Take the First Step

For many years I’ve had desires in my heart to do things but was just too fearful and/or wasn’t sure if I could manage.

For example, starting this blog. When I really stop and think about it, its been over 10 years since I have wanted to write a blog. As I just wrote that last sentence, I find myself in shock. 10 years! How did I let so much time go by? Well, if I’m real with myself then very simply I can say it was fear.

Fear- A little four letter word that challenges us all daily. Fear can be defined as a “panic flight” or “withdrawal.” “It’s a strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger.”

There are some ways we experience fear very overtly. We watch a horror movie and the sound of the “somebody is about to get hurt” music comes on and we know that danger is coming and we either watch or close our eyes in fear.

Then there is the fear that we don’t always see but will face daily. The fear that will cause us to run and withdraw.

Even though I knew God showed me that I was to write, the feeling of not being adequate had such a great hold on me. What I felt I lacked, seemed so much bigger than what I possessed. Instead of focusing on what I could do, I focused on what I couldn’t do. As a result, I ran away from it. I withdrew, shut down and convinced myself that it wasn’t for me.

So as the years went by, the fear stayed. I believe a part of me actually began to feel comfortable with the fear. Another part of fear is that it protects us. Our body feels fear when it senses danger. This feeling then gives us a choice to assess and we either go into fight or flight. When we choose flight, we are choosing the way out and we don’t feel. And that feeling of not feeling, felt great. As I would get a nudge to start the blog, my body felt as if it were in danger and fear made me feel safe. I would allow those thoughts of inadequacy to trump. And year after year I would just convince myself it wasn’t meant or would think, “maybe one day.”

Well as you know, that one day did come. What was the difference? Well I chose to fight instead. My mind was transformed by the renewal of my mind through the Word of God. Instead of focusing on my lack, I focused on the one who was full. I focused on God and his promises. I no longer felt inadequate because I learned who I am in Him. I learned that I am an ambassador for Christ, fully made by the Creator in the image of the Creator. Therefore, I’m already equipped. What I don’t have, He supplies. Perfect love casts out fear and knowing that I’m loved by Jesus, is all that I need.

The most beautiful part is that when I made the choice to fight, I didn’t have to do much. God has already won the victory and all I had to do was make the first step. And guess what, it wasn’t even as scary as I had made it up to be in my head. So I encourage you today to search for any fear that may be causing you to hold back and instead take a step forward. I promise it will be the best move you’ve ever made.

Get to Know Joy!

Since beginning this blog 6 weeks ago, I’ve found a greater awareness in the importance of stopping to reflect and it’s been so liberating. Ironically, as someone who has made a pact to be joyfully raw, I’ve been challenged lately with the word joy.

My oldest daughter is preparing to graduate 6th grade and enter middle school and we are looking at different schools for her to attend. I visited one school a little over a week ago and as I sat in the library interacting with one presentation, I heard a question that surprisingly had me stunned.

Presenter: “ Can someone tell us why they think joy is an important value for a child to have at school?”

Me:

I completely went blank. I immediately passed it to the woman sitting next to me. I could not believe I didn’t have an immediate response. I could not believe I couldn’t articulate what joy is. Me, Joyful Jonetta, could not talk about joy!

As I reflected on the moment days later, I wondered what happened. I wondered if I really knew joy. I wondered if I knew what it looked like. Was I able to recognize it? Am I modeling it for my family? Does my family have it? How often am I accessing it? And after a for real search within, I came to a daunting conclusion…

I

don’t

really

know

joy.

Wow!

Don’t get me wrong. I’m familiar with joy. I’ve had great moments of joy. I’ve lived with joy. I know the dictionary definition which means the emotion evoked by well being, success or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires or feeling of great pleasure/happiness.

But…

I desire something deeper and so does Joy.

I desire a close relationship so does Joy.

For all that joy does…for all that joy is…for all that joy brings…we deserve to be connected. It shouldn’t be something that I just say I am. It should be something that I know that I am.

After talking with someone a few days after this revelation, I was reminded of a daily challenge that I participated in with my wonderful neighbor/friend, Cynthia of RawJackson where she challenged herself and others to live 90 days of Happy. During this 90 days, we posted daily in regards to something that we were happy for. It was such a beautiful time and I learned the importance of stopping daily to acknowledge what is around us. It allowed me to develop daily habits that have carried me today.

Life is truly about the daily choices that we make and as I remembered this challenge, I immediately was inspired to challenge myself again. This time in the exploration of joy. I’ve decided I’d like to explore Joy more. I’ve decided I want to Get to Know Joy!

So I’m doing a countdown from today until my birthday : October 16- January 2 of getting to know joy. My goals are to know Joy deeply; to connect with Joy; to understand when and how Joy is accessed; to learn how Joy should be embraced; and to look for Joy everyday.

So over the next two and a half months, I will be connecting with Joy and choosing Joy with a daily intention. On my Instagram page, I’ll be posting my daily interactions with Joy. Here, I’ll be diving deeper in my findings and I look forward to what’s to come. The best part about it, I won’t be doing it alone! I’m inviting you to take this journey with me. Hold me accountable, challenge me, learn with me and let’s all get to know joy. And just like the message inside this lemonade top, accepting this challenge may cause JOY! Are you ready for it? Will you come with me?

Put the Oxygen Mask on First…Do I Have To?

“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting others.”

Ever flown a plane? If so, then you have definitely heard the words above from flight attendants all over the world. It’s a concept that we have heard so many times and may even have become mundane but what is the importance? Very simply, you can’t help someone else with their breathing if you aren’t breathing yourself.

Through the years people have taken these important instructions and used them as metaphors for life. In general, we are to make sure that we are taking care of ourselves before we can take care of others. Why the reminder? Well, I never quite understood the concept as much until I became a mother. When I became a mother 11 years ago, my role shifted to caretaker. I no longer lived for just myself. I lived for my children giving physical and emotional care and support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Last week I received news that challenged me in this area. My Sjögren’s syndrome (autoimmune disease) is causing an inflammation flare in my body. During my visit, my doctor decided that it was time to put me on some stronger medicine. After hearing her discuss the facts and symptoms of the medicine, I reminded her about my breastfeeding which she replied that I cannot do the both at the same time….. immediately tears began to flow. My goal was to breastfeed for at least one year. MJ just turned 8 months. It’s not time. Thoughts of sadness began to creep in.

Breastfeeding is an indescribable bond between mother and child. Research shows many benefits of breastfeeding for not only the child but the mother as well. For babies, breast milk is highly nutritious, it helps fights off infections, it may reduce disease risk, it promotes healthy weight. For mother’s it helps loose weight through calorie burning, increase of oxytocin which encourages relaxation, caregiving and bonding. And finally, it may present menstruation. Sounds wonderful? For me, it has been.

With my other children I wasn’t able to breastfeed for long. For my first, I made it about 6 months. For my 2nd , 3 months. So here I am with my third and excited and determined to make it to at least 1 year.

When I heard the doctor’s message, I knew immediately in my heart what I needed to do. My mind on the other hand, had plans of its own.

My heart knew the necessity of my need to put my oxygen mask on first. My mind questioned it.

My heart knew that 8 months is a substantial time to breastfeed. My mind wanted to complete the task of checking off the one year box.

My heart knew that the best way to love MJ is being my best self as healthy as I can be. My mind wanted to be the best through our breastfeeding bond.

My heart knew that MJ has received everything he needs thus far and will continue to get what he needs. My mind wants to feel like I didn’t do enough. It doesn’t want to give up.

For the last five days, my heart and mind have been going back and forth. One minute I’m ready for my oxygen mask, the next minute I’m telling myself I’ll be alright. Maybe I can wait four months. And even as I write this, there is a tug of war going on. The heart is pulling and gaining momentum and then the mind gets stronger and pulls harder. ‘Do I have to take this medicine?’ My mind says. ‘Yes you do!” Says my heart.

As much as I’d like to keep the picture of making it to a year in mind, I know what’s more important.

As much as I’d like to keep our bond when he gets fussy or sleepy, I know what I need to do.

So when I ask do I have to put the oxygen mask on first, I can confidently say “yes, I do ” and “yes, I will.”

I know for a fact, that if I am not good, no one in my family is good. This is a moment of self care and self love. I cannot and will not settle for less than I deserve. As much as I love my children and my husband, it starts with loving myself. I love myself enough to do what my body needs even if it means sacrificing another love. I love myself enough to forgive myself, protect myself and live joyfully at all times.

I had to come to a decision and that is to start taking the medicine and stop breastfeeding. I am giving myself one week for gradual weaning. I am giving myself the space to cry. I am giving myself permission to rejoice. This time with MJ has been great and will continue to be so.

This decision has not been easy but I asked myself one thing, “what in this moment can I be grateful for?’ And when they say gratitude will shift your altitude, it did. Instead on focusing on what I was going to miss, I focused on what I had. Glass half empty or half full? For me, my glass was just full. My cup runs over with God’s goodness and mercy. I am grateful for:

1- Regular doctor checkups and a doctor who is caring, thoughtful and kind.

2- Prevention- It could’ve gotten worse.

3- 8 months of breastfeeding. It’s my best record!

4- No more pain from MJ’s teeth . He has 6 teeth, need I say more!

5- God’s wisdom to listen to what I know and not what I feel.

And most of all…

My oxygen mask. 💕💕🦋🦋

I Am Not Afraid

I am not afraid… four words that rang loud to my ears one day as I was driving. As my apple playlist went through it’s random rotation, this song from Jesus Culture began to play. A song that I had heard before. A song that on this particular day, had a new meaning and met my ears with a deeper understanding.

My life is in deep transition and I have been faced with looking within. About 8 months ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, Malcolm Jr.(MJ). My third child after two girls and it’s been a joy. As I was beginning to come off maternity leave, in the midst of searching for childcare, something began to happen inside of me. I had this deep yearning desire to stay home with MJ. With a background in education and a recent career in early childhood education, I was the most qualified. At the same time I loved my job as a preschool director. I felt so conflicted.

I began fervently praying and asking God for His guidance and He answered. It was time to step down as director and focus on taking care of family. I had peace. The next part was to decide when to step down. The decision came to me in May and my desire was to stay until the end of the school year at the end of July. That felt safe, comfortable. Well, God doesn’t always work when we are comfortable. One week into June, my autoimmune disease flared up and I was forced to stay home for two weeks and then three months.

So here I am, in the midst of my three months trying to navigate this new life and at the same time learning to rest. Some days I feel like super woman; other days I feel so defeated. Some days I know the way; other days I’m so lost. This is where the song brought deeper meaning for me. There were unconscious fears that were trying to take control over my mind.

Deciding to leave a position I loved and cherished…scary.

Learning to live and rest with an autoimmune disease…scary.

Starting this blog…scary.

Worried about the possibility of our finances not surviving this new life. Wondering will I be okay? Do I need to be doing more? What will happen if I don’t? All scary thoughts.

However, there was an even scarier thought, not operating in the fullness of God. Not living as the Word directs me. Not utilizing the full power that God has given me. When I compared all those scary thoughts to the faithfulness of God, they didn’t compare. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible clearly shows us all of God’s faithfulness. He is exactly who He says He is. From 1982 until now, God has shown himself to me. I have no reason to doubt. His love for me is great and I feel it everyday. I Am Not Afraid.

“When I walk through the waters I won’t be overcome.

When I go through the rivers I will not be drowned.

My God will make way. So I am not afraid.”

Jesus Culture, Not Afraid

Welcome!

Welcome to JoyfullyRawLife! I am so grateful you are here. I am so grateful I am here. 🙂 This has been a desire of mine for years and to finally see it come to fruition is truly exciting. It is so important to let go of fear and take a step of faith. I did it and I hope this page inspires you as well.

Now for a little introduction…

My name is Jonetta Darrell. I am a wife, mother, Minister, and educator. I live in Los Angeles, CA. Married for a little over 2 years to my amazing husband, Malcolm Darrell. We have 3 children; Eryn-11, Joslyn-7, MJ (Malcolm Jr.)-7 months. Yes, our home is busy but I wouldn’t change it.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Graduated from Dorsey High School and went to UC Santa Barbara for college. I graduated, came back to LA and began teaching high school. After a few years, I realized high schoolers were a little too much for me, I began teaching 4th grade and loved it. I the went to University of Phoenix in Gardena,CA and received for Masters Of Education dagree with an emphasis in Elementary Education.

After teaching elementary for a few years, I was let go due to LA district making cutbacks. Then out of the blue, a friend of mine informs me of a preschool teaching position at her company. At this point, the youngest I had ever worked with was 5 years old and I couldn’t imagine 18 months but I decided to go in for the interview. I got the job, became a teacher for the preschool classroom, 3-5 year olds, and I completely fell in love with that age. Fast forward 9 years later and I am still connected to the school. For two years, I was the lead teacher. For one year I wa lead teacher/assistant director. Finally for almost six years, I served as director. I absolutely love my school but after delivering MJ with complications and dealing with an autoimmune disease (I’ll talk more about that in a later post) I decided this past June to step down as director and work as an administrator in a part time capacity.

Alongside my role as an educator, I am a Minister at Kimgdom House of Worship. I help lead the ministry as well as preach the word of God during mid-week Bible Study and service on Saturdays.1

So now what? Well I am currently at home with MJ, focusing on my home and family. It has been wonderful and I have been so grateful for this time. My ultimate focus has been connecting with God and allowing him to lead. One of those leadings has led me here to JoyfullyRawLife.

JoyfullyRawLife has been in my heart to do for awhile. I desire a place to share my heart with others. A place where my words, my story can encourage others to live the life that God created. My desire is to help people heal and live a surrendered life of freedom. My goal is to live in joy, with joy at all times and I want the same for you.

What’s stopped me? Fear. Fear can entangle you and cause you to freeze and that’s what it was doing to me. However, fear and faith cannot coexist and I made the conscious decision to choose faith. So I invite you to go on this Faith ride with me. We will laugh together, we may even cry. But most of all, my prayer as I invest in sharing my life with you, you will be impacted and influenced to live a life of complete surrender in love and most of all JOY!

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