“Are you there GOD? It’s me, Taria”…

Girls-Prayer-Black

Are you there GOD? It’s me, Mary Margaret…I used to love this book by Judy Blume when I was in middle school and must have read it about 4 times. In the book, Mary Margaret has a Christian Mother and a Jewish father and is confused as to her belief in GOD and if she actually believes in GOD. She goes to school and is given a yearlong independent study project and she chooses to study peoples’ beliefs. So every time she had a question for GOD about things she didn’t understand and needed him to explain, she would start out by saying, “Are you there GOD? It’s me, Mary Margaret.” This book came back to my remembrance while on the phone with a friend and I was losing phone service and I jokingly said, “Are you there GOD? It’s me, Taria.” My friend and I started to laugh and I asked her if she remembered the book. After we hung up, I really started thinking about the book and how Mary Margaret went to a GOD she didn’t even know for sure existed, for the answers that she so desperately needed. And then I thought, surely if he could use a donkey in the bible, he could use a fictional middle school character named Mary Margaret…So I took my cue and said out loud, “Are you there GOD? It’s me, Taria, and I need you.”

It’s not that I question if there is a GOD or my belief in GOD, however sometimes, in those midnight hours, just before the night sky allows the sun to peak through with the light of hope for another day, I ask questions…Questions that if GOD can’t answer, I know I won’t get one. I want to know why at 39 years, 1 month and 23 days old, I feel like I am stuck. I am 312 days’ shy of my 40th birthday and I feel like I am stuck. Am I STILL in a caterpillar cocoon that is seemingly steeped in ashes, fighting through a transformation to finally possess the beauty of the butterfly? I ask him if the poor choices and decisions I made earlier in life became the matches that lit my hopes, my dreams and my passions on fire causing them to burnout and sometimes leave me feeling like all that is left of me is that powdery residue that remains after something is destroyed…ashes. But then I remembered you answered the question before I asked. You said in your word that you would give me “beauty for ashes.”

I ask him if I should be further ahead in life because even though I was born in the Eastern Standard Time zone, I feel like life has kept me in the Pacific Standard Time zone, 3 hours behind what I am supposed to be doing, continuously running on a treadmill of time that is shaky and not always sturdy, constantly trying to catch my purpose that seems to move ahead of me, but really, I’m just running in place, making no solid strides or steps forward. Is THIS where you want me to be GOD??? But then I remembered you answered the question before I asked. You said in your word that, “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.”

I started asking him if I had wasted all the years I have had prior to this year when I had a burning passion to use my voice to inspire greatness in others through encouragement. When I wanted you to use my voice to become a pen to my generation, an instrument that used what you put me in to help write the vision and make it plain so that when we read it, we could run with it. I wanted you to use my voice to help break the chains of hopelessness, helplessness and despair off of my fellow brothers and sisters. And yet some days I fear I have run out of ink and that the well has run dry. I wanted the sound waves of fearlessness to carry your message of hope through me and now sometimes I fear if I release this unique sound that you gave me, people will come for my neck and I will be beheaded. So should I stay silent? And YET at the same time I still feel the embers of that passion, but I question what is it about my NOW that will help anyone? How will it be different from years prior. And then I remembered, you sent the answer through Queen Esther’s story before I ever asked it.“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will not come… And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as THIS.”

*(Queen Esther went against the law and approached the king without being summoned which she should have been killed for, and used her voice to make sure her people were not killed. And not only did the King not kill her, he promised he would grant her request. Her belief and bravery helped save a generation from death.)

I want to encourage anyone reading this who feels like your time has come and gone for you to fully operate in the gifts and talents that GOD has given you, anyone who feels stuck in life whether it be your job or finances and fears where you are is where you will remain, anyone who feels like what GOD is leading you to do is completely out of the norm of those around you, go to your quiet space and don’t be afraid to pour your questions out to GOD. And even when you can’t verbalize in words what you are feeling and all you can do is cry out, remember that, “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.” And I promise you, he will encourage you and turn your questions of doubt into answered manifestation!

I love you guys and thanks for reading!

Habakkuk 1 vs. 2 & 5

Habakkuk- “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen…”

GOD- “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

 

Sometimes Motherhood can be a real…Mutha…

Motherhood has given me some of the most beautiful days of my life. And some of the darkest hours of my life. As a mom, I am a bullet proof vest, covering my children from what life would throw at them. And once the shots are done being fired, and all that is left are the shell casings and the residue, and after everyone has ran to the one wearing the vest, the wearer will eventually throw the vest on the ground and complain about the vest being too heavy or not padded enough, but no one thinks twice about the vest in the aftermath. They forgot that while the vest was covering the child, it was taking the bullets, and those bullets tore at the vest, sometimes puncturing it almost to the point of it being unrecognizable…

I was 19 years old, 23 days’ shy of my 20th birthday when I became a mother for the first time. I was scared. Scared that I wasn’t fit enough to be someone’s mother, someone’s guiding light. I was really going to be someone’s mother…Fast forward 5 years and I became a mother for the second time around and again, two years later, would be the third and final time I became a biological mother. And I thought maybe I had a handle on being someone’s mother, being a mommy, being the mother I thought I was supposed to be. Gathering the husband and children together in the car for surprise picnics at the park for dinner, having family tv night where we would bond over the latest family sitcoms while discussing our day and having movie nights out at AMC Movie Theater (daddy thought they needed the movie experience with all the snacks from the snack bar while I was trying to sneak them in from the outside in my purse) just to name a few things. And then what felt like out of nowhere, my motherhood axis shifted to a place where the music wasn’t as loud, the laughs weren’t as frequent and the sun didn’t shine as bright. I went from being looked at as someone’s Mother, to being perceived as a real Mutha… Everyday became a battle of wills, a war zone of sorts and a protective vest was needed, only I couldn’t wear myself could I? So I did what many mothers do, I continued to be the best parent I knew how to be, while dealing with the voices that where swirling around me like a tornado telling me I needed to do better, should do better and could do better. Those voices unknowingly became the bricks that were used to build walls between parent and child, all the while pointing to me as the brick layer. And yet there is only so many times you can run into a brick wall without doing harm to yourself and potentially knocking yourself out. So you numb yourself to the pain of loving the very thing that feels like every day it is taking a piece of you, a piece of your heart, a piece of your soul, a piece of your sanity and you continue to be a mother, the best you know…but it’s still not good enough.

I remember the day my husband and I grabbed hands filled with love and hope and he prayed and asked GOD for clarity… and the answer came as clear as day. We decided to let one of our children choose where they wanted to live, to choose who would win the blessing of their presence and my household felt like it lost. And I felt like I lost a piece of Taria, the piece that knew who she was and where she fit in this world as a mother. I no longer felt like I was even really present with my family, I felt like I was outside of myself looking through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars, my family out of my reach. I felt like I had been in a fight going 12 rounds and I was hit with a blow that pierced me to the deepest part of my skin, down to my hypodermis, and in order for it to heal, I had to keep it stuffed with gauze and covered with a bandage. But there were times when I felt like the wound was healed, so I would open up the bandage and share my tales of motherhood that seemed hopeless, hoping for relief from this weight of guilt and sadness that was clinging to me, only to realize that I in fact wasn’t healing, and was making the wound worse by continuously opening my bandage and exposing my pain to others who could potentially infect the wound and leave me feeling worse than when I started. And I did…I felt worse…With every time someone would say to me, “I would never send my child to someone else because it’s my child, or, “that couldn’t be me because I would do XYZ”, to “you’re the mother you need to fix it”, I fell just a little deeper into what felt like despair. It got to the point that I would leave my phone in whatever part of my house that I wasn’t, because I didn’t want to see the messages that would be carried over the cell tower wires reminding me of the mistakes that I made. I wanted to avoid the gatherings we were to attend as a family because I feared my every interaction with my child would be looked at and judged. I felt alone, lost, like I had been put on an island of mothers, but it was an island of one. And it was in these lonely moments, right before dawn, that GOD spoke to me and reminded me of who Taria Shondell was TO HIM and who Taria Shondell was IN HIM. I was HIS Taria before he formed the foundations of the world. I was HIS Taria when I was in my mother’s womb, BEFORE I was a mother. He had already laid out the plans for my life, and this was a part of HIS plan, for HIS glory. He reminded me that just like I prayed for clarity in the beginning of this process and he answered me, I still had to go THROUGH the process in order for my situation to be a testimony to other parents who may be going through the same situation, and he would be there, guiding me, comforting me and healing me through it. And it dawned on me that in order for him to heal the wound, I had to stop opening up the bandage and exposing it to the elements. I needed to leave it covered and in due season, it would be completely healed and I would be able to take the bandage off. But a scar would remain. It had to remain to remind me that I wasn’t just a survivor but that I was an overcomer. You see the word survivor means: “a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died” while the word overcomer means: “to succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty).” I had come out alive in a situation that could have killed my joy, stole my peace and destroyed me emotionally BUT by trusting in GOD even when I didn’t see him, when I felt like I didn’t know how this would all turn out for my family, I held onto my faith that felt as small as a mustard seed, and it was that faith that helped me to successfully deal with the process and come out stronger on the other side.

I want to encourage mothers from all walks of life, whether you’re a single mother, a married mother, a divorced mother, a mother who birthed children or a mother who inherited children via raising a family members child or through marriage, no matter how dark your situation seems, no matters how many voices you hear that make you feel as if you are being brought to your lowest point, no matter what other families and the mothers in those families around you look like, understand that YOU WILL get through it. There may be times when all you can do is cry through the night, and it is ok to do just that…but know that GOD will bring joy to your morning…he did it for me, and so I know he will do it for you…

I love you guys and thank you for reading!

Revelations 12 vs. 11 KJV

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony;……”