Just Me

I was born a fighter.  I’m sure God must have known what I’d endure over my lifetime and He just decided to build me to last.  I can remember the exact day life as I’d known it had changed.  I was in seventh grade and I just knew.  That morning, I woke up a confused, withdrawn, sad and very angry child.  That was all I could think to be at that time.  I had lots of questions but no one I trusted to answer them so I learned to be silent.  I let my attitude and anger speak for me.  I often heard people say, “what’s wrong with her”, yet no one asked me directly.

Adults are funny that way.  Instead of facing issues directly, they make excuses for why children behave a certain way or they choose to ignore it altogether.  Getting to the heart of the matter may shine light on their own insecurities so they teach children to be quiet and what children learn to do is suffer in silence. What we all end up with are generational curses that span decades.  Children who learn to be silent become adults who often suffer through abusive relationships, allow anger to fuel promiscuity, develop mental heath issues or other toxic, unhealthy problems.  The cycle continues until one brave soul decides to break the curse.

 

Very few people know my story.  For me, there has to be a need to share it.  I have to know that the person who hears it will benefit from it in some way.  Other than that, they are mere words spoken with no direction or path.  As I’ve gotten older and have had the opportunity to share my story, I usually hear one of two things, “how have you not lost your mind” and “you should write a book.”  I always laugh because there was a time when I thought I had “lost my mind.”  In order to cope with all that I had endured up to that point in my life, I simply became someone else.  Due to the fact that I’d lost my identity at such a young age, through my anger and frustration, I learned to be the person everyone expected me to be.  Yet, I never felt quite right.  I didn’t have balance.

I lived my life in this crazy limbo until I was twenty-eight years old.  I had the privilege to meet this great lady, whom I affectionately refer to as Shug, at a point when my anger and false persona was causing more grief than help.  She literally spoke life into me.  Over the course of about a year, she changed my life and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that I’m still riding today.  She gave me direction which is something I hadn’t had since I was about twelve years old.  She asked the hard questions, expected truthful answers, pressed and pushed until I was ready cut her out of my life forever.  I am thankful and grateful that she never quit.  Prior to Shug, I thought my anger made me a fighter.  She helped me to see that my true resilience, perseverance and innate ability to believe that there is more to me and my life than what people see or may perceive is what makes me a fighter.

It’s just in me to keep pushing.  I don’t quit.  When I look back over my life and reflect on all that I have lived through, the fires I’ve walked through and all those who told me I’d never amount to anything I think, “wow, look at that! If that didn’t stop me…nothing will.”  And I don’t quit!  Everyday is not my best day and I’m not always as positive as I should be.  I have my moments.  I cry, scream and if you catch me on a good day, I might even throw something.  However, I’ve learned not to stay in that place of anger because no one can get a level head when they are fueled with anger.  When my anger begins to subside, I pray, listen and plan.  (I’m learning to pray in my anger.  Not all the way there yet.)  I encourage myself and remind this girl that she is a fighter.

Through it all, I’ve always come out better than I went in.  Tension, challenges and struggles will produce growth if you don’t quit.

Planted but not buried…😊

 

Raising Kids

Raising Kids

I am, by no means, an expert in the area of child rearing.  But there are many things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me to get through those tough moments when I look at one of babies and have to ask, “where on earth did you come from?”  I often find myself thinking back to my own childhood wondering if there were times when I worked my parents nerves so bad that they wished they could drop me off at the nearest shelter for the “Just Not Right” and walk away. I can recall a time some years back when my brother, sister and I were at my parents house.  Somehow, probably because of my brother, the conversation went to each of us tattling on the other about all of this stuff we’d done as kids that my parents had absolutely no knowledge of.  My parents laughed right along with us but I can remember my mother, clearly being shocked saying, “ya’ll were some bad kids.”

As a parent now, I often wonder what my kids might be keeping from me and then ask myself if I even really want to know because so much has changed since I was a child.  Although, my parents didn’t have to contend with the likes of cell phones, text messaging, Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube, I’m sure they probably said the same thing as they were doing their best to raise my siblings and me all while trying to shield us from the negative influences of society at that time.   I know that on a daily basis my children can be fed negative information at lightening speed and that is definitely a challenge to keep up with.

My only birth child, a son, will be 23 years old this year and for the past ten years I have had the wonderful opportunity and privilege to be apart of the lives of six other children ages 21, 19, 15, 13 (twins) and 2.  This crew has given my life partner and I a variety of challenges.  None of them so bad that made us wish we could drop them off at the nearest home for the “Misinformed Child” but I think we may have come close a few times.  Even with the crazy stunts they’ve pulled, I think our children are the best children a parent could ask for.

Recently, my life partner was giving a speech.  He chose to begin his speech with a scripture that I think his parents, my parents and our grandparents before them were probably very familiar with.  The scripture, Proverbs 22:6 says, train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. I think this particular scripture sums up our current efforts to give our children what they need to help them become kind, loving, respectful, well-rounded and successful human beings.

This is what we’ve learned thus far:

Family Time – family time is of the utmost importance.  It is during these moments when my partner and I like to make sure we are connecting those lines of communication with our children.  We make every effort to have open, honest conversations with them about whatever is on their hearts and in their heads.  Our family vacations are the best.  There is nothing like hearing one of the kids say, “hey, remember that time we went to…” or “remember when we did…?”

Choices – our children are going to make their own choices.  Some are going to be great but others, eh…not so great.  As parents, my love and I simply want to give the kids a good foundation so that they are able to make the best possible decisions even when we are not around.  We will love them and guide them through whatever challenges (or bad decisions) they may face.  We work very hard to let them know that we will always be there for them.

Dreams – our dreams and goals for our children may not be the dreams and goals they have for themselves.  We simply have to accept them for who they are and whatever dreams they choose to follow.  As long as the path they’ve chosen is not harmful to themselves or others, we will give them the support they need to make those dreams come true.

Love – most of all, give love and express love.  We hug and love on the kids daily.  We make it a priority to tell them how much we love and appreciate them.  We pray often that God will allow our conversations not only with each other but especially with our children to always be full of grace (Col 4:6).  We want our words to speak life into our children.

Blessed beyond measure…:)