The Year of Growth.

I’ll go ahead and get right to it. I haven’t posted in about a year, and the last time I did, it was a short poem about an exhaustive break-up. I made the conscious decision never to go back to that place. I decided that I would start fresh emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and bloggally. (I know that’s not a word) LOL.

Last year was, in short, one of the most devastating and exhilarating ones I’ve ever had. I felt pain that I didn’t know existed and experienced freedom I didn’t know was inside of me. I could meticulously break it down, and tell you my lowest and highest points, but this isn’t my diary, and I think that until told otherwise, I will be conscious about keeping certain things between myself and God.

With that, I wasn’t sure what the topic of this blog would be, but as I tried to narrow it down to 3-4 ideas, I found that GROWTH was a recurring theme. I’ve been talking about growth all year, and today I went ahead and looked up the formal definition:

“the process of increasing in physical size.”

I was pissed. I mean I knew that growing had something to do with size, but I think the idea of growth has been much more than “increasing in physical size” in my personal life. I decided to define it for myself, because choosing another word would be too easy.

“the process of refining; flourishing.”

The question is, how do we do that? As people, how do we intentionally put ourselves in a position to become more refined and full with beauty? How do we make the necessary changes in our lives in order to become who we are intended to be? I think we’re supposed to just do it. I often hear people say, “easier said than done,” when I advise them to do things they may not want to do, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. The action isn’t always the hard part, it’s the emotional effect of those actions that are hard to handle. DO IT. Break off the relationships that bring all glory to anyone but God. Do away with the self-hate that you’ve justified for as long as you’ve known you didn’t love yourself fully. Remove yourself from people. Remove yourself from things. Put yourself in a position to hurt a little, that lack of comfort may be the push you need. There is nothing wrong with breaking down in order to rebuild.

Growth is a constant and it is imperative that we never think we’ve finished. There is always room for progress, and my past relationships taught me that I am often tempted to stop my growing process for the sake of someone else’s. For years I thought that was love. For years I thought that’s what true sacrifice was supposed to look and feel like. I thought that in order for me to completely and fully serve the people around me- I had to accept them destroying my personal peace. Lies. I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago, and the author stated,

“Fear and anxieties create this world where the only thing that exists is myself and the threat to the thing that I love..”

I wasn’t sure how that related to my life until now. There was an underlying fear that I may not have been loving intensely enough, and that fear convinced me that the only thing that existed was Shakiyla, and whatever was hurting the people I cared for. In that state of being- I lived a life of combat. Every day my sole purpose was to defeat the threat, in hopes that I’d come out alive. It was exhausting. It was impossible. I had a God-complex. I wanted to be the savior of all people I held dear, and in that pursuit, I died.

I say all of this to say, love is a call for sacrifice, forgiveness, and an unconditional presence in the lives of broken people (us). At some point, though, we have to stop and reflect on whether or not we are actually loving and being loved. We have to be sure that we aren’t sacrificing and being broken down for the sake of loyalty to someone/something that isn’t grounded in true love. It’s a complex thing; love. I think that the more we slow down in an attempt to understand it, the better we’ll get at expressing it.

I’m growing. I have forgiven people who ruined all that I thought made me who I am, and I have grown to love the woman I’ve become. I am walking in obedience. I am protected. I am growing.

Feel free to comment, and share.

I love you.

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I never felt burdened by loving you. 

It was all so organic; it worked as if it were created to. 

We became woven into each other’s beings and together we’d grown into our own personification of peace. 

Your destruction of that is a reminder that hurt yields power, but your desire to mend it proves that TRUE love prevails. 

What happens when it’s too late? 

“I’m Black.”

prep-r1.jpg Recently I’ve been heavily burdened with the fact that my celebration of self, seems to be a problem for some. I’m Black. I’m sure you’re saying, “Duh,” but I think I need to make that clear for all of my friends who claim not to see color. I’m also a college graduate in the prime of my career. I’ve fallen into very few stereotypes that plague our society, and for that, I thank my mother and our God.

I love black culture. I don’t mean what the media says is black culture i.e., broken homes, poverty, and violence; I mean ALL Black culture.

I love to talk about Hip-Hop and R&B. I get giddy when my friends are okay with me listening to Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. When I was  16, I named my first car Billie, after Billie Holiday. When I was 21, I named my car Lena, after Lena Horne. At 22 I fostered two small boys and had them memorize poetry from the Harlem Renaissance, and we recited it to each other before school. They loved Claude McKay; I think it was because he talked about women more often than not, lol.

My hair is a part of my identity, and I find freedom in expressing my love of being Black in ways such as style. In the past few months, I think people have taken offense to this. Please understand that my love for my culture and race does not equate a hate for any other. I know people say this all the time, but I don’t mind saying it again. The fact that some of my associates reply with, “We are all God’s children, and in being so, we are one..” is evidence of their lack of understanding.

Let’s be clear. I live to serve King Jesus. Everything that I am and everything that I pursue or desire is a direct reflection of my attempt to glorify Him. In the event they don’t I was probably a moron. I am not confident in much, but I am confident in the fact that God created us with these innate differences for a reason. Similar to my attitude being different from my brother’s and my fears being different from my sister’s, I am NOT called to walk in uniformity with everyone around me; especially not if it’s to appease what makes you uncomfortable. Christians, in order for the body to effectively go out and serve in God’s name, we CAN’T all be the same.

I went to a seminar this past weekend, and one of the headliners, Propaganda, used an amazing metaphor to describe what white supremacy looks like…

“So a few boys are playing basketball, right?  A young white male who was also playing, stops and says, “all I’m hearing is nigga this, nigga that, nigga, nigga,nigga, nigga.” And I’m like, hold up homie, that’s one too may niggas, lol. and he’s like, “I just wanna know why I can’t say the word. What’s the problem with me saying the word? & I’m like why do you have to be included in something that is clearly what has become a part of some, not all, Black culture?”

Prop goes on to explain how sad it is that we all feel the need to be a part of everything. We have to feel a sense of belonging in order to be validated by the people around us. To that I say, you don’t. Create  your own. Experiment with self, and build what others may not deem necessary into a necessity.

There is freedom in the search for self-expression, and I truly believe we all need it.When I walk into my classroom and tell a couple of my Queens, “Your black is beautiful” that shouldn’t make my white observer uncomfortable, it should affirm that I am encouraging my students that in spite of what someone may have told you, all that is you, is a kind of beauty worthy of admiration.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this anymore. All I know is, if you’re annoyed with how often and eagerly I express my love for myself, maybe you should evaluate why.

I love you.

An Epiphany…


I don’t have very many people who stick around. I don’t mean people who know OF me, I mean people who know my heart and all of its hurt. People who know my mind and why it works the way it does. People who help me be a better me for the sake of my students and service to my community. I’m thankful for those people. They’re the ones who read what I’ve written because they know how insecure I am about my art & will give honest feedback. They’re the ones who make me feel like a friend when I’m troubled, not a burden. Those people are treasures, and I couldn’t imagine life without them. If you’ve ever tried getting close to me, you know that I preface the relationship with “I’m too much to handle” and I don’t say that because I’m dramatic, I say it because I’m broken. I get irrationally angry. I take many things personally. I isolate myself. I struggle with forgiveness. I’m very self-aware, but not enough sometimes. I’m sensitive AND stone cold. I’m humble in love but prideful in progression. I’m a walking oxymoron, so if I’ve submitted my heart’s truth to you it’s because I trust that God has placed you in my life. It takes so much for me to admit that I NEED companionship, and God is continuing to humble me. Today I had a friend tell me that I do too much sometimes and it’s pushing him away, but 3yrs ago I wasn’t doing ANYTHING. I didn’t know what it meant to express myself, let alone with confidence. I was locked up and full of emotion and anger. I was a ticking time bomb, so being able to honestly share my feelings and boldly ask for reciprocity is a milestone for me as a woman. I guess I’ve yet to find a perfect balance, but I’m not sure it exists. I’ve finally stopped blaming my circumstances for my lacking as a person, and that means that I’m left with no excuse. My desire is growth and freedom in self-love. I’m to the point where I can honestly say I don’t want to pursue that alone. I know that there will be people who walk out of my life, but I guess all I’m trying to say is that I’m thankful for the ones who see me, inspite my imperfections, as worth the fight. 
*Photo by Debra Cartwright*

Rainy Day Chronicles

CHo-3TzWgAEXDQ7It’s storming; I’m writing. Initially, I was in my journal, but I figured “why not make this a blog?” It was recently brought to my attention that I don’t make my relationship status clear on social media, that if I have a boyfriend, I should be proud of it and post pictures and statuses that make it clear that he’s mine and I’m his. Instead, I post things that allude to it with little clarity. My question to that is why do I owe a stranger clarity? Are you going to pray for us? Are you going to encourage us in the ways of the Lord? Are you going to go bowling with us? Or are you just entitled?

In the event I find myself committed to a man, my priority will be to share it with my family and friends. Mainly because those are the people who will do the things previously stated. I put a lot of my personal life online, but it’s always in MY timing. I don’t like to date. If marriage isn’t the end-game, I have ZERO desire to become intimate, so dating weighs heavily on my heart. I was in the adoption process for almost 6 months before I posted it online and the small percentage of people who knew prior to then is the same small percentage who know my current relationship status. With that being said, if you are not a friend, i.e

Someone I continue to confide in and confides in me. Someone I trust with the burdens of my heart. Someone who understands the woman God has and is molding me to be. Someone who has been consistent in my life as well as my family’s. Someone who can curl up on my couch, dive into scripture, and cry with me as we figure out how to serve God in spite of what Satan has cookin around us…

 or family, you won’t know until I decide to tell you. 

I personally think that’s okay. I’m not “hiding” the real me from the world. I’m pretty open about my brokenness and God’s healing power. In some instances, I’ve simply decided to share what I’d like, with who I trust, in the timing that I see fit. I’d love to hear what y’all think!

This made me reevaluate my use of social media. It made me look at all of my profiles to see WHY I have them and WHY they take up the time they do. I read some scripture, prayed, and listened to a couple of sermons before I started this blog, so I’m hopeful that it glorifies God and doesn’t stroke Shakiyla’s ego. I also scrolled through my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. This is what I found:

Facebook: I use Facebook as an avenue to uplift my students. I post pictures of myself and my family with statuses that tell a bunch of random people what they mean to me. I don’t generally rant about anything other than my feelings and what God does in my heart throughout the week. Working at a high school that is often under the “radar” has made it easy for me to post a ridiculous amount of statuses that prove preconceived Washington-Marion assumptions wrong. Sometimes I post selfies, too. I tag my Carla in those. 

Twitter: I talk about my students, my friends, and my diet. I ramble. If something “dawns” on me, I tweet it. If God shows me something, I tweet it. If I get a sudden urge to go jogging, I tweet it. If Lydia sends me a picture of Colby Jr., I tweet it. It’s nothing really major. Just sort of a time killer.

Instagram: This one was the most interesting. Mainly because people seldom read Instagram captions. They seem to just scroll and double-click as they see fit. So my captions on Instagram are sometimes RIDICULOUSLY long. I like to see who reads them. Those people generally leave comments. Hey y’all! I like y’all! Here I also found the most allusions to a relationship, or pictures of men (Steph) saying really sweet things. I think this is where the situation in the beginning of my blog came from.  I also post selfies with captions that explain everything wrong with me but how I don’t love myself any less because of those things, pictures with some of my students after they’ve made me cry, pictures of my friends with some sort of LONG drawn out story explaining why I love them, and art. I love posting art on my Instagram. I tag the artist, and the caption generally says something that relates to what the art meant to me and a thank you to them for creating it.

Each social media outlet seems to do different things. As I was reading and listening today, I realized that if I am honestly living for God, my sole purpose should be to encourage, educate, and serve. That sounds really cheesy, but I think it’s true. I’m not here to condemn. I’m not here to save. I’ve been placed on this earth to show Christ to a broken world by way of service and love. I don’t think I do that often enough on social media. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s more of a leisurely activity, but that shouldn’t separate it from my purpose. I just want to get to a place where everything I say and do is either encouraging, Truth saturated, or promotes peace. Working in the field that I am, I’ve learned that negativity is contagious, and it’s hard to bear witness to the light (John 1:8) while sulking in darkness.

“So whether it is a blog post or whatever it might be, I want to sustain with a brief word the one who is weary. I want to maximize what I can impart to them with a minimum of commitment on their part. So I don’t want to be the online watch dog of the Christian Church and the corrector of everything that is wrong. I want to be an encourager. I think the Lord is….”

-Ray Ortlund

Every day this year, before my students started their journal writing, I told them, “Your words have power, tap into it. Don’t just meet the quota, change my expectations” I know I have the power of Christ in me to encourage, heal, and mend. I don’t want to get to a place where I’m just wasting words. (Prop)

Y’all please please please don’t hesitate to give me feedback. I don’t write just to get my voice heard; I do it because it promotes growth and enables me to see things from a different perspective. I won’t lie and say “I promise not to take anything you say personally” but that comes with the territory. My prayers are that you see what God has put on my heart and we can come together and begin to serve Him better. That entails dying to the flesh, and I am ready to do so.

Shakiyla

art by, Debra Cartwright

 

 

The Adoption: Growth

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I was skeptical about writing another blog. I’m not sure if it was because I felt like I let myself down, or was just frustrated with my circumstances. Either way, I went for it.

For the past 6 months, I’ve been in what I now call a gruesome adoption process. My life changed so much during the process that it seemed to have slowed everything down. I made the mistake of adding a young man to my adoption paperwork. I guess I thought he would be in my life for more than the time he was. I was eager. I was excited. I was silly. By adding him to the process, I also had to add his children, and that made it an even more of an open book than I was ready for. Background checks, interviews, and questionnaires looked a lot different. Long story short, our relationship was short-lived, unlike the consequences of my actions.  He’s no longer in my life, but I’m having to “re-vamp” a lot of what was already set in stone. I had so much anger with myself that I just stopped the process. I stopped responding to e-mails. I stopped answering calls. I stopped listening to God when I KNEW what He’d promised me. I know that adoption was a calling. Nothing else in the world could convince me to do what everyone around me sees as a “burden.” I found peace in the fact that I wasn’t trying to fill an empty void, I was trying to walk in obedience.

It hurts to know that I let a person into such an intimate place of my life and had it stripped away, but I find joy in the fact that I learned so much about myself and the way I love men. I’m not sure if I’ll be dating again, nor do I know if it’s in God’s will for me to be married. One thing I do know is what I deserve as a woman and daughter of a King. I didn’t have confidence in that before. I know this doesn’t have much to do with the blog, but it matters to me, so I’m sharing. LOL. I love with a kind of passion I didn’t know existed until it was taken advantage of. I’ve told y’all the story of Charles (my dad) and he makes it easy to just not want to risk being hurt. After years of fighting unforgiveness, I don’t think God gifts us with those kinds of things for us to let the world determine what we do with them. In my case, the ability to love so freely is a gift that I didn’t know I had. I’m thankful; cautious, but thankful.

I recently contacted my social worker. As soon as my living conditions become concrete, and as long as God continues to provide, I will be BACK on track to adopting a sweet child of my own. I’m not sure of the timing, and a friend reminded me of when God promised Abraham and Sarah a child of their own. Their timing was NOT God’s and I think I had the same problem. 

I thank all of you who have continued to pray for me. I would hang my head in shame some days when people asked me what the status of the process was. Now I realize that I NEEDED this year of teaching to show me what it means to be a mother to a neglected child. I have students who live on their own, have lost both parents, have lost one parent, or are just lost, and my year at Washington-Marion has done a phenomenal job of teaching me how to love and cater to them. I’m excited about my life journey. I’m thankful for the people who never stopped pushing into my heart, no matter how big of a wall I built up. I’m thankful for the fact that God’s protection was unwavering, even in the darkest of times.

All of this to say:

Yes, I’m still adopting.

No, I don’t know when,

and PLEASE keep me in your prayers. 

With love,

Shakiyla.

The watercolor in my blog was made by Debra Cartwright. Click on her name and visit her website for some AMAZING original pieces.

The Adoption: Homestudy #1

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That’s a picture of my certificate of completed preparation courses 🙂

I’ll try to keep this blog as short and to the point as possible. Firstly, it has been one heck of a journey getting my apartment ready for this child. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically I have had my strength tested. Before I say anything else though, I feel the need to make something clear.

I’m not adopting this child to fill an empty void in my life. I feel as though some people are worried that I’m lonely because I’m single, and don’t have children of my own. Contrary to popular belief, I have lots of children in my life that feel like mine, and I am thankful for the undivided devotion I have to God in my singleness. I’m going to be working as a 12th grade English teacher and am still devoted to my local ministries. All of that to say, I’m not bored. I am confident that this was a calling from God to follow a specific commandment to seek the fatherless and love them with the love of Christ.

Now, I HAD MY FIRST HOME STUDY TODAY! I was terribly nervous last night you guys. Like, sick to my stomach, couldn’t get to sleep til 3am, throwing up on in the night- kind of nervous. I think it’s because I haven’t been submitting my anxiety about this whole thing to God like I promised Him I would. Silly girl. Well, my social worker came over and made herself comfy. We talked for a while about each other just so we could become more at ease. I’m sure she could see that I was still a bit on edge. She checked the apartment and made sure it was “child” friendly. I need to get a few things, but for the most part she was thoroughly impressed. I’m still not sure if I’ll be getting the young boy I’ve been praying for, but he’s definitely still in the system. After she measured his room and checked water temperatures I felt a weight removed from my heart. I think that in that moment I realized something sweet; if this is what God would have for me, there is nothing on this earth that can stop His will from being done. After that, it was smooth sailing. I’ve turned in all of my paperwork, I’m finishing my photo album, and I have to wait 3 weeks before we meet again. In that time, she’ll be reading over my biographical information and joining with other workers in an attempt to determine what child (if not the one I’m praying for) will be the BEST fit for Ms. Solomon. Right now, my age range is 4-8. I know that’s a huge gap, but I feel a sense of peace with that as well. In short, that was the visit. She said the first one is generally the shortest, and I assume it’s because she hasn’t read through my paperwork yet. The next one will probably be the longest, but I don’t feel nearly as anxious as I thought I would. There is one more after that, then I will be qualified to foster and/or adopt a sweet child.

I want to sincerely thank all of you who called or texted me some form of encouragement this morning. It meant the world. It’s so special to know that I have a body of family and friends that are experiencing this process alongside me. I will continue to thank God for your selfless heart and constant prayers, and I have no doubt that He will be glorified in my life as well as the life of whatever sweet child He blesses me with.

P.S.

I have new furniture in my apartment and it is by far the most precious thing in my life. I need help decorating the child’s room, and I am taking volunteers if anyone would like to join me in this portion of the process. I haven’t started work yet, so financially I’m still stuck in this limbo of a time frame. No worries though, I am making due with what I’ve got!

I love you guys