Talk the Talk

Consider this…we can’t create an actual universe with our words, but we can use them to build up or destroy someone else’s world.

I came across this little nugget during my quiet time reading recently and almost immediately shared it on my Facebook page because I thought it was so simple but yet so true.  We have so much power in our words that life and the world would be a much better place if we knew how to use them in a positive way.

When I was younger, I like any other kid, loved watching television.  My favorite part was the commercials.  Back in the day almost every product/ad was promoted through a jingle.  The jingle would get stuck in your head and you’d be singing that thing for the rest of the week!  As I was growing, I had a plan to go off to college and get a degree that would help me to be able to make commercials.  Well, I did go to college and I got a degree but life led me down a different path.

Today, television is the last thing I want to sit down and watch.  I still enjoy a good commercial however, with news programs, tv series and made for tv movies taking such a dark and negative turn, I rarely turn on the television anymore.  If it were solely up to me, I’d toss out every television in the house.

I find it increasingly difficult to expend positive energy to my family and friends or even those I simply run into each day when we, this world, is surrounded in so much negativity.  I feel for my kids the most.  In this age of instant “Likes” and instant posts so that the world knows your every move, my kids are bombarded with instant comments about everything.  And I feel that this is desensitizing them to simple compassion.  It amazes me that everyone has an opinion about everything but what saddens me most is that even in the most positive postings, articles or news reports someone will find a way to turn it into a negative.  You can’t read a post or article about anything where someone hasn’t found a way to make a negative or hurtful comment.  My love gets so frustrated with me because I try to find a positive in all that I do and say.  I am by no means perfect and even though it is hard and often times challenging, I’d much rather find a way to show love and compassion to someone than to be mean and say something negative or hurtful.

What I feel we, as a society, are losing most is our ability to be compassionate.  1 Peter 4: 9-10 says “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”  To me that simply means to love one another, to have compassion and respect for my fellow man (woman) and to be compassionate.

Every day, in every situation, find a way to share grace…:)

 

 

Summer Learning Success

As part of my extended job as Title 1/Parent Involvement Coordinator at my school, I was asked to present our end of the year Parent Night.  Preventing summer learning loss was the topic given to me and the following is what I shared.  Thought it would make a great post.

7 Ways to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

And just like that, summer is upon us once again. As you begin to plan for days without your child’s school schedule with free time, family vacations and outings remember that summer is also a great time to strengthen academic skills and close learning gaps. Research shows that, a nonacademic summer can cause students at every grade level to digress two to three months in their academic skills. A little time each day during the summer will go a long way in helping students be successful when they return to school in the fall. Here are a few tips to help set your student up for summer success.

1. Make Time for Learning

Set aside time for your child to read and practice math skills each day during the summer break — 15 to 30 minutes per day is all it takes! Summer is the time to encourage reading for enjoyment. It is also a great opportunity to preserve and strengthen their reading and math skills. Keep track of summer academics by using a calendar. Give your child a stamp or a sticker each day for working on summer academics as they work their way toward earning a reward at the end of the summer.

2. Learn and Practice Affixes

To help kids of all grade levels improve their reading and spelling skills include some learning activities that include affixes. Most multi-syllable words have prefixes and suffixes added to a base word. You can find a list of affixes and their meanings in a dictionary or in many online sources. To make this practice appealing, turn it into a game! Students can create flashcards of prefixes and suffixes using index cards or sturdy construction paper cut into squares. For each affix, they can write the meaning on the back. As they practice the affix they can try to guess what they think the affix means. Create the same activity to help students learn new vocabulary words.

3. Develop Math Skills

Getting your child to read during the summer may be an easy task to accomplish. However, most children will want to steer clear of math practice over the summer so keeping it simple and making it fun will be the key! Working on just three to four math problems per day during the summer can prevent students’ math skills from getting rusty. For help with addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts, students can create their own flashcards to use for a quick review while riding around in the car.

4. Improve Reading Comprehension

Consider reading with your child and asking questions about the story along the way. This is a great way for students to hear and see new or unfamiliar words. Reading together is also an opportunity for you to help your child understand the meaning of words they may not be familiar with. Be sure to keep a dictionary handy while you read to help students build problem solving skills by looking up words they don’t know.

5. Encourage Creative Writing

Give your child a journal. Encourage them to write all about what they see and do over the summer. A short paragraph or two once a week is all it takes! You can join in on the writing fun by helping them choose a topic to write about. Remind them of all the fun and exciting things they are doing.

6. Send Them Outside

Keep children active and healthy by sending them outside. This is a great way for kids to meet up with friends for impromptu games, making up rules and learning to play fair to keep everyone involved.

7. Buy a Bird Feeder

While kids are exploring outside, a bird feeder will activate their scientific discovery. This will give students something else to write about as they observe nature around them!

School’s out for summer! 🙂

The Importance of Sisterhood

I was very lucky to find a great friend early in life.  She is usually the first person I call when anything happens in my life.  Currently, we live on opposite sides of the country, she’s in California and I’m in Florida.  We met at church when we were about nine or ten years old.  We are the same age, our birthday’s are on the same day, different months (she’s in December, I’m in September), and we were born at the same hospital.  To say that we were meant to be is an understatement for us.  I only get to see her once a year but for us nothing has changed except a plane ride.

Over the years I’ve tried to form bonds with other girls/women but the friendships never seemed to connect well.  I think it’s mostly because of me though.  I’ve had some really bad friendships with some who claimed to be a friend but ended up doing or saying something that caused me to not trust them and to pull away.  I learned to keep my circle of friends very small.  Basically, it was just my friend Swayla and my sister.

Recently, I’ve come to understand that creating a sisterhood can be very important in a women’s life.  A sisterhood, community of women, can help to strengthen one other when a safe place can be created that allows women to openly and honestly share with one another.  Two weeks ago I was invited to a gathering at coworker’s house.  While she and I do talk periodically by phone, we don’t hang out or meet up regularly.  I am not one to attend too many get-togethers because I don’t want to open myself up to false friendships.  However, I wanted to support my coworker who was hosting because I find her to be very kind and genuine.

Surprisingly, I had a very nice time.  What stood out to me most that afternoon was the story my coworker told about a group of women she recently began working out with.  At a stressful point in her life, my coworker decided that she wanted to start working out to clear her mind and relieve stress.  After some research, she came across this group of women who met to work out together.  In this group, they not only support one another during work outs but have created a sisterhood to support one another inside and outside of the gym.  They support each others goals, hold one another accountable and regularly meet up to personally check in.

Through her story I learned three important aspect of building trusting, lasting friendships.

First, to find a friend, one must show themselves as a friend.

Second, connect with like-minded people.

Third, don’t be afraid to share your story because God didn’t intent for us to walk this journey alone.

As I have continued to read Craving Connection, I have learned what it means to be a friend and also how silence about my pain and struggles can sometimes push me into isolation and make me fearful of letting others in.  While I am not suggesting that you go out and blab your business to everyone in order to find friends but start small.  Look around the outer ring of your current circle of friends.  See if there is one or two women you could possible have a deeper connection with.  Invite them to lunch or coffee and hang out.  The more you are around them the more you may feel comfortable and this may help you to open up more.  Some friendships may simply be general and pleasant from a distance and that’s ok.  The overall goal is to not isolate yourself to the point where you are not reaching out or growing to your full potential.  Work on developing relationships that will stretch, support and encourage you.

 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou

 

 

Angels Among Us

I am not unaware that I am getting older.  Some days I forget my age when my mind tells me, “oh, yeah, we can still do that!”  But then, later on when I’m trying to sit or lay down my body says, “girl, we can’t do that no more!”  However, the older I get I make sure that I listen to my body and do what’s best for it.  I made my brother a promise, when he was battling cancer, that I would take care of myself and not ignore when my body is talking to me.  So, when I ain’t feeling quite right, I go see my doctor.

I happened to be doing a follow up appointment this morning when my day was impacted in a very unexpected but pleasant way.  My appointment was at 8 a.m.  I got up on time, made breakfast for the kids, sent them off to school and went about my normal morning routine.  I had an extra hour since I wasn’t going straight to work so I had breakfast myself and extended my quite time.  Left the house on time, made the forty minute drive to my appointment and the moment I put the car in park I realized that I’d walked out of the house and forgot my doctor’s acquisition order for the test he wanted done.  Not to panic, I thought, maybe the doctor forwarded a copy to the office.  Get in, check in and tell the receptionist about my mishap.  She checks the system and finds no acquisition order.  Our next option, before panic sets in, is to call the doctor’s office and simply have them fax over a copy.  The message on the doctor’s line says that the office is not open until 11 a.m. today.  Now, its time to panic!

Of course, there was no way I’d be able to make the forty minute drive back home to get the papers, make the forty minute drive back to the office (if there was even time to no squeeze me in) and then get to work by 11:20 a.m.  Looking at my face, I think the receptionist could tell that I was starting to get a little anxious.  Thinking quickly, after I told her how far I had to drive to go back home and then return pending traffic, she asked where I lived and then found an office that was closer to my house.  Thankfully, that office agreed to squeeze me in but I had to get there within the hour.  I got home, grabbed the papers, made it to the office within the hour, checked in and sat down to wait my turn.

As to not let my anxiety to continue to rise, I decided to Bluetooth a message from Transformation Church on my ride back to the house from my first appointment location.  During this message the pastor referenced a passage of scripture I wanted to read.  Upon sitting at my second appointment I thought I’d take out my bible and read over the scripture while I waited.  As I began to read, I noticed a man of a different nationality watching me.  I thought nothing of it and continued reading.  A few moments later this same man walked over to me and said, “hey, what’cha reading?”  I replied, “the bible” and then told him the scripture I was reading.  He told me that was one of his favorite scriptures and sat down next to me.  He introduced himself and began talking to me about his church and ministry background.  He said that he approached me because he’d never seen anyone reading the bible in public and was glad I was unashamed to do it.

For a split second I thought, “I hope this man is not trying to hit on me because I don’t want to have to be rude.”  As it turns out, he wasn’t he just wanted to have a conversation about God.  We had a very pleasant conversation about God, my kids, his kids, his family, my work and then my name was called to see the receptionist.

The strangest thing happened.  The receptionist told me that the test my doctor ordered couldn’t be performed at that location and that I would have to go to yet a different location.  We rescheduled the appointment for a later date because it was apparent I was not supposed to have that test done today.  On my way out I stopped to thank the man who took the time to come over and talk to me.  When I told him I was at yet the wrong location again he told me that he wasn’t supposed to be there either.  He had been finished with his appointment for about an hour and the friend that was supposed to pick him up was running late.  He then shared a scripture with me, quietly prayed over me and sent me on my way with a hug.  Of course we got funny looks from the people in the waiting room because here was this short black lady with crazy natural hair and this tall white man with a bald head and sleeve tattoos on both arms sharing about God, praying and hugging in the waiting room of a medical office.  Talk about angels on earth.

I’ve heard of people having encounters like this but I’d never experienced one myself until today.  It truly made my day.  Just when I thought I was going to have a bad day and stress out over this appointment, God sent this angel to cross my path.  My whole day changed in just a few short minutes.

Trying to let God lead the way…:)

 

Granting Grace

After nearly thirteen years together sometimes he just works my last nerve!  Last night I was frustrated to no end with my Love so I decided to leave the house to get some air.  I needed to go to Wal-Mart anyway but then I figured since Chick-fil-a was right next to Wal-Mart I deserved a cookies & cream milkshake…heaven on earth!

At the light while waiting to pull out of my subdivision, still fuming, I was going over the events of the past few minutes.  Even though I was in the car by myself and no one would have known, I was silently praying to God to help control my anger as to not start cursing that man out verbally or in the quiet corners of my mind.  

Sitting my anger at that light I clearly heard God say, “grant him grace.”  Ugh!!! God has been doing that a lot lately.  Just jumping into my thoughts, reminding me that in order to complete my circle not only do I have speak my faith, I also have to act my faith.

Grace is one of those words we hear so often that we tend to brush it aside when we are frustrated or angry.  In general, we all know what grace means but in all things Christ-like we have a choice in whether or not we use it.

Like I said, I know generally what grace means but I decided to look it up anyway so that I could make sure it was really grace God wanted me to extend in this current situation with my Love. (Won’t we try to find a way not to do what God tells us to do?  The flesh is weak!)

By definition, grace is the unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.

In reading the definition, it was the word unmerited that stood out the most so, I looked it up too.

Unmerited – not adequately earned or deserved.

I meditated over that word for quite sometime before I started this post.  No one and I mean no one, not even I, deserve grace.  If I were totally honest I know without a doubt that I sometimes say, do, think and act in ways that anger or frustrate God yet, even though I did absolutely nothing to earn or deserve it, I EXPECT God to grant me grace.  To forgive me, bless me and love me no matter what.  So who am I to not give to others what God so lovingly and freely gives to me each and every moment of my life?

I had the most enlightening drive to Wal-Mart! I also enjoyed my milkshake but then went home with a better attitude, helped my son with an online exam, hugged my Love and peacefully went to sleep.

Learning how to listen so that I can listen to learn.

 

Spring Break

About two years ago my son moved to North Carolina and of course he took my grandson with him.  I was sad to see them go but my son is a young man now and has to make decisions that he thinks is best for him.  For now, North Carolina it is.  However, this praying mother will continue to ask God to find a way to bring him home or at the very least within a couple hours drive.

On the bright side of this decision, I get to travel to North Carolina to visit.  They live in this really cute, quiet little town that reminds me of one of those towns everybody ends up in on those Hallmark movies.  Unlike Florida, in North Carolina I got to actually see Spring.  Cool air, beautiful trees, gorgeous sunsets and at night, the most amazing star show I have ever witnessed.

My time spent in North Carolina was amazing.  My grandson is growing so fast and talking about everything in sight.  It was such a pleasure to simply sit and watch him play with his cars, color pictures or run around in the front yard.  I think we went to every kid museum, activity center and zoo within an hours drive.  To be the best Yaya possible, I must spoil him rotten!  My son is still the air I breathe.  Watching him with his son were some of the happiest moments of my time there.  My son has always been a loving kid and it definitely shows when he is with my grandson.  To say that I am a proud mom and Yaya is an understatement!

I would have loved for my parents to have met their great-grand.  My mother would have found a way to keep them here and my dad would have been the best babysitter ever.  I think of my parents every day.  My life has become about continuing to make them proud, living life in the manner in which they tried to raise me and leaving a legacy for my son.

Family is the village…:)

 

 

Who Moved My Cheese?

When I was in my early twenties my best friend convinced me to move from Florida to Atlanta, Georgia. She had moved to Atlanta a few years before to attend college and after graduation decided to stay. She thought Atlanta would be great for me. Best friends since childhood, we were young, had our whole lives ahead of us and as young adults, Atlanta would be just the place to begin our new adventures.

The birth of my son at nineteen had slowed down my education just a bit but I wasn’t going to give up my dream of becoming a college graduate. When I made the decision to move to Atlanta, I applied and was accepted to Georgia State University. In Atlanta, just as I’d done in Florida, I worked and went to school. Finishing my education and taking care of my son was the goal. My best friend and I had some great time but after competing one semester I had to forgo my next semester in order to find a full time job so that I could better take care of my son.

It was during that time that I found a customer service job with Time Warner. The job was good. The money did just what I needed to which meant my son and I would be okay. The managers at Time Warner purchased this book called, Who Moved My Cheese?. They gave one copy to each department head. Each person in the department was to read it and then pass it on the next person on the list. The book is not very long and I was able to get through it in a few days. After reading it, even at that young age, I understood why the company wanted us to read it.

Things in business as well as in life change and sometimes they change often. However, if we don’t have the strength of mind to change with the world around us we risk becoming stuck just like one character in the story. This book came to my mind today as I thought about my current relationship.

My love and I have always been quite different. It is one of those things we learned early on about each other. I am the one who enjoys trying new things, going to new places and reading various genres in order to expand my thinking. He is more of a “close to the vest” type guy. He is very comfortable with what he’s familiar with and doesn’t do change well.

Over the years we worked through his fear of change by slowly bringing new things into his life. When we went on trips, we’d go after he got off work (he doesn’t do well with taking time off work) and stay over just one night. Slowly we’d try different restaurants of his choice. I’m still working on that reading thing. Yet while that has worked for us for many years, it’s the one thing that is taking its toll on us today.

I never quite understood the fear of change as I’ve known it to make me stronger and better. I don’t always like change, I don’t think anyone does but I don’t run from it. It’s hard to see anyone you love be crippled by a fear of anything because you know it is hindering their progress in some area of their lives. However, what I’m learning in this season of my life is that God truly has a plan for each and everyone of us.

While we hope that life will bend our way, ultimately it’s God’s will should strive to know and do, so that we can live that abundant life he promises us in Ephesians 3:20.

My cheese is moving once again…🙂