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…:)

 

 

Past, Present and Future

Normally, it takes me all of a few hours to write a post.  Once a topic, thought or interesting conversation comes to me, my juices start flowing and I just start writing.  However, I’ve been pouring over this post for about a week.  I knew what I wanted to convey but it was coming to me in weird pieces and I just couldn’t get the wording to make sense.  Anyhow, I’m going to give it to you the best I can and hopefully it will make some kind of sense 🙂

My mom used to say that the more things changed, the more they stayed the same. Of course as a child I had no idea what that meant but as I’ve gotten older I think I have a little bit of an idea as to what my mom’s sentiment might mean. As adults we live and hope that we can learn from our mistakes in order to do better.  However, what happens when we don’t learn from those mistakes? I guess this is how things can actually stay the same.

I got permission from my friend to tell this story because my mom’s little saying popped right into my head as she and I met for breakfast to talk over a week ago and I thought it was absolutely the perfect way to describe what she’s dealing with.  So, this friend has been married for over fifteen years.  She and her husband have three children all under ten years old.  Her husband, as far as I can tell and from what she says, is a cool dude.  Works hard, tries to spoil her as best he can and provides her with a pretty good life.  For the most part, she’s happy.  Unfortunately, she has a penchant for having male friends. Sometimes these friendships have been more than just friendships.

This has obviously caused a serious strain on her marriage which is what we were discussing over breakfast.  Although they have been to counseling, at her husband’s request, she has not made much progress in seeing how her “friendships” are effecting her marriage or what she needs to do in order to cut those ties.  I’ve known this girl for years.  I love her dearly but she’s as wrong as two left shoes and I had no problem telling her that.  In knowing her and talking to her that day, I could clearly see how situations she dealt with as a child are affecting her relationship with her husband and as long as she refuses to shed light on and talk about those issues she will never be free to be the wife her husband needs.

Her life and her story also puts in my mind generational curses and how they can impact so many lives for so many years.  If no one ever stands up to acknowledge what’s wrong in the family and talk about those family secrets they will inevitable eat away at the very fabric of all those involved.  Because I’ve known her so long, I know that this situation didn’t just start with her.  Her mother had the same exact issue in her marriage and story has it that her grandmother had the exact same issue in her marriage.

I almost can’t feel too bad for my girl though because as a grown woman she can make the decision to make a better choice so that this doesn’t continue to carry forth to impact her children.  Instead of being afraid of what may come out as a result of her talking about and dealing with the issues of her past, she can make a lifetime of difference for herself and her family by openly and honestly taking on that challenge.

 

Love yourself enough to take on the challenge… 🙂

 

 

Just the Highlights

I am so very glad that I journal almost every day, put darn near everything I do in my calendar and capture the most important moments on digital image.  In this particular instance it will make giving the highlights of my 2017 year that much easier.

Leading into 2017 my focus was saving money in hopes of purchasing my first home.  Then came the business of house hunting.  But in between that lofty goal I…

Visited Washington D. C. and the African American History Museum

Completed a couple of 5K’s

Bought a new car

Served my first term as President of Soroptimist International of Tampa

Spent lots of time on the beach

Completed a bunch of School District trainings

Attended a District II Training in Ft. Lauderdale for Soroptimist

Attended more high school football games than I can count

Hosted a One Day Conerence for teen girls

Saw my old apartment building being torn down

Visited my boy and grand-boy in North Carolina

Helped my friend with her wedding business

Saw my God-Childen on their visit to Orlando from California

Took part in a protest

Celebrated my sister’s twenty years on the job

Weathered Hurricane Irma

Watched one of our schools burn down

Visited Mt. Dora

Read 14 books

Had breakfast, lunch and coffee dates with my friends and family

Got my church on…not every Sunday but frequently

Through all that I spent time reflecting on life in general, family relationships, friendships, my career, my love life, my future.  And here’s what I learned…

If it makes me happy…I’ll keep doing it

Read more…my goal this year is 24 books

Make my morning quiet time a priority

The only person I can change is me

Keep up with community service projects

The truth will most definitely set you free

Dream Big and Dream Often

Your character says a lot about you

Forgive

God’s plan for my life is meant for me; everybody can’t go

As long as I am a teacher, I will need multiple sources of income in order to survive

Work toward my goals a little every day

Here’s to 2018… 🙂

It’s Her Birthday

Today is a very special day for me. It’s my momma’s birthday! She would have turned sixty-six on today.  I lost my momma in June of 2015.  Even now, it’s still very hard for me to believe she’s no longer with us.  Grateful that she’s no longer in pain but so sad she had to go.

The months of November and December were her favorite.  She loved cooking so Thanksgiving and Christmas gave her the opportunity to go all out.  Feeding us and making a plate for anyone who stopped by gave her so much joy.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of both my parents but I think of them most often during this time of year.

Time is not always on our side and everything can’t wait.  There is one thing I can be whole about when it comes to losing my parents and that is we had no unfinished business at the time of their deaths.  I can mourn and be sad without guilt or feeling as if I should have said something or done something prior to losing them.

Be authentic. Love your family, love your friends.  If you have something to say…say it.  If you know you were wrong…humble yourself and apologize.  If someone hurt you, tell them and clear the air.  Remember…forgiveness is for you.  You walking around in hurt and anger is only further hurting you.

Missing my momma…

 

My Home Buying Experience

One of my dreams as a single mother was to one day own a home.  When my son was born, I was just nineteen years old and in college.  I knew finishing school was an important step in me achieving any and all of my dreams so for years (and I do mean years), a higher education was my general focus.  The years went by, my son grew and then helping him to achieve his dreams became my focus.  However, I was still working toward many of my own dreams.  I finished school, started my career as an educator and went on to finish graduate school.  More years went by.  I have accomplished A LOT! I’ve had some great friends, fun times and lots of personal growth but still owning a home was one thing I wanted to tackle before I got too old to enjoy it.

My actual home buying journey started about three years ago.  I’d finally made up in my mind that I needed to get serious about purchasing.  After taking a good, close look at my finances, I knew that a part time job would be in my near future if I wanted to get the ball rolling on paying down my debt and then saving for a down payment.  Fast forward three and a half years, my credit score has gone up, my debt has gone down and my savings was looking pretty good.  I was blessed to find a really great realtor who worked with me for over a year to find the perfect house for my family.

In April 2017, we found THE house.  I fell in love with it the moment I walked in.  From the moment I said, “Yes, to the House”, I had no earthly idea how crazy my life was about to get.  I’ve heard stories from friends and co-workers about how stressful home buying could be.  I HAD NO IDEA what I was in for.  I have never had to dig for so much paperwork in all my days and I teach for a living!  I don’t think there was a day in the sixty days I spent in the purchasing process that I was not asked for one document or another.  What was most frustrating is that I seemed to be sending the same documents over and over again.  Honestly, I thought I was being audited for fraud by the IRS.  There were tears of joys, tears of frustration, bouts of anger and moments where I truly wanted to tell both my realtor and my mortgage broker to go jump in a lake.  On the day of my closing, I literally cried as I was signing documents.  Not because I was shell shocked about attaching my name to a mortgage for the next thirty years but because I was so relieved to finally be off that crazy, emotional roller coaster.  We are all moved in and getting settled.  I am happy but most of all grateful that God saw fit to bless this young, single mom from San Francisco with a home of her own.

My son is grown now with a place and family of his own.  I wasn’t able to accomplish this goal while he was growing up but I am gratefully to be able to leave the legacy behind for him to enjoy.  I remember how much my parents’ house meant to me and I can only hope that this home will be with my family for years to come.

Living the Dream 🙂

Blended Success

The dictionary defines family as a basic social unit consisting of parents, their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not…the traditional family.  That’s nice.  Growing up, I had this particular type of traditional family.  My household consisted of my mom, dad, brother, sister and me.  This is the way I understood a family to be.  Today, my current “family” looks a tad bit different from the one I grew up in.  After my son was born in 1993, I spent much of my time focused on being a good mom to him and finishing college.  When people asked if I wanted more children, I’d laugh and say, “if God wants me to have more children he will send me a man who already has some.”  Funny or not, God answered that prayer in 2006 when I met my love, my best friend, my soulmate and beautiful father of five.  The youngest of the five, currently still home with us were three (twins) and six at the time we met.  Fast forward about ten years and we are now a blended family of two thirteen year olds (one is lovingly sassy and the other, my sweet, gentle giant) and one half pint, feisty sixteen year old.  These little people have become just as much mine as they are his.  They may not have been born from me but they are definitely born of me.  I feed them, clothe them, help them with their homework, drive them to dance, football practice, cheer leading and basketball.  We take family vacations, have weekend stay-cations and monthly dinner outings to a restaurant of their choosing.  In every essence of the word, we are a successful blended family.

Our success, however, has not come without a multitude of challenges and small fortune in legal fees.  You see, our three children happen to not share the same mother.  Hey, it happens.  What I have learned and seen over the past ten years is that my partner in crime, my ride or die and my children’s father is a great dad.  Unfortunately, his greatness is often overshadowed by the ugly stereotype that plagues most “single” fathers…DEADBEAT!  While our kiddos have not always lived with us full time they’ve always been a part of our home.  I have watched as their father worked and continues to work fifty to sixty hour work weeks to ensure that his child support is maintained and that our own household does not suffer because of it.  I have watched the love of my life deal with court case after court case just for the right to be in contact with our children, to be allowed to have them stay the night and to simply keep them safe from harm.  I’ve held his hand going into court and wrapped my arms around him after a frustrating court defeat.  I’ve watched him be taunted and called names in front of friends, family and coworkers by the mothers of our children.  I’ve seen his heartbreak after being told he will never see his children again.  From the day I met him, I’ve always known that our children are his priority.  There are times that I truly wouldn’t have thought any less of him for wanting to throw in the towel but even today, with two court cases still pending (one regarding the child support he still pays even though the children live with us), he refuses to give up.  Now, am I saying that my baby daddy has been perfect?  Absolutely not!   As with any of us who have children, when we look back over our times with our children and their biological other parent, we see areas where we could have said or done something different but we learn from our mistakes and try to do better the next time.  His experiences have taught him well and he has grown tremendously.  I could not be more proud of him.

How do I handle all of the baby momma drama you ask?  My place is to stay neutral and to support him and our children in the best way possible amidst the chaos.  This post would be entirely too long if I took the time to tell you just how and why a judge decided that for the best interest and safety of the children, they should reside with us. But trust me, it is for the best.  I struggle with understanding how or why a person, in my case the mothers of our children, would use or hurt the children they say the love all in an effort to intentionally damage the relationship they have with their father or me.  I can’t count the number of times our children have said to me, “I just want to be able to see my dad” or come home frustrated because of something that was said or done that negatively impacted them while on a weekend stay with their mother.  Our twins constantly worry about what to say or not say and our sweet sixteen year old tries to block it all out.  She just wants to be a kid.  I pray for them often and God hears my prayers because despite all that they have been through we have three of the most loving, respectful, well-rounded children in the world.  Believe it or not, we also pray for their mothers.  We have to because no matter what happens in a court of law, children will always be connected to their mother as well as their father.  For us, our only hope is that a mother will simply learn to put anger and deceit aside and put the children first.

 

For all of our babies, ages 23, 22, 19, 16, 13, 13 & 3