Homemaker

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Church free up! And finally I am able to fellowship with people I haven’t seen in over a year. There were lots of teeny ones that I hadn’t seen since the pandemic and I even got to hold the sweetest little one. A friend of mine took a picture of me feeding her and sent it to me. When I looked at the picture, I smiled in my heart because of all the recent work God had started in the area of family and homemaking.

A few weeks ago my mentor and I were talking. At the beginning of the session I was asked to state the pillars of my life. As I listed things, family came to mind but I shoved it back and told myself not to say it. As we continued to discuss other things I was asked to define success. I stated all the things I wanted to accomplish and ended with, “but of course, not at the detriment of my family.” At this statement my mentor reflected on the dissonance.

Not knowing what transpired in my head, he highlighted how interesting it was that I stated not wanting to accomplish things at the detriment of my family but when I stated the pillars of my life he observed and even mentally noted that I hadn’t said family.

He was right, I didn’t and I couldn’t. But why? I pondered on it all evening. What was this incongruence on the insides of my own heart. As usual I went to talk to God about it. I told him I wanted to have a family but something hard on the insides of my heart had demanded that I steel myself off from the prospect of it. I was made to feel I couldn’t and so I decided I wouldn’t.

You Can’t
I love serving at church, being around my friends and being out of my house. Most of my life that was me. I was active, involved in everything. I thrived in the spaces God placed me and was constantly out. This was what I was told to do as a single Christian – serve. The truth was outside of that mandate, my extravert-self wanted that lifestyle.
Because I was constantly out I was made to feel that I cared more for those things than home. I had been told that my outside accomplishments and friend involvements were way more important than my home commitments and that I probably wouldn’t be able to do homemaking well. Plus, I didn’t cook as much as others, and I didn’t feel free to experiment. A caricature of myself was being created with each pronouncement. The storyline was you can’t do outside and inside; one or the other. This combined with disappointments with family I had began to develop a narrative – “I can’t do homemaking”.

It Is WORK
In addition to all of this was the reality that doing family -like everything in life – took work. It could be satisfying but also grueling. The challenge I had was that I had become used to prioritizing work and serving. With a super busy week, I would be fine with a bowl of cereal at the end of the day for dinner. In my mind family meant having a full meal ready for breakfast lunch and dinner. That seemed impossible with my present life.

I had also seen so many successful black women struggle with both. If they were driven, then they were single or divorced (not every one of course). Every time I heard of a successful black woman getting divorced I shuddered. One research site stated that black women in the States have a higher divorce rate than any other demographic and a person with a first degree gets divorced at a higher rate than those without a degree. While I was a Caribbean girl these numbers and my observations impacted me. I am a black, Caribbean woman with two degrees.

I laid out all of this in journal and wept. I had closed out a God given desire in my life because of the narratives, examples and words spoken over me. That entire weekend I was either crying or praying.


God began to heal, reminding me of truths and dispelling fears. He reminded me that I was not what was said about me. He reminded me that as the author of family He was the person to look to and not my fears. He was the one that gave me all I needed for salvation, He would do the same in all areas of my life. My responsibility was to trust and obey Him.

Betty Crocker
Little changes happened after that. I began cooking more, sheepishly calling my “wife” friends to teach me over the phone. I realized I loved learning new recipes and seeing the final product. I researched décor for my space and made adjustments as I could. I began taking weekends off and signing off completely by Friday afternoon unless I had something pressing. I sought out mentorship and books to learn more and renew my mind. I released the toxicity that I had allowed in my heart that came from fear and lies and it felt more like the authentic me.

When I held the little one that Sunday I smiled at the journey. I stared at the picture with joy that God had begun a work in my heart ? One day, God willing I could be a wife, mother, Director and writer and He would guide the balance needed. He continues the work and I continue to stay steadfast.

  • a Heart Committed

Ghosts of Church Boys Past

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You cannot stay where you are and go with God. Henry Blackaby

This morning I went to have my usual morning devotions and I felt led to get out one of my old journals and read. August 2008 was the start date of that journal so I read intrigued as of course here I am in 2016, approximately eight years later in the month of August. I figured it would be interesting but I was not prepared for the rollercoaster ride to epiphany that I was jumping on.

What I read had me go from feeling shocked, to dismayed, to disgusted and then militant. I read and saw how I allowed guy after guy to draw me from my secure place in God straight to despair, low self esteem and second guessing myself. I prayed for God to guide me but when He did I tried to keep them (the guy) and Him at the same time and eventually He was proven as right as the relationship went up in flames as they moved on to some other version of their ideal Christian woman. Then I sank. I sank into a death spiral of self loathing and sadness wanting to know why not me, who was she and what made her better, more beautiful or more qualified. Why did this look like 2016? Had I not learned?

Give your heart to Me

There is a poignant skit used to share the gospel at a street outreach event I was a part of on the east side of Houma Louisiana. In the skit this lighthearted, carefree girl danced and pranced and enjoyed her life. On the stage entered a guy who mimed his affection and eventually asked for her heart. The girl in the skit freely “opened her chest” and handed him her heart. To the audience and the young lady’s dismay he took her heart gave it a precursor once over then… stomped on it. The young lady was left in a crumpled heap crying on the ground as he left the stage all too pleased with his devious and detrimental act. As she lay on the ground wiping her tear streaked face she heard God whisper (from backstage) give Me your heart. She slowly got up and mustered all her strength threw it up to him (remember this was a play for children so it was all imaginary) and He dropped down a new and refreshed heart. Restored and at peace she began to skip happily around the stage her joy intact.

Like a bad rerun, on to the stage enters “boy” again. This time she is watchful of him but he offers her nice things and mimes the right words and asks back for her heart to which she slowly but surely gives it to him. He takes it and proceeds to play basketball with it decimating the young lady, laughing as he saunters of. Again the Lord prods her to give her heart to Him, she does and He lovingly and gently restores. The play continues with this same scenario and time after time her heart got shattered, dirty, and even annihilated (one actor pretended to hurl the heart in the air and shoot it). I remember the children on the street laughing at the goofiness on the stage, as the actors tried to explain the dangers of giving away your heart to others instead of to God .The problem was… and still is that in reality there are so many stomped on, played out hearts on the ground, one of them being mine. I was the girl in the play. I gave my heart away to the charismatic church boy, the silent contemplative leader, and the enthusiastic artist minister and every time God was there whispering give your heart to Me.

I will advise you…

At the beginning of my college career I read Proverbs 4:23-27 and highlighted it as my mantra.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.

Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.

Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.

Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.

I wish I could look back at my eighteen year old self and say yay girl, you did it… but I can’t. I flung open the hedges of my heart, I looked away from Jesus and made attention and approvals deter me. I got sidetracked over and over again from my purpose and God’s voice because I would rather hear the lulling voice of the young man over the phone than to tell him this is not God’s will I must step away. I got caught in the web of he’s a Christian, he serves, this must be right and got left with empty arms, the cackle of voices saying I was there and they engaged only because they were lonely, and my favorite, “you will be a great girl for someone else one day”. I couldn’t blame God, because as His child and according to His promises, He did advise me and guide me. He did warn and admonish me to let go of each guy I turned to, but my heart was before them placed ever so delicately or shoved so unheedingly into their hands as I fool heartedly ignored His wisdom and relied on man instead.

See, I am doing a new thing

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing.”

It’s interesting a verse to ponder on as I write this. I am reading the book of Deuteronomy and the book opens with Moses relaying to the children of Israel the folly of their forefathers in choosing to not go to their promised land because it looked daunting. He gave them a play by play of the mishaps, wrong turns and warnings they received. Like a coach watching a game lost to a previous team to point out pitfalls and missed plays Moses places before them what they did wrong in order for them to do better.  It was time to enter the land promised, they are now having to fight yes but it was time to move, forget the former things, learn from the past and get on to a new thing.

I can’t help but see the parallel to my own life in this scenario. This reading of my journal from 2008 was my play by play. My re reading of history that is so strikingly similar in some aspects to 2016. I can’t and by God’s grace won’t be that girl anymore.  I have grown in some ways in this area but I know I have much more to growth to experience. I think back to a post on Facebook talking about August being the eighth month and expressing that eight is the number of new beginnings. Well, it’s that time. My journal entries from this August and the Augusts to come will be different. It’s time for me to not only have a new beginning but maintain what God has done. I encourage you women to do the same. Choose to guard your heart. Don’t spend so much time with the guy who hasn’t committed to you. Step away if you feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit even if on paper everything about him looks “right”. Choose to honour God with your heart and your time and let Him guide you safely to what is yours. Return to being in awe of your Creator and not get sidetracked by the shiny and the spiritual.  Learn from me and my trip down the ghost of church boys past. J

Death to Life

It’s dead,
But what you look at hides what you can’t see.
Because the person looking at you hides the cold carcass and debris.

It’s lost,
The little child that is inside.
The part that dreams of laughter and playing with barbie dolls outside.

It’s real,
But she has practiced fantasy and make believe.
Because truth is harder than fiction and ignoring it is her reprieve.

It’s subtle,
The memories vague but not forgotten.
A flurry of thoughts shoved to the back in hopes it that it will be forgotten.

It’s a maze
From what you see to what is.
So locking out the weak and fainthearted is easier than letting them in.

It’s true,
But no one can know..
Cuz the weight of that truth is heavier than the lies that have been told.

It lives
Ever present on the inside.
The shame and pain she tries to forget linked to the horror of those nights.

Relentless
The way He pursues the heart.
Jealously He comes to snatch from the grave and mend the broken heart.

He loves,
It’s powerful and strong.
And when there is no will to try His comfort keeps her holding on.

He does,
Take the pain away.
When others get tired of hearing it, He listens every day.

He lives
To show her there is a way.
That even when no one else knows her angst His peace is just a prayer away.

 

-photo credit @Stephaniereneeart