35

Today I woke up and I was 35. I didn’t know how to feel. I normally despise my Birthday because most years my twin has been incarcerated so I felt guilty celebrating a day that was purposed to be shared. This year was different though. My twin is not incarcerated this year, but yet I was stuck. As I began to ponder what this year meant to me I just felt a sense of thankfulness. I’ve gone through a lot and overcome a lot more. The shame that once held me bound is now what catapults me into new territory’s everyday.

I wish I could tell my birth mother just how much I honor her for being obedient to the purpose God had for her. I know it couldn’t have been easy, making a choice to give up your babies. I know the day she stood at the door of our foster home and screamed for hours she felt like the worst mother in the world, but she dried her eyes, and she walked away. She knew that in order for me to fulfill my purpose, she would have to fulfill hers. Fulfilling her purpose meant that even two weeks before she died, when I called her over twenty times after being incarcerated for over 6 years, she would have to ignore my calls. She knew that what I desired from her, she wasn’t purposed to give me. She had already served her purpose.

I allowed my mother to depart this earth knowing her only daughter was angry with her. I held onto that anger for many years and when my Birthday came around I chose to treat it as the worst day of the year. I thought I was punishing her when in fact, I wasn’t being appreciative of the sacrifice she made in order for my purpose to be fulfilled.

So today, I turned 35. Today I honor my birth mom for her courage. Today I choose to walk in my purpose with boldness, because I owe her that. Today I choose to laugh when the enemy wants me to cry. Today I choose to love when the enemy wants me to hate. Today I choose to be free when the enemy desires to see me bound. Today I choose to just be Simply Sana Latrease.

At the end of trying to find the life i was looking for, God took my shriveled heart and filled it, empowering me to become the woman He always envisioned me to be. The beauty I now possess is much more than skin deep; it’s heart deep. Hello chapter 35.

Unfinished does not equal Unworthy

Although I am a product of the DCF system, I have been molested, beaten, cheated on, lied to and abandoned. I survived, I WAS JUST UNFINISHED.

Looking back on that season of life, I wish I could pull my younger self close and tell her that one day she’d feel a little less unfinished. I wish I could tell her God was 100% tuned in to the beauty of who she was becoming. And I’d tell her that she was not alone, there were a lot of people around her who were also unfinished in some way. Because here’s what I’ve learned:

Unfinished doesn’t equal Unworthy.

I will not allow you to Fail

So as I am REdiscovering my worth as a mother, and REdefining what being a mother means to me, I have had to come to terms with the fact the although I was a young mom, made a ton of mistakes, and in my eyes failed in many areas, it is NOT too late to start over.

After the year my husband and I had with our son in school last year, I decided to quit my great paying job at the end of 2016 and focus on him and Janai, but mainly him, this year. I had to stop feeling guilty for his bad judgement and lack of hard work concerning his school work and start holding him accountable. Sometimes it means that on beautiful days like today, I am forced to tell him No, you can not go to the Y to play basketball or hop on your Xbox for the entire weekend, today, your going to do your homework, and complete the assignments that you thought you could NOT turn in and I wouldn’t find out about them. I feel awful when he looks at me like I’m the worst parent on the planet, huffs and puffs and walks off with an attitude, but I quickly call him back (attempt not to smack him into last week for being disrespectful), look him in the eyes and tell him that, I refuse to allow him to fail. He hates me now but he’ll love me later. Then I go in my room, look myself in the mirror, dry my tears and remind myself, that I am a good mom, I made mistakes, I am unfinished but not UNWORTHY to be his mom. Are ya’ll following my intentional parenting journey? It may be ugly sometimes but it’s my truth. #Hewillwalkthatstage #getthatdiploma #enrollincollege #theniwillbreathe

Life. Remastered.

What if we dared to believe God could do anything — anything at all — in and through us?

God births supernatural things through women. He whispers to our imperfect hearts and beckons us to believe His stunning promises. Even when we’re a hot mess. When we dare to believe Him, He is honored. He is glorified. And His promises begin to unfold.

“I know that You can do all things, and that no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained or thwarted.” Job 42:2

Life. Remastered.

I had to learn to be a Present Parent.

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I had no clue of what kind of a parent I wanted to be. I just knew that I was bringing a child into the world and I would be responsible for their life. Since I had been in foster care and then ultimately adopted, I experienced various versions of what parenting looked like. In my opinion, none of them were great, but there was definitely something that could be seen as nuggets to take from them.

When my son was born I did what I felt was the best I could do. He was well taken care of and most of the time, if he wasn’t with his godfather, he was with me. Now this is where I have to accept my own truth. He was with me. Wherever I went, whatever I did he was there. Thankfully I was never a drinker or a smoker of any kind, but if I argues with his father, he was there. If I busted the windows out of his father’s car, or slashed his tires, he was there. When I almost murdered his father, he was there. I was so busy trying to get his father to love me and spend time with us, oops, I mean spend time with me, because let’s just be honest, we, yup I said we, you and I, have both at some point used our child as bait to see their father when we THOUGHT, we had found true love and was scared to lose it. I was so busy chasing him that I didn’t take the time to make quality memories with my son. I didn’t read to him before he went to bed, or pray over him before he went to daycare. We didn’t go to the park, or enjoy activities that would stretch his imagination.

I did although, make sure I put the fear of God in him. He knew that I wasn’t to be played with and that he better behave at all times. I taught him how NOT to treat a women, by allowing him to see me cry after his father and I got into a physical altercation, and he was the one that wiped my tears.

When I had my daughter, life was so different. I was married and what most would consider more stable. Due to medical issues that faced, my daughter stayed home with me until she was able to attend preschool. During that time she was my shadow. Up under me from morning until night. She saw me clean the house, do laundry, pay bills, grocery shop, etc. We read books together, I taught her how to count, say her alphabet, spell and write her name and a plethora of other things.

When she went to preschool, I went back to work for the first time in 3 1/2 years. In my mind, I had a lot of time to make up for. We started the camp at the church and I also started my first job in property management. I wasn’t getting paid much and realized quickly that if I wanted to make more money, I was going to have to work my way up the corporate ladder, which meant longer hours away from home, and then bringing work home on most nights. I worked these long hours for seven years. During that time I can’t begin to tell you how many moments I missed with my babies. Sure, Josh was there and he filled in for both of us, but those are moments I should have been there for.

In Jamir’s final semester of Freshman year, everything came to a head. He was literally failing every class. I knew that he was struggling and had been emailing and meeting with his counselor and teachers all year to get a plan in place to help him, but the school gave me the runaround almost the entire year. They wanted to try different strategies before scheduling testing for a any learning disabilities. In the midst of that I noticed a change in him. He was sleeping all the time, staying in his room, dropped off the football team, his attitude was terrible. I didn’t make it any better. Instead of taking the time to not just listen to him but HEAR him, I was yelling at him and telling him how disappointed and stressed out I was due to his lack of interest in his future. He just completely shut down.

I would lock myself in the bathroom and just cry, I felt like I had failed him as a mom. One day during my prayer time God said to me, “You are going to have to accept accountability of your own actions. It’s time to make some changes, what are you going to do?”. I knew then that I had to completely change my parenting mindset. Although I couldn’t make up for the past, I could definitely reshape the future.

So I resigned from my job at the end of 2016. I demanded the support my son needed in school to be put in place and put a dream team of support in place for him over the summer, starting with myself. I changed the way I spoke to my kids. Even when they needed to clean their rooms, I used a different approach. I didn’t yell or demand they do it. I asked and then thanked them for completing it. It may sound crazy to you but it’s made a world of difference in our home. Josh and I have taken time to sit down, and just get to know our kids. We ask them questions about our parenting skills that force them to be honest with themselves even when it hurts us. We give them space to just be themselves. Be who God created them to be, not who we imagined they would turn out to be. It’s not always easy. Sometimes I have to catch myself before I fly off the handle, I have a long way to go, but I know I’ve come a long way.

The two most important lessons I’ve learned this year as I have made the decision to intentionally parent is this; be transparent. Let your kids know that you have made mistakes, your not perfect, and the second is, although I am the same parent, I have to parent them differently. They are very different and have different needs from me as a mom. Janai is a little bit more independent while Jamir requires a little more hand holding, and that’s okay. I can be to each of them whatever they need me to be.

This week, as I prepare for school to begin, I plan to do a few things to make this year run smoother and for us to connect deeper as a family. I’ve implemented family devotionals, Affirmation boards throughout the house, I’ll be putting prayer clothes throughout my home and in my children’s book bags, we will be praying more frequently together, but most of all, I just plan on being a present, parent.

Are you speaking to the King or the Fool?

In 1999 I was dating this dude. He was my first real boyfriend and he was completely HOOD, but dude was DEEP, you hear me? We would sit around for hours, him talking, and me soaking up all of his street knowledge. It was from him that I leaned about being loyal in a relationship, but most importantly he gave me a nugget that stayed embedded in my brain for years after, he said "The worst thing you can do to a man is speak to him like he's a women." It wasn't until years later that I would realize the depth of that nugget.

When my husband and I first met I was coming out of a toxic relationship. While in that relationship, I learned to defend myself with my hands, but I realized that using my tongue landed more punches. See, we could get into a physical altercation and eventually it would end and all would be well, but the words that came from my mouth was ever present. Long after an argument, he was most likely replaying it in his head, and it hurt. So that's what I did. You could hurt me physically but I was going to hurt you mentally.

Unfortunately, I carried that same defense mechanism into my new relationship. When I had to deal with the judgement of the church members, I would go home and take it out on Josh. When they would make slick comments about why he was with me, I would go home and take it out on Josh. I would tell him that he never defended me, and because of that, he became the enemy.

As the years went on, I began to ask God to show me where this behavior was stemming from. Why did I talk to the man that loved me with every breathe in his body like he was poop on the bottom of my shoe? God revealed to me that I was still in defense mode. I was walking through my marriage with my hands up in fight position because I was scared to be vulnerable. I was still broken from my last relationship and I expected my husband to put me back together. I placed all of my frustrations, insecurities, and burdens on my husband with the expectation that as the "husband" he would provide me the healing that I was searching for. Of course when he couldn't, I made him feel as bad as I felt. I know he had to be miserable those first 5 years of marriage.

In year six I realized that the only man that could heal my heart and put my broken pieces back together was the man I didn't see and spent no time seeking. The man who knew me before my mother knew my father. The man who has wonder working power, who you ask?, Jesus of course!

As God began to do his cleanup work within me, he spoke to me about the wife he needed me to be. I needed to be like Esther, a wife of noble character. "Well God", I asked, "what does that look like?". This is what he told me:

Every man has both a king and a fool in him.  Which ever one is spoken to the most – the one that is nurtured and developed – is the one he will become. For years you have been speaking to him like he was a fool when in fact I made him a king.

Well dang God, you just laid me out real quick. I was quickly reminded of that little nugget that was deposited into me years before by a man who saw me heading toward destruction, I was talking to my man, like he was a women (those are Street terms, LOL). He went on to say:

Speak to the king in your husband. The more you speak to the king in him, the more he will believe it and become it. Sana, you have been graced to minister to Josh in ways that NO ONE ELSE CAN, OR SHOULD!

Let me tell you something, I changed what came out of mouth, how it came out of my mouth and WHEN it came out of my mouth real quick! I became what my sister in Christ calls me, The Husband Cheerleader. I'm the head of the Joshua E. Cotten fan club, you hear me?? I began to pray over him in his sleep. Send him sermon titles and he wasn't even preaching yet, I encouraged him when he was down but most importantly, I used that same tongue that the devil had me using as a weapon against my husband, as a way to speak life into him.

Now I am certainly not a perfect wife, in fact, I am quite the handful, but I honor my king with everything in me. If you know Sana, then you know I don't play when it comes to my Joshie (he's going to kill me, lol).

I Thank God for his grace and mercy and for sending me a husband that saw past all of my broken pieces. I Thank God for giving my husband the power to see me through the eyes of the Heavenly Father who has perfect vision.

Hear me now, it wasn't just my words that God required me to change toward my husband. There were other areas that I had to make some changes. I know, you're probably saying to yourself, "I speak to my significant other just fine", but what other areas is God nudging you to change in?

Are you controlling? The Bible says in Proverbs 21, " It is better to live in a tent in the wild than with a cross and petulant spouse".

Would your significant other compare you to an irritating and unrelenting drop after drop of an unwanted and unwelcomed leaking faucet? That’s how Solomon described a nagging wife; as a source of annoyance, aggravation and frustration in Proverbs 19.

It's not to late to change your heart towards your significant other. Remember, God has created a King within him, and every King deserves a Queen.

Confessions of a Preachers Wife.

"That's going to be my husband." Those were the words I stated to my cousin the first time I laid eyes on the tall, chocolate brother I saw standing outside of the church I was visiting for the first time. I knew nothing about him, not who he was and certainly not Whose he was. We exchanged numbers that day, went on our first date the following Friday and essentially moved in together by Monday. It seriously happened that quick. It didn't take long for me to find out that the tall, chocolate brother, was actually the Pastors youngest son and I had walked into a spotlight I wasn't ready to be seen under. One week I walked in as a visitor and the next week I walked in as the new girlfriend of the biggest catch in the church, but to me he was just Josh.

As we began to get to know each other it began quite obvious that we were exact opposites. He was the youngest of his father's three sons, laid back, loud, spoiled, and a true comedian. I was serious, direct, a hard worker and had never had a thing handed to me. The one thing we did have in common was that we had both approached a time in our life where God had given us a final ultimatum, and we were each others heaven sent angels.

When I met Josh I was a single mom, I had no vehicle, I was working full time at a medical office, my son was in daycare, I had just gotten my own place in New Britain and I was broken. Josh had no children, was living in the house his mom left for him and his siblings, was driving a Jaguar and was hustling. Hustling was an immediate no-no for me. So we agreed that until he was able to secure a legit job, I would hold us down. I helped him find a position through a temp agency which turned out to be great. Josh and my son hit it off immediately and it wasn't long before he was calling Josh daddy. Life was looking up, at home at least.

We went to church every Sunday. Josh was a musician but not only that, even in the midst of his mess, he was committed to being at church on Sundays. Church wasn't new to me as I have always been involved in church as a child, but as an adult, this was something I would need to get used to. Week after week I would attend church. I would sit in a pew on the right hand side, in the middle of the section, with my son, and I would hear the saints whisper about me. I would feel them looking me up and down as they cast judgement toward me. Everyone wanted to know where I came from. All types of stories began to manifest and I had no time for it. Every time someone approached me with a slick comment I returned a slick response. It got to the point where whenever I came through those doors I put my guard up. Josh's favorite response whenever I complained to him was, "Who cares what they say, their not doing anything for you." It was easy for him to say but much harder for me to accept.

As time went on, we discussed marriage and starting a family. He was always very clear that he wouldn't rush into marriage unless he was sure I was the one, and I was very clear that I was not about to be playing house for years.

On July 4th, 2007, ten months after meeting, Josh proposed to me at a church picnic in front of all of our close family and friends. I was completely surprised. Our families wanted us to have the big wedding but we knew we didn't want to wait. There was a heaviness on our hearts about living in sin. We both knew better and as we were growing together, our walk with Christ was becoming more important. So on August 16, 2007, in a small ceremony with just our parents, at his parents house, we pledged our love toward each other and took vows to love, honor, and protect each other in both good times and bad. We later had our big wedding in November of that same year.

This was the beginning of when I realized that the calling Josh had on his life was real. For the next few years his parents began to groom us for what was to come. I won't say that I resisted, but I refused to be anyone other than myself. The problem was that "myself" had a dangerous tongue game, trusted absolutely no one and had no patience for any nonsense and I was unashamed of my past. I was definitely not what the wife of a man who was called to ministry looked like. Unfortunately for Josh, this meant that he was often put in uncomfortable positions that required him to have my back in public and then chastise me in private. I was not used to being chastised, especially when I felt I was right and was not being supported by my husband, so a simple conversation would be escalated to an all out argument real quick. Needless to say we didn't have good communication skills at all during those first few years of marriage.

One Sunday, a guest preacher came to our church. He had known Josh and his family for many years and also knew my family as well. In the middle of his sermon, he called us out. In front of the entire congregation he began to prophesy to us. He told us all that God had in store for us and it scared the living day lights out of me. I just wanted to be married and in love. I wasn't trying to be deeply involved in ministry. I knew Josh was called but I figured his calling had nothing to do with me. Boy was I wrong.

Josh was getting closer to accepting and publicly acknowledging the call to preach. Meanwhile, I found myself angry; angry at the church. The very place that God was calling my husband to serve in. I was tired of people ignoring my presence as a wife. I was tired of the whispering and the judgement. I was tired of feeling like I couldn't be free in Christ because the saints didn't like what my freedom looked like. So week after week I came to church wearing a mask. Suppressing all that I knew God had in store for me and becoming ashamed of my own story. I felt like I wasn't good enough.

God had to do some real work on my heart and that's exactly what he did. First I had to be honest with who I was and acknowledge that I wasn't always right, I did more speaking than listening, not everyone was against me, and that was stopping my own growth. I did a lot of crying, a lot of asking God why me? if it was going to take this much work to get me where I needed to be, why not choose someone else who was further along and more equipped for the calling? When he spoke he spoke clearly, this wasn't about Josh. This wasn't about his calling, this was about Sana. This was about Sana's calling. He had given me enough time to get myself together, I hadn't heeded the call and now my anointing was on the line.

During Josh's initial sermon I was at the lowest point of our marriage. God was still working on my heart and it was painful. Through it all, I still had a job to do as a wife. A purpose to fulfill. God was elevating my husband and I had a position to play. I was so excited to see my husband accepting and walking into the call God had in his life. He did it with ease. Full of so many dreams and ideas for the youth of our church and he was quickly announced as the Youth Director. As he began to put things in order I fell into place as well. Whatever capacity he required of me I was there to fulfill it. We decided that he would focus on solely on ministry and the needs of the church. I continued to work my full time job and support us financially during the day and then assist him in the evenings. Although we were opposites, we each held a gift that was needed to achieve the vision that our Pastor had for our church and specifically, the youth department. God continued to work on my heart and I was finally in a place where my heart was healed. My heart started to change when I realized that the people in my church who were causing me grief deserved the same measure of grace that God had given to me.They were human too. God was still working in their hearts. They needed his redemptive work in their words and relationships just as much as I did.

And you know what else? They were not my responsibility. God has called me to submit my own tongue, my own actions, and my own heart to His lordship. For me, that included letting Him show me how to fall in love with His bride, the church, even when she didn't behave perfectly.

It wasn't long before I began to feel God urging my heart to fulfill my purpose as a sinner saved by grace. That meant I needed to tell my story. I needed to be present for young women who were struggling with the heaviness of life. Those women that God had purposely connected to my purpose. But where did I start. How could I focus on those things when I was working 60+ hours per week at my secular job and then working alongside my husband and inlaws in ministry. Not to mention I was a mom of two busy children who desired my attention. Excuses. So many excuses. I had to acknowledge my fears and push myself past them. There was a work he was calling me to do and he was tired of my excuses….and my fear.

My husband was finally recognizing that there was much more to me than just being his wife. He began to urge me to do the things I had shared with him, the things God had placed on my heart. I worked tirelessly and from it came Pearls of Grace. My first event that was geared toward empowering women who looked like me, who felt like me and who desired more of God in every area of their lives. At the end of the evening I felt liberated, but most of all, God had received the Glory.

Free. That's how I finally felt, free. I had finally gotten to a place of true freedom in Christ. Free to be me along side a giant.

Why am I telling you this?

Because some of you are where I once was. I understand the pain that some of you are feeling. The expectations that others have placed on you have become a burden that feels too heavy to bear. This isn’t what you signed up for.

I know you’ve faced unrealistic expectations, unfair standards, and harsh criticism. Why? Because you are worshipping alongside imperfect people. But you all have something in common, your worshipping a perfect God. A God who has a will and purpose for their life just as well as yours.

I categorize myself as a novice preacher’s wife, I am still learning, growing and navigating my way through this very unique role. I still really don’t know what I am doing and just strive to be my authentic self. I thank God on a regular basis for my Giant. God used him to save me from myself.

I am by no means your regular Preachers Wife, and I am okay with that. I'm an open book, and these are my confessions.

Is the child support I’m paying benefiting you?

Have you ever had a moment where you finally realize that you are not who you used to be and it’s time to let her go? Well I had that moment a few weeks ago, now that I think about it, I’ve had those moments quite a few times but I wasn’t ready to let her go.

Literally the week I was due to leave for MegaFest my sons father told me that he needed to speak with me about something. I was so busy preparing for my trip that I forgot to call him back. Finally on my way to the church for an event (go figure right?) I remembered to call him back. As the phone rang I couldn’t help but get a little anxious about what was so important that he needed to speak to me since we have almost zero communication now that our son is old enough to communicate on his own. When he answered we went through the formalities, you know, the “how are you, I’m good, and you….” both ready to just get to the point, but me more ready so I just went ahead and asked, “What’s up?”. His response was one I honestly can say that I wasn’t prepared for and he completely through me off guard with. He asked me if the child support he was paying was benefiting me. Yeah, I had the same response you have right now, “What?!”. As he repeated himself I took a few seconds to breathe before in my mind, I went from zero to one hundred, real quick. “No, it’s not benefiting me, it’s benefiting your son, as it should be”. I’m not sure what his expectation of this call would be but I don’t believe that he expected to get that response so of course I became the selfish and ignorant baby mother that wants to see him work like a slave to pay his child support. I had to remind him that out of 15 years, he was only paying $6 per week for the first 12 years. As he proceeded to call me out of my name, God reminded me of who I was then and who I am now. Let me pause and take ya’ll on a little road trip to whence where I came from.

I was 19 when I met my sons father, I’ll refer to him as J. Other than my middle school sweetheart I hadn’t really liked any guys. I developed fairly early as a child so I was very cautious about male attention. J was different though. He was a sweetheart and made me feel like I was the only woman in the world. My life was already hectic as I was searching for a love that I had never received before. J was the calm to my storm not to mention he lived in my hometown of Bridgeport, a place that I longed to live as it made me feel closer to my birth mother. It wasn’t long before I began to find out things about J that he wasn’t up front about, things that I was not ready for. He already had two children, from a relationship that had just ended and a child on the way by another women. You would think that after having learned all of that I would have left him alone, but I had already moved in with him at his father’s house and was head over heels with a man I didn’t even really know. 

I can’t say there was a lot of baby mama drama because one lived in another state and the other one just wasn’t crazy. She was angry, but not crazy. I stayed in my place for the most part as the girlfriend and let them do what they had to do as parents. I helped where I could and let him do the rest. 

When I found out I was pregnant there was never a question in MY mind as to what we would do. He didn’t want any more children but he wasn’t crazy enough to request an abortion. So I began preparing to be a mother. I didn’t have a lot of family support at that time so I knew I wasn’t going to be having a baby shower so I headed over to KMart and Walmart and put all the things I would need on layaway, (don’t you miss that good ole layaway??) and applied for housing and State Assistance.  Early in my pregnancy I as well as J and his two children were involved in a car accident. Although we were not seriously injured, we were rushed to the hospital to be evaluated. That’s where BM1 (Baby Mother #1) found  out for the first time that I was pregnant as she stayed with me to make sure I was okay. I certainly didn’t want her to find out this way but God has a funny way of making things right. Although she was hurt, from that moment on she was in my corner, making sure that I was good and delivered a healthy baby. Shoot at one point after I gave birth I stayed with her for a few weeks until I could plan my next move, but that’s another story so we’ll leave that right there.

In June of 2002 I decided that I would be the good girlfriend and pay for J to go visit his then 1 yr old daughter for her birthday. That would turn out to be the dumbest idea I have had to date and also the point where I lost myself. When he came back home he didn’t come alone. He came back with his daughter. Gave me a story that her mom let him bring her back for the summer, even allowed me to speak to BM2 and confirm what the plan was. From that point until I gave birth I took care of his daughter, loved her as if she were my own. Even after I found out through my God given discerning spirit that he and BM2 had slept together while he was there and apparently he proposed to her. 

On July 7, 2002 after much complications, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy via Cesarean that I named Jamir.  I wasn’t able to hold him the day he was born because they gave me too much epideral so I was highly sedated. BM1 came to the hospital and made sure Jamir and I were okay and brought him tons of gifts. On the second day, I had another visitor. One whom I had never met. It was BM2. She flew in from out of state and came to visit me. I was FLOORED to say the least. I thought it was the most disrespectful thing I had ever witnessed. I couldn’t wait to get out of the hospital and as soon as I did I went straight to his father’s house to fight her. Mind you I had JUST had a Cesarean. My stitches weren’t healed and I was on pain medicine. That fight was only one of quite a few she and I had that summer. I was such an idiot, fighting over a man who could care less about me and my value. 

By the end of the first year of my Childs life I had been arrested due to domestic violence, broke car windows, slit tires, egged his car, put sugar in his gas tank and even saved his life when the apartment we ended up moving into was the scene of a real life home invasion. I had literally lost my mind, but boy was I in love. Ha! I can laugh now, but back then the joke was on me. 

One day his father called me to his house and made me look at myself in a mirror and tell him who I saw. I honestly couldn’t even recognize the women I saw in that mirror. I knew then that it was time for me to move on. I looked like a fool and the sad thing is, even though he was only a year and a half old, my son witnessed every bit of my insanity. 

I moved in with my cousin not to long thereafter until I was able to get my apartment and start over, but it didn’t take long for the toxicity that had become so apart of us to follow me. So one dreadful August afternoon after being disrespected yet again I took matters into my own hands and attempted to take the life away from the father of my son. It was only God and my cousins who was able to bring me back to reality and spare his life. That day was the final straw for me. I walked away and never looked back. 

So here we are, 11 years later and I find myself being disrespected yet again, but this time as a saved Christian. How would I respond? I chose to just hang up. That was all, hang up, and then I wept. I wept because just a few years ago God had directed me to pray for not only this man, but also his girlfriend. He had directed me to pray for increase in his finances and for stability on his job and good health. Yet here he was asking me if the child support he paid was benefiting me. I wept because I thought we had find gotten to a place of mutual respect for each other just because of the child we shared. I was wrong.

 So what do I do now? I dry my tears, I bow my head and I pray. I pray as God directed me to do years before. I pray for an increase in his finances and for stability on his job and good health. I pray for his protection and that God would be so kind to continue to extend his grace and mercy over his life. See this was a test to see if I had truly forgiven him. We as single moms and baby mothers often say that we have moved on and have forgiven our counterparts but as soon as they try us we are ready to act like our Mama’s named us Jazmen Sullivan and bust the windows out his car. Call child support and have him arrested or try to get the support enforced all the while our children are witnessing it all. 

I haven’t spoken to J since that day and honestly unless something awful happened to our child, I probably won’t speak to him again, unless of course the lord says otherwise, but I know that I passed the test. I have released the pain I held in my heart and gave him to the lord. What I will continue to do is pray for him. I won’t pray that God changes how he treats me, or even how he treats our son. I’ll pray that God changes the way he treats him 👆🏽. See when he gets it right with God, God will make sure that he gets it right with our son and then with me. 

So I say to you Single Moms. Those of you struggling with unforgiveness. Those trying to get the last say or the upper hand, is it worth it? Is it worth the damage that we are causing our children? Vengeance belongs to God. Trust me he has your back. 

His story is not over yet either….

This past weekend was my nieces birthday party. She turned 8 years old. She is my twin brothers only child and my only blood niece. My brother absolutely adores his daughter, he does the best he can as a father although I often think he feels like he has failed her.

When my brother and I were placed into foster care I immediately went into survival mode, while my brother recluded to a place within himself that wouldn’t allow anyone in. We went through a period of time where he wouldn’t speak to anyone but me. The trauma that we both endured definitely affected us in different ways and because I was the older twin (by two minutes), I felt that I needed to protect him. As we grew up he came out of his shell but always struggled in being able to advocate for himself. I believe that because he internalized his feelings for so long they began to manifest in other areas of his life and eventually he found himself in trouble and then in jail for all of his teen and some of his adult life, but then came my niece, who I will refer to by CASM. CASM completely took his heart and although he didn’t change immediately it didn’t take him long, with a little help from the good Lord, to understand that his life was no longer his.

This past weekend he was able to make his daughters birthday wish come true. All she desired was a Barbie dream house, (didn’t We princesses all want a Barbie dream house?) which of course cost and arm and a leg. Her mom told her she would have to wait until Christmas but mentioned to my brother how much she wanted it for her birthday.  Last week I walked in the house and there was this 4′ box that contained my nieces birthday wish. My brother was so excited to tell me how he used his paycheck that week to buy her that dream house. He was so proud and so was I. 

People will never understand the struggles that my brother endures on a daily basis. He wants to do good and be a great man and an even greater father but it’s hard. When he went to jail at the age of 15 I believe that time just stopped. So therefore there are things that he has to learn as an adult, but one thing no one has to teach him, is how to love his daughter with all of his heart.

The moment that he and his daughter shared when he gave her that dream house is one I will never forget and I pray he doesn’t either. It will be that moment that will remain embedded in his mind when the devil attempts to attack him. It will be that moment that will remind him that his story isn’t over yet.