Showing posts from 2016

Her Name Is Nina!

Nina, my three year-old has developed a strong sense of identity.  There have been a number of instances where in my determination to not call her one of her siblings' names, I have called her "Sweetheart," "Honey" or even "Sweetie," to which she has replied, "My name is not Sweetie.  My name is Nina."  Initially, I chuckled at her cuteness and figured it was a one time occurrence.  But she has remained consistent.  Whether it is a family member or a cashier at a store who has made the mistake of calling her anything other than Nina, she has been quick to offer clarification.

I was born with the name Shatanese over 4 decades ago.  My mom always told me my name came from an Egyptian queen.  I never researched this information and have chosen to live with a sense of mystery surrounding the origin of my name.

Throughout my life, I have often been asked, "What does your name mean?"  Or, "What is the origin?"  These types of q…

Are You Awesome?

I have a secret.  I have never told myself that I am awesome.  Hard to believe?   I was conversing recently with friends and family when the topic of self-esteem came up.

"What exactly is self-esteem and how do you tell someone how to increase it or obtain it if they do not have it?" I asked.

"It's a state of mind," my husband responded.

"It's what you tell yourself every day" our close friend chimed in.

She continued by saying, "Self-esteem is telling yourself that you are awesome on a regular basis."

Telling myself I am awesome regularly?  Hmmmm....I had to think for a moment.  I realized I have never viewed myself as awesome.  I mean, of course, I have viewed things that I have done as pretty good but not necessarily rising to the level of awesome.  Could this explain why high self-esteem for me has felt at times as an elusive characteristic that only others possessed?

Intrigued, I looked up the definition of awesome and discovered de…

I'm Not Striving for Perfection, I Just Don't Want to Make Any Mistakes!

I have heard the word "perfectionist" used at times to describe me.  I have repeatedly denied these claims as I do not ascribe to being a perfectionist.  I do not wake up each day and say to myself, "I am going to be perfect today."  I do, however, detest making a mistake.  What I did not realize is that I was creating a nearly impossible existence for myself and possibly for others around me, such as my children.

What drives the need to avoid making a mistake?  Perhaps growing up as a performance-driven, people-pleasing child had something to do with it.  Achieving and doing well in school was something I could control.  I was involved in numerous clubs and attempted to be the best at everything.  Now as an adult, that same drive has manifested itself as a type-A personality who is seen as a perfectionist.

A dear friend encouraged me to "STOP striving and start enjoying His blessings and His love."

"He is NOT judging your performance," my fri…

Being In the Moment-The Sounds of Cancer and Healing Like a Fighter

"The results from your tissue analysis have returned.  Your right breast and lymph nodes were clear.  The other masses near the cancerous tissue were benign.  Mrs. Reese, your pathology report is all clear!"

It took a moment for the words to sink in.  My pathology report was clear!  Really?  No radiation or chemotherapy is needed?  Praise God!  It all still seemed so surreal and happened so quickly.  From discovering a mysterious lump in one breast to undergoing a double mastectomy to receiving an all clear report-WOW!  A miracle had just occurred!  Thank you, Lord!  Now my focus could shift fully to healing.

Previous life experiences have shown me that healing is a process.  It is full of ups and downs, twists and turns, expectations and disappointment.  There is pain and relief, progress and delay.  There are moments of peace as well as some exceptionally difficult moments.  I do not know if I thought this experience would be any different, however, through this healing pro…

They Say I Have Cancer, But I Say Cancer Does Not Have Me.

I was lying in my bed when my fingers came across an unfamiliar mass.

"Honey, does this feel weird to you?"

My husband's fingers carefully searched the area.

"You probably need to contact the Doctor first thing on Monday morning," he said in a concerned tone.

After the initial breast exam, I was scheduled for a detailed mammogram and an ultrasound.

"And...stop breathing...".

This phrase was repeated several times as the tech took pictures of my carefully placed breast.  She returned to my side to re-position it.  She was so close to me that a strand of her hair became caught in my lipstick, helpless, much like I felt at that moment.

My left breast, a piece of my anatomy that had served in a variety of capacities throughout my life, was under inspection.  It had nourished six children, enticed during intimate moments and offered support to beautifully flowing dresses.  Now it was being squished, stretched, pulled, prodded and pushed.

"And stop b…

Celebrating Josiah

It has been a wonderful year getting to know our son, Josiah, despite his rocky beginning.

We went in for our detailed anatomy appointment at 19 weeks, full of cheer and excitement, as we anticipated learning the gender of our sixth child.  We'd been through this type of visit numerous times before but due to the amount of time the tech spent on the area of the heart, I knew something was not quite right.

The call came in while I was at work.  "Mrs. Reese, we discovered some abnormalities with your baby's heart.  We need you to come in for more testing."  I was immediately struck with fear and a sinking feeling became evident in my stomach.  I hung up the phone and went to a co-worker's office and sought prayer.  Tears flowed as we grasped hands asking God to intervene with His peace.

The trip to the doctor's office was a somber one.  "There is a hole in your son's heart which needs to be repaired.  We will need to conduct an amniocentesis to be cert…

Give it ALL to God

It is the month of May.  Within these past five months, I began a new job, there have been three proms, several track meets, we experienced our first cruise as a family of eight and are nearly finished with the process of building a home from the ground up.  That list of events alone is enough to place a strain on any person.  Oh...and did I mention we are preparing for a high school graduation, a Pre-K promotion event and celebrating three birthdays solely during the month of May?  Yes, I have "Calgon" on speed dial!  These events are all stressors- certainly happy ones, but stressors nonetheless. defines a stressor as an activity, event, or other stimulus that causes stress.  I was beginning to feel the weight of these stressors when my husband told me to give it to God.  Sounds simple enough, right?

How difficult is it to give everything to God?  Are you able to place whatever may be plaguing you at His feet and just leave it?  I have gotten pretty good a…

Push the Reset Button

Have you ever felt like you needed to push a "re-set" button for some area in your life?  Recently, my husband and I participated in our walk-through for our new home.  The building superintendent showed us various features of the house and demonstrated how to use each item.  One item we discussed was the GFCI outlet.

A ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI outlet, helps detect abnormal current flow and opens the circuit to prevent a dangerous situation. Essentially, the GFCI outlet trips the breaker when there is too much electricity flow. You are then required to check the circuit breaker, locate the tripped switch and push the reset button.  It occurred to me that sometimes we have to push the reset button in life.

Not long ago, I believed I was on the right track with my career.  I had been moved to a larger office in a prime location, my role had been adjusted to include new responsibilities and I had access to key executives.  I was at the top of my game.  Or so I…

"Help Please!"-Using Our Words

Several weeks ago, my husband announced he was going to the store and invited anyone who wanted to join him to load up in our SUV.

"I am leaving in the next five minutes," he stated, " and if you are not in the car before I back out of the driveway, you will be right here at this house with your Mama!"

A flurry of noises and activity ensued as kids from all directions within our home were scrambling to make it to the car.  All except for Nina.

Nina had been riding around the downstairs area on her scooter and she had chosen to be a responsible toddler by wearing her helmet.  On any other day, she proudly sported her helmet and was usually the first to don it for scooter-related enjoyment.  At that moment, this helmet was fast becoming the least liked item in the house as it was the only thing standing between her and a trip to the store with her Daddy.

I was upstairs in my bedroom working on laundry, when off in the distance I could hear whimpering that was slowl…

It's nearly Valentine's Day! Do you speak a foreign language?

Valentine's Day is right around the corner! This is a perfect time to conduct a self-assessment. Do you speak a foreign language?

Actually, I am not talking about a foreign language in the sense you might think. I am talking about the language of love. Five languages to be exact.

Early in our marriage, my husband and I had numerous conversations about how we expressed love for each other and whether or not we were truly doing all that we could to effectively meet each other's needs. Of course, we each felt we were doing exactly what was needed and held strong in our beliefs that the other was not listening to what we were saying. As you can imagine, those conversations did not go very far. It was not until we read "The Five Love Languages. How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate" by Gary Chapman that the blinders began to come off.

This book truly opened our eyes. Not only did we discover that we were not speaking the correct language, we learne…

Dear Trusted is the day.

Dear Trusted Adult,

Today is the day that I let it all go.

Today is the day that I release the shame that has been prevalent in my life as a result of the choices you made nearly 30 years ago. I am releasing the shame which has been like a large immovable anchor tethered to a small balloon, weighing it down, never allowing it to take flight and float freely.

I release the shame that has at times washed over me like crashing waves on a stormy beach, causing me to feel as if I was drowning, unable to breathe.

Today is the day I no longer look at all males suspiciously as they interact with my children. I will no longer stand on the sideline questioning their motivation and expressions of love. Don't get me wrong, I will continue to be discerning but I will no longer project my own limiting fears onto my children.

I will no longer be afraid of the bumps in the night and the shadows that cast their faint, dark images into my bedroom. Today is the day that I release it all. …