…. a word for the new year 

For the past few years, I’ve begun the new year with a word. A word that made me pause, one that meant a lot…. but I honestly couldn’t tell you what those words were at this point. And, I think that’s okay. One, because I have a horrible memory, but also because even if I don’t remember the exact word their purpose has always been felt throughout the year & they stick. This year….. I don’t have a word. I have a phrase. One that was prayed over my church during Watch Night service that causes streams of tears to roll down my face because I get it. I feel their intensity, remember how those words sounded during that prayer. Because I consider the love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy that had to overflow from the Lord as he spoke them over a people who had been through so much devastation. 

That phrase is: a hope and a future.

The last quarter of 2017 was rough for me for many reasons, but it ended with gratitude and so much anticipation for what the Lord was and is doing in my life. I felt unworthy, I felt as if I’d ruined my future & sold myself short……… I felt as if I was 3 bench presses away from ending my superset and literally had nothing left to give while more weight was being added to the bar with the expectations of finishing it out with the same energy, ability, and ease as if I’d just begun….. while looking at my trainer look at me telling me to “Do it.” I’m like “How?!” feeling defeated and then it clicks….

“My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” “Be still and know”. “Abide in me and I’ll abide in you. Apart from me you can do nothing.” “You are mine.” “The Lord gives good gifts to his children.” “I shall provide all you in according to the riches and glory in heavenly places.” ………. “I have come to give you a hope and a future.” 

… the truth that I know overshadowed every fear, every bit of shame, every ounce of impossibleness I’d felt, and caused me to stand and keep going. The belief that this new thing the Lord was doing and the struggles I’m enduring are necessary to get to what is waiting for me. The belief that the Lord has plans to give me a hope and a future is enough. So every year I begin reading The One Year Bible. Every year I read more of it than I did the year before, lol. I haven’t gotten through the entire Bible yet but I am committed to reading daily. (Y’all hold me accountable!) … but on my first day’s reading I saw things in the Genesis scriptures that I’d never seen before. In the few days that have followed after, I’ve continued to see more and more of God’s character in ways I’d completely missed before. 

In Genesis, I saw how the Lord declared that everything he’d created was good. I saw that everything he created was done in order, with intention, and not rushed. I saw that he named his creations. That what he says & plans come to pass and that he provides everything we need to live & accomplish his plans for us. 

I’ve also seen how the Lord watches over us and guides us in Matthew. In the New Testament reading, it tells of how an angel constantly led Jospeh to act during the pregnancy of, birth, and early life of Jesus. The protection that came from earnings and direction could only happen if the Lord was watching over him and his family. When Jospeh was afraid, there was the angel. When he’d made a decision, there was the angel. When enemies were on their way unbeknownst to Jospeh, there was the angel. 

This seems so basic, but is so exciting to me because it’s exactly what I need, what we need, to believe and trust in order to “be okay” no matter what comes our way. This gave me hope. Recognizing that while a lot of what I’ve been struggling deeply for the past few years weren’t purposed to break me, but in an effort to root me deeper in Christ. It made me realize that the things that happened over the past few months were incredibly hard and uncomfortable, but taught me to rely that much more on God; his grace is sufficient and he provides every step of the way. That what was and is happening isn’t okay, but it will be. That comfort in belief that things will work out is not built on the hope that people or their decisions would change, but rooted in the truth that the Lord is with me, he cares for me, he is watching over me, has a plan for me, and is providing for me. He freely gives forgiveness, hope, peace, joy, protection, guidance, and comfort in every situation we are in. And on top of all of that…. everything the Lord does is good. It is good, and he sustains us. He keeps us. He loves on us so well as we are going through this life that is said to be full of trouble. 

I’m excited about my commitment to read daily. I need to read, hear, learn, believe, & know so that my faith is strengthened. So that I can approach life’s circumstances confidently and boldly, without feelings ruling and controlling my behavior. 
As my pastor said last Sunday, when “….we have the Word in us, our faith is matured.” As our faith grows so do we. Our perspectives change, our responses different, and our interactions with this life are controlled and more Christ-like. 

If there’s one thing I’m certain I want this year, it’s a deeper maturity in Christ. To believe without a shadow of a doubt that with him and through him, his plans of a hope and a future for me will come to pass. I’m believing that for myself and for my daughters this year. Believing that we will experience a year of overwhelming freedoms, success, victory, provision, grace, and joy even when we are in the valleys as much as when we’re on the mountain tops. 

I’m believing the best for you, as well. That you would allow the Lord to lead you and you, that we all, take seriously his commitment to us. Life is hard, but our God is faithful and he will see us through. 

Happy New Year! 

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….. in awe

Now that’s a baby bump!! And, I love it. 

One of my favorite things ever experienced is pregnancy. The belly, the flutters that morph into full fledged and painful kicks and elbows as this life inside you “gets comfortable”, and the clothes. Oh, my heavens the clothes. **** squeals**** I love me some fashionable maternity clothes. There’s nothing I love more than my body during pregnancy. (After is a whole different story but we’ll cross that bridge in this summer!) The entire transformation makes me feel nothing short of beautiful, powerful, and special. Grateful and so strong. There’s no other act that makes me feel so empowered and womanly, feminine, and useful than carrying a life as it literally grows every part of itself inside of your body. And, slightly freakish at that fact that there is a person growing inside of another. But, how brilliant and creative? That one person can feed, fuel, and provide everything another could need from their own very being? 

I walk past mirrors still in awe of what is happening. A lot less shock & a lot more wonder & peace. Mixed with the misunderstanding of how I’m so large. Comfort is the name of the game and has been for a few weeks, so my unisex tees (another Loved by Hannah & Eli gem here!!) and dad’s tees are my go to these days. Because size matters and gone are the days where we squeeze into anything, ok? Nobody has time for all of that. I rub my belly in awe of this little girl’s life. Dying to see her sweet chocolately face and curious as to which sister she’ll look like, what traits of her dad’s she’ll have and pray that she doesn’t acquire my uncontrollable facial expressions. I look at these pictures just a literal week a part and wonder what we’re going to look like in 6 months……… because I’m not even halfway to cradling this sweet girl. I wonder what Christmas Eve will look like next year. How our family dynamic will change, how Rhyann & Logan will mature and handle their roles as big sisters. How the blend will happen and work. 

I wonder. Dream. Imagine. Pray. But most of all remain grateful and excited about my girl. So far she’s a dream. If not for the random naps that I can’t seem to control and this belly, the missed cycles, along with the ultrasound and hearing her strong beating heart through the Doppler, I’d never know I was pregnant. One day of nausea due to a food choice and a dizzy spell. So far, so good. More grace. 

Even my weight gain is a-okay. Blood pressure is excellent, and 2nd trimester constipation is a non-issue. Energy is pretty good for growing a human – I do take a power nap about 2p, but other than that I’m doing pretty well. I’m still taking my (plant based, vegan/vegetarian, non-gmo, gluten free) supplements and just moving right along. The girls know there’s a “baby sister” in mamas belly. Looking forward to picking up a few “big sister” books and getting them a bit more involved and excited about having a little baby in the house to share mama with. 

We’re ending the year well. Not at all how we planned, but I literally cannot imagine not having this sweet girl on her way. Funny how that is, right? The most unimaginable thing becomes exactly what you have no idea what you’d do without. Grace slathered all over me. 

Lastly, merry Christmas to you all!! I hope your year has been everything you have needed it to be – surprises and all! 

Xoxo

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…. and, another one!

And, yes…..  I’m sure there’s  just one! 

Last year, as 2016 ended and 2017 began, I’d dreamt big and set hard goals. I’d felt very strongly that really great things would happen in the upcoming year and felt even more strongly about the fact that I’d reach my goals as one month faded into the next.  Therefore, I was going to achieve exactly what I’d set out to do. And, many of those goals, I met. 

As summer of 2017 rolled around, I began to dream of how 2018 would be a year of life change. A year of unreal, are-you-serious type of achievements and happenings. One where I could look at know that it was truly divine intervention and the Lord stepping in for me in many, many ways. I mean, so many good things were happening, if I was failing… it was forward and my successes made me so proud. Feelings of eagerness, excitement, anticipation, overwhelm (in good ways and sometimes scary ways) and the desire to work that much harder were a part of my day to day. … and, I was okay with the stress and pressure even though it  as hard and overwhelming because I believed that great things were coming. I knew life was changing as each day passed …… as change may happen suddenly but the work put in for that one second when timing + opportunity + favor all came together in a beautiful moment of manifestion of everything you dreamed and worked so hard for happens. That moment would be worth it all. I could feel everything becoming real coming even if I couldn’t see it at the moment. I believed.  I had faith

……. and, then I found out I was pregnant. At four weeks, I realized that a life change was indeed slated to happen in the coming months, but not one that I expected, planned, was hoping for, or even…………….. wanted. Yup. I did not want this baby. Someone who, at one point in life (a life that seems so far in the distant past), ached for life to grow inside of her didn’t want the life that was currently growing inside of her. Didn’t want the lifestyle change. The girls and I were.. are…. perfectly fine as a trio. Didn’t want the judgments and stereotypes of an unwed pregnant woman. An unwed pregnant Black woman, at that. A growing belly and no ring is hardly cute, right? Didn’t want the responsibility of adding a new person to the mix – a new car, bigger home (or a more “cozy” current one), buying diapers as we’re thiiiiiiis close to getting out of pull ups, etc. etc. and the comments/thoughts of “well if you didn’t want ______, then you should have/shouldn’t have done ______.” Ya know? 😉 This was not my life. Especially after one devasting, “humiliating” life blow…… wasnt really in the mood for another. 

I wasn’t happy, yet rather quite humiliated. There were long moments of pure heeeeeeellllll no’s and ‘I’m not doing this. I CAN’T do this. Let’s not do this.” Researching and talking about options of ……….. termination. Lots of internet scouring and chatting with close friends who’d experienced what I was considering…… because another one? How would I? How could I? …….. manage? Sleep? Rest? Keep my house decently together on a daily basis (since it’s a struggle for me now!)? How much time do I have to make this choice? What would it feel like? What could I expect afterwards? …… What am I doing?!The thoughts of judgment that had came like rushing waters. Criticism. Disdain. Disappointment. Eye rolling. The shame. The self doubt. The guilt. The stereotyping. The statistics. The generalities. The thoughts fueled by fear & concerning myself with the wrong things bogged me down. It was hard. And scary. My belly was growing so quickly (as I learned happens with subsequent pregnancies, especially after a twin pregnancy) and I did all I could to hid it. Many friends I did life with & talked to nearly daily had no clue. No full body pics on social media unless I was in all black or was concealing this bump somehow, because I couldn’t deal. Outwardly, of course… yes. Everything was fine…. it had to be if I were to go through with this, no one needed to know. 

Finally, the decision to allow this growing ball of cells continue to develop was made with uncertainty, but the recognition that I just could. not. in good conscious. Instead, I choose a mindset of positivity and became more and more okay with this chapter of my story. 

We were going to add another to the party. The following four weeks were full of dreaming, purchasing a mini-van (which I adore), experiencing grace and gratitude. Learning to be at peace with what is and committing to enjoy it. I knew that my perspective and thoughts would make or break this incredible experience…. the best part is that they both can be controlled and guided. I can choose my feelings, responses, focuses, and what I allow to penetrate my heart. So, plans to celebrate and honor this life began. 

I’m a lover to gender reveals because they are so stinking fun. Full of hope and anticipation, I felt it was the perfect way to kick off this celebration. And, it neded to be documented so of course a photoshoot was planned. It would be perfect with a big black balloon reveal (you know the ones you pop and the pink/blue confetti falls?)! It was going to be fantastic! Because I knew that it was filled with blue confetti, it would be that much more exciting because a boy was on my mind. The pictures would reveal my pure excitement and thrill of a little boy who would chase his sisters and wear the cutest khaki shorts and polo shirts and a hat……… ah! He would be the perfect addition to toss in with all of these girls! 

Until the balloon popped in the parking lot of Party City at pick up. I bawled at the sight of the pink confetti. So much so that two women stopped to console me. These women congratulated, celebrated, and encouraged this woman-stranger who was a hot mess over a pink confetti and a popped balloon. It was so bad that my beautiful makeup had run and Rhy & Lo were asking “Mama, you okay?” “You crying mama?” Thankfully I was able to fix my make up and calm the girls as they bear forced me to take a picture of the moment. Sweet parking lot stranger-angels. Lol. It’s funny now, devastating then, but the only good in this bad situation is that I was together in time to take pictures with my pink balloon! Thank God I didn’t find out at the shoot! Nothing but grace!! Lol. …….. and, here we are. Joyfully making our way through the second trimester, continuing to believe the Lord for everything I’ve asked for. Believing that he will grant me all that I asked for. Do I still worry about perception, judgement, and feel shame? At times, but not nearly as much. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years is that life happens and nothing is certain. Does that excuse sin and bad choices? Never. But, that’s where we experience the patience, grace, and mercy of our God carrying us, giving beauty for ashes, and his comfort. Life happens to everyone… differently…. but to us all. We just have to learn how to hit the curve balls and make the play. All “good decisions” don’t always end up being the best for us and the “worst decisions” can, at times, land us exactly where we need and ultimately enjoying being. Why? Because all things work together for our good. All of the good, the bad, the indifferent. It’s all being pieced and woven together beautifully by an intentional God who loves us and desires to display his faithfulness to us daily. 

The good thing about the black balloon ordeal is that my friend also ordered a pink and blue balloon, so there could still be a reveal even after what seemed to be a catastrophe. And, it worked perfectly. 

So here I am…. soon to be mother of three little girls who will be my joy. It’s been an interesting last few months, an experience that I am so grateful for………. it’s stretched and grown me in ways I hadn’t expected,  but needed. 

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Mama Bear t-shirt: Loved by Hannah and Eli; Skirt by Asos; Make up by Kristin Coyle; photos by Monica Walker

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