By Jacob A. English
There ain't nothing like family. Whether it is the family that you're born into or the family that you choose. For me, family instantly brings memories of home cooking, inside jokes, hugs, safety, and space to be myself. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. When I think of family, I also think about the most epic fights that I have ever had in my life. Whew chile. However, you know what I remember most about the fights? I remember the difficult conversations after the fight (sometimes weeks and weeks later) that introduced me to the meaning of unconditional love and forgiveness. I could not see the lesson in the challenges then, but now I fully understand what makes family - family. Family represents the beautiful power to choose a person to share your successes and failures, your fears and insecurities, your last five dollars, your ugly cry, your hopes and dreams, and your selfless support of their fifth career change. Family represents the decision to choose, every day, to love and support someone because you want to and they accept it.
For our next feature, we are excited to share the story of a family whose love, positive outlook on life, and determination has created space for them to grow collectively and individually. They strive to establish a model of a healthy family structure for their children and their children's children.
For Chambers Features highlights the paths of folx in our community, who let us in on their journey. We hope that a peek into their journey will help you along your own.
Next Up - Digital Host, Producer, and Media Consultant, Lenneia Batiste Elmore, her husband, oral surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Elmore, and their two beautiful daughters Ava and Aria.
Check out their story below!
Can you tell us about your journey as a couple? What was your path to where y’all are today?
We have quite the funny story about our journey as a couple. We actually became friends in college and briefly dated and then decided that it's best that we remain friends. Eventually we became best friends for many years. After Jonathan finished dental school and I was working in Macon as a news anchor, we decided to give us a try after we both failed at yet another relationship (lol). We made a pact to date for a week, see how it goes and remain friends if it didn't work out. And honestly, it was the most amazing week of my life. After that, we were engaged 7 months later and married the next year. It really is best to marry your best friend.
Lenneia and Jonathan, 2015, from Black Southern Belle
What do you think has the most significant impact on how you all view marriage and family?
The fact that we both come from similar backgrounds really impacts how we view marriage and family. Both of our parents stayed married. Now this doesn't mean our parent's are perfect, but that we saw the ups and downs of marriage and the dedication and love it takes to make it work. And through this we understand the importance of putting family first, which is what we strive to do every day.
Lenneia and Jonathan, 2015, from Black Southern Belle
What was an obstacle you had to face as a couple, and how did you overcome it?
Being long-distanced. When we decided to be together, Jonathan was in residency in New York and I was working in Macon, GA as a morning news anchor. We were long distanced until we got married. Navigating Jonathan's on-call schedule and my morning news shift was difficult when scheduling our visits. However, on the other hand, our crazy schedules meant we were both up at crazy hours and were able to talk and keep each other company! Surpringlsly, once we got married and lived together it was a breeze. But we would never want to do that again!
Lenneia - Tell us about your journey to becoming a TV host.
Actually, being my middle school news reporter motivated me to go into TV. I'm inherently nosey and enjoy meeting new people, so it was a natural fit for me. But ultimately, I love telling peoples stories and creating outlets for other's voices to be heard. It's brings me joy!
Lenneia's News Reel on YouTube
Dr. Elmore - What motivated you to become an oral surgeon?
I have always been interested in dentistry and medicine and Oral Surgery is the best of both worlds. Also, my great uncle was a dentist and a medical doctor and I was named after my cousin who's an ER physician. So I guess it was destiny; I just always knew I was going to be a doctor.
Jonathan at work, 2020
You and Jonathan have demanding jobs. What went into the decision to have children?
For the record, you will never be ready to change diapers and have a toddler throw snacks and temper tantrums every day! But before we got married, we both knew we wanted to have kids. So, since there's never the perfect time, we just waited until we were settled in our marriage - about 2 years - and made it happen. We've both had to make career sacrifices for our family, but that's what you do for family! To build a family takes the same sacrifice, love, and dedication it takes to build a career.
Ava – how do you feel about being a big sister?
I love my baby sister Aria. I like feeding her. Being a big sister is fun, but I don't like when she cries.
Ava and Aria, 2021
You all have amassed quite the experiences, which I'm sure brings you wisdom. Suppose you could give ten-year-old Lenneia and ten-year-old Jonathan some advice. What would it be?
Jonathan: Credit isn't bad, but revolving credit is! So, remember to pay your bill off each month. Also, don't over complicate life! Life is full of wins and losses, so if you lose, just remember you have a win right around the corner.
Lenneia: Set your goals and enjoy your journey, because you will make some of your best memories before reaching the finish line! Also, apply for those college scholarships, you'll thank me later when you're debt free!
Let’s move to the future. Where do y’all want to be in ten years?
We hope to have multiple businesses that will continue to build generational wealth. Since moving to Florida, we started AMP Oral Surgery (named after our daughters) and are now venturing into real estate. We hope to be even more established entrepreneurs in ten years.
And, of course, we have to discuss fashion and style. How would you describe your styles?
Jonathan: I'm in scrubs every day, so I describe my style as comfortable--even outside of work! lol
Lenneia: I describe my style as sophisticated minimalist. I love pairing basics with a nice bag or shoes, and showing just a little skin and curves. I love timeless pieces that are made with quality.
What is your favorite thing about For Chambers?
Its positive message! The clothing designs are wonderfully classic and convey messages that are powerful. They remind us that our journey makes us beautiful and unique. For Chambers embodies the messages we're striving to teach our daughters every day!
The Elmore family wearing their For Chambers apparel. Lenneia is wearing the Owning My Journey Melanin Sweatshirt. Jonathan is wearing the Owning My Journey Melanin Hoodie. Ava is wearing the Kids Owning My Journey Melanin Hoodie. Aria is wearing the Baby Starting My Journey Onesie.
Ava - Well, we know one thing for sure – you are very fashionable. The pictures of you and your mom are adorable. So, we have to ask, what do you think about your For Chambers hoodie?
I like it! I can be like daddy. He wears hoodies all the time.
Ava is wearing the Kids Owning My Journey Melanin Hoodie
Lastly, Lenneia and Jonathan, do you have any last words of advice you want to give to the people?
Our message is always for people to remember that Love is your greatest gift. Love yourself, love others and thrive to make wise decisions on this journey called life. If you do those things, you will always see the beauty in others and the world around you.