Kimberly Fray

lighted candles on a cake

A VERY SPECIAL DAY

So, birthdays. A time to celebrate and be grateful that God has blessed us
with more time on this earth. A time to discover who we are and who we want to
be. A time to love our life and not place any unnecessary pressure on ourselves.

We all want to feel that we matter. We all want to know that our existence
matters, so we look forward to that one and only day on the calendar. The day
that reminds us that we are still alive. The day that says, you’ve made it
through another year, here take another.

So, we wake up in the morning and check our phones, wondering on whose mind
we were first and secretly hoping that they weren’t reminded by Facebook.

We remind people indirectly, “Do you know what day it is today?”
only to receive that unenthusiastic, “Happy Birthday”. We smile and
say thank you, feeling special even if it’s just for that one day.

We mark the day by dressing up and setting up expectations for ourselves
that no one else knows about. We expect gifts, a party maybe and get excited
because today is the day that everyone has to be kind to us. After all, it’s
our birthday. We take pictures and post it all over social media, we like,
share and retweet copycat birthday messages and smile in pride as people ask
us, “how old are you today?” knowing that not everyone makes its to
their next birthday.

This year, I turned 30-years old. I had planned to do something that I
believed would help me overcome a fear; I wanted to go on a huge rollercoaster
and scream my lungs out and feel the sensation of freedom in my gut but I
couldn’t do it. I chickened out.

The experience was meant to mark my new decade, it was meant to signify the
trajectory that my life would have taken for the next ten years; facing my
fears, doing things outside of my comfort zone, climbing new heights, literally
and figuratively but instead I stood in front of the rollercoaster and I burst
into tears. I cried because I wasn’t brave enough to do what I had set out to do
and I cried because I was still in the same place I was the day before; birthday
or no birthday. I cried because I had set such high expectations for myself and
I couldn’t go through with it. I cried because I was embarrassed. I cried because
I was starting my new decade standing in front of inanimate object, intimidated and feeling
pathetic.

I still regret not going on the rollercoaster and I’m still scared to do it
but I hope someday I will gain the courage to face at least that one fear.

If it’s your birthday today and you’re reading this, I hope you find the
courage to face even your smallest fears and I hope you relinquish all expectations
you had of yourself for this next season and simply enjoy being alive.

Happy birthday.

christmas presents
Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com
man in gray shirt looking at city buildings

CORRECTION IS HUMBLING

I wasn’t ready to lose my mother when she died in 2020. I was 28 years old; still figuring things out, finding my feet, unbeknownst to her; hiding and finding comfort in her bosom. Even at the age of 28-years old, I was very much a child. Today at 30, in many respects, I still am.

God knew I was not ready to lose my mother. He knew and still knows that I needed correction, discipline, and sometimes those things only come through tragedy. God had other plans. He thrust me into this place where I find myself today, being shaped and molded and, at times, scolded by other strong women.

I’ve realised I took advantage of the role my mother had in my life. I fought her a lot; especially as I grew older. I was hardly ever willing to learn from her because as we know, young children and young adults ‘know everything’. A wall was built between us which, until the day she died, could not be penetrated. I think I will always live with that regret.

So here I am now; finding myself in a place where I am being humbled through correction. Internally and externally. It’s a convicting feeling.

It’s painful to be honest. It forces you to break out of the mould you created for yourself with all the things you thought you knew. It brings you face-to-face with yourself and that is not necessarily a comfortable experience. In fact, it can be downright excruciating and frustrating. At times you find yourself biting your lip and digging in your nails, just so that you don’t scream out in agony.

No one wants to be told when they’re doing something wrong but we don’t always see that correction, if done right, is almost always done in love.

Help and correction won’t always come freely though. The hard part comes when you have to ask for it. When you have to admit that you need help, that’s when the walls really start to come down.

I have been battling with my season of correction; it’s been extremely frustrating at times. Other days, I take it on the chin, I humble myself and say thank you, I needed that. Other days, I roll my eyes and think to myself, ‘I already knew that’

Not only have I been receiving correction from people around me, God has also been working in me and with me. Reminding me when to hold my tongue, helping me to keep a lid on my complaints, opening my eyes to see people the way He sees them, teaching me to be patient, helping me understand that my journey is not that of my husband’s or my colleagues or anyone in my inner circle.

When I think about correction or being shown the error of your ways, I think of it in terms of when you know better, you do better. You change when you are corrected, you can decide to become better or refuse the change and stay the same. Its all about your attitude when you are in the process of receiving correction; you can stand back and roll your eyes and stay in your ‘I know this already’ mindset or you can pay attention, take notes and humble yourself to those who are trying to show you a better way or different way.

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT CORRECTION

pink pencil on open bible page and pink
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Here are a few verses from the Bible that speak on correction. There are many more but these are the ones that stood out for me.

Hebrews 12:11

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Proverbs 12: 1

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

Proverbs 15:32

Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.

Proverbs 8:33

Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.

Hebrews 12:10-11

For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

You might not see it now but when you look back in a couple of months or years; you’ll notice that you have better habits, you do things in a different way than before. You do better because you know better. It’s hard to see the finish line when you’re still in the early stages of the race but you need to know, the finish line is there.

That’s where I find myself now in life; being corrected, almost on a daily basis and its hard but I know sooner or later I will appreciate the correction. I will appreciate the molding and shaping because it has made me a better person.

I started this post of by speaking about my mother. Reason being that I wish I had been more open to my mother’s correction. I wish I had listened to her more, asked her more questions because now I realise I need her more than I ever thought I would. Now that I’m in this place of becoming, I need my mother and I need her to reassure me or guide me when I make a decision. I need her to make me laugh when I’m feeling frustrated or show me her feisty and fierce character when I feel uncertain. I needed her then and I need her now.

WHEN YOU’RE THE ONE DOING THE CORRECTING

two people sitting on pallet on beach and talking
Photo by Anna Shevchuk on Pexels.com

Sometimes you will find yourself doing the correcting and I’d like you to think about the following when you’re in that position:

  1. Correction come with patience just as learning comes with patience.
  2. Correcting someone can’t be done with aggression. Not everyone responds well to being spoken down to; in fact I don’t think anyone does.
  3. Correction can’t be done with arrogance; you as the person trying to teach another are also still learning in the process.

back view photo of a woman in black sleeveless top carrying a toddler

MAMA, YOU MATTER.

You have such an important role as a wife and a mother.

Your ability to nurture, love, care and encourage is God-given.

The role of a husband and father is just as important but it’s often the wife and mother that is either heavily criticised. She is expected to fulfill all these other roles; friend, sister, businesswoman. As a woman, you are often expected to break ceilings and still be able to take care of yourself, look good, provide for your family, and do a multitude of other things.

It can get tiring. It can make you feel empty and sometimes it makes you feel as if you are not enough even when you are doing all these things.

You are the person your family depends on; your advice, your patience, your presence. Everything you do for those you care about, matters.

Don’t ever think it doesn’t.

I know you get tired and frustrated. I know at times you want to throw in the towel but your role as a woman, wife, and mother is so important, so needed and so wanted.

Your family functions because of you. They thrive because you create an atmosphere and a space for them to do so.

They draw power from you. You are a pillar of strength placed in your family by God and no one can fulfill that role better than you.

body of water at daytime

THESE HARD DAYS WON’T LAST

These hard, tiring and busy days won’t last.

Some day you will look back and know that all the hard work and time spent was worth it.

You won’t always feel tired.

You won’t always have questions because you’ll understand that the answers don’t really matter.

The time you thought you lost will be caught up in memories and nostalgic laughter.

You will look back and know that you were never alone; not in your darkest valley or even atop your highest and brightest peaks.

Your sighs will turn into songs, your sorrows into shouts of joy.

Your frustrations will turn into feelings of freedom and your exhaustion will disappear behind the excitement.

It will all be worth it.

You might not see it now but you will.

The tides are turning and the winds are changing.

a person sitting on wooden planks across the lake scenery

DO NOT PITY ME

Do not pity me
For my God moves mountains
And parts the oceans.

Do not feel sorry for me,
For my Father in heaven created the
Stars, the moon, and the sun.

Do not have sorrow in your eyes
When you look at me,
for my King is the God of light and His light shines through me.

Do not think I have misfortune or bad luck
For my God is a God of miracles and power.

Do not believe the fear you think I feel because
My Saviour is not a God of fear but one who gave me a spirit
Of power, love, and self-control.

He commands the lightning and drives the thunder.
He pours out the rain on dry pastures and fills my cup
Until it overflows.

I do not fear man for the name of Jesus
Is on my lips.

My God is with me in the valley
And leads me to the mountain.

I do not fear.
I do not tremble.
I do not question or second guess
The path laid out before me.

For He guides me and
Leads me by the hand.
Clearing the debris.

He redeems me,
Cleanses me,
Saves me and never forsakes me.
He loves me.

My God.
My Jesus.
My saviour and healer.
My provider, my comfort.
My peace.

I do not fear.
For the power of Jesus is within me.

30 things before 30

30 THINGS I LEARNED BEFORE 30

This month I celebrate my 30th birthday. The last 30 years seem to have gone by in a blur but there were some hard and necessary lessons learned. As I enter my 30s, allow me to share 30 things (out of the thousands) I’ve learned before turning 30-years-old. My 20’s were for learning. My 30s will be for putting what I’ve learned into practice.

1.Everything is a blessing from God if you choose to see it that way and if you can’t see it as a blessing, see it as a lesson.

Isaiah 43:1-3 Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord you God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

2. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache and frustration if you choose not to focus on what others think of you.

3. Time with family is more precious than money.

4. Its not just okay to live as your authentic self, its absolutely necessary.

5. Gratitude opens up the door to opportunities.

6. Comparison is just another form of ignorance.

7. Grief never goes away. You simply learn to live with it.

woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

8. Patience, persistence, preparation and prayer, these things will get through hard times.

9. Rest when you need to. You are no good to anyone when you are operating on fumes.

10. Inspiration is not something to be found. It’s something to be created.

11. To get through anything, you’ll need patience. You’ll find yourself waiting a lot. Waiting in queues, waiting for transport, waiting on people, waiting for signs and miracles. Work while you wait. (I wrote this part while waiting in a queue at a clothing store)

12. Always have a book with you. Whether its a reading book or a note book. You’ll either read something worth remembering or write something worth sharing.

cup with plate and book with notebook on table
Photo by Samson Katt on Pexels.com

13. No one will and no one should believe in your art more than you.

14. Prayer will guide you and conviction will save you.

15. You need to have honest conversations with yourself about who you are and who you want to be. You need to dig deep into your heart and that will hurt sometimes because you won’t always like what you find.

16. Marriage and love are beautiful thing things. Despite the fact that many people will make you think love is painful or marriage is pointless, once you find it and experience it at its purest essence, you’ll understand the beauty of it.

marriage, sacrifice, love
My husband and I on our wedding day.

17. You children will never do what you say. They will do what you do. Make sure you do the right thing.

18. The world is full of bad things but there are even more beautiful things to be discovered.

19. Set goals for yourself, have a plan. Do not go through life rudderless.

20. Take care of your finances. Be smart about your savings and where and how you spend your money.

21. Mind your business but make it your business to care for others.

22. Read and study your bible. You’ll find all the answers you need.

23. It’s okay to ask for help. It does not mean you are weak.

24. Your mind can become a battlefield, you need to protect it at all costs.

photo of man sitting on a cave
Photo by M Venter on Pexels.com

25. Be grateful for the hard times. Grapes are pressed and crushed to create wine.

26. Change is scary but sometimes it takes a big change to move you into action.

27. Being kind doesn’t have to be a production. Sometimes its a sincere word, a hug or just a smile.

28. Not everyone is out to hurt you. Some people simply want to get to know you and love you. It’s okay to trust people.

29. Don’t make social media your life. Make time to live in the real world.

30. Love sincerely and wholeheartedly and never regret giving someone your heart, even when they break it.

“Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been” – David Bowie

sunset, wedding, silhouettes

MARRIAGE THROUGH A LOOKING GLASS

Relationships are hard; we all know that and I’m sure sometimes it feels as if we’re failing at it. This goes for all types of relationships; family, friends, and romance, even professional relationships but this post is about love with a significant other; romantic love. If you don’t know, I am a romantic and I won’t say ‘hopeless romantic’ because I have hope in love. I believe love is one of the most if not the most powerful source of hope we have on this earth but when it comes to romantic relationships, love can hurt sometimes.

I’ve been blessed to be married to someone who teaches and challenges me every day and one thing I’ve learned in the time that we’ve been together, is that compromise is key. If you’re going to love someone, you have to love them completely and unreservedly, with all their kinks and coils. You have to choose them every single day. Being in a relationship is work, a lot of work and communication should be the foundation on which you build that relationship.

My husband and I will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary in March.

In 2020 I asked a few couples to share their secrets with me on what makes their relationships work and although all the couples are married, I believe the advice they offer can be used by couples in any stage of their relationship but its important to take note of if you are planning on marrying the person you’re with.

I updated the number of years they were married.

EQUALITY IN MARRIAGE

ANTOINETTE AND DENNIS ERASMUS
MARRIED FOR 48 YEARS
Lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

love, marriage, relationships
Pastors Antoinette and Dennis Erasmus

From the start of our marriage, we adopted the philosophy of equality in which husband and wife are equals, submitting to each other in reference unto God who is the head of our family.
We both believe that God has given each one unique gifts for a purpose to live in harmony and to enjoy marriage. Each one’s gifts are for the benefit of the family and the community. Such a marriage creates a safe place for children to grow and develop to their full potential and again to live out their God-given gifts, and by doing so, we send them out as healthy adults.

LUCREZIA AND ALISTAIR FRAY
MARRIED FOR 36 YEARS
Lives in Midrand, South Africa.

love, marriage, relationships
My in-laws, Lucrezia and Alistair Fray

We feel the following are our most important experiences for nurturing our relationship and making our marriage work:
* Have respect for one another.
* Constantly communicate. It allows us to express our feelings
* Making time for each other eg. Have regular date nights
* Understanding that marriage is about compromise
* Being supportive of each other as marriage is an equal partnership
A simple example is comparing a marriage to a garden. If we do not water the plants and take care of it, they will most likely die. It is the same with a marriage; we need to work at it to make it a success.

MAXINE AND CLAUDE PHEIFFER
MARRIED FOR 20 YEARS
Lives in Cape Town, South Africa

love, marriage, relationships
Maxine and Claude Pheiffer

This is what works for us:
* We put God first
* Prioritise your time together
* Marriage is a partnership; it’s not a 50/50 partnership but 100% from both partners
* Have fun and take time to be silly and laugh together
* Make sure your marriage is your safe space for one another
* It also helps if you are best friends
* Make time for romance and regular date nights
* A little PDA also helps!

MARRIAGE IS SACRED

CANDICE AND PJ FLANAGAN
MARRIED FOR 16 YEARS
Lives in Midrand, South Africa

My brother and his wife, Pj and Candice Flanagan

Our advice to young couples is to remember a few very important factors for a happy marriage;

* Be committed and faithful to your partner. Marriage is sacred and magical. Don’t destroy it with infidelity.
* Love your partner unconditionally with every flaw and fault. Nothing can make them feel more special than knowing that they are loved for who they are.
* Take time to listen to each other, whether it’s problems or just them telling you what they love and hate or had a bad day or a good day.
* Compromise. Marriage is about two people, not one person. You can’t always have what you want. It works both ways. It’s not always about you.
* Make time for each other. No matter how busy you are, always spend quality time together. Go to a movie or dinner or a favourite spot you like to hang out.
* Be their strength and hero and let them know that they can count on you. People in this world will always let you down, hurt you, and disappoint you. Assure your partner that you will always be there for them, no matter what.
* Put your partner first. They are special and important and should always come first.
* Respect and trust. Treat each other with respect. Don’t degrade or say hurtful meaningless words or bring your partner down.
* Be easy to forgive and forget. If your partner does something you don’t agree with, talk about it, work things out, and move forward. Don’t dwell on the past or keep reminding them about a past mistake. You cannot move forward in your marriage (or relationship) with unforgiveness.
* Don’t compare your marriage to other couples. Every marriage (or relationship) is different, beautiful, wonderful, and special. Rather look at the strengths your marriage has and how great you are together.
There will be problems. Marriage is not a bed of roses. Don’t take the easy way out and look for an exit. Talk about your problems. Voice your opinions, likes, dislikes, and work things out.

MAKE SURE TO HAVE FUN

ROZANNE MCKENZIE AND CHRIS BISHOP
MARRIED FOR 10 YEARS
Lives in Weltevreden Park, South Africa

Rozanne McKenzie and Chris Bishop

What’s worked for us over the years is to both have similar values. Chris and I met in our 20s and we have grown together as a couple over the years. Family is so important to us, but it is also good for us as a couple to spend time together, just us. We laugh and we enjoy each other’s company but we also argue and talk things out when we don’t agree. Our relationship is a safe space where we can be open and honest.

LEARN YOUR PARTNER’S LOVE LANGUAGE

BRITTNEY AND DIDIER CHABOT
MARRIED FOR 2 YEARS
Lives in Saskatchewan, Canada

love, marriage, relationships
Brittney and Didier Chabot

After 7 years of living together we can say with certainty that the best advice we could give is as follows:
* Learn your partners love language- “ If your partner prefers words of affirmation or acts of service in lieu of gifts, you’ll not only save money but a lot of heartache over feeling unheard or unseen in your relationship. I prefer words of affirmation and he prefers acts of service. It took us a few years to figure it out but once we did, it was like a veil lifted and there was a whole new relationship under what we had previously built” -Brittney
* Give each other space to be your own person — “Do things you enjoy together, but also pursue hobbies and interests in your own time. Relationships should be the coming together of two whole people” — Brittney
* “She loves to hike and be outdoors while I much prefer to collect comics and play video games. She supports my gaming and befriended a few of my gamer buddies while I support her on her adventures by giving her the freedom to just go where her heart desires and we can both have new stories to tell each other and have downtime as individuals” — Didier
* Never stop laughing- “ Oh it drives me insane when I’m gearing up for a fight and he cracks a dumb joke or makes a silly face and I forget what I was mad about! It obviously is not that important if he can derail me with one bad dad joke” — Brittney
* Understand one another’s pasts but don’t use them against each other or use it to excuse away bad behaviours — “ His family communicated in a different way to mine and it caused a lot of friction for a few years in our own communication with one another until we both had a few discussions about what we needed and why/ how that need came to be. In doing so, we can now be empathetic towards each other and still hold one another accountable when we fall into bad patterns” — Brittney
* If you do something wrong or say something in anger, ALWAYS apologise as soon as you recognize it — “ Brittney has a quick temper and she knows it. When she gets irritable and snaps at me or aggressively folds clothes or puts away dishes, she always makes the effort to stop what she’s doing and apologise and explain why she’s frustrated or upset. Sometimes it’s because of something I did but often it’s got nothing to do with me and it helps us avoid arguments “ — Didier

MARRIAGE IS WORK

If you’ve read through all of these tips and advice from the various couples, you’ll notice there are three key things to take away here.
1) COMPROMISE
2) COMMUNICATION
3) REMEMBERING THAT A MARRIAGE OR A RELATIONSHIP IS A PARTNERSHIP

Like I’ve said in the beginning of the post, this advice can work for any couple; whether you are married or if you are planning on getting married. If you have the intention of marrying your partner, sit down and talk to them and make sure you are both on the same page. Too many hearts have been broken because of conversations that were not spoken. In March, my husband and I will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary and I’ll forever be grateful to the people who offered their advice on this post.

Matthew 19:6: So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

close up shot of an open for business text on an envelope

WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM RUNNING A BUSINESS

STARTING A BUSINESS

Last year my husband and I registered our company Fray Music Academy. In April it will be a year that we celebrate the establishment of this school that has become our baby. It hasn’t been easy but it has been fulfilling.

I’ve always admired entrepreneurs and business owners but until I became one, I never knew what went into a successful business. Fray Music Academy has done well in this first year and I do believe we’ve been successful but we’ve definitely hit some bumps in the road and I imagine we will have many more going forward.

Running a business is not easy. You have to be on the ball and you have to be proactive. Especially if you are building something that you want to continuously improve on and something that you want to last. A legacy.

I co-own the school with my husband but, I am also the manager. I handle schedules, book new students, handle inquiries and our social media. I have found myself running and managing the school when I am on the bus or the train to my day job as a news producer. I think about FMA all the time when I’m making dinner, writing, or getting the kids ready for bed. 

I dream of growth and I envision where we will be in the next 5-10 years. I constantly think about ways I believe we can improve, I always have ideas playing around in my head and I always try to find ways to keep our clients happy. I love it, even though at times I get frustrated, its always fulfilling when something we planned, comes to pass.

That’s how I know this business matters to me.

WORKING WITH FAMILY

My husband reminded me the other day that when we have a disagreement on something regarding FMA, we are not husband and wife. We are business partners. When we are discussing the school, we need to learn to keep our emotions out of it.

We don’t always agree on everything but its always important to listen to understand when the other person is raising a point. It’s not about who is right. It’s about what is ultimately good for the business.

My husband with one of our students.

Running and / or owning a business with a spouse or family member is never easy and you shouldn’t do it if you know that you cannot keep your feelings and bias out of it.

Here are some more things I’ve learned since we started Fray Music Academy. Just remember, I am not an expert, I merely write and share from personal experience.

YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Running a successful business takes time and every day is a learning curve.

YOU WILL LOSE CLIENTS AND YOU WILL LOSE MONEY

Don’t get discouraged. There will be financial highs and then there will be financial lows. Again, its all about understanding what works and what doesn’t.

YOU NEED TO SPEND MONEY TO MAKE MONEY

You have to invest in your business. For us investing in our business means buying instruments and learning material for our students so that we can provide a good service.

money cash euro pay
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

THINGS TEND TO CHANGE IN A GROWING BUSINESS

Every day is different for us. Schedules change on a weekly basis and that’s okay. We just learn to adapt as we go.

YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL ALSO NEED TO CONSTANTLY LEARN AND ADAPT

This goes hand in hand with the previous point. Don’t panic when things change. Grow with the change.

YOUR CLIENTS ARE YOUR CAPITAL

Without your clients, there is no business. Always remember that.

COMMUNICATION AND TRANSPARENCY ARE KEY TO A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS

Always be open with your clients. They will appreciate your honesty and transparency and will most likely stick with you till the bitter end.

MARKETING IS YOUR BEST FRIEND

No one will know about your business if you don’t market. Learn what works for your business and implement it.

text on white paper
Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

ALWAYS FIND INNOVATIVE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR BUSINESS RUN MORE EFFICIENTLY

As your business grows, the way you do business must also grow.

GET RID OF PAPER AND GO DIGITAL

This was a painful point for me to write because I love my pen and paper but doing things digitally is more efficient and you don’t want your clients to waste time filling in paper.

DON’T DELAY WHEN IT COMES TO MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS

When you delay making decisions about your business, you delay its success.

LEARN FROM OTHERS AND LEARN TO TAKE ADVICE

There are many other business owners who have been where you are. Learn from them.

LOVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING

If you don’t love what you do, you won’t put in any effort in what you’re doing and it will filter through every part of your organisation.

composing, woman, fantasy

THE STRENGTH OF A WOMAN

MEETING THE MATRIARCH

This past December, my family and I took a road trip to East London in the Eastern Cape. I met my husband’s grandmother, and now my grandmother.

In the ten days I lived in her home, I saw and experienced raw strength.

She is the matriarch and a true one at that. Mama is my husband’s 81-year-old paternal grandmother. She is also as fierce and feisty as they come. For you to understand my admiration for Mama, you need to understand a bit of her life and her history.

Mama, as she is so affectionately known, lost both her husband and only daughter of five children, who was also the youngest sibling, within the space of 6 months more than 15 years ago. She ended up having to take care of her late daughter’s son, who was two years old at the time. He is now a well raised young man.

Through conversations I had with Mama during our stay at her home in Buffalo Flats, I was in awe of how she relayed stories of when her husband, Dada, died and then how she lost her daughter only six months later. When I listened to her speak, I could hear pain, sadness, loss but also acceptance. She made me realize that acceptance like that only comes from a very deep-rooted strength.

I also realized that she didn’t have a choice but to be strong. She took on the responsibility of raising her grandson like he was her own. I cannot fathom the sheer determination and willpower it had to take for her to get out of bed every morning and be there for her grandson, the rest of her children as well as other family members.

Mama, strength, children, great-grandchildren
The first day we arrived, Mama showed her new great-grandchildren some photos.

SHAPED BY EXPERIENCE

I watched her as she sat on her red lumpy but very comfortable sofa in her home, hunched over with all the experiences from her past trying to weigh her down but she gets up every day, determined to live her life and do her daily chores.

It was at one of these moments when it hit me; she wasn’t sitting on a couch but a throne.

Mama also very much reminded me of my mother who died in 2020. Both women have seen and have been through some of the worst pain you can imagine, both refusing to be dictated to by bad and negative circumstances and both set in their daily way of life.

During the time I spent with Mama, I learned that yes, we are shaped by our experiences but we can choose how to live out those experiences. We choose how to live, we choose whether we give up or go on. We choose to forgive.

Mama, strength
Mama, my husband and out two children.

ACCEPTANCE

There was a point where Mama said to me that she didn’t know if she could ever accept or get through what had happened to her but God had gotten her through it and she did manage to accept her fate.

She could have chosen to be angry and to turn away from God, which I’m sure there were many of those moments when those bad feelings overwhelmed her. She could have chosen to become a lifeless vessel of her former self but I can assure you, that woman still has a lot of life left in her.

Her relationship with God is so secure and I truly believe that that is her source of strength. Every morning she wakes up and reads devotionals and her Bible. I’ve decided to put that in practice as well.

LIVING WITH INTENTION

Every time Mama would tell a story and explain the difficult parts, she would say, “but it doesn’t really matter

For me, that didn’t mean she gave up or lost hope or didn’t accept things. For me it meant that in the bigger picture, the grand plan of God for her life, her focusing on the past was not the point. It was what she got out of all her pain and loss. The wisdom and understanding that her loss and pain was not for nothing. The way in which she imparted her wisdom and what she learned, to others around her. It was peace beyond all human understanding. It was knowing that love is sacrifice and that understanding comes from compassion.

Mama showed me that life demands of you to be intentional; intentional about your actions, your energy, your focus, your thoughts and emotions.

I learned patience and I saw accepting the things one cannot change, in action.

I loved sitting in her company, I loved watching the movie of her life play out as she told me stories and showed me old polaroid photographs.

In ten days, I lived a life of 40+ years through the eyes of a woman who lost everything, was forced down on her knees and found herself in the perfect position to pray for the strength and will to live to tell the tale.

hope, dandelion

MY HOPE FOR YOU

I hope you fall in love with yourself. I hope you know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I hope you learn to appreciate all your flaws and find the beauty in every scar, wrinkle, and folded skin.

I hope you learn to love your voice. I hope that you use it to change your world.

I hope you learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes you made and, I hope you let go of the burden of guilt.

I hope you find love in all the different relationships in your life. 

I hope you chase your dreams and get the chance to watch them come to life.

I hope you share your stories and adventures and inspire others to do the same.

I hope you learn to be gentle with yourself and remember that bad decisions do not define you.

I hope you find the strength to fight through the bad times and come out the other side a stronger person.

I hope you remember to pray.

I hope you remember how beautiful you are.

I hope you laugh more.

I hope you play more.

I hope you find more.

I hope you always look for stars in the darkest of nights 

and know that the sun will always rise in the morning.

I hope you start believing in love again.  

Just believe it again.

I hope you can look back on the last season in your life and find the good

And I hope that you will always be grateful that you have made it this far.

I hope you know that your story is far from over and that the next blank page is waiting for you to create the life that you want.

I hope you know that you have the power to change your life and I hope you remember to never give that power away.

I hope you know that you can push boundaries and break barriers.

I hope that you know that you are never alone.

I hope that you witness great things and climb majestic mountains.

I hope that you find the courage to reach deep within yourself and do what makes you happy.

I hope you walk away from anything that no longer serves you and, I hope you walk away with your head held high.

I hope that you smile again and laugh with all the joy in your spirit. 

I hope it’s so loud that the rest of the world can’t help but laugh with you.

.

girls, women, happy

I hope you remember that saying goodbye is not always a bad thing.
I hope you know that the pain doesn’t last.
I hope you know that love is plentiful.
I hope you dance in the rain and roll in the mud.
I hope you plant seeds instead of picking flowers.
I hope you remember that having a bit of fun is good for you.
I hope you hold warm hands and kiss soft lips.
I hope you get the chance to look into loving eyes and fall asleep in a warm embrace.
I hope you take care of yourself.

I hope you know that your story is worth telling.