Monday, December 10, 2012

The Mommy Diaries...

Baby Girl has me so busy, I barely have time to write. I think often. One day these thoughts will make their way onto this blog, but until then, here is a photo of Baby Girl in all of her joy! I agree with Richard Smallwood that "Jesus is the Center of my Joy" but I must admit that even with the very real phenomenon of sleep deprivation, Baby Girl is a close second! Her smile, and especially her laughter, makes everything good!



Friday, August 24, 2012

The Mommy Diaries: Blessed Quietness

This morning I woke up with the song, "Blessed Quietness" on my heart:

Blessed Quietness, Holy Quietness,
What assurance in my soul;
On the stormy sea, Jesus speaks to me,
And the billows cease to roll...

Being a parent is the most joyful, and most challenging, work I have ever done. There are some moments when it has been stormy, but in this new phase of my life I am leaning on the Lord like never before. It took a delicate, and beautiful, baby girl for me to really recognize--and live out--the fact that God is Sovereign and that I control nothing (nada, zip, zero, zilch). It has taken our daughter trusting me with all her heart to really recognize the absolute trustworthiness of our God. It has taken the (sometimes monotonous) 24/7 cycle of caring for an infant to truly see the Holy in all things. It has taken me loving a human being like I've never loved anyone else before--to the point of putting all of her needs before my own--to glimpse the depths of love that God has for us and shown to us through His Son.

So on this day, I am grateful for Baby Girl for preaching the good news to me day in and day out. And, so not to push my luck, I am going to end this post as I am writing it in the blessed quietness of Baby Girl napping with the hum of the washing machine off in the distance.

Also, shout out to Jasmine LaShawn who stopped by to help me with Baby Girl yesterday. As little lady napped, she helped me to organize my office space in the nursery, making this post possible. Stop by her blog, Princess Reflections, and be blessed...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Think on These Things...


Lately fear has been attempting to creep in and keep me in comfortable places where I have no business. Doubt has been whispering sweet nothings in my ears trying to contradict the word of God in my heart. And so, this song has been ministering to my spirit lately. Most recently during worship at Bethesda after the choir finished their 2nd reprise of the song, the preacher of the hour said, "Stop trying to psychoanalyze everything and just say, "Yes Lord."

I, simultaneously, hate it and love it when a preacher gets all in my business.

All up in my business...I hate it because, well, conviction hurts. Instead of being fully present in the moment, like Jesus said in Matthew 6: 25-34, I have been regretfully hitting rewind and anxiously hitting fast forward. Instead of acknowledging the Lord and letting my path be directed, wisdom found in Proverbs 3:6, I have been trying to figure things out. Futile, I know.

All up in my business...I love it because there is nothing sweeter than operating in the will of God for your life. I constantly have to remind myself that God has a plan for my life and that ALL things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to HIS purpose (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28).

I don't know about you, but I know that God has spoken to me. May it be so...



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Mommy Diaries: Girl's Day Out

Being a full-time stay at home mother is such a blessing! Admittedly, it also has its challenges. One such challenge, especially since we live far away from family and friends, is the being in the house with a lack of adult company (for me...Baby Girl is perfectly content chillin' with her momma all day). To deal with this challenge I joined the Mocha Moms and La Leche League. I also try to have an outing most days of the week. We go for walks, to Target, the grocery store, etc. We have visited family and friends (as long as no one in the house is sick, must protect Baby Girl's immune system). Well, a few weeks ago I discovered another excursion for Mama and Baby: Bring Your Baby Matinees. The Bring Your Baby Matinees are sponsored by The Bump and AMC Theaters.



Bring Your Baby Matinees is held at select AMC Theaters on the first Tuesday of every month. It is an opportunity for parents to get out with their babies to watch newly released movies. Thankfully, we have an AMC Theater in New Brunswick, about 15 minutes from our home. So yesterday I got us dressed (in matching denim dresses, see below), fed Baby Girl, and headed out to the theater to see Rock of Ages. I didn't know what to expect, so I only brought her carseat. (Next time I'll bring her stroller; We were in the theater furthest from the door, which made for a long walk to and from the entrance/bathroom.) We arrived at the theater, picked up my ticket, got some snacks, and took the long walk to Theater 7.  When I walked in I saw a row of strollers parked in the front of the theater. I looked up and there were parents, mostly moms, sitting with car seats next to them, ready and eager to see the movie. (Some ladies were wearing their babies in slings, which I may try next time.) Baby Girl and I walked across the theater (nobody minds this, even during the movie). We sat at the end of a row, as did most moms, just in case we needed to make a beeline out of the theater. (I was most impressed by a mom who came with twins. She had one baby on the right, she was in the middle, and another on the left.) When we sat down, a baby on the right side let out a scream that was followed by a chorus of cries. And guess what? I didn't care. Nobody cared. We were so excited to be out of the house and at the movies that even the sound of crying babies was welcome. Now, Baby Girl didn't join the chorus, but she was intrigued by her new surroundings. And my, when the movie started, she was captivated by the big screen, flashing colors, and music. I may not have enjoyed the film, but she sure did! When she wasn't focused on the movie, she was either nursing or sleeping; The Bring Your Babies Matinees encourages breastfeeding mommies to feed their babies while enjoying the movie. At one point she got a little fussy. Like most of the parents in the theater, when that happened I stood up in the aisle and rocked her until she was calm again. In fact, most of the babies were quiet and, when they weren't, parents were proactive about keeping babies happy. I don't think anyone left the theater because baby was crying without consolation. This theater was no noisier than one where people talk to their neighbors, sneak and answer their cell phones during the show, and/or talk to the movie. All in all, we had an amazing day out! I am looking forward to our August date!



- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Mommy Diaries: Mash Up

Baby Girl is six weeks old. I thought I'd be writing more often, but during those rare times when I'm not nursing or holding her as she sleeps, I'm either trying to get stuff done or napping myself. Truth be told, this entry is being typed on my iPhone at 3:00am. (Truth be told, I'm finishing this post three days later because the demands of motherhood be that way sometimes!) Lord have mercy...
Anyway, here are some of my thoughts six weeks into this thing called parenthood...
On Nursing...
As soon as I made the decision that I wanted to have children I knew I wanted to breastfeed. Hubby and I were in agreement on this issue. He's from Ghana and formula feeding is a rarity there. I have nothing against formula (I am a formula fed baby), but I do believe that breast is best. Plus, breastfeeding is a profoundly theological statement, pointing to an Awesome God who wonderfully created these bodies and promised to supply all of our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19). That being said, breastfeeding is a commitment not for the faint of heart. Formula would have been easy (and expensive), but in the words of James Cleveland, "...nobody told me the road would be easy, but I don't believe He's brought me this far to leave me." My hope is to exclusively breastfeed for six months and introduce solid foods around that time in addition to breast milk for the next six months until she's ready for cow's milk.
On Pocketbooks...
Yesterday I ventured out without the baby. Hubby was armed with pumped milk and bottles as I headed to the nail salon for a much needed manicure, pedicure, and eyebrow wax. Like the ladies at Black Girls Run say, you gotta preserve the sexy. (More on preserving the sexy in another post...I should be cleared to exercise during my OB/GYN visit tomorrow.) In any case, it was the first time in six weeks that I left the house without a diaper bag and with my pocketbook. Yes, a pocketbook! It felt strange, to say the least to have such a small bag. These days when we go out I throw the essentials—my wallet, keys, and make-up bag—into Baby Girl's diaper bag and keep it moving. And as much as I love my Vera Bradley diaper bag (thanks to my sister!), I am looking forward to my once a week outing with my Coach bag. With the simple switch of a bag I went from being identified as Baby Girl's mother to Donna. It reminded my that my identity is not solely rooted in motherhood. As an avid watcher of makeover shows, I have noticed that most of the women who are made over were once fabulous women who completely lost themselves when they became mothers. Don't get me wrong, I would do anything for our daughter and am delighted to function in my new role, but I believe that one of the ways that I can be good to her is to be good to me. That said, maybe I'll buy a new bag for my outings (ok, ok, it's a stretch...I know).
On Birthdays...
I turned thirty-six a month after Baby Girl was born. A few days before my birthday hubby asked me what I wanted. Nothing, I replied. Birthdays are usually a big deal to me, but in an instant my priorities shifted. I didn't want a gift. The attention is on Baby Girl now and I am content with celebrating the BIG birthdays—40, 45, 50, etc—from here on out. To my surprise, hubby brought me two dozen roses to commemorate the day. They brought a huge smile to my face and a sweet aroma to our home.
On Having Children After Thirty-Five...
This isn't about geriatric pregnancy as one of the sonogram doctors reminded me that I was (When you conceive past the age of thirty-five, even if its just months after, some folks have a way a making you feel like you should be hanging out with Betty White). This is more about my crazy thoughts that perhaps I should have had children right after my partying days were done. I used to stay up and out until the wee hours of the morning and could function on little sleep. But I've grown old and have been used to getting 8-9 hours of sleep for years now. I thought insomnia during pregnancy was no joke, but nighttime feedings have left me delirious at least four days a week. Everyone tells me to nap when she naps, and I try, but I also try to get dinner on the table and housework done. I'm not the woman who can rest with dishes in the sink. I just can't. All that to say the younger club-hopping Donna would have been able to handle this new schedule. Thanks be to God that His mercies are new every morning; Although I've been tired (to the point of delirium some days), I have been able to meet Baby Girl's needs without compromising our household needs.
On Mothers and Motherhood...
After just six weeks into my new gig I have a newfound respect for mothers and for my mother. Seriously, this is the hardest work I've ever done and the most rewarding. Not that I thought motherhood was easy, but like the slogan for a now defunct MTV show that I can't remember the name for: you think you know, but you have no idea. Shout-out to the moms out there, and special hanks to my mom for raising us AND for coming to be with me as I made the transition into motherhood.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Mommy Diaries: iPhone App of the Week

It has been a long time since I reviewed an iPad app. Since my last review I have crossed the river, and moved from being a Blackberry user to an iPhone user. (Hubby surprised me with an iPhone for Christmas!) I appreciate being able to sync information—especially appointments in iCal—on ALL of my devices, and of course as a total Apple geek I love the interface and design! But I didn't whip out my almost 5-year old Macbook to tell you that. (She's still kicking. Let the church say, "Amen!")

I did put fingers to keyboard to tell you about my new favorite app. It is not for everyone...but new parents (and anyone who has new parents in their lives) should read further. The app is called Baby Feeding Log and it was created by Aaron Beaver. I downloaded it after being home from the hospital for three days. While in the hospital, the baby nurses would have me keep a log of feedings and diaper changes. They had a neat tear sheet with a spreadsheet where I would record the time I fed Afia, which breast(s) I used (I am exclusively breastfeeding), and how long she nursed on each breast. The same tear sheet was used to record wet and poopy diapers. It was, and still is, important to know whether or not she is getting enough milk when she nurses.

When we arrived home I continued to log Afia's feedings and diaper output. (Thank God, there is much to be logged, lol!) Instead of using the sheet, I used the notepad on my iPhone. I must admit that it was not as easy as filling in the boxes on the hospital spreadsheet, but we had a pediatrician's appointment the next day and I knew that she would assess her weight gain/loss based on this information. That was Thursday. On Friday morning I had an aha! moment


Since there is an app for everything, I thought, "Surely someone has developed an app for logging babies activities of feedings and poopings." And there was! There were several, but I went with Baby Feeding Log because it had the best reviews. The app was free, but there was an in-app option to pay .99¢ to get rid of the advertisements. I opted to get rid of the ads. Anyway, the interface is so easy to use. For feedings, it gives you the option of choosing Left, Right, or Bottle feeding. Once you've chosen your feeding option, you can tap a start button when the feeding begins. Once feeding is over, you hit stop and, like magic, it automatically goes into the log. For diapers, when you hit the diaper button it gives you the option of choosing wet, soiled, or both. The surprise in this app, which I haven't used, but someone else may find helpful is the sleep log. All in all, this app has revolutionized logging feedings and diapers! (Especially those 3am feedings!) I would suggest it for every technologically savvy new mom or dad!


images taken from http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/baby-feeding-log/id412360317?mt=8

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Mommy Diaries: My Favorite Things

Today is Mother's Day. I have been a mommy for all of nine days and in those nine days I have come across some products that have been time savers and sleep savers. Better than raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, I present you with the Mommy Diaries edition of My Favorite Things:

God Gave Us You



My girlfriend Yvette, currently a Master of Library Science student at North Carolina Central University, gave baby girl a load of books at our baby shower to start her library. (nerds unite!) One of the books she gave us was Bergren and Bryant's God Gave Us You. I read this book to Afia at bedtime when she was in-utero. It is a wonderful story explaining the events surrounding a bear cub's birth that mirrors hubby and my story. The refrain that repeats throughout the text is the Mama Bear saying, "...because God gave us you," attributing the miracle of baby cub's birth to the awesome power of God. It's theology for newborns! (Yvette and I went to Seminary together.) One of the most heartwarming moments in the book is when Mama Bear lets baby cub know she had been praying for her since conception, for her health and for her to have a loving relationship with God to which baby cub replies, "Mama, I love God." Each night I read the book during my pregnancy, Afia would begin to excitedly move around afterward. These days, when I read it to her she gazes at me until her heavy eyelids begin to close. Perhaps, like the Psalmist, she will be able to say, "When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me" (Psalm 63:6-8).

Body Shop Moringa Products



When preparing my bag to go to the hospital, I listened to the advice of our instructor from the ABC's of Going Home with Baby course and packed luxurious toiletries that would make me feel good post delivery. Lever soap and Vaseline Intensive Care lotion just wouldn't do, so I went to the Body Shop and decided to try something new. I purchased the Moringa shower gel, scrub, and body butter. I usually am attracted to fruity notes, but the Moringa products have a floral scent that is a perfect balance of light, yet strong. Every time I showered in the hospital, the nurses would comment on how good it smelled in my room. More than that, lathering up with the Moringa body butter made me feel pampered and at home. Since I've been home, the floral scent is invigorating—giving me a much needed wake-up after a night of being up and down every two hours to feed Afia.

Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper



Speaking of up and down, my nightly ups and downs decreased after deciding to move Afia from her bassinet to this Rock and Play Sleeper made by Fisher Price. This sleeper was not on our registry, but was given to as at our shower. Since we have limited space in our living room, we decided to give it a try. Afia loves, loves, loves this rocker and sleeps peacefully when she in it. On the contrary, her sleep in her bassinet at night left both she and I tired. After doing some more research on the product, we moved the Rock and Play to our bedroom, rolled the bassinet away, and everyone enjoyed a more restful night of sleep. When Afia gets a little fussy all I have to do is throw my arm over the side of the bed and rock her until she falls back to sleep. Did I mention that it is light and it folds up? We easily carry it up and down the stairs depending on where we are settled. We can put it in the car for visits to grandma and grandpa's house. I will be purchasing this sleeper for everyone I know who is expecting a child!

Boppy Pillow



My next favorite item is one that I scoffed at before I actually used it. I heard that the Boppy Pillow was great for nursing, but honestly I thought that it was another one of those things your buy because the registry "must-have" lists tell you that you must have even though you'll never use it. Plus I had a less than stellar experience with the Mama Body Pillow, so I was a bit jaded. Anyway, the Boppy Pillow has made nursing Afia (especially her night feedings) more comfortable for me. I would recommend this pillow for every mom considering nursing and I look forward to the other ways in which baby Afia will use it.

Target's Gillian O'Malley Nursing Camisole



While on the subject of feeding, let me highlight my last favorite thing. The Gillian O'Malley Nursing Camisole is affordable, comes in many colors, and makes nursing easy. It has a built-in shelf nursing bra. I bought three to wear while in the hospital, but they have come in super-handy at home. I have worn it alone while chillin' out in the house. I have layered them with a cardigan when we had a visit from Afia's Uncle and Aunt. Tomorrow I will wear one when we go out for my doctor's visit. I like them so much that yesterday I had my mother go to Target to pick up three more. These camisoles making getting dressed, and getting Afia fed, easy breezy!
Mommies, Grandmas, Aunties, and Friends...what items do you love and recommend for new mothers?
- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Adventures of a Pregnant Woman: The Final Episode

One week ago yesterday, hubby and I were on our way into the Regal Theater to see Steve Harvey's movie "Think Like A Man." Just a few hours earlier we had gone in for my bi-weekly prenatal exam. This exam was slightly different in that it would be my last in office exam before the arrival of our baby girl. Because of signs of preeclampsia—and the immanence of my due date—my doctor advised us to have a nice dinner and to make our way to labor and delivery that night at 10pm. We decided that in addition to a nice dinner that we would go to enjoy a move. This would be our last date night as a family of two. We talked, laughed, and (I) cried in anticipation of the arrival our baby girl.

I read a quotation today that summed up my labor and delivery experience. Sigmund Freud is quoted to have said, "One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful." I haven't gone into great detail on the blog, but suffice to say my pregnancy hasn't been easy. I was looking forward to God smiling on me and blessing me with a smooth labor and delivery. Well, as always, God did smile on me, however my labor and delivery was a struggle. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say my induction process began on Wednesday night, I (finally) gave birth in an emergency C-Section on Friday morning, and because of my lingering health concerns, we weren't discharged until Tuesday afternoon.


But none of that is important. Out of all of this struggle arrived the most beautiful person I've ever met—our daughter Afia. She favors her father and is the most precious baby I've ever seen. I love to look at her and imagine the future that awaits her. It is an impossible task considering God has promised to bless her exceedingly and abundantly above all I can ask or think. I hold her tiny body in my arms and I look forward to our years together. I look forward to teaching her things. I look forward to learning from her. In fact, in her six days of life, she has already taught me some valuable lessons on nursing, surrender, and trust. And if I had to do it all over again—with all of the struggle—I would not hesitate. She was worth it.

And so, The Adventure of a Pregnant Woman are over, but the Mommy Diaries are just beginning...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Adventures of a Pregnant Woman #983

This post also falls under the title Making the Sermon: Victory in Jesus or, better yet, Preaching While Pregnant! This post is also a few weeks late....I started writing it the day after Palm Sunday and somehow I never posted it. The timeline is all jacked up, but the story is what it is....

Sometime during the week before last, when speaking with my Pastor on the phone, Doc asked me if I was up for preaching the early morning service on Palm Sunday. I said yes, but truthfully I was tired and worn out with feet so swollen I didn't recognize them. Yet, in my short time in ministry I have learned several things: when you have a mandate to preach the Gospel on your life, you don't turn down an opportunity to do so; God always equips you and strengthens you to do His will; and you never say to to Pastor Weaver. And so it was, I mounted the pulpit yesterday morning to declare, "What thus saith the Lord."

Rewind...

Before we get to what happened in the pulpit, let me share how the sermon came to be. I'll make this brief. I chose a text (John 12:12-16) on Monday. I had a topic and some points on Tuesday. I had a new topic and new points—what I would eventual preach—on Wednesday. I prayed and wrote and prayed and wrote some more on Thursday. In the midst of praying and writing, I also continued studying—various translations, commentaries, etc. I cleaned it up on Friday. I should mention that I was preparing for my baby shower on Saturday, which meant that I spent most of the day Friday getting done up! I also should mention that for whatever reason—stress, exhaustion, dehydration, or just my body getting ready for the big day—I was having painful Braxton Hicks contractions. They started on Thursday night and lasted until Sunday morning around 4:00a.m.



We had a GLORIOUS time at the shower, and by the time I arrived back at my parent's house I was spent. I tried to rest, but I was anxious. Not nervous, but anxious. I was also having BH contractions that were making me quite uncomfortable. (They were making my mother uncomfortable, too. She's a nervous Nelly and wasn't ready for me to go into labor at her house.) Needless to say, even though I attempted to go to bed early, it didn't happen. And for some reason, I woke up at 4:00a.m. on Sunday and couldn't go back to sleep. So I tossed and turned and stared at the wall and contemplated waking hubby up (misery loves company) until it was time to get up at 6:00a.m.

I got up, showered, got dressed and made my way to church. When I put my robe on I had to chuckle. I My belly was protruding through my bigger robe, the one that we bought to get me through pregnancy. Anyway, we began worship. I sat through all of the liturgy, attempting to conserve my energy for preaching. When I finally stood up, it was evident that the Holy Spirit had gotten a hold of me. At some point during the sermon I began to jump in excitement until I remembered that I was pregnant! For the first time in days, I had no pain. For the first time in months, my body felt light and unencumbered. It was awesome! When Pastor took over the service he remarked that it was the most animated he had ever seen me and that he was afraid that I was going to go into labor in the pulpit. Thanks be to God, baby girl is still resting comfortably in the safety of my womb!

Admittedly, I was overheated and sweating profusely when I finally sat down. I couldn't get water down fast enough. One of the other ministers came over and fanned me until I cooled off a bit. With Holy Spirit strength and adrenaline pumping, I was able to participate with Pastor in Holy Communion. 
And though I thought I could make it through the second service, I had to give up the ghost. I went back to my parents' house and crashed until it was time for hubby and I to head home.

Fast Forward...
One of the reasons that I was so animated was because as much as the word was for the congregation, it was also for me. In fact, jut this week, when the realities of adulthood (body and appliances breaking down simultaneously) crept in, God reminded me that I was not to be defeated by my circumstances, but that I am victorious in Christ. And so, my friends, instead of posting an excerpt from the sermon, I'll let you have a listen. May you be strengthened and encouraged!



image taken from http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ipkn1XIh93M/T0zvc0rYP1I/AAAAAAAAARU/VNDmS04pZRE/s1600/victory%5B1%5D.jpg

Monday, March 19, 2012

Peace, Be Still...

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mark 4:35-37)

Sometimes sermons are preached. And sometimes there are sung...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ayo, Here's the Situation...

As a follow-up to my last post, here are the lyrics to Heavy D's verse on Self-Destruction:


Ayo here's the situation: Idiodicy
Nonsense, violence, not a good policy
Therefore we must ignore, fightin and fussin
Hev is at the door so there'll be no bum-rushin
Let's get together or we'll be fallin apart
I heard a brother shot another. It broke my heart
I don't understand the difficulty, people
Love your brother, treat him as an equal
They call us animals mmm mmm I don't agree with them
I'll prove them wrong, but right is what your proving them
Take heed before I lead to what I'm sayin
Or we'll all be on our knees, prayin'


His words are as powerful and true today as they were when first uttered.

Leave the Guns and the Crack and the Knives Alone...

It is no secret that I was born and raised in Mount Vernon, NY.

Thanks to the Overweight Lover, Heavy D, we were once known as Money Earnin' Mount Vernon. These days we are known by the moniker Murdaville. My, how things have changed.

And changed they have. I can remember my block being full of boundless energy of young people. We had a pool in our complex. It was on and poppin' there during the summer. Hartley Park was at the end of my block. The youngest chocolate children played on the swings and the big-slide, the oldest Italian men played bocci ball, and all ages in between gathered there to play basketball, ride bikes, and sneak kisses in The White House. Although my parents didn't let me, you could stay out all night in our neighborhood. It may have gotten loud—with arguments about Michael Jordan or EMPD wafting through the air—but it was always peaceful. I remember the parties at the Church of the Ascension on Friday nights when I was in high-school. Young people gathered from all around. We partied hard—gyrating bodies, sweat dripping, funky teenaged boys, choreographed moves like we were filming House Party II—hard. The church was around the corner from my building and my mother could see it from her friends window. In 1992 there was a party that I begged my mother to let me go to. She said no until a good guy friend of mine assured her that he would keep his eye on me. She let me go and at some point before 11:00 p.m. shots rang out. No one was hurt, but when I got outside, Lois was there with a head full of hard pink rollers to get her daughter. That was bad, but it seemed like an isolated incident. (The shots, not my mother's rollers.) And then things changed. In 1996 a friend of mine—Warren—was shot and killed across the street from my parents building. This was not the first shooting in Mount Vernon, but it was the first act of violence that—literally and figuratively— hit close to home.



Like dominos falling, things haven't been the same since then. I woke up on Monday to pleas on Facebook for the violence to end in Mount Vernon. I looked at the local online newspaper for Mount Vernon and learned that there were three separate shootings in a five hour period in the city on Sunday. Three shootings? Five hours? Four square miles? My how things have changed.

According to Citydata.com, the murder rate peaked in 2008 and 2009, with ten murders committed in each year. Assaults, robberies, and thefts also hit a high point around that time. When I was growing up, we were a village in the truest sense of the word. If children were caught behaving badly, any adult could chastise them. And trust me, when I was doing something I had no business doing, in places I had no business being, Lois knew about it well before I got home. And now, grown people are silent in the face of children for fear of altercation with their parents, or worse yet, fear of being killed by a child with a gun. My how things have changed.

And in the midst of all of this change, an old song is stirring in my spirit. With that, I leave you with Self-Destruction from the Stop the Violence Movement. A timeless message for such a time as this...



image taken from http://www0.artflakes.com/artwork/products/259333/poster/e7149ed4a12b2af6dbdb78f764c0388c.jpg?1298042385

Adventures of a Pregnant Woman #480

I must admit, I have become that woman. You know the pregnant woman whose life and conversation revolves around being pregnant. I imagine I'll be that mother who always talks about her children. In any case, I don't mind...

On Friday I went to Target to get a prescription filled for my anti-nausea medication. When I dropped off the script at the pharmacy counter, the pharmacist told me to come back in 15 minutes.

15 minutes.

That is an eternity, in a good way, for a first-time expectant mom.

Usually I stroll through Target picking up everything from fabric softener, cutesy dresses, and thank-you cards. I troll around the sale rack finding six-dollar dresses that make my mom envious. But this time I made a bee-line for the baby section. In 15-minutes I managed to pick up the tiniest, most beautiful, pink and brown leather boots for baby girl next winter. I wish I could say I stopped there, but I didn't. I got onsies and layettes and jeans and socks and two outfits for our little lady to leave the hospital in. (I know, I know, she's only leaving the hospital once. Perhaps she'll have an outfit change before she gets home like they do at the awards shows. Just kidding!) I got outfits with flowers and stripes and giraffes that tout her love for mom, dad's love for her, and grandma's affection. (Target is clearly biased. I saw no outfits proclaiming grandpa's affection. I'm still on the hunt. For some reason I well up with tears thinking about my dad holding our baby girl.)







Three shopping bags and 15 minutes later, I went to pick up my prescription. Thank God I have auto-refill. Otherwise we'd all be in trouble...Target is now carrying Gwen Stefani's Harajuku line for newborns!

- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dancin' Machine...

It seems every time my mother calls our house phone, I either have just finished climbing the stairs from the living room to our bedroom or I have to make a mad dash from the kitchen to where the phone is charging in the living room. In either case, I answer the telephone in this breathy—I just finished a three-hour long kickboxing class—kind of voice. From time to time—ok, maybe all the time—hubby laughs at me because I get winded quite easily. He often asks me after walking from the car to _______________ (fill in the blank with any and every destination possible), "Are you really out of breath?" In fact, when I finally mustered up the strength to do my Christmas shopping (three days before Christmas), I took full advantage of every single lounge chair located in the Menlo Park Mall. They were like rest stops for my weary traveling body.

All that is to say is that I am feeling the effects of a growing uterus, cramped lungs, and a baby girl that likes to press against my already cramped lungs. Imagine the surprise, excitement, and tinge of jealousy that I felt when another mother-to-be sent me the link to this video...



Maybe I'll dance like this...in my second pregnancy. For now, I'm scoping out the nearest lounge chair in sight!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adventures of a Pregnant Woman #379

Let me preface this post by letting you know that today has been a long day. What that means is that I have been going since I woke up early this morning and have not had my daily nap. I also haven't cried since worship on Sunday and with today being Tuesday I was long overdue.

Around 5:00p.m. I made my way to the grocery store to pick up a few things. Since I am Lois' child, I must admit that a few things at the grocery store is more like a shopping cart full, but that is neither here nor there. Anyway, after double backing my way to the condiment aisle for some Hellman's mayo, my trip was done. I made my way to the checkout counter, bypassing the express lane. In the middle of the floor, between my aisle and the next, was an abandoned shopping cart. I noticed it, got in my line, and began to unpack my cart. The woman in front of me looked at me, smiled, watched the clerk scan her seventeen bottles of ginger-ale (I wonder if she, too, was expecting), and never said a word. About four items in to my unpacking, a super-skinny blond woman comes over looks at brown me and my big ole belly and says, "I was behind that woman. I am next.." I gave her the look. She stared me down. I told her that the woman never mentioned that someone was behind her, but that she could go ahead. I thought it was the good Christian thing to do, even though I questioned her lack of consideration for me. She scooted past me and began slowly unloading her cart. What she didn't know was that I was tired and in some pain. I imagine she didn't care. She was clearly younger than I am. She was clearly in better shape than I am, and not just because I am with child. And she was clearly out of the store before I was.

Though boiling inside, I told myself to move on. My pain had subsided and it wasn't the end of the world. Until I got to my car, of course. The person who pulled into the space on my left had pulled so close it left me no room to get in. (These days, when I park at home, I practically skim my side-view mirror against the right garage wall just to leave myself room to get in and out of my car.) I loaded my groceries into the trunk while plotting how I was going to get into my car. Getting into the passenger seat and climbing over wasn't an option. I mean really, I can barely get a pair of shoes/boots on without hubby's help. With cart unloaded, I started to get anxious. There was no one in sight.



And then he appeared. A thin Indian man walking towards me. I didn't know where he came from, whether he had even gotten out of a car or not. I didn't know if I could trust him, but I was desperate. "Excuse me sir, can I ask a favor?" Blank stare. "I am pregnant and the person next to me parked really close. I cannot get into my car. Would you mind pulling my car out so I can get into it?" Hesitant, he walked toward me, took my keys, and squeezed into my car. "Thank you," I said as images of him pulling out and driving to California raced through my heard. He pulled up, got out of the car and handed me my keys. "Thank you again. God bless you." Head nod. During the exchange the man never said a word.

With my car pulled out and plenty of room for me to get in, I got into the driver's seat and began to cry. It was ugly. I couldn't control my tears. Thank God I hadn't put mascara on this morning. I cried because in just five minutes I had experienced the worst and best of humanity. I cried because, well, that's what pregnant women sometimes do. I cried because I hadn't cried since Sunday. And I'm sure it won't be the last time I cry in the next two months. Some other day I'll write about the day early in my pregnancy when I cried—a more accurate word might be boo-hoo'd—watching a movie. Did I mention it was a comedy?

image taken from http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2011/01/23/pregnant-women-in-nyc-free-parking-coming-soon/

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Count Your Blessings...



As excited as we are, as I am, to be expecting our first child, I must admit that I am so over being pregnant. I am eagerly anticipating May 3rd when I can meet our sweet girl and get my body back. Though I look well, I've been struggling with pain and such in a way that I haven't had to deal with ever before in my life. To add insult to injury, baby girl's favorite spot to rest in (and press into) is right at the source of my pain. To add further insult, I have been officially placed on maternity leave by my doctor. So I've been home, away from my family and my church family. I especially miss my seasoned saints and the time we have during our Wednesday's with Jesus Bible Study. I know I said I wouldn't complain, and this isn't a complaint, but an opening up to give you a glimpse into what has been going on with me.

  1. In the midst of sleepless nights and physical pain, I got some news last Wednesday night that caused my countenance to fall. In the mail was a letter from Princeton Theological Seminary. To be specific, it was a rejection letter. Opening up that letter from PTS took me to a really low place. It was such a blow on so many levels—I've always been able to envision myself as a teacher/scholar/thinker in the academy—that I cried and cried. Intellectually, I understood that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), but in that moment and the day that followed my heart and my spirit were having a hard time grasping the concept. I questioned my intellect. I questioned my worth. I questioned whether or not it would ever happen. I questioned what I've been doing with my life for the past 5 years. And to be perfectly honest (this may sound irreverent to some of you, but it is the truth), I wasn't on speaking terms with God that night (or the day after). 

  1. But Friday morning, as I prepared my breakfast, the hymn book in my heart opened up to hymn #325, "Count Your Blessings."

  2. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
    • Refrain:
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
  3. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
    Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
    And you will keep singing as the days go by.
  4. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
    Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
    Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
    Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
  5. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

The hymn writer reminds us that in the midst of trials and tribulation, headaches and heartaches, discouragement and disappointment, that there is so much to be grateful for. So, as I prepared my eggs and toast, I started to count my blessings. It started out like a typical testimony at a storefront Pentecostal church: Giving honor to God who is the head of my life. I bless God for life, health and strength. I bless God because I woke up this morning clothed in my right mind. I bless God because I have food on my table and a shelter. 

Don't get me wrong, I am appreciative for these things, but then I had to dig a little deeper: I have a wonderful husband who loves me beyond measure; I have a precious little girl growing and developing in the safety of my womb; I have parents who have always supported me; I have a sister and niece—though geographically far—who are near and dear to me; I have sister/girl/friends who constantly encourage my soul; I have a pastor who models excellence; I have a praying church family. Duh, I already have three degrees.

And deeper still: I am a child of the Most High God who loves me unconditionally; I have been saved and set free by the blood of Jesus; I am constantly protected by the grace and mercy of God; I am fearfully and wonderfully made. My steps are ordered by God. God has a plan for my life to give me a hope and a future!

So my friends, when life has its way with you and when disappointment comes (and trust me, it will) I dare you to shift your attention. Begin to count your blessings. As I did last week, I am sure that you will find that your blessings are abundant. When you count your blessings, as I did, disappointment will be put in its rightful place. And I have no doubt that one day, in God's perfect time, that baby girl will call me Rev. Dr. Mommy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Won't Complain...

I have been silent lately. I've been listening...to God, to myself, to baby girl's heartbeat and the imagined sound of her laughter (which sounds just like her dad's laugh). I've been at the intersection of "It is Well" Boulevard and "I Won't Complain" Way. There is so much going on, and yet in the midst of it all, I am ever learning how to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I'm leaning, more on the Lord than I ever have. Each day I acknowledge my own human frailty, the weakness of this ole body, and the awesome power and presence of Almighty God. Part of my silence is really just a desire to "give thanks in all circumstances" because as the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Part of my silence, which is the other side of the gratitude coin, is a desire to stop complaining. If—as the Psalmist says—praise is comely, then surely complaining can make an otherwise attractive person quite ugly.

And so, my theme song for the month is I Won't Complain...

I've had some good days
I've had some hills to climb
I've had some weary days
And some sleepless nights

But when I look around
And I think things over
All of my good days
Outweigh my bad days
I won't complain

Sometimes the clouds are low
I can hardly see the road
I ask a question, Lord
Lord, why so much pain?
But he knows what's best for me
Although my weary eyes
They can't see
So I'll just say thank you Lord
I won't complain

Monday, January 23, 2012

All That is Within Me...

In the opening verse of Psalm 103, we find these words:

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.

(KJV)



I can recall my first Sunday as worship leader after finding out that I was with child. It was Sunday, September 4, 2011. I was standing at the lectern in the pulpit, with tears welling up in my eyes as I sang, Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Unbeknownst to anyone in the congregation, except my husband and my mother, there was something new within me—someone new within me.



Fast forward twenty-odd weeks...



This Scripture, and the refrain that we sing, still moves me. When I sing it, it is an invitation to our daughter to praise God. And praise God, she does. There are times when she is still and then there are the times when she is quite active in my womb. She wakes early and goes to bed late (daytime napping is surely the cause). She gets happy about three minutes after I take a bite of food. Sometimes she plays just because. And she praises God. I know, you're wondering how I know this; On Christmas morning, during our second worship service, she had been still until one of our ministers of music began to sing Richard Smallwood's "Total Praise." As he sweetly sang, Lord, I will lift mine eyes to the hills... she began to move. By the time he got to You are the Source of my strength... I could tell I was experiencing/witnessing/feeling an all out praise party. As he sang, I lift my hand in total praise to You... I knew that she was lifting her tiny hands in praise to Almighty God. Her movement was so intense that I could not stand. And if you know me, you know that I am a worshipper and rarely do you catch me sitting down during service.  But I sat, and gave her room to praise God in her own way. Some weeks later, at a home going service for one of our former members, just before the eulogy was preached, a woman sang "Total Praise" and little lady—who had been still for at least two hours—began to worship God.







Though we have progressed, there are still thoughts that a woman's rightful place is to be barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen. And though we have progressed, there are still those who do not believe that women are called to preach. What joy it brings me to know that I am not leading worship alone. How awesome is it that our little girl has not only informed my creative process in preaching, but also that she is present when I stand to declare, What thus saith the Lord. I count it a privilege to be barefoot and preaching and in the pulpit. More than that, I am humbled and excited and anxious to raise a daughter who knows God, loves God, and trusts God as the Source of her strength and the Strength of her life.



- Posted using BlogPress on the fiercest device ever...the iPad!!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gestation and Waiting...

This article was originally written for the "Women's Corner" in The Interchange—the news magazine for the Bethesda Baptist Church of New Rochelle.  In yesterday's blog post I wrote, "I am totally out of control, as it relates to my body, and not only do I feel beautiful, but I feel free." This article, written in November 2011 will give this statement some context. The image is taken from www.madamenoire.com.

I am writing this piece aware of the fact that motherhood—namely pregnancy—can be a sensitive issue in the lives of women. I am overjoyed for all of the women who have carried, borne, and raised children to the very best of their abilities—often counting on God to make a way out of no way. (Admittedly, I did raise my eyebrow when I heard that reality television star Michelle Duggar was expecting her 20th child.) My heart is grieved for all of those women who are unable to bear children, those who have suffered miscarriage, those who have been forced to have abortions, and those who have delivered stillborn babies—sometimes haunted by memories while relying on God’s strength and comfort to move forward. I also stand in solidarity with those women who have chosen to adopt and those who have made the decision not to have children—recognizing that there is virtue and purpose in the lives of women that stretches beyond our capability to bear children and our status as somebody’s momma. And yet, today I am writing in my current state of gestation; For in all of our experiences there are joys to be celebrated, trials to to be endured, and lessons to be learned.

I am settling into my second trimester, praise be to God! I must admit, my first trimester experience was less than desirable: my energy level plummeted leaving me unable to manage tasks that I had once breezed through; I was placed on bed rest for a short time confining me to the four walls of our bedroom which seemed to close in tighter and tighter as the days passed; I had been unable to keep any food down for eight weeks which is quite difficult for a woman, like me, who enjoys food; and my words dried up—at times I found it laborious to talk on the telephone, to write anything, and even to pray. I thought pregnancy was all about the glow, and yet all I felt was ashy and dull.  I share this not to evoke sympathy, but so that you can understand how the power of God moved in my situation.  
In all of this, it was God’s presence and the truth of His Word that carried me through. The rubber of my faith hit the road of my life when I had to remind myself that as a daughter of God, I am called to bless the Lord at all times—and that ALL is neither conditional nor situational. As I laid in bed, I was almost forced to learn how to be still and know that He is God. Time and time again, as I journeyed to the porcelain throne, I remembered that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. But the greatest lesson that I learned was one that God started teaching me in March of 2008.
One afternoon I was sitting in Seminary Hall at Drew University reading Scripture. I was arrested by the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, She delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children.  Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the LORD. “ Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God. “ Rejoice with Jerusalem, And be glad with her, all you who love her; Rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her;  That you may feed and be satisfied With the consolation of her bosom, That you may drink deeply and be delighted With the abundance of her glory.”  (66:7-13 NKJV)
In the margin of my Bible, next to this passage, I wrote the words: WAIT UNIL GOD DELIVERS. So often, especially in our instant-messaging society, we want things to happen instantly. We have dreams and visions, but grow impatient as we wait for them to come to pass. Waiting becomes more difficult when trials and tribulations, hardships and obstacles manifest themselves. However, in the Word we are repeatedly admonished to wait on God. It is in the waiting that we can find courage within that we were previously unaware of. It is in the waiting that God strengthens our hearts. It is in the waiting that God renews our strength to persevere. It is in the waiting that God works a miracle that is for an appointed time and purpose. You see, if I had my way, as soon as the despair of bed rest and the fatigue from vomiting set in, I would have opted to have the baby right then. (To think, we haven’t even started with kicks and stretch marks!) Ladies, as you know, having the child then would have been dangerous. More than wanting to feel well, I desired a healthy and fully-developed baby. This child in my womb would not have been fully developed after just two months. Even as I type this, major organs are maturing and will continue to mature for an additional six months. The normal gestation period is between 37 and 42 weeks. It takes that long for all of the organs and systems to form so that the child can sustain life outside of the womb. As much as I wanted the discomfort to be over, to do so would have been to put our child at risk. And this isn’t merely about discomfort. I’m sure that down the road, round about my eighth month, the desire to meet our child and to hold her or him in my arms will be so strong that I’ll be anxious to give birth. But even then, it will be imperative to wait until the natural time of delivery. 
In this experience, and through His word, God is showing me that our waiting, and even our travail, serves a purpose. I now recognize why it is important to wait for God to deliver. Many of us have had had visions of ministry conceived in our hearts and have attempted to give birth before experiencing labor. Many of us have had dreams of career and/or academic advancement and have moved forward to delivery out of season out of sheer excitement. Many of us have had dreams of getting married and/or starting families and have taken matters into our own hands when God seems to be taking too long. As a result, we have given birth to underdeveloped ministry and premature dreams and we wonder why things aren’t working out as God had revealed to us. Worse yet, many of us have grown impatient with waiting and have aborted our dreams. We have given up and are now living with the ghosts of what could have been.
My dear sisters, whatever vision God has placed in your heart, whatever dream God has deposited in your mind, whatever aspiration God has breathed into your soul, I encourage you to wait for it—even through pain, disappointment, travail, and difficulty. I am assured that in due time, in God’s time, that God will birth it into existence. And just as my husband and I wait for the arrival of our bundle of joy, I am confidently waiting for God to birth every dream and vision that He has placed in my heart. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy New Year!

Hello All! It has been a while since my last substantial writing. New, and amazing things are happening in my life and I am ready to share. God has blessed us tremendously, and in May hubby and I are expecting the arrival of our first child, a baby girl! I've been absent because it seems that everything in my life for the past five and a half months has revolved around or been viewed from my pregnant lenses. In any case, all is well and we are excited! It seems Baby Girl is excited, too! As I posted on my Facebook page earlier, I am convinced that my husband has already given our daughter a soccer ball. Either that or A Tribe Called Quest's Can I Kick It is on continuous loop in my belly. Whatever the case, movement is a sign of life so I am grateful...





This year I am not making any concrete resolutions. (I never stick to them, anyway.) At the end of this year I just hope to be the best wife, mother, minister, and follower of Christ that I can be. I'm leaning on God to work out the details of what that looks like and how that happens. As the hymn writer says, Where He leads me, I will follow. For sure, when December 31, 2012 rolls around, I'll know if I have been fruitful. I'll praise God for fruitfulness. I'll probe where I have fallen short, all the while extending myself grace. More than anything, I want to be the kind of woman my daughter admires and hopes to become. For this to happen, extending myself the same kind of mercy and loving-kindness that God grants me must become part of the fabric of my being. No more mean girl, especially not to myself.


Interestingly enough, being with child at the start of a year has been quite refreshing. For the first time in forever, I have not been bound and gagged by a resolution to lose 5lbs or 10lbs or 15lbs or 50lbs. In fact, I love my pregnant body! I feel more feminine than I've ever felt before, even as my belly continues to grow. The proliferation of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and Nutrisystem commercials have not caught my attention. I have not purchased any new gym equipment or DVD's. I did not restock the fridge with low-fat fare. I am totally out of control, as it relates to my body, and not only do I feel beautiful, but I feel free. (Not to worry, I haven't abused that whole notion of eating for two. Tomorrow I'll post some writing I did around Thanksgiving to give this last statement some context.) As another hymn writer says, I am free. Praise the Lord, I'm free. No longer bound. No more chains holding me. My soul is resting and its a blessing. Praise the Lord, Hallelujah, I'm free!


So that's just a few things that are new for me. What new things do you have going on in 2012?