First Things Come First

Can my new year start like tomorrow?

I fell asleep on the couch with my teething child last night, I have a pile of unfinished work that was supposed to be done Thursday and I haven’t shaved my legs since like last year (please just laugh). I chose to do laundry over my first morning run, upgraded my Dr. Pepper to a large at Chick-Fil-A and I just placed the softest homemade snickerdoodle cookie* on my ever-protruding gut so I could type.

Today is the second day of the new year and I haven’t even written down one resolution. The fact that I’m writing this post a day late says it all.

This morning I wondered if I was the only one slacking this year. Why this year of all years, when I have the most responsibilities, have I not taken the time to get my life together before the start of 2017.

I looked up the definition of resolution (as in New Year’s Resolution) according to Google. It’s pretty obvious: a firm decision to do or not do something.

We climbed a mountain** today and I realized I do have a resolution. It’s the same resolution I had two days ago and it’ll be the same twenty years from now. My goal is to follow Christ. I made a firm decision years ago to do that and I’m doing it.

And although it may not feel like it at times, my life is together.

I’ll eventually get my body back (somewhat) and figure out how to eat right. I’ll learn how to work more efficiently and finally find time to start writing novels. But I’ve got to have my priorities straight.

This new year has come with a lot of changes. My family and I moved back to California. My husband and I are starting new jobs, which means I won’t be with my sweet baby 24/7 </3.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited for what’s ahead. But first things come first.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” ~ Matthew 6:33

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

 

*My sister made the cookie. If I were to have made them, they would be crunchy and store bought.

**Mt Rubidoux in Riverside. It’s actually more like a hill with a paved walkway, but a girl has got to start somewhere, right?

 

Do you know what I know?

It’s Christmas!

It’s been four years since I’ve spent this holiday with my family. I worked last year and the year before that AND this year happens to be my baby girl’s first Christmas.

Needless to say, there are so many things that have made this day incredibly special this year.

But now it’s coming to an end. Aliyah is in her crib, and there are no more gifts under the tree. In just a matter of hours, it’ll all be over.

The holiday season brings hope (among many other things) and unfortunately for some that hope (whether in presents or Santa or time with family) fades with the sun. Well, I feel an obligation to tell you that it doesn’t have to.

My family and I went to a church service yesterday (Christmas Eve) and the choir sang the well-known carol, “Do you hear what I hear?”

In the song another question was asked, “Do you know what I know?”

I cried. There are so many people in this world, people that I know, my friends and family that do not know what I know. They don’t know the fulfillment I have despite what’s going on in my life. They don’t know that one thing that gives me purpose, the one thing that brings me life.

And so I can’t let this day go by without sharing that one thing that this world needs. He’s the reason for this beautiful giving season and His name is Jesus.

He’s the Messiah, our Savior, and the Lord of my life. We celebrate His birth on Christmas, but it doesn’t end there. He lived on this earth and then died so we could live with Him. He is the only way to God. And He’s the same yesterday, today (on Christmas) and forever.

And so I thank this wonderful holiday, the carols, the ule log and the cheesy movies for yet another rainbow, God’s promise of eternal life.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

 

Friendly Neighborhood Walmart Lady

It’s been almost two months since my angel came into this world. Life with her has been different, to say the least. It’s beautiful, but if I’m honest with you, there are days when simply getting through is the goal and beauty is far from a possibility. Believe it or not, there are days when I actually feel worthless. This was one of those days.

I was tired. Aliyah had been up all night— not crying, just up — and she refused to be up alone. (A friend of mine came to visit the week before and it demolished my baby girl’s schedule, so we’re basically starting over now.)

It was the morning after, Labor Day, and the weather was decent, so we decided to grill out. I had to stop by the store, so I ran to the bathroom to throw on some deodorant and grab a hair tie (after all, I was going out in public).

As I rushed toward the door, someone stopped me. I knew this person well, but I didn’t recognize her. Her hair was a mess, her face was pale, and her body offered no rebuttal. Everything about this woman screamed motherhood, and it wasn’t exactly pretty.

Shaking off emotion, I grabbed Aliyah and a few of her things, slipped on some flip flops to complement my gym shorts and headed for the store.

While at the Neighborhood Walmart (which was apparently the place to be on everyone’s day off), I got the usual “she’s so cute” and “wow, all that hair” just about a million times.

I had her strapped to my chest in the gray carrier my brother bought. It made it easier to shop, but the trip was taking longer than expected. Aliyah was getting restless.

She started crying and wouldn’t stop. I found myself more embarrassed than concerned. I bounced for a few minutes, attempting to soothe her.

In a moment of temporary relief, an older woman with long, curly locks walked toward me. She had a similar reaction as all the others when she noticed the tiny feet dangling in front of my torso.

“Oh my goodness. She’s so tiny. She’s gorgeous.”

“Thank you,” I replied, following the queue to look down at my beautiful girl.

“Thank you,” she emphasized as if I had done her a favor. I could feel her eyes trying to catch mine. Not knowing her intentions, I refused the intimacy and placed my hand on Aliyah’s back protectively.

“Thank you for having a baby,” she clarified gently.

My eyes shot up, trying to reconcile, but she had already turned away.

My heart swelled, regretful of the encounter. I wish I had been more welcoming, more happy, cracked a genuine smile at the least. I wanted to sit down with her and explain how blessed I was to have my girl, how she was the best thing to happen to me, how there was no way I would’ve ever not had her.

I kissed my baby. She was the only one that needed to know. She could cry through every shopping trip or make me late for every meeting. I’d take no makeup days and dirty hair for months if it meant I’d have her.

She is my joy, my love, my laughter, my pride and my blessing.

Days like these remind us of our selfish nature. We want more for ourselves than we want for others. Days like these remind us that love is a choice, it requires effort. It requires us to chose someone else before ourselves. Days like these remind us of a promise – love will never fail.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.”  1 CORINTHIANS 13:13

Thanks for the rainbow friendly Neighborhood Walmart lady.

Aliyah Nichole

“Ready..one, two, three, four…”

Jelani’s counting tensed as the big moment drew near. Those 11 hours in the hospital were nothing compared to the 38 weeks of waiting. We thought, we dreamed, we imagined what our precious girl would look like, talk like, act like. And the anticipation multiplied with each deep, strained breath.

I could feel the pressure increase with every push. The once giddy delivery room had quickly been converted to an intimidating childbearing factory.

My husband held my hand and I squeezed tight. This was it, and we both knew it. Sweat dripped from my brow, I gritted my teeth and bore down. A forceful groan expressed my strength but dimmed at the sound of her emerging cry.

She was here.

There were tools and gloves and drugs and towels. There were nurses whirling in and out. They were typing and sewing, disinfecting and talking. But all I saw were her eyes looking right back at me. All I heard was her deep pant indulging in each new breath. All I felt was her vernix-coated skin drawing warmth from my own. Her head on my chest, basking in the familiar rhythm. She owned every beat of my heart.

Aliyah Nichole. It means “exalted, victorious” and I think she knew. Because from that day forward she would be first, and every day after that she would win my love without even trying.

Thanks for the rainbow baby girl.

Catching Rainbows

Hey there, welcome to my blog!

I’ve always wanted to blog, but could never find the time. With work and school and the husband, I noticed myself drifting from my true passion: telling people’s stories. But then graduation came (bye school) and then my baby came (bye work) and the blessing of journalism came knocking on my door.

So let’s get to it!

I’ve recently been inspired by the story of Noah’s Ark in the Bible. It’s a phenomenal record of a man whose uniqueness really paid off. However, it’s not the adventure on the boat that drove me to the keyboard. It was the symbol at the end – the rainbow. The colorful arch served as a promise from God, His first promise.

Life is full of God’s promises and as busy humans we tend to lose sight of them. The great thing is, if you’re one of His kids, you don’t even have to chase them. They chase you and all you have to do is catch. This blog is a compilation of the people, places and things that remind me of the promises of God.

Perhaps it’ll help us all live our lives Catching Rainbows.