As you can see this blog is getting a facelift. For the past 5 years, it has served as space for me to write about missions, motherhood, and life overseas. However, if I can be frank for a second, I hate blogging. I feel this pressure to be a mommy blogger with the mix of our lives as a TRA family living in West Africa but truth be told everytime I sit down to blog I feel like a fraud.

So I’m going to be changing that.  In June Rhoda Priscilla will have been in my custody for 3 years and coming this October I will be turning 25. The legal age in which I can file for a court hearing for a finalized adoption. As you can see it will be a busy year this on top of expanding and serving with Family First – Ghana life unexpected is about to get even more unexpected.

This blog will no longer be a place where I speak except for family/adoption updates and friendly interviews with people across the globe. In order to better organize my life and keep work and personal a bit more separate everything Family First – Ghana related will be moved to our website ( coming soon).


The Truth About Being A Black Girl Writer

Today for our Final Black History Month Guest Posting Series, Zakia Haughton will be sharing her experiences and influences as a black writer. You can find Zakia writing on her blog at

Influence… it’s something we all have and all have been affected by. It’s the friend who comes around whether we want it to or not. It’s the essence of life that moves us like a breeze or heavy wind, depending on the strength of the blow. What makes the difference is not merely how it’s delivered, but more so, how we use it.

As a Black Girl Writer, living in 21st Century America, it’s a beautiful time to be alive. Some may beg to differ, but the freedom we have to write without being jailed or imprisoned is definitely something to celebrate.

There was a time in our society, less than 100 years ago, where writing while black was revolutionary and even unlawful. Writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Amari Baraka, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, and many others paved the way for writers like me to have the opportunity to write freely and without apology.screen-shot-2017-02-27-at-11-24-52-am


To document our personal experiences of everyday life, our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and stories of our ancestors. To give a voice to the characters that exist both in and out of our heads. To share with the world our creative expression through the literary form of words. To bring those innermost kept thoughts a life form no one could deny or take a way. Their courage, persistence, and collaborative effort gave Black Writers like me the freedom to read what you’re ready at this very moment.

One of my favorite writers in history will always be Zora Neale Hurston. She was heavily associated with the era known as The Harlem Renaissance, which gave birth to some of the most artistic influencers in Black History. This was a time where ‘black creatives’ found a way to express their everyday experiences in forms of arts, such as writing, singing, dancing, and drawing. The Harlem Renaissance sparked a creative explosion in many urban, black communities across the U.S., which shed light on the Black experience in America in such a beautiful, artistic way.

Among many of others, there is one quote from Zora Neale Hurston that empowered me to become the writer I am today, and has had a major impact on my life as my writing journey continues to unfold. It goes a little something like this…

“I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it. Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more or less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” – Zora Neale Hurston, excerpt from Dust Tracks On A Dirt Road

This quote sings sweet melodies to my Soul when I hear it! I remember reading this novel late in middle school, shortly after discovering another amazing read of hers called “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and thinking to myself, “I want that kind of confidence… to be able to write with conviction, fearlessly in the face of opposition. To be able to express myself in the form of words without fear of judgment or rejection. To be able to share my experiences with the world and have a knowing deep down on the inside that my experience matters. Yeah, I want that.”

I remember saying this to myself as I sat in my bedroom, laying across my crisp, pink sheets, basking in the possibility that this experience I was reading, this feeling I was feeling, this thought I was thinking, could all be my reality.

Zora gave me the courage to write, unapologetically. She gave me the confidence to know that what I have to say matters and is worth getting out of my head onto paper. Her words showed me that I could be proud of my blackness and my creativity, and use it for good, regardless of the color of my skin. My ancestor, my not-so-distant mentor, my symbol strength and Black Girl Magic, my Zora… through reading her works of art, I became empowered. Not just empowered to write my experiences, but to live out the full expression of who I AM.


My prayer is that, through my creative expression of life, I continue Ms. Hurston’s legacy and empower other Black girls, and all girls really, to live the fullest expression of themselves through writing and many other art forms. To know that what you think, feel, and have to say all matter. To know that someone wants to hear your voice. To know that regardless of our skin color, we were born to be great and express ourselves in beautiful, artistic ways.

Writers, artists, and creatives alike, let’s do what Zora told us… let’s not live by this world’s standards. Instead, let’s create our own standard, hold our heads up high, stand strong, write with confidence, and continue to sharpen our knives and excel at our craft.

Be Courageously Creative,



A Teachers Perspective

** I asked my sweet friend rose to share her perspective as a black educator during Black History Month. She currently teaches at the elementary level is a lover of The Lord and dedicated to her serving her communities.

“Black History is American History.” Words neatly placed on the bulletin board filled with biographies of Historic African Americans shout “Here WE are”.  As a child, I can vividly recall the lack of bulletin boards celebrating Black History during February in my school. I can remember few school programs where my school recognized that Black History is American History. The belief that good things came from people who looked like me, was not something that was invested in me by the school but by my mother and father.picture1

I am an African American woman teaching in a low-income school with majority African and African American students. I knew that I always wanted to be an educator who not only told my students that they can make history but that they come from people who have paved a way of redeeming history for the African American. This history includes people who are educated, people who overcome and people that resisted. The many figures that remain misrepresented in textbooks or hidden altogether. I have 180 days with my students. Those days are filled with academics, depositing positive character traits, and affirming their identities and personalities. These days are also filled with me inviting my students to embrace our history.

See something sparked in me as a young child when my mother who was a Jamaican Immigrant shared with me that Black History did not start with slavery, did not end with the Civil Rights Movement and is still being made today. There are many injustices in education, one of the major injustices being that Black History is not held in the same regard as American History in Urban Schools. You see we love to push curriculum that states Christopher Columbus discovered the land that was already inhabited by Native Americans. This same curriculum teaches that Abraham Lincoln desired freedom for slaves and fought to emancipate them because it was the “right” thing to do. Yet I teach majority African and African American students but there is no push for me to teach them about the legacy they come from. There is no professional development on why there is a differentiation between Black History and American History. There is no desire to express why there is a need for a Black History Month. I embrace Black History Month in my classroom not because I believe we should only spend 28 days discussing our history.rose

I believe it is an opportune time to push the necessity of Black History not only to the students who look like me but to the majority Caucasian staff who do not. There is something empowering for my students when I share with them stories of Fredrick Douglass who taught himself to read or Garret Morgan who invented the traffic light. There is something redeeming when I explain to them that slaves did not just obey their masters. When I look them in the eyes and remind them that we come to school to learn because there was and still is a time where education was such a great weapon that they would have been denied access to. When I share with them the truth that they can be something greater than their environment or the low expectations society places upon. When I encourage them to look towards examples like Jackie Robinson, Susan E. Goode or Harriet Tubman.

You see the world is full of narratives, that allow the growing minds of my students to develop their sense of self-worth or opportunity to be a contributing member of society. I believe part of my role as an educator is to be diligent and mindful of the narratives I place in front of my students and the examples I encourage them to glean from. I also believe part of my role as an African American educator is to faithfully remind my students that great things come from people who look like them.teaching-photo

When we fail to expose our students to images of black excellence, black resistance, black confidence and black perseverance we embed in them ideologies that these things do not exist in their culture or are just moments of the past. As mentioned I have 180 days with my students. Those days are filled with academics, depositing positive character traits, and affirming their identities and personalities. These days are also filled with me inviting my students to embrace our history. History that did not start with slavery, did not end with the Civil Rights Movement and is still being made today.

Black History Means – Guest Post


Black History Means to Me

Black History Month (n.): an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora; also known as African-American History Month

February is nationally recognized as Black History Month, usually on the first day of the month, but as a whole, not much else happens. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the entire month for the amazing achievements those before us accomplished? I certainly think so!

When I think about what black history means to me, I think about what all my ancestors had to endure for me to get to where I am today. All the prejudice and discrimination, which many times led to violent actions taken against them. All the fighting they had to do: physically, emotionally, and mentally. They worked so hard for equality, and we are still nowhere near their dreams.

When I think about what black history means to me, I think about how I could never have the strength or courage to do what my ancestors did. I think about how they fought so future generations could be viewed as equals, and obtain the same opportunities. I think about how much I have to thank them for.

To me, the meaning of black history cannot be summed up in one word, or even a phrase. I definitely will not do it justice, in what it means to me. In truth, it means so much more.


Screen Shot 2017-02-16 at 7.40.56 PM.pngBlack history means pain.

Black history means strength.

Black history means courage.

Black history means suffering.

Black history means intelligence.

Black history means fear.

Black history means inspiration.


Black history means so many different things to so many different people. I believe it should be appreciated significantly more than it is, for in today’s society, it’s so easy to be made to feel ashamed for your skin color, or to feel misunderstood by the majority; however, people {including myself} need to remember that we are more than the color of our skin. We are more than the hair on our heads. We consist of the thoughts of our minds, the character of our souls, and the genuineness of our hearts. Our ancestors fought so hard to make that possible.



About Larissa

Larissa loves to travel and document her journeys on her blog. Her ultimate goal is to become a citizen of the world. She loves experiences new places, people and cultures. You can find her at the links below. 

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Why We Should Still Celebrate Black History Month

“Are you going to help me plan something for Black History Month?”  My way too excited co-worker asked.  To be honest, I was less than enthused.  It hadn’t been celebrated by the office in a couple years and then it was met with resistance.

“I’ll think about it,” I promised.

Actually, I didn’t have any plans for this February.  There was a time when my February was packed with Black History activities, such as lectures, films, and parades.   I was sure to attend at least one that included the food from the south, such as savory collard greens, candied sweet potatoes and crispy fried chicken.    However, I seemed to have lost steam.  I would blame it on having three children, but I should be doing more because of the children.  

Then a friend told me about the movie Hidden Figures.   She promised that it was excellent, but I still wanted to wait until it came to Netflix


“No,” she insisted over the phone, “Don’t wait.  Let me tell you what happened with my daughter.”   Her daughter is a nine-year-old African American.  She lowered her voice and sounded as if she was going to reveal some magic.  “The first time she took the MAP (school standardized tests),  she tested on grade level.”

“Fine.” I said.

“Okay, a few months later, we went to see Hidden Figures and she was mesmerized by it.   When we got home, she wanted to practice her math. She even said that she wanted to be a mathematician.”

“That’s nice.”   But I’m not swayed to spend 8 bucks a ticket.  

“So, she took the next round of MAP,” she continued, “And she tested 2 grade levels higher in math and 4 in reading.  I asked her what’s changed?  She said Hidden Figures.”

I spend a minute thinking about this.  As a clinician, I know that our thoughts are powerful.  As a Christian, I know that the Scripture says “as a man thinketh in his heart, he is.”  

“We’re going next week.”  I declared.



My oldest daughter is 11 years old and she is the complete package whether she believes it or not, but she tends to be unmotivated. I’m afraid that she is going to be the girl in back of a college lecture hall, chanting “C’s make degrees.”  In the  3rd and 4th grade, she loved math and science.  After she entered the 5th grade, something shifted and now she says that it is too hard.  So, I am hoping that she gets a whiff of magic.  

It was a Sunday and we settled in to watch Hidden Figures which stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Butler, and Janelle Monae.  The movie is brilliant in every way.  There were times the whole theater broke into cheers and times that we were hushed with pain.   It is the story of three African American women who worked as computers for NASA during the first space orbit.  The story centers around Katherine Johnson, who assisted with calculations for first USA orbit and later with the moon landing.  While I was engrossed in the movie, it did not escape me that my daughter was enjoying eating and paying attention to the people in the theater.  

On the car ride home, we broke down the experience but not in the same way.  

I wanted to discuss how the times have changed.  “Did you see how African Americans couldn’t use the public library?”

She wanted to discuss the people in the theatre who kept yelling at the screen.

I wanted to discuss how Mary Johnson wasn’t just discriminated against because she was African-American, but also because she was a woman.

She wanted to discuss, the lady seated in front of us with the mac and cheese.

I wanted to discuss how the women held on to themselves.  Every day they worked with people who didn’t believe they were competent, but they encouraged each other and didn’t allow it to seep into their souls.

She wanted to discuss how good the nachos tasted.


Oh well, at least we had mother-daughter time.   There was a pause as we rode in silence and then the clouds parted.

“I think that I want to be an engineer.  Do you think that I can be one?”

“Yes, I know that you can.”

She had found her inspiration.


Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 10.53.43 AM.png
The Real Hidden Figures




Nichole Gause is a lot of things, but most importantly she is a wife, mama, and a child of God.   Her blog is the More Abundant Life can be found at

Octavia Butler and I

Melanie joins us today writing on the way Octavia Butler has influenced her own creative life. Melanie is a New England Born blogger, Speculative Fiction writer, and Mixed Lesbian who often includes LGBT and Black themes in her work and blog. You can find her at Eclectic Little Dork  . All writing in this post is the opinion and creative talents of Melanie.


I’ve been an avid reader ever since I learned to read as a young girl. I’ve devoured books with large page counts in a single day, only getting up to eat and use the bathroom because I was so caught up in what I was reading. And in my reading travels, I discovered everything from the classics like Jane Austen and H.G. Wells to modern writers such as Julie Anne Peters, Nnedi Okorafor, and The Grand Dame of Science Fiction, Octavia E. Butler.

I’ve also devoured a lot of different poetry during my reading travels, including Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Tupac Shakur (Yes, he was both a poet and a fairly controversial rapper during his life. And yes his work is very, very good. I suggest finding some if you can.), Emily Dickinson, and many others.

All of this while trying to find being Black means to me as a Mixed/Black woman and as a woman on the LGBT+ spectrum of romantic and sexual orientation. And, since around the age of 12 or 13, what that meant for my desire to be a writer.

Of these many influences, the most important in my eyes is the Grand Dame of Science Fiction and award-winning author, Octavia Butler (1947-2006).


Butler wrote about racism and what it meant to be Black, had an interestingly almost most terse style that was still highly descriptive and evocative, and some of her work is even considered Literary Fiction in some crowds rather than Science Fiction. I won’t go into the last thing except to say that I feel ignoring her work as Science Fiction misses the point, and serves to limit fiction written by Black people instead of allowing what we write, no matter our nationality, to reflect the diversity allowed in work by writers who aren’t considered POC (People of Color or those who are not white.). If anything, I would categorise her writing as Literary Science Fiction, because it fosters that connection between the Literary Fiction and what her work was and is sold as mostly, Science Fiction.

I’ve read, was, and continue to be influenced by many writers. But reading Butler at 24, I’m now coming up on my 26th birthday this month, was a sort of revelation. Within reading the first book I ever read by her, Dawn, the first in her Lilith’s Brood or Xenogenesis novels, I learned the following:

  • Science Fiction writers can have very to the point writing, choosing each word to build the overall picture and help the reader see what the writer is trying to get across.
  • The story is the most important thing. Especially dealing with something that matters to you, like being Black and LGBT in my case, in order to get readers on board with your work.
  • Writing about what matters to you is how to make dealing with tough issues, and things like writing concise and evocative prose easier to write.

All or some of these may seem obvious, but a lot of societies, especially society in the US, is often straight and when not focused on straight people, white Christian focused to the point that many budding writers have trouble writing about people like them. That may be Black, Latino, Asian, Muslim, LGBT+, disabled or not, or any combination of those things. Because what we see is White characters as the norm unless the writer mentions otherwise, and sometimes even when the writer does say otherwise. Look up the issues people had with Rue in the Hunger Games movies despite her descriptions in the book series.

And while I certainly knew that I wanted to focus on Black LGBT+ characters in my own work, maybe adding other POC characters as main characters later on. How much I not only wanted but needed to do that in order for my writing to flourish the way I wanted my writing to flourish hadn’t quite clicked yet. I had finished or made progress on a lot of fairly smaller projects, including a Gothic Horror novel that featured an interracial Lesbian relationship in the early 20th century; a Fantasy story featuring a lesbian relationship; and a modern Horror story featuring an interracial/interspecies lesbian relationship between a demon who looked white and a Black woman. All of which were among my favourites.

But still, something had been missing until I read that novel, and later, the entire series. I had been writing the characters that mattered to me and about things that mattered to me but hadn’t quite dedicated myself to including characters like that in every story I wrote. Odd though it is, you could say that Octavia Butler and the novel Dawn opened my eyes to how important that is for me as a writer. Cementing in my mind that I, like any good writer hope to reach a wide audience, but ultimately had to write for myself as a Black woman and as an LGBT+ woman. And to a smaller extent, felt and still feel a desire to help people see that living at the intersection of two or more identities is not only normal but makes for interesting stories.

If you would like to support Melanie’s writing please head to her  blog and read her posts. I often talk about race and/or orientation in one form or another. I also Tweet about writing and Bullet Journals and have an Instagram account where I post mainly Bullet JournalⓇ related pictures.


If you are interested in contributing during Black History Month please contact me


The Reward

I held him close to my chest and  rocked him back and forth until his little body fell asleep. I woke up for  injections,  feedings,  diaper changes and doctor reviews. For 6 nights I slept with Little J in the muggy small ICU at the Children’s Hospital. Tired, frustrated and sweating, I was mad that we had no answers and every breath he took was painful. After 2 Weeks in admission, Rebecca, Lauren and myself  loved him so tenderly in our own home. My girls loved having a baby in the house, they would coo and laugh as he made some pretty funny faces. We loved his squirmy, squishy body through all the tears, poopy diapers and medicine. We loved that tiny boy as hard as we could. We brought him to his first cardiology appointment and he was declared terminally ill. Thats  whenwe  knew his time with us was purposeful but not unlimited.


{ I’ve been told these words so many times. In village hospitals, city hospitals and even in a US hospital. I’ve been told “no other options” so many times it plays on repeat in my head.  This year I’ve held the sick in my arms until their last breath. I’ve tried to restart hearts, rush them to the hospital and i’ve sat in small clinics watching them walk to their savior all for different reasons.  Each time humbling, each time painful but each time i’ve been reminded that death is not the punishment its the reward. Its the biggest reward for those broken bodies to be ultimately healed as they are welcomed at the gates of heaven for the biggest eternal celebration yet. }


After his cardiology appointment we began managing his heart  as carefully as possible. After 1 1/2 weeks in our big white house, Lauren and myself brought Justice and my daughter Priscilla back for what we so ignorantly thought would be a quick trip to see our favorite pediatrician for a small check-up and maybe a dosage of antibiotics. The pediatrician looked up after checking on them both and said ” I don’t want to, but we are going to have to admit both children.” Lauren looked at me and I looked at her and the tiny humans in that room and we laughed because yet again our plans to go home and make BBQ pizza were obliterated. I cried because I knew things were gonna be hard with P having Malaria and J being on admittance. So we walked to be admitted and I prayed that this would end soon. I prayed that Justice and P would be healed soon so we could go home. I had no idea how we were going to manage this much. I also had no idea J was going home to be with Jesus. 

12 hours later things took a downward turn . J was uncomfortable and every breath became harder and harder.

12 hours later he was transferred to Komfe Anokye Teaching Hospital in hopes of improvement. We discussed the logistics of transferring him. I held him in my arms, kissed him and told him I loved him. I held him close to my chest and felt his soft little head against my face. I prayed Jesus would heal him quickly and he would be more comfortable.

Just like that 17 hours later his broken body was healed and he met Jesus at the best celebration imaginable. Doctors told us our time was limited with J on earth. We were told surgery was not an option. We knew going into this that we wouldn’t hold J for as long as we wanted. We knew though each step of the way Jesus was holding him and us as he called us to this painful path. We knew what we were signing up for when Justice walked into our lives, however the pain of his death will forever leave a mark on my heart. I know death is the reward but sometimes it sure doesn’t feel like a reward for us left behind on earth.

J dance with Jesus, Sing and shout you are healed, you are whole and you are home. We love you and miss you in our hearts but we are so thankful for the time we got to spend with you on earth. May we met again in the presence of the ultimate physician.

With Love,

Auntie M


Yesterday Friday August 7th we laid Baby J to rest. In a small ceremony we grieved as we said our final goodbyes to this precious little boy. 7 days from yesterday he passed and exactly a month from yesterday he came to our home. Please keep praying for our families as we mourn him on this earth and rejoice with us as he is with his saviour.