Who are YOU Running For?

Running Post

It was hot! As I stepped out of my truck and onto my friends rocky, gravely driveway parking lot, I was already hot, even though it was early in the morning. And I think I had kind of an attitude because I didn’t want to be here. I mean why am I going through all of this? Why do I keep coming back to see this friend? My friend that forces me to slow my mind down while at the same time is pushing my body to go just a little bit faster, just a little bit farther and to go beyond the weariness I sometimes feel. Why won’t my friend just let me be and let me stay in the same place with the same pace? I mean, I’m comfortable there. Why do I keep coming back to see this friend who seems to just take me round and round in circles that are sometimes painful? I really don’t know why, but I couldn’t dwell on these questions, my friend, Lake Montebello was waiting for me.

As I walked across the smooth stones, I couldn’t help but think, “Ugh! I can’t WAIT for this to be over!” I stepped into my friend’s house on the track, and I start jogging. I had not even jogged 3 minutes and already I said to myself, “You know what, I can just stop and turn around and walk back to the truck and just go to the gym (even though I knew I was lying to myself, I wasn’t going to the gym if I left), you don’t have to run today.” Even though my legs weren’t tired, I was going to just stop and turn around and go back to the truck, because I was a little uncomfortable and going back was easier. Even though my breathing was o.k., I was just going to stop and turn around and go back to the truck, because, again, it was easier. I could feel my body begin to relax at the thought of just stopping, turning around and walking back to that truck. All because I didn’t feel like it. All because I was a little uncomfortable. All because the sun was shining bright and had a little heat to it. Not the sweltering, stay inside in the cool kind of heat. It was just a little more heat than normal, but in less than 3 minutes into the run, sweat was running from my body as if it couldn’t get away fast enough. It was getting in my eyes, running down my back and…I just didn’t feel like it! And just as I was getting ready to cross over from the running lane into the road on my right side and I am in the middle of telling my friend “Thanks for understanding, I will come back tomorrow”, my mind traveled back to a different time and to a different place. I was no longer at Lake Montebello in Baltimore, MD. I was in Cumberland Green apartments in Millville, New Jersey in the living room of apartment 25B.

There she was, as pretty as always. She was walking out of her room and through the living room into the kitchen and she was smiling. She had on her red fitted tight jeans (women don’t wear baggy jeans she said), with her red, cream and blue striped shirt, all pressed to a T, creases and all! She always said, “Taria, you need to iron your clothes or you will look like you came out of a paper bag. Even if you’re just sitting round’ the house.” And she is right…I just HATE ironing! Thank GOD that Clorox life hacks showed me that all I had to do was get a couple of ice cubes and toss them into the dryer along with whatever is wrinkled and between the heat from the dryer and the steam from the melting ice cubes, the wrinkles would fall out. Oh how right they were! Or I could just ask my husband to iron…Other than the woman I am describing, he is the best ironer (that might not be a word) ever. Anyway, as she was walking, I saw her naturally long and rounded at the tip nails were painted a bright and beautiful shade of red and her fingers were wrapped in beautiful gold rings. I loved her rings and the way they looked on her hands and would try them on sometimes, while simultaneously trying to talk her into giving them to me. And no, she didn’t give them to me. She was firm on that no! I saw she had on the gold chain with a cross hanging from it that she never seemed to be without and as she was walking from her room to the living room and into the kitchen, the sunlight from the white horizontal blinds that hung over the den window, caught the reflection of one of her gold hoops and caused the room to get just a little bit bigger and just a little bit brighter or so I thought…Looking back, I now know that in one quick, unguarded moment of her just walking, the sun had actually managed to catch her and who she was, which was what really made the room a little bit bigger and a little bit brighter. She…is my Grand mom Mattie.

That memory caused me to stand still for a moment out there at Lake Montebello. But only for a moment. Then out loud, not caring who saw me, I said to my body, “You need to run.” I started slowly running again, under the same conditions as before, except where there was once sweat running from my brows into my eyes telling me it was too hot, there were now prayers of my heart, running from eyes in the form of tears, acting as navigators to get my prayers’ to GOD’s ears and more importantly to his heart. He needed to heal my Grandmother completely from the effects of a stroke that she suffered in March. And while she is making progress, I am trusting GOD for more. So I said to GOD, “I will RUN WITHOUT complaint, regardless of the conditions, for those who can’t walk on their own, no matter what happens with my Grand mom. However, I DO want you to heal my Grand mom to be able to walk again, regardless of the stroke conditions.” And I made a promise to myself that I would RUN strides that may sometimes be laced with soreness while outlined in weakness, so that my Grand mom and others could WALK in steps full of comfort and strength…

The reason I am able to run in the first place is because of my Grand mom Mattie and her daughter Sharon, my mother, who ran BEFORE me, FOR me. And as I got older, I saw them run when they were tired. I saw them run when they could have easily walked. I saw them run to help others (and they helped/help me…A LOT) when they could have used that strength for themselves. I saw them run in strength while clothed in dignity. I saw them stand firm in their beliefs’ which taught me how not waiver in my beliefs’, even when we didn’t agree…with each other. The reason I was not afraid to go 8 hours away to school, to try new things (except new foods, I am still in my box with that one…pray for me) and even move away from my safety net in New Jersey (even though their net STILL reaches wide enough to catch me when I fall) is because of them.

Back in January of this year, me, my husband, our two children at home, my mom and my dad flew to San Antonio, Texas to see my oldest daughter graduate from Air Force Boot camp. She is now stationed in North Dakota and is training to become an MP/Military Police and was just awarded a coin of excellence…WOOOOHOOOO YASSSSS!!!!! #PROUDMOMMOMENT.

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The first night there my mom called me and asked what we were doing (her and my dad stayed in a different hotel). I told her I found a store I wanted to go to and she said, “Where are Cory (the hubby) and the kids?” I said, “Back at the hotel.” She said, “You young people are braver than we were, my generation. I wouldn’t be out driving around by myself without your dad in a place I hadn’t been before.” But what she doesn’t realize is, SHE is the reason I am brave enough to go out and explore life…Because I watched her run for me and my brothers and my dad…In Bravery.

And now it’s my turn…And I have to keep running…I have no choice because I have children I am raising who are apart of the next generation. Children who will need to be strong enough to run the path that was predestined for them while they run their own pace…But if I allow my weakness’ to stop me from running MY life race, who will they draw strength from? From whose well, will they be able to draw a drink of endurance, courage and tenacity, to keep running towards their goals and running for their beliefs and their strength to run for others who can’t run for themselves, if they see that I allowed idleness, fear and laziness to distract me and stop me mid run? I have to keep running…I have to keep running so that my children can see that I believe that WE WILL SEE the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. I have to keep running…because one day, I may need someone to run for me…

I want to encourage anyone who feels like life itself is getting heavier and weighing you down, almost to the point that you feel like you won’t make it, think on Isaiah 40 vs. 31,” …they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” …Keep Running…

Or maybe the hunger of dreams that have yet to be fulfilled, is making you feel dehydrated and thirsty and like you want to drop out of the race, remember John 4 vs. 14, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst…”

I love you guys and thank you for reading…And remember…Keep Running!

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;……”