Monday, February 28, 2011

My Reality

(Inspired by yesterday's conversation)

Soul Train and pancakes
on Saturday morning
They loved me
I knew it

"the village"
Raised me
Believed in me
Shaped me

I stand
on the shoulders
of greatness

My reality.

Good Black men
in their twenties and thirties
Holding the door open for me
Calling me 'Kayla' or 'Miss'
They see my heart
Not just my thighs
my breasts
my lips

They respect me
I respect them

I LOVE them.

My reality.

Not jealous and petty.
Celebration in good times
Comfort in bad
A magnetic force
of beauty

I am my sister's keeper

In my reality

I still believe in love



Confidence is my rhythm

Faith is my melody

I sing

in the key of life

I am more than a stereotype

More than a movie character

More than a conqueror


is my reality.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Fear Factor

I was talking with some good friends of mine last weekend, and I found myself lamenting once more about being stuck in Oklahoma. Ever since I graduated from SWOSU, I have threatened to get on the next thing smokin' out of this state.

And one of them said: "What's stopping you?"

Three little words that kept me awake all night.

I've watched as people in my circle spread their wings and fly, and it is a beautiful sight. And time after time, I run to the cliff just to put on my brakes and fold my wings behind my back.

What is stopping me?


What if I don't make it?
What if I'm not good enough?
What if it all blows up in my face and I fail....BIG TIME?

I believe this is the Achilles' heel for many twenty-somethings in the 21st century. While we crave success, there's a little voice in the back of our mind that tells us not to rock the boat.

As believers, we are told that God's will is good, acceptable and perfect. I submit that we should add another phrase: "God's will is not complacent."

From Genesis to Revelations, we see God calling people to step out of their comfort zones; to risk suffering, pain, embarrassment, failure, even death.

Maybe He is calling you to completely change your career path. Perhaps He is telling you to let go of a friendship or relationship that has served its purpose. He could be asking you to take on a leadership position....or maybe, He's calling you to preach His word.

Call it your own personal fiery furnace, lion's den or fish belly....sometimes, it feels like all those and more.

But just like our Biblical brothers and sisters, you just have to say yes anyhow. Yes when it hurts; yes when you can't see what's in front of you; yes when you are terrified. And God, because He is who He is, will open doors where you couldn't even see a doorframe.

Who knows? Maybe next year, I'll be writing this blog from the East Coast.


No fear.

I John 4:18,


Monday, February 21, 2011

A Love Letter To Myself

I am super-late posting this, but I am a woman of my word.

Dear Kayla,

There are mornings when you wake up feeling like the crap on the bottom of a well-worn boot. You look in the mirror and notice all your problem areas staring back at you; you wonder what on God's green earth could make someone want to love you?

Lots of things.

You're giving.
You're forgiving.
Your "for real" smile is radiant (and I'm not talking about the fake one for pictures and annoying salesmen).
You have a heart that (hopefully) everyone sees.

You've got a really bad-ass 'fro.

I love you because you see the best in people.
I love you because you've finally started seeing the best in yourself.

Whatever tomorrow brings--whatever today brings--I'm just glad I took the time to look past the faults and see you for who you are...

A blessing.

If I had a choice right now to be me or someone else, I'd choose me without hesitation.

Kayla Marie Woodberry.

That's my girl.

Happy Belated Valentine's Day.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Flexible Blessing Pt. III

Shayla and I sat next to each other in the waiting room. I watched as one by one, the nurses whispered to each other and then looked at us with sad eyes. They walked back and forth between the nurses station and her room, but no one said a word. Shayla started to cry. I reached for the next nurse I saw and asked her--begged her--to tell me what was going on.

Tears started falling. "It's not good."

February 11, 1999 is a date that is forever stamped on my heart. On that unseasonably warm day, I said goodbye to my big sister, partner in crime, mentor and friend.

I didn't understand. For over a year, everyone I knew was praying for her healing. We had special prayer services and even fasted, pleading with God to do what the doctors could not. On an intellectual level, I knew her body was just worn out. But my heart was not ready to let go. I wanted her to get up, walk out of the hospital and never look back.

This sure didn't feel like a blessing.

As Christians, we are taught from the earliest moments of our journey to pray that God's will be done. In theory, it sounds so easy. God knows us better than we know ourselves and everything is a part of His greater plans for our lives. But that's in theory. In practice, there are times when God's will seems like God's punishment.

Many of you have heard me say I am grateful for my storms, for those were the moments when I really met God. See, I had been in church all my life. I could quote Scriptures with the best of 'em. I took good notes on sermons and I went to Sunday School. I knew Him....but I met Him in the valley. I was introduced to God, the comforter; God, the burden-bearer; God, the mender of broken of hearts. But more than that, I learned how to trust Him. I learned how to admit that I could not do this on my own; I needed Him more than I needed air, food and water. And He came through for me.

As I type this, tears are streaming down my face...not for myself, but for those who are where I was twelve years ago. I remember what it feels like. I remember the continuous dull ache in your heart. I remember waking up at three in the morning, covered in sweat and crying out from the depths of my soul. I remember watching the world move forward while I seemed to be stuck in neutral. I remember when I wondered if I would ever smile again.

Dear hearts, let God meet you in the valley. Even though you may not be able to see it right now, there is a blessing in the storm, tailor-made just for you.


A few months after Tracee died, I was cleaning out my car and I found an old cassette from a church service. I started to toss it, but something told me to listen. At the very end of the tape, I heard a familiar voice. Tracee was singing a John P. Kee song entitled "I Shall See Him For Myself." The whole song is beautiful, but these lyrics in particular pulled at my heartstrings:

That is where I shall take my rest
In the beauty of His holiness
I shall see Him for myself...

Of course I cried, but this time they were tears of understanding. Tracee had taken the time to tell us where she was going and how it was going to be when she got there. She was finally free from surgery, hospital stays and pain medication.

She was blessed. And that blessed me.

Be encouraged.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Confessions of a Blogger

I confess:

--This was another request from one of my good friends. For the sake of pushing my writing ability, I do my best to oblige all requests.

--In case any of you are wondering why I ask for topic requests, it is because they force me out of my comfort zone. A lot of times, these topics require me to think outside of the box or post some of my most private thoughts.

The best runner knows that sometimes, you have to change up your course. You might not like it, but you'll get stronger!

--That being said, I'm kind of burned out on all of the single, dating and love topics. I'm not going to's on my mind like 35% percent of the time. Writing about it means I have to think about it....which leads to too much time spent on it. It has sort of "colored" the beginnings of a few blossoming relationships and I don't really like that.

At this point, I just feel like I am where I am. If I'm meant to be in a relationship, it will happen.

*throwing myself on the ground* VERIFIABLE INCOME AND GOOD GRAMMAR....THAT'S ALL I ASK!
--Part of me really wants to know who is reading my blog; the other part of me doesn't want to know. If I knew certain people were reading, I think I would censor myself more than I do. And there are some upcoming entries where I plan on getting downright RAW....

So, yeah. Don't tell me.

Non-Blog Related Confessions

--I had to check myself today. Life is so much bigger than Facebook and sometimes, it's easy to get drawn into other people's madness. I literally had to close my laptop and ask myself: "Would these person even CARE if I dropped off the face of the Earth?" Pretty sure they'd go on with their lives and that is okay. It's what I expect.

My inner circle means more to me than hundreds of Facebook "friends."

But that IGNORE feature can sho' lift up a bowed down head! LOL!

--My sister and I challenged each other this weekend. I won't tell you her challenge, but mine was to stop being analytical with men. I confess, I'm really bad about this. Every text message, phone conversation, date, kiss and more requires in-depth analysis....either in my mind or my journal. Sometimes, you can think yourself right out of a relationship.

The secondary part was to put myself out there more, thereby risking rejection (which I DESPISE). I tried it last weekend....and it didn't work out that great. But it didn't kill me either.

--I was just thinking that I need an excuse to dress up, but why do I have to wait for a special occasion?

Well, I guess it would look a little strange for me to wear a formal dress to work...but trust me. I've seen worse.

--Three things make me right in the morning: prayer, exercise and coffee. Without these, I am raging you-know-what.

It took me 28 years to discover I am not a morning person....I'm sure the people who really know me figured it out much sooner.

--Even amidst the noise, craziness and chaos which has become my life, I am encouraged. I know in my heart there is a purpose behind every tear, thought, conversation and even song. I feel a lift of hope in my chest.

Dear hearts, it is all working together for my good.


The Flexible Blessing Pt. II

You haven't been humbled until you have been humbled by God.

I speak with people everyday who tell me what they won't do in order to survive. They turn up their noses at people who work at McDonalds or the garbage men; they insist they will not settle for anything less than 50K, corner office, employer paid benefits....

....and no experience.

I smile. I used to be just like that.

In the summer of 2004, I was a brand-new college graduate and the world was my oyster. I hit the ground running, applying for jobs all over this nation. I went on interviews and received several job offers, but I scoffed.

Don't they know who I am? I am Kayla Marie Woodberry! I will not settle for mere crumbs! I mean, I graduated with a 3.5, people....HELLO?!?!?!?

And then, the phone that had been ringing off the hook stopped ringing altogether. I started getting mail addressed to Ms. Woodberry from my student loan company--'cause that ain't free money. I needed a job, bad.

I'll spare you all the gory details, but I ended up at what I thought was one of the worst jobs ever. I hated everything about it: the pay, the people, the commute and the hours. This is not where I was supposed to be--or so I thought.

God has this way of knocking me in the head with what I like to call a spiritual 2x4. When I am sitting at the stoplight on the corner of Pity and Despair, He helps me see that I am where I am (wherever I am) for a reason.

At that job, I was humbled. I cleaned up messes I did not make. I took the blame for situations which were not my fault. Everyday, my body, mind and spirit were pushed past my breaking point.

And when God opened the door for my next assignment, I cried. I wasn't ready to go.

If God had handed me a six-figure gig straight out of the gate, I would have been eaten alive. This "pit stop" changed me and the way I viewed the working world. While there, I learned how to cope with just about everything a job can throw at you. I learned a lot about myself too.

I never knew I was capable of making such a difference.

I never knew I had that much strength in me.

I never knew I could run that fast!

Now, do not misinterpret what I am saying. I will never discourage anyone from dreaming big and chasing their dreams until they are breathless. What I am saying is that this journey is a staircase....and even those of us with the longest legs can't get from the bottom to the top in one fell swoop.

Remember this when you come home from work, exhausted and feeling like you cannot bear clocking in even one more day. This, dear hearts, is just one step.

Be encouraged and be flexible.


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Flexible Blessing

Subtitle: "Hit 'Em With a Flex." Ha!

I confess: I love straws.

I keep straws in my purse and my office desk because I just can't be caught without one. Any straw will do, but I have a favorite: the flexible straw. To me, that is one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. Backward, forward, left or right, high or any position, the liquid continues to flow.

Pure genius, I tell ya.

As a Christian, my faith should resemble that straw. I should be able to understand God's work in my life from every angle, every position....every storm. And yet, we have become a rigid society. With our lips, we tell people God answers prayers in one of three ways. In our hearts, we are expecting one answer in particular.

Can I just keep it real tonight?

You have prayed and prayed for God to make a way in your job situation. After months of seemingly no answer, you get an offer for a job....but it's not the salary you expected. Or it's not the title you wanted.The hours are different than you expected--they had the audacity to ask you to work on Saturday! Maybe, this job even requires you to move to another area of the country altogether. And instead of rolling with the punches, all you can think is:

That's not what I asked for!

May I delve a little deeper? And I'm about to say OUCH, 'cause I'm stepping on my own toes!

You've been talking to God about your relationship situation. You walk around singing that you're "ready for love" like India Arie and you're signing up for every singles conference in the country. And here comes a suitor...but he's two inches shorter than you. He has children, as in more than one and with different mothers. He doesn't have a degree. He doesn't have a six-pack. He uses CONVERSATE as though it's a real word! Touch, Lord!

One more:

You have a loved one who is terminally ill. You have watched them go from vibrant and healthy to (literally) nothing but skin and bones. You have prayed until you've lost your voice, asking God for a miracle. You believe God can do anything but fail--everyone you know is touching and agreeing on their healing.

And they die.

You fall to your knees and literally scream into the sky: "GOD, WHERE ARE YOU?!?!?!"

Sound familiar?

It should. It's my testimony.

Stay tuned for Part II.


A Letter To My Future

Dear Future,

I love surprises.

Granted, few people have ever been able to surprise me....probably because I love to snoop as much as I love surprises. However, the few times I was genuinely unaware of what was to come absolutely took my breath away. There's just something special about the unexpected.

True, there are the desires of my heart; things I want so bad they literally cause my heart to ache. To be honest, I don't want them in the future...I want them right now.

Of course, you're me. You already know what happens when you try to throw temper tantrums with God.

Just as I like to be surprised with parties or gifts or visits, I am learning to like the surprise of LIFE. If you had asked me at 23 how I viewed Kayla at 28, my answer would go something like this:

Kayla at 28 will be married to ________ with at least one child on the way. She will be teaching English Lit at a college somewhere down south while pursuing a Doctorate in African-American Literature. She will have published a series of books and her house will be decorated in shades of mocha and lilac....


I'm so glad God really knows me. He hears the words coming out of my mouth, but He can see what I can't. He knew that between 23 and 28, I had a whole lot of growing up to do. I learned my "dreams" were really not my dreams; rather, what people expected of me. I had to learn who Kayla was and is. Nothing in the previous paragraph has happened, yet I am very happy with my life.

Why? Because I've learned to appreciate the unexpected.

So, Kayla at.....let's say 38, I hope you still have that sense of optimism and hope in your heart. I hope you know that everyday, there is a reason to smile and someone to encourage. I hope God grants the desires of your heart, but only in accordance with His will for your life.

And I hope the Pistons have one another championship in this time period.

Encouraged Now And Forever,


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Is Love Ever Enough?

(Topic Suggestion from Neicie)

The simple answer is yes; love is enough to right every wrong, conquer every foe and smooth out every rough place in our lives. Love never fails.

If only life were that black and white. Some days, love doesn't feel like enough.

I like to think I know what love is. From a biblical standpoint, love is perfectly described in I Corinthians 13: "Love is patient, love is kind....."

From a personal standpoint, love is sacrifice. For the ones I love, I am willing to go where I don't want to go and do what I don't feel like doing. Love is forgiving those who have broken your heart and called you everything but a child of God. Love is the answer to life's greatest questions.

But what about those days when your love tank is on E?

We've all experienced those days. A simple sign of gratitude is all you need, but the world keeps moving, oblivious to your pain. You have given every part of yourself, but someone (or everyone) wants more.....because that's what you're supposed to do. They want more of your time, more of your concern, more of your love....

....and you just feel like you have nothing more to give.

The truth of the matter is this: your love isn't enough. My love isn't enough.

But God's love is.

When I was younger, my dad bought a bright red Nissan Stanza--his mid-life crisis car. At the time, this car had all of the latest features and more technology than I could even understand. But what I loved the most was the power button.

This little button by the emergency brake seemed to take the car from 0 to 60 in less than 8 seconds. Every single time we got on the highway, my sisters and I would beg my dad to press the power button. He would, and you could feel the engine kick into overdrive as the car shot forward. In my eight year old mind, it felt like we were flying.

God's love is our POWER button. Sure enough, our love can help us navigate the highways of life. But with the love of God in our reach, we can fly.

Be encouraged.


Text Messaging and Me

(Topic Suggestion from Lahree)

I am a serial texter.

I still remember the humble beginnings of the text; back when I still had a flip phone and the only game you could play was "Snake." I even remember the first text I word to my little sister, Jeanette: "MARCO!" Five minutes later, she replied: "POLO!"

And so, the love affair began.

As with any relationship, there have been ebbs and flows in the journey. Right now, I harbor some resentment towards those 160 characters which were created to make like simpler. I guess it has, but it's also done something else--texting has made life too sanitary.

Once upon a time, texting seemed to be the answer to life's problems. If you know me, you know I DESPISE conflict and confrontation. Makes my stomach hurt. In fact, if I sense trouble coming even in a television show, I'll turn the channel. Texting became a lifeline for me. I could give people the brush-off without ever having to see their faces. I could put myself out there with new people and never have to experience those awkward moments of silence. I could be fighting mad at someone and play it off like I was just mildly annoyed.

Life seemed simple. Almost too simple. Indeed, something was missing.

I agree with Miss Frizzle of the "Magic School Bus" fame. In life, you have to make mistakes and get messy. You HAVE to face rejection, embarrassment, anger and sadness. Though not my favorite emotions, I am glad I started to experience those emotions long before the texting revolution....back in the dark ages when everything occurred in person or on the phone. Those moments shaped me; they shaped all future reactions to the not so sunny moments in life. Life is far too complicated to be compartmentalized in the bubble on the Blackberry.

To everyone reading this blog (and trust me, I have a pretty good idea who is reading), I am challenging you to let go of the crutch that is text messaging. For one week, take the time to really talk to someone, no matter how new, awkward or uncomfortable the situation may be. If you want, you can even start by calling me....

.....But not after 10:30. Lord, help the person who calls me after 10:30 and actually expects an answer!

Be Encouraged,


Friday, February 4, 2011

All It Takes

Today was rough for me. I was mad because:

--My washer is broken
--Laundry was piled to the ceiling
--I can't get a repairman out in these conditions
--The laundromat wasn't open this morning
--When I finally DID find one, the prices were rather exorbitant

If you know me, there's two things I despise: high prices and mess.

I stood and looked out the window of the laundromat; more snow was piling on Appalonia; two cars got stuck in snow drifts....and some guy standing behind me sneezed without covering his mouth.

I cried. Just a little and out of frustration.

Two things changed my mood.

1. If you're my friend on Facebook, you already know how I fell in the snow....while doing a James Brown split and yelling "HEYYYYYYYY!" As soon as I knew I was okay, I got up, sat in my car and laughed until my stomach ached.

2. I found out some GREAT news about one of my dear friends.

I cried again. A lot and out of joy.

Sometimes, dear hearts, that's all it takes.

A moment where you make a complete ass of yourself.

Good news.

A hug.

A smile.

A text message from someone who is thinking of you.

A passage of Scripture that tugs at your heartstrings.

None of these activities I've mentioned take more than thirty seconds; yet, they have the ability to change your whole day and maybe even your life.

Sometimes, you just need one thing to be encouraged. For some of you, it just might be this blog entry.

Sometimes, that's all it takes.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Single: By Choice or Situational? Part II

As I mentioned in my last blog, there are those who want to know why you're single and there are those who REALLY don't want to know. I have a word or two for those in the latter category.

You've been approached by these folks too. She is the old lady in church who cannot understand why you're single with no babies at (fill in your age). He is your frenemy who insists dating is not that hard and you must not be trying. They are those well-meaning saints who are quick to remind you God does give the gift of singleness...

These things are said to evoke a response. Though their words come across as well-meaning, their true intent is to place a seed of doubt in your head.

What is wrong with me?

Why can't I find a good man/woman?

Am I destined to be forever single?

It's dangerous cycle, my friends--one in which you do not want to find yourself. When the Trauma DJ starts playing your song, it stays on repeat, effecting and infecting your choices and actions.

In the words of Public Enemy, "don't believe the hype."

Though the group is different, the answer is pretty much the same: just smile and walk away.

And for those of you who don't want to know, stop asking.

Don't make me break out the pie chart.


Single: By Choice or Situational? Part I

I am just going to keep it real: in my humble opinion, the only people who are single by choice are nuns.

Now, before you burn my laptop in effigy, hear me out. For 99.99999999 percent of all humanity, the desire to be with someone is real. It has nothing to do with desperation, low self-esteem or bragging rights--the heart wants what it wants. That is the way we were designed.

Again, I know some of you are not with me. I’ve heard it before, even typed it on a few Facebook statuses: “Honey, I can do bad all by myself!”

Can you?

Once more, this blog is not intended to berate my single brothers and sisters. With my fist raised high, I say that I am in the struggle with you. I too have had my heart ripped out of my chest and wrestled to the mat. I just think we need to stop playing reverse psychology with ourselves.

Relationships, no matter what you have experienced in the past, have the potential to add joy and happiness to our lives.

However, they are not Super Glue to an already wounded heart. I think that is where the disconnect lies, for too many of us jump from one relationship to another without allowing time to heal, reflect and learn the lessons intended from said experience.

So, if you have acknowledged that it IS better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, I’m ready to talk to you, my situationally single friends!


“Why are you single?”

The one question for which I have no real answer. Well, at least not a short answer. If the questioner has an hour to kill and a pie chart, we're in business.

People who ask this dreaded question fall into one of two categories: they really want to know or they really don't want to know.

Ladies and gents, you've been there before. You meet someone who is instantly blown away by the fantabulousness that is YOU. As they converse and notice your smile, your poise, your general enthusiasm for life, they cannot help but wonder:

Why in the world is he/she not booed up?

So they ask you. If you're like me, you coyly smile and say: ".....just because." To me, that is the only acceptable answer for the question which has no real answer.

I suppose I could bust out singing "It Might Be You," but not enough people have seen Tootsie to appreciate the reference.

I must caution you: do not take the question as an opportunity for you to launch into a monologue about the last man or woman who did you wrong. That's like going into a job interview and admitting you were fired for stealing coffee filters and not showing up before lunch.

Again, no real answer is needed. Those who want to know just want to know if there is a chance. And if your heart is ready, there's always a chance.

Stay tuned for Part II.