The Reason, The Gift, The Memory – Issue 1


This year was not just about finding a new normal. It was a moment to recognize that even if we were quarantined, we are not alone. Also, even as we didn’t have the ability to connect with others as much as we’d want, there’s always a wide open opportunity to love on people and give!

I’m a giver. I was once considered fairly naive as a child – wanting to ensure everyone had a cookie from the bag of treats before taking one for myself. I can be guilty of that today – to my demise. I forgot to do what airplane attendants tell us to do – “put on your mask first”. And my goodness, that caught up with me.

Lessons learned? Still having a heart to give (and forgive), discerning God’s timing and God’s calling (so I know who I’m supposed to love on without “casting my pearls to swine”, and especially learning how to love and take care of myself (at this age) – which is different than before. Self care was once a pint of ice cream, binge watching a movie, etc. But caring for myself now sometimes includes doing what I need to do, not necessarily what I want to do. When it comes to family, food, sleep, and fun, there’s a new balance and harmony to being intentional in my actions, versus being “called to a thing.”

My pastor (a beautiful woman inside and out) said from a podium (years before she was voluntold to be my mentor), “everything isn’t sin, yet everything isnt expedient”. (Go to 1 Corinthians 10:23 and read y’all). She brought it home for me. Something can be good. Yet it may not give God glory! I have a desire to do both – give and give God the glory.

And in that giving, though everyone may not be my assignment, I have always had it in my heart – asking God, “can I still plant a seed, pretty please”? A seed of love, of fun, of care… just to see if I can warm a cold shoulder? “God, I just want to see them smile.” And when He would say yes, I’d get all warm and fuzzy.


I’ve had so many “seeds” planted in this heart of mine that I don’t know what to do with them. So for any seedlings I have fertilized, or bulbs chilled, and ready for planting, I want to transplant or plant them too. I know God will water them.

From my Godmother’s love as a child, to support I received in college, good counsel while married, dinner and appetizers with those who’ve mentored me, and even a stranger’s ball of yarn with a pattern – I’ve been cultivated into the woman I am today. Full grown plants and quite a few seedlings that I’ll pass on during this next phase of life.

I once worked at the Salvation Army HQ (off North Druid Hills) doing my #NerdWork managing databases of retiring officers and their pensions – record updates, files maintenance, etc. I was one of few brown girls there, and just out of college, good and broke. So I took my lunch daily – a Lean Cuisine or so. As I microwaved that meal daily, I’d sit in a beautiful lounge area or patio and watch a woman from Accounting and her beautiful white hair crochet beautiful blankets. I was trying to be obedient to my big sister Teresa’s voice in my head, “stop staring at people girl,” but I didn’t listen. I was mesmerized at the detail of each knot and stitch. A few weeks later, I sat at the table I normally sit at, but it had a gift bag on it. I almost got up because I thought it was set for someone else, that it wasn’t mine. (That’s a sermon right there yall… don’t get up from a table set for YOU). Then, I heard her clearly say, “that’s for you.” I opened it.

My first ball of yarn, a crochet needle, and a pattern that she had laminated (meaning, she even protected it) just for me.

I opened it and started reading the pattern and tried to start, but recognized quickly – you can have a gift and not know what to do with it – and sometimes not even know where to begin.

From my periphery, a chair was slightly moved beside me, she came to my table, and she started from the first loop, and taught me to crochet.

That summer job was one one of my favorites. As a “broke” post college student as well, it gave me a new way to consider ways to give. Giving gifts from the heart, that impact, and that create joy.


Grace has been such a gift this year. I’ve not always been 100%. Stress impacted my life and made me make some tough decisions this fall to transition my professional work – all for the best. Support for how to better my health, ease anxiety, stay connected, and even put a meal on the table were made easier with key tips that we’ve highlighted in this issue.

Also, as I realized I needed to “help myself first”, I still had the desire to help others. So, I took a different approach to doing so this year. Throughout the year, we (as a family) have left goodies on doorsteps (fruit baskets, lunch or dinner deliveries, soup or treats, and more). We also found ways to give love, time, ideas, and/or expertise in various areas.

So this year’s “holiday party gift” is to give a bit of what I’ve learned, and allow everyone to have a voice to share the same. I’ve asked each of you a few questions that give voice to the FIRST issue of “The Reason,” a sister-to-sister magazine that allows us to write about our daily routines, memories and intimate moments: what helps us, what drives us, what peaked our interests, and provide an opportunity to GIVE or SHARE that with others as well.

This issue highlights articles, features, and tips on these areas: Faith, Food, Friends, Memories, Self Care, and GIVING!

I hope you enjoy it and share it.

FINAL Holiday Magazine by Marlena Smith