Category Archives: Faith

Making Your Dreams Come True

Single Mom Goes From American Hustle To Living Her Dreams in Abu Dhabi

Author: Tenille Livingston – Motivational Speaker & Writer

How far would you go to live the life of your dreams? Tanai Benard a school teacher and single mother of three children ages 5,6 and 8 made a decision that ultimately changed their lives forever. In 2013, Tanai’s marriage was in shambles and at the time her then husband agreed that they were in need of a change. Tanai figured that moving to another country would be the best thing for the family of five, yet she soon learned that her then-husband had other plans.


While packing and getting ready for their new journey in the UAE she received a call from her husband who worked offshore, saying “I am just going to stay aboard the ship and ride it out.” As you can imagine Tanai was devastated as her plans for her family took a turn for the worse. She had to now accept her husband’s decision and began their new journey without her husband by her side. There were other devastating surprises along the way, but that didn’t stop Tanai from moving forward with her life and starting over as they boarded a plane four deep.



When Tanai finally shared the move with her family their first response was “Where is that?” No one in her family knew exactly where Abu Dhabi was located on the map. Her family was supportive about her move, but she had yet to share the news about the big move with her mother and father while making her family swear to secrecy. After going through the interview process and accepting the teaching position Tanai made the final decision to move her now family of four to the UAE.


Now comes the hard part, it was now time to share her final decision with her parents. Though she was prepared to persuade her mother about the move she surprisingly enough gave her daughter her blessing. Her father, on the other hand, said, “Why are you taking my babies over there with them terrorists?” Her dad’s reaction was to be expected. Though her dad had stated, “I will NEVER visit!” Tanai recently with much persuasion convinced her father to come and visit with her and the children in August of this year.


Since their move to the UAE, the kids by amazement have grown and matured beautifully. After dealing with the reality of their parents’ divorce they are excelling and currently attend an American curriculum private school where they are learning Arabic and French. All three children maintain an A or A/B average. The children now get the opportunity to be a part of extracurricular activities and interact with other children from all over the world.


There are many single mothers across the country with big dreams, yet many fail to step out on faith and make their dreams a reality. As I read Tanai’s amazing testimony of faith, it brought me to tears and encouraged me on my journey. I soon wanted to pick up the phone and encourage her, so I reached out to her via social media and we spoke.



After learning more about her story and how she overcame the many obstacles in her life, I couldn’t wait to share her story with HuffPost readers all over the world. Even with all odds against her she never gave up while fearlessly going after the life she wanted.

Today, traveling is a new hobby for Tanai and her three children. It is now her personal goal to ensure that her children get a chance to experience new adventures every 100 to 130 days. The life in which Tanai’s three children are living is a dream for many mothers all over the world, but a dream in which Tanai has proven can become a reality if you have the faith to believe and take the necessary steps towards your dreams.


The decision that Tanai Benard made in 2013 has awarded her family opportunities which in the past she would have only imagined. Many teachers in the United States are far from living the American dream and underpaid while living paycheck to paycheck. This experience has not only changed her life but has given her a whole new outlook on the American Dream.

Tanai struggled while living in the U.S. from paycheck to paycheck. Prior to her move, she was an engineering student with a full course load while working full time with three children. She can recall being on almost every government assistance program available. Life is good in Abu Dhabi, and they don’t have the same concerns. Many women around the world can relate to her story of perseverance.


Who would have thought that a single mother of three who once lived in the projects in Southeast Texas would one day live the life of her dreams in a faraway land? It is her faith and great determination that leads to endless possibilities. I dedicate this post to all women, of all races, professional backgrounds and religious beliefs that have faced adversity.




Joyful Waiting

I am currently waiting – waiting for the next experience to present itself.  I’ve done all that I can do and now I must be patient as the Universe unfurls my next adventure. It’s coming. I know it is. And I’m ready. But I am not going to rush anything. I have in the past wanted to move things along. But not this time; this time I am going to wait. I’m going to trust.

I’ve worked my part of the equation. I know the other side will meet me with the path laid out. All I have to do is step on the first steppingstone like the yellow brick road. I am aware the golden path will not be smooth and uninterrupted but for sure it will be there. Life is always a combination of smooth and rough, which can make me crazy, if I let it. Not this time.

I refuse to listen to that negative voice that likes to whisper in my ear. I will have none of that. Nope I’m going to enjoy the wait and the silence. Ears perked up for the Universe’s whisper. Yep that is what I’m going to do. Wait. Listen. Trust. Know. Believe.

I am joyfully waiting with open arms and heart! ♡

(c) Valerie Lee 2016

Black Woman Basking in the water and sun

Follow Your Yellow Brick Road2



Love Your People

Time passes so quickly and the person we thought we would never lose is suddenly gone. And by suddenly I mean here one day gone the next. Shit if truth be told it is really here one second gone the next. Whether they died from an illness or in a sudden occurrence; when they leave we are in shock that a living, breathing person is no longer in their body, talking, laughing, crying and communicating with us.

Where did they go? I believe their Spirit has left their body. But where did they go? Are they a miraculous substance, entity or stars floating out beyond our grasp? Will I see them again? I am so confused (and that is confused with a whole bunch of Os) sometimes because I only know the physicality of another person.

But I do believe in Spirit. And yet I have asked where does the Spirit begin and the body separate? For me it’s all intertwined like macramé with primary and secondary knots, which is a lot to ponder; at least for me. Sometimes I get all twisted up by it. And my inability to find a satisfying answer makes me mad. Sometimes. The other times I am stilled and comforted by my Faith that I will see them again. I am grateful for my Faith.

If someone you love does something that gets on your nerves, tell them and then tell them you still love them. We can love and be irritated by our folks. Life is short. And while we get so worked up physically and spiritually by that thing, know this: that intolerable thing will be the one you miss the most. You will romanticize that thing the most after they are gone. You will crave that annoying trait. You will say I would give anything to hear them say: shut up, be quiet, go-away, you’re so stupid (insert whatever irritates you here) one more time.

If it really bothers you tell them. If they don’t stop figure out a way to change your reaction. Hey you might learn something about yourself – like why it bothers you so much. Either way let it go. Figure it out. Forgive them. Love. And cherish every moment you have with your people.

Remember: Here one second gone the next.

When it happens your life will never be the same again. You can’t defuse that bomb. Don’t wait for a can’t-turn-back-the-clock moment to love more. Do it now.