Thursday, February 25, 2016

Living the dream...

My dream job is to author non-fiction novels.  Although it sounds strange to call that a job, it is a bucket list item that I’ve had ever since I was sixteen years old.  I began writing my life story then and continued to, as life’s curve balls began to come at me from all sorts of directions.  My mother’s death, another loved one’s death, a violent assault I experienced in college, unplanned pregnancy, and other experiences created a distorted picture in my head.  I began asking all sorts of questions like “why me” or “I must not deserve better than this.”  My expectations changed and I was constantly on a quest for why do bad things happen to good people.  And now, eighteen years later, I thoroughly understand why at sixteen years old, the passion to write was incited.  As a result of such unideal circumstances, situations, and experiences, only I could write the stories that only I could tell.  And those stories was going to encourage someone else who thought the same things, “why me” or “I must not deserve better than this.”  Things that had not exactly worked out the way I planned inevitably ended up blessing me and building my character.

I believe my journey and those in my life that I’ve witnessed has had great impact on my sphere of influence.  Turning the negative into positive, and being confident that when the odds are stacked against you, to rise above and stand tall, is ultimately my novel’s muse.  I’ve travelled the world since, beginning at age sixteen, and have spoken in rooms full of women in Uganda or Haiti, and have shared that despite anything, you can survive.  And not merely survive, but pursue the dreams you may have bottled up, put on a shelf, or tucked under your pillow.  I want to write my story and my mother’s story, that you can have and live out that dream and discover your purpose being realized.  I’ve learned to think and dream big.  I’ve learned to pray big prayers and have walked through the other side of them being answered. 

Somehow putting words on paper is therapeutic in a sense.  It motivates me, inspires and encourages me.  I’m able to examine and reflect on the happy accidents in life that ended up fueling determination, hard work, dedication, and commitment.  During my years studying to receive my Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering Technology, more curve balls.  I understand why any dream job isn’t really a job.  The journey that I’ve been on has created persistence and faith to pursue what I was born to do.  For all of us, there is an instinct we are born with to do something that seems so big, that if we said it out loud, people might laugh.  But deep down, there is also a confidence that that dream is tangible, only to us.  That is why it’s called a dream.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Garage Sale - Fundraiser for Haiti Mission Trip

1006 Fourth Street
FairfieldCA 94533
Tuesday November 18, 2014
Time: 11:00am-3:00pm
Everything must go. Most items are $1.00 including women's and kids clothes, vases, books, educational toys, child car seat, stroller, and potty training seat. I have a washing machine as well. Small appliances, household items. Good stuff!!! Come out and make a donation.

Friday, November 7, 2014


I'm having a yard sale to raise money for my 1st mission trip to Haiti.

Come out this Saturday, November 8th from 1-4pm.

1006 Fourth Street
Fairfield, CA 94533

A lot has changed...but Life has never been better

I'd first start off by asking a rhetorical question: "How good is God!"  It was no accident that at 32 years old, I was feeling overwhelmed.  Being a single mother of a beautiful 4 year old little girl, I was at the point in my life where I was questioning God "Why me?"  I was feeling unworthy of love as my heart was completely broken by a failed relationship.  I felt like the worst mother possible to allow my daughter to experience and see Mommy's pain so deeply.  I felt embarrassed and was hopeless.  I began to believe the lie that somehow maybe I deserved to be in pain and that God was punishing me.  In March of this year, I began attending The Father's House and shortly after that, I saw the video for "Mission Trip To Haiti."  In that moment, I said, "Okay, God. I get it! Why Not me?"  In fact, I was the perfect person to go on this trip at the perfect point in my life where I learned that no matter what, He reigns supreme and made in His image, so shall I.  For as His called-out one, much is required and I have endured much because of His greatness.  He has placed so much love in me that although I felt abandoned and alone, there is so much more in store for me and a greater purpose for my life.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. 70% of Haitians live off of less than $2 per day. 4 million are malnourished. Chronic malnutrition kills 1 in 5 children under the age of 5. 80% live in extreme poverty. 1 out of every 10 children is a "restavek", a child slave. Help is needed in Haiti.  I feel that I am being called to serve in Haiti on a mission team from my church, The Father's House.  We will be going to Grand-Goave, Haiti from January 11-22, 2015 and will be partnering with Haiti ARISE Ministries.  This organization has been on the ground in Haiti for over 10 years serving and empowering the people of Grand-Goave and the surrounding villages through educational opportunities, medical care, job training, providing clean water wells, and most importantly a vibrant and growing church.  God is on the move in Haiti and Haiti ARISE has caught the vision!

2014 has been no accident.  Everything that has happened in my life I believe has led me to this point and I can't wait to be the hands and feet of Jesus and minister to the Haitian people. Our team will possibly be involved in a construction project or leading a VBS for the local children, and also attending church and worshipping alongside the Haitians and going on village walks where we will pray for healing and salvation for local people.

How can you help? First and foremost, I ask for your prayers as our team prepares for our trip.  If you feel led to also financially support my trip I would be very grateful. Any amount is appreciated and is tax deductible by donating online.  Please follow our trip progress on Facebook at TFH Haiti Missions Trip.  We will be updating with stories of what God is doing and posting pictures and videos of the work and the people that we encounter.

Thank you so much for your prayers and/or support!!  I look forward to sharing the details of my experience when I get home!


Friday, December 6, 2013

This feeling in the pit of my stomach...

This feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if my heart is physically breaking.  In all honesty, I hope that no one reads this blog.  But I'm sure that everyone can at least relate to what I'm going to say.  Especially for moms out there who went out on a limb and decided to bring someone into their home.  Someone who they stepped out on faith with, open their heart, and fell in love.  I tried not writing this, but on this Friday afternoon, I can't focus, I can't smile, all because the person I fell in love with I may have lost. And I only blame myself.  Not him. I don't even see a fault in him anymore.  But what I did was fault him continuously throughout the entire relationship and if I had a glimpse of today, in no way, no way possible, would I have pushed him away in the way that I did.  I would've kept my mouth shut and taken a deep breath or walk to avoid doing and saying what inevitably, caused a break in the relationship.

My day would normally start with a "good morning" from him.  We would text, giggle (I could read through his texts and know that he was smiling), speak throughout the day, and then eventually see each other later that night and morning.  We met at work. He worked at a sister hospital and in one of the events that our organization put on in May 2013, I spotted him.  I won't say it was love at first sight, and as he recently reminded me that it wasn't for him, he definitely caught my eye. I'm not exaggerating in the fact that I haven't looked at someone in that way in over 7 years.  You all probably think I'm lying, but I remember taking a double take when I saw him.  I mean look at him.  The way I see him today is just as I saw him then, I think he is one of the most handsome men I have ever seen!  I know some of you wish you could say that but I truly believe it.  I was manning the hoola hoop station at our event and he walked by and participated in the game.  I remember looking back and I was cheering him on and then I stopped and turned away.  I was staring and then thought "Whoa, who is that!"  It made me laugh and it shocked me.  I was thinking "Shaunte, look at you."

I saw him again later that day and then the next day.  That's when I inquired about him.  I asked his coworker "Who is that? Is he new?"  They laughed and said "Oh, you must be talking about Hakim!"  They immediately got excited and said "Oh my goodness, you two would be perfect!" I stopped them immediately and said "No no no, I'll never speak to him. But he is cute!"  She grabbed me and said "Wait, no, why?" I ran away and said "Noooo, please don't say anything."  I laughed and walked away.  Shortly after, I saw him two more times that day. 

A few weeks later, a meeting was scheduled. And there we all were, sitting across from each other.  He was so, I don't even know how to put it into words.  He made jokes, I smiled and laughed, and I had the biggest lump in my throat.  I liked this guy.  He was my flavor!  Everything about him.  I was so nervous on the way to the meeting and when I left, I remember thinking, "Oh, I think he's feeling me."  It was just that simple.  So later that week, after a coworker had been begging me to give her my number to give to him, I gave in.  What's the worst that could happen, I thought.

He ended up calling me on a Friday.  I remember. I was at the movies to see "After Earth" and a number called.  I never answer calls from an unknown number and so when I got a voicemail, I heard his voice.  I must have played that message so many times in the first few weeks.  He had an east coast accent and I LOVED it!  We talked that Saturday and then talked later that week.  It gets a little blurry here but I had the worst phone known to man and I eventually said politely or flirting, just a little, "Maybe we can have a face to face conversation."  It was funny because the night he came over (and yes it was at night because I had to wait until my little girl was sleeping) I purposely said to myself, "Dress as unattractive, sloppy, and covered up as possible.  You don't want to go giving him the wrong idea." (laughing)  See how I plan things out. 

He came over.  I opened the door and felt like a teenage girl all over again.  I was trying to smile less and less because I was so attracted to him.  His mannerisms, his speech, his humor, his confidence, it all spoke to me. And I loved that so much.  I might have even said to him aloud in those first few days "I haven't felt this in a long reminds me of how I felt with my boyfriend that passed away." It might have been a curse to even compare that feeling or bring up that person but I wanted to be 100% honest in the beginning. It's easier that way, and no one has anything to lose.

He came over just about every night and it seemed like we connected on every level.  We sat on my bedroom floor and talked until like 4 in the morning.  Then the next day we talked on the couch all night.  I remember wanting him to touch me so I would put my hand out on the middle of the couch and as he would talk, he would gesture and graze my hand.  One time he was telling a story and imitated a story where I had to get up and...well let's just say, we had to get close.  If he could hear my thoughts in that moment, he would laugh.  I remember thinking, "Oh no Shaunte. You are going to do it, aren't you?" Yes, ladies. That's what I meant.  And it had been a long time too!! I used to joke and say "If I ever do that again, I feel sorry for that person." It hadn't been since Feb. 2009 (the date of my daughter's conception) since I had last done the do.  And so fast forward to June 2013.  Do the math!!! And if only you can imagine.  And also, it being the BEST I had EVER experienced!!! Wish he could say the same but at the time, it didn't matter.

We spend a lot of time together, talked on the phone, and I had gotten used to life with him around. I fell hard and I remember in a couple of weeks we were on the phone and he said something like "Hmmm, this feeling (struggling to speak a little like he was fighting himself), I don't it possible in this short amount of time...." I remember knowing exactly what he was saying. I remember saying "It's ok babe, I feel it too.  And I kept saying it "I love you."  In the third or fourth breathe, he said is back.

I write this today with this feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Passing the sixth month mark and going through a very difficult time in these last few weeks which culminated in him deciding to take a break. I can't undue the past...I can't undue the stupid frivolous arguments that I created.  If only in those moments that I let my head start messing (want to curse) "******* things up," I stopped myself.  I'm scared and sad and it may seem trivial to some, but if you don't understand what it means to love someone.  Like a real love....then you  have no idea what it feels like to think that you've lost them.  And that's this feeling in the pit of my stomach.  What can I do to make it right?  And is it too late...will they or have they already decided to move on.  

...I hope this is not how the story ends.
...No, I Pray this is not how the story ends.

One of the best Thanksgiving's I've ever had

I always thought that it was so cliche when people would reiterate the common phrase "Thanksgiving is about family and friends..." But this year, I realized how true that is.  It has been quite some time that I really cared about holidays or what they truly meant. I think I began celebrating them in recent years out of obligation.  I didn't want Reece to miss out on family gatherings or the celebrations that I remember loving so much when I was younger.  But this year, I put so much effort into making this Thanksgiving special.  For many reasons I suppose.  This was the first year that I would be spending thanksgiving with someone that I had fallen in love with.  It had been such a long time that I knew this feeling.  That I appreciated this feeling.  Like wow, I really did want family.  I had shut my family out for so long for many years.  I know why.  And all these years, I had held so much in, but this Thanksgiving was so therapeutic on many levels.  And I got to have conversations with my stepmother, my dad, and my little brother, that I hadn't ever had.  And (as I tear up), I realize that I do need them.  Years went by when I couldn't have them.  I lived 3,000 miles away and so many moments where I would be out in the streets, praying and asking "Lord, what am I doing here?"

I left my parents house when I was 16 years old.  It was a messy custody battle but I chose to live with my grandmother.  My dad struggled with alcoholism and back then, he was a different person than I see today. But as I've become a parent, and struggle with so many different things, there are so many pressures when raising children.  And my parents had three of us.  How tough was that?  So this year, I almost begged my parents to come spend Thanksgiving at my house.  My dad and I talked on the phone and we made a deal.  I said make sure you get Andre, my brother, and his family to come, please daddy.  He sounded excited but I had my doubts. I had been inviting my family up to my house for the last two years for different events such as Reece's third birthday party, Christmas, and New Year's.  I realize that they don't have a car so I chucked it up to that.  So this year, I went above and beyond and picked them up and brought them to my house.  The biggest most blessed surprise was when I saw my brother, Andre, at my parent's house and I asked "You're coming!!!!"

Can I say that it was some of the most special days I've had in a really long time?  With family at least.  The last six months have been extremely special to me since meeting someone who I absolutely adore.  I haven't always shown it to him, but falling in love and spending the holidays with him and my family, who get along great, was a blessing that I didn't believe I would experience in my lifetime.  I wasn't looking for anyone and if asked, I would laugh and say "I don't ever plan to be with someone again.  I don't even want too." And that Wednesday night, I remember he was getting out of school late and everyone asked "Where's Hakim?"  I knew he was tired and so I assured everyone that they would see him on Thanksgiving.  To my surprise, when my brother and I returned from the store, I saw his car.  I almost jumped out of my seat when I pulled into the driveway.  And being slick, I tried to hide my excitement from my brother.  I gasped "He's HERE!!" lol.  My brother laughed.

When I'm scared or hurt, I push away.  And the years I lived in New York were tough. Stories that I wouldn't admit to most.  I left California in 1999 and didn't return to live until  from 2006. Coming back to Cali was like a shock to the system.  When I came back, so much had happened and  I was disconnected on many levels.  And after talking to my stepmother this past week, she saw that I didn't know if they still accepted me and she assured me "We were never mad at you, Tay."  Like I said, it was a messy custody battle and I didn't speak to that side of my family for years.  

So it had seemed this Thanksgiving that everything had come full circle.  What I learned later is that my parents had really in depth conversations with this person, who I love.  They gave him their blessing to spend the rest of his life with me.  (choked up, crying profusely) 

What only God knows is that when people would ask, including my parents, so have you decided to start dating again, in these last years, I would get angry.  I said "No, I don't ever plan too. I'm happy."  My stepmother would always pull me aside and say not to close my heart off.  She acknowledged that all of that came from pain my life.  Pain of loss.  Pain from losing mommy, or Nana. And just being afraid to open up to someone.  She said "Tay, don't be afraid.  I know that you are going to meet someone again and all I want is for you to be happy." My stepmother knew me more than I ever gave her credit for.  She knew what my defense mechanisms were. And even during Thanksgiving, she begged me "Don't push him away, Tay. He's a good man."  And I know he is, and I still struggle and fight with the things in me that wants me to put my walls up, the anger, a lot of sadness.  And as I write this, there is still so much sadness in me where sometimes I don't think I could handle another loss.  May it be from death, separation, or from someone walking away.

Thanksgiving is just that. Being thankful for everything in life and for how far we've come.  When I look back, I myself have come a long way.  A long way from the corner of a bathroom floor, or from the streets of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn walking around like a crazy person.  There is still some crazy in me but I'm thankful for where I've come from and I look forward to the progress I will make moving forward.  I put a lot of pressure on the people around me. And I can be suffocating.  And I haven't given my family enough credit.  They love me.  And I love them.  And I need them.  They want what's best for me and the fact that they see this new love I'm experiencing and they want so much, as much as I do, to see us happy.  I have to let go and let God.  As the bible says, it only takes the faith of a mustard seed.

Mathew 17:20
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

I need to stop squeezing so hard and have more faith.  The Lord knows what he's doing.  It was no accident that this Thanksgiving me and my family were able to come together.  That's what He does.  Makes all things work together for good.


(Left to Right): Illiana, Daddy, Vermeille, Me, Andre, Mona,
Baby Dre, Reece, Leah
Family watching TV Thanksgiving Eve.
(Left to Right): Illiana, Baby Dre, Vermeille, Leah

Thanksgiving Meal

The Hill Men: Daddy, Andre, and Baby Dre

My brother, Andre

Our Turkey
My nieces, Leah and Mona

My Reecie
Me and The Turkey