“Imagine Me”/”Flaws And All”

Scrolling down my Facebookwall today, I have seen the same picture over and over again.  It is a post baby pic of Kim Kardashin in an ill fitting white bathing suit. I know many of you have seen it as well because it seems every form of media has posted it or is talking about it.  While I admire how quickly she has been able to shed her baby weight and return to her beautiful curvy figure, I can’t help but think about the sabbatical we have had for the past 10-12 months not having to be bombarded by pics of her on  instagram in varying states of undress, and how much I have enjoyed it. She is a beautiful women but geesh! Scrolling further along, I see an article about a young girl that was found in the middle of her crowded high school cafeteria giving oral sex to another male student.  Though these articles would seem to be two unrelated stories, they sadly are very much the same.

I have to admit, throughout my childhood and my teens I didn’t love myself. I liked myself, but I didn’t love myself.  I had body issues, hair issues, daddy issues, clothes, money, boys; all the issues that come with growing up a little brown girl under the California sun.  I really didn’t learn to love myself until I was in college.  For the most part I was comparing myself to the other girls, (who probably had the same insecure issues I had) in my jr. high and high school. It wasn’t the Gwenyth Paltrow’s on the red carpet, or the stunning Beyonce’s entertaining the masses, or the Kim Kardashin’s in every magazine on every shelf in the grocery store check out line. Though  at the time I felt I could never have all the things my classmates possessed, everything they had, or looked like they had was some how obtainable even if I didn’t know that then.  Even in their school yard perfection they still had a zit or two, had lipstick on their teeth, or bad hair days every once in a while.  I was able to see that the “princess of the ball” was sometimes off her A game just like me.  Even though I didn’t love myself, I liked myself a whole bunch.  Liking myself filled in the gaps of my insecurities until I could learn to love who I was.

I think about my nieces and I know that already in their young lives they are already being indoctrinated about what is beautiful and what is not. Unlike me their young minds are already barraged by the flawless perfection of societies idea of beauty. Unlike me, they are not shown bad hair days, zits, or any form of imperfections. All they see are impeccable photos that have been doctored beyond recognition, or the glamorous life of celebrities that is idolized on tv or social media.  It makes me wonder will they ever learn to love themselves.  Will they ever learn to even like themselves?  Will they constantly compare their self worth to an unattainable apparition that doesn’t exist. I pray when they realize that they can’t attain this false perfection they see around them, they don’t look for it, crave it, from other means. I pray they don’t look for that love from a bottle or a drugs altering haze. I pray they don’t look for it in a boy, whose love is conditioned on what she can do for him.  I pray they don’t look for it in an addicted obsession of body dismorphia.  I pray they don’t seek attention using their body as currency. I pray they grow to love themselves and all their imperfections because they are unique, special, wonderful individuals who are carefully and wonderfully made by a perfect all loving GOD.  I want them to grow to love those things that make them different.  I want them to know they are very extraordinary girls and they are loved, because there are so many little girls who have never heard this, and so many women who have yet to believe it. By birthright, you have always been “the princess of the ball”!!

Brandi 🙂

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“I Will Always Love YOU!”

Candy Hearts Clip ArtA friend called me this morning to let me know she found her birth mother.  I am so excited for her!  I wish I could be there to witness the reunion, 36 years in the making.  Two people that have been thinking and searching for each other have finally been reunited. The birth mother would return to the agency to find her every year until they gave her the impression that the child that she gave up so many years ago was possibly dead.  I can’t imagine what she felt when she heard her long-lost daughter on the other end of the telephone, actually alive,  who had also been looking for her.  What a major change in my friend’s life. What a major change in the life of her birth family.

I have been thinking about my friend all day today. I’m on pins and needles by the phone waiting for her call to tell me how everything went.  While waiting I have started to think about how much the LORD loves us, and how we have become separated from him.  We have lived our lives far away from his will, yet he continues, year after year, day after day, minute after minute to get our attention.  We know he is there, but we continue to go on with our life-like he is not.  We feel we are so lost, and that we are to far from him his will to return.  Even still he continues to call us.  The bible say’s,

Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This means that no matter what we do, where we go, what we say, not even death, will EVER will separate us from GOD’S love.  We can never go to far where he can not save us!! Isn’t that wonderful to know that we have a heavenly father that has an everlasting, unconditional love for us. How many times has he dispatched our guardian angel to protect us from harm just so that we may have one more day, minute, second, to seek him and be saved? GOD wants to make a change in our lives.  He died so that we all would be free. He loves us so much that everyday he holds back the clock so that all can be saved before his return. He loves you/me to much to let you/me remain lost.   On that cross on Calvary he was thinking of you, he was thinking of me. Oh how he loves us!!!!

John 3:16  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

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.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, evenwhen we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exalt over you with loud singing.


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“Father’s Be Good to Your Daughters…”

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A couple of days ago, (New Years Eve) my husband and I celebrated our 11 anniversary.  We had a very interesting conversation over dinner at our favorite mexican restaurant.  Some how our conversation turned to me growing up without a father.  He told me he couldn’t comprehend not having a father, and how  or what my feelings were when I was around my friends that did have their father in their lives.  I answered that I didn’t think anything about it.  I thought about the saying, “You don’t miss what you never had”.  Thinking about it now, I did miss out, and it has affected me even though I didn’t realize that it had.

I would be lying if I said I had NO feelings at all about not having my father in my life.  I have memories of being upset that my father had another family, with kids that he saw and took care of everyday, yet he wasn’t doing the same for me.  My home life wasn’t always the best. Sometimes I would think about what it would be like to be rescued from the hell I was living in.  Other than these occasional thoughts I had no thoughts about my dad.  He wasn’t apart of my day-to-day activities.  I wasn’t  the only child to not have a father in their life.

There are many opinions on women who didn’t have their father in there lives.  What you hear coming up every time is of them having “daddy issues”. After having that conversation with my husband, I began to think what were “my issues”.  I would definitely without a doubt say that my biggest issue was trust.

I had serious issues with trusting men.  When I think back on my relationships, I realize that I didn’t trust them at all.  I wasn’t one of those girls that held so tight that I didn’t allow them to spend time with their friends, male or female.  It was more like I didn’t  trust them with my emotions. I didn’t want them to see me vulnerable.  I didn’t trust anyone with my emotions.  It was always in the back of my mind that I had to keep my feelings and emotions barricaded so I wouldn’t be hurt.  I didn’t want to give them my heart for them to turn around and break it.  I was waiting for them to lie, cheat, or walk out.  To me all men lied, cheated were untrustworthy and didn’t stick around.  I was in control of my emotions and I didn’t want to give up my control over them and be disappointed or hurt. It didn’t help that some of them  cheated on me. That just validated how I felt. I didn’t have dreams of “Prince Charming” on a white horse whisking me away to my Cinderella, Snow White, Disney fairy tale.  I didn’t have examples of happy marriages or what a  fathers role was our how they should be.  I wasn’t told how a man should treat you.  My reality was that men were good for nothing.  I saw my mom work herself ragged while her “man” lived off of her, didn’t respect her, and treated her like trash.  He treated us the same.  I knew what I didn’t want, but was too guarded to experience it.  It wasn’t until after my last relationship before I met my husband that I prayed for GOD to heal me.  If I hadn’t been receptive and willing to change I would have missed out on the wonderful blessing GOD had in store for me.  It was then I forgave my father.  I decided that regardless of what happened, or didn’t happen in my childhood regarding my father was the past.  We couldn’t get those years back.  I had forgiven him for not being present.  The only thing we could do was start from scratch, and that is what we did.  Me and my dad have a great relationship now, and though I didn’t ask for an apology, he gave me one. He told me that the worst thing he ever did was to not be a father to me when I was younger.

It wasn’t just forgiving my father that healed me, but also the love of my husband.  He was the first man to show me how a man should treat a women.    I felt safe for the first time in my life.  I knew he would protect me at all costs, and that my love, feelings, dreams, aspirations and emotions were safe with him.  For the first time I could be myself good or bad, and I knew he would still love me.  He didn’t just want me for my body, or what I could give to him. I learned from him how to love. He wanted me for me. He made me feel wanted, and desired. He is the best example of what a husband should be.  I thank GOD my children won’t ever have to go through what I went through.  They have the best example of a man and father.  I praise GOD for that!  The cycle has been broken.

” Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes”

I am 33 years old and to this date I have yet to have “the talk” with my mother despite the fact I have been married for 11 years with two kids.  I don’t know if it slipped her mind or she just hasn’t got around to doing it but for what ever reason I am still waiting.  ( Like I am still waiting on my purple biker shorts from the 5th grade that I paid for the material and pattern because she said she could make them, rather than just buying them like I should have done.)  I relied on the sex education class for all 5th and 7th graders, and my friends to learn the ins and outs, no pun intended, of sex and the changes that began to happen to my body.  For what ever reason we were so excited to grow up and to begin to see the manifestations of it in our bodies.

Well the time has come for me to prepare my children for the changes in their bodies. I have two boys ages 9 and 11 (12 in a month).  We had “the talk” with them about a year or so ago.  It took much coaching from me to get my husband to sit them down and explain it all.  He was so not ready, but it was time and I didn’t want them to find out in the streets like I did; especially since they are boys.  I wanted them to get the correct information, not the information Ray Ray or June Bug would tell them they saw through the key hole of their uncles bedroom door.  Ever since they were babies I have always used the correct terminology of the male and female anatomy. There were no wee wee’s or pee pee’s around here.  They knew that they had a penis, and girls had vagina’s, even though they had no idea what a vagina was.  It took many  many corrections and conversations of  “mommy doesn’t have a vagina penis” .   So my husband sat them down while I listened from the back room.  He did a good job, very quick and to the point.  I thought it best for him to talk to them rather than me.  It can already be a very embarrassing conversation.  I came out when he was done to see  if they had any questions they wanted to ask us.  It didn’t quite click to our oldest right away. when he finally understood he looked at my husband with absolute disgust and said ” Daddy, you did that to mommy!!!”  We could barely contain ourselves!!  When you think about  it you grow up with just you and your genitals, then all of a sudden your parents tell you what you will someday do with them…what they do with them. Lol!! It’s sometimes hard for us adults to even think about our parents having sex even though we (hopefully) do it all the time.

Now  my son’s are at the age where they are in the beginning stages of puberty.  Their pits are zesty to say the least, and my oldest is checking everyday to see if his adam’s apple is visible to anyone other than him.  The hormones are kicking in and so is the attitude. (Lord help me to hold out.)   Their bodies are starting to change, and girls are becoming noticeable. Before long I will have two more men living in this house…Whew, I belive it is time for a refresher course!!!

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“Back In the Day When I Was Young I’m Not A Kid Anymore But Somedays I Sit And Wish I Was A Kid Again”

Facebook brought back the nostalgia of my childhood with the recent,”You know you attended if”, or “You know your from” threads.  I have to admit I have been frequenting the “You know you attended Oakwood College/University if,” and you know your from Rubidoux if” pages.  It has brought back so many memories and many laughs and smiles.

One of the things I have noticed in frequenting these pages is how simple my life growing up was, and how times have truly changed.  Today we were in the car talking with our children.  The expressed they didn’t want to go to a certain persons house because it was boring and they didn’t have anything to do.  We responded by telling them to go outside and play.  They answered saying that didn’t have anything to play with.  WHAT!! I remember my sisters  and I were sent outside and we always found things to do.  We didn’t have all kinds of toys, and the bike we did have was an old bike pieced together and painted.  We never ran out of things to do.  My kids go outside for 5 min and come back in talking about it is to hot and they don’t have anything to do.  I can remember playing outside in the California sun, heat alerts, smog and pollution and not going inside until the street lights came on and was mad we couldn’t stay out longer.  I wasn’t running in the house every five minutes to get a drink of water.  We drank it out of the water hose.   We were lucky if we had a ball. We didn’t need all kinds of gadgets and toys.  We had our imagination to play with!

Isn’t it crazy how much we can live with  and become dependent on?  If I leave my cell phone at home I feel like I walked outside naked!!  I never realized as a child that we were ever missing out on anything.  Yes we had dreams of having the newest toys but we were grateful with what we had.  Every Saturday after church we would go to the nursing home and sing to the patients.  I can still see the smiles on their elder faces.  Sometimes we were their only visitors and they always looked forward to visits.  That is how we learned and fell in love with hymns.  On Sundays we were putting together bags of clothes or making plates or  food baskets for needy families.  For Christmas we spent more time writing a list (especially my sister Quiana who lives for writing  lists 🙂 ), about what we were getting for others rather than what we wanted ourselves. Those shopping trips were the highlight of our Christmas season.

A couple of months ago I went back to California for my grandmother’s 80th birthday.  While there I was able to reminisce about my old stomping grounds.  So much has changed yet so much had stayed the same.  It is crazy how much smaller the neighborhood looked then when I was younger.  I remember how everyone looked out for me because ” I was one of the Delbert’s grandkids” or “Denise’s daughters”.  When we would walk to or from school, “Ned the Wino” through slurred speech and a drunken stager, or “Tyrone Biggums” fresh off a hit would wave hello everyday and make sure no one messed with us.  I couldn’t imagine my children walking through a soul train line of alcoholics and crack heads, but we did it everyday.  Crackhood watch was on patrol everyday, rain or shine!!

Boy, it is crazy to think about how so much has changed. Rubidoux may not have been the best place to grow up, and I may have ran out of there as soon as I could, but I wouldn’t be the person I am without it. I can’t help it.  The “dust bowl” will always be a part of me.

Brandi  🙂 I could really eat some Donahoo’s  Chicken, some Tina’s and a grinder from Delia’s right now!!


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God Restores!!

Oct. 3, 2002

this is the first time i’m really writing about this. i’ve been putting it off for the past 2 years. not wanting to tackle it. not wanting to really dig into the the hardest and biggest battle of my life, living with lupus.

i remember when i first realized that something seriously was wrong with me. i remember the nervousness i felt as day after day past, and the doctors couldn’t find out what was wrong with me. would i be ok? had i done something wrong, ate the wrong thing. that was the worst mind game anyone can play on you. i really can’t even explain how i felt, except that i was afraid, very afraid.

i was almost a relief to find out i had lupus. it was something i had heard of, yet i couldn’t really be prepared for how the “wolf”would change my life. how i would begin to lose part of myself, and make a new transition learning to live with this body that was rapidly manifesting itself as my new enemy.

the devil always seems to attack when things are going “well”. here i was at the end of my road at oakwood, close to finishing, planning my wedding and then i run into this brick wall. i mean i couldn’t even get out of the bed, couldn’t walk or fix my own dinner, take a shower without assistance. and the blow of all blows not only did i have lupus, but i also had kidney disease and would have to recieve agresseive chemotherapy.

i can’t explain how it felt to sit in that chair and watch those toxins flow into my body, knowing they are suppose to help me, but also fearing what it will do to me. the burning in my nose, burning in my veins, the dry itchy skin. i remember i cried the first time my hair fell out. it’s such such a slow depressing process . one day you look in the mirror and just don’t recognize yourself. who is this bloated face i have become accustomed to seeing everyday? whose swollen feet and tired weary body am i dragging around day to day. it happened all to fast for me to prepare for. i think it has done a number on my spirit. sometimes it just makes me real sad. other times i just become so angry i don’t know what to do. who do i blame? who do i vent to? then i must give in. the “wolf” always wins.

i hate him for taking me away, an leaving me with this sickly aging body. now i find out i have AVN. i live in constant pain. it’s to the point that i really don’t know what it feels like not to be in pain. do you know how that feels? how that can really mess with your mind. sometimes i wish that i could just go for a walk, sit outside and feel the sun on my face. feed the ducks at the pond or take a nice sabbath hike on a nature path. now it’s a chore to get up and go to the bathroom. do i really have to go that bad? it has robbed me of being the wife and mother that i want to be, dreamed i would be and has left me at times depending on a two year old to bring me water, or that book just a few feet from me because i’m in to much pain, or to tired to get it for myself. i want to take the boys outside and be able to ride bikes, play in the sand, throw a ball back and forth, and jump into a pile of leaves. i don’t want them to remember their childhood with a mother who was always to sick to do anything.

some days are harder than others. today is one of those days where i’m constantly reminded of all the things i can’t do. hating the bed for holding me captive today. hating my body for making today so painful. hating my pain medicine for not working. hating being inside this house on such a beautiful day. hating lupus and how it has stolen my joy today! some days it is just so hard to fight. to smile and fake it when my body is so much pain. not having anyone who can relate or understand what i’m going through right now. needing that someone here so i can talk to them.

it’s hard sometimes when i think about how these feelings may never go away. how i will always have this “wolf” on my shoulders. but thank GOD for squealy’s smile, elijah’s serenades, cornell’s hugs, and german chocolate cake.

Brandi Nichell Wingate Watts
Huntsville, AL

May, 27, 2009

As I read this old journal entry I started crying. Not because I could remember the lows of sickness but because I could see the power and love of a God almighty who looked down the road of my life and gave me just enough to hold on to so he could restore me. He has allowed me to be a testimony of his grace, mercy and healing power. These scars are a testament of his love for his child that didn’t always deserve it. Every day I get out of my bed without the assistance of a wheelchair or a walker. Some days I may be limping but I’m on my own two feet making it the best I can.

There are so many people that have told me that I, Brandi Nichell Wingate Watts was an inspiration to them due to this continuous fight dealing with my chronic illnesses, lupus and kidney disease. I have tried to help those who were trying to navigate through the system applying for disability then being told they were not sick enough to receive it and they were well enough to work. In what job I do not know. I’ve tried to pass on my knowledge of what works to soothe painful joints and what to do when it’s time to think about dialysis. I’m able to do this because others who were there for me. My grandmother prayed for me. My family and friends watched my children when I was hospitalized. There were those who visited me on those lonely sabbaths in the hospital and brought food even though it wasn’t part of my special diet. I think you for rides to and from doctors appointments and er visits. There were calls to encourage me just when I needed it most. Most of all their was a husband who did all he could for me. He held me when I couldn’t hold myself. He comforted me when my hair being to fall out and gave me a tight cut that i could rock with pride. He carried me back and forth to the bathroom, shower, bed, wheelchair, car. He took care of my children when I didn’t have energy to even hold them. He was there to hold me when I found out that I would have to go on dialysis. Even more important he was there to rejoice with me when I was blessed with the beginning of a new life when I received my kidney transplant. He is an inspiration to me. He has shown me unconditional love. To know that my father in heaven loves me oh so much more brings joy to my heart and he saw fit to give me a second chance at life. GOD RESTORES!!!

Proverbs 4:20-22

My child, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.

(Psalms 6:2 NKJV)
Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled.

(Psalms 103:1-4 NKJV) Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! {2} Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: {3} Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, {4} Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies,