I’m Moving to Africa.

Photography Basics (1)

If you’re reading this, I’ve already made the announcement to my family and friends. I’d like to share a bit more and I’m hopeful that you’ll take the time to read it and see how you can be a part of my service to God.

For the past few years, I’ve watched my educational career transform into something that I refused to believe was my future. There were days when I was unable to serve, love, and encourage my students in God’s truth because of circumstances beyond my control. Fortunately, I’ve never been a quitter. I wouldn’t let my personal frustrations be the reason why I walk away. I waited on the Lord. I fervently prayed, meditated, and studied about the trials that come with service and ways to submit that hurt to God and my family. It gradually got better. I was able to walk on campus and love my students relentlessly, BUT I was left with a yearning for more.

On February 26, 2018, I was informed that I was accepted as a missionary in Jos, Nigeria with The Rafiki Foundation. I am sure you’re wondering what this foundation is and what that means for me, so you can click the link to know more… In short, The Rafiki Foundation is a non-profit, faith-based organization. It focuses on two main ideas, one of which is teaching the Bible and discipling Africans, while simultaneously increasing their standard of living and level of education. It also focuses on the upkeep of ten training Villages (in ten different African countries) that teach, encourage, and are living, breathing examples of God and His truth. Unlike some international missionary organizations, Rafiki Foundation is extremely transparent about what they do and the importance of preserving African culture and integrity.

I do not think I can adequately put into words how humbled I am to have been chosen by God to take these steps, but I am confident that He has been preparing me long before I knew it to be so. Many of you have watched me serve our community. You’ve watched me get declined time and time again for adoption. You’ve watched me prepare for a hysterectomy at the of 26. You’ve watched me engulf myself in education and mentorship to love, serve, and encourage my students long after graduation. You’ve watched me hunger for maternity without being a mother. I ask that you not merely watch this part of my journey but walk alongside me as I take these next steps.

I am asking that you pray with and for me and the continent of Africa. Pray that God provides in ways beyond my imagination. The Rafiki Foundation is a non-profit organization, so I will need financial support. I am asking that if He calls you to give financially, you joyfully obey. I ask that you see it as a service to the people of Africa rather than a “donation” to Shakiyla. I am confident that prayer and encouragement can be physically felt, and I ask that you wrap me up in yours. I would like to leave by this time next year, or sooner, but that is dependent on the rate of financial support and God’s timing.

I will be hosting a Q & A in May, and I would love to see you there. I will answer any questions and give as much information as possible. Please send me your contact information in  the “Connect” section of my blog, and in the comment box write “Rafiki Information/Sponsorship” followed by any questions that need immediate answers. You can also add me on Facebook and message me! If you think your church or personal business would be interested in me visiting, sharing God’s calling, and ways they can serve the nations, please contact me!

If RIGHT NOW you are confident that you would like to join me in serving the country of Nigeria, feel free to go to my Missionary Profile and click “Donate to Shakiyla.” On this site you can set up monthly donations, so i can send you my monthly newsletters and you can choose one amount sent the same day each month. A student of mine has also set up a GoFundMe. This account will specifically cover international insurance, and my travel Visa. This is more for my students and friends who are unable to do a monthly donation. Just CLICK HERE No amount is too small!

Often when I think about foreign missions, Acts 1:8 is at the forefront of my thoughts: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” To my frustration, and ultimate comfort, for the past few years, I have had an overwhelming pull to Galatians 4:27 For it is written, “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” I have been called to serve the children of the desolate, please join in my assignment.

Thank you for reading.

I love you.

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.

“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.

I really thought I’d have a ton to say. I haven’t blogged in a while and a lot has happened since I last did. I looked through my phone and my journal and found so many places where I’d jotted down ideas for blog topics. Nothing seems right though. It’s weird. I’ve been reading in Romans, Deuteronomy, and Isaiah a lot. My mind is sort of all over the place with those scriptures. There seems to be one common theme though, the restoration of God’s love and the power in His sovereignty. Maybe I just need to be restored. I was talking to a friend of mine about an hour ago and I told her how I had this yearning to just ball up and have God’s presence pour over me. I didn’t realize how bad I wanted it until I said it aloud. I know He moves in power. I know I’m His daughter. I know He loves unconditionally and unwavering. I’ve really been finding rest in those truths.

Isaiah 58:11