A reckoning in my spirit that calmed me and a reminder that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. That the pressure I was putting on myself wasn’t His doing and that the gift He gave to me is supposed to be a source of joy, and not stress.commit2

Me being me, I was like, “I hear all that. And thanks, by the way. But still, why haven’t you come through?”

Y’all, His answer hurt my feelings. DISCIPLINE. Or rather, my lack thereof. God reminded me that if I were more disciplined, there would be no need to sacrifice sleep or my so-called health. Maybe if I spent more of my free time actually writing, I would be further along in my entrepreneurial endeavors.

I spent a few more minutes trying to justify my situation. I’m on fitness journey. I’m on a weight loss journey. I’m on a financial freedom journey. I’m on a natural hair journey. I’m on a Netflix journey. I’m on a Diner Dash journey (Flo ain’t gon’ be able to serve those people by herself). I’m on a find-a-suitable-life-partner i.e. husband journey.  You get the point. I find time to do everything that I want to do, but treat writing as though it’s a priority in my life.

Once I picked my face up off the ground after that Holy Spirit breakdown, I stopped making excuses and started giving thanks. Thanks to for Him loving me in spite of me. Thanks to Him for providing me with a day job and the skill set to do it well. Thanks to Him for gently guiding me into His plan for my life. I was grateful that God cared enough about me to listen to my rants, and to show me His ways.

He promised that if I commit the work of my hands to Him, He would bless my efforts. So I’m stepping back from all the social media hoopla I’ve been caught up in, taking the reigns off my floundering ‘marketing plan’ and getting down to the business (and joy!) of writing.

The funny part is that I think that’s all He’s ever expected me to do in the first place. The rest is up to Him. I’m OK with that.

Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:13 ESV

“A gift isn’t a gift, until you give it away.”-Unknown

XoXo,

Faith


What do you do when something you want badly seems to be taking its sweet time arriving? How do you balance your ambition with your circumstances? I told you my current kryptonite (lack of discipline) what’s yours? What’s getting in the way of you walking in your purpose? If you’re already fully walking in your purpose, tell us how you got there.

Confessions of Faith: How I Fell Into (And Got Out Of) The Comparison Trap

The other day, I came across this post by one of my writer friends on Instagram.

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And then, last week, I came across this AMAZING blog on identity by my good friend Simone. Seriously, click the link. You’ll thank me later.

They both spoke to me and reminded me of a time not too long ago when I fell into the horrible habit of comparing myself to others. I thought I had kicked that nasty pesky inclination in high school. But there it was again, rearing its ugly head in my 30’s.

And this time, it wasn’t about anything superficial like my looks or fashion sense. This was intense and deeply personal. This time I was comparing my God-given talent for writing to other authors. This time, the whole situation was personal.

I’m the type of person who is genuinely happy when good things happen to other people. I don’t have a hateful bone in my body. The way I see it, if God did it for them, He will certainly do it for me. So don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t mad at them for succeeding. I was mad at myself for not doing all that I thought I was supposed to be doing.

You see, I kept thinking that having one full length novel published wasn’t good enough. My author buddies were putting out books left and right, and I was still struggling through the first draft of my sophomoric effort. I kept thinking ‘what’s wrong with me?’

When comparison takes root, despondency is not far behind it. I went from wondering how other authors were able to do so much, to beating myself up for not doing enough, to wondering if I’m really cut out for this author thing after all.

That’s when God’s counsel stepped in and told me in no uncertain terms to pump my breaks. Who did I think I was questioning His plan and His pace? How dare I even consider neglecting my gift simply because things weren’t progressing the way I thought they should?

God’s conviction is so much lighter than our conscience’s condemnation. Because His conviction comes with clear instruction and hope for the future.

God's conviction is so much lighter than our conscience's condemnation. Because His conviction comes with clear instruction and

I stopped comparing myself to other writers and started reminding myself of who God says that I am and what He promised me for my future. Long before I ever had the courage to pursue this writing dream, I stood on the promises of God for years. He said that my gift would make room for me and bring me before great men.

He’s been faithful to that, so it’s only right that I remain faithful to Him.

My point is this: don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. You don’t know what it cost them to get where they are and you don’t know how hard it may be for them to keep going. Focus on you and what you were purposed here to do, and then do it with all your might.

I promise that the payoff will far exceed your wildest dreams.

XoXo,

Faith

A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. Proverbs 18:16 

Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you go. Ecclesiastes 9:10

Confessions of Faith: Special Edition (Soul Ties)

soul tie

I’m about to go in on a touchy subject and I’ve gotta say, I’m not too comfortable with it.

But I’ve been around long enough to know that when I’m afraid to speak, the words I have to say will have the most impact for someone. So I speak them anyway. Even when my voice shakes and my heart pounds so loud I feel like the sound of it is going to drown out my whispers of truth.

I do it because I know that someone needs to hear these words. Feel them and tuck them away right next to their own quiet shame or sour bitterness or red-hot rage. Tuck them away until they’re ready to let it all go and walk into the cool calm waters of acceptance; float on the weightless glory of forgiveness.

What’s the Price of a Soul Tie?

I’m talking to church folk on this one. Backsliders in general, single women with emotional baggage in particular. Soul ties. A phrase tossed around in pulpits, written in the pages of books clutched desperately by those seeking answers… Those seeking deliverance.

  • But what does it really mean?
  • What does it really cost?
  • What’s the price for a soul tie and how can a sista’ get a refund?

Because if you’ve ever been caught up in a spiritual tug of war, you’re going to want everything you sacrificed to that war back. With interest.

(Click HERE to read the rest of this post at My Family Fantastic!)

Photo credit: MIKI Yoshihito (´・ω・) / Foter / CC BY

Confessions of Faith: Beauty for Ashes

beautyThe month of June is usually full of melancholy for me. At least it has been for the past few years. The explanation for my feelings of melancholy and sadness I’ll save for another day. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that gratitude lifts depression. So my confessions today are expressions of gratitude for some of the blessings I’ve received over the last couple of weeks. These occurrences reminded me that I am loved, appreciated and valuable. For all these things and more, I’m grateful.

My Uncle came to paint our house…well technically it’s his house, since we’re renting from him. But that’s besides the point. While he’s been there working over the last week, he put my new license plates on my car (I was riding dirty with my Texas tags for years!), promised to replace my brake pads, fussed at me for remembering to set the house alarm but forgetting to actually lock the door, and gave me pointers on improving my sweet potato pie recipe. It’s a blessing to have family near by, and our conversations about everything from the Rachel Dolezal media circus to the progress I’m making on my new book warmed my heart.

I was feeling a little discouraged about the progress I’m making in building a writer platform, and briefly entertained the thought of giving up. I wondered if I should put all the time and energy I’m currently giving to writing and publishing into something else. That same week I got an email from The Knowledge Maven stating how much she’s enjoying reading my book! It validated me that a fellow writer thought enough of my writing to make sure she told me that I’m good at it and to keep going with it. I also received a shout out from a fan on Facebook who said that she can’t wait to read my next book. Those expressions of recognition lifted my spirits and reminded me that I have to keep going. There are people all over the world who could one day be blessed by the work of my hands. That can’t happen if I give up.

Gratitude

What I’ve said so far are the major things that come to mind, but there are so many little things that make me pause and say ‘thank you’. Laughing at Melissa McCarthy in the movie Spy on a beautiful sunny day while feeling ultra feminine in a cute polka dot sundress. Discovering the Thai chicken salad at Panera Bread (try it, you’ll thank me later). Finally taking time to get the air conditioning in my car repaired; If you’ve ever experienced a Southern summer, you’ll know what a big deal that is! Seeing two men pray in the parking lot of Chick-fil-a. Visiting the library for the first time in over a year; I was almost dizzy with the hypnotic smell of books and knowledge. Rediscovering my love of cooking since my mama hit the road for the last few months. A text message from a friend I hadn’t heard from in a while. Getting a perfect eye brow wax. Finding a discount code for a business expense. Singing at the top of my lungs while washing dishes.

When it’s all said and done, all of my good outweighs the bad. There are so many random things that I’m grateful for, and when I begin to count my blessings, I give myself permission to live in the here and now rather than in the ache of the past. Does the sadness still creep up on me when I least expect it? Yes, and that’s ok. Because I’ve learned to sit with it for a moment, then let it fly away on the wings of gratitude.

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3 KJV

XoXo,

Faith

Have you ever felt like giving up on your passion? What keeps you going? What are you grateful for today? 

 

Photo credit: Nick Kenrick.. / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: jmtimages / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Confessions of Faith: Forgiveness & Absolution…Gifts to Myself

Making the decision to forgive can be tricky. It’s like choosing the smallest box at Christmas. Forgiveness won’t make sense toforgiveness the immature and it seems unappealing; maybe even irrational. But to the mature mindset, the old saying that some of the best gifts come in small packages plays like a catchy song. The smallest package becomes appealing, even desirable. And when you open it, the blessing inside is more than you hoped for or could ever imagine. That’s how I view forgiveness.

I won’t pretend that I’ve always had this lofty view of such a humble state of being. I used to be the type that could hold a grudge until it hollered. I kept record of every wrong and hoped that I would have a front row seat when the Lord exacted His revenge.

Then I became a person in need of forgiveness and everything changed. I guess I should clarify that. I became a person aware of my overwhelming need for forgiveness and everything changed. On my best day, I’m in need of God’s forgiveness. On my own I can never measure up. Walking into the fullness of this realization changed me. Then it changed the way I relate to other people. People who are walking out this life to the best of their ability. People who are flawed, just like me. People to whom grace exemplified may be the only glimpse of God they ever see.

A part of me always thought that to extend forgiveness was a sign of weakness. I assumed that people would view me as a doormat and take advantage of me. But a funny thing happened when I opened myself up to grace: people surprised me by rising to the occasion. Showing grace gave space for the best in them to shine through.

It’s rare that someone does wrong and feels no remorse. We call those people sociopaths, and the reason we have a name for them is that they’re not the norm. Most people feel bad when they fall short morally. Showing forgiveness gives them permission to be a better version of themselves. Just like accepting God’s forgiveness gave me permission to be a better version of myself.

I forgive because I am forgiven. It’s cyclical, beautiful and redeeming. My gift to others is a gift to me.

 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Collosians 3:13 NLT

Until next time….

XoXo,

Faith 

 Are you a grudge holder? What do you gain by holding a grudge? Do you view forgiveness as weakness? Sometimes you can forgive someone and still choose to discontinue the relationship; how do you decide what path your forgiveness will take in each situation? Have you ever been forgiven for something? How did you feel knowing that other person didn’t hold it against you? 

Read other Confessions of Faith here!

Photo credit: Celestine Chua / Photo / CC BY