Conversation With Grief

Emotions… Ugh. They can be hard and tricky at times. For as long as I can remember, I was groomed to shrug off the “negative” ones. They were seen as bad and unnecessary. They were also seemingly annoying and a huge bother to some, so I worked hard to stuff them and move on.

I have since changed dramatically. I now see emotions as tools, friends even, who come to visit, stay for a while and leave. They come to teach, hone, heal, bring pleasure and more. They aren’t necessarily good or bad, it just depends. I have learned to welcome them as friends and learn the lessons they come to teach me.

Now, I know there are people who are emotionally imbalanced. Some ruminate themselves into worse situations and inflate already horrible circumstances. Some create their own turmoil, completely unbeknownst to them.

I’m not talking about this type of person. I am thinking of one who has done inner work with God’s help, has a high level of (self) awareness and an understanding of who they are and how God created them. I’m talking about a relatively healthy individual, who is learning to process emotions in a healthy way and rid themselves of maladaptive patterns that helped them survive one point in their lives, but these patterns no longer serve them in any (good) way. I am referring to a person who is looking to change, grow and learn. I am talking about a person, much like myself. 🙂

I live in such a way that my mind is never too far from thinking about and/or talking to Holy Spirit. After a Zoom chat, I realized I began to experience grief. In lieu of being busy in order to ignore the uncomfortable feelings I was experiencing, I asked Holy Spirit how I should go about “welcoming Grief” as a friend this time around. Holy Spirit simply said, “Have a conversation with her.”

So, I did it. I got out my journal and wrote out the conversation as it unfolded. I hadn’t planned to share this with you but believe it is a good idea to do so. You know how it is, some things just feel private, sensitive and even silly.

So, with that, here’s my conversation with grief. I hope this blesses you,

With so much love, Patrice

A knock sounds at the door. I go to see who it is and come face to face with Grief. She’s back. Again.

Grief: Hello Patrice, can I come in and visit with you for a while?

Me- (Recognition, realization and acceptance dawning on my face all at once) Yes. Hello, Grief, please, come in. I suppose I’ll make us some tea.

Grief- Thank you for welcoming me in. I know I’m not your favorite guest.

Me- No, but I know you are sent when appropriate.

Grief- That’s right. You’ve come a long way. No, don’t try and mask that, “Then why are you here?” look. Let’s talk about it.

Me: You’re right. I am done with masks. So… I do understand you to be healthy for me. It’s just always painful when you arrive.

Grief: (Comes over to my seat, pulls out a set of chiseling tools and gets right to work.)

Me: Ow!! Why does this always have to hurt so much? Why now? Why can’t you just let me be happy?!

Grief: (Keeps chiseling) Happiness will return. Right now, you need me. I’m not here to hurt you. I am here to help you. See, you’d just as soon wear that filthy mask and slam the door in my face every time I come for a visit, and in doing so, you keep away not just me, but true happiness, freedom and love. Plus, you unintentionally invite others you’d enjoy far less than me, like disease and despair for instance.

Me: Ok, I get that. It’s just not fun when you come to visit.

Grief: I know Honey, but when you make room for me, I work very efficiently and leave you more beautifully healed than before. I won’t over stay my welcome and if you allow me to do what I came to do, I won’t call on Depression to join us. You know Depression doesn’t mind hanging about.

Me: Yes. I know… Grief?

Grief: Yes, Dear… (keeps chiseling different areas)

Me: Thank you. I know I don’t give you the easiest time of working with me, but I appreciate what you do for me. I know I need these visits.

Grief: It’s my pleasure to see you better off as I leave, than when I arrive, Dear. Almost done for this visit, ok?

Me: Ok

Grief: There. All done for now. (packs up and heads to the door)

We walk to the door together wordlessly, as words would simply add unnecessary clutter. At the door, I look up at her. She really is a dear friend to me . She stares back at me lovingly, unflinchingly, and slowly lowers her head until our foreheads touch. We both close our eyes as tears roll down my cheeks, and suddenly, she’s gone.

Me: See you later dear friend.

Drop The Rope

There are these people in the world… People who are hurting. Some are angry, and I don’t mean just a little mad. They are enraged on the inside, ready to erupt at a moments notice. Some are in despair. They don’t know what to do, where to turn, and surely, they don’t know how to heal. Some don’t even know they need to heal.

There are people, walking around seemingly fine. We see them every day. They smile at us and wish us well, but if you take just a second to really look, you’ll see that the smile doesn’t quite reach their eyes. Some people don’t bother with a mask of any sort. They are akin to the walking dead, blank, steady gaze and all.

There are people who walk around like burn victims with exposed wounds. Any little wind that blows by, any touch at all, not only stings furiously, but it seems to threaten their very existence. Some know and are well acquainted with their wounds, others have no idea about the gaping, oozing holes they carry all over their person.

One thing too many of these people seem to have in common is they carry a rope.

When one has pent up emotions of any sort, there is a need for release. For some, release comes easiest with the use of the rope they carry. They walk around, hauling it along, searching, waiting, hoping to get someone to take the other end of it so they can engage in a much needed release that comes from that old game, “Tug of War”.

One needn’t engage them directly. They only need to sense someone is against them in some way, it being true or not is of no consequence, they only need to feel it is so. Then, in their minds, it simply is so. They can, in good conscience, feeling fully justified, act.

The problem is, we are at one point or another, all playing this role. We all see things in part, and from a wide array of perspectives. We come from many different angles of thought and another thing we all seem to have in common is that we feel we are right. We leave no room for others with differing opinions to be right as well because- gasp, horror of horrors- that might very well make us, well, wrong. Some cannot stomach that.

So, perhaps, along your journey, you have reached a level of freedom that another has yet to obtain. It offends them and boom, they offer you the other end of the rope. (((rope is dropped at your feet))) Do you engage? Most of us do, at least initially.

See, many of us have a deep seated desire to be heard and understood. We don’t enjoy our words and ideas being twisted into something sinister when we know in our hearts that our intent is far from anything evil. We know where we are coming from and if we could just help them see… (((picks up the other end of the rope and pulls)))

The issue with this is that all too often, people are where they are, and your engaging in that tug of war with them will not only not change their view (or yours) but they don’t even want any change. They are simply here to be heard. They are here for the release that tug of war brings them. They don’t care about your viewpoint. They don’t want to know more or learn from you at all. Some are actually hellbent on misunderstanding you. For whatever reason, at this time in their lives, that is what they feel they need and frankly, it isn’t about you at all, you just happened to touch a tender wound they have open. This is where discernment is key. You don’t need to have every person understand you. It’s not for you to morph into Holy Spirit Jr, complete with cape and tights, to force them to see the light. Let them be where they are and pray for them. Don’t engage in fruitless battles that leave everyone just a little bit more damaged and settled further into only seeing from their limited perspective.

We all, at some point or another carry wounds. At times, we are the ones walking around with that heavy rope, offering it to anyone who’d take the other end and assist us in a much needed, albeit damaging exercise of release. We also play or have played the role of the one just wanting to blow off some steam with no intention of actually healing, but simply leaving behind collateral damage as we pick up our rope once again and tromp off to find someone else who is willing to engage in the exact same manner, smh.

My prayer is that with God’s help, we can begin to see. I pray that veils are lifted, blinders are removed, scales fall off eyes and we begin to see the real enemy clearly. Helpful hint- it’s not each other. We need to stop looking at issues from an “us versus them” perspective and when possible, shift to an “us versus the problem” standpoint. Just that alone could completely change how we “fight”. It could shift from fighting against one another, to fighting for one another. What could that look and be like?

My prayer is that we can stop and think, “If I am the one walking around with wounds, why don’t I seek healing for them instead of keeping and ignoring them and carrying this rope?” Perhaps instead of picking up the other end, we can refuse to engage in such destructive patterns of behavior, thereby refusing to be party to causing further damage to others and ourselves. We don’t have to engage in a tug of war.

My prayer is that we could each make a decision as many times as necessary, to just drop the rope.

Which Table Will You Choose?

I have been really going inward more, leaning in to the Lord’s arms and paying close attention to what is going on in the spirit. There’s so much activity. Sometimes it feels exciting, in a fun way, other times it just feels serious and grave.

A friend from high school posted something one day (on social media) that struck me and still does. He wrote something like, “Father please forgive me for the times I desired a seat at a table Jesus would have flipped over.” My goodness… If we’re honest, we have all been there at least once.

Part of what struck me about this was considering times where I have embodied this in my life. I thought I was justified and was totally fine with being seated at a table that Jesus might flip over as he did in the Temple where he said they used his Father’s house as a den of thieves.

Another thought hit me hard. I honestly believe many are about to find themselves happily seated at a table that God is going to flip over in a big way.

God gives wisdom freely to those who ask. There’s no need to meander about life with little to no direction or discernment. Again, these are freely given. All one has to do is ask.

I will be spending more time in prayer for us all. May none of us find ourselves happy to dine at a table that would make Jesus angry enough to flip it. Surely, that is not a table we should desire to sit and eat. I’d much rather sit at the table my Heavenly Father prepares for me. It’s far better.

God Wins

Man… We all have our assignments, don’t we? Love is a big part of my assignment. I am to be a safe haven for people. I have the ability to speak plainly and lovingly at the same time. I don’t mince words or sugarcoat, but I am not brutal and cutting in my delivery. My stature and disposition are such that I tend to be accepted by most. I can talk to just about anyone and get on just fine. Although I am a Christian, I am able to be an open, loving and safe person for literally anyone to come to for prayer, no matter what faith or lack thereof, they possess. I have people who are atheists, agnostic, witches and more, all of whom I love dearly, come to me for prayer, knowing full well it’s Jesus all day over here. I seem to get passes in places and spaces and hearts where others are irrevocably shut out, and God has blessed me to be able to do it while not compromising who I am at all, not even one iota. I love it. Well, I mostly love it.

Sometimes, I want to fly off the handle a bit. Sometimes, I want to just brutally state things that I know are true, but that is not my assignment. I seem to be a go between of sorts for people on their way to the Father who would never go to some others I know. I wish I could be as snarky as I feel in some moments, but I know that would destroy things in ways that frankly, I’m not willing to. My ability to be loving has to override my need to be right. It’s sometimes a difficult place to be in but God is faithful. He gives me words and more love than enough and even safe people of my own to rant and vent to when I have let Him have an earful.

I wrote another (probably cryptic) post on my Facebook wall today. It’s interesting- I’ve been doing it for a while now and while I can clearly see where some people’s hearts are, they don’t at all realize where they are in the moment.

There are things that are about to take place and I am praying. My latest post is as follows:

“I know I keep saying this, but I will be praying. Lotta hurt coming for some. Some will enjoy and have their popcorn and cake, while others will be scared, angry, confused and utterly shocked. For those who will find themselves in the latter group, I will be praying for you and sending you love. All will be OK even though it won’t feel that way.”

Inevitably, some who I know (in my heart) will fall into that latter, hurting group, show they don’t have any idea, nothing in them is stirred to see what’s right before us. It is for them I pray most, as it seems they will be the most hurt. What seems so obvious to some, just isn’t for others. It doesn’t make one better though. We can and have all been deceived at times.

Another post I wrote was about a brother who asked God why others didn’t see what to him is completely obvious. God told him that those who love the truth, see. How sad. Even more than ever, I believe 2020 was about exposure and clarity of vision. Either way, I will celebrate as God has placed in my heart some serious celebratory vibes, lol. And, I will also be praying for those who won’t enjoy the plot twist that is to come. It really is a great thing for us all. Simply because God wins.

Loving On My Abba

God is amazing. I am in such awe of Him. I love how He moves, blesses and protects us. I love how He uses any and everything to reach us, change us and elevate us. I love how merciful and gracious He is, how He cares about every little detail. I see how He plays with me and helps me practice hearing Him. Just the other day, as we looked for something we didn’t even end up needing, I closed my eyes and saw what looked like a picture of what we were looking for. I went to that location and found it there. I feel that was God practicing with me. Every interaction isn’t as obvious as neon lights, screaming a message. Sometimes, actually, a lot of the time for me, He speaks calmly, quietly, almost imperceptibly. I hear Him this way often. I wonder how many times I miss Him.

I love how good He was to me and my family in 2020, when so many collectively complained about the year. It was an amazing year in so many ways. I am now seeing that the last few years, while incredibly difficult and painful, were also not just great years, but pivotal years for me. I needed to deal with and go through it to come out the way God intended. I love how He is teaching me to look to Him and trust Him in deeper ways. I am far less concerned about how I am perceived by others now. I feel like a new person and at the same time, more of who I really am. I am ok with others’ disappointment. I’m ok that I won’t always be understood or accepted. I don’t need to break things down to people so that I am vindicated or justified in their eyes. It doesn’t matter. God has me covered. I am not so easily swayed or manipulated any longer. I have a much better understanding of where others end and I begin and I’m not confused about how, when and where to draw definitive lines. I’m no longer banging my head against a wall, trying to understand, make sense of, or participate in toxicity and chaos. I am free and at peace.

If there’s joy to be found, God will help me find it. We have fun with that. If there’s a reason to laugh, tickled, I will be. If there’s something to be done by me, I will do it. If I need to pull back and have a seat, I will do that too. I aim to keep my head to the chest of my sweet Abba. I aim to be ever aware of His rhythm and flow along, because with Him, I am safe. His love knows no bounds. How utterly beautiful He is.

I’m A Little Teacup (Apparently)

All my life, I have had what I now recognize as a prophetic gift. I would inexplicably know, hear or sense things. There weren’t many people I could openly talk to about any of it but it was there, showing up at various times in my life, over and over again. Sometimes, I’d blurt something out, other times, I’d just know. There were even times, I acted on what I knew and all would work out beautifully.

I don’t believe my gift is just for me, but I now see that it is not just for others either. I enjoy ministering prophetically, and I do so, not just in “appropriate”, church related areas and events, but wherever I am, whenever I feel I should. I feel compelled to do what God leads me to do, even if others don’t like it or agree. I just do, and I don’t apologize for that.

God gives us what we need as we are able to handle it. He is so good, He wouldn’t give us something good that we couldn’t handle, only to have it crush us. I got pretty good at ministering prophetically to others, it would get especially interesting and fun when I’d be paired with my oldest daughter. We have a sort of “Wonder Twin Power Activate!” kind of thing when paired together. We often see parts of the exact same message God has for people we minister to, and have been known to give really nice, more full pictures of things for people. It’s nice.

After some years of ministering to others, a group of friends and I began to focus on hearing God for ourselves more. We all agreed that hearing for others felt better, more accurate. When hearing something for ourselves, it got tricky. So many questions come to mind. Am I making it up? Is this me just telling myself what I want to hear, or is this really God? Lord, can you give me confirmation through something or someone else? Am I hearing you right? Can I trust that I am hearing from you, but for me this time?

I (low key) enjoy challenges, so along with my friends, I began a journey of getting to a point where I am more confident in hearing God for myself. I’m still on this journey and others, of course, but I am definitely not where I was and I believe it was all a massive set up, by God.

He began to tell me things for and about myself. He’d then confirm them in many ways, oftentimes, before I would think to ask for any confirmation. Without going into a long story, He has walked me through some unimaginable stuff, telling me exactly how to do it- and it didn’t always make even a little bit of natural sense- but it has been nothing short of glorious. The faith that I have in Him has grown exponentially. I’m pretty buff in the spirit, hahaha! With Him and because of Him, I am able to walk pathways not many can walk, and I am able to do it with my joy, peace and strength in tact. Perhaps these are stories I will tell someday. For now, let’s just say, I am one who looks nothing like all I’ve been through. When some hear my stories, they are shocked because again, you’d never know if I didn’t say anything. That’s how gracious God is though.

As long as I live, I will do what He wants me to do and say what He wants me to say to others. Right now, I’m just grateful that it isn’t just for others. It’s for me too.

I’ll end with a vision God showed me a few days ago. I eagerly sent a message to my Gary about it the next morning. He interprets dreams and visions… Here’s what I wrote:

“Good morning beloved Dad! I had a vision as I went to bed last night. I saw a white teacup. It was tilted over to pour and what was pouring out was crystal clear rivers of waters. It was an impossible amount pouring out of this small teacup, but it poured continuously and vigorously. Basically, a river pouring from a little white teacup, hahaha!”

Lol, I can still see the teacup. That water was not slowing or stopping. It was gushing forth with no end in sight.

Do you know what my dad said? His reply was simple. He said, “The teacup is you.” How sweet is God?!

A Daddy’s Girl

I’ve always wanted to be a Daddy’s Girl. I am my mother’s only child and the last of 6 for my father, so the role doesn’t seem at all far fetched, right?

I imagine being a little girl with my father, doted on, having my childish antics laughed at. I imagine being read to, played with, carried off to bed, being pushed on a swing- all the normal things that should come with childhood.

Instead, I got a lot of confusion and missed opportunities with my father. See, I was told that he (nor anyone) wanted me. My childish response to this was to not only believe it, but I considered myself a huge problem that could be discarded at any given moment if I didn’t do things just right. I did my best to behave in such a way that I was perfect and above reproach. I wasn’t of course, but I tried like my life depended on it, because surely, it felt like it did.

Looking at it as an adult with children of my own, it’s all just sad. I had room enough in my heart for everyone. Being selfish and playing “keep away” with me as the pawn was not at all necessary. I had/have enough room for both of my parents, I love them both dearly, even now, but we have all missed out on what could have been. That’s pitiful.

Another thing that bothers me that I am ready to admit is my feelings about my hometown. I was born and raised in Washington, DC, yet I feel so estranged and disconnected from the place. So much betrayal occurred there that has been exposed more and more over the last few years, I just don’t feel the love. It’s odd because the actual city did nothing, but the memories attached to it are there, hence the connection, or rather, disconnection. I want to have the love for my city that I see in so many friends who are still there. I want to be able to visit with no panic attacks, no anxiety that comes on intensely and suddenly at some weird moment when I’m not even thinking about anything. I want to just breathe it all in- it is a beautiful place- and feel I am home, a home where I want to be, a home where I am welcomed with genuine, unconditional love (not pretend “love”, I know the difference.).

As my father lay dying on October 31, 2009, I sang to him, talked to him, rubbed his face, feet and hair. I kissed him on the cheek and laughed because it was the first time I ever remember doing that. My sisters and I have all, and always kissed our father on the lips. I told him I was sorry we didn’t have a good relationship while he was here but we’d have all of eternity to get it right on the other side. I left his side moments before he slipped away and miss him dearly even now. I grieve what could and should have been and am grateful for what little I had with him. Much of what confused me about him doesn’t any longer, as I have been given a gift.

Three of my 5 siblings also died, but the 2 I have left are very much in my life. In fact, although my oldest (living) sister and I didn’t have much of a relationship growing up, we are now “as thick as thieves”. My sister has put into place many pieces of a puzzle I once saw as utter confusion and very painful. So much makes sense now. Much of it is heartbreaking and sad, but not all. Some of it is heartwarming.

You see, my father did want me. He loved and adored me. All the times he declared his love for me in person and in letters was the truth. I didn’t believe him because I was conditioned to believe otherwise, but it was true. All the friends and coworkers going on and on about how he went on and on about me to anyone who would listen, it was all true and all stemmed from the love of a father for his babygirl. My sister laughed and said, “Girl! He worshiped the ground you walked on! He even went on and on to the rest of us about you and what’s interesting is that we all felt the same. We all loved you and wanted you around more. No one was jealous at all. You were the baby, doing amazing things and we loved you.”

The coolest part of this is that God has gifted me in such a way that I see memories flash by, like a movie of collective memories and moments, all confirming what my sister has shared with me. It’s amazing, especially considering my father is gone and I can’t speak with him or my other siblings now.

So after all this time of thinking no one really wanted me for much beyond what I could do for them, it’s an enormous load off to know it was never true. I am and have always been loved and wanted. I pray you see that you are too. Signed, A bona fide Daddy’s Girl.

Moments of Pause

Several years ago, I learned to pause. I would intentionally stop and do nothing, even if just for a minute or two. Over the years, this time has proven to be an amazing reset and reprieve as there’s always something to do in a house of 7.

During these moments, I rarely actually pray. I simply turn my heart and mind towards God and am open to hearing from Him in these moments. One of the things I have noticed is that it has caused me to be far more in tune with Him. At the busiest points of my day, in the midst of all the noise, I can still hear Him clearly. It’s as if, in the intentional moments, I am tuning in more pointedly and as I leave that moment, the tuning that I have gained remains, only to be improved with the following intentional pauses.

I love and appreciate that in the midst of anxiety ridden moments, I can still hear Him. I love it when He asks me, “What are you looking at?” in those moments, jarring me from sinking further into despair. I am able to shift my focus and look at Him because He is just so beautiful. It feels like such an amazing cheat to have in life. We never have to wallow in despair and anguish. What a gift!

My time of pausing typically includes me just listening to whatever sounds are around me. Right now, my children are asleep and I hear my cockatiel Birdie, singing and chirping beautifully. I hear planes flying overhead, cars whizzing by, birds outside, the hum of the refrigerator and the clicking of my fingers as I type this. I really enjoy the simple beauty in just being.

God is changing my pauses now in an interesting way (for me). My pause now includes worship music at times. Being a classically trained coloratura soprano who has sung in church for most of my life, one would surmise (incorrectly) that I listen to music all the time. Music is a sore spot for me. Oftentimes, it is very triggering, especially now. It takes me back to times that I had forgotten about, feelings I’d buried because I couldn’t deal with them at the time. It brings too much to the forefront, too fast and too intensely and I hate it. Most of the time, I don’t mind when my husband and children play music around me. We have fun singing during road trips and have frequent dance parties in our living room, but sometimes, depending on the type of music being played, I can’t handle it and seek to escape. On my own, I am far more prone to listen to books or lectures than music. Now, God has me actually wanting to hear music at times during my pauses and it is quite glorious.

I would like to share one of my current favorite pause songs by Rick Pino called Pour My Love On You. Click here for the link. I hope you enjoy it. It really blesses me every time I listen.

I’m still not listening to music in the car as I drive, though. Don’t want to. Love you…

Waking Up to Love

Part of what makes me who I am, is that I am a story teller. I thoroughly enjoy hearing and telling stories of events that happen in life. I also know full well when I am being “watched from afar”, so I am mindful about how much I share and when. I may not say much at times, but I’m no one’s fool. People give lip service to loving and caring when, even if they aren’t aware of it, they just don’t. I have always noticed this, but I just hoped for the best and kept quiet. Now, I am more mindful than ever of how I conduct myself as I face what simply is, in life with various people.

I never realized how cynical I can be until now. I thought I was overly trusting but I am finding that’s just not true. One area that I am waking up to true love in, is with my husband. Although we have our fair share of issues and disagreements, I believe I have held him at arms length to a degree, expecting him to change up on me at any given moment and display the toxic behaviors I grew up with and am still very much accustomed to.

The fact that he has not ever done those things, has done nothing to dissuade me from that expectation, even after 24 years together. I expect him to be selfish, heartless and mean and when he doesn’t, I’m confused.

When he does behave selfishly, I think, “See? I knew it!” Recently, I messed up royally and fell asleep when I was supposed to be letting him in the house. He stood outside calling me and our daughters, getting no reply until he tried our oldest, who let him in. I’d literally just gotten off the phone with him, fell asleep and had my phone on silent. Needless to say, he wasn’t pleased to be stuck outside after midnight when we just got off the phone.

When he came in, he woke me up and told me what happened. I apologized as he went to brush his teeth. I stayed up, worried, and on alert. I was waiting for the cold shoulder. I expected him to ignore me for a while whether that be hours, days, weeks, or more. It didn’t matter that he’s never done this before in our lives together. I waited. When he came back into our room, he looked at me, gave me the prettiest and most genuine smile, and said, “Happy Anniversary.” I was stunned and said, “You aren’t mad at me?” He said, “Not anymore. That’s over.” I was shocked.

I mentioned in my last blog post that part of an anniversary gift was his bringing home my dear cousin Tami and her 4 daughters for 3 days. He said he wanted to make me happy. As they were leaving, Tami told me there was more to come. I felt so happy with her and the girls’ visit, I couldn’t really imagine what more he could do to top or come close to that. I am very sentimental. Details count with me. He drove over 200 miles to get them and take them back home. That’s a lot, especially when he is not a fan of road trips. Anyway, he declared this anniversary was his year to plan for us and really went all out in celebration of our 20th year of marriage.

He told me to block out specific dates and pretty much demanded that I not mess up this one rule. One year, he surprised me and took me to Hawaii which I almost messed up. Ten years ago, I completely botched a trip to Paris for our 10th anniversary. I’ve grown in wisdom since then, lol.

This time, he told me not to even pack clothes, as he wanted to buy them at our destination. I complied this year, thankfully. He had a harder time keeping where we were headed a secret this time, and I just smiled when I saw Las Vegas on the screen, printing our boarding passes at the airport’s kiosk. I didn’t really care where we went, as long as we were together. He’d been away a lot and I miss him. We spent our first day in Vegas, taking walks and seeing some of the sights. The next day, we rented a car, drove to San Diego, and spent a day and night there. On the way back to Vegas, he messed up. While shopping at an outlet, he asked about one daughter’s shoe size. I told him and then said I’d call her to check to be sure. I couldn’t reach any of my 3 girls. I began to freak out. Long story short, I called, left voice messages, text messages, emailed each, sent messages through What’s app, Marco Polo, Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram. I was soon convinced that my 5 children had been trafficked and began freaking out- all the way.

Eventually, my oldest sent me a text message, asking about some soap I made. Still not convinced they were OK, I demanded they call me. Another daughter text me saying sorry and giving some lame excuse for not being reachable. After an hour, one finally called. As we spoke, there was suddenly a weird echo. A moment later, I heard the door to our suite open and saw all 5 of my children and my niece Jeteya walk in! It was all so surreal. They laughed, saying they’d planned everything out except how to account for going missing for about 6-7 hours. Again, Jermaine said that he wanted to do what he knew would make me happy.

We rented a van the next day and visited the beach, Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and more, in LA. We had an amazing time.

My prayer is that I would continue to be open to true love and accept what I have in and with my husband. This man very obviously adores me as I do, him. I don’t want to miss out on a thing. I want to soak it all up and enjoy our life together. I feel so grateful and fulfilled.

Our Tami (Really mine, though)

I recently experienced a loss. It was the kind of loss that feels very alienating. At the same time, my husband has been away quite a bit, helping his dad, so, the temptation to feel alone has been great at times. Thankfully, I hear God well and often enough that it hasn’t been very difficult.

My husband and I will be celebrating our 20th anniversary on July 21st and I am looking forward to the intentional time with just the two of us. I need it. I have been missing him a lot.

Sometimes, our loved ones know what we need before we do. As one who has felt that I needed to anticipate and meet the needs of others without them saying a word, that foresight being turned towards me is absolutely… humbling.

My husband was to return home on Wednesday. When he came in the door, I was thrilled to see him and then was stunned to see my cousin Tami and her 4 daughters come in soon after.

Tami and I grew up together. When she was 8 and I was 13, she came to live with my mother and I. Tami and I have always been very close. We are more like sisters and best friends. Our lives are beautifully and traumatically interwoven. We love and seek to protect one another fiercely. She was the first person who I felt truly knew me. She can even taste food and know if I would like it. She has always been nothing but loving and accepting of me, no matter what, even when we don’t agree. She was the first to feel like home to me. She was the first person who I felt really saw me, understood me, and still genuinely liked me. I didn’t have to do anything to earn her love. It was a free gift. I have always and still feel extremely protective of her and our relationship.

From the moment she and her girls walked through the door, we enjoyed each other. We cooked, baked, laughed, shared memories, danced, skated, walked, shopped, did fireworks and more. At some point, she smiled and said wistfully, “I really needed this.” I did too. The three days went by too quickly.

We embraced and cried a little as she left. I told her and our girls that my husband said to me that bringing her here was a part of his anniversary gift to me. He said he wanted to make me happy. He knew that for me, Tami is happiness. She told me that he has more amazing things planned for me. If he did nothing else, this would be more than enough. He sought to bring me happiness and he did. Anything else he does will just be icing on the cake. I am so grateful.