I See the Color of Your Skin; and Here’s Why That’s Okay.

I usually have a thoughtful intro; but today, let’s Dig right into it…

In My Teens an into my twenties I’m constantly surrounded by statements like; “first black Disney princess”, “first black President”, “first African American woman” to medal in a specific olympic sport, “all black TV cast”, “black artists”… Sure we can argue that the world should stop placing color labels in front of things, but I can argue that we can’t change every single person in the world and that this is far from ending. We can’t surround our kids with these constant statements of color and then tell them to ignore or not see color. I see color. Here’s why that’s okay.

It’s okay that when I look at you I see a white woman. It’s ok when I look at me I see a black woman. It’s okay that when I look at some of my friends I see a white woman with a black man, or a black man with a white woman, or a Hispanic friend with the white husband, or a Filipino woman with a black husband. It’s okay that I look at you and see that because what matters is WHAT I DO and how I INTERPRET that information. I see it and I think it’s beautiful. I see it in my eyes and brain recognizes it and then I MOVE FORWARD with interacting with a HUMAN being. So what if I noticed your color when I saw you! When I drive down the road if a car cuts me off I noticed it was a SILVER van with a stick figure family or if the Lamborghini goes by me I noticed the pretty blue dreamy color. That’s okay! It’s about what we do with the information and how we interpret it. When I walk into a store I need to know what products work best on my black skin. What products are tailored to my black hair.

I can recall a moment where I was surrounded by a group of individuals who were racist towards my particular culture. I can remember looking around the room and immediately noticing the black skinned male across the room and giving a look to make sure that he was alert to the situation. I can also very well recall seeing all the people of white skin, the same color skin as the individuals who had such hatred towards people of my color, sit next to me ask me if I was OK and almost be near me as if a sign of Alligance. I can remember noticing the white skin of my junior high friend turn red and sweaty as I defended her from racial slurs. I also remember her big bright colored eyes look in to me and say “Im not even upset. This is the first time I’ve experienced this but there are people who have to deal with this all the time.”

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The beautiful, amazing Multiracial men in my life; accompanied by a skyline with many beautiful colors to take note of.

I also see color because I constantly want to educate my boys on some of the harsh realities of our world. I noticed this year that of all my son’s friends almost none of them look like him. They all have a lighter skin than him so far outside of family he doesn’t really have any friends of his same skin tone. I noticed that ,and while I know the kind of parents we are and how we will raise our kids to love each and every person they come across whether they deserve it or not, I know at a point I’m going to ask him if he notices that. If he knows that it’s okay to be friends and just hang out with anyone of any color as long as they have good character. We just haven’t had the specific opportunity to make close relationships with someone of his skin tone or some other skin tones yet. We have actually had several friends of our same culture get great opportunities and move away before our kids got old enough to really enjoy playdates talk and communicate. Though I know my child’s character and I know that he knows he can play and speak to anyone and I know his heart I’m still going to make a point to speak about it because I want to be 100% certain that I know where his character is and the same for my youngest as he grows. I am also going to be diligent about making sure they are able to gain relationships with people from many different backgrounds and of many different skin tones and that they know where my purpose is. So, saying that we shouldn’t see color is a misguided perception and nearly impossible for most of us. We need to remind our kids and remind ourselves that it’s about what we do with the information that we take in and about our Integrity & our Character.

I see you and I love you!

With Grace & Love,

LaVonda Marie

 

PCOS UPDATE: More Than an Announcement!

“…I see skies of blue, and clouds of white, The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night And I think to myself What a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky, Are also on the faces of people going by. I see friends shaking hands, sayin’, “How do you do?” They’re really sayin’, “I love you.”

I hear babies cryin’. I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know And I think to myself What a wonderful world…”

It’s not a wonderful world because God has granted me miracles and blessings; and because I happen to be fortunate. It’s a wonderful world because he is ever present even in my waiting hour. Even when the answer is no he still shows me he’s loves me. Even through trials and tragedies, He stays true to who He is. The world isn’t wonderful because of my blessings. The world is wonderful because in the little part of it that I occupy I will ALWAYS have Him and no force of this world could ever change that.

I’ve told God so many lies I’ve lost track of the count. Lies about sin, broken promises, failed attempts at getting to know him better and be a loyal daughter. I’ve treated God like an acquaintance throughout my life. You know like one of those people you know of but you don’t really KNOW them or have a bond or close relationship. I’ve treated the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, The Great I am like an acquaintance…(GULP)… Now, I can confidently say I have a relationship with Christ. Sadly if anyone treated me the way I’ve treated God in the past I would forgive them but I would surely no longer allow them in my life. BUT GOD… He not only forgave (and continues to forgive me), He kept me, He adores me, He loves me, He calls me His. That is the best thing I’ve ever been called. Higher above mother, wife, college graduate or any other name; He calls me His. I say all this not so you can awe and marvel at the miracle happening within me; but, so you can understand just how good my God is. I want you to understand that I don’t deserve any of this but we don’t serve a God who works on deserving transactions. We serve the King of grace. I know I do. Because if I didn’t I wouldn’t have this story to tell. It is not all well because of the good but because through anything I have him and he keeps me.

When I found out I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and it was causing a block in my fertility, He held my tears in his hand. When I found out because of the PCOS I was at risk of diabetes and things in my life would have to change, He held my hand. Through every failed pregnancy test, He cradled me. Through the stomach aches and anxiety, He let me walk on his hands so my journey would be embedded in his concrete plan for me. Through the emotional roller coaster of it all, he watched over me. And… as I sat watching the two pink lines appear as gently as the flapping of an Angel’s wings, I knew that He was with me and he’s already seen this moment. Hours later I held my husband as he buried his head into my shoulder and wept tears of joy. I’ll never forget the sweet beautiful tone between his tear as he proclaimed “Thank you God”. Our family is growing. There is a blessing in my womb that has already found home in my heart. Baby Downard the second you are engraved in our timeline. You are engraved in our hearts. Our heavenly father sent you to answer our prayers. Thank you for coming to us. We so look forward to seeing you in December.

Promoted To Big Brother

Promoted To Big Brother

If you are reading this and you’ve never made it to this part in your story, please know that God is with you. Your story matters. You matter. God adores you! Pray your heart out for your desires, and when you feel empty pray for God to fill your heart with answers of what He desires for your life. Then embrace it. This will be one of the hardest prayers you’ve ever prayed because it represents surrender. It says God even if your answer to my plan is no, I believe in the power and divine eternity of your plan. I surrender my desires to you. You are with me. It is my hope that the way I live my life lets you know that I am with you.

“…Yes, I think to myself What a wonderful world.”

 

PCOS Update: February

Many of you followed my last post about my new journey with PCOS. Honestly I’ve been doing pretty good with the situation since then. Thank you to everyone who has surrounded me with such love, understanding, and guidance. Your willingness to pray and reach out with love means more than you’ll ever know. I’m doing good but to be honest I do have my moments.

Yesterday at a birthday party the kids went around playing. Our son Traecee is very into trains, trucks, actions figures, and all things paw patrol right now; but at this party he gravitated towards a toy he’d never really played with in front of me before. Maybe he just didn’t have the chance… Maybe I just never noticed… Maybe it wasn’t even that big of a deal. But, as he pushed that little baby doll stroller all around the party my heart ached a little. I wanted so bad to know if I’d be able to place a sibling in a stroller for him one day and allow him to push him/her around in a fun, caring,  protective older brother way. He wouldn’t put it down. Even as he ran over a few toes and we tried to take it from him and get him to play with a smaller toy he wouldn’t budge. He wanted to play with that stroller for the moment. I didn’t want to dwell on it so I simply whispered to my husband about the moment and moved on.

Yes for a second it broke my heart; but I believe our hearts were made to withstand the breaking.  Christ is within me and as I break he is the anchor that holds me steady. He holds me and allows me time to reposition my feet to stand firm in his truth. He extends grace to every piece of my heart. He knows every piece of my heart well and his love makes me whole. Today I’m better. I’ll have these moments and they’re expected; but I know I can also expect that where he leads me I will not be forsaken. He has purpose for everything and I will lay at his feet the worries that do not align my heart with trust in him.

IMG_69126888171343So, I don’t have any doctor’s appointments for a few months (which is teaching me how to be patient); in the meantime I’m focusing on getting to know my heavenly father a bit better. He desired each and every one of us as His own. He even sent his son to die so we would each have the opportunity to spend eternity with him. Us. His children.  I’m learning to end my prayers with, “I will praise you anyway”. I’m learning to be honest with myself and my Christian brothers and sisters. So to be honest, I’m doing okay and your continued prayer is appreciated.

With Grace&Love,

LaVondaMarie

Dear PCOS,

pcos awareness ribbonString of Pearls. It sounded so beautiful when she said it. And really, it probably would have been if I wasn’t in a doctor’s office looking at a screen. String of Pearls. As I was sent to the waiting room while my results were analyzed, impatience consumed me and with technology at my hands I Googled “String of Pearls”. I wish I hadn’t. As quickly as I had typed and hit send, my chest tightened at the countless results laid out on the screen in my hands. I soon realized my hands were shaking and I wondered if the couple next to me could hear my heart beating. I now knew what it meant and as the nice lady called me back my doctor confirmed what I had already read.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS); are the three words that I heard. Very alert I could see her lips move to form every syllable of the words. I truly have a great doctor and I am so thankful to have the privilege of having health care. As the tears spilled over she quickly handed me a tissue, placed her hand on me (honestly an understanding hand is exactly what I needed), and said 5 words that confused me at first but then became encouraging; “This is a good thing.”

I knew it had to be good in a way. After all, I came here seeking answers and there it was; my answer. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS means different things for different women. For me I have a mild case and it means that we now know what we are working with. It also means that I can control my health and have planned out the best options for my family and I. It means that having another child will, again, be very difficult, but again, NOT impossible. We know that I have healthy eggs in my ovaries; but they stack up like a “String of Pearls” and we are unsure as to whether or not I am ovulating (which makes becoming pregnant more difficult). It also means that I had this with Traecee which would explain the difficulty getting pregnant there.

So, why would I share something so personal like this? If you’ve read my blog before you know that I have no problems with be transparent. Being open throughout my life and carrying an open heart has allowed me to turn my trials into testimonies. Also, because, although I’ll admit I felt many emotions when I heard this, what began to awaken my heart were the stories of women who promised to help educate and encourage other women with PCOS. As I read story after story, and even victory after victory; that invisible cloak of shame that I placed upon myself began to slowly deteriorate. I realized in fact, this is a good thing. I struggled with uncertainty, and now I have answers. I sometimes struggle with my eating and fitness, and now I have even more reason to fight through my weak moments. I am thankful for my son, and now… well I am just even more thankful for my little precious gift. This means that PCOS awareness will be even greater because God allowed his daughter to experience this so that others can become empowered. I promise to be empowering. I promise to encourage. And in the end I promise to rejoice no matter what. Through every tear I will praise His name. Through every test I will allow God’s truth to shine through so that others will see my faithful reactions and understand how good God truly is.

I talked to a friend about this today and she was surprised by how well I was responding. Well the truth is Thursday and Friday saw a flood of tears. But… Thursday directly after hearing this news I had to pick up my son from school. I thought I had wiped away all traces of tears from my eyes and cheeks. I practiced my smile in the mirror before I walked in to the checkout desk. But… the moment Mrs. Sara looked at me and said “You alright?” it was as if someone turned the faucet to high and removed the knobs. Mrs. Tabby (Traecee’s teacher) saw the tears pouring and held Traecee back a second while I received prayer. My good friend Hannah, who is also a nurse, talked to me for a long while because she knew what PCOS was and that I have a great doctor. She gave me lots of resources and answered even more questions about my options and how to respond faithfully. My Mom2Mom group has made the presence of their prayers for me very well-known and I can feel God working on me. Mrs. Michelle reminded me Friday that Satan whispers lies and I have to choose to fight. She even sent me some motivational scripture and Pinterest.

michelles motivation

And my husband, well he has been everything that he always has been. He’s been exceptional. He’s educated himself so that he can know exactly what is happening in my body. He educated himself on all available options. He read the “homework’ from the doctor’s office as well. He has held me tighter these last few days. I am so thankful for the heart that beats within him and the soul that lives there. This is a good thing. This is not an impossible thing. Something extraordinary will happen if I choose to respond faithfully. I choose to respond faithfully!

Dear PCOS,
My name is LaVonda. I understand that you’ve made your presence known and gotten comfortable there in my ovaries. Well, I consider this trespassing! I plan to kick your butt and make MY presence known.
Sincerely,
          Your Landlord

Where the Laundry Lays

There’s this place in my house where the laundry lays; pile upon pile has formed

No color code or structure no method at all

Just stack of clothes meant to be worn

Though I desire organization I know the translation of each stack of denim and fabric

With each stack that I make I know something more important awaits

So I throw the loads where the laundry lays

 

I let the whites pile high so I could fly kites outside

The colors spread wide as I slipped down the slide

The sheets barely dried but still the work was denied

 

There is barely room left where the laundry lays

So I can no longer wait today is the day

I will fold I will sort all while I reflect

On the moments that happened away from where the laundry was left

 

As I sorted and folded and put them away

The clothes seemed to understand why I left them all those days

And just as I thought the bottom of the pile was in sight

A little hand reached up and tugged with all its might

For attached to the hand was my spirited child

So brave and so lovely; so sweet and so wild

He was ready to fly kits, run wild, and once again play

So a little bit will remain where the laundry lays

 

 

I wrote this poems in hopes that even just one momma or daddy out there striving for perfection or feeling overwhelmed; will let go of the piles (of stress, mess, and laundry) and let herself given in to the moment with child-like faith. And that he or she will see the beauty of living REAL.

With Grace&Love,

LaVonda Marie

 

Outtakes: The Struggle is REAL

The struggle is real my friends! Please tell me I’m not alone in this! I see your beautiful family pictures on Facebook; families of 4, 5, even 6 or more. I appreciate the beauty and I enjoy seeing them honestly; but I cannot help but wonder; how did you do it? We are a family of three and when it comes to taking a family picture THE STRUGGLE IS REAL. Here’s an example:

 family pic magnolia

In this picture above we are at the beautiful Magnolia Plantation and Gardens here in Charleston, SC. Our son Traecee was in a great mood during our nature walk, we were full of smiles, and things were going great. So, strapped with a camera around my neck, when I saw an older couple approaching us I thought maybe we can finally take an updated, structured family photo. Sure we have some family photos; which usually consist of photos taking from a phone with one person blinking and looking away from the camera, or a certain someone (Traecee) is a blur because he will not sit still. But, I think it would be nice to have an updated picture that I could put on the Christmas cards or make a post card for the grandparents, parents, and others back in Ohio who don’t see us on a day to day basis. This picture above is a great example of the struggle. Of about 7-8 photos that the kind woman took this was the best outcome.

Take 1:

My husband and I both facing away from the camera grabbing our son because he made a B-line for the River behind us; home to Magnolia Alligators

Take 2:

I am facing the camera wearing a fake smile, my husband is looking down, and Traecee decided he didn’t want to stand anymore and would just let his leg go limp as the picture snapped

Take 3:

Traecee running with a stick that I handed to him as a bribe to stand still for the picture

Take 4:

Traecee accidentally poking his father in the eye with said stick just as the picture was taking. Courtney is making a pain face and I am smiling unknowing of the assault that just took place

Take 5: (shown above)

I now know about the stick in eye situation and I am looking at the stick trying not to laugh while Courtney looks at the stick like he wants to fight it

Take 6:

Courtney (my husband) and I facing the camera while Traecee puts his head between our legs and with his backside facing the camera

YOU GET THE PICTURE!

We however did not get the picture I was hoping for. But we will always have each other and I love us in our natural state. To prove it I’m going to start a narrated family album called “The Outtakes”. I can’t promise anyone outside of my family will ever see it. But, as our son and any future kids grow older I’m sure we will have some great laughs over this tradition! Cheers to you moms and dads that find a way to make it all workout; but us Downard will just have to make treasures out of the outtakes.

 

SN: My mother in law texted my husband, after I decided to write this but before I published it, and has requested a family picture of us for Christmas… the struggle continues! Y’all pray for us 🙂

Lunch Break

It’s Jan 9th, 2014 and the day is Thursday. You know that day standing between you and your TGIF. Yes, that cold, long day. It’s the kind of day that when someone asks “How are you”, you respond “Okay I guess”. It’s been an uneventful day and all I can think of is how I need to exercise, go grocery shopping, take my son on a mommy son date, and clean up my entire house head to toe including the yard and my car. I’m definitely a list maker. Needless to say my mind is anywhere but where I am now. In the midst of my scattered brain storm something miraculous happened.

Spent my lunch break at a wonderful friend’s house, and as time for me to head back to work approached her daughter began to cry for “da-da”. Her father is one of our protectors, our willing angels, a Solider. He’s been absent from his family for a while doing the duty set before him for our country’s safety and security. Hannah got the text, “be home in five minutes”. Myself and another of Hannah’s friends who had been visiting her today began to quickly clear out so the family could be alone as they welcomed their husband, father, and friend home. He must have been eager because he pulled in as I was pulling out, which took all of 2minutes! His car, facing the opposite of mine, was parked so that I would have to pass it on the way back to work. Everything began to slow down as I passed him and honked with excitement while yelling “welcome home”! He waved but his eyes were locked on his family standing at the door waiting to swallow him up in their arms. The smile on his face could have changed lives, heal a broken heart, and brighten even the Grinch’s day! No exaggerations, it was seriously magical. Since my husband and I met after his duration in the USAF (“Nothing’ll stop the U.S. Air Force”), I’ve never experienced a ‘coming home’ moment other than on television. It was so amazing to be a part of their families heart felt moment even if it was just from the car. But, it was at that very moment when I saw his smile that I realized … I’m doing just fine.

Before Jeremey came home superwoman, a.k.a Hannah, was running around taking care of everything. She was in the kitchen holding their son when I got to her house; she’d had her daughter’s lunch set out, changed both the kids, picked up a few things, and was entertaining guest. When she got that notice that her husband would be home in five minutes she dropped everything to be in the moment. It made me think what do I need to drop so that I can be alive right now? It’s not enough that our hearts beat quietly while we exist in harmony with the world; we have to learn to live alive otherwise our heart’s gracious efforts go in vain. I’ve said it before the grocery list and cleaning can wait, but it’s a serious thing when our “to do list” makes us unproductive in the ‘right now’s’ of our lives. For some of you before reading this post you may have took one look and said it’s too long, or your don’t have time to read it right now. What’s on your mind right at this very moment? When you get a moment to yourself I want you all to play your favorite song on loud, dance like the world is watching and you could care less what they think, and notice the little things about the ones you love. Does she twirl her hair when she’s nervous, do his eyes shrink when he smiles, and how noticeable are her freckles after she washes her face at night? The answers to questions like these will be the key to deciding to live beyond the beating of your heart and will have the ability to feed your soul.

With Grace & Love,

LaVonda Marie

Dedicated to the Kaser Family. Hannah thank you for being a great friend and an even greater inspiration.