Friday, December 30, 2011

New things coming

So, since the blog is a place where people close to me read up on things in my life I thought I would make a quick announcement. I am going to be an Aunt for the 5th and 6th times. Hilliary is pregnant with her second child due in July and Brittany with her 3rd child in August. I have been an Aunt since November 10, 2007 when my nephew Isaiah was born. Just 13 days later, Jesus took him home in a car accident that also took my step-mom. It was really hard when that happened and God blessed us so richly when he brought Shawn on May 12, 2009. I thought since they are such a huge part of my life, I would devote an entire post to my loveys! Here it is

Shawn: Shawn Christoper Lee was born on May 12, 2009 right after Mother's Day. He is a true miracle as we were never really sure Hilliary would be able to have children. He was born just 3 days after I received my Masters Degree so I wasn't able to be in Indiana to see him born. I wasn't able to get home until 5 months later actually and although we officially met when he was almost 5 months old, we are thick as thieves. Shawn immediately got very interested in things and he started with Finding Nemo. Even just a few months old, he would stare at the TV screen and watch it for hours. That was later replaced by hot wheels and Toy Story and now you can't drag him away from his various superheros! He is a hoot! He is so funny and although had some hearing issues that made speech come later, he is starting to talk quite a bit. He is absolutely fantastic and is really enjoying visiting Aunt Erica upstairs from his own house. I get to see him a lot and my life is totally full because of it.

Kaylea: Kaylea Hope Isabella Hughett was born on October 2, 2009. I was able to be there at the hospital and see her just minutes after her arrival by C-section. She is my younger sister, Brittany's first child. She is named after My mom, me, and Hilliary in that she has all of our middle names. My mom's is Kay, mine is Lea, and Hilliary's is Hope. Kaylea was bright right out of the womb. She started speaking at 6 months and could tell you full stories now. She is really big into Tinkerbell, Megamind, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs and Justin Beiber. Yes, that's right...JB. She sings "Baby Oh" and has all sorts of excitement as soon as he is on the screen. She likes to go to Keka's (Aunt Erica's) and Big Guy's (Anthony's) House and see Niky Niky (our cat Nika) and loves to go Shopping. She takes after her aunt there. She looks exactly like her mama and is so genuinely sweet and kind. She is one of my favorite things in life.

Madelyn: Madelyn Mae Marie Chastain was born on August 27, 2011 the same exact day I had enough of missing them and we drove our U-Haul truck into Indiana. She was born that morning and I was there to see her by evening. She looks just like her daddy, Dale and she has a full head of dark hair where as her big sister is a blonde! She is cute and cuddly and has huge cheeks. She is not really into anything yet since she is only 4 months old but she is fantastic and cute and is starting to laugh and smile a lot. She is going to be a great sister!

New Baby # 1: Hilliary's new little guy or girl is due in July and it will be fun to be around for every moment this time

New Baby #2: Brittany's little guy or girl is due in August and again, so much fun to be around!

I love my babies and thought, it would be nice to give them a talking about today! They are just the sweetest things on Earth

--Aunt Erica :) --

Thursday, December 22, 2011

4 months in

I noticed that I have been updating the blog on our time here in Indiana every month so I thought I would do our 4 month update. We have been having a pretty easy time in adjusting to the Indiana way of life. Anthony is loving his job and the people he works with are super-nice and easy to enjoy. I have been taking more and more tutoring clients by the day and I am enjoying helping all of the kids. I had our first event at our house on December 8th when I had a Simply Said party at my house. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to be able to have people at our place and entertain a bit. On December 17th we had our close friends over to celebrate Anthony's 31st birthday. We had a blast and it was a great blessing to spend it with close friends.

We also hosted Thanksgiving at our house and will be hosting Christmas in just a few days. We are excited to have my sister, her husband, my nephew and my mom over for Christmas dinner and we are spending Christmas Eve with my dad and family. It should be pretty fun and such a blessing to be with my family finally after 9 full years of not being with them. Anthony is really hoping for some snow but so far, nothing.

The new year is hopefully going to bring all sorts of things. Anthony will most likely be starting college, I will be getting my associates number and deciding how to proceed in the mental health field here in Indiana, and we will be getting my car and our stuff out of storage in California and paying Anthony's car off!!! There are all sorts of good things coming in 2012. We hope you are well and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Envy and Jealousy

Today I am dealing with some painful things and one of those is Envy/Jealousy. I really like to look at definitions because 1.) I am extremely nerdy and love my vocabulary to be exact and 2.) I think if you know what you are dealing with, you can name it when you pray about it. So, here are the definitions of the two.

Envy/Jealousy: A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck. (N.)

Now, here is what God says about it ( just a little bit of what He says)

James 3:16 -- For where Jealousy and Selfish-ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

James 4:2-3 -- You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

1 Corinthians 3:3 -- For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way.

These are just a few verses in the Bible about jealousy/envy. These are painful things for me to admit to but this is my sin of choice. Some people really enjoy drinking to excess, some people are lustful in their hearts, some struggle with anger...mine is jealousy and envy.

After reading these verses, it was funny because a lady walked into Starbucks with a beautiful new baby and I just winced in pain because this is what God is dealing with me on currently. I am jealous of people I know and love, people I have no knowledge of, and people that are so far removed from me it is silly. If I take a gander over my whole life, I can see that this pattern existed a bit before but has become noticeably stronger since 2009. I know that there is a desire in my heart that has not yet been realized but I want this problem to go away. I want to be faithful enough to God to stop feeling this way while my desire has not been reached.

I also know (as a Therapist) that these feelings are healthy and real and I won't stop acknowledging them. I know that it is "normal" to feel this way when you have gone through a loss or a time of longing and things are not coming to pass. I know that this is a reasonable and explainable and even understandable way to feel. I feel compassion for others who feel this way and can empathize deeply with their heart. I also feel convicted, angry at myself, and in pain and these are things I want to be done with.

Sometimes my therapeutic self and my faith become enemies and I have to figure out where I stand on something. However, when I dig deep and think about how it feels to be angry or resentful or spiteful or jealous...I know that those are not good for my spirit or my mind. It is my job to pray about this problem and give it to God daily for the betterment of my relationship with Him as well as with myself and others.

I just had to put this out there today. I am going through a lot and I wish it would just go away. I wish I would just be able to rejoice with those who rejoice. This makes me feel like a rotten person and I don't want to feel that way. I want to be happy, truly happy without regard to other's lives. God, please take this nasty feeling out of me.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What part of speech are your resolutions?

Resolution: A firm decision to do, or not to do something. Synonyms: Decision, determination, resolve, solution.

Today when I decided to start talking about 2012's New Year's Resolutions, I looked up the word Resolution on I immediately noticed the second word of the definition; Firm. So, since I was going that far, I looked up the word Firm. This is what I found:

Firm: Having a solid, almost unyielding surface or structure (Adj). To make something physically solid or resilient (V). In a resolute and determined manner (Adv)

I tutor a lot and one of the topics that gets worked on frequently is Parts of Speech. I always make sure we spend plenty of time on this topic because constructing great strong sentences requires using all parts of speech. I think that creating really great resolutions are going to require all of the parts of speech of the word FIRM for me.

I am one of those people who really likes resolutions and start overs. I am very into the proverbial "Mulligan!" For those of you who are not aware...

Mulligan: (In Golf) An extra stroke allowed after a poor shot, not counted on the scoreboard.

Each year, I find New Years exhilarating as it is a chance to do over some things, get an extra stroke or two, and possibly fix some things so they don't count on the scoreboard. I think we all try to better ourselves with our resolutions and taking them seriously is not always that easy. I have done a number of things over the years to try to get myself to achieve more resolutions. I made 50-100 one year and just gave myself credit for ANY of them reached. I believe I reached 25 or so that year. Not too shabby! I have made a few really general ones in hopes that I would achieve them all and that year, I was incredibly unsuccessful.

I don't think there is any one way to create resolutions or any right answer to the things that we need to change in our lives in the New Year. I am still a firm believer in resolutions because it is a challenge to better oneself and no matter what date you choose to start something, that is always a admirable goal. I am happy to report, as I look back over the life of the blog and the resolutions I have set in the past, many are achieved and many of my personality flaws have been sharpened and worked on and yet...I am so far from done. Every day that I am given is an opportunity to create a better and more productive person.

This year, I thought I would start a bit early working on the goal of creating some meaningful resolutions and some solid things that I can commit to in my 32nd year, 2012. (Brief pause to grieve that I am 32 this year)

Just in case you want a method to my madness, I am sharing the way that I write my resolutions each year in hopes that it will inspire you to make changes of your own and invest in your own life. Here is my process:

Step #1: Outline priorities.

The first thing I do in choosing my resolutions is to make a quick and easy priority list. Here is mine for reference:

1. My relationship with Jesus Christ
2. My Health -- Hence my relationship with me
3. My relationship with Anthony James Lewis
4. My other relationships (Family, Friends, etc...)
5. My career/work
6. My hobbies/interests
7. My flaws/weaknesses
8. My home/environment
9. My long term goals/dreams
10. Enjoyment of life in general

This is just a very general and rough outline of the things that matter to me in my life. They are semi in order with the top 3 being certain. Onto step 2.

Step #2: Write three solid goals for each priority

1. My relationship with Jesus Christ

-- Develop a consistent quiet time with the Lord each day.
-- Find and attend a body of believers in Indiana that Anthony & I both feel comfortable in and can minister through and be ministered to.
-- Develop spiritual disciplines of prayer, bible reading, rest, silence, etc... to a further degree than they are at now.

2. My Health -- Hence my relationship with me.

-- Get Hemoglobin A1C score down to a 7 on average each three months of the year.
--Develop discipline of moving my body in purposeful exercise at least 3 times per week on a regular basis.
-- Develop discipline of getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep per day.

3. My relationship with Anthony James Lewis.

--Have at least one date day per week where we get 3-4 hours of ALONE time with no family, cell phones, etc... interrupting
-- Develop the discipline of the debriefing time at the end of the night that includes prayer, devotional and just talking through our days.
--Make a concerted effort to speak sweetly and treat him with polite attitude and appropriate respect. (This one is huge every single day and it could always get better)

4. My other relationships (Family, Friends, etc...)

-- Spend at least 1 hour per week with my nieces and nephew and pay complete attention to them (not looking at cell phone, watching tv, etc...)
-- Be in better communication with friends by writing letters, emails, sending cards, and returning texts and phone calls in a timely manner.
-- Be aware of friends/family needs and commit to daily prayer time toward those relationships.

5. My career/work

-- Keep planner updated and work hard to not overbook my time but to be conscientious of mine and other's time.
-- Maintain paperwork and keep up to date for contracts, invoicing, and parent feedback forms.
-- Get associates # in Indiana in 2012 and begin getting hours for licensure in the state of Indiana.

6. My Hobbies/Interests

-- Get craft room entirely put together including table, shelving, and supplies in an organizational system.
--Finish Shawn's 1st year scrapbook by the end of 2012 and begin Kaylea's and Maddie's at the very least.
-- Create a reading list for 2012 for pleasure and read, read, and read some more.

7. My flaws/weaknesses

-- Figure out new boundaries and limits for relationships within Indiana and how that has changed from California.
--Do my best to take all Diabetic Medications, attend all medical appointments, and take all required vitamins
-- Stay organized and work each week to prepare for new work week and manage time schedule.

8. My home/environment

-- Make effort to get entirely moved in and unwanted items purged by March 2012
-- Get items out of storage in California and gone through to eliminate excess stuff.
-- Organize storage in a productive way

9. My long term goals/dreams

-- Begin savings account to work on down payment for house.
-- Pay of at least 20% of debt by the end of 2012.
-- Create savings/college fund for child (whenever that happens)

10. Enjoyment of life in general

-- Go on one Erica date per month
-- Make time to do at least 2-4 hours of pleasure only time each week (reading, crafting, movies, etc...)
-- Do a thankfulness journal each day of 2012 so I can acknowledge my blessings

This is my process each year to writing my resolutions. I pray that this year can be successful and that you are able to meet all of your 2012 goals! :)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Giving Back

Lately I have felt very passionate about trying to work on an area of my life that needs some dedication. I need to do more things that are R.A.O.K. These things are random acts of kindness. The kinds of acts I am talking about is when you do something for someone and you don't sign your name or claim your act. These things show the fruits of the spirit so much and yet your reward is entirely from God and your own heart. This is an exercise I have been trying to do for the month of December and I had some things to share with you about what I have learned through the experience so far.

I won't tell you what acts I have already done or for whom because that would totally defeat the purpose but I thought I would share with you what God has been speaking to my heart through this experience. Here are some learning experiences that have been popping up:

Learning #1: People need random acts of kindness:

This world is harsh. Just when you get your feet underneath you sometimes, the carpet is pulled out from under you. People die on holidays...children get born with illnesses and leave Earth far too soon, jobs are outsourced and you seem to run through savings in minutes, unemployment is at a high, cars break at the worst possible times, husbands leave wives and wives leave husbands for no other reason but pure selfishness! Because we live in a fallen world, horrible things happen. People take their own lives and leave behind shattered hearts, people abuse drugs and hurt their family members, women carry babies inside them for 9 months and they are born dead. These are reasons to put your hand out to those around you and give! You have no idea what the person behind you in Starbucks has gone through, so pay for their drink and maybe give them hope in life again.

Learning #2: Sometimes it is hard to even come up with dental floss

There are times in our financial lives when the chips fall all at once. There are those times when you go into the bathroom and realize that you are out of floss and start to cry because buying dental floss sounds like an expensive item. Sometimes just being able to put your hand out and give someone a basket of household products that you have extra of is such a blessing to them that it helps them get through the month.

Learning #3: There is always someone worse off than you

I know that with the last couple of years of bad things in the economy and job market, it is has been hard to think outside of your own problems. Anthony lost his job in Feb. of 2010 and was unemployed for a full 9 months which felt like 9 years. He frantically searched for a job the same amount of time each day that he would be working at a job and yet NOTHING. I remember that, and in those times, felt like helping someone else would be a joke but I remember us helping a person out in a situation that was almost scary to us to do and over and in abundance God took care of us. Within one week of that event, Anthony was hired at Starbucks. I really don't believe that it was a coincidence. Sometimes looking outside of yourself helps you find solutions and more importantly perspective when it is most needed.

So far, this is what has been coming to me as I step out and try to find ways to give to those around me. I pray that each of you going through something hard will have someone reach out and that in turn, you might reach out too!


Saturday, December 03, 2011


Lately I have noticed a really ugly trend among people that I know. Since this is "The United RANTS of Erica," here I go. I have noticed lately that a lot of people I know really wish things were always handed to them and to go beyond wishing that, they also EXPECT it. I mean, if I am going to be real, I would really like it if I did not have to work to pay my bills, did not have to clean the dishes to eat off of them, did not have to wash my clothes to have something to wear, did not have to shop to have groceries fill up my pantry and fridge, and did not have to work to have a happy marriage. Everyone wishes these things, but the facts are....we have to do them or we do without those things.

On top of that, some of us have things that are even harder to cope with. For me, a diagnosis of diabetes so that means to even breathe, I have to stick myself with a needle 5 times a day and stick my fingers just as much! For others, infertility where the time to "try" to have a child is not even close to their biggest issue. They have to fight to try to make a baby with a person they love. Others have the issue of not having the legal right to marry the person they love and care for. These are things that a lot of us take for granted.

I am talking about the people today that literally think that everything should be handed to them on a silver platter and everything should be easy or they quit. Just like with my last few posts, there is not a person in particular I am speaking about but a vast amount of people. Just a good example from someone I do not know in the least....

I was in Wal-mart yesterday because here in the Midwest, that is what we do with our free time. I was going in to grab a few items I had great coupons for. Just a plug, got 10 Oral B dental flosses for like $2.00 :) So, I was standing in the oral hygiene aisle minding my own couponing business and trying to make sure I had all of my ducks in a row when a lady interrupted me and said this. "I don't mean to bother you or interrupt your shopping, but I see you have a binder full of coupons. Where do you find your coupons?" This was an innocent enough question and although I really like my alone time in couponing, I decided to answer. I told her that I get all of my coupons either online, through products and services, or in the Sunday Paper. She then extended her questioning to ask how I get things so cheaply, how do you get overage back, and yadda yadda yadda. I spent the better part of 20 minutes teaching this woman how to coupon when she then responds to me by saying "That is too much work. I would rather just pay high prices" and then she began to rant about how she could not afford groceries or hygiene items because they are too expensive.

Now, I am not a perfect person who never complains about the price of gas or thinks that the price of those french fried onion things are too much for what my husband calls "Onion dust" but...come on people!!! First of all, she felt that she was entitled to ask me a billion questions and then speak of what I do as if it was a waste of time...yet...she also wanted to complain about the price of items she buys everyday. If you don't like something, do something about it. I do couponing because I don't like paying $3.00 for hand soap. I clip a few coupons, read a blog or two and I pay pennies on that $3.00.

Here is another part of this entitlement issue. The facts are, I am happily married. Because I am happily married, I hear a lot of bitterness. I hear people say things like this to me "Must be nice to be married to Mr. Perfect" or "Must be nice to have a husband that does and says nice things." I get so annoyed by these phrases that I just want to yell "IT SURE IS!" Now, if you are one of these people who has bitterness in your heart for how you have been treated by a man or if you are still looking for Mr. Right and it is hard to be happy for others, I need you to hear something. I need you to hear this....I work hard to be happily married. I think of my husband before I think of myself. I pray for him daily. We pray together. We have arguments and disagreements but we fight hard to be kind and respectful to each other in the midst of them. I have been through heartbreak before meeting Anthony too and I made decisions that were difficult to get to him.

I still have to wash dishes and clean up his socks and underwear off of the floor. It is still marriage and marriage is difficult when it is easy. I will be the first one to say that my husband is soooo easy to love. However, I get some credit for this because I did not choose to marry someone that I didn't know, didn't respect, and who was a complete idiot. I dated Anthony, I got to know him, I sorted through his assorted issues joined with mine and decided to vow forever. Every single day of marriage is work. Granted, it is work that I love doing but before you say something starting with the phrase "It must be nice...." realize that I put myself in a position to be successful in marriage. I chose a respectful, honest, caring person and I bust my backside to treat him right as he does me. We can all fail...we can all succeed. I should say, this is obviously not pertaining to situations involving abuse...that is the abusers fault...100%!!!

Now onto it is plain and simple. You don't work, you don't eat. There are very few situations in life that are not a decision or choice. Those things are abuse, disease, etc...Some things just happen to you and then the choice comes with how you deal with them. As for this topic, it makes absolutely no sense to me to sit and complain about not having money or not having security or items if you choose not to work. I realize that some do not choose unemployment. Some can't find suitable jobs and some are disabled. These are not the people I am talking about. We all choose a certain path in life. Some of us get out of high school and go straight into a job that makes us enough to survive and we are fine with that. Some of us choose to be stay at home moms and dads and some of us go the college route and choose to be career minded and put the building of family second.

These choices all culminate into how your life works out. If you make a choice, own it. If you choose to stay home and not work, you choose to have that amount of money less. I am not speaking about one income families here...I am speaking of no income families. If you choose to have X amount of children, you choose those diapers, meals, toys, dr visits, etc... I see nothing wrong with the choices people make for themselves, I think I am just sick of people thinking that they can make a choice and have the benefits of making a different choice. I hope I am making myself clear on what I am actually ranting about here. Here is a really simple life example:

If you choose to use Colgate toothpaste and the box says the benefits are Whiter Teeth and Less Tartar, don't get mad because you didn't get the benefits of stronger enamel that the Crest is supposed to give you! If you wanted those benefits, BUY THE CREST!!!!

That is a really simple way to say, when you want need to go and get it. It isn't someone else's job to swallow your pill to make your cholesterol go down. It isn't someone else's job to do your homework for your college education. I think it is high time that we as humans begin to take ownership of the choices we make every single day and the choices we don't make.

I did not choose to go to med school, therefore I don't make doctor money. I choose to spend time on coupons, therefore I save money. I choose to work my butt off every day of the week, therefore my bills get paid on time. They might be just on time, but they are paid. This message is not for those of you out there that try your hardest and still meet bad times. It is about the entitled, the spoiled, the rotten, the bitter. For some reason, this has been on my heart.

I should shut up now.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Some more racial ranting, the good kind!

Yesterday when I wrote the post "The Black Elephant in the Room" I never imagined that it would receive so much praise and so much attention. I wrote it to get things off my chest and if a few people read it, great. If they didn't, that was okay with me too. My blog has always been the place that I really let myself go and allow all of my thoughts and feelings to trickle out. Sometimes, I even say more to my blog, than to my closest friends. Yesterday I covered a few irritations of being in a biracial relationship and how others treat me in my marriage and cause hurt and pain.

Today, I decided to take a different point of view and point out just a few of the amazing blessings of being in a biracial relationship.

Blessing #1: The children in my life are approached with diversity.

I have a lot of children in my life. I have my friend's kids who I adore, my nieces and nephew who I can't get enough of, and many kids that I tutor on a regular basis. These kids, for the most part, have all met Anthony. They all love him and admire him. I don't know how you could not love him and admire him if you know him at all. These kids, who otherwise may never know a person of color personally, have gotten to know Anthony and are faced with a real version of someone instead of a stereotype right out of the gate. Many of these kids are very young and that is a great time for them to form the ability to judge someone not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character!

Blessing #2: I get to be happy!

One of the things that has been true about me for longer than I remember and passed down to me for years is that I have always been attracted to people darker skinned than myself. (Which I should note, includes a lot of people since I am the hue of Elmer's Glue) As a little girl, I would only allow my mom to buy me black baby dolls and all of my Barbies were the "Malibu" edition which is another way of saying "A Barbie of Color." I loved all things in black culture. I preferred R&B music, Black Comedy movies, and always thought that the black guys in school were clearly the hottest! :) That is just who I am. Since that is true, it would hardly have been profitable for me or a white man to date or be married because my attraction level would have been low at best. We all prefer something in the people we date whether it is long hair/short hair, blonde or brunette, tall or short, skinny or curvy, etc... I preferred dark skin. I still prefer dark skin. I am not ashamed of this, I am not sad about this. I am happy. I look at my husband and am more attracted to him daily. I almost can't wait for his salt & pepper hair as he gets older. I love that man with everything in me but it doesn't hurt that I think that he is the finest thing that has ever been made either! :)

Blessing #3: The culture I get to be a part of

There is a whole culture out there of people who are married and in biracial relationships. We understand each other, we support each other, and we cheer each other on in the face of roadblocks. I am so lucky in that my family has always supported everything I have ever done but some are not so lucky. Some families do not approve of their children marrying outside of their racial identity and some even disown their children for these choices. I was raised in a family who not only taught me to be tolerant of other's physical differences but also their differences of sexual orientation, lifestyle, religion, politics, and socioeconomic status. I was never a bully and gladly, never really bullied either. There is a whole culture of those of us who fell in love with someone who looks different than us by skin color but treat us like we should be treated. I am happy to be a part of that group of people. This includes all of you who are reading this who are my friends (Sophia, Paula, Susan, etc...)

Blessing #4: Anthony James Lewis

There is no other man for me in the world. This one was ordained by Jesus Christ to be my husband and it turns out he is black! Those are the facts and those facts are blessings

I hope that you all have a great day and let's be honest....I have a lot more of the negative ranting to do but....I wanted to rant in a good way today.

P.S. If any of you who are with me on this stuff want to guest post for me and write about your experience of being a part of a biracial marriage, I would love to have you! It's always good to get different viewpoints on where we can grow as humans

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." -- Martin Luther King, Jr. (I have a dream speech)