So it begins.

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Today makes a week without my baby. I love talking about the good things that come with moving to Nigeria, but the tough stuff seems to lay low. I’m having to break ties that I thought I could manage. In this case, though, I was fully aware that I Aries wasn’t coming to Africa. I knew when I got accepted into the program that I would have to find a home for my best friend. He’s grown to be such a loving and compassionate dog. I know it may seem silly to some, but when I first got diagnosed, he was my personification of peace and rest. If you’ve read my blog about him, you get an image of the way he emotionally, spiritually, and physically took care of me before my surgery. There were nights he sat still enough to help me get up off the floor if I’d passed out from blood loss. There were days when he became my pillow by the toilet because I couldn’t keep anything down, but my body wanted to sleep. There were evenings when I just couldn’t move, and shouldn’t have tried, so he didn’t let me. He’s was my protector. He’s the most energetic and hyper ball of ridiculousness, but when I needed him to be my rock, he was.

Sleeping without him is gonna take some getting used to. I promised authenticity throughout this journey, so that means not every post will be a beaming ray of sunshine. That means that I may have days where obedience to God hurts. I’m finally starting to understand what it means in Matthew 10:39

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

I could easily go over and visit him, but he is now able to serve elsewhere (just like mommy). I have to start detaching eventually, right? He’s become that same source of serenity for a young woman who needs him. I’m thankful that it has all happened that way, and I don’t count it a coincidence. I won’t type a crazy long blog about how hard it is learning life without Tut, but I will say that I’m thankful to have had such a sweet friend in him. I think this is the beginning of an extremely hard transitioning phase. I’m ready. This isn’t the most profound piece I’ve ever written. I don’t have any special nuggets of knowledge to share. I didn’t have a revelation of any sort. I simply miss my dog. I think missing people, and pets alike, is okay. It shows us that we’re still human. It shows us that the ways of the world don’t have us so emotionally calloused that we can no longer feel. I can experience a loss of any kind and mourn it freely. I’m thankful for that. I know so many people who are breaking down unthinkable walls, including myself, so it’s encouraging to be reminded that every brick …

no matter how small …

is being removed.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

I love you.

Because He Said So.

6 minutes and 51 seconds. That’s how long it will take you to read this, I ask that you take that time to hear what God commanded me to share.

I’ve started selling things, I’ve quit my job, and it is confirmed that my next destination is Nigeria. These past few months have felt like an absolute blur; an exciting and exhilarating blur, a blur nonetheless. I’m thankful for those of you who have patiently (or impatiently) waited for me to sit down at this computer and SHARE. I didn’t want this blog to be completely focused on my African progress, because its purpose is personal growth through Christ, so I’ll share that and more. Over the years, I’ve seen the sense community on my website grow deeper, and when I move, I’d love for you to move with me. Some of you may already know, via Facebook, but the position I’ve been offered is the Primary School Principal and Assistant Dean of the teacher college. My desire is to go long term, so I need long term partners. I’ve found that when I say “partner” the first thing that comes to mind is money. Yes, money is a part of it, but more than anything, I crave relationships with the people on my TEAM. So far, I have 3 former students committed to $5-$10 a month, and it makes such a big difference on paper and in my heart. I want to be able to share in joyous and not so joyous moments when I’m gone. I’d love a family to return to on furloughs. When God orchestrated this, it was never an image of me collecting cash and dippin’ the country. It was Him using me and my community to push the Gospel forward in service and love. The past 8 years of my life have been devoted to Southwest Louisiana and the lives of the children and families I was entrusted with. Now, God has created an avenue for me to expand beyond Lake Charles, and I’d love your support. If you’d like to partner, please contact me shakiyla.solomon@outlook.com Here are the websites if you feel led to join!

https://donations.rafikifoundation.org/Step1.aspx?varid=241&amt=25 This is the online registration. It asks for “Introductory Information” simply so I can know who you are and send thank you letters out.

https://www.paypal.me/shakiylas This is the Pay Pal account. Some people have asked how I’m doing right now financially, having begun the transition. Some days, I eat Ramen Noodles and thank God. Other days, people unknowingly send me groceries. If you’re interested in helping me as I transition OUT of the states, here’s a good place to start.

This is an image of where I am in monthly donations, verses where I need to be in order to go.

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Now, for the lessons. That’s my cute way of saying, God went upside my head because I didn’t listen. Y’all. WHY DON’T WE LISTEN? I was offered a position at a local Middle School, and when I tell you I was R E A D Y to return to a classroom, I was READY. I prayed about it and felt uneasy. I talked to a few friends and they felt uneasy. The uneasiness wasn’t because I was anxious about teaching, it was because I knew the devotion necessary for a long-term sub position. I know the way God calls me to love students, all students, and I knew that with this quest to Africa, I wouldn’t have the time or resources to be effective. Well, I decided I wouldn’t. I told Mrs. B “God said don’t become a mediocre teacher just because you don’t trust my financial and emotional provision.” In a podcast I was recently on, Tim Talks, Justin reminded me of the man going BACK to bury his dead father after Jesus told Him to move on and follow Him (Matthew 8:22) Not that the students are “the dead” but I’d finished my work in CPSB, and I was supposed to be focusing my heart and devotion on Africa. I was sure that “NO” was the answer. I walked into the Principal’s office. I told her why I couldn’t take the job. I started the next day. Stupid, right? I know. It was like, my flesh wanted to serve as many children as possible while I’m still in Lake Charles, but my Spirit had confirmed that my work here is done. I went home after day one in tears. I walked Aries, and fell asleep on the floor. I woke up at 3am and realized that I’d set up a meeting with a possible partner at 5pm that evening and slept/cried straight through it. You’d think I’d learned my lesson huh? Nah. I went back the next day and when I tell you God got me TOGETHER. Here’s what I learned:

Yes. We are vessels of His truth and love. Yes. He uses us. NO. He does not need us. I’ve had so many people tell me how much CPSB “needs” me, and it makes me pretty uncomfortable. It should, though. If in your service you’re busy throwing “I”, “Me”, and “My” around, I beg you to be cautious.

Dear servants of the Lord “HE DOES NOT NEED YOU!” He chooses to use you, so when He tells you to move, MOVE. I’ve had so many conversations with people making me feel guilty for my obedience to GOD. As crazy as it seems, most of them are believers, so it just reminded me that we are all broken vessels, being refurbished everyday.

Do not, I repeat, do not let the guilt of man drive you to disobedience to your Father.

We are often called to do things that this world can’t quite understand. God may tell you something clear as day, but because your family and friends can’t quite wrap their minds around it, you put it off. You postpone it. You ignore it all together. Stop that. Stop moving with the ways of this broken world and bask in the fact that the God of the universe is giving you direction. He is worthy to be trusted and entrusted with your life. I’ve been stuck on

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; holdfast to what is good. Romans 12:9

It may seem like a stretch, but I’ve decided that anything outside of God’s goodness is evil, and refuse to let it dictate my hope in His will for my life. Every day when I wake up, I want to be purpose driven. My service here is changing, but it will never cease. I’ve just decided that I will be hosting one last “good-bye” fundraiser and as silly as it may seem, if you are reading this, I want you to join me. Some of you live in other states, some other countries, so I’m more than willing to video cast you in. This fundraiser will be community-focused and produced. I will auction off items donated from LOCALLY owned businesses and have LOCAL talent remind us of the beauty that comes out of Louisiana. If you or anyone you know is interested, please email me. I want this to be authentic more than I want it to be “big.” I will give more information on my next post, but in the meantime, and in your life, be consistent. Love so intensely that people don’t know what to do with you. Serve when it hurts. Be influential.

Thank you for reading.

I love you.

Africa Informational

The informational is less than one week away, and I’m so excited about meeting with future partners. If you have any questions, PLEASE don’t hesitate to ask. I will be sharing even more information once I return from training on July 24th.

If you are not a local follower of mine, but would like to get involved, CONTACT ME. Every bit helps and makes a huge difference. Thank you all for being such sweet lights of encouragement during this process.

The Diagnosis.

It’s 3:26 am, and I can’t sleep because my body won’t let me. I realized that I’ve been avoiding all of the things that bring me joy, and writing is easily in the Top 3. In my last blog, I gave you the run-down of what my trip to D.C ended up being, and never actually gave the details of my doctor visits.

In short, those tumors have steadily grown over the past six months, and I have to get them removed. Many people have told me miracle stories of how they shrunk and disappeared because of faith, but I know my faith, and that just hasn’t been my story. They are still growing, and my doctor is ready to remove them. The one on my uterus, which was said to be 5.5 inches is now 6.25. The one on my cervix is still 3 inches, and the kidney tumor hasn’t grown much at all. I have nights like these when I feel like there’s a spear pushing down into my abdomen and I can’t get comfortable enough to sleep. I will soon get up from my desk, get dressed, and go to work, and I pray for the strength and ability to see past pain and be what my students deserve.

The thing that makes me most anxious about all of this is my doctor’s recommendation of a full hysterectomy. Again, people love to tell me their miracle stories, but my body and my God has yet to move in the way theirs has, so I’m trusting my process as is. A hysterectomy changes the plan I had for my future. It makes all of my friends’ pregnancies painful and beautiful all at once. I’m able to pray for them in ways I never thought I could or would. I’m able to appreciate the beauty of childbearing and childbirth while being an encouragement to them. Lots of my family members tell me not to get the surgery, but they don’t have to endure this pain. They don’t feel the tumor when they lie down to go to sleep. They don’t take 15-20 minutes to urinate because their bladder is constricted, and I’m tired of living life this way. I want to enjoy my body again. I want to work out. I want to jog with Aries. I want to live, and these ailments are making it impossible. No doctor has been able to guarantee that they won’t come back, so I’m no longer interested in living my life on the basis of possibility.

I want my freedom back.

Freedom to travel. Freedom to move. Freedom to exist in a way that I desire, not a way that my body allows.

All of this to say, it has been an exhaustive process. My brothers have seen me more broken in the past month than they have my entire life. My mama has had me curled up in her lap more than I think she did in my adolescence. I’m being humbled, and some days, I hate it. I have lost lots of friends, and many of them just don’t know what to do with this, but that’s okay because my love won’t waiver, and I’m thankful for my support system which continues to GROW.

I’m waiting for my insurance to approve the surgery, and upon approval, I will be back here- sharing my journey to recovery. Hopefully I will have more exciting and less medicinal news soon. In the meantime though, whatever it is that’s weighing you down, whatever is stealing your joy, tell it NO. Temporary brokenness cannot define your permanent joy. Refuse. Fight back. Submit it and leave it where it lies. You are not alone, at least you don’t have to be. I’d love more ham anything to walk alongside you. Thank you for walking alongside me. Thank you for hearing me. Thank you for reading.

I love you.