Hallmark Holidays Are Emotional Triggers

IMG_5310.JPG*This post was originally written the day after Mother’s Day.

I did not want to be a Debbie Downer yesterday, but that’s how I felt. 

When everyone is professing their love on Valentine’s Day, I either have to ask for flowers or we probably just had an argument in the days leading up to it. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but you get the point. 

My husband thinks flowers are useless. One year for our anniversary, he surprised me with an overnight stay at a garden resort, since I kept nagging him for flowers. 

I love Christmas but can’t stand the pressure society puts on families. Early on, children don’t feel loved if they don’t receive the same amount of gifts their friends do. Easter and Halloween is no longer fun, because I find myself defending my decision to participate or sit out of said holiday. “Pagan” holidays cause ridiculous debates about their origins and friends/families become divided in the name of what they believe. 

Back to hubby. From the outside looking in, he is not always the most romantic person. In this day and age of overly publicized intimate moments and the rise of #relationshipgoals, our special moments are usually shared between just the two of us. He does sweet things on a regular basis, but he ain’t hardly trying to do stuff just because everyone else it doing it (hence, Hallmark holidays). Don’t get me wrong-he buys me gifts on holidays, but he isn’t about to pull out all the stops. That’s usually on a random day & the funny thing is…it means more to me.

I know that this year is difficult with his mother being hospitalized. She has been on life support and we haven’t been able to speak to her for over a week. I had to remind myself of this when I noticed he was cranky and confrontational. Instead of engaging, I prayed. It takes so much more strength to hold your peace.

I had to remember that he regularly shows his love and affection for me in other ways.  We have completely different love languages and that’s okay. I don’t want to seem selfish knowing what he’s dealing with, so I sucked it up and kept it pushing. I chose to be his strength and not another burden.

When mamas are to be celebrated, I am sometimes left seeking validation. Feeling depressed. But I put on a brave face and graciously face the day every year. Wondering if I did anything wrong beyond repair. Then it dawned on me. These feelings are NOT about my husband. It’s not even about past relationships. It’s about the need to forgive myself. To offer myself grace. Motherhood is HARD. I’m not perfect, but I AM a work in progress. 

I try to pick my head up and repeat affirmations. Practice routine self care. Pray. Pour into other women the things I need and would enjoy myself. But it’s never enough and never will be. Because as long as I have that void of unexplained “why me, God” moments, I won’t be fulfilled. No mass production of greeting cards or flowers can fix that wound. You can’t place a band-aid on something that runs as deep as your soul. Yeah, that’s what it is–a soul tie. I realize that these feelings probably even go back as far as my great grandmother’s childhood. There is a curse that will be broken.

 I initially thought Mother’s Day began with disappointment, but it led me to the realization that I have work to do. Marriage does not make you whole. That is an inward assignment that only you can achieve.

I became a mother at the age of 19. While the pregnancy may have been unplanned, my son’s birth was intentional.* (Jer 29:11) His life has purpose. I may not have known at that time, but God knew him before he was even formed in my womb. Then, my daughter came along and became a little mirror. Ciara, version 2.0. As I watch her walk around the house in my shoes, I’m reminded to journey carefully. Try my best to ensure I leave footprints that I don’t mind her following. To build her up so well that she never feels inadequate or the need to compromise her morals for attention. 

I went to church and began cleaning my house when I got home. I’m reminded of an epiphany I had while sweeping the floor. I was thinking about how I normally despise cleaning but it felt therapeutic this time. Then, I pictured Martha. How frantic she was trying to get her house together. Jesus was in her presence, yet she gave priority to chores. (Luke 10:38-42) I gave the broom to my son, a little bothered by the fact that I had to tell him to take over. Started setting up for my brunch then decided to stop and spend some time with God. He gently reminded me that this day was for me, but everything is not about me. 

I don’t know your story. You may have children, or lost one. Maybe you’re battling infertility or just trying to make ends meet as a single parent. You may be a mother figure or pillar of support for the mothers in your circle. Maybe you don’t have a great relationship with your own mother. Pause. Release that toxicity today. The gift of forgiveness is the greatest thing you can give yourself. 

Know that you are appreciated. If your family does not recognize your hard work, I see you. I honor you and I love you, mama. 

“If we are going to heal, let it be glorious.”

*God’s plans are ALWAYS better than our own plans for our life. What you may consider to be a detour or setback, it could be the very thing that propels you towards your destiny. 

Like a Fish in a Glass Bowl

Last weekend, my six year old daughter received a gold fish from a friend’s birthday party. The theme was a carnival and his mom fell short of nothing. She included all of the details you would see at your local county fair and it was simply amazing.

While transporting Bailey the goldfish home, the ride was a bit bumpy. My daughter tried her best to keep the fish bowl stable, so it wouldn’t shake around too much. But ya know…speed bumps and turns :-/. It did not help that we were driving in a severe thunderstorm, so I was understandably more concerned about our safety than the goldfish. After an hour drive with very little visibility, we finally made it home. The fish bowl had less water than we started out with, but we kept the gold fish alive as we had planned to. My daughter whispered to her, “Just keep swimming, Bailey.”

The next day, we purchased Bailey a larger home, some decor and food. During the transfer, she went crazy. Like a full fledged panic attack. Bailey did not know what was going on. I’m sure she thought she was dying. Ever heard of the phrase, “like a fish out of water” before? There’s a reason that’s a catchphrase. Anyway, Bailey had no idea that her uncomfortable situation was temporary and she was actually being prepared for something greater. She had no idea that she was going from the little glass bowl to a large aquarium. I wish she knew and I even tried telling her to calm down-“It’s okay Bailey, I got you…you have to trust me!” I know, I know she couldn’t hear me, but it made me feel better talking her through it. I already felt bad that she wasn’t in her natural habitat in the first place. Don’t  judge me. Once I placed Bailey into her new home, she settled down and swam the entire perimeter of that tank. It’s almost like I could see the relaxation as she explored the aquarium.


Bailey reminds me a lot like myself and I know that I’m not the only one. What are you afraid of? What are you panicking about? Why don’t you trust the process? You know darn well that it is temporary but also necessary for elevation. Why don’t you trust that God has you in the palm of His hand? Why do you lose faith just because the ride gets a little bumpy? Sure, you lost a little bit on the way….but you are still breathing. As long as you have breath in your body, you have purpose. So, today I encourage you to spend the rest of your life discovering and fulfilling your purpose. Trust that there is more than your “fish bowl.” There is more than what you can see, you just have to believe that. Even when you feel like a fish out of water, know that you are being elevated to something greater. No one ever reaches their full potential or accomplishes their dreams by staying in their comfort zone. It will be hard, you will want to quit. However, like Dory told Nemo and Tahlia told Bailey, “Just. Keep. Swimming.”

***Update***After publishing this blog post, I received an email from my friend. Turns out, she was inspired by Bailey as well, and it was too good not to share:

On Saturday, a friend of mine took her daughter to our friend’s son’s carnival themed birthday party.  Her daughter left the party with a new pet goldfish.  Yesterday she took her daughter to the pet store to purchase a home for “Bailey”.  This morning she shared a photo of Bailey’s new home and after smiling at her daughter’s excitement I thought, “That’s a big tank for a little gold fish!”
Immediately God took my attention back to our prayer …and enlarge my territory…   I was reminded that “a goldfish will only grow as large as its environment.”  Do you see where I’m going with this?  

This is probably more than you care to know about a goldfish but:
How big your goldfish will grow is determined by the animal’s genetics, not by the size of his environment. If your goldfish doesn’t have enough space to grow to his full size, he will likely die before you notice that the environment is not large enough. Even if your fish does survive in an environment that is too small, other problems are likely. These can include stunted growth, deformities and problems with scales and skin…The cleanliness of your pet’s environment, the kinds of food, and your feeding protocols are all factors…The size of your tank should be based on the size the fish will be when he is completely grown. The length of your tank should be at least seven times that of the adult fish’s size. This means that if you have a “tank suitable” goldfish, your tank should be about 70 inches long. The height of the tank should be double the height of your fish. If your goldfish doesn’t have enough room to move around, he can develop stress-related illnesses…A fishbowl is no longer considered an acceptable environment for goldfish. Bowls cannot provide enough space for a goldfish to grow to his adult size and cannot be set up to provide appropriate filtering and aeration. Most goldfish never reach their adult size in a bowl environment, even if the bowl is large enough. Bowls cannot provide the necessary setup for a fish to get required amounts of oxygen. 

So what did we learn from Bailey today?
1. It’s in YOU.  There is something(s) in you that needs to grow regardless of whether or not you recognize what “IT” is.
2. You need space to live and grow! Praying for God to enlarge your territory is seemingly a matter of spiritual life and death.  It’s a matter of fulfillment and purpose.  You may not die physically, but you are like to experience some complications.
3.  More territory alone is not enough.  You need a clean environment and need to take care of yourself.  We as women often neglect our own needs.  Self-care is key to your growth and survival.  Don’t ever not be able to do whatever it is God will call you to do in this coming territory expansion and answered prayers.
4.  Dream and Pray BIG.  If a gold fish needs a minimum of 15 gallons of water, what more do you think you need?


Father I thank you for every woman who has committed to pray bold prayers with me for 30 days.  I pray that we would dare to pray big, bold, crazy, ridiculous, exceeding and abundantly more than we could ask or think prayers and that you will be true to your word and bless us indeed.  Blow our minds in a magnitude where your favor, grace and glory will be the only explanation.  I thank you that at the end of 30 days we will have all developed a lifestyle and will inspire others to go big.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Have a dream-filled day! ~Cherron D. Keith