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Finding My Father Set Me Free

Finding My Father Set Me Free

In my last post, I talked about how after 38 years of not knowing who my father was, I finally found the answer. I thought that solving that mystery would just be filling in that blank that I had always wondered about. But it was so much more than that.

A few days later, I was on a walk just pondering all that had happened (there’s so much more to the story that I haven’t revealed yet). As I was thinking  about it, it was like God lifted a veil from my eyes, so that I could see that He had been working in this all along. I was a part of His plan, even before I was born. This thing that I thought was just a pain point in my life was actually so much bigger than me, and has a purpose greater than I know.

When I realized all of this, I felt lighter because I also realized that for most of my life I believed a terrible lie. This lie was the reason for my driven nature, my need to succeed. Since I was little, I always had to be the best at what I was good at.  I had a singular focus that I thought was my strength, but it really revealed my insecurity. I had a work ethic like no other whether in school, in a job, in fitness, or trying to start a business. It was almost obsessive. I realized it’s because I was trying to prove my value. 

I always felt like I wasn’t good enough, or that I was trying to run from where I came from. So I would wrap up my worth in my success. And when I failed, it would send me spiraling into a dark place. If my worth was tied to my success, what does it mean when I fail?

As God was showing me that He always had a purpose for me, I had to face the lie. The lie that said I was a mistake, an accident, unplanned, and unwanted. That may have been how some saw me, but it was never how God saw me. That truth has been so freeing. When God says I’m a valuable part of His plan, then who do I need to prove myself to?

 

When You See Your Face on a Stranger

When You See Your Face on a Stranger

It’s hard to even know where to begin. At the start of the year, I know that God has been taking me on a journey, preparing me for the purpose He has for me. He has taken me from someone who was always on the move striving for success to someone who sits still and waits for direction. He revealed to me that He wants me to write a book, but not just any book. One that comes from my greatest pain. This platform of pain will bring healing to so many.

So I began to write. I wrote as much as I could, but then I got stuck. I became frustrated, and began to doubt. Then God showed me that He is the one who will write this story.

Even as, I am typing, I realize that for most of my life I have believed a great lie, a lie that is trying to keep me from sharing this testimony. I never knew my father. I knew nothing about him, not his name, what he looked like, nothing. It was just a big blank space in my life. It has not only been a mystery to me my whole life, but it’s been a shame that I have carried around with me. That shame is a lie. It’s not mine to carry. I won’t let the devil use it to stop me from sharing one of the greatest miracles I have ever experienced.

The entire story is way too long to put in a blog post, so I am only going to share a small part of it. Last week, I got my results back from AncestryDNA. My DNA was matched to relatives who were clearly not from my mother’s side (I am mixed race). Thus began a journey of discovery. I traced these matches to my paternal grandparents. I had hit a dead end in searching for my father a long time ago. This seemed too good to be true. But it was true….

Over the course of the next few days, I finally got the answer to a thirty-eight year old question. I had found my father. He had died four years ago. But I found cousins, siblings, and a large Midwestern family (not what I expected, having been born and raised in the Northeast).

And God is still working an even greater miracle in the family that I never knew.  I will literally have to write a book. Only God could have written this story. I look forward to sharing it, especially with those who desperately need to hear it. 

Zara’s Room

Zara’s Room

This post contains affiliate links
I love interior decorating! I always have. Even as a child, I would find new ways to decorate my room, moreso as a teenager. I would find things at yard sales and spruce them up and use them. By the time I had my own place, interior decorating shows were starting to become a thing. Remember Trading Spaces?

Now, we have just moved into our new home, and I am like a kid in a candy store!! Yesterday, I had a rare kid-free day, so naturally, I headed to HomeSense, because not only do I love decor, I also like to save money. Now I wasn’t intending to buy anything. I just wanted to get my fix by looking at all the pretty things and imagining that I was Joanna Gaines getting ready to stage a newly renovated space.

All was well and good until I made my way to the children’s section. I have an absolute weakness for children’s decor. I spied this super cute unicorn comforter set that would go perfect with the theme in my 5 year-old’s room. The combination of this great find, that it was the only one left, and the fact that you never know if there will be any more…ever, well,  I had no choice! The comforter was mine.

As I began to walk around the corner, the comforter set under one arm, I saw it. The unicorn canvas, and it perfectly matched the comforter set. Resistance was futile. I had to get out of there! So I came home and quickly added these perfect find to her room before she came home from school. Here are the results:

 

 

If you want to create this look for your little one, check out some of these finds on Amazon!
Tulle Canopy
Bedding
Wall Art
Honouring My Heritage

Honouring My Heritage

I love history! I love to read biographies and historical fiction, and I love to watch historical movies and shows. I just find people fascinating in general. So, of course, I am curious about my own family history and the people that I descended from. The curiosity is exponentially greater because I was adopted. I know some of my maternal relatives, but my father’s side is a complete mystery. I, however, did get my DNA analyzed and it revealed some incredible findings in my ancestry: West African, British, Irish, Finnish, Scandinavian, French, German, Native American, & Jewish (?). One day, I would like to delve deeper and investigate this more.

However, the most valuable and informative document I have is a a biography of my maternal great-grandmother that was written by my grandmother. It’s filled with not only important information like names and birth dates, but also lots of anecdotes that give me a peek into what life was like for my greats and great-greats pre and post slavery. These stories are both fascinating and heartbreaking, but it also makes me proud to be a part of their legacy.  In honour of them and of Black History Month, I’d like to share a little from this booklet that my grandmother, Rebecca, wrote.

There is a story told about my great-great grandfather, Sam Stewart:

Her father Sam Stewart was born in slavery. He was owned by Mr. Harris, sold to him by his former slave owner, Mr. Stewart. He was sold to Mr. Harris when he was about 10 or 11 years of age. The last time he saw his mother was when he was standing on the block to be sold. She was crying and waving goodbye to him. They were living in Virginia at this time. Mr. Harris brought him to Georgia. He was brought up by the Harris plantation. Mr. Harris made him overseer of other slaves. He was the whipping boss. After the slaves were freed, he went back to Virginia looking for his parents. There, he found two cousins who told him his parents were dead and took him to where they were buried. He returned to Georgia. He chose not to be called Sam Harris and went back into his parents’ name, the name of Stewart. 

Sam Stewart went on to marry my great-great grandmother, Susan, pictured above. Their daughter, my great-grandmother, Annie Clara, by all accounts seemed to be a very well-respected and admirable woman, and dearly loved by all of her children. There is a little anecdote about the holidays, and I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to watch this unfold.

Christmas was always a happy time of the year. A time of the year to which all, especially the children, looked forward with great anticipation. She and her daugher, Susie, named after her mother, would be in the kitchen baking cakes. The house would be filled with the aroma from the cakes they were baking. There was a long trunk in the hall where the cakes were kept. There were chocolate cakes, lemon, cheese, and coconut cakes. Even on Thanksgiving day, she celebrated each one after the president changed the dates. On Christmas Eve night, the children would go to bed early after they had put out their boxes to get their Christmas in. They would hear the older people sitting around the fireplace laughing and talking and eating nuts. They could hardly wait for morning to come. They would get up early and get their boxes of goodies. There would be raisins, orange slice candy, nuts and fruits along with whatever gift they would get for Christmas. Her daughter, Lucy Lee, would put out her box on Christmas Eve, even after she became a young lady, courting. Up until she left for Boston, Massachusetts, she would say, “Mama, I want you to fix my box.” Those were happy days. 

My great-grandmother loved God, and prayed often for her family, which is very large. How amazing would it be to build out that family tree! (I’m a nerd…that would be amazing for me!) She died at the age of 92, when I was just 3 months old. I don’t think she was aware of my existance, but I think how cool it would be to sit down and talk with her and listen to more of these stories. I think also of my great-great-great grandmother who had to watch her son be sold and sent to another state, knowing she would likely never see him again, and I wonder how many prayers she said for him. No one’s family is perfect, but I do believe that I am who I am today, in part, as a result of the prayers of these strong women in my lineage.

Submission & Sacrifice

Submission & Sacrifice

The concept of biblical submission is never a popular topic, probably because it’s one that has been so misunderstood and often abused. We live in a culture where, world-wide, there has been some form of oppression against women. This battle between male and female is not new, and it has been going on since sin entered the world.

Have you noticed that we live in a world of extremes? As humans, if something isn’t working for us, we try to counter it by going to the opposite extreme. You can see this in politics and social reform, in schools, in churches, as well as in families. Interestingly, people often blame the Bible for these divisions, unfairness, and it’s antiquated concepts. Unfortunately, the Bible has been misused to abuse others. However, it is the Bible that actually teaches us how we can live in unity and treat each other fairly.

I had mentioned that I have been struggling with my calling, because it isn’t one that is typically reserved for women. God has really been working on me to show me how He has used women in the past, and helping me undo all of the wrong thinking regarding the roles of women in the Church, and in general. One thing He has really helped me to understand is the concept of biblical submission. This concept is something that both men and women need to really “get” because taken out of context, twisted, or misconstrued, it can do, and has done, so much damage to women and to relationships between the sexes.

What submission is not:

1). Submission is not enslavement. It is not an enforcement of obedience or a means to enslave women. It does not mean that women do not have a voice, that they cannot think for themselves or make their own decisions.

2) Submission is not weakness. It does not make you less worthy or of less value than a man. It does not mean that you aren’t as intelligent or have as much to offer.

3) Submission is not optional. Whoa. I know, some of you are about to click “exit”. But in order to have balance, peace, and unity, God has commanded for women, specifically wives, to submit to their husbands.

Now before you completely disappear and write me off as some “crazy” extremist. Let’s talk about what submission is.

What submission is:

1). Submission is recognizing that God has placed the weight, the burden, of accountability on the husband. Have you heard that saying “With great power comes great responsibility”? Husbands will have to give an account for those they are leading. Knowing that burden falls on him, you work together as partners, and you make decisions together. Submitting is yielding to your husband as the final decision maker, as the one who will bear the responsibility.

2). Submission is part of a symbiotic relationship between husband and wife. Ephesians 5:21-33 discusses this relationship between husbands and wives. When simply observing these verses, you will see that wife is commanded to submit to her husband, and the husband is commanded to love his wife as his own body. The marriage relationship is a cycle of love and respect for each other. As sinful, imperfect human beings, you can see how this can go so wrong! How men can abuse the concept of submission by not acting in love, and how women would not be willing to submit under such oppressive circumstances. It’s not that the Bible is irrelevant. It’s that we aren’t following it properly.

3). Submission points to a greater picture. If you were to delve deeper into this passage in Ephesians 5, you would see that this marriage concept of submission and sacrifice is actually a picture of Christ and the Church. Jesus, out of his great love for us, took on the burden of our sin by sacrificing himself for us, and as a response we submit to him and follow his lead. It’s easy to want to follow Jesus because he has already proven his love for us. In fact, we cannot do this marriage thing without him. He not only acts as our example, but as we submit to Christ, he transforms us. Husbands are able to love more perfectly, and wives are able to allow them to lead. The relationship is three-fold.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.  However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

I discussed the concepts of submission and sacrifice within marriage, but the passage starts by saying, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  We are all commanded to submit, men and women. I believe that if we applied this principle to those we encounter in our families, at church, in our community, and in our world, that would be a game changer!

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:36-40