Still Finding Beauty in Christ: Life Updates 2020

Lately, I have been thinking about my therapist. I have not seen her in over 8 months but I would love a “tune up” just to check in. I thought about the work we did in our 7 months together and I know that much of the progress I have made in 2020 is due in large part to our time together in 2019 and beyond. I thought about the panic attacks that sent me running for her office for the first time in May of 2019. I still get a little nervous about those waves of overpowering emotion that makes it seem like I will never know peace again. I sometimes wonder if remembering them would trigger another such attack. But I wave away the worry and re-center my thoughts on the progress, and the incredible things God has done to meet me in my darkest hours.

I think about how excited and focused I was at the beginning of the year. Work was flourishing. I finished my book. I had big plans for the rest of the year 2020. My last project wrapped in April. The work promised for June and beyond has yet to materialize but I am here still. I have grown by leaps and bounds in my creative ability. I cherish the flash of inspiration and the continued discipline that motivates me to engage with my audience daily. But a part of me worries about the stall in my income. Again, I have to continue the work to silence the voice echoed by various sources doing their best to convince me that I am not a good (enough) woman (wife, mother, person) if there is no paycheck coming in my name. I have to repeatedly give myself permission to be in this in-between stage of willing to work but not yet working. I have to keep reminding myself that the primary opinion I should be weighing along with my own lives in this house with me. And based on our numerous check-ins, we are in a really sweet spot. Yet, the voices of self-doubt try to convince me that my value has dwindled since my main stream of income has dropped. The work continues to shut those invisible critics up for good.

Over the last few months, I have developed into my most creative version of me. Unapologetically so, too. I launched a podcast on a whim and I have passed the ten episode milestone. I began documenting my day to day looks in photos on Instagram. I created a growing community of like-minded women to have transparent conversations and chats with me online. And I am having an amazing time doing it all. I no longer give any credence to the voice that loves to tell me that I am “doing too much” for enjoying beautiful creations – myself included. While the world has been slowed down, shut down and “safer at home” – I have found new aspects of my creativity to love. It has been such an adventure.

Additionally, I am finally reconciling with the fact that being thrown into teaching my children while working from home full time and running a home as the primary caregiver gave me some form of PTSD. It was utterly demoralizing to witness how quickly life went off the rails for us as I attempted to do worthy work, parent, homeschool and give adequate care all at the same time. The thought of diving back into distance learning this year was completely terrifying. Amazingly enough (it’s only day two so stay tuned), it has been a pleasant surprise and not the nightmare I was dreading. I think I have finally learned the language of grace with myself when it comes to my parenting. I am not in competition with any other mother. I am not even in competition with myself. I am simply going to make the best of each day (or moment). Yesterday may be outstanding while today is a dumpster fire. Neither one takes anything away from what God has deposited in me for the benefit of my family.

I am really grateful for my growth as a minister of the gospel. Even admitting that I am a minister of the gospel is growth. Years ago, I would have shied away from that language because I would have called it presumptuous since I am not ordained. But I have grown. Thanks largely to my training as a leader in Wives in Waiting, I have learned to exist in my identity without questioning it, attempting to dissect it, or quantifying it. I am what the Word of God says I am. I am grateful for the opportunity to study to show myself approved, and rightly divide the word of truth – both for my private growth and for public ministry. The privilege to teach other women what God has taught me never gets old.

By all accounts, life is good. My husband and I are experiencing what I would consider a time of flourishing in our friendship and union. I am grateful. The lessons and challenges of our first years of marriage have given birth to a steady love I cannot stop marveling at (nod to India Arie).

If you are still reading (bless you), let me wrap it up for you here. This year has been anything but predictable for the entire globe, but I can honestly say that God has shown Himself faithful to me in the last eight months. I am safe. I am well-loved. I have grown. I am better equipped than any of my years before. In short, I am flourishing. I pray you can say the same for you and yours.



I am living in a new kind of tension. For the first time in my life, I am closer to my dreams than ever before. When I was just dreaming of writing for a living, there was lots of time to make mistakes, to falter, to disappoint those that I love and find forgiveness. As I have found the courage and boldness to venture out with my gifts, there is a quiet fear brewing in my heart. What if I am still too flawed for this platform that I find myself growing?

Just the other day (thanks to the work I’ve done in therapy since May 2019), I recognized immediately when something that was said publicly triggered my feelings of inadequacy. I am healing, but I am still susceptible to some of my old wounds. The old whispers that I am not good enough to be loved, knowledgeable enough to teach others, or worthy enough to be on the forefront still try to silence my giftings as a teacher and a writer and a minister of the Gospel. My emotions still enter the dance when someone questions my relationship with God or my theological standing. I am learning to dissect who I am and what I do – I am not accepted by God because I teach Bible study or pray well in public. I am His and He is mine.

This new tension of living a private life of consecration while also obeying God when He asks me to step out on to deeper waters (by publishing a deeply personal book for example) has me re-examining myself every step of the way. The missteps that would have minimal fallout as one woman living a quiet life have a greater and wider impact now that I am leader and teacher in public ministry, encouraging and helping other women find their own deliverance (www.wivesinwaiting.com). I find myself oftentimes terrified of doing long-term harm. I do not want people to have a misunderstanding of Jesus Himself and the Gospel because of my own failure to handle either the scriptures or the people of God rightly.

My ability to “cancel” someone because I do not like their attitude, their behavior or their beliefs has been severely limited because when I want to turn my back on those who have turned their back on me, the thought “but you are a minister of the Gospel” convicts me immediately. What kind of minister am I if all it takes for me to no longer want any parts of someone’s humanity is a little offense? And why is my heart so inclined to be offended when God is literally calling me to a world that rejects Him daily? Who do I think I am to be offended when Jesus Himself was crucified for the ones He came to save?

This is a new kind of tension. Over the last seven years, the number of times I have thanked God privately and publicly for the luxury to make my mistakes in private is without number. A part of me feels like that season of being able to fail privately and it have no public repercussions is coming to a swift end. And I know already that I am going to miss it.

I thank God for the growth that has allowed me to get to this place of leading publicly. I pray for the grace to grow in private so that whatever I give publicly is coming from the overflow of my inner growth in Christ. I pray for myself (and every minister in public ministry) that I will never lose my fear of offending God by mishandling His people. I pray that I never see a public platform as something that belongs to me by virtue of merit. I pray that I always see the privilege in walking alongside women and sisters who are looking for freedom in Christ and seeking deeper fulfilment in their relationship with our heavenly Father. I pray that this never becomes common to me. I pray for the grace to carry this season well.

The tension for me is in my realization that my season of being behind the scenes may be coming to an end and although I am overjoyed at the opportunity to serve more women than ever before, I will definitely miss the luxury of living a life that did not affect anyone beyond the four walls of my home. I trust that the Jesus I have walked with since September 2009 has pruned me to bear much fruit and He has made me a planting of the Lord that others can eat from. I have no choice but to depend on Him for what comes next.


Your Skin Is Not A Crime

I lived the first ten years of my life where blackness was the norm. To be black was to be in the majority. Every millionaire, government official, and CEO I knew was black. Every last person in my world who was doing something worthwhile was black. Blackness was the norm. I knew my skin was a deep shade of brown and it deepened in the sun, but it did not feel like a crime to be black. It never occurred to me that I could not be anything my mind dreamt up because of the color of my skin.

The first time I realized my skin was a problem (for others, not me) was when a classmate who was also black told me I was not black like the others in our class – no, I was purple. After that, I was an “African booty scratcher” (whatever that meant or means). Then I was the girl who would “do voodoo on you” if you got too close. My introduction into the American system of education and daily life reminded me constantly that I did not belong here. My hair was wrong. My skin was wrong. My clothes were wrong. My name was convoluted, and on and on the list of transgressions grew. From the age of ten till seventeen, when I went off to college, I was grappling with what it meant to be black in America.

I have had to keep my race in mind pretty much since the day I arrived on US soil and realized everyone around me was not black. I am overly reverential to police officers and law enforcement in all our interactions (while I’m driving, in my community or in my home) to make sure they see that I am not a threat. I still get a lump in my throat when a police car pulls up behind me but I hope with each interaction that my law degree and education (and the expertise they’ve afforded me on how to navigate the world) provides enough shield to get me home safely to my family.

I miss the freedom of being a Lagos girl who did not have to think about her skin and anticipate what people would be thinking of her when she steps into rooms at school, at work, in court, behind the wheel, or on public platforms. I breathe differently in Nigeria because despite the deep-seethed issues of colonialism in Nigeria, I never felt like I had a target on my back because of my skin color.

So, to my skin-folk (black people all over the diaspora), our skin is not a crime. Being black is not synonymous with being suspicious or being “criminal,” no matter what the neighbors on your NextDoor app happen to think (“suspicious activity – 3 African American teens seen walking in the neighborhood”). Your skin is not something people need to “look past” or be “colorblind” to. God created us in His image so our melanin is purposeful and worth celebrating. Celebrating our culture is not synonymous with “playing the race card” or “making everything about race.” We have a godly heritage in the Lord and He rejoices in our full expression, our joy, our creativity as a people – even in the midst of a world who would rather we just ‘shut up’ about being black because all lives matter.

Your skin is not a crime and your blackness is not a sin. God delights in us. We bear His image and we display His glory.

Embracing your God-given dignity and worth in a world that is hell-bent on “keeping you in your place” is a revolutionary act. With all godliness and grace I bid you to “fight the power.”

Yours in Christ,



You Can Outgrow Them…It Is Not A Sin

When it comes to people, I am a pack rat. I want everyone to come. Every season of my life, I make room for anyone connected to me to come along for the journey. It took becoming an adult and facing a heartbreak in friendship to realize that every season of my life is not for everyone I happen to know.

For five years after the heartbreak, I was processing the loss of a friendship that had spanned six years of deep sisterhood and decades of acquaintance. As soon as I thought I was over it, I would run into the former friend and my heart would break all over again. Every milestone in either of our lives felt like something was missing because I could not celebrate it as I would if we were still the sisters we once were. I blamed myself for five years, wondering how I could have been stupid enough to jeopardize such a sacred connection. I fought back resentment in my heart because it seemed I was the only one mourning the loss of our connection.

Losing that one friend (and the friends connected to her who chose sides) gave me a burden for sisterhood done right. I cried, prayed and lamented for God to send me sisters who would see me, accept me, love me, correct me and hold me up, spiritually. And let me tell you what, God outdid Himself in the answer to my prayers. As I encountered and grew in relationship with new friends, the Holy Spirit would open my eyes to which part of one another’s purpose we were meant to support. I had friends who sharpened me or whom I would sharpen. I had friends who challenged me and friends who needed my perspective to open up their own once-limited worldview. I had friends whose convictions mirrored mine and friends whose preferences were worlds away from mine. But somehow, I had exactly what I needed in each sister that came into my life.

Over the last four years of writing my latest book, I went through a transformation that changed me physically, emotionally, spiritually and even financially. When I hosted the first live book-reading event in honor of this latest work, there was a moment of reverential awe and dawning for me. In the room were twenty-five women who had supported, encouraged, witnessed or directly impacted the transformation that gave birth to my book. These women loved me deeply, supported me unconditionally and had traveled across hundreds of miles from varying states to be present at my moment of celebration. God blessed me beyond anything I could have asked, think or imagined when it came to sisterhood.

The women in my life are perfectly suited to God’s purpose and plans for me as a daughter who speaks truth to power, an unapologetic encourager of others and a transparent story-teller. My previous friendships fell apart because I had written transparently from a desire to share my own journey to encourage others. My words were the sword that severed a cherished sisterhood. But eight years later, my words and my book were the cord that God was using to bind me together in love and covenant friendship with women who “got” me. The same storytelling and truth-speaking that killed one sisterhood gave birth to dozens of others that God has used to heal and grow me over the last eight years.

I had been so anxious to keep friends that I completely missed the fact that the connections I cherished were not necessarily compatible with the growth I desired. Had I insisted on keeping the friendships that have now faded, I would be constantly stuffing down my desire to speak (and write) the truth about my life and journey with God. My desire to not offend and to be accepted by friends whose outlook on life differed so fundamentally from mine would not have allowed me the freedom to do what I do today. In all honesty, if I had the same friends I did eight years ago, my journey would look every different than it does right now.

One of the reigning themes in my journey with the Lord is the continuing deliverance He is working in my life to rid me of the fear of man. A part of me honestly believes that without God severing the ties from my past friendships, I will be living with just a teeny-tiny bit of idolatry in regards to those friends. A part of me knew without asking that my friendship with these previous sisters was very much conditional on my good behavior. So, I did my best to not disappoint them. I guess deep down, I knew that if I did something that was deemed wrong enough, I was the disposable portion of our friendship. So, I always did my best not to ruffle any feathers. Now, imagine trying to obey God unapologetically while being genuinely afraid of offending others? At some point, obedience to God and the offense of man will butt heads, and one will have to bow.

“We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5: 29 NKJV

I struggled for years with the thought that perhaps I had sinned in some way by letting these friendships go. They died a violent death that felt very much like my fault but no matter how much I apologized and what olive branches I extended, we just could not seem to find our way back to what we had prior. It took me years to make peace with the fact that these connections came to a necessary end; and an even longer period of time before I could stop blaming myself for the connections that did not survive this new season of my life. The friends who saw me through singleness seemed like they should also be there to witness my life as a wife and mother. I am just now making peace with the truth that every season of my life is not for every person in my life to access.

I am deeply grateful to God for the friendships that have spanned twenty years, fifteen years, ten years and even those that are only months old but have grown deep and godly roots and bear fruit that pleases God. Every person that has invested in me in this season of my life is a gift from God. But I am learning to be okay with the fact that some friendships that fed me in past seasons may not be appropriate for this one. It is not a sin to allow seasons to end or change. I am learning to honor what fed me in the last season without cursing it for being unavailable in next season. God will always provide.

If you are in a difficult season with any friend, I encourage you to seek peace with all men. Reconciliation is the heart of our Father. But, if God has shown you that a season of friendship is transitioning or coming to an end, embrace the change – painful as it may be. If it is God’s will for your season with certain connections to be over, He will not leave you empty. He will make provision for you to have life-giving, godly and abiding friendships to go with you in this new season. Outgrowing friends is not a sin. It happens. Lean into what God is doing. Keep your heart free of resentment or anger. Seek peace whenever possible. Pray for your friends, both former and current. And keep your heart tender towards the instructions of God. He is too good to fail.


Money Matters


There was a time in my life when I was scared of money. I remember it vividly. It was only four years ago (and all the years prior to 2016). I did not realize it was fear that was operating in my life. I just thought I was living out the premise of Philippians 4 where Paul told us that he has learned to be abased and to abound and he (and us) can do all things (like living with little or with much) through the strength of Christ. I encourage you to go read that chapter and verse in the proper context. Despite what we believers have decided to make the verse mean, it is not a verse about our ability to do EVERYTHING. Apostle Paul was literally talking about the fact that as believers who carry the grace of God, we can be content with life in whatever state we happen to find ourselves.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I thought I had learned to be content with little. Wasn’t that the goal of every believer’s life? I took a spiritual gifts test during that time and my highest scoring goal was poverty.

Yes. Poverty.

The cycle of struggle in my household had become so repetitive that I was convinced that God was keeping me poor to keep me holy. Yup. Money was nothing but trouble and God wanted to make sure that I had just enough to almost cover my expenses but nothing more. So, I embraced the cycle of lack. We did our best with my husband’s wages and I did not attempt to make any more money from my fledgling business. I just focused my attention on our young children and comforted myself with the thought that if I could not be a income earner, I was at least a good wife and mother. That had to be enough.  I never fully admitted how much my fear of failure, fear of success and fear of money were driving all of my decision making during that time. I really thought I was doing what God wanted of me. God told us not to love money right? So if I did not do anything to get any more money, that had to be proof that I was not money hungry, right?

But do you know you can be poor and still have an inordinate amount of affection for money? I sure didn’t. I thought that as long as I was living paycheck to paycheck and not looking for more than covering my basic necessities, I was safe from the love of money – the root of all evil.

But I would come to find out that the LACK of money was fully capable of ruling my life just as much as having several fistfuls of cash, and the outcome was just as destructive. My fear of money built an obstacle against my faith in God. I did not trust God for more – if He wanted me to be poor what was the point of me applying for new jobs or trying to create new opportunities for myself – they were not going to work anyway. So, I spent years running away from new risks and challenges because my fear of money had morphed into a fear of failure and success.

Changing my mindset about money took several interventions. I had dozens of conversations with my parents that did not quite do the trick. I had ongoing conversations with my husband that finally helped me breakthrough my fear of failing at new things. And I had a session with a money mindset coach that absolutely transformed my thinking (shoutout to Toyin Crandell; if you don’t know that name, Google her!). Changing my mind about money and getting God’s perspective was a work of deliverance that God had to do in my life. I am so deeply grateful that the Lord opened my eyes to the ways I was shooting myself in the foot all while crying out for Him to rescue me, bless me or provide for me.

Money is a terrible master but a wonderful servant. Money is supposed to serve us believers as we endeavor to bring the Kingdom of heaven to earth. Heaven lacks nothing good, so why should the life of a believer who God has blessed with the power to make wealth and fund kingdom projects be a life wasted in worry about the basic necessities of life? God will provide for us – just as He feeds the birds, and clothes the lilies. But God has also given us an extraordinary amount of gifts, talents and wealth-generating ideas for us to sinfully sit and do nothing about them while the world languishes in lack, waiting for the manifestation of the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:19). Children of God (creative, educated, intelligent, with an extraordinary amount of privilege in a world where the vast majority lives on less than a dollar a day) whose means are able to answer the needs created by poverty, disease, famine and many more world crises. We are created in the image of God to be problem-solvers on this earth. If the only problem we ever solve is how to feed and clothe ourselves and our own household, then I honestly believe we have not even scratched the surface of the abundant life that God intends for us.

Money answereth all things (Ecclesiastes 10:19, KJV). That does not mean money is the only thing you need in the world. Because as believers, we know that without Christ, all the money in the world is meaningless. But does it not make the most sense for children of God, who operate with God’s wisdom to be the one with the means to solve the problem in such a way that brings the Kingdom of God to earth? It does to me.

This post is a very #FirstWorldProblems centered post. Obviously, if you are in the same boat as a majority of the world that has no guarantee of their next meal or a roof over their head, you are not the one being charged with funding the solutions that I truly believe already lie in the hearts, minds or hands of children of God. But if you happen to live in the Western Hemisphere of the world and you know you are privileged in some ways (educated, housed – meaning not homeless, able-bodied, etc.), you have a duty to spend your privilege wisely. And one of the best ways to do that is to make the most of your opportunity rather than discounting them (and spending your entire life only consumed with you and your household).

There is more for you to do in the world than work, pay bills and die. Money matters. Find out what yours is supposed to do in this world for the sake of the Gospel.


Stewarding the Vision


In 2009 shortly after giving my life to Christ, I had a deep desire to mentor and minister to teenage girls – so I started a bible study and titled it “Daughters of Destiny.” I gathered a handful of girls between the ages of thirteen and sixteen at the time and mentored them weekly for over two years. When most of them dispersed for college and adulthood, it felt like my work was done. But the desire to continue to get in the trenches with young people and offer them this level of intensive one-on-one discipleship never went away. As I grew, my desire to minister to young people began to focus more on college aged and post-graduate women between the ages of 18 and 25. And as I have grown in the place of marriage, that desire to “do life” with other women has grown once again to include young wives, newlyweds and engaged women.

Over the last eleven years of my life, the unrelenting desire that I am supposed to be partnering with women in a way that eases the pain points in their life has never left me. I did not always understand that this was what people meant by a “calling.” I just knew that I enjoyed this work, I was good at it, and having hours long exchanges with younger women where I literally pour out everything God gives me to share with them did not leave me drained, they left me energized and ready to do it again as soon as my body was physically able.

I always thought it would take money to do this kind of work on a regular basis. If I wanted to meet with women, I needed money to travel to them or gather them together in some sort of meeting, right? I did not immediately realized that I was already doing the work that I felt called to do – by speaking one on one with young women around me, making myself available for phone calls that sometimes stretch into the night as I try my best to get them to understand how God sees them and their situation.

I was already hosting sleepovers for college-aged women in my home. I was already spending hours on college campuses in dorm rooms teaching and fellowshipping with other women. I was already joined in sisterhood with women younger than me whom I have taken into my heart as little sisters. I was already sharing whatever felt pertinent and necessary about my journey with women who connected with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I was already living the vision I had in my heart of ministering to, encouraging and mentoring other women.

But because it did not look like big stages, conference invitations, and perfectly branded flyers and headshots, I thought I was being left behind while other women – those whose platforms were visible and identifiable – did the real work. I know better now. God did not call me to have the most amount of engagement on social media (although, I am still doing my best to do better with those numbers lol). God never asked me to get the best and most updated headshots. He certainly did not tell me that I needed a certain amount of money in the bank to qualify to minister to others. Those were restrictions I placed on myself because I was too afraid to call myself a minister of the gospel without all the trappings that often comes with public ministry.

My life is ministry. My obedience to God is ministry. My authenticity in Christ is ministry. And it is well past time to embrace it as such. I do not need to “do ministry” by having a following, a tour calendar and assistants galore. I needed to minister by recognizing those around me who are in need of what God has graced me to carry.

I get joy out of holding another wife’s hands and declaring her worth in her home and in the marketplace and letting her know that her paycheck or lack thereof do not determine her worth in her marriage or to God.

I get joy out of speaking words of life over a young person who is at a crossroads in their growth towards adulthood and letting them know that God is literally interested in the details of their life and their obedience to Him is the only determining factor by which they should measure their success.

There are things that come naturally to me, that give me joy and glorify God that I have minimized in their importance because I was not being paid or asked to do them. But that way of thinking is insulting to the God we serve. Is God only required to answer prayers when honorariums are given? Or does He hold back breakthrough and deliverance if there’s nobody there to introduce the guest preacher?

Many of the things I counted as “doing ministry” are just the practical necessities and sometimes the outer trappings of someone who operates on a worldwide stage. The size of the platform is not what qualifies a minister before God. Clean hands and pure hearts are what God looks for in those who call His name. Regardless of how I earn my bread and butter (currently as a consultant), I do not need to be paid for anything I do as a follower of Christ before I should call myself a minister of the Gospel. Jesus Himself called me to spread the gospel. I have no greater allegiance than to answer His call and steward the vision He placed of my heart – that every daughter of God who calls the name of Christ will live a full and authentic life, free of the bondage of the enemy and brimming over with the promises of God.


Raising Myself

Untitled Design (2)

I always assumed that motherhood itself would teach me what I needed to know once I started having children. I did not come in with any preconceived notions about who my children were going to be. I knew I would have to discover and nurture their individuality for myself. What I did not anticipate was how often I would be parenting my children the way that I was parented, even when I see that it is not working.

My parents did an amazing job; I honestly believed they did their very best for me as parents. But even their best efforts left me lacking in fundamentals that I believe are vital to development into whole, functional adulthood. As an adult, I have been faithfully filling in the gaps by the grace of God to ensure that I am not experiencing the world from a place of wounding, but rather a place of wholeness.

I see a lot of myself in my oldest son and it is disconcerting. We are both highly sensitive to harsh words, failures and punishment. We both have a deep desire to be seen, acknowledged and loved in overt ways. But even with that knowledge, I find myself raising him the way that I was raised even though many of my childhood experiences that are tied to the techniques I am repeating were not pleasant. Being punished (to inflict pain and humiliation) rather than disciplined (to correct and impart a lesson) had me convinced that my family hated me when I was much younger.

I see the same inclinations in my son. Yet I find myself defaulting to the mindset that demands unquestioned obedience from my children and brings the hammer down on any semblance of defiance, no matter how small. Because a disobedient child is the shame of any parent. Even if it’s just a developmental phase. Even if he’s only a toddler. I was programmed a long time ago that your children are yours to command and control and if they do not fall in line, you must break their will and build them back up.

But is that really what God has called me to do as a mother in the lives of my children? Break them down to build them back up? And in whose image? Because if I am more committed to raising “good kids” than helping them become who God called them to be then I am surely raising them into idolatry – creating them to look more like my own ideas so I can show the world that I am a good mother.

As I continue in this journey as a mom, I find myself not only raising my kids, but raising myself. Reparenting myself away from my own traumas and wounded inner-child and doing my very best to model wholeness to my offsprings rather than looking to them to heal me. It is not my children’s job to complete me. I need to do that work outside of them so that they can reap the benefit of a whole mother who loves securely.

Who knew at the age of thirty-six that I would be raising myself?


I See You

There have been specific times in my life when I did not feel seen. It has happened at various times while I was growing up and even after I became an adult. The results were always devastating. Before I found a semblance of healing, my natural response was to get more and more outrageous in behavior until someone acknowledged me. I have since learned healthier ways to navigate my need to be seen, especially by those that I love.

So, in the spirit of camaraderie with anyone who is walking an exceptionally challenging valley right now, I am just here to say I see you.

To anyone who is still reeling from the impacts of childhood (and adult) trauma, I see you. I see you doing your best to heal from what wounded you. Even when you do not necessarily have all the tools. Jesus mourns with you in your mourning and He died to redeem you from its impact. Therapy, counseling and professional help is not shameful. It is a God-given tool in your deliverance and wholeness. Use them as often as the need arises and God will complete the work, in this life and the next.

To anyone who is waiting and waiting for God to fulfill the promise He made to you what seemed like many lifetimes ago. I see you. I see you being faithful even when others have long since abandoned the higher calling. I see you holding on to the flicker of hope left in your heart, willing the flame to live. And I see you mourning your empty hands that have failed to grasp what your heart so deeply desires. And I want you to know that you have every right to your pain. Your feelings are valid and you are not a bad Christian for mourning so deeply. Jesus knows our sorrows; He is with you and He loves you. You are not being punished. If God has promised, He will fulfill. Remain obedient, remain faithful and remain steadfast. He will uphold you in the waiting and your joy WILL be full.

To anyone grieving a loss that the world may not necessarily know about. I see you. And I know that you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. But fear not. Even in this seemingly desolate place, you are not forgotten. I see you carrying the sackcloth and ashes of your despair. I see you heavy under the weight of your loss. And God sees you. He will be with you. He will lead you beside still waters. He will restore your soul. You have gone out mourning but you will come back rejoicing. Cling ever closer to Calvary. Cry, weep, lay it all before Him. Yell, scream, give voice to the silent anger in your heart about the unfairness of what you are being tasked to carry. It is okay. God is not offended by your emotions. He created them and He is best capable of managing them. He will still love you in your anger. He will still love you in your pain. He is still with you in your mourning. He sees you and I see you.

To anyone whose marriage is in crisis or has drifted irrevocably towards divorce. I see you. And I am so sorry. This was not the future you imagined when you said your vows. This was not what we expected when you wore your dress and walked that aisle. This was not the outcome you planned for when you joined your lives or started your family. It has been said that divorce/separation is akin to the death of a loved one. You have every right to mourn this tragedy. I see you and I am praying for you. I am praying that the God of reconciliation and resurrection works in your heart as only He can do. That what man has called dead will hear the word of God and come back to life, better than before. I pray that the glory of your latter days will be greater than the former. You are not broken because your marriage failed. God can still make beautiful things out of these ashes. He can reconcile hearts to Himself and one another. He can rebuild what men have broken. He can do the impossible. Cling to the hope of resurrection and life. He will sustain you.

When you feel forgotten in your circumstance, know that you are fully known and fully loved by your Heavenly Father. He loves you and He sees you.

And so do I.


When Marriage Is No Longer A Dream

I am only six years and nine months into marriage. By most definitions I am still a newlywed, and thus I do not have all the answers. But I have some (this is the year of walking in God-given truth rather than false humility). I have walked through a few valleys in my short time as a wife, and I have been privileged to walk with other couples as they journeyed towards one flesh. I paid attention to how conflict, life-changes and even sin impacts marriages. I take special note when marriages come back from the brink of despair and divorce versus when they fall over the edge. There are lessons to learn in good times and in bad. And applying my heart to wisdom has saved me from some critical missteps.

When marriage is no longer a dream because the joy is gone – pray for and apply the grace to make yourself joyful. There are many times when I am convincing myself that areas of my marriage will get better when my husband starts or stops doing certain things. If he would only do xyz, then I could be happy. I have realized that being joyful is a heart position. If I wait on my husband to make me happy before I decide to choose happiness, I would be waiting a long time and building up resentment in the meantime. Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit so before we go on with all the self-care suggestions, get before the Lord and pray for His joy to flood your heart. And begin to choose joy in every moment. If all you have to be grateful for in a day (because there are some really crappy days) is the fact that you are alive, then rejoice for the grace to see another day. And commit to trying for more joy tomorrow. If what infuses you with joy is a good book, some silence, quality time with your spouse/friends, music or even a good meal – go for it! Whatever you joy “hack” is, plan it for yourself and indulge to your heart’s content. Do not wait on your husband to make you happy. Infuse the joy you want to see into your union. Your joy will rub off on your spouse and hopefully begin to infuse new joy into your union.

When marriage is no longer a dream because your spouse has morphed into a less lovable, caring, thoughtful, or functional version of who you thought you married – look in before you look out. A lot of times, the way people treat us as less to do with us than it does with what is going on with them internally. Before you decide that your spouse is just a terrible person and you can’t do anything more for them, are there any life-changes that could have prompted the behavior your spouse is exhibiting? Any changes to either of your schedules, lifestyles, careers, family (expanding or shifting) or sense of self that could be at the root of this unhappy version of your spouse? Do you know if you spouse’s needs for love, security, respect, affirmation, touch and emotional connection are being met? Don’t guess. Ask. Start there and do the deep digging to find out how satisfied your spouse is with the quality of their life. If you do not have the tools to ask the right type of questions or your spouse seems closed up to your prodding, get professional help through a trusted counselor, advisor or therapist. In a lot of the cases that I have observed, this is usually where the problem lies. Because “life changes” can cover everything from a change in work schedule to the frequency of sex in your marriage. Anything can affect the dynamics in a marriage. A marriage is a function of two different personalities and when one of those personalities shifts even a little bit, the dynamics in the relationship will shift too, oftentimes drastically. Most of the time, when a good marriage goes sour, it is because a need is no longer being met. Either what worked yesterday no longer works today because each individual has grown or changed. Or a new need arises that the couple does not realize is not being met. Most of the marriages that thrive in my own circle of influence are unions where husband and wife are forever recalibrating to each other’s changing needs. It takes intentionality and work but the payoff is worth it.

Most of us want the path of least resistance. If you liked flowers three years ago, I want to give you flowers forever and ever and assume that’s the best way to make you feel better. When your affinity for flowers disappears and is replaced by a longing for deep conversation and quality time, if I am not paying attention, I will miss the shift and begin to be resentful when I do not get the same positive reactions to flowers that I have begin to expect.

When marriage is no longer a dream because one of us (either me or my spouse) is in crisis, then it is time to put the work behind my vows. “Through thick and thin/rich and poor/sickness and health” are not just words. They are my soul’s pledge to do the right thing when everything else says otherwise. When I am in crisis, it is easy to focus on the object of my disdain and lose even the desire to invest in my spouse. But God knew that the crisis would arise before He called me to the ministry of marriage and when I give an account for what I did in my home, He will not excuse my neglect or sin against my spouse because life got hard – even impossibly hard. Even if the best I can manage in my crisis, is not to push my spouse away, and to accept their love when they give it – I believe grace will cover the rest. When my spouse is the one in crisis, unable to function as my partner and covering like I need them to be, I have to believe that God can cover what is missing for me. God did not create me to languish in the union He told me to enter into. If there is a need that is beyond my spouse at the moment, it is not beyond God. He has to fill me up, so I am not running on empty while trying to single-handedly keep my marriage alive (because my spouse is unwilling or unable). The good news is that where sin abounds, grace abounds much more. Whatever challenges are bombarding my marriage because of the fallen and sinful world in which we live, Christ has already made provision for me to overcome. The God who can bring back life after the grave can resurrect my marriage even at the point where it seems irrevocably broken.

When marriage is no longer a dream because little foxes (third parties/affairs, unsupportive family/loved ones, exes and prior relationships) are coming in to spoil the vines, it is time to set some trap and catch the critters. How do you set the trap? By praying specifically against the wiles of the enemy and being watchful about which entryways they are using to infiltrate your marriage. If certain conversations are poisoning your heart towards each other, it is time to cut off those communications. You may or may not have to cut off the parties involve all together. Let wisdom lead you. But if it is people that you must stay in community with out of necessity, but they want to know what is going on in your marriage so they can discourage you, perfect the art of the one-word answer, and pivot.

“How are things between you and [your spouse]? – someone digging for dirt.

“Great! [the one-word answer]. Did you see that video with [insert something unrelated]? [the pivot] – you, blocking entryways for the little foxes.

If family members, exes, or previous relationships are the ones tripping you up, it is time to set some hard-lined boundaries. Be prepared for the pushback when the people who are used to having free access to you begin to meet road blocks. The guards you set in place to protect yourself and your union will be treated like a declaration of war. And for the sake of your marriage, you may have to make peace with being misunderstood. Everyone is not under the same obligation to protect your marriage at all costs like you are. They will give an account for their own behavior but God is not gonna ask them about what went wrong in your union. That responsibility is squarely on your shoulders. Be unapologetic about championing the health of your marriage before any other relationship (yes, even relationships with your parents or your children; if God wanted those relationships to be more important than your marriage, He would not have called you to leave them and cleave to your spouse).

If someone has interjected themselves into your marriage to steal the love, affection, emotional connection or physical intimacy that rightfully belongs to you or your spouse, I am of the “righteous indignation” persuasion. God appointed you to your position in your spouse’s life, any other “rival” is an illegitimate adversary. Stand firm in your position and do not give an inch to the enemy or his devices. Seek guidance and counseling to give you the proper tools to overcome this assault on your union but do not lay down your weapons and surrender just because the enemy mounted an attack. Even if you lose ONE battle, win the war.

Marriage is a HOLY covenant. It is not a man-made institution. The devil hates marriages and he will use all manners of devices, people and institutions to undermine something so near and dear to the heart of God. If you are enduring challenges and agony in your marriage, please send me a private message. I would love to pray with you and send you some resources. God made us to thrive in our unions and He alone can give us what we need to not only endure the hard times but flourish through them.



So…I Wasn’t Crazy

B222BA2C-741F-4E24-B135-0F184D6BA3D7This post can also be titled “Through The Fire Part 3” because the journey continues. If you have not read Part 1 and 2, get them here! Through The Fire and From Breakdown to Breakthrough -Through The Fire Part 2

It has been exactly one year since the panic attack that exposed my deep-seethed battle against fear and anxiety. Before that incident, I did not recognize that I had a problem with fear. I thought I was just a person that was prone to worry.  I started therapy three months after that attack and have been able to identify the root of my fear and anxiety. When I reflect back, I recognize that the fear in my heart was amplified in law school. Every day for three years, I lived daily with the fear of failing out of school and facing the humiliation of public failure. Everyone knew I was in law school. If I did not pass or graduate, they would know why. It never occurred to me that my sensitivities and law school were a bad match. I just did my best to power through.

My professors and fellow classmates did much to reiterate the fear I had regarding failure. There was constant talk about who failed and why. We analyzed and reanalyzed all the ways to answer a question wrong and thus fail a final exam or bar essay. All of those discussions made it abundantly clear to me that failing as a law student or a lawyer would be the worst thing in the world. I bought the narrative – hook, line and sinker. I do not know if law school graduation or passing the bar was supposed to magically heal the fear that had been instilled in my heart for over three years but, they did not. I graduated with a paralyzing fear of failure and a conviction that being a lawyer was more important than being human. To fail as a lawyer was to fail as a human being.

I practiced law for eleven years driven by the fear that was instilled in me in law school. I thought it was normal. But when my anxiety attack showed me that this was not a sustainable way of life, I ultimately decided that there was something wrong with me.

Maybe I was just crazy. Everyone else that practiced law seemed to be perfectly fine carrying the load of other people’s personal, legal and life-altering issues. Maybe I was just doing this legal career thing wrong. I am surrounded by colleagues, including family members, who are thriving in the practice of law. The fact that I buckled under the pressure felt to me like a personal failure on my own part.

This Friday, February 7th, 2020 – for the first time in over a year, I found out that I was not crazy. I was sitting in a CLE (continuing legal education for lawyers) and for the first time in over sixteen years, another lawyer confirmed what I was feeling. Her summation of what law school did to us was right on the money. (Paraphrasing her points) Law school broke me down without building me up and then released me into a career filled with people who are also broken and are conditioned to medicate their brokenness through substance abuse (alcohol and drugs) which usually worsens conditions such as anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation. The speaker spoke of lawyers who felt like they were “phonies” who would eventually be exposed as terrible lawyers. Their thoughts were so consuming that most of the lawyers in her stories died by suicide.

A light bulb went off in my head. I have spent years being overwhelmed by the unrelenting imposter syndrome that has plagued me since my first C grade in law school. In my own eyes, I was a terrible lawyer and it was only a matter of time before everyone would find out. Had I continued down the path my thoughts wanted to lead me, there is no telling if I could have ended up becoming one of those “who would rather be a dead lawyer than a living human,” (quote from the speaker).  I had an immediate flashback to the first moment of my panic attack; the prevailing thought was “I rather just die than feel like this.” Thankfully, I had enough emotional stability to recognize that thought as wholly illogical and unworthy of further investment. I had too much to live for. I could not let one moment of terror steal my life from me.

But sitting in the CLE, having a stranger recount my own thoughts to me was jaw-dropping and deeply affirming. I was not crazy for feeling the weight of this profession for the twelve years I practiced. I was not crazy for deciding that getting away from private practice was the best thing for my emotional, physical and even financial health. I was not crazy for recognizing that had I continued to practice law in the same way, I would have ended up on a dangerous path towards a complete mental and emotional breakdown. I was not crazy.

It is possible to enter into the career you have always dreamed about only to realize that you do not want it. It is possible to have a title that other people respected but it did not bring any significance or joy to you. It is possible to be surrounded by people who were doing the same work as you but seem to enjoy it in a way that you have never experienced. And there is nothing wrong with that. It does not make you a failure or an anomaly or a crazy person. I am not crazy for finding my purpose, my joy and my peace outside of the practice of law. And I am done beating myself up from stepping away from it. God has more for me to do than to wake up every day with dread in my belly at having to take on the mental load of clients whose lives hang in the balance of my representation. I wholeheartedly relinquish the burden to be the savior of others. Jesus already died for them. I choose to rest.

I am thankful for the new path in my career that allows me to work, consult, earn and not take on any stress of anybody’s livelihood. I am grateful for the gift of writing, teaching and speaking to women. I am grateful for the family that I still have time to love and cherish and nurture because I did not allow the enemy to kill me with fear or stress. I am thankful for my new beginning. And I am not crazy for starting over.

(The CLE I referred to was hosted by the High Point Bar and Nixon Law Offices. When I get the speaker’s name, I will include her details. She did a phenomenal job on the mental health portion of the day).