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…

 

The Difference

Writing is something that I absolutely love to do and I was inspired to write this post after reading Awaken by Priscilla Shirer this morning in my quiet time. Today was Day 10 of this devotional entitled The Difference.  The scripture reading for today was from Numbers 14:24 (NIV) and it reads…

But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to and his descendants will inherit it.

For much of my life and especially as an adult, I’ve been told that I was different.  That I think differently, talk differently and pretty much do my life differently than the norm.  For the longest time this bothered me.  I didn’t want to be different.  It seemed that whenever my thoughts and opinions differed from my friends, when I chose to eat healthier or when I spoke about God and openly practiced my faith, I was getting some side-eyed glance or turned up nose from someone.

At one point in my life I can remember being so annoyed with being different that I just started going along with the norm.  When asked, I agreed with the group even when I knew I didn’t share the same thoughts and opinions.  I made choices and decisions based on what others said I should do and lived the way they expected me to live.  The more I went along with the norm the more my head, heart and body ached.  I seemed to always be physically and emotionally drained. I was tired and unhappy.  I’d gained weight and developed anxiety.  A few years ago as I sat talking with a friend about my struggles, stress and sadness, she said to me, “there is no way you can please everybody.  Sometimes it becomes about self preservation.  People are going to do what they want and you will be stuck in misery trying to live down to their expectations.”

Live down to their expectations…wow!

It was in that moment I realized I was more miserable living life trying not to be different rather than simply accepting myself for who I was and living life to my own expectations.  So people talked about me and made fun of me.  Yes, it was furiously annoying but I was and am much more happier just being myself.  My quiet time this morning, reminded me that God purposely made me unique and different for a reason.  No one else can be me.  The path and life God has for me is for me and no one else can walk my journey.  Since that talk with my friend, I’ve been living my life according to me ever since and have been better for it.

At church this past Sunday a gentleman sitting next to me said to me, “you must have a good life because you are always smiling.”  When I woke up Sunday I really was not feeling as if I was living a good life.  But after a moment of thinking about it, I had to agree with him.  I do have a good life.  We survived a hurricane with no damage to our home; my love, my son and my family are healthy and well and I am gainfully employed.  I may be different but I am soooo very happy!

A different kind of spirit…:)

 

 

Company We Keep

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to meet a young woman who had lived a very rough live. She is still in her twenties and has a lot of life ahead of her. She has survived years of sexual abuse at the hands of her drug addicted mother’s boyfriends and lived in several foster homes where the abuse continued. As I spoke with her she told me of how she feels that she has finally gotten her life together. She has a young child now, is in school, working and seeking help to work through her childhood issues.  By all accounts, and from what I have gathered from school officials and references, this young woman really is doing all that anyone can ask of her in order to succeed.

Unfortunately, it seems that every time she starts to go in the right direction something comes along and knocks her off track.  Although, I’m not quite sure how this happened but not long after I met this young woman I began receiving emails from her mother.  Even though this mother is the reason this young woman has most of the issues she has, the young woman still wants to try to build a relationship with her mother.  What I came to know after reading the mother’s emails is that SHE is the reason the young woman can’t seem to catch a break.  Not only is she emailing me, she is emailing sponsors that are trying to assist this young woman as well as the Dean at the school where her daughter attends college.  These numerous emails include screen shots of text message conversations she is having with the daughter that clearly show she is trying to bait the daughter as well as court documents from the daughter’s past run ins with the courts.

The mother’s emails are simply full of negativity.  She details each and every offense she feels has been done to her by her daughter and tells me that I should be careful of the company I keep.  Now, while I can understand the mother wanting to “protect me” from this horrible person she sees in her daughter, what I see is a young woman trying to succeed in life, to do her best to work through her issues and rid herself of the demons of her past not knowing that the biggest reason she can’t move forward is because of the one thing she won’t let go.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that we should all try to repair broken relationships with parents and/or relatives. But remember forgiveness is for YOU, not the other person.  You forgive to let go of the negativity you are holding on to which in itself is holding you back from living your best, authentic life.  Forgiveness does not mean that you have to allow others who are unwilling to move forward or let go of past negativity to dominate your world.  Sometimes you have to love people from a distance. You have to wish them well on their journey and continue yours without them.

As for this young woman, I told her she will have to make the determination about her mother on her own.  However, there was no point in me continuing to assist her until she got clear about the nature of her relationship with her mother.  It was most certainly a sad thing to see but clarity can only come from peace within not someone telling you what to see, think or feel.

Luke 21:36, be always on the watch and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen and that you may be able to stand before the man of God.

Stay awake…:)

Welcome 2017

As 2016 has come to an end, just like my winter break, I spent a few moments last night and today reflecting on my life this past year.  To be perfectly honest, I am just grateful to be alive and as far as I know healthy.  I have my family, I have a job, I have a roof over my head and I woke up this morning in my right mind. Can’t ask for much more than that.  While I didn’t reach all of the goals I’d set for myself in 2016, I did make some very big gains in my personal, profession and spiritual life.  Of course, there were some good times and a whole bunch of not-so good times but all in all it was a very good year.

I am just as equally proud of my bad days as I am of my good days.  Over the years I have come to understand that without bad days I would never learn how strong, dynamic, resourceful and creative I am.  All the things I say I can do and will do won’t mean as much if I don’t have some struggle along the way.  I put forth every effort to live the life that my parents dreamed for me and one that will leave a legacy/impact that will make those around me proud to have known me.  I don’t always get it right.  I don’t always handle challenging situations appropriately.  However, every morning that God wakes me up, I open my eyes with prayer in my heart and I am grateful for another opportunity to get it right.  I’ve learned how to say, “I’m sorry” even if I may not be in the wrong because my relationships with my family and friends is important to me.  I’ve learned to forgive even when I don’t necessarily “feel” like it because I know forgiveness is for my betterment and well being, and not someone else.

There are so many things to look forward to that I didn’t spend too much time looking back.  We want to reflect not dwell!

Expecting great things in 2017…:)

 

 

 

 

Moments in Life

I’ve lived in Florida for nearly twenty years now and I still find it funny when people “tease” me about my free thinking spirit or strange thinking as I’ve heard it called.  What most people don’t know or understand about me is that I am very aware that my thinking is different from the norm.  I love being me, I love being different and I absolutely love my free thinking spirit.

I was born in San Francisco in the 1970’s.  Growing up there, what I remember most is family get togethers and lots and lots of people.  There were people who looked like me and people who didn’t.  I had friends of all shades, shapes and sizes.

And then it happened…I moved to my mother’s home state of Alabama to live with my grandmother.  I lived there for a couple of years during middle and high school.  The years I lived there were probably some of the darkest and worst times of my life.  Unless a person was born there, one, especially a free thinking, spirited kid from California, could never understand what pure hatred, negativity and ugliness looked like.

I loved being with my grandmother.  She taught me things I would have never learned or appreciated in California.  I learned how to wash clothes without a wash machine, pick fresh fruit and veggies, sew without a sewing machine, cook without processed foods, share without thinking what I’d get in return, to respect others, to do right because it’s the right thing to do and to act like somebody with some sense.  However, what I remember most was not only how blacks were treated in the south by white Americans but how we treated each other.  Living in Alabama was the first time and the only time I experienced bullying by my own peers.  Prior to moving there, I had no idea that my skin was “too dark” or that my hair was “too nappy” or that my last name rhymed with so many other negative things.  Living in California I grew up understanding that we are all different in some way but that people were just people.

When we finally moved back to California, I was lost, confused and scared of everything and everybody. Life for me had changed drastically.  I had the privilege of spending my last two years of high school at an all girls Catholic school.  Being there helped me to recover some of what I’d lost in Alabama.  I was no longer that “black girl with the nappy hair and funny last name.”  I was just me. Again, I was able to have friends that didn’t all look like me or talk like me. I found the girls and administrators at my school to be some of the most encouraging, loving, funny, and beautiful people I knew.  I know for certain it had nothing to do with the religious aspect of the school but simply people who wanted to be their best and helping others to be their best as well.

We live our lives never knowing which situations will break us or those that will make us stronger.  What I am most grateful for is that I had the experience of growing up in a place that allows people to be different.  I’m grateful that my experiences in Alabama didn’t strip away the heart of who and what I truly am.  I love that I don’t have a keep my head down mentality.  I’m not afraid of growing or changing. I’m not afraid to seek or ask for help from any person of any race. I’m glad that I see the bigger picture.  I don’t care what others think or say about me.  I’m grateful to be a free and reasonable thinker.  The only thing that defines who I am is me and personally, I think more people would benefit from being more open to the differences of others then taking the time to learn from them.

Learning from others…:)

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…:)

 

 

Be Open

I love my blog!  I don’t get to post to it as often as I like but I still love it!  Like everyone else in the world I work and have a family to take care of.  Finding a good, quiet thirty minutes to spend on my blog can be challenging, however, I have this crazy love and passion for writing.  I may not post to my blog everyday but I definitely write everyday.  I have to.  Writing is like breathing for me.  I have journals that date back to high school and it is really crazy to read and see just how much I have grown and changed as a woman.  One thing I think helps me to continue growing is my openness and willingness to try new things.  My dad had a saying, “Try it at least once.  If you don’t like it, don’t do it again but how will you ever know if you like or don’t like something if you don’t at least try it once?” My sister and I have lived by that for practically all of our lives.

Earlier this week, my life partner and I were having a discussion about how God uses even the simplest of things to speak to us.  He, my life partner, is not always as open as I am to trying new things.  He will sometimes but he doesn’t like being too far outside his comfort zone.  On Sunday, he happened to be flipping through the channels and came across the Joel Osteen program.  He had never watched the program before but something Mr. Osteen said just before he flipped the channel made him stop and listen.  He watched the entire program.  At the end, he and I talked at length about the message and how it resonated with him.  He talked about how he was glad he’d watched it because it gave him some clarity about somethings he’d been dealing with.  He also made a statement which I absolutely love, he said,  “even though I’m southern and enjoy a good hooping word every now and again it was nice to hear a good practical message that I can clearly understand and apply to my life.  It’s amazing how God can use different people to minster to you.”

I would definitely have to agree with that statement.  We never know when God will speak to us or who He will use to do it.  Yes, we have to be careful what we listen to and sometimes careful of the person delivering the message but I believe that this is one reason why it is so important to know God’s word for ourselves, so that we are able to discern God’s true word for our lives rather than simply someones loaded opinion of what we should or should not be doing.  From my dad, be open to trying new things at least once and from my love, be open to stepping out of your comfort zone… just a little.

Enjoy your day and thank you to all of the men and women who have served and are still serving in our armed forces.  Happy Veteran’s Day! 🙂