Blog Posts


I’m a Mom

blog #7 – by Joy Catoe

Do you ever have days you just don’t feel quite right? I have them often. It’s unfortunate really. I don’t know if it’s age, if it’s health, or if it’s just something mental going on. But one thing I do know, is I keep going. Why? It’s simple really. I’m a mom.

When you’re a mom, you don’t really have time to get sick, feel depressed, or just, well, rest! Don’t get me wrong, I do get sick, I do get depressed, and listen here, I will rest!! But it’s not always on my time, or when I “want” to, it’s more like, when I just can. Why? I’m a mom.

I came home from work early today because I wasn’t feeling well. For those that don’t know, I do have some health issues that cause me to become extremely fatigued at times as well as I suffer from migraines – which is freaking awesome. I have some female issues which cause some hormonal issues which in turn, causes migraines. Life is just peachy! There’s not much I can do when a migraine comes on suddenly, such as today. I came home, sat in the dark, rested off and on. But guess what? There was no husband home. There was no child here. Just me and my couch, in the dark. Oh, and the dog and chickens, but I let them stay outside. Why does this matter? Because, I’m a mom.

You may wonder where I’m going with this. It’s simple really. Sometimes we have to listen to our body’s. Did I want to miss work? No. I don’t like using my PTO time for me. Not for me being sick anyway! Not for a massive migraine. I prefer using it for my children, for vacation, for a quiet day at home. Not. For. A. Migraine. You hear me? Not. At. All. Most of my PTO goes for children’s appointments, not even the fun stuff. Again, why? I’m a mom.

When we don’t take care of ourselves (which I haven’t), when we don’t allow time for ourselves (which I don’t), when we don’t treat ourselves the way we deserve to be treated (which I’m not even sure what that means), “ourselves” will rebel! Well, “myself” has been rebelling lately. I think she is trying to tell me something. But what? I’m a mom? NO! I know that part! Maybe it’s…REST.

I’m a mom of 3. I’m a wife. I’m an employee. I’m back in school. I don’t eat right. I don’t exercise. I don’t get enough water or sleep. Do I make sure my children eat right? Absolutely! Do I make sure my children study in a timely manner? Of course! Do I make sure my children get enough water and sleep? DUH!!! Well, why don’t I do that for myself? I know! I know!! Because, I’m THE mom! It’s also because I’m last on my “to do” list. Heck, I’m not even sure I’m on the list!

As moms, we need to take care of ourselves not only for our overall well being (can you say stop the migraines?), but for our children too. Some people go on diets and say they are doing it for themselves, because until they do it for themselves, they won’t be serious about it. I understand that philosphy, I do. But if you have children, do it for them. Do it to see them graduate high school or college. Do it to see what their life becomes. Do it to be here for their children, your grandchildren. Isn’t that a little bit like doing it for yourself? To be healthy for them is to be healthy for yourself?

Now, don’t get it twisted, I’m not saying I’m going to lose 50lbs and run a marathon anytime soon. But I can start by ensuring I get to bed at a decent hour. Maybe I decrease my school work load next semester. Actually, that’s not a maybe, that’s going to happen! Maybe it’s little things in your life you can begin doing for yourself (eye make up in the mornings? Getting up 10 minutes before the kids to have alone time?). Little things to remind yourself that You Are Important. You Matter.

Don’t be so busy taking care of everyone else, you forget about yourself, until your body begins screaming at you and reminds you – You Matter Too.

I’m a Mom
My make up runs, if I wear it
My hair isn’t always fixed…or clean
I’m fluffy and puffy
I cry, I laugh, and
I pee a little when I sneeze
I’m a mom

Do This For You

blog #6 – by Feleshia Cunningham

There is a time to sow and there is a time to reap the benefits of sowing. When most read that they automatically think of sowing and reaping financially. While reaping your financial harvest is important, God has placed a different type of harvest in my heart today. Sowing into yourself, and reaping the benefits from it. Many of us find ourselves in a place that leaves us empty, leaves us dry, leaves us frustrated because we have spent all of our time pouring into everything and everyone except ourselves.

While we all may lead different lives and have different responsibilities, we all have felt this way in the past or currently feel this way. For some of us we pour ourselves into husbands or wives, some into children, some work, some school and some of us have the luxury of pouring ourselves into all of the above. But when is the last time that we have poured into ourselves? I recently asked someone very close to my heart, “who would you be if all of the people and things you pour yourself into weren’t here, would you even know who you are?”  I am speaking from experience when I say that it is so easy to lose yourself while you’re busy attempting to fulfill everyone and everything else. What an awful discovery it is when you look up in the mirror and do not know that person anymore. If you’re at this place today, don’t be discouraged, finding you again or for the first time is only one step away. 

Like any harvest, you must put something into it in order to get something out of it. There are so many people that want the benefits of sowing but never actually take the time to prepare a place for the crop. I was the person that claimed I never had enough time to do anything for me, which at that time that is how it seemed, I wasn’t just making that up. By the time I would get home from work, I would have about two hours to spend time with my son, eat, get any homework he had done, clean and get myself in the bed. Don’t let me have to go to the store before I get home, you could just cut that time left to do anything in half. 

Maybe you’re asking yourself, “what can I possibly do for me that fits into my lifestyle and budget”. Well I suggest that you take the time to figure out what it is that brings joy to your life. For example, one thing I have made a decision to do for me is to write because I know that is part of my purpose that God has given me, so as I am writing this to you I am filled with joy, it doesn’t bring aggravation or irritation. One of the greatest things I do for myself daily is investing in myself  spiritually by spending time with God. Doing something for myself some days is as simple as curling my hair. When I’m getting up early just to take the extra time to curl my hair, I’m not doing that for anyone else, I am doing that solely for myself.

Doing something for yourself doesn’t always have to be some big event, even though there is nothing wrong with doing something big for yourself here and there. The goal is to take time to pour into yourself, so that at the end of the day, even if you’re physically tired, you are okay with that, because you know you’re not losing yourself in the process of life. The harvest that you receive from sowing into yourself is peace, strength, encouragement, fulfillment and joy, it’s worth making a priority. 

What I hope that everyone can take from this is that it is vital to invest in you because otherwise your well will run dry and you can not and will not be able to be an effective vessel for The Lord nor for your family, your job or anything else that you pour yourself into. So I encourage you to take the first step today towards sowing into yourself spiritually, physically, mentally or emotionally. You won’t ever receive the benefits of sowing if you never take the steps of sowing. So…do this for you.

Feleshia Cunningham, Writer for God, Mother for Ethan

One Moment at a Time

blog #5 – by Nikki Richardson

Dementia isn’t the disease; it is just a symptom. At least that’s the way the internet explains it. I was there the day my grandfather got the Dementia diagnosis though. The doctor made this a real disease.

This man—the pillar of my family—was always gentle and fun loving. He was the first to have a joke or play a prank. Suddenly, this man that I looked up to my entire life wasn’t there anymore. He was replaced by a cruel hateful thing.

People say that there is a peace that comes with acceptance. For my family, we never get that peace of mind. We are constantly adapting and accepting each moment as we take it. From one day to the next, we never know what the exact mood is going to be or how much worse the symptoms will be today.

Since the diagnosis and the medications, it has been better. However, that doesn’t stop the bad days. Days when my grandfather can’t tell me what is going on inside his head, but he’s so cruel with his words. He doesn’t understand emotion anymore. Sometimes, I catch myself staring at this man as if I’m trying to figure out who this stranger is and what he did with the only father-figure I’ve ever had.

I fight every day not to see him as a stranger. He’s not a stranger. He is sick. My grandfather has all of his childhood memories, and memories of his children’s childhoods along with mine. He knows all our names. But his body is deteriorating. His mind is slowly following, but it’s still there. He is still there…for now.

That’s the tragedy of Dementia. Once you accept one part of the disease, it grows into a monster that you have to accept again. You didn’t sign up for this problem, and as soon as you accept that it’s not going to change the problem gets worse. It won’t get better. Accepting that fact, and dealing with it are two very different things.

I sat down and talked to my grandfather once. I tried to explain to a man with an eighth-grade education that his neurons were firing on all cylinders and this was causing his brain to shrink. I tried to tell him he wasn’t going to get better. I tried to tell him that it was going to be okay. He told me that I was right; it was going to be okay because he was getting better. Every day he says he is going to get better; every day he gets a little bit worse.

We have discovered that exercise works best for him. He has really good days when we make him walk, even if it is just a couple times back and forth along our hallway. Fighting is bad. And we fight a lot. No one seems to know what the exact best thing to do is, but they all have their theories. My grandfather bumps into a wall, gets a new bruise, and suddenly he is being neglected. Even though we made sure he had enough water, he took his daily medication, and he is clean.

Blame is another monster that creeps in from the outside. People look at you differently when you say you are a caretaker for a Dementia patient. Then, when you confess that the patient is related to you, the sympathetic stares and “I’m so sorry” condolences come. Sometimes you want to scream that he’s not dead, why are there condolences, and then you come home to see that your person can’t walk the same way. Their reflexes are weakening. They can’t drive. Suddenly, you don’t have any freedom because your person is dependent on you to make sure that they are okay. Your person is never okay. It won’t be okay again.

If it seems daunting, if it seems like a hard pill to swallow, then you get it. You get what my life with a Dementia patient is like. If you think I’m crazy, and I’m just ranting because I’m overly dramatic, then I hope you never have to face the reality of living with someone who needs 100% of your attention. I hope you never have to face someone that doesn’t fully care anymore because they don’t have “normal” emotions. I hope you don’t have to deal with a loved one who can’t tell you what’s wrong, but is struggling every day. Someone who knows that they’re losing everything, but they don’t know why or how to stop it.

I hope none of you have to deal with accepting each moment as it happens because you’re not allowed to change it.

Nikki Richardson, Author

Me Too

blog #4 – by Tamika Carter

Photo by: Ashley Elaine

A feeling you never forget.
Those times you often regret.
You try to figure out who’s to blame
as the flashbacks come so frequent it makes you feel insane.
The first time it happened I was about 7 or 8.
An impressionable stage because I felt those two were great.
The were my protectors, my idols.
But what I didn’t know is their actions would later on make me suicidal.
I can clearly see the door opening and the oldest walking in.
I can remember him saying I love you, and me believing he was my friend.
Once the oldest was done it would be the youngest turn.
Night after night they were teaching me things I was too young to learn.
This went on for months until that final night.
Noises woke my mother and she came to see if I was alright.
Needless to say they were caught and sent away.
And I thought the hell I had been through ended that day.
Things were okay until about 9 or 10.
That’s when my hell started all over again.
This time I’m in a different place,
and the assailant has a different face.
He tells me my mom sent him to make sure everything down there was okay.
I can still feel his hands touching me even til this day.
This went on for about a year,
and I couldn’t say anything because I was full of fear.
On the inside I was screaming out for help
but I hid it with a smile to hide all the feelings that I felt.
Once again my mother saves me that night.
And I can still hear and see the fight.
I can still see me crying calling out
and wondering if we were safe in the house, I had my doubts.
This was the second time and the third man,
but why did this keep happening; I couldn’t understand.
My childhood was full of pain,
and though there were sunny days, all I saw was rain.
I thought the nightmares were over and I could just have regular dreams,
but all that changed when I was 14.
It was a different man this time.
He was suppose to watch me but had other things on his mind.
Every time my parents left I wanted them to stay,
because I knew what would happen and I hated feeling this way.
This was the third time and the fourth man who was suppose to be my protector,
but all he did was take my soul like the soul collector.
This time was different, it just ended.
And the relationship between us would never be mended.
I kept all this a secret, so my family wouldn’t know.
I took Tylenol PM and stayed in my room so the hurt and pain wouldn’t show.
I would sneak and take my mothers prescriptions daily
just so I could sleep because without them I could see everything that happened
and what they did to me.
What happened to me as a child has affected me many days.
The way I act, the way I dress, and my feelings about sex are just a few ways.
Not to mention that depression has been a controlling factor
and on February 2, 2014, I tried to close all those chapters.
I took a bunch of PMs and a bunch of Aleve.
I felt like life would be better if I could just leave.
After spending a week in the hospital I realized I couldn’t let them win.
I came out of the hospital different, feeling stronger than I had ever been.
And though the reason things happened to me as a child remain unclear.
I’m still motivated and pushing on. I’m still here.
In no way was this to make anyone feel sorry for me
but I wanted to tell my truth and let anyone who has gone through similar to know;
Me Too.

Tamika Carter, Professional, Writing is her therapy

Finding a Place to Belong

blog #3 – by Feleshia Cunningham

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Have you ever wondered where exactly you fit in?

Hi,

My name is Feleshia Cunningham, and for those who don’t know me, I am first and foremost the daughter of the one true King, Jesus Christ! Secondly, I am the product of a black man and a white woman that has been madly in love for over 35 years. As you can see, present day I described myself as a child of God first and a child of my parents second. It has not always been this clear for me as to who I belong to or where I fit in at. With that being said, I would like to briefly share with you how I went from feeling out of place while in certain rooms, to knowing I am exactly where and who I am supposed to be.

“This isn’t for me”

If you are reading this and automatically counted yourself out , saying “this is not for me” because you’re not biracial, take a moment to reconsider. This is not just about being black or being white or even being both. This is about not knowing where you belong. Knowing where you belong or feeling a part of something could range anywhere from being a child/teen in school to an adult well into their career. For me, knowing where I belong meant figuring out which culture I identified with most. I am not, nor have I ever been the person that needed to be a part of some huge group or clique; however, I still had a sense of wanting to be able to know what group of people I identify with most. So no matter where you are in life right now, I encourage you to continue to read this. If it’s not for you, maybe it’s for someone you know.

“Too Black OR Too White”

I’ve never struggled with being myself, or loving myself for who I am but I did struggle with figuring out which culture I identify with the most. Here I am, a product of black love and white love, and loving both cultures but not knowing which I belong to the most if that makes sense. Technically  I belong to both equally but for me culture is not defined by DNA alone. Culture is a beautiful combination of race, traditions, traits and passion. When spending time with my family on either side, I never felt out of place, but it was when I stepped into the real world, when I wasn’t sure what culture I identify with most. Being in a room full of black people that I don’t know and they don’t know me, I felt too white. And being in a room full of white people that I don’t know and they don’t know me, I felt too black. Depending on which room I was in, with which group of people, and how I wore my hair, big and curly or straight and laid, or what style of clothing I chose to wear that day or even how loud or how quiet I laughed would often times make me feel like I didn’t belong although through DNA I belong to both. And I’m not saying that the people in the room made me feel out of place, I’m saying I felt out of place because I couldn’t identify with them at that moment and I wanted to identify with someone, no matter how I decided to wear my hair that day, what I wore or how loud I was.

The room where God is

After God being a big part of my life since around the age of 6, I finally at the age of 24 realized that I belong to Him before anything and anyone else and that the most important room to identity with is the room where God is. And wherever I am, there He is. I finally seen that I Identify with God first. God created me to be different, to be able to relate but yet be separate from both cultures. God filled a void for me by showing me that I identify as a child of God. I no longer have to wonder what group of people I identify with the most. God opened my eyes to see that I don’t just relate to blacks and whites but I relate to every child of God. I have a group of people that I will never feel too black or too white around because we are all different in some way and that’s okay. God helped me see that as long as I am in Him, He is in me so therefore He is in every room with me. If you have accepted God into your heart, you too know this feeling of being a part of Gods culture. And that culture…is the one that counts the most, here on earth and in heaven.

Feleshia Cunningham, Child of God, Mother of Ethan

Everything Changes

blog #2 – By Brandi Land

Photo by: Ashley Elaine

There are times when you are up and times when you are down. Have you ever thought what would life be like if everything remained the same? Our up seasons brings happiness, peace, and a better view. Down seasons sometimes leave us with regrets, heartaches, and heartbreaks. Why don’t things remain the same? The Word of God tells us there is a time and place for everything under the sun. Up seasons gives us a reason to be thankful for what we endured in our down season. Our down season gets our attention, causes us to rethink, fix what may have been broken, and trust God during the process. Every season causes us to mature, grow, and bloom. So fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride. His grace is sufficient for thee: for your power is made perfect in weakness. No matter where life takes you, there is no place he can’t find you. Stay encouraged and always remember that everything changes but God.

Brandi Land, Professional, Mother of 3, Follower of Jesus

Mother’s Day 2019

blog #1 – May 12, 2019: by Joy Catoe

My mom, who did teach me to stop and smell the roses, literally, smelling the roses!

I became a mom at the age of 25 with my first son, Elijah. He was a welcomed baby at 7lbs and 10ozs. We had “tried” for 2 years before getting pregnant with him. I say tried with quotes like that because we never went to fertility treatments, I never took my temperature or kept up with ovulation schedules, but we didn’t prevent it. We wanted a baby. At the age of 23, I didn’t really think it would be so difficult. When the time came that I really was pregnant, after numerous pregnancy tests throughout the years, I was still surprised. Like, how did this happen!!! I think at that time, I was so used to negative tests, that I was little scared to believe a positive one.

Once I truly accepted we were having a baby (which was about 2 hours later, after I spoke with my husband, Phillip, and my best friend, April), I was SO excited! BUT I can remember thinking “what do I know about being a mom?” Well, I’ll tell you what I knew:

  1. I knew to love them with all that I am;
  2. I knew to be open with them about any and all subjects;
  3. I knew to hold them, hug them, kiss them, show them love in all ways;
  4. I knew to be honest with them;
  5. I knew to apologize to them when I was wrong;
  6. I knew to trust them until given reasons not to;
  7. I knew to allow them to be themselves;
  8. I knew to not try to break their will, but to try to mold it;
  9. I knew to teach them how to think for themselves;
  10. I knew to accept them no matter their choices or decisions;

I knew these things for one reason: My mom She loved us, sacrificed for us, went through hell and back for us, on so many different occasions that I do know about, I can’t even begin to imagine what I don’t know. She hasn’t always had it easy in life. She never once taught us that life would be easy or fair, and for that, I am truly thankful. Because of her, I have never gone through life with blinders on, but I knew how to show my true self to the world; whether they were ready for it or not.

She taught me so much about being myself, that I didn’t even realize that she was also teaching me how to be my future self, a mom. She loved (that should be “loves” because it’s not past tense) us unconditionally. By us, I mean my 2 sisters and me. Yes, 3 girls (I know, my poor dad! Even our dog was a female!). My sisters and I were raised to be independent thinkers, to be leaders, to serve others, to always do our best, to stand up for what we believe in; she taught us all of these things, and so much more.

In honor of Mother’s Day, 2019, think about what your mom taught you. You could have learned what NOT to do, and that’s OK, it’s a lesson to be thankful for. Your story may be very different, but it’s your story, your lesson. Let’s all take a moment to be thankful for our moms, yes, even the ones you may say were “terrible moms” because, guess what? Without her, you wouldn’t be here. Without her, you wouldn’t have learned to be better than her. Or, in my case, without my mom, I wouldn’t know what standard I was trying to reach. And believe me, it’s a standard I’ve yet to rise to, but am striving for every day!