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Keeping the Faith after Divorce

Quarantine Diary featuring Nikita Davis

 

My life has been full of failed relationships in regards to men since childhood. Therefore, from the beginning I had a very skewed perspective on what a healthy female to male relationship should look like. The “best” relationship I ever had was a 5 year relationship with a married man. When we met I didn’t know that he was married and actually didn’t find out until about 7 months later and by then I was very pregnant and very in love.  We stayed together until he was murdered in 2011. I will never forget the feeling I felt when I knew it was all over.

His Wife’s forgiveness and kindness towards me was pivotal in me being able to move forward. I ended up joining a church and built a strong relationship with God.

God really helped me to understand that I was worth more than what I had been settling for.

At this point in my relationship with God, I decided to be celibate. During those 7 years I learned a lot about myself and who I truly was outside of relationships. I found out that I was really a nerd-kind of –and that I enjoyed the outdoors which was a far stretch from the times past of selling drugs, partying, drinking & smoking and moving from one relationship to the next.

In October 2018, I met my soon to be ex husband. On our first date I told him my testimony in great detail. I also told him what I would and would not settle for and at the top of that list was cheating. From my previous experience, I don’t believe that cheating is a mistake. I think cheating takes a lot of effort and it takes a lot of thought and the time that you put into cheating could be put into either fixing or bettering your existing relationship It could also be put into ending the relationship and moving on. Either way I made it clear that I would not settle for this. Ever.

He proposed Aug 2019 and we got married Nov 18, 2019 in a small ceremony with plans to have a bigger ceremony on July 26, 2020. After we married we moved in together and blended our families. Almost immediately, it became evident that I had been deceived. He was a completely different person. He was not nice. He would go out of his way to try and say things to hurt my feelings and he avoided spending time with me at all costs. It was unhealthy and went against how I saw myself.

June 6th, 2020 while I was supposed to be away with my bridesmaids I found out that he had cheated on me.  In that moment, I had a decision to make. On June 10, 2020 I filed for divorce and I refused to look back. One month before my big wedding I pulled the plug because I know for a fact that I deserve better.

Today, I am well and I think that surprises people. I kept the matters of our marriage very private therefore no one knew that I had basically been crying the entire 7 months that I was married to him. His attempts to break me didn’t work, they only made walking away that much easier. I put everything I had into my marriage until it was over. Several people have told me to keep the faith and not give up on love because there is someone out there who will love me the way I deserve to be loved. Even after all of this I believe that whole heartedly! The air he slowly took from me is now mine again and I am breathing-DEEP!!

Bio:

My name is Nikita Jenell Davis. I am 34 years old. I have an 18 year old daughter and an 11 year old son. I work full time for the Omaha Public Power District. I run a small business named Whip’d By Kita that specializes in all natural hair/skin care products. I am also a loctician.

LFB: Nikita J Davis
FB: Business Whipd By Kita
IG: Whip_bykita

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Growing Through It

Quarantine Diary featuring Maritza Mateo Asboe

I’ve been growing through this COVID times instead of just going through it. I say that because I’ve had some time to read more personal growth on leadership, marriage and parenting when I have some me time. I originally had the opportunity to stay home with my kids and do things from home but what changed is that we can’t go out and do our adventures like we normally do. Since things are all closed. The Black Lives Matter movement has for sure changed my heart and mind, I’ve been more aware of what’s really going on in our world. 

This season has changed the way I parent just a bit, I’ve been enjoying my kids even more, since things are all closed. I have been practicing patience, grace and teaching moments with my kids. I have explained to my older child that there’s a virus and people are getting sick so we need to be careful and stay home, be praying for our world. I’ve been helping my older son to cope and or thrive  with this season by talking to him and expressing to him that we are here for him. He can freely talk to us also by going outside our backyard, reading books and utilizing technology to FaceTime family so that he can see them and know they are doing okay. 

What has surprised me about how I’m handling this is that I am at peace and know things will be okay.

One of the reasons is my faith and the wisdom I’ve implemented prior to the pandemic.

I think as people we can lean into the current challenges in life with effectiveness and enthusiasm by being there for each other in many ways. By praying, giving, being an example in our community, speaking up for others, taking leadership roles in our families first and then community. Knowing that you are not alone in this time! Change will happen and good will win. Everyday choose to have joy and be glad in it no matter what’s going on. And making others aware of what others are going through and not being blind to it. Be the change you want to see. 

Bio:

Maritza is a proud Wife and Mommy of two boys, Micah and Augustine. In 2016 she launched Itza & Eta, a childrens clothing line that offers the softest handmade clothing for your little ones. Every purchase made they give back locally. Follow her on Instagram: itza_and_etaand Facebook: Martiza Mateo Asboe

 

Finding Light in the Darkness

Quarantine Diary featuring Brandee Alexander

 

At one point you considered yourself as someone who was broken.  What hard truths did you need to sit with during that season? 

Well 2019 was one for the books wasn’t it? I definitely placed the “broken” label on myself towards the latter part of 2019. There were some relationships that ended during that season and I can tell you I was totally unprepared for what God was about to do in my life. I blamed myself a lot and was forced to look inward with a magnifying glass and pick apart pieces of me that I thought were no good.

A few Hard Truths that I had to face:

  • Brandee is NOT perfect, and that is absolutely OK,
  • Brandee likes things Burger King style, I want to have it my way a lot of the time, all the time honestly and that’s selfish.
  • Brandee doesn’t love herself. This one was hard, I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, or be somebody that is easy for others to accept, when in reality I was not designed to be accepted by everyone and that’s ok.
  • God still loves me even when the key players you think you need walk away or hurt you. This was a hard truth for me because I didn’t want certain people to walk away from me. I didn’t think God loved me anymore, people were walking out of my life. I thought there MUST be something wrong with me, and God must have left with them.

How did brokenness reveal itself in your life and how did it affect your identity?

Brokenness revealed itself in suicidal thoughts/ideations, shame, and condemnation. I wasn’t working, and honestly nothing was happening for me. Everyday I sat around crying endlessly, there was a point in this journey where I contemplated ending my life. I hid myself, I was ashamed, when I did try to go out and see familiar faces I felt as though people were asking me how I was doing out of pity. It was at this point where I realized I cared way too much what people thought of me and not enough of what God thought.

I let relationships with people define who I was too much and when those ties were severed I was forced to learn more about who I am. More importantly WHOSE I am.

What surprised you and/or other people the most about how you handled yourself during a season of difficulty and uncertainty?

So I get to talk about how God blew my mind!! What surprised others watching me was how quiet I became during my season of struggle and humbling. What surprised me was how swiftly God answered my prayers. I asked God to relocate me from my prison which was unfortunately my favorite place to be, home.

He did that and so much more. I went from not having a job, to being offered multiple positions to choose from and selecting the BEST option for me. The company moved me to my new state, and all my needs were met. They even called me on my BIRTHDAY to offer me the job of my dreams! I was done for; I did the ugly cry that no one should ever see.

God also surprised me by sending women who needed to heal so I started a private women’s healing group. My inbox was flooded with women who had experienced some of the same things I had and just never talked about it. It’s important for us as women to connect with one another especially with our seasoned women to gain that wisdom. I’m forever grateful for these women and their honesty.

How do you define “glow up” and what steps can we take to get there?

During this season when I finally decided to stop the tears, wash this face (thanks Rachel Hollis), and take charge of my life I was told that I had this glow. Women are often told we’re glowing when we are pregnant or in love. I seldom remember hearing it after going through a storm but God is good!! The storm inspired me to coin the phrase “Let Glow and Let God” which came from Daniel 12:3 MSG

“Men and Women who have lived wisely and well will shine brilliantly, like the cloudless, star-strewn night skies. And those who put others on the right path to life will glow like stars forever.”

Glow up can be defined as living wisely through the storms of life, shining brilliantly like the night sky and becoming a beacon of light on the journey to healing.

Simple Steps you can take to get your Glow On:

  • Be Ok with NOT being ok
  • Be Honest with yourself
  • Be mindful of what you feed your spirit
  • Feel It by being a STAR (Stop/Smile, Take a deep breath And Relax)

Please take note to how I didn’t define these simple steps. Why?  Because this is your unique journey and only YOU can define your glow.

God Bless and Remember to Let Glow and Let God!

BIO:

Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska Brandee Leigh Alexander has a passion for helping women see themselves as whole, fearfully and wonderfully made, and of course glowing. Brandee is currently an Associate Executive Director for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City and hopes to one day open up a YMCA as the Executive Director. Brandee has a private healing group for women on Facebook and is currently in the process of finishing her first book to continue encouraging women all over the world to embrace their glow!

Instagram: mzzbrandee06

Facebook: Brandee Leigh Alexander

Twitter: mzzbrandee

Prioritizing Wellness

Honestly, I’ve had highs and lows like everyone else. But I believe there was one difference. My heart won’t allow me to give in to the negativity around me. I had to get in touch with myself and dig deep to find the strength to continue to motivate, inspire, and grow all while keeping a balance. I had to balance being my son’s teacher, working from home, continuing to develop my business, and training for boxing, all while in school. I had to be creative, patient, and find new ways to maintain my everyday life.

I have learned that maintaining physical health and nutrition strengthens the immune system. Mental health is very important to take care of as we know many  illnesses stem from stress and anxiety.  I try to balance my life by making sure I add to my Mind, Body, and Soul daily. I work out, eat healthy by incorporating vegetables and fruit as often as I can in my meals, and pray or complete a bible study. It has become my lifestyle.

Here are some tips to support your Mind, Body, and Soul.

Mind – Try meditation/yoga. I recommend this yoga playlist by BIPOC [ Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color]. Also, many mental health professionals are still operating via web calls.

Body– Please try to exercise. It can be a walk, jogging, or running. We have a few nice trails around Omaha where you can go biking. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Try a few workout sessions.

Soul – Journaling can be a great outlet for your feelings and negative energy. Just grab any notebook and start writing. You can find journal prompts online for free. Or start by drawing, listen to some music. Just express what your soul is feeling. For those who are religious, try praying. I like to use the bible app, it is free and has study plans for you.

If you take the time to treat your body well, you like me, will be surprised by your strength.


Bio:

My name is Brittany Parker and I am originally from Omaha, NE. I worked in corporate for years until I moved to nonprofit to help people attain self-sufficiency. I’m a proud mom of my son. Originally, I turned to boxing as an outlet and now I am an Elite Boxer ranked #2 on Team USA. I am a five-times National Champ. In winter 2019, I competed in the Olympic Trials and placed 2nd. In February 2020 I founded my company Brittany’s Balance to give Black women a wellness program designed for them. I found balance in my life with wellness and I want to ensure everyone, especially Black women, can find that balance too.

Personal IG: @briparkerboxing

Business IG: @bribalance

Business fb: https://www.facebook.com/bribalance

Brave Avenue Unscripted: Who Are You: Identity

 

Episode 3: IDENTITY: Secure in my identity: Who am I?

Identity and security go hand in hand. Our security is linked to knowing who we are, but do we really like what we discover?  Join us as we dive into this complex topic on our journey to discover true freedom. Don’t let others’ negative opinion of you become your reality.

Identity: how do others describe us? 

How do we describe ourselves?

What are the significant roles that we play, and which ones do we get our identity from?

How does God define us?

“Not my mirror, nor my filter.” Others words and opinions are not, but God‘s word is.

Ephesians 6: We get dressed each day, and put on the belt of truth. Throughout the day, we need to filter every thought through the truth of God’s word.

Identity and security go hand in hand. Our security is linked to knowing our identity.

“Identity is the foundation on which individual uniqueness rests. It secures that which satisfies the deepest longing of an individual‘s life.”

-Terry Wardle

True freedom is having an identity grounded in Christ, and not being a target for others hurtful words or actions. True freedom is having nothing to prove. True freedom is knowing who you are and not being able to have that taken from you.

We can speak the truth with compassion, from a place of vulnerability. We can speak the truth out of a desire for the best for others, reminding people of their true identity.

Beliefs > Identity > Behavior

Our behavior flows out of our identity, but it’s not the same thing. Sometimes we act out of character, we forget our identity and act in a way that does not reflect who we truly are. We have to remember that that behavior is not our identity, it does not define us. We have to remember our true identity.

What do your behaviors say about your identity? About your beliefs?

What have been your most significant identity shifts? How have these identity shifts changed your behaviors? Relationships with others?

Do you identify with any of these statements?

  • I am a victim. 
  • I am not worthy. 
  • I am not enough. 
  • Other examples.

What does God say is true about you?

[Verses about identity]

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

1 John 3:1-3 (TPT) Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.  The reason the world doesn’t recognize who we are is that they didn’t recognize him. Beloved, we are God’s children right now; however, it is not yet apparent what we will become. But we do know that when it is finally made visible, we will be just like him, for we will see him as he truly is. And all who focus their hope on him will always be purifying themselves, just as Jesus is pure.

Resources:

 

Brave Avenue Unscripted: The Intro

Welcome to Brave Avenue Unscripted! Two years ago, I felt the push to start a podcast as an extension to our blog so our audience could hear our conversations on life and what we experience on our brave journeys.  This episode is an intro into who we are, what is Brave Avenue and what it means to be brave? 

Highlights from this episode:

 “Not the absence of fear, but pushing beyond fear. 

 Little brave decisions – “Bravery is a bunch of small decisions you make every single day, not just the huge life-changing ones.”

-“Living in your comfort zone is not a safe place, it can actually work against you…it can keep you from growing… you’re not going to get far.”

“Bravery is the audacity to be unhindered by failures, and to walk with freedom, strength and hope in the face of things unknown.”

“Courage is the ability to do something that frightens someone.“

“Do it afraid.“

Reflection Questions: 

  1. What does it mean to be brave?
  2. The power of no: What do you need to be brave to say no to?
  3. What is your motivation for being brave?
  4. Values-based decisions: Thinking about the values-based decisions, what is the next brave decision you need to make?

Scriptures: 

Psalm 27:14 Stay with God! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with God.

Isaiah 41:10 Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you

Additional Resources:

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Guest Post: Tamara McMillan 

Scars are such interesting things, and oftentimes the scars that we have tell a story…

I remember when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter…

I was using the restroom at my mom’s house when I suddenly began to feel dizzy. In hindsight, I see that I should have just sat there and waited until the dizziness passed. I could have even yelled my mom’s name to let her know that I was feeling dizzy. But instead, I decided that it was a better idea to get up by myself try and go lay down on the couch. On the way to the living room, I passed out and hit my head on my little sister’s doorframe. The scar that was left behind reminds of that day…

Sometimes, however, the scars that we carry are not as visible as the scar that I have on my forehead. Yet despite their inability to be seen by the naked eye, these scars can still tell a tale, or shift our minds back to a previous moment in time…

October is domestic violence awareness month….

As I’ve been reflecting on the emotions that are connected to that period in my life, I realize that, though I have physical scars on my body that serve as a reminder of the night that I was stabbed multiple times, it’s not my physical scars that remind me of the hell that I went through…

They say that hindsight is 20/20….

And I can clearly see that we were simply two unhealthy people, with unhealthy boundaries who were tied together by this by this unhealthy version of what we called…love….

Love…

What started off as something so exciting and new….

Became a compromise here and a compromise there….

I was compromising my peace of mind while clinging on to the unfulfilled promise of “it won’t happen again”

The wounds would heal and the physical pain would fade away…

But for a while the remnant of things spoken rode around on my train of thought…

And if I could have just done “this” and “that” differently, none of this would have happened…

Somehow I had triggered you and oftentimes I felt “trigger happy” because it seemed as if my mere existence triggered your anger and, at the very least, your hateful words…

What started off as something so exciting and new….

Became a compromise here and a compromise there…

Onlookers are generally quick to say “why don’t you just leave?” Yet they fail to realize that what started off as the whispering of “sweet nothings”…slowly shifted to screams that I “meant nothing” and you wanted “nothing” to do with me…

Yet like a dangling worm I had already been hooked and was tied to you by this unhealthy version of what he called love…

And I was clinging on to the unfulfilled promise of “it won’t happen again”…

I didn’t leave until I had reached my breaking point; once I had reached the point where I had broken free from the idea that things would be any different from the way that they were.

Once removed from the situation, I went to a domestic violence shelter and one of the residents told me something that really stuck with me. She told me “the way that he treated you was not okay”.

I eventually went to counseling and am very intentional about maintaining healthy boundaries in all of my relationships; but those nine words that she spoke to me, changed my entire perspective and ensured that I would never again enter into another abusive relationship…


Meet Tamara

I’m a pretty deep thinker and also very random. I am a storyteller and I love to draw you in so that you feel like you actually experienced it. Sometimes I rehash things from a comedic point of view, but I also like to give you a deep truth to meditate on. I am very passionate about making sure that people understand that they are loved and know their worth; I really dislike seeing people being mistreated or treated unfairly. I also strongly dislike when people are viewed solely through the lens of a label or stereotype. I am a lover of Jesus, people, random adventures, and laughter.

You can find more of Tamara’s work on her blog LadyTButterfly!

The Hard Way after 9 Months

I have now decided that I am a firm believer that boundaries can unlock freedom and creativity of the mind and spirit. If we were just handed everything, there would be no innovation, no struggle to find a better way, and no victory! Because people are unsatisfied with the way things were, we have so many great inventions, tools, businesses, technology, websites, and services. They learned the Hard way, and decided that they wanted to create a future that didn’t have to deal with the same hard realities, but would learn and discover new ways to improve and build. Those individuals wanted their ceiling to be our floor, and for countless people, it has been just that. However, while the general population seems to be quick to learn technology tricks and standards from the previous generations, we tend to forget the spiritual, emotional and relational battles that the generations before us have already fought. We find ourselves in the same positions as many who came before us, and often end up worse. Why is this?! 

We don’t let someone’s hard way become our easy way. We have to do it the hard way ourselves. Now some of this is human nature, I get it. We have to try and fail sometimes and eventually we learn what it takes to succeed and are better and stronger because of it. However, what if I actually listened to my mom or observed the way she grew and progressed emotionally and spiritually and set my floor at her ceiling? What if I stood on her shoulders instead of trying to look her in the eye? What if I used the wisdom she gained and applied it to my own life?

We do too much talking, instead of asking questions of our elders and listening! 

I’ve tried to do this more in the past week. Asking and listening. Learning and making wise, but necessary changes. It’s hard! 

While I have had my losses and victories of living the hard way the past 9 months, the question within me is this: how can I live a “hard way” lifestyle and still stay sane? 

I am reminded of the quote that we heard at the global leadership summit, “learn from everyone, live like no one.”

We can all learn from each other in some way, but none of us should try to copy the way another lives! For a while, I tried to live the hard way how someone else knew and described it. Now, I think I am finding my own hard way. What is yours? 

It’s our Anniversary! 

Brave Avenue was officially established on this day last year!!

I started this blog as a way to start living my Brave adventure inspite of obstacles and deep rooted fear. I wanted my daughter to have an example of a brave woman to learn from and hopefully be proud of one day. This year has been marked by incredible moments as well as challenging (growth) moments. We’ve read and shared stories from beautiful women. We’ve laughed and cried together. Someone once said it is powerful when women get together and I wholeheartedly agree.  New things are coming to close out 2016; thanks for staying with us.

In honor of our anniversary we are hosting a giveaway. Share your bravest moment of 2016 for a chance to win a Brave Avenue gift box!

1. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

2. Share your story and tag #braveavenue in your post. 

3. A winner will be chosen next week!

Be BRAVE with your life,

Candy 

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