How My Friends Taught Me to Be Flaky as F*(! … and I LOVE It!

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flaky

I opened my first email account when I was a freshman in college and didn’t start texting until nearly a decade later. I grew up in a rural town so no one used RSVPs – you just stopped by, showed up, or gave your word. I share these things because I learned much of my etiquette around corresponding via email or text messages and the value of RSVPs: 1) much later in my life; and 2) mostly in the professional arena. This timing shaped how I view email, including the form in which I send emails. It shaped what, how and with whom I send text messages. And it absolutely shaped the value I placed on giving my word, verbally or via an RSVP. However, it didn’t take long for me to learn that the same value I placed on these things was not shared by others. I’ve received numerous emails with no greeting or salutation at all – simply a question or statement. I’ve had colleagues who I have a strictly professional relationship with text me late at night or on the weekends. And I’ve more than my share of experience with folks saying they will attend an event and showing up significantly later than the start time or not showing up at all. Naturally, this used to upset me and sometimes it still does, especially when someone’s RSVP requires me spending money to reserve a spot for them. But this last year has taught me get comfortable with being flaky as f*(!.

My new lease on life is in no way an excuse for me to disregard others’ time or my commitment to complete a task. Instead, it has forced me to separate business commitments from personal commitments. No, I can’t wake up and just randomly decide to take a week off from work. But I can decide that a social event I previously committed to attending no longer fits my schedule and respectfully inform the host of the change. On a very minute, but important level this change also allows me to ignore the need to reply to every personal email, text message, or phone call I receive – which is not a practice I exercise as freely in the professional arena. I have friends who reply to text messages weeks later or not at all; family and friends who never check email, much more take a moment to respond to them. The ironic thing is many of these very same people will obsessively text and/or call me if I do not respond to a message from them within what they consider to be a reasonable timeframe. BUT I’ve opted to stick with my new leaf and do as I need, when I need to – especially as I am working earnestly to balance all that comes with finishing graduate school. *Note to all: We are ALL busy juggling multiple things so your level of busyness is not an excuse to dismiss the commitments others have as well*

So thank you to all my flaky friends 🙂 – I’ve learned a lot from you. You’ve taught me that changing my mind, disconnecting from my phone, and engaging with the social world when desired is an act of radical self-care. Thank you!

Re-Blog: When A Sanctuary Isn’t Safe: Commentary on the Charleston Church Shooting

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Thursday, June 18th marked the 3-year anniversary of my blog! I wanted to write a celebratory post; reflect on the experience of blogging consistently for 3 years; write about how refreshing and renewing this has been. But instead, I was saddened and literally heart-broken as I watched the events in the Charleston Shooting continue to be uncovered. I’ve struggled for the last few days to find just the words to say, etching out only snippets of thoughts on Facebook and reposting much of what family and friends shared. On today, I am thankful for my friend and author of After the Altar Call for her eloquently written post. I am re-blogging it here:

Hello World,

By definition, a sanctuary is a safe place. And a church sanctuary, a place dedicated to God, should be, just ought to be the safest place on earth to dwell. And so when I heard about the shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina late Wednesday night, the fact that a church sanctuary is no longer the safest place on earth was my first thought. And if you cannot be safe in a church sanctuary, well, there is really no place else to go except to Heaven…

But I’m not ignorant of American history. American black churches have long been terrorized by racist acts…

Ku Klux Klan members, planted a bomb at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama and killed four girls, Addie Mae Collins, 14; Denise McNair, 11; Carole Robertson, 14; and Cynthia Wesley, 14 on Sept. 15, 1963.

On June 16, 1964, Ku Klux Klan members, who were targeting white civil rights worker Michael Schwerner, burned down Mount Zion Church in Longdale, Mississippi but not before beating the church members as they left the church.

Within hours of the election of President Obama in November 5, 2008, three white men torched Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, Massachusetts.

And these are just a few of these terrorist acts…

And for American black people, churches have historically been much more than houses of prayer which is why black churches have been targets for racist attacks throughout the years. Aside from endeavoring to usher black people to Heaven, black churches also contributed to the betterment of their members’ lives on earth by being havens as slaves hid themselves along the Underground Railroad to escape slavery, establishing schools at a critical time in the nation’s history when education was often denied black people and affirming our humanity by refusing to allow members to be second-class citizens in their houses of worship…Below are just a few contributions of black churches to America…

First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia was a stop on the Underground Railroad as underneath the lower auditorium floor is another “subfloor.” Only four feet of height separates the floors.

Springfield Baptist Church in Augusta, Ga. is the birthplace of Morehouse College which began as Augusta Bible Institute in 1867. The name of the institute was later renamed Morehouse College, moving to Atlanta in 1879.

According to the Emanuel A.M.E. website, “in 1822 the church was investigated for its involvement with a planned slave revolt. Denmark Vesey, one of the church’s founders, organized a major slave uprising in Charleston…During the Vesey controversy, the AME church was burned. Worship services continued after the church was rebuilt until 1834 when all black churches were outlawed. The congregation continued the tradition of the African church by worshiping underground until 1865 when it was formally reorganized, and the name Emanuel was adopted, meaning ‘God with us.’”

But as our predecessors knew way back when that we have to realize right now is: Until we get Heaven (if that is where you are headed), we have to live right here in this once slavery allowing, gender pay gap perpetuating , Kim Kardashian breaking-the-Internet glorifying, Honey Boo Boo paying, ozone layer puncturing, obesity causing, transracial entertaining, God’s name in vain taking, black lives minimizing, racist white police officers excusing, school shootings fostering, prosperity gospel teaching, government stalling, election stealing, God increasingly marginalizing country of ours…And I’m sure you could add to the list…In other words, no place, not even black church sanctuaries, is safe no matter what we would like them to be.

So what are we to do on this day June 19, Juneteenth and going forward?

As simplistic as this may sound, first of all, we have to make our souls are sanctuaries. Unless, we purge the hate from our hearts, even our souls are vulnerable to the attack of the enemy which I know is the spiritual force that influenced this most recent terrorist Dylan Roof ,who was allowed to come into Emanuel A.M.E. Church’s Bible Study where he subsequently murdered nine innocent people. Ironically, the Bible is the blueprint for the saving of our souls.

Secondly, we have to acknowledge that racism is still here in 2015 despite our black president and all of the other accomplishments black people have amassed in recent decades. In fact, and I may be mistaken, the election of President Obama seems to have galvanized racists in a way that rivals the terrorism of white supremacists decades ago.

Thirdly, black people, white people, people that love people, all people need to find ways to promote racial reconciliation whether that be in politics, churches, in school systems, at the grocery store, etc.

In big ways and in small ways, we have to REFUSE to succumb to the prevailing notion that we are different. People may have different ways of expressing themselves and we can celebrate and should appreciate our differences, but underneath it all, we are all creations of God no matter how He grouped us.

I don’t know if my words will make a bit of difference, but this is my commentary on sanctuaries, church or otherwise, in 2015. There are none and never have been except the ones that we create within our soulds through God and take with us when we die and return to God.

At the very least, please pray for the friends and families of those slain by this terrorist…And if you live in the metro Atlanta area, there will be a prayer vigil to demonstrate solidarity with those grieving in South Carolina on Saturday evening, 6/20, at 8pm at Stockbridge City Hall, 4640 N Henry Blvd, Stockbridge, GA 30281.

At the Same D*&! Time

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NotAllAtOnce

It’s funny how words of wisdom seem to crawl out from out secret spaces as we move through adulthood. I often find myself thinking of things my mom, aunts, close friends and other family members shared with me while growing up. Those very words of wisdom that seemed so incomprehensible … until now.

About 10 years ago a former colleague told me that “you can have it all, just not at the same time.” This view seemed so warped to me! Am I supposed to choose? Certainly, there are women who DO have it all – I know some of them! Why would she tell me this?

But now I know exactly why … because it’s true. In more certain and accurate terms, I think she was telling me – and I have come to realize – that in life we can attempt to juggle many things, but we do have to choose which things we want to do well. Yes, on the surface we can have it all, but as that all increases, we gradually begin to shift our attention from one thing to the next – never fully able to hold them all in perfect balance. We can achieve all of our dreams, travel to all the places we want to visit, become a wonderful friend/spouse/sister/mother/teacher/writer – but not all at once.

For some of us this means “mastering” 1 – 2 things at a time and then adding to the list. For others it’s means that as we get one thing in balance, another falls out of whack. And for yet another subset of folks, this quote means something completely different.

For me, it means choice – I CAN do it all, but not all at the same time. As I prepare for the fall semester and yet another shift in my school, work and home life I know that I have to – yet again – let some things go. Initially, I was nervous about this – even a little frightened. But now I simply see this decision as a shift in balance and a FIRM grasp on my sanity :-). I am excited about what my new life-season has to offer and willingly embrace the chapters that will close. I am choosing to have it all – in balance, in due time, during the appointed season.

Re-Blog: When Mother’s Day Is Not Necessarily Happy … 7 Women Share Their Experiences

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A few different narratives on Mother’s Day:

When Mother’s Day Is Not Necessarily Happy … 7 Women Share Their Experiences 

Repost: An open letter to pastors (A non-mom speaks about Mother’s Day)

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This is a repost from: Time-Warp Wife. As we prepare for Mother’s Day and the celebration of all the ways in which many women mother, I hope we also remain sensitive to those who have lost their moms and mother figures, those who’ve lost children and those who may never mother in any traditional sense. 

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I’ve asked Amy Young to share her “Open Letter to Pastors,” with us. I came across this article a few years ago and it really spoke to my heart. I hope it serves to encourage you as it does me.

Dear Pastor,

Tone can be tricky in writing. Picture me popping my head in your office door, smiling and asking if we could talk for five minutes. I’m sipping on my diet coke as I sit down.

You know that I’m not one to shy away from speaking my mind, part of the reason you love me (mostly!), so I’m guessing that internally you brace yourself wondering what might be next.

I set my can down and this is what I’d say.

A few years ago I sat across from a woman who told me she doesn’t go to church on Mother’s Day because it is too hurtful.  I’m not a mother, but I had never seen the day as hurtful. She had been married, had numerous miscarriages, divorced and was beyond child bearing years. It was like salt in mostly healed wounds to go to church on that day. This made me sad, but I understood.

Fast forward several years to Mother’s Day.  A pastor asked all mothers to stand. On my immediate right, my mother stood and on my immediate left, a dear friend stood. I, a woman in her late 30s, sat. I don’t know how others saw me, but I felt dehumanized, gutted as a woman. Real women stood, empty shells sat. I do not normally feel this way. I do not like feeling this way. I want no woman to ever feel this way in church again.

Last year a friend from the States happened to visit on Mother’s Day and again the pastor (a different one) asked all mothers to stand. As a mother, she stood and I whispered to her, “I can’t take it, I’m standing.” She knows I’m not a mother yet she understood my standing / lie.

Here’s the thing, I believe we can honor mothers without alienating others. I want women to feel welcome, appreciated, seen, and needed here in our little neck of the body of Christ.

Do away with the standing. You mean well, but it’s just awkward. Does the woman who had a miscarriage stand? Does the mom whose children ran away stand? Does the single woman who is pregnant stand? A.w.k.w.a.r.d.

2.  Acknowledge the wide continuum of mothering.

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you

To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you

To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you

To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you

To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.

To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you

To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you

To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you

To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience

To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst

To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be

To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths

To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you

To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you

To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart

And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you

This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.

3. Commend mothering for the ways it reflects the Imago Dei (Image of God) by bringing forth new life, nurturing those on her path, and living with the tension of providing both freedom and a safety net.

I know I might be an unusual one to be speaking about Mother’s Day; but maybe that’s why so many talk to me about mothering, I’ve got the parts, just not the goods.  Thanks for listening and for continuing to mother us in a shepherding way. Even though I’m a bit nervous to come on Sunday, I will be here. But if you make us stand, I might just walk out =).

Warmly and in your corner,

Amy

For Carter … Our Story of Infant Loss and Healing

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Each year I wonder if this year will be the year that I share our story; almost every anniversary/birthdate, almost every Mother’s Day and several sentimental moments in between I stop and ask “Am I ready?” This year I finally feel ready. Because there is so very much I can and want to share, this will be a series of posts about my experience with infant loss, rebuilding my life and repairing my marriage. I hope that you enjoy and more importantly, I pray that it blesses you or someone close to you in a special way. 

ForCarter

I was never THAT type of women … I am an only child and spent my childhood playing with cousins in my neighborhood during the day and returning to the peace and quiet of our home in the evening. I never longed for children or kept a list of baby names. Until my late 20s, I didn’t think I would ever get married and wasn’t sure if I even wanted children. But then I met him and considerations that hadn’t received much time began to seem like a reality. After four years of dating, we got married and began a new phase of our lives together. About six months into our marriage, we began talking about starting a family. After several conversations and a little research, we decided that yes, we were ready and would begin family planning. By this time we’d heard several stories of it taking anywhere from months to years to conceive, so we approached conception from this standpoint. With calendar and ovulation kit on deck and prayers all around, we started the process. BOOYAH! First try and we were in!

The next few months were both nerve-wrecking and a joy. We did as we were advised: come back in however many weeks; be aware that many women miscarriage in the first 12 weeks; try to relax. Done. Done. And done. As you can imagine, when we went back for our 12-week visit and had a successful ultrasound we thought we were in the clear. We made our announcements to close family and friends first. Naturally, my mom was ELATED – her first and long-awaited grandchild!!! We slowly made announcements to others and became those giddy parents awaiting our next doctor’s visit – heartbeat is strong AND we have a “flipper” (our son would spend the majority of the ultrasound visits doing what appeared to be flipping around as if he knew we were watching :-)). We received random pre-birth gifts in the mail and my husband – I’ll call him Gregg – surprised me with a portable crib that he saw on sale and couldn’t resist. We traveled to North Carolina for Gregg’s birthday and took our first candid maternity photos – this was also when he remembers noticing my “baby bump.” And I made my epic announcement on Facebook with that same photo.

In December we flew to the Midwest for another family member’s baby shower – it was there that we made our announcement to the rest of the family. We had a fabulous weekend and by this time everyone close to us was aware that we were welcoming our new addition. We were at the airport and like most pregnant women, I made a visit to the restroom yet again before we went through the security gate.  I sat to use the restroom, felt a flood of water released and knew that something had happened … I immediately began crying! Amniotic fluid was all over the restroom floor. The moment that so many women wait for happened for me in a random airport restroom.

Everything that you could think of happened over the next six weeks. I was hospitalized while away and finally cleared to fly home.  We cried together, prayed together, and had all of our family praying with us – even one of my nurses joined in and gave us a crocheted angel as a token of support and encouragement. We returned home and connected with the top physicians to provide our ongoing care. I was confined to quasi bedrest – no work, prolonged standing or lifting and minimal activity outside of the home.

Three very important things happened while I was at home: I realized how incredibly blessed I was and am to have Gregg in my life. He cared for me every single day without complaints, even as tiring as I knew that was. I had A LOT of time to reevaluate my life: who am I? What do I want? Who has God told me I am? It was during this time that I came to see how deeply complacent and off track I’d become. I was working a job that stressed me to no end and had all but completely eliminated my community engagement and involvement. And finally, I began to know pain like I never have before. Up until that point, I’d never been hospitalized overnight. I’d never had so many tubes connected to my body and tests run and doctors inspecting me. It was miserable – the random emergency room visits, each time holding my breath as we waited to hear a healthy heartbeat.

On the eve of January 29th I began to experience excruciating pain. I called my doctor and she advised me on timing my contractions and what would need to happen as they increased intensity, decreased in time intervals. As Gregg slept peacefully, I looked at him knowing it would be the last night = for at least a few weeks – that we’d sleep together in our home. We had already been advised that I would probably deliver early since I had little to no amniotic fluid remaining. I would be hospitalized at ~32 weeks (the details of this are fuzzy now) and would remain in the hospital until I delivered.

At about 4am while still in pain I got up to use the restroom … and just like that I delivered at home. Everything happened in what felt like less than five minutes. There our baby was. Between us trying to follow instructions given by the 911 operator, our struggling to hang on to hope, the sounds we were hearing without knowing what do to and what felt like forever before the ambulance arrived some part of me slipped away.

Following my hospital stay, a series of tests, visits from the hospital chaplain (a role that I now have a tremendous amount of respect for) and final clearance, we returned home. After a few weeks of healing, we struggled to find ways to celebrate good health, to honor Carter (what we named our son) and to rebuild our lives. We attended multiple infant-loss support groups, found a therapist and returned to our church. The next few months were challenging – extreme lows with sprouts of highs. I was preparing to return to school – one of my many revelations while at home – and Gregg was still working on finishing up his doctorate. The pressures of stress, my continual questioning of who I was, what I wanted, what this experience meant to me and what was next slowly chipped away at me and our marriage.

What followed was what felt like a forever of me rediscovering myself and an arrival of what I thought was a point of no return for our marriage. While subsequent posts will discuss the aforementioned in more detail, I will say that this story or more appropriately, this chapter of our life story does have a happy ending :-). I’ve recommitted to my life’s work and am now happily matriculating through my doctorate program (as mentioned in previous posts). My husband and I have recommitted to each other, as well as our service in the community AND our life continues with the precious reality that there are a myriad of ways to be fulfilled in life.

The anniversary of our loss is no less painful – but we find time to perform rituals to honor Carter. I honor him through this blog – my commitment to keep writing. I honor him through being authentically me in every way I can. I honor him by not downplaying our experience of loss – the pain of losing a child at any time, including so far into my pregnancy, OR solely defining my womanhood by the absence of having children. And I honor our marriage for what it is: a story of love AND loss; laughter AND tears; building AND repairing.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I write this post as a release for myself, but also for women who may be like me. While I have friends who are faithfully awaiting their moment of conception, those who have conceived after years of trying and others who are currently exploring alternative ways of parenting, including adoption – I also write this post to and for women who have decided not to have children or submitted to their inability to carry a child healthfully (for one reason or another). I write this post for women who feel the pressures of the world to have children when they aren’t really sure that this is what they want for themselves. And I write this post for those who’ve experienced loss of any sort, but particularly the loss of a relationship or child and wonder how life will ever continue afterwards. I write as a woman who has chosen to embrace my life as is and find alternative ways to share my love :-). No matter where you find yourself, I hope that you too are actively practicing self-care on a daily basis as you wait for what you believe and know will come to fruition OR redefine your life after an unexpected event. Hang on to you – don’t get lost in the process. Seek professional help. Re-evaluate your circle and love yourself without ceasing!!!

Finally I want to send a special thank you to some amazing people who have supported me throughout this entire time: Venteria, Monica, Lottie, Liz, Elizabeth, Melissa, April, Charmaine, Vickie, Gregg 🙂  I will NEVER forget your kindness and care.

Thank you for reading!

I Learn a Little More Each Day

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LOVE1

The end of February is just a few days away and all month my mind has been dominated by thoughts of the lessons I have learned about loving and being loved. I can credit this to many things, including my mom’s birthday, all the incredibly cheesy Valentine’s Day cards, stuffed animals and balloons that I saw this month, a very special anniversary and an even more special celebration. So in honor of the aforementioned, I am sharing a more intimate version of my lessons in love. Enjoy!

  • I am not always right.
  • Even when I am, I don’t have to make it known ;-).
  • It’s not that helpful to continuously point out the flaws and shortcomings of the person you love. Unfortunately, the world will do that for you.
  • Our home should remain a place of peace, love and comfort … there will never be another place like it.
  • “Please” and “Thank You” go a long way.
  • As long as we are on the same page, no one else has to approve or agree.
  • There is always time to celebrate.
  • Creating time for love – cultivating love, making love, nurturing love – is essential.
  • Forgiveness is the 2nd best medicine … laughter is indeed the first.
  • Remember why you started, how far you’ve come and where you’d like to go.

I met the love of my life during the month of February exactly 8 years ago. When people say love is a roller coaster, I don’t think those of us on the other side truly understand what this means. We have experienced more than either of us ever imagined – the wonderful, the not so good and the very ugly. Since the creation of my blog I have never, ever talked about my marriage – I do this because I feel that so much of our lives are unprotected, exploited and undermined so I try my best to hold sacred and private those things that truly matter – however, on today I just want to say that being in love and loving someone like him is one of the greatest gifts of my life. Each day I learn so much more about forgiveness, kindness and the true gifts of life. If you are reading this post and have learned some valuable lessons in love, please take a moment to share below. Please and thank you ;-).

Sabrina

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