Well, Hello there Butterfly...letter to my FUTURE self...

Well, Hello there Butterfly…letter to my FUTURE self…

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Wow! Can you believe that half of October is already passed and we have officially moved into a new season of life? This is the time of year when we realize that the year is, in fact, almost over and while some of us are giddy with anticipation of making New Year’s resolutions, others of us are filled with regret thinking about the New Year’s resolutions of our past that we did not keep. And we begin to beat ourselves up about the things we did not change, do, or accomplish…And for me, I start to think, “If I could just go back and change it. If I could just rewind time, and talk to that Taria, I would make sure I did everything I set out to do.” And there are moments when I have become so discouraged over a space in time that is no longer available for me to occupy, that I ignored the beauty in the time that I have right now and the time I hopefully have ahead of me. And during those moments, I would start to think about all the things I messed up in my past, all the ways I let others influence certain decisions and all the opportunities that I didn’t fight for and just procrastinated away. I felt like I had to do something to clear the cobwebs of past “failures” out of my head so that I could feel like I had a clean slate, and THEN I would be able to reach all my goals and fulfill my God-given purpose. So, I decided the way to do this was to write a letter to my past self. To tell her it is ok if she falls and stumbles. That she will get back up. That the hurt she experiences, whether by someone else, or by her own hand, she WILL make it.

So, here we go…

Dear 13- year- old Taria,… Wait! Wait! Wait! What am I doing? At 13 I might not be ready for the advice I am about to give. So, let’s try……16. Ok. Dear 16- year- old Taria,… Wait a minute! I don’t know if 16- year- old Taria was ready either. Then it dawned on me. I am attempting to write a letter to a past self that no longer exists, while in a present state of mind, to inspire a future that I longed for and yet wasn’t sure about how to achieve, because I kept reflecting on my past. And I just couldn’t think of anything to say to her, to that Taria, my past self. There is nothing I can say that would change the different situations that she experienced, both happy and not happy, both fulfilling and unfulfilling, both hurtful and life changing. No warning I could give her to just hold on and keep going…to not give up because hope and faith lie beneath the surface of her heart, etched into her DNA. And while I know writing a letter to my past self could be therapeutic, I also understood that I needed to embrace the new seasons in my life without trying to wear last season’s clothes. To not birth my past failures and disappointments in my present and allow it to miscarry my future. To not use my past as an excuse for current behaviors that would forfeit my future. And the scripture came to mind: “…But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,” Philippians 3 vs. 13 NIV and in that moment, I made up my mind to use my past as a step stool and prophesy to my future.

Dear Future Taria,
You did it! You made it to 40! Remember when 40 seemed so far away? And now you are here! Healthy, happy and whole! And I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished! I am proud of the way you decided to pursue every dream that GOD showed you and to drive every gift that GOD gave you with faith being your only method of transportation. I am proud of you for understanding that in this life, it is not always about you. That your gifts, your faith and your obedience to GOD are not always for you and you alone. That sometimes, GOD will use your gifts to encourage someone else, your faith to inspire someone else and your obedience to bless someone else. And to not immediately ask what you are getting out of it, but to remember that it is about building up GODs’ kingdom by edifying the body.

And how about that Podcast and your blog, Tales of a Butterfly?!?! You DID it! You jumped, feet first into a pool of dreams, wading through a little self- doubt, a little fear and a little uncertainty…unsure of whether you could do it… but with GOD as your life vest, you made it through to the other side! And I am depending on you to keep going, to keep pressing toward the mark of the “higher calling”, because there are people you don’t even know who are depending on you. And the people that you envisioned that would say yes to being a guest on the podcast, you interviewed THEM ALL! I would tell you who they are, but you will find out soon enough, in our future:)

I am so proud of you for becoming the person, the woman who you were looking for. For becoming the person, you needed in your life, knowing that one day, someone will need a you…and you will be ready. For understanding that the words you spoke would either be the breath of life that sustained you to the future you, or cause you to choke and your dreams to die by asphyxiation, never moving beyond the past you.

I am proud of the woman you have become. A woman who knows her worth is far above rubies and doesn’t allow anyone or anything to make her feel less then. A woman who chooses to recognize her strength as a mother, while knowing GOD’s power is made perfect in her weakness. I am proud of you Taria, for recognizing what you bring to the table of friendship, although not perfect, you sit in love and at the same time you are willing to lay your fork down, turn your plate down and walk away in grace, when what is being served has been contaminated, whether by another table guest, or yourself. I am proud of you for no longer defending yourself or apologizing for the type of friend you are. For understanding that although you may have experienced hurt at the hand of a friend, you have probably caused that same hurt in someone else and have chosen to forgive yourself and to continue to strive to be a better person, not for people, but for GOD and for yourself.

I am proud of you for acknowledging that while the sum total of your PAST experiences adds up to the person you used to be, on this forward moving journey of your life, you understand the price of taking extra bags would cost your future too much. So, you decided to exercise your right to hand over all over your past baggage to a GOD whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. And although you appreciate and recognize the important life lessons that you learned from a past Taria, you made the decision that she could no longer dictate your future…to you. So, I celebrate this Taria today, and the way you have chosen to submit your heart fully and completely to GOD, choosing to follow him at all costs and allowing HIM to define who you are.

I bid adieu to the caterpillar of the past who had to fight to survive the process of metamorphosis and I say hello to the beautiful butterfly that has come forth as strong, powerful, bold and free…Well, Hello there Taria Shondell and welcome to your future…
Love, Taria…

I want to encourage anyone who is struggling with a past that seems to want to keep a hold on you. A past that may seem insurmountable. A past that seems to have a foot hold on your present with the intent of strangling your future. You CAN make it. You CAN be a success. Every plan that GOD has for your life will come to fruition. Every promise he made to you, will come to pass. All you have to do is lay your burdens/baggage down, and he will pick it up. Submit yourself completely and fully to HIS will. Start speaking his word into your life, start speaking to the future self you want to be…Write a letter to your future self, declaring what you WILL be! Habakkuk 2 vs. 2 KJV says, “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” And I promise you, you will not fail…because in him there is no failure.

I love you guys and thank you for reading!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29 vs. 11 NIV

 

 

 

Dear Donald Trump Supporters...

Dear Donald Trump Supporters…

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Dear Donald Trump supporters,
Although I am not confined to a Birmingham City Jail, when I happened upon the following Facebook post multiple times by multiple Trump supporters, I decided to write an open letter of my own to you, with the hopes of opening any closed eyes and exposing any hidden hearts to a different narrative, even when there is a chance the narrator doesn’t look like you.


When I came across this post for the third time, I had to pause and wonder if I was having a case of deja vu. And I realized, deja vu it was not. Now, I will be honest with you and say that initially, I felt feelings of irritation and anger, especially after reading some of the comments underneath of this post. But the more I thought about it, the more the anger seeped away and turned into a little sadness. I was saddened at the way some will try to white wash the disturbing things that are happening in this country, because the issues seem too black to see through. I was saddened at what seemed to be the absence of empathy from human to human and the masks that some had in place for so long, were now slowly coming off.  To me, in  an almost poetic way, the lyrics to Alanis Morissettes’ song “Empathy” seemed to be the anthem of Mr. Trumps election campaign:

“There are so many colors that I still try to hide while I paint
And there are so many tunes that I secretly sing as I wait
You come along and invite these parts out of hiding
This invitation is the one that I’ve stopped fighting….”

It seems that Mr. Donald Trump, with all of his brashness and bold, blatant disregard and disrespect for certain cultures and the female gender, along with his lack of self-control, has invited those that were hiding behind masks of humanity, equality and love, to come out of hiding…and to stop fighting their true feelings. And after reading the comments under this supporting post in direct relation to non Trump supporters such as, “the hate was ridiculous,” “no reason for personal attacks,” “we need to talk about the candidates instead of making judgments about the people voting for them,” and a response to those comments that said,  “Truly heartbreaking! We should embrace the differences,” I decided to address the post because  I could no longer be silent in the face of irony.

I know the speech and feelings of non Trump supporters is seen as aggressive, however, speaking as a non Trump supporter that is a BLACK WOMAN in America (which clearly makes me a double jeopardy in Trumps eyes) that has experienced racism first hand, whose husband has experienced racism first hand, whose grandparents LIVED through segregation, to have a candidate that is campaigning to become the President of the UNITED States of America be able to cause such DIVISION, even among his own party, just by his speech, speaks volumes about his misguidance and causes me to do a double take at his supporters. To support a man so out of touch and ignorant of reality that he truly believes that “blacks” are living in  neighborhoods that are “war zones.” And that we “struggle to get by on food stamps.”  And that we see “nothing but failure” around us??? When a candidate makes the following statement addressing African Americans, albeit in front of a mostly white audience, without any statistical data to back him up, “You’re living in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs, 58 percent of your youth is unemployed —…” Have you considered what that must feel like? For the person that you are supporting because you believe he will do “the best job for this country” to have such a narrow scope of an entire race doesn’t concern you at all??? Not to mention, Mr. Trump says that, “ stop-and-frisk could help in cities like Chicago where crime is rising,” even though a federal judge found that the strategy as used in New York broke the law.  Oh well, maybe you’re just focused on the “issues…”

I also wonder about the supporters that have little girls such as I, that will one day grow up to be women? Does it bother you that the candidate you are backing seemingly has no respect for women in general? There are all types of campaigns today about being strong girls and girls standing up for themselves…But what happens if  heaven forbid, when they become women, they were to be sexually harassed at their place of employment? Do we tell them what Mr. Trump would tell his daughter to do? Not to stay and fight for their rights…but to “move on” or “ find another career or find another company if that was the case.” Oh and that she must be pretty and thin other wise she could be referred to as a “fat pig” ala Rosie O’Donnell. Or that she can grow up and become the President of the United States, as long as she doesn’t look like Carly Fiorona because as Mr. Trump stated in reference to Ms. Fiorona being president, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?” Is this the type of man you want to model the role of the president? A human dichotomy whose DNA carries irony that seems to be pour out of him whenever he speaks. 

And speaking of irony, I cannot help but to find the Facebook post by Donald Trump supporters and the comments that I mentioned that went along with said post, to be ironic. In the post you state to non Trump supporters, “If your dislike of a candidate (Trump) causes you to speak in a condescending and downright hateful way to their (Trump) supporters, many of whom you call “friends”, then maybe you should reevaluate your approach.” However, Mr. Trump, who you support and believe will “Make America great again” has seemed to build his entire campaign with hateful, condescending, racist diatribe, with personal attacks as his platform. Lest we forget how  Mr. Trump spoke of Ben Carson and compared his “pathological temper” to the condition of a child molester. Or when he said “when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” And how about when asked a press conference about the Black Lives Matter movement and the threat of possible violence at his rally, he said among other things, “…If black lives don’t matter, then go back to Africa. We’ll see how much they matter there.” This candidate whom you support as the best person for the job, displays the same behavior as the people you think should “re-evaluate” their approach. And yet you are willing to have him hold the highest office in the land and represent the United States of America.

I ask you to think back to the very first person who you were counting on and they disappointed you. Think back to the first time your heart was broken. How it felt like your heart was physically being broken, piece by piece. The pain so sharp and deep that it runs down into your epidermis, the deepest part of your skin and wraps itself around your joints as it makes it’s way up to grab a hold of your heart while simultaneously bumping into your lungs as it squeezes the larynx in a death grip, effectively cutting off the air supply to your vocal words so that you can’t speak. And your voice has been lost. Experiencing racism and prejudice for the first time and every time after, feels just like this… times 10. And it affects and effects a person to the core and their view of the world is forever changedAnd it gets harder and harder to believe in the land of the free and the home of the brave. And yet, we have to march on.
My husband and I have three children, one of which is 19 years old and is currently serving in the United States Air Force and this will be the first election she votes in. And someday, our two youngest will have to cast a ballot. We strive to teach our children about the inclusion of all man kind and not division… and yet the potential leader of the free world, the man who is asking African Americans like my family, to vote for him, is exclusionary in thinking. So what do we do? What do you propose we tell our children?

In your post you say that after this election, you will just “move on, as you have always done.” And that we are “luckier than most citizens of the world.” So I ask you, are “YOU” apart of the “WE” that prays in earnest everyday asking GOD to protect your husband and son? To keep them alive and to bring them back home safely to you?  To remove any target that is on their back because it seems as if it is open season on the men and boys of your ethnicity and they seem to be hunted like animals? Because I do. And if you don’t, please understand that I am initially going to feel a certain something when I see the very people that engage with me and laugh with me and talk with me, supporting a candidate that has time and time again displayed without hesitation, his intolerance of other cultures and the female gender.

And while you will seamlessly move on with your life no matter the outcome of the election, it will not be so easy for others to just move on. Donald Trump has opened a political Pandora’s box that has long held secrets of discontent, racism and sexism. Only now it has been released and allowed to spill into many different communities and to remain, instead of coming together to clean it up.

I hope you receive this letter with the heart in which I have sent it. A heart that is filled with love for all people and beats with faith and hope for a better future…a hope that one day, all of mankind will stand together united and knit by love…giving hope  to generations to come that America truly is the ties that bind…

Sincerely,
Taria…

Sometimes a Beautiful Bride can become an Ugly Wife...

Sometimes a Beautiful Bride… can become an Ugly wife…

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I remember that beautiful, sunny, perfect weather September morning like it was yesterday. My bridesmaids and I, walking out of my Grand mom Mattie’s front door, and stepping ever so gently off of the low porch step toward the two beautiful white stallions that had taken the form of shiny white limos, waiting to take me down a road that would lead me from bride…to wife. And I remember my mom saying, “You look so pretty Taria.” I remember at our reception, while floating on a cloud of white satin and tulle happiness, guests would say, “You are a beautiful bride.” And I felt like a Princess wife. And I remember thinking to myself, “If I make a beautiful bride, I’m definitely going to be a beautiful wife.” And I have to say that 15 years later, through trials and many errors, I am finally on my way to becoming that beautiful wife that I was meant to be. I am finally on my way to being the kind of wife whose actions make my husband a king. Proverbs 12vs. 4 KJV  says, “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband…” But before I could even begin to travel down this road of beauty, away from ashes, there were 2 big lessons that GOD had to take me through (some of them multiple times), to teach me how to be the kind of wife that reflected him…

 

1-I have to protect the heart of the matter…

“And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. Genesis 2 vs. 22 KJV I have read this verse many times and never really thought too much of it, other than the fact that Eve was created from Adam’s rib. But one day, as I was reading (probably for the 100th time) about this Proverbs 31 woman, verse 11 literally jumped off the page to me. It says, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her…” The Amplified (AMPC version) says, “The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely…” I started really meditating on this verse while at the same time, thinking about Eve, (the mother of all) and how she, the 1st woman, was made out of Adams’ rib. I became curious as to what the function of a rib actually is (human anatomy was mannnnyy moons ago for me, and one that I was never really interested in, as it relates to science anyway.) I read that the ribs have three important functions: support, respiration and protection. One of the main things the rib does is encloses and protects the heart from external injury. In that moment of reflection, I realized that as a wife, I needed to make sure that my husband could trust me to protect his heart from anything outside of our marriage. I needed him to be able to tell me the things in his heart, his worries, fears, his weaknesses along with his hopes and dreams, confident that I would hold these things safely and securely at all times, even in the midst of tension and strife between us. I also realized, that no matter how frustrated I was with him, outside of GODLY counsel, I should only be speaking about these things, to GOD, in prayer for my husband…I understood that just like in the natural body, if I didn’t protect the heart of my marriage, if I allowed external entities to get past the rib (me) and reach his heart, if I injured his heart, I risked my marriage suffering cardiac arrest… and not recovering. I had to protect his heart…

2-Misuse of my wifely influence can cause my family dire consequences…just ask my Great Great Great Great Great Grandmothers…Eve and Sarai/Sarah…to name a few…

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Genesis 3 vs. 6 KJV Although Eve knew which tree they were not supposed to eat from, because GOD had spoken that to her husband, Adam, she thought it looked good and ate it, and then just gave it to Adam who ate it…Talk about the power of persuasion…without saying a word…

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. Genesis 16 vs. 1-2 NIV Sarai’s slave Hagar ends up giving birth to a son, but something else was also birthed, jealousy, envy and division on Sarai’s behalf. Sarai ends up being blessed to birth her own son, but the two brothers are divided into separate nations. After reading these two stories, I was struck by the fact that both of these women were clearly able to persuade their husbands into following their plan, because in their minds the end result would turn out great for their family.

After giving the side eye to Eve and Sarai, GOD clearly reminded me of times when I was able to persuade my husband to do what I, Taria thought was best for the family, even though he had already told me how he felt about the matter. This is not to say we don’t have a discussion on the matter and that I don’t have a voice because I definitely do, and there are times when he says, “What do you think we should do?” But I am speaking about the times when different things would come up as it relates to the household and my husband was very clear in his position as to how he felt led to handle things. BUT, because I felt like we could handle things a different way, I would lay out a plan of what I needed to say to get him to just agree with me and do it my way, with no consideration to how that made him feel.  And I admit shamefully, there were also times when I went ahead and followed MY plan first, and then laid it out to him after. As different scenarios throughout our marriage flooded my mind, GOD showed me that I couldn’t continue to look to HIS word as the blue print for how to be a GODLY wife and how to build a strong marriage if I was going to constantly write my own plans in the “revision block” and consistently try to reestablish the scales of the blue print, that GOD had already laid out, when I felt like it. GODs word is very clear, “And the Lord GOD said, it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2 vs. 18 So whether he wants to save up a certain amount of money for retirement, put extra money towards a college fund or pay off a particular bill, I will meet him at that area and be a help, not become a hindrance and cause a divide.

I want to encourage all of you beautiful wives reading this to remember, your power doesn’t come from being the “perfect wife” or the “pretty wife”…your power comes from being a “Praying wife”…

I love you and thank you for reading…

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31 vs. 30 NIV

P.S. “A Handsome Groom can also become an Ugly Husband”…But I’ll save that topic for my husband…he may want to tackle that in a guest blog post 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

HI! My name is Taria...and I am a member of Empowerment Temple Church and Jamal Bryant is my Pastor...

Hi! My name is Taria…and I am a member of Empowerment Temple Church and Jamal Bryant is my Pastor…

WOW! It feels like forever since I sat down at my computer and put into words the thoughts that have been stampeding through my head. My thoughts, my opinions, my questions, about the headlines and stories we have read all over Social Media…namely the ones about the church. And quite honestly I have been feeling frustrated because I felt like I was stuck; stuck between a rock and a hard place called transparency. Real, raw, uncut, no holds barred transparency. The type of transparency the church folks “talk” about. And so I have gone around and around in my head, trying to figure out how to create words that tell a true story while at the same time carrying a certain level of anonymity and censorship to them…And I have been asking GOD to come on and just give me the “proper words”, for what I wanted to say…But he had already given them to me…I was just trying to water them down. But no more…

I am a member of Empowerment Temple AME church in Baltimore, MD and my pastor is Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant. YES… I am a member of THAT church, and before some of you wrinkle your nose or furrow your brow any further (that causes wrinkles…and quite possibly the need for botox) let me remind you that while my membership is with Empowerment Temple, I am APART of the body of Christ…And the two are not mutually exclusive as some may think. And I know that there are some that do think the two are, considering the numerous articles and social media posts/comments in reference to Pastor Bryant…and his congregation. As I started seeing more and more posts and reposts and articles being published about Pastor Bryant, I was taken aback to see the ease and comfortability at which fellow clergymen, fellow prayer warriors, fellow intercessors, fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, could use the same lips that we use to offer up worship to our GOD, now use those same lips to remind everyone that we need to do better and this pastor is the reason why. I was taken aback to see the same hands that we lift in surrender to worship our GOD, are the same hands that glide recklessly across a loaded keyboard attached to a desktop, MacPro, Android or Iphone waiting for the right time to pull the trigger and propel the “holding him accountable” bullets into a body that has already been ridden with bullets…Multiple times… And some may say, “Well he did it to himself… He shot himself.” And they would be right… But I don’t want my fingerprints on that gun….anymore…

There was a time before, not that long ago, that I was a sharp shooter, my mouth the smoking gun. And I felt like I had every right to speak what I felt, what I saw to be wrong and what could be done to fix it. I spoke about MY personal experiences with other church folks…and I felt like I COULD speak on it, because they were MY experiences! Simple right?! Nope! Not simple… And I thank GOD that he used my husband to shift my perspective and to really take a deeper look into myself and to recognize that without meaning to, my words were doing more harm then good, to the body…not my body… But the church body…

I had become frustrated with certain things and I was venting them to my husband and close friends…repeatedly, whenever these issues came up in conversation, even when I wasn’t the one to initially bring it up. Then one night when my frustration level was at an all time high and I’m saying, “Isn’t GOD going to DO something??? Is he going to continue to let certain things take place in his house???” And my husband said to me, “If you are so upset and disgusted, why are we still attending church? Why are we going and then talking about the issues?” And he basically told me in so many words, I needed to be praying…And of course I wanted to run back down everything that we had experienced personally at church, not to mention what was going on in the media, and list them as the reasons why I had a RIGHT to feel the way that I did. And I wanted to say, “and why are you not as upset as me???” BUT I didn’t…because his words really pierced my insides…and I felt ashamed. Ashamed at the way I had allowed what I SAW and EXPERIENCED, to have an affect on what I said, on what I spoke. And to who I spoke those things to. Those that know me, know how I am about words. I was raised in a Christian home and was taught early on by my parents that the power of death and life are in the tongue (Proverbs 18 vs.21 KJV). So although I had every right to FEEL the way I did, what I didn’t have was the right to speak vacuous words and I knew better… Matthew 12 vs. 36  NIV tells me, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”  And again…I knew better…

That was a sobering moment for me…sobering because I realized that I am supposed to be a reflection of Christ..to the world. I am supposed to be a light that sits on a hill, but my actions were like the worlds’ in a valley. Now please understand that I am in NO WAY defending or okaying or pacifying any actions or behaviors that are contradictory to GODs word, whether they are done by my pastor or any other pastor. I firmly believe that there ought to be sanctions and repercussions and accountability to be had by Pastors, Elders and anyone who holds a positon of leadership in the church, who continually commits grievous sins. 1st Timothy 3 v. 2 tells us that an “overseer should be above reproach…” And I know that there comes a time when a rebuke/reproach is necessary…1st Timothy 5 vs. 20 tells us, “But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.” And I had to ask myself,  how can this be done if I am not praying in earnest for my fallen brother or sister? How can I quote scripture in self righteous indignation concerning the actions of leadership and as a reminder of where they are falling short, and yet not follow the steps that scripture says we should be taking when it comes to a leader that has fallen?  How am I conducting and carrying myself in the midst of what is going on? Are my words and actions still pleasing to GOD while demonstrating his Grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?  Am I praying and fasting not just for my church home but for the body as a whole? Am I petitioning the heavens on behalf of leadership across the nations, going into warfare so that strongholds can be broken because “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood…” (Ephesians 6 vs. 12 KJVAnd how effective can we as a body be if our form of “reproach” is using various social media sites to call someone out, that 9 times out of 10 doesn’t follow you and will never see it anyway. Not to mention, everyone that follows us on these social media sites are not believers. What are we showing them? How are we reflecting the love of the GOD we claim to serve if our cyber conversations lack grace and are not seasoned with salt? How can we truly unite as a body if our words are inciting division amongst each other?  We should know a house divided against itself cannot stand. How can I pray for a shifting in the spirit, how can my prayers be effective for the body if I continue to attend a place of worship with a less then pleasing attitude and a stiff neck, making it difficult to hear GOD and ultimately difficult for him to hear me?

“…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” (Luke 12 vs. 48 KJV) Leaders of the church do need to understand that as your sheep, we are counting on you to honor the position that GOD placed you in and to truly respect and not pervert the influence you have over your congregants life. And at the same time, I know that even in the positon of leadership, you are also my brothers and sisters in Christ, and it is my responsibility as a child of GOD to pray for you, not post about you. To go to spiritual warfare on your behalf while not ignoring the need for  natural consequences. And I realize that change can only come with Holy Spirit conviction, not unholy conversation, whether it be in the company of friends or in the privacy of my home.

Please pray for me as I pray for you

Thank you for reading!

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

Galatians 6 vs. 1 NIV

 

 

Who are YOU Running For?

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!

Dear Stacey Dash...My #TBT letter to you...

Dear Stacey Dash…My #TBT…To You…On a Sunday…

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Recently Stacey Dash did a memoir plug er’ I mean online interview with People. In this interview she speaks about different topics. One of which is feminism. In regards to being a feminist she said,” I don’t have to dress like a man or try to beat a man or try and get a man’s job to be a feminist.” She then goes on to say that women are, “chipping away at what it is to be a woman and to be feminine, and what it is to be a man and be masculine.” However, she clearly did not research the meaning of feminism before speaking on it. The word feminist means, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” In what way is that “chipping away at men” or suggesting we should “dress like a man?” After reading the transcribed interview, I realized that whenever Stacey Dash opens her mouth, she proves herself to be less and less credible and without knowledge or fact. I feel like once again, just like in the case of BET-Gate, Ms. Dash has proven that she talks without the benefit of researching her subject and therefore is an interview in contradictions. Ahhhh BET-Gate remember that? Well in light of her interview roughly 10 days ago, her BET shenanigans came back up again, so I decided to post a letter that I wrote to Ms. Dash when BET-Gate first happened. I had initially struggled with whether or not I would post my open letter to Ms. Dash since it was based mainly around her comments about the BET awards and Black History Month, and we are now in June. Then I decided, it’s never NOT the right time to learn about my history, black history. So here it is…my open letter to Stacey Dash…

Dear Stacey Dash,

With you currently serving in the position of a Fox news correspondent who also provides cultural analysis and commentary, I am sure you understand the necessity of research given the fact that in order to provide an accurate analysis, one must first perform a “detailed examination of the elements or structure of something, typically as a basis for discussion or interpretation”.  However, given your recent sit down with Steve Doocy on Fox & Friends, it seems that although you had a surplus of cultural commentary, you were deficient when it came to your cultural analysis. You stated in your sit down that, “We have to make up our minds. Either we want to have segregation or integration, and if we don’t want segregation, then we have to get rid of channels like BET, and the BET awards and the Image Awards, where you’re only rewarded if you are black.”  If in fact you had done your research Ms. Dash, you would have known that Sam Smith (who is NOT of the African American persuasion and is in fact a white male), was nominated and won a BET award in 2015 and was also awarded an NAACP Image award in the outstanding duo, group or collaboration category. There were other whites who have been nominated for BET and Image awards before him, and I am sure there will be others after him. But for the sake of brevity, I shall leave that research up to you, the cultural analysis commentator. I due wonder if Mr. Smith, again a white male, stands in solidarity with you on the issues you have with BET and the Image awards? I bet it is safe to say that Mr. Smith and his “black awards” are sleeping peacefully at night while dreaming up his speech for the next “black” awards season.

And to add buffoonery to the moronic, you posted a blog titled: “How BET lies to black people”, because the network publicly called you out for being a part of a BET sitcom titled “The Game” and asked if they could “get their checks back”, which by the way, we are still waiting for your answer or a copy of a check from BET confirming you did in fact return the money from a show which in your words, “no one ever heard of.” You then wrote that “you were grateful for your all of your acting jobs but you don’t like the fact that BET will self-segregate while simultaneously talking about the injustice of a segregated society.” Ms. Dash, again, had you been as diligent in research as you are in maintaining your habit of inaccurate verbosity whenever a camera or keyboard is nearby, you would know that Robert L. Johnson, the African American man who took the monumental step of launching BET, did so by acquiring a $15,000 loan from a bank and getting a $500,000 investment from John Malone, a white male who was the president and CEO of Telecommunications Inc., who expressed that he, “had an interest in seeing minority cable happen because he had a station in Louisville that had a large black population.” Fast forward to the year 2000 when BET was sold to Viacom, a company controlled by the privately owned theater company National Amusements, which is owned by Billionaire Sumner Redstone, a white male.  Now maybe I am being “Clueless”, but it seems to me, Ms. Dash that BET has actually been “integrated” from it’s very inception.

And now, the Piece De Resistance of this letter that I do hope fills you up in your empty spaces… In a tone and words reminiscent of your first major film character, Dionne, you stated that, “There shouldn’t be a Black History Month. You know? We’re Americans. Period. That’s it.” And to further solidify your position as a pawn being used by Fox to allow them to get away with spewing racist thinking because this racist hate is coming FROM a black woman, you blindly allow Steve Doocy to lead you to say exactly what FOX thinks. Mr. Doocy asks you, “if you meant there shouldn’t be a Black History month because there isn’t a white history month”, to which you say, “Exactly. Exactly.” When I saw this, I first thought to myself, she can’t be serious.” Then I thought, “Sadly, you probably were serious. And I actually felt sad for you. Sad for the Stacy Dash that is confident in speaking about the history of a people she clearly knows nothing about, even though her mirror shows her black history every day. So Ms. Dash, let me provide you with a few “Black History” facts.

*The precursor to Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be “Negro History Week”. The primary focus of this week was to place an “emphasis on encouraging the coordinated teaching of the history of American blacks in the nation’s public schools.” This week was chosen because it coincided with the birthday of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, both of which dates Black Communities had celebrated together since the late 19th century. Mr. Woodson was of the belief that, “If a race has no history, it has no worthwhile tradition, and it stands in danger of being exterminated.”

*In 1969 it was proposed by a group of students at Kent State University to expand black history week to Black History Month, the first of which took place at Kent State one year later, February, 1970.

*In 1976 as part of the United States Bicentennial the informal expansion from Black History Week to Black History Month was officially recognized by the United States government. White Republican President Gerald Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

I hope this brief scroll through my black history, your black history, our black history inspires you to acknowledge and appreciate that the path you traveled to Hollywood, to the spotlight, was built on the backs of your ancestors. The platform you are standing on and using to diminish the meaning and importance of black history is being held up by your ancestors whose hands are cracked and bleeding from the whips that ripped into their flesh along with being worn down by the harsh sun they were forced to work in all day.

Ms. Dash, I close with this question to you: Do you even know who you really are and do you have your own voice? Or have you become a political Millie Vanilli that has been strategically placed front and center stage and although we see your lips are moving to give the appearance that these are your real live beliefs, are you actually just lip synching to views that were already prerecorded in a racist history?

 

 

 

3 things Cassius Clay taught a girl who knows nothing about boxing...Before coming Muhammad Ali...

3 Things Cassius Clay taught a girl who knows nothing about boxing…Before becoming Muhammad Ali…

 

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1-What they stole from you, will push into your destiny…

When Cassius Clay was 12 years old, he was gifted a bike that was eventually stolen from him. He decided to report the bike as stolen and went down to the local police department where he told Police Offer Joe Martin (who was also a boxing coach) that he was going to “whup the thief that stole his bike”, to which Officer Martin replied, “You better learn to box then” and thus, his intro to the world of boxing and a new life. Side note, the bike nor the thief ever materialized.

Reading this particular snippet about Cassius Clay (his name at that time), really made me think about life and what I felt had been “taken” or “stolen” from me. At one point in life, I had what felt like a great job with security, making good money, a nice 401k plan and insurance benefits and then one day I felt like it was snatched and stolen from me. And I was angry… and deep down, not quite sure how I would recover from it. There were many days when I asked myself, “Who AM I without that job? What is my identity? How will I get to the next phase of my life without my job as transportation?” I too wanted to “whup” the betrayers who stole my job, and then I realized, “I had to learn to fight…in the spirit.” See, it wasn’t about the people who I believed betrayed me but it was about what GOD needed FROM me that would actually turn out to be good FOR me. I had been feeling unfulfilled, not satisfied and uncomfortable in the job I was in for a while, however, I wouldn’t have just up and left and gave the company their job back. So it was snatched from under me, so that I would have no choice but to move into a new part of life that required me to totally trust, have faith and completely depend on GOD for a future I couldn’t even see just yet. I had to learn to fight. My prayer life grew which built my stamina to be able to survive 12 rounds in the ring of sadness, depression and fear of the unknown. My study time in my bible learning GOD’s word, became the blows that I would use to knockdown the enemy and defeat anything that tried to come against me. My motto became Psalms 144:1, “Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight…” I was a fighter…

2-A man given title symbolizes just that…A title…nothing more

In the 1960 Olympics held in Rome, Cassius Clay was given the title Light heavyweight champion and given an Olympic Gold medal as a symbol that was supposed to be reflective of his title. And it was said that he was proud of this medal, and wore it all the time. Then came the day when upon his return back to the USA, Olympic Gold medalist Cassius Clay’s 6ft. 3-inch frame wrapped in muscles the color of cinnamon honey, with a smile just as pretty, decided he wanted to eat at a small diner. A diner located in Ohio which was again, in the same country whose medal hung around his neck swinging with each commanding step he took. And he was refused service because of the color of his skin. He was refused service because of who he was, a black man. And so the tale goes on that he was so angry that he took off the medal and threw it over a bridge into the Ohio river. He claimed “he didn’t want to wear a medal in a country where he couldn’t be served.” It was also told that he later said he “lost” the medal. But either way, the reality that he was refused service in a country that he represented as a champion, had to be a blow to him, and yet he never wavered in what he believed about himself and surely never came up short in the arena of self-esteem.

Although I have never been given the title of Olympic Champion along with a gold medal, I have been given man made titles throughout various occasions of my life. One of those titles was “Employee of the year.” Now, you would have had to work where I used to in order to truly and fully understand what that title, along with the plaque that came with it meant. At the beginning of January, ballots would come out and you had to vote for office employee of the year and field (technician) employee of the year. And there was SUCH a buildup and excitement of the announcement, that always took place at the big holiday party with everyone and their spouses/friends/coworkers dressed in their finest and held in a hotel ballroom. It was like the Olympic ceremonies but for work. And then one year, it was different. The year yours truly (yes me,) won this coveted symbol. During a regular work day, a meeting was held in the conference room for all of the administrative staff that was present and a speech was given by the president of vices stating, “Going forward, we don’t want the focus of the holiday party to be just about the employee of the year. We don’t want people upset and not enjoying themselves at a beautiful party after the announcement. We want everyone to have a good time, so we will announce it here.” And just like that, my name was called and I was given my plaque and we all went back to our desks. I was then pulled aside and told, “We will mention your name at the party but again we don’t want that to be the focus of the party. This is how we are going to do it from here on out” Hhhmmmm…. Okkayyy. And yet, the following year and years after, they went back to their way of announcing the winner at the party.

I was really disappointed for a while. I felt like my hard work and dedication to the company had earned me the votes to represent them and the right to be honored and respected. At yet, they were more concerned with offending others…because it was me. And while I didn’t take my plaque and throw it into the Baltimore River, (that would have required me standing on the bridge, like, not sitting in a car…ummm no way…), I realized that titles and plaques that are given to you by man can sometimes mean nothing and that I couldn’t allow myself to let the titles bestowed to me by man, become the bricks that built my self-worth. Because those same people could also become the hammer and chisel, breaking you down until you are in pieces. Those same people who chose you today, may not choose you tomorrow. And while I know that Cassius Clay’s issue was about the color of his skin, the color of his skin was who he was and who he was made them uncomfortable, just like who I AM may make others uncomfortable. But I, Taria, was chosen by GOD. In John 15:16 GOD reminds me, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” I AM a Winner…

3-You can make history…just keep moving

On February 24th, 1964, Cassius Clay’s 210-pound ego & voice entered a room full of sports writers who had their pens on his opponent, Sonny Liston to win…Cassius spent so much energy shouting how great he was that he ended being fined $2,500 by the commission and the fight that would cement this great fighter in history, almost didn’t come to be. Due to Cassius’ elevated heart rate and blood pressure brought on by his extreme taunting of Sonny Liston, the fight was in danger of being canceled if his heart rate and blood pressure did not get back to normal. They did. The fight went on and at one point in the 4th round he started complaining that there was something burning in his eyes and he couldn’t see. Angelo Dundee, his trainer said, “I get the sponge and I pour the water into his eyes trying to cleanse whatever’s there, but before I did that I put my pinkie in his eye and I put it into my eye. It burned. There was something caustic in both eyes.” Cassius Clay later said he could, “only see a faint shadow of Liston during most of the round” but by “circling and moving he managed to avoid Liston and somehow survive.” But by the sixth round, he said he had regained his sight and went on to win the fight. Cassius Clay defied all the odds and the predictions against him and showed that the impossible could be done…The Son could be eclipsed. And he gave other boxers hope…One could say that in that moment, he became a legend…He was the Champion…

I am not a boxer, but I am a fighter, and there are times in life when I feel like life is bigger than me and stronger than me and will knock me down before I reach my dreams and catch them. But then I remember, WHO I am and WHOSE I am. I remember who trained me and who my corner man is, the one who breathed the very life that I am living, into me. And I know that I must keep fighting for everything GOD promised me and my family. On the days when life seems so heavy and tears burn my eyes and blur my vision, I remember, Taria, just keep moving, because you can’t allow the enemy to take your vison, or you’ll perish. Keep moving.

 I want to encourage anyone who feels like you are up against a situation that seems bigger then you, that seems stronger than you, a dream that seems impossible to attain and naysayers are standing ring side waiting for you to fall down, think on Luke 10:19 “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” You ARE a Champion…

I love you guys and thank you for reading!

 “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.”-Muhammad Ali

 

 

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“Are you there GOD? It’s me, Taria”…

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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...

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;……”

 

 

Take your own stand...or have a seat...

Take your own stand…or have a seat…

So I have discovered a love of Podcasts on Podcast One and ITunes (it’s like talk radio without the interruptions of music!) And I was even more excited to see that Tia Mowry has a podcast titled, “Mostly Mom with Tia Mowry”. I decided to subscribe and add this to my podcast playlist along with about 10 others including LadyGang (funny girls) and Mo’Nique & Sidney’s Open Relationship (yup…THAT Mo’Nique, I’ll save my commentary for another blog post…she is still hilarious!) Anyway, I excitedly listened to the podcast intro which says this is a show about empowerment (and some other stuff too). And here we are at episode 1. Tia begins the podcast by speaking out about being cyber bullied and how she posted the following on Instagram, “In a world that’s obsessed with perfection, I am taking a stand and will not be retouching my photos. I want all of us women and men to embrace, love and accept our real bodies at whatever stage we are in life. We all have different shapes and sizes, lets encourage and uplift.” She went on to speak about being fat shamed 2 days later after she posted an unretouched photo of herself. After which her first guest, her husband, Cory Hardict came on. Who side note, seems like a real, funny easy going dude.
As I slide into episode 2, Tia comes on and thanks everyone for listening (you’re welcome Tia) and mentions (again in this episode) how she has come to a personal decision to stop photo shopping her Instagram pictures. She said she truly feels that this photo shopping and trying to look perfect has become an epidemic. She then posed the question to her listeners, “Why can’t we just love ourselves, our true authentic selves.” She continued on by saying there are a lot of women now contouring their faces and chests and their legs and wanted to know why are we doing this to ourselves. She wanted to know why we can’t just embrace our flaws and love who we are. Why do we have to be so obsessed with being perfect. Tia then informs all of us listeners that we need to just be ourselves and be who we are and embrace our flaws. This message sounded annoyingly familiar, like I was either having a de’javu moment or perhaps having repeated Groundhog days. I say this because while I did hear it on Tia’s podcast, I have also been seeing the same type of message on various social media and blog sites from other women who are saying the same thing in different variations. They are saying, “It’s time to take off your makeup, and be you”, “Take off your weaves and be true to you, stop trying to be European”, “ladies embrace your natural self.” And it annoys me…Why does it annoy me you ask (and if you didn’t I will tell you anyway).
I am a woman who although has never photo shopped my pictures, I have worn/wears a weave and braids. I also love my Nars highlighter in Albatross and when I wear it I see rainbows and flowers and unicorns (they DO exist) and I glow. I also love me a good tinted moisturizing BB Cream (cover girl in the color bronze…I feel like a goddess.) Does this mean I don’t love my “true, authentic self?” Does it mean I don’t “embrace my flaws” because I like to enhance my cheeks with a little blush every now and then? I’ll answer the questions myself…NO! It doesn’t mean that! What it means is that I am a woman who loves myself completely, even the parts of me that want to change other parts of myself. I love me and accept me…even the parts of me that have a hard time accepting other parts of me. Does that sound confusing? Ok, here is the breakdown of what I said. I am a woman who loves myself and accepts myself. In loving and accepting myself, I acknowledge the fact that there are some things that I do want to change about myself be it physically or mentally, and that is ok because I have decided to let ME empower ME to be ok with ME whether I have makeup/no makeup, contoured/not contoured, weaved/not weaved etc… I am sure you get the picture.
And about that word EMPOWER that is used so much. First, let’s start with the definition. Merriam-Webster defines the word empower used in the verb form as: to give power to (someone), to give official authority or legal power to (someone). Merriam-Webster also goes on to define the word empower when used as a transitive verb (a verb that can take a direct object): to promote the self-actualization or influence of. Interesting right? So when we say we want to empower someone to love themselves or to be comfortable with who they are, what we are really saying is that we want to give someone the power or authority to love themselves, the power and authority to love who they are…but only once they take off and remove the external things about themselves that they may actually love and accept, and THEN it’s ok to love yourself. For instance, women are telling other women, take out your weave and take off your wigs and love who you really are. But have these same women ever stopped to consider that this women may have an actual medical issue that leaves her unable to grow hair in certain areas of her head and although she loves and accepts herself, she feels like the world doesn’t have to see her bald spots, so she covers them. There are also women telling other women to take off their makeup and be ok with being natural, but this woman who wears the makeup may have skin that has been disfigured or scarred and while she accepts that about herself, she may feel that the world doesn’t have to see all of her scars. We as women need to see that sometimes, it is not all about other women trying to get attention or to attain perfection…sometimes it is simply that yes we do accept our flaws and imperfections, however, some things we just don’t want the world to see…and that is ok. We also need to understand that our own personal epiphany’s are not always going to become public movements.
Tia Mowry thank you for your podcast. I find you to be smart, beautiful, entertaining and funny and I applaud you for deciding to take your stand. However, please understand that taking a stand and empowering others is not just inclusive of talking about the stand you have taken and telling those same others that they should follow suit. This is your stand and your journey. You have however, inspired me to take a stand also. I have decided to live in my power, to live my life in a way that honors and reflects who I am in whatever stage of life I am in. I will live more powerfully, laugh more powerfully and love more powerfully and maybe, just maybe someone who is watching will be inspired by my actions and realize that they too have the authority to live in their power…
Love you guys and thank you so much for reading!

1 John 3 vs. 8 KJV

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.”