vote. please vote.

I’m having mixed emotions today. I’m filled both with shame and pride. You see today is election day, and the root of my sentimental conflict comes from this statement: 

This is my first time voting. 

I’ve been ‘of age’ for almost seven years now and I repeat, this is my first time voting. There is a freedom in this country of which I had not taken advantage, until today. Let me just say, as a first timer, it is one of the most empowering things I have ever done. 

It wasn’t the action of filling in bubbles next to my selections (I’d done that for 16 years) or even handing my sealed envelope to the smiling woman at the library around the corner that fueled my pride. Believe it or not, it was the sticker. 

Yes, just as my two-year-old grins with excessive cheese while placing a colorful adhesive on her chest, so did I with a red, white and blue oval. You guys know I can’t help but be deep, so allow me to explain my thought process. 

Just decades ago, people protested and fought, desperate to have their voices heard — to have laws changed, leaders elected because of what mattered to them. Black people, female people…my people. 

I’ve come up with every excuse in the last few years not to vote, and honestly, each one fails to the hope of possibly having my opinions represented. 

My generation is notorious for that ‘being heard’ concept. We’re also equally noted for our lack of participation on days like today. We snap, tweet, post and update our bold opinions daily on social media. It’s great, but ineffective if not complemented with casting a ballot. 

I cringe to think of the possibility that the state of our country is a result of my nonexistent say.

“They won’t listen unless you speak where you’re heard.”

That’s a pretty dope quote I just thought of myself. And with it, I’ll conclude by saying what they all say: Vote. Please vote.  

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Some of you know I started this blog to document the moments in my life that remind me of God’s promises. I call those moments rainbows, so here’s the rainbow.

Although imperfect, the nation I live in is free. It brings to mind a greater, complete freedom that I live in each day. 

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

2 Cor. 3:17

so i never forget

I’m sitting at home with my feet propped up nursing my newborn baby boy. He’s beautiful; so precious I can’t seem to stop kissing every part of his little face. His thin lips, wide nose, fluffy cheeks, they all fill my heart with an overwhelming amount of love. When I look into his big dark eyes, I can’t help but close my own and reminisce his grand entrance into this world….

The panic, the pain, the promise I forced my husband to make to never do this to me again. 

It’s hilarious how we can be entrenched in a situation so intensely painful we can’t imagine a way out. But a minute later we see the joy that results and we can’t seem to remember the pain at all. I’m pretty sure that’s why us women have multiple children. There’s a wonderful lesson to be learned here, but I’d rather not talk about that just yet.

I wrote a poem documenting the emotions of my second child’s birth. In a year from now, when I’m missing tiny baby clothes and adorable, unnecessary infant shoes I will stand strong against the temptation to breed. My memory of labor will be on the internet forever so I will never forget. 

“It’s been just one week since the day you came
You’re cute and cuddly now, but birthing you brought so much pain
I’d been preparing for some time, had contractions for two weeks
But boy when you chose to come out you brought me to my knees

 

Literally, on all fours on the floor, I couldn’t believe the ache
There was no relief, no stopping now, not even a 30 second water break
Speaking of which, I drenched my dress, the stairs and the passenger seat
Your dad drove as fast as he could while I cursed every bump on the street

 

And when we checked in, it all got worse, the hurt intensified
I moaned in absolute agony, every inch of me wanted to cry
Little aid came from a hand I grabbed, whether your dad’s or some guy nearby
The only hope that I chose to see was in the drugs they would shoot up my spine

 

So I sat real still, felt a stab in my back and begged for the highest dose
And just like that, almost instantly, I was laying there cracking jokes
After two hours of torture I was able to look up and notice my family
They ate snacks while I doped up, I swear I was a whole new me. 

 

Before I could think, the doctor came in and said it was time to push
The room full of laughs but this moment was real so I told them all to shush
Just a few deep breaths and I pulled you out, my goodness you had so much hair
Tears in my eyes, my heart welcomed yours, please know “Mommy will always be there”

 

To have another child, I’d done this before. I’m not sure what I was thinking
I had asked your dad to give me another, can’t imagine what I’d been drinking
The pain was bad, that’s true for sure, I won’t promise to do it again
But you, my son, fill our lives with a joy that our hearts can’t even contain”

Our little guy was a solid 8 lbs. 2 oz. and the laboring process I described, from the first painful contraction to delivery, was just four hours long. The pain was the worst I had ever felt in my life. It was unimaginable. If I wasn’t aware that quadrillions of women throughout history had endured this same process, I would’ve assumed I was going to die. That’s what it felt like.  (Side note: giving birth to my first child was not like this at all. Labor was longer but I hardly felt any pain.)

But here’s the thing…the second he was birthed, I forgot ALL the pain. Actually, for me, the forgetting happened once the drugs kicked in, but you know what I mean. I look at this beautiful life God created through me and my husband and my heart is full of every good thing. He’s certainly worth the laboring process it took to birth him. 

So here’s the rainbow: God promises to complete the work He started in us. Press through the pain, holding on to this promise. And I look forward to hearing your birth story 😉

 

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

our first date

“I’ll be a living…sanctuary..for..you.” 

I tried to control the heaviness of my breath as the lyrics ended, my lips kissing the bridge of Aliyah’s nose. She was asleep. Thank God. 

I crouched down to the floor, feeling for the skinny stretch maternity jeans and salmon one-shoulder top I envisioned wearing while completing my daughter’s bedtime routine. I threw on some deodorant and the body spray I found in the side pocket of our suitcase and ran out of the house.

It was 10:30 and the movie started in 10 minutes, but still he took the time to open my door. He forced his lips together in efforts to cover the cheesy smile on his face. I boasted my all-teeth smile unashamed to admit what we were both thinking: this was a big deal!

Check out our trip to Ohio!Our drive to the theater seemed to fly by, my heart rate admitting fault for speeding up the ETA assigned by Google maps. The movie, Jurassic World, was surprisingly good — although my review would have to take a backseat to another made by someone who wasn’t holding hands with the cutest guy in the room/state/nation/world! 

I’ll save you from reading all my wifey feels and get to the point: we went on a date!

No babies, no friends, no bibles…(you tend to make a date night out of anything when you’re parents). So what? You’re married, why is a date such a big deal? Well, as I sit here writing, reminiscing about that time I spent with my best friend, I realize it may very well have been our first date of 2018. 

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I’m reminded so strongly of the advice we constantly received during our engagement. 

“Make sure you go on a date at least once a week.” 

There were several variations of that same sentiment with specific regulations for what constituted a “date”. I believe each of those comments/suggestions were made in genuine love and solid wisdom, but the reality is we haven’t followed that rule. At all. 

There’s no room for judgment here because I know the status of my marriage. I know how much our love for one another has increased this year, despite our failure to follow the formula set by friends and counselors. It’s almost as if we’ve chosen to walk in the bountiful grace made available to us in this season rather than acting as accusers, condemning our relationship because of a law that’s impossible to fulfill (at least right now). 

We’re busy parents of (almost) two kids, working on saving for our future. We spend hours out each week as a family and even more time Netflix and chilling at home when Aliyah is asleep. The investment in our relationship may not look like it did before but it’s there.   

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Here’s the rainbow (a reminder of God’s promise) I caught on our date:  

“God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8

There are laws in Christianity, rules that are designed to keep us close to God. But it’s possible to spend more time focused on following the rules than following His heart. We can get caught up in thinking our own actions determine our salvation status when ultimately obeying the handbook to heaven is impossible for our flawed humanity.

I’m glad all God sees when He looks at me is not my lack but His amazing grace.

i spilled the tea

I want to share this story with you guys. I’m using that term loosely because, well, I reallyNINE TO FIVE-6
don’t want to share this story. It’s embarrassing and sad and it just happened so I’m not over it yet. 

I had just finished cleaning Aliyah’s highchair and a 3-foot radius of the floor surrounding it after breakfast. She wanted to watch “horsies”, a Netflix series from the animated movie Spirit. I had to get work done, so I was certainly not going to oppose. 

I picked her up under her arms and placed her right beside me on the couch. She grabbed her “blanky”, stuck her fingers in her mouth and did a little shimmy to settle herself in for the show. I grabbed a lukewarm cup of tea from the microwave, plopped the laptop on my TV tray workspace and did my own little shimmy in complete gratitude of the 26 minutes of productivity ahead of me. 

I started weeding out emails, in no hurry since the theme song for the show was still going strong, Aliyah’s voice matching the ending note of each line. I reached my arm across her to grab my tea just as the song ended, and Aliyah leapt with excitement. “Na na!” (Moana).

Apparently that was all she needed from the horses after my butt hit the remote, changing the screen to a trailer showcasing her favorite island princess. But this post isn’t about Moana or my butt or the twin shimmies we did earlier. It’s about something bigger…

I SPILLED THE TEA!!!Please join in me in a moment of silence for the complete loss of the MacBook Air that has seen me through the last 5 years.

I’m sure one day I’ll laugh at this, but today is not the day. I honestly don’t think tomorrow will be either. 

Now, let’s be real, I could care less about the computer. It was expensive, yes, but I’ve had it for a while. I’m just so hesitant to even tell you guys about the work I lost. 

LESSON PAINFULLY LEARNED : BACK IT UP

I was planning to launch a new series of blog posts which I had really enjoyed writing. Losing those among other personal branding type files sucked, but losing my books continues to hurt my heart. 

I have dreamed of becoming an author for most of my life. In the last few months, I started writing consistently…passionately. I had been alternating between two novels depending on my mood, and although I was nowhere near completing either, I was fully invested. Those first few chapters disclosed my heart. I can’t even think about starting over. 

But I’m young. These things happen, right? I’ll take better care of my things next time?? I’m really not sure what piece of positivity to take away from this experience to be honest. 

I can’t be sad about things very long, that’s not my thing. So I just said, “F it!”

To clarify ( because there’s a good chance my mother will read this ), the “F” in the previous sentence stands for forget… “Forget it!”

I’m forgetting what’s lost and focusing on what’s left to be found.

You know, my mom is the one who told me that God is still God when I whined to her about this whole ordeal. 

This blog is called Catching Rainbows. I started it to document the moments in my life that remind me of the promises of God. It’s been well over a year since my last post, and it’s a little difficult to see a rainbow in this one, so I’m going to use my mom’s. 

I didn’t want to hear it, but it’s always a helpful reminder. My God is God no matter what. There’s certainly goodness in that. 

Mommy’s Coming Out!

“Your body went through nine months of radical changes, so give it another nine months to return to normal,” they say.

Those words were much easier for them to say than for me to accept. There was a time when I was an optimistic pregnant balloon. I had the impression that once my baby came out, I’d be back to normal because that’s what they told me.

“Girl, you’re so skinny, you’ll bounce right back after popping that baby out.”

Reality hit when I went in for my 6-week postpartum checkup looking worse than I did when I left the hospital.

Truth: my body is not latex and it did not snap back.

It’s funny now, but postpartum insecurities are no joke. Hormones run wild and emotions follow suit – I haven’t studied it, but I have lived it. I was a new mother spending every day with the most wonderful baby I had ever known. But I tried to cover up vulnerabilities intended to showcase the raw beauty of motherhood.

I found myself insulting my own appearance in an effort to keep my roots underground. It wasn’t even about my body or the fact that none of my clothes fit. I wanted to know that I was doing this thing right, that I could provide this baby with every thing she needed at the time she needed it.

I remember being so nervous to change my baby’s diaper in the mother’s room at church because I would be the one to do that wrong too. Aliyah was my first and we had to learn it all together, teach each other.

I could go on and on about all the inward struggles that have been my life the last nine months, but I don’t think I need to. People close to me would be surprised to hear how ‘untogether’ I still am, but I thank God for that.

He’s the reason I’m able to conquer all my fears. I gave my insecurities to Him and He exchanged them for confidence, joy, peace and so much love. He gave me a stud of a husband to encourage me and an incomparable support system of friends and family to keep me going.

My daughter is nine months today and I can boldly say I’m proud of myself. I feel and look amazing and I’m not ashamed to say it. My body will never be the same, but I like to think it’s better…I’m better.

If you’re going through anything similar, trust the process. Cherish the season that you are in and don’t be afraid to share the unseasoned parts 😉 They’re beautiful and they make us who we are. Cheesy as it may sound, it took nine months for Aliyah to develop before she could see the world and I think it may have taken nine months for this mother to do the same. I’m coming out! (Call me Mama Dre<3)

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Selfless Selfies

disciple. wife. mom. daughter. sister. friend. the list goes on. and on.

This week a friend of mine mentioned that I don’t have any selfies on my Instagram page…so I posted one today!

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This morning I scrolled through my page and asked myself why I have so few pictures of just me on MY account.

Here was the initial assumption: “I must be insecure about the way I look. If I thought I was the least bit of fine, I would want the whole world to see..right?”

Wrong. That had to be wrong. I am terrifyingly not photogenic, but I’ve always been a considerably confident person. I’m not conceited by any means; I simply don’t give energy to what others think, so it had to be something else.

As my mind wandered, I stumbled on a conclusion. My page shows baby..baby..me and baby..me and husband..husband..me and friend..baby..baby because those are the roles that I play. That’s who I am and I absolutely love it!

However, I am learning that it’s healthy to have my own thing. Something that I enjoy doing or a place I enjoy being at or people I enjoy seeing just for me. Just for fun. With this in mind, I’m starting a few projects that I hope to share soon.

If you know me, you know there’s always something deeper I want to acknowledge. It’s great to find hobby or activity that makes you feel good or gives you a sense of fulfillment, but you’ll keep searching your whole life. Everything here on earth is temporary, it won’t last long.

I hear about women who get wrapped up in their business or their marriage or their kids and they lose themselves. I can totally see how they get there. These things bring us so much happiness, but they demand our focus, our time and our strength.

We (as women and as people in general) need to find our lives in something or SOMEONE that gives back. Since I’m the example here, I’ll let you know that I found Jesus. The Bible tells me that if I lose my life I will find it in Him and I have! I actually follow Him in real life.

My lack of self on social media was never intentional. I guess I just post in the moments that mean the most to me and it happens to be with those I love most.

(It could also be due to the fact that I am hardly ever on my phone, therefore making me an inadequate millennial)

The picture is not the goal, but it did remind me of one of God’s many promises. I hope you liked my face and were encouraged by something I said.

More selfies to come my dudes!!

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“…your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” COLOSSIANS 3:3

Aliyah’s first Day at Work

Aliyah is six months old today!

Today I had to take her to work with me for a few hours and of course I got to thinking…

I love to work. (I have my mother to thank for that quality). I relish any fast-paced workroom and I thrive in the overtime.

Before Aliyah came I worked for a local news station in Oklahoma. The newsroom atmosphere only exacerbated my itch to clock-in.

I worked hard and tried my best to be home for my husband before 11:30 each night.

But then July 12th happened. Jelani and I decided it would be best if I quit my job and stayed home to take care of Aliyah.

MY GOODNESS! My world was rocked. I went from being home for 8 hours (for sleep) to being home 24 hours a day, seven days a week (pretty much). The first few weeks were rough. Very rough.

Most days, it was just me and my girl. Speeding passed the snarling shitzu down the road during our morning walks became the most thrilling part of the day and Sunday church the most thrilling day of the week. (I’m so patient now!)

But let me tell you the good news, it got easier. It actually became a dream come true.

I’ve never had to ask someone else about my child’s day. I have the privilege of experiencing every cry, every babble and every smile. How could I desire anything more?

Of course there are days when I miss feeling my heart race while assigning a breaking story, but there’s something to be said about a heart that knows how to sit still.

I needed such a dramatic shift to truly appreciate this season of my life. I’ve grown immensely in the past six months and I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given: to nurture a beautiful girl and provide a warm home for my husband.

After six months, I’m fortunate enough to work part time (at a new job) with the freedom to bring my girl with me. I’m able to help out financially and I’m home by 1 p.m. to serve my family. Long story super duper short: life with these two is pretty freaking sweet!

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“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” ~ James 1:4