I first started going to counseling when I was a junior in highschool. I started going to counseling for anger management that year. I remember it helped me a lot because the therapist challenged me to channel my anger into passion. She challenged me to find something I’m passionate about. I wouldn’t say I found my passion but it found me.
During the end of the first semester of junior year my English teacher Ms. Williams asked me if I would be interested in joining the yearbook staff. That’s exactly what I did. I joined the yearbook staff as a sports photographer in January and stayed in that role until graduation. I discovered I had a passion for photography and writing/telling stories. I always been thankful for Ms. Williams foe that reason.
I went to counseling again during second semester of my freshmen year of college. I went because I was sexually harassed by my residential advisor. I handled the situation poorly because I turned a private manner into a public manner. I posted my police report on snapchat. I was hurting and I’m still hurting from this.
I am learning “you can’t change the past but you can learn from the past. You can make a better decision now. You can learn from everything that happens to you in life.” I’m glad I decided to get counseling. This situation triggered a lot of the same emotions I felt in highschool. “Why is this happening to me ? What did I do to deserve this ?”. In highschool I was sexually coerced into doing oral sex. I’m learning “we can’t control what happens in life but we can control how we respond. We can’t control people but I can only control myself.” I’m still learning, I’m a work in progress, and I need to show Grace to myself.
What does the word friend mean to you ? The word friend to me means someone who will be there for you not just during the good days but the bad days. They are there in the good moments and the bad moments. When everything seems dark and you can’t find a way out, they will be a light to help you find a way out. They will tell you the truth, the things you don’t want to hear. They tell you the truth because they love you. They want what’s best for you.
I miss you my friends sometimes but I know I cannot control what happens in life. I couldn’t control the Corona Virus from not happening. Sometimes life gets in the way but true friends even life can’t stop a true bond/connection between true friends. True friends can go days, weeks, months, or years without seeing each other and just pick up we’re they left off.
A true friend isn’t just a friend but they become family. They are people who you’re not afraid to be honest with. They love you unconditionally despite your flaws but push you to live a life worthy of you’re calling. If you are in Christ, you are worthy and called. You’re called to be a light in the darkness of this world. You are called to love people like Jesus would. You’re called to be a true friend to others like Jesus is a true friend of ours. You’re called to love unconditionally. Some days you may feel unworthy that’s why you need people to pick you up when you fall and feel worthless. You need true friends who will remind you that you are worthy because God calls you worthy. He calls us so much more! He calls us friend, son, daughter, and child. He’s the ultimate true friend.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NLT https://www.bible.com/116/ecc.4.9-12.nlt
We think it’s easier to deal with the pain we face if we’re alone (Job 7:16-20). It’s not easier. Job lost everything he cared about but his friends came to comfort him, to love him when they heard what was going on with him. They were with him for 7 days and 7 nights (Job 2:11-13). Sometimes loving someone just means to be with them. You don’t need to say something that’s what Job friends did. Just be with them in the midst of their suffering that’s how Jesus is with us.
“When three of Job’s friends heard of the tragedy he had suffered, they got together and traveled from their homes to comfort and console him. Their names were Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” Job 2:11-13 NLT https://www.bible.com/116/job.2.11-13.nlt
A true friend will be there for you in your pain. Are you that type of friend ? Would/Do you consider yourself a true friend ? Ask yourself what does a true friend mean to you ?
I pray that if you’re not a Christian that you would find friends like Job did. I pray that you will find friends that show you the love of God. I pray that you will be a friend of God. Will you accept His call to be His friend ?
I pray for my believers that if you’re not living your life as a true friend for others that you would start to grow in Christ. He’ll show you how to live a life being a true friend to others.
Personally I would say I have plenty of true friends and most of them happen to be Christians as well. I love my non Christian friends just as much because as Christians we are called to love everyone.
God has put it on my heart to video call a few of my friends. Some of my friends have called me. Over this summer, I had met a few people on Twitter and started strong relationships with them. When I first got home I joined zoom meetings for my church. I had the opportunity to catch up with the Naval Academy team that went to NY with us over a Bible study zoom meeting. I joined a few group zooms with the guys who had a huge impact on me. Two of them happen to be Luke and Connor who I been talking to the most out of the group.
Have you ever thought about certain things remind you of people or things you once did ? When I think about chicken wings I think about my Pastor Jon Nelson and my friends I went to New York with. I remember having a wing eating contest while someone from the Navy BCM team joined us. We got the pleasure to show them how to eat the bone of a chicken wing. The key is to suck out the marrow of the bone that’s what my Pastor taught me. I remember the first time he introduced me to eating the bones of a chicken wing. I remember the story he told me about how he gave his children the bones of wings to suck on when they all were small. “It’s better than sucking on plastic”, said Jon. He was referring to the baby bottle drinking cups. It always make me laugh when I think about this.
When I think about “Cheez-It” snacks I think about my twin brother. It’s his favorite snack. When I think about tutoring I think about so many things. I think about the three siblings I met in New York due to the missions trip. I think about the Whiz Kids program we have at my church. I think about my student I was assigned to tutor. I think about all the times I went over his mom’s just so I could see him because I care about him that much.
When I think about New York I’m pretty much sure I will always think about that missions trip. I will always think about Luke Barrante, Connor Caniglia, Karsten Francis, Cameron, and Ethan Sohn. They impacted me the most. When I think about about a flat iron I remember how when I came out as gay when I was a junior in highschool I would use them to straighten my hair. I hated my nappy hair. I wanted straight hair.
When I think about my hair I think about all that it has gone through. Growing up, I had cornrows until 2nd grade. I remember dying my hair brown hair when I was in highschool. I remember cutting off the dye and getting low fade on the side haircut. It became my usual go to haircut when I went to the barbershop until I decided I wanted long hair again like I had when I was growing up. That’s actually what I did.
I didn’t do anymore cuts or dyes during my senior year of highschool. I was starting a new hair journey. Instead of all the cuts or dyes, I got it styled. I got a two strand twist or men’s braids. I took them down usually after a month or two. My hair was becoming long and it was curly now. When I got to college I remember I pretty much kept up with the two strand twist or men’s braids most of my freshmen year. Later that year, I decided I want to keep my hair in a two strand twist. I paid for people to twist them and some did it for free.
During my sophomore year in college, my two strand twists were getting long so they looked like dreads now. Before my junior year, I made the tough decision to cut off my dreads. I cut them off because I realized I was running from my pain and I needed to heal. I cared too much about what others think of me. I hide my scars from people because I didn’t want them people to know that side of me. God shown me that I had insecurities about the scars on the side of my head from my brain surgery at six years old. I had that surgery because I was born premature and I hide that even from the people who knew me the most. My friends and people who knew me from being a college student at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Some days I miss my dreads but I’m glad I chose to heal instead of keep running from my pain. I chose to give my pain to God. Sometimes we hide our true self from the people we love because we fear they would judge us the most. You will never know if you don’t open up to them. What are things about you that you hold back from revealing or telling people who love you the most out of fear ? Remember that fear is a liar and perfect love casts out fear. I love you and God loves you. God bless 🧡
Over this month and summer especially I been thinking about what am I passionate about ? What if our experiences are linked to our passions ? That happens to be the case for me. I’m passionate about ending abortion because I could have been aborted. I was born premature. I could have been aborted if my mom listen to what she was advised to do. I was a risky pregnancy because it could cause harm to my mom or me or my twin brother. I later learned that my twin actually died shortly after birth but doctors revived him. Things like this makes me wonder what my mom life would be like without me or my twin or even the both of us ? What would my life look like if the doctors couldn’t successfully bring my twin back to life ?
Nevertheless I’m thankful that my mom sacrificed her own life so I could have life. She’s been making sacrifices for me even before I was born. She’s a great mother I’m truly blessed God constantly reminds me of this.
I didn’t have a dad growing up so I’m passionate about adopting a little boy one day even if I have kids of my own. I’m passionate about tutoring elementary school and middle school age children because I love children. I recently went to a missions trip in New York to help out a tutoring program. I was a babysitter in highschool. I tutor kids regularly at my church. I’m a tutor at this program called “Whiz Kids” at Soma Community Church. Sometimes it feels like I’m giving back to my younger self because I wish I had what I was giving to these kids. Someone to look up to. I even desire to have my own kids one day.
I’m passionate about ending bullying and/or advocating for bullying awareness. I got bullied some in elementary and a lot in highschool. I’m passionate about college ministry because I mentored a freshmen during my junior year at Lincoln. I’m passionate about men’s suicide awareness and suicide prevention because I struggle with suicide thoughts. I can’t even look at a knife without having suicidal thoughts. I wonder how long will this go on ? I had enough but how could I give up ? I have to keep living it will get better. I even attempted suicide via drug overdose in November of 2019. Sometimes I wish it was successful so I didn’t have the memory of me trying to kill myself.
I’m passionate about advocating for people especially men getting therapy because personally it has helped me a lot. It honestly has even helped me cope with the memory of my suicide attempt. You can’t change the past but you can learn from it.
I’m passionate about telling stories through photos because that’s when I feel the most alive. I feel the most purposeful. It calms me down and gives me life. It’s something about taking a photo of a sunset that warms my soul. I’m passionate about writing because it’s a God given gift so I better not waste it. Gifts are free and are from the heart. They can also bless you and so many other people. Have you ever seen it that way ? The gifts God gives us isn’t just for us but for others. Use it. Don’t waste it. What are your gifts ? What are you passions ? If you don’t know discover it. Try new things.
This summer the month of June has been so fruitful for me. On my walks to the Delmar Loop I been praying about various of things. Praying for people who are on my mind, for God’s Will to be done that day as I walk, whoever I’m suppose to run into send them, whoever I’m suppose to talk to that I will, and for guidance whether if it’s the steps I take or actions or my heart or the words I say.
During this month, I have ran into several people who I used to go to highschool with. I have ran into or saw single mom’s and said hi to some of them because they remind me of my mom when she was younger. I have met some great people at Fitz’s I even applied there. I didn’t get the job but through that situation I learned that we should be thankful no matter what happens because everything happens for a reason. God knows what’s best. Do you trust that ?
Today after I left the Delmar Loop I went to a park by the Loop. I sat on the bench enjoying the nature for 20 minutes or so. Eventually I saw this mom who had two children. I don’t know the daughter name but by watching them interact. I learned the son’s name. His name was Mylo. He had curly blonde hair. He must’ve been three or four I assume because of his height. He was wearing a cape. He was so adorable it reminded me of my desire of wanting kids myself one day if that’s God’s Will for my life.
Meanwhile, Mylo had this cape on and his mom was encouraging him to pose. He didn’t want to but his sister posed first like she was the superhero. I thought it was funny so I laughed as I was sitting on the bench watching them. Eventually, Mylo joined his sister in the superhero pose with his hand on his hip looking up in the sky with his curly blonde hair flowing due to the wind. Their mom took their picture. As I see her taking the photo and instructing Mylo to put his hand on his hip I wondered if she was a single mom too because I didn’t see the dad with them. Maybe he was at work ? May he wasn’t in the picture ? Maybe he just didn’t want to take a walk ? I will probably never know. I hope that the dad is in their life because I pretty much thought he was adorable in the 5 minutes I saw him pretending to be a superhero. That guy would be missing out.
Does our experiences determine how we love people ? That’s a question I been pondering lately. My heart has sorrow when people don’t receive the love I have for them. It hurts like hell. I’m not going to lie to you and say I’m fine when I’m not. I’m hurting right now emotionally. If I could I would make them but I cannot.
I’m continually being put in situations where God is continuing to show me that I cannot control people, I can only control myself. I can’t control how they react to my love, I can only control how I love. I can’t control what people say, I can only control what I say.
We can either love like we never been hurt before or let our hurt cause us to hurt others. We will be hurt by others and we will hurt others but it’s about what you do with that hurt. It can make you bitter and you can continue to go into an endless cycle of purposely hurting others because you’re hurting or you can stop it. You can do something about it.
You can forgive. You can seek forgiveness. You can choose to be bold in how you love. You can choose to love so furiously like you never been hurt because love is the greatest thing in this world. Love is the answer. God is love. I want to love so furiously and boldly because God first loved me. I want to love so furiously because God knows everything about me and so I want to do the same for others.
I wonder if this situation is how God sees us. How He saw me before I loved Him back. He longs for us to know Him but we turn Him down because we aren’t used to His love. God’s love is an mystery in my eyes. It amazes me every time. It amazes me that He knows what we will do before we even do it yet He loves us anyway. He loves us even when we don’t love Him. He loves us despite our past. He doesn’t condemn us for our past but He longs to introduce us to something far greater than I can even comprehend at times. He wants to give you a clean slate. A new way of thinking. A new life. A life filled with hope.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT https://www.bible.com/116/jer.29.11.nlt
Lately I been bold in how I love. I never been the type of person to be vulnerable with strangers online until 2 weeks ago when I met two white highschool seniors at an protest I went to. What motivated me to connect with them was my love for Jesus. I wanted to show them their is people of color who sees them and honors them for standing up for what’s right. I just wanted to start a friendship with them. Maybe God had other plans ? Maybe some people are meant to teach you a lesson ? Everything happens for a reason I truly believe that.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV https://www.bible.com/59/rom.8.28.esv
A couple days ago I asked for their numbers but it didn’t go so well. The last couple days I been trying to cope on why they receive it so poorly. It doesn’t make sense to me. I thought we hit it off well at the protest. I guess I was wrong ? Maybe I expect people to love how I love ? That’s not fair of me right. Maybe I truly just want to look out for the interests of others and everyone isn’t reaccepting to that ? Maybe I still don’t deal with rejection well because of my dad ? I’m trying to make sense of it all but I cannot. I prayed about it but still it is all I can think about half the time like why ?
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 ESV https://www.bible.com/59/php.2.3-4.esv
To truly look out for the interests we have to care about their soul.
For those who don’t know I want to inform you that I’m currently working on an memoir. Also I’m almost finished with it. It’s about my traumatic life experiences. I was born prematurely, brain surgery at 6, hit by a car at 13, bullied in 1st two years in highschool, and suicide attempt via drug overdose. My Pastor we call him, Pastor Jon, helped me a lot through that. He was at the hospital with me. He met my mom. I was sent to two mental hospitals. This happened during November of ‘19. Was newly a believer and felt like God didn’t love me because I have feelings for guys sexually and I was in a dark place. I didn’t want to feel attracted towards men so I wanted to stop feeling anything all together.
I have faith in this book. I’m pouring out my heart and soul into this project. My story needs to be told. Your story needs to be told. Hope my book inspires you to do so. When I finish this book, my book will be dedicated to so many people who have helped me through these traumatic experiences. It will be dedicated to my Pastor, my mom, and most importantly Soma Community Church. If it’s God’s Will, my book will be published in Jesus Name Amen. God bless you ❤️
When fear overtakes your life it is crippling. You no longer are living just existing. Well I had enough of living in fear because of the Corona Virus. I’m going to start living again. I haven’t been living really since Corona Virus. At first I thought I was just staying in to be safe but I really been asking myself why am I staying in ? I realized it wasn’t to be safe but I was living in fear. We are not called to live in fear.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 ESV https://www.bible.com/59/isa.41.10.esv
I’m going to start making new habits of getting out of my mom’s house every Thursday and Friday since I’m going to be in St. Louis for another 2 months. This week has been so eye opening,
On Thursday, I went to the Delmar Loop. I spent that day touring the Delmar Loop. In the process I got something to eat at Fitz’s and I had a friendly waiter. Her name was Jana. I started off a conversation with her as I got to the bar upstairs in Fitz’s. During our conversation, I figured that she had to be a mom so I asked. I was right. She has six boys. She has been a mom since she was 15. She reminded me a lot of my mom because of that.
On Friday, I went back up to the Delmar Loop because I had this desire to connect with Jana on social media but I didn’t ask. I made that mistake before so this time I was going to do something about it because faith requires action. On my walk to the Loop, I start to pray over people lives asking God for His Will to be in their life like Elijah Turner, a freshmen student who I been pouring into by helping him with his school work especially during first semester of this past school year before Corona Virus or Luke Barrante who I met in New York or even Antonio Rodriguez, who I met on Twitter but we’re forming a friendship. I also prayed that if it was God’s Will for me to see Jana again today at Fitz’s then I would. I prayed for whoever I’m suppose to come contact with then it will be done. I prayed, “God lead my steps, actions, my words towards Your Will today”
When I got to the Loop, I first stopped at Avalon Exchange, a retail store were you can buy or sells clothes, to sell some of my clothes. It was a good 20 minute wait. After my sell order was complete, I ended up making a $10 dollar profit. The clothes I didn’t want, 3 pairs of jeans, I gave to a church off of Westgate Ave. I truly believe that blessed are those who give rather than receive. It’s not just important to know Scripture but to live out Scripture. That’s truly living out your faith.
Meanwhile once I got back to the Loop, I went to Fitz’s. I go to the bar upstairs again. I met an man name, Zachary, who apparently used to live in University City. I discovered that after my conversation with him. I told when I first started to have a conversation with him that “I’m a college student, I was actually here yesterday I met a lady name Jana she’s the actual reason why I came back, and I also want to get an root beer float.” He asked me lots of questions based off that which eventually lead to him telling that Jana would be in today but she was working the patio. In that moment, I felt sorrow. He reassured me by saying “I’m pretty sure you will see her.” That’s when I knew my prayer was answered. I was feel with some many emotions.
After I saw Jana, I got her Facebook. I chatted with Zach some more while enjoying my root beer float. It was so delicious. I couldn’t help but smile while eating it. I felt so much joy 😊
After I finish my root beer float, Zach comes over and asks me if I needed some more water. He was so nice. I hope to see him again so I can connect with him as well. I ended up giving him a $2 dollar tip.
Once I left Fitz’s, I start to leave the Loop to see if the University City Public Library was open. All of a sudden I start thinking about the young man I saw playing the guitar when I originally got to the Loop. I saw that his sign said, “God help me”. It felt me with some such sorrow but I didn’t act on it. I wanted to see if he was still there. I walked almost the entire strip of the Delmar Loop until I ran into a ran who drew self portraits for money. In the process, I didn’t see the young man but across the street from the man who was drawing self portraits was a older man who had a hat out I believe so on the street. I wanted to give him my $5 dollars. All of a sudden, the man asks me if I wanted a self portrait. I ended up saying yes. The person who did the drawing didn’t ask for a price. He was just looking for tips so I just gave him $2 dollars thought that was a fair price.
After the painting was over, I start to walk to cross the street when I see a group of people walking. When I was looking for that young man, I saw that fox news was here. I was confused why eventually I would get my answer. I had to choose between talking to the older man or protesting and I chose protesting. I felt that was what God was leading me to do. I chose to protest and I enjoyed it. I enjoy standing up for what’s right.
I know you’re probably asking yourself why is he saying all of this. The lesson from all of this is that “what you pray really does matter, there’s power in prayer use it.” God bless you ♥️
My soul grieves for justice. It seems to be far too ever reach at times. We try and try again by spreading love to overcome all of the bad of this world. We reach but can never fully get a grasp it. When will we be free of our chains that has been on black people, people of color for 400 plus years. The chains tightened their grip with every death by the hands of the police. Just when we think we are equal we eventually are reminded once again of the true reality we live in as people of color. We aren’t seen as equals in the eyes of this world. We been tied down in our chains whether if it was slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, or even now. For every young black man or woman we may find ourselves tossing and turning because you can’t sleep at night. Children are the hope for the future but when that hope is killed where can we turn ? It becomes hard to breathe when all you see is the injustice all around you. We grieve for change so one day if you have kids I bet you spend many nights praying that they don’t ever know what’s it’s like to be judged by the color of their skin. If you have kids I cannot imagine the many sleepless nights you have had worrying about their future. When will it end ? When will we live out MLK “I Have A Dream” speech ? We grieve every death. We pick up the pieces. We cry for every black person who ever lived and who have died by the hands of injustice whether if it was in the 1600’s or now. We are stereotyped as “angry black men and women” but what can you say we have a right to be angry ? Anger left untreated turns into rage. The looting and rioting is just black people, people of color of expressing what’s been rooted through all we been through. I wish we didn’t see all of this pain expressed in rage but I understand their pain but burning down buildings in the very neighborhoods of your fellow people in color are just causing more pain. It only causes more damage. Let’s use our pain to seek justice in a more healthy way. Only if that was the case. I pray one day that is the case.
On Saturday, May 23rd, during my little cousin, Diara’s graduation parade as I walked outside the first thing I notice was that my aunt, Wanda, had a new kid. It had me feel a tad bit sad. I was sad because I miss so much because of the fact that I am in college. My family is growing and I’m not there to experience it. The sadness I felt wouldn’t last long after I saw him. He’s so adorable that I would be overjoyed to babysit him if I was asked to. I couldn’t help but think that.
After the parade was over, I learned that Diara was going to Applebee’s to celebrate. I was asked if I wanted to ride with my younger aunt and I said no because I felt drawn to Ta’Myron immediately when I saw him for some reason. I believe it was the Holy Spirit telling me to pray over him and to love on him. I also felt like Wanda would need some help. I would gladly help because my love for kids has grown ever since my Dallas, Texas childcare experience. I love working with kids. I tutor kids at my church on Wednesday’s when I was on campus. It brings me so much joy. It’s the highlight of my Wednesday’s.
Meanwhile, I rode in the car with my aunt Wanda. We were headed to Applebee’s to celebrate my little cousin Diara’s Kindergarten graduation. As I got into the car, I noticed that Ta’Myron, my 1 year old little cousin, was trying to get up out of his car seat. He was buckled in but was lifting his body up some I didn’t know why.
As my aunt starts driving, she mentions that maybe he’s trying to get out of the car seat because he’s not used to new faces. I guess that was her way of saying “he’s not used to your face so he’s afraid.” I unbuckled his baby car seat shortly after that. When he gets out and is standing, I felt led to tell him and look him in his beautiful brown eyes that I’m his cousin. After this, Ta’Myron starts to tap on his mom arm and rub on his brother, Timothy, head often. Timothy is 4 or 5 years older but he has Autism. He can very violent towards Wanda. Meanwhile, as we got closer, I tell him that he has to sit back down so his mom can drive. I tell him again that I’m his cousin and surprising he understood what I was saying. He shook his head “no”.
Like 5 minutes later we arrived to our destination. We all eventually get settled in and get our tables after approximately 40 minutes of waiting. We had to split up into two groups of six. I knew that I was suppose to be with Wanda so of course I sat with her and her kids.
While we where at our table, a lot went on. Timothy manages to make his mom upset yet again by hitting on her arm. He eventually ends up sitting by himself at the table behind us. Meanwhile, Ta’Myron starts off very calm by drawing on the menus. He drew on all 4 menus at the table. I could tell that he loves to draw. As he was drawing, I prayed over him. Prayed for the Lord’s protection and presence over him.
He eventually ended up destroying the table. I could tell that he thought that his Mac and Cheese wasn’t very good because of his facial expression while eating it. When I saw that, I felt sorrow for him and wanted to give him an hand full of my fries. At this moment, I knew that I had gotten attached to him already. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to show him that I love him.
Meanwhile, I wondered if he was acting out because of that. As he was banging on the table and knocking everything around that was on the table I could tell that he was joyful while doing it. There was nothing we could do to change that. There was nothing his mom could say to change that. He had this laugh that sounded like it was a cry. He had this big smile on his face. He wave both of his hands up and down I couldn’t help but laugh. I couldn’t even be mad at him because he is so adorable and joyful.
In this moment, I knew that God’s presence was on him. I was just observing him, taking it in. It even made me joyful. The way he expressed his enthusiasm was break taking. The shaking of both of his arms. The huge smile on his face. The banging on the table was an expression of that joy. In that moment, I knew that God was showing me what true joy looks like.