May 24, 2019
Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, you can live your dreams. -Ben Carson
I became a young mother at the age of 18. I faced many obstacles in my life. Ontonio is my 2kbaby (4th child). I went to college when he was an infant. I utilized the college labs and Head Start for child care. These services made it possible for me to attend school, work, and study! I worked on campus as student help too, and gained valuable work skills from the EOPS/CARES office at Cosumnes River community college. I was a CalWORKs recipient while working and attending college full time as a single parent. I learned a lot of my parenting principles from my ECE courses at school. (I’m still learning and far from perfect.) School is where I learned how dysfunctional my childhood experience was. School also empowered me with the tools I needed to grow and mature.
I cannot recall a time when my parents or teachers talked to me about going to college. But, my brother Keith was an example for my sister and I. I admired everything about him because he worked very hard. He started at Sacramento City college and transferred to Long Beach state on a track scholarship. He is the reason why I participated in track and cross country. I wanted to be like him. ❤️ I’ve always loved learning and aspired to be a teacher from the time I was a little girl. I remember playing school with the children in my apartment complex. I had the opportunity to teach at a community college and it was a dream come true. There is something really special about community college. I have such fond memories of my community college days.
I am a thriver, not a survivor. I was a victim of GUN violence and abuse, stayed in a shelter briefly, lived in a 1 bedroom apartment with my kids, experienced parent abandonment, lost my son to incarceration, and suffered from PTSD and depression. My ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score is very high. If you take a peek at my college transcripts, you will see the seasons where I struggled. But, I believe life experience is invaluable for making connections, building relationships, and gaining a broader perspective. Through Christ’s strength I achieved all my goals except one, thus far, and its losing the trauma weight. I am working on this now.
God has NEVER failed me. He’s always been faithful and this is why I praise Him.
Seeing Ontonio graduate this week reminded me of when I finally began to feel our lives take a turn for the better. I went from being a waitress at Denny’s and IHOPs while 9 months pregnant to building our house from the ground up. It took me 15 years to obtain my masters degree! I am a firm believer that education changes lives. Aside from accepting Christ, obtaining a higher education was the BEST thing I did for myself and children, while on this earth. You can’t compare the two because one is an eternal gift and education is an earthly gift.
I’ve modeled to my children that life can throw you blows, but it’s how you respond to the blows that builds your faith and character. During all of this turmoil, I still had to work even though sometimes I felt like I could barely breathe. There were many of times, I could barely pull myself out of bed when my children were younger. I remember praying and asking God, please help me. I couldn’t tap out, my kids depended on me, literally.
I shared just enough for you to know why I advocate so strongly for my kids, for the powerless, marginalized, and voiceless. Jesus is just.
I would like to take a moment to say thank you to a few people:
Thank you to my sister Lisa for always being my protector.
Thank you to my case worker Christina Castillo at Department of Human Assistance.
Thank you to the Victim”s Witness Assistance program.
Thank you to my teachers at Cosumnes River and Sacramento City College who ignited a spark within me: Mrs. Silva, you gave me hope that one day I could be like you. It was so inspiring to have a teacher who was a black woman and went to community college herself. Mr. Ly and Mr. Phillips you gave me the confidence to learn math and taught me more than high school. Ms. Miriam Beloglovsky- I learned so much from your cultural diversity class. I admired the strength and confidence you brought to the class.
Thank you to my friends I met at college: Irene- you taught me that children need consistency. Sam Lewis- you inspired me to continue in school. Kelly Merrell- you inspired me to be a better mother.
Thank you to the many random strangers that would see my kids and I eating out and pay for our food. Your random acts of kindness was proof to me God heard my prayers. To this day, I continue to pay it forward.
I write this in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month and for the many students who are graduating and overcoming.
If you’re a thriver, share your story.
As the year draws to an end, I’ve taken some time to reminisce on this past year. It was a time of great joy, a time of exasperation and circumvention, and a time of growth and reflection. Because of the trauma and abandonment growing up, as a young adult I became unstable emotionally and carried a lot of shame, resentment, and anger. Throughout the years, I’ve did a lot of confessing, praying, counseling, reading, meditating, self-reflection, and other work to move past pain into joy. I share this because each year I’m incredibly thankful for God’s grace, favor, and growth, even if its at a turtle pace, and all the wonderful people God has placed in my personal and professional life.
I have a couple of thoughts about family life that stood out this year:
- Marriage is so closely intertwined with my relationship with Christ. More on this next year. Romans 13:8: “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”
- You’re never really done parenting. Jesus is our father, he’s never stops being our Father. Parenting roles change as our children become adults. We are friends with God.
- Accepting people for who they show themselves to be, is not about me.
As I move into 2019, I want to move from milk to meat. What does this mean for me? It means actively moving from biblical principles to application (In education we say, its moving from theory to practice.) Living it out consistently, not when its easy, but when its tough. Last year, I focused on “courage,” this year I will focus on fruits of the Spirit. Taking back what the enemy stole.
Maximizing Time with the Teenagers in our Lives
During our morning commute, I asked my youngest son Cooper, “how do you know I love you?” He mumbled the typical responses kids say, “you provide for me, you give me shelter and food, you have high expectations…etc.” I proceeded, even if we didn’t have a home to live in, nor enough food, how would you know that I love you?” He said, “because you are always there for me.” His response totally melted my heart. In the bigger scheme of things, its being emotionally available for our children that matters. Are you present? Not physically present, but emotionally tuned in to their needs?
We’ve been taught from a very euro-centric perspective about adolescent development. Yes, teenagers desire more independence as they transition into adulthood. The march toward autonomy can manifest differently: less overt affection, more time spent with friends, contentious behavior, pushing the limits—the list goes on and on. This simply means, we adjust our parenting style. We don’t stop asking and knowing what’s going on and give them all the space in the world because they desire so much more privacy. C’mon now! Does that even make sense?
I’ve seen a pattern where parents are super involved in their children’s education and school activities during the elementary years, but slowly this involvement dwindles as they approach middle and high school. If you don’t believe me, compare parent participation groups from elementary to high school. This is probably because we bought into the idea, to respect their autonomy and independence. Our teens need us even more so.
I remember a college admission counselor was frustrated with me because I was present with my daughter. I’m glad I was there because she lacked the ability to understand her needs when developing a student education plan. What’s wrong with parents helping their young adults navigate the educational system? There is a difference between guiding and supporting & controlling and overbearing. Let’s not get it confused. That old saying, “the helicopter parent, ” doesn’t apply to our children.
Our teens need our guidance even more so because of the times we live in. Its important to continue to advocate on their behalf, teach them to advocate for themselves, be available, know when to step back, when to say less, and allow them take risks. Its a different time people. Kids nowadays, especially children of color get suspended for rough housing. Yes, Cooper was suspended for playing. I have the email from the assistant principal. Yep, the school to prison pipeline and charter schools are the worst offenders. Zero tolerance policies are intentionally designed to keep children out of the classroom, so they do not learn. Our kids are not allowed to test limits , to see how far they can go, they immediately get suspended. Some are training robots, not cultivating thinkers.
Pouring words of Affirmation into our Sons
Cooper has an amazing calling on his life. He is a son of the Living King! I get excited writing about it! Lately, I’ve found myself, reminding him of his WORTH and VALUE. I tell him, the world needs your contribution. The Lord told me to speak the WORD and pour into him so he believes what God says, who he is. There are too many messages on media, in school, and in this world that tell our precious sons, their lives don’t matter. They read about it. They see it. They feel it. Pour into your children. I cannot stress this enough. The tongue has the power of life and death. Being hard on them doesn’t work, the world is already hard on them.
Cooper shared with me about two years ago, he wants to be a judge. I’ve been thinking a lot about his aspirations and I’m praying this will come to fruition. Cognitively, younger teens’ inability to consider the long-term consequences of their actions is real. Some may act without thinking first because of their inability to do so. There is science to back up this concept. When I think about his behavior objectively, its simply foolishness. None of his offenses are with malice or hate. His behavior is normal, not atypical. It’s racism that keeps kids out of college and careers, not their grit or resiliency. Its not that something is wrong with our kids, but its all about what’s wrong with the system.
Lately, I’m finding my heart is in a place of worship. I’ve been lead to simply worship. Worship with my mouth, my behavior, my body, and my food choices. Worship Him for his goodness, faithfulness, mercy. When we worship, God moves. He is the creator of Heaven and Earth. He holds his handout and feeds all living things. He’s our provider and nurtures each of us. Try simply worshipping him for his greatness and just rest in the Lord.
“I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest,” declares the Lord GOD. Ezk 34:15.
“The oak fought the wind and was broken, the willow bent when it must and survived.” – Robert Jordan
The Lord gave me a premonition last year for 2018, as he did at the end of 2013 for the following year. (Side note: I’d like to remind you all, the Lord is ever merciful and gracious all the time, no matter what happens.) I haven’t yet begun to appreciate these presentiments because I’m not sure what to do with it. Do I share this with others? Do I keep it to myself? Do I bury it? Do I let it consume me? What happens next? Do I pray against it? These are all the questions I wonder about.
Last month, I found myself asking God, “how much more must one endure in a lifetime?” I was reminded, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). God’s peace is indescribable.
No Escaping Sisters
We’ve been taught by the church that when we give our hearts to Christ, we will live a better life and things will get better. This is a lie! Our problems don’t magically disappear, life doesn’t magically get easier, we don’t get to escape life’s hardships and struggles, or pains simply because we are Christ followers. Its quite the opposite, and he tells us, what we can expect in his WORD- the Bible.
I met a sister in Christ for dinner today. This meeting was scheduled about 2 weeks ago. We hadn’t talked in over 3 years and the enemy didn’t want us to connect. I woke up with a sore throat, sick, and just not feeling good. However, I didn’t want to flake because I rescheduled yesterday. I felt like God wanted me to be there for her, yet she was there for me. She ended up confirming in the Spirit realm what I knew was manifesting in the physical realm. (Some of you who are reading this may not understand what I’m saying because it concerns spiritual things.) I’m so thankful for her being obedient to the Holy Spirit. It confirms God does hear my prayers, he is revealing himself to me, and he is going to continue to do a good work in my life and my family’s life.
Prayer of Blessings
Lord, I thank you for always showing up and using willing vessels to show your love, faithfulness, and compassion. Your timing is perfect. God bless my sister in Christ and her family.
In His Grip,
September 3, 2018
August is jam-packed with family commitments, beginning of school, events, and meetings. I recently had a minor, but painful health issue that came on suddenly too. After thinking about it, I knew dehydration was the cause. I was exercising consistently, running around, not sleeping well, reaching for Cola, and increased my coffee intake from a grande to a venti, every morning.
TMI- I Know
I am very much in tuned with my body and knew something was wrong late Saturday night. Sunday, I started to self- treat by increasing my fluids, putting lemon in my water, rubbing oregano, frankincense, and On Guard on the bottom of my feet and abdomen, made a bladder bomb, applied the heating pad, consumed cranberry juice, and dashed to the store for AVO (urinary pain relief) because I was in pain. Mad pain! After urinating, I noticed my urine was discolored from the AVO. It was only then, I decided to read the package in detail. I was curious about what caused the discoloration. I come across the State of CA warning, ……this may cause cancer. WTHeck!? A simple OTC product has this warning sign on it and the red 40 stuff in it. I hate red 40. I stopped taking it.
Antibiotics or Essential Oils
I wrestled with treating holistically or conventionally. Sunday night I emailed my doctor, shared my symptoms, requested an antibiotic, just in case I didn’t catch it early enough. I diagnosed myself after experiencing this over two decades ago. Monday, I felt better, less pain and impressed with my EOs. I watched a movie while eating a handful of Dove chocolates. I asked my husband to pick up the prescription, just in case (notice how many times I write, “just in case.”)
Tuesday morning I’m awakened early from back pain, the urge came back strong, and the infection appeared to be traveling to my kidneys. Its dark in the house, I climb out of bed, go downstairs, take the pill, check to make sure its not amoxicillin (sometimes doctors make mistakes), drink some water, go potty, and try to rest. Bad mistake! I beame nauseous, had the chills, thought I was going to pass out, skin was clammy, just a hot mess! I could barely take Cooper to school. Note to self: take antibiotics with food.
Yes, my EOs helped with reducing the pain and possibly even helped reduce the bacteria. But, I think the chocolate made my symptoms worse the next day. I didn’t want the pain to get out of control, so I took the antibiotics.
My birthday was low key, but nice. I’m so grateful for the many kind gestures and gifts I received. I’m 42 and still get gifts. That’s pretty cool! My work BFF took me to lunch and gave me a waste trainer and key finder for the family. She’s a great listener. There is a story behind the key finder. Another colleague blessed me with a special card with words written just for me, a cupcake from Freeport bakery (bomb.com), and balloons. Her words meant alot. My administrators blessed me with candles from Bath and Body Works (BBW), rose facial spray, cucumber melon wipes, fancy wallet, and a bamboo plant. All the stuff I love! My husband took me out to eat at Urban Roots. I love a good BBQ spot. My son Johnny bought me BBW (candles and lotion). My daughter Charity bought me more BBW (candles), Body Shop (serum), and a $100.00 Torrid gift card, Elijah doesn’t celebrate birthdays, but his words of affirmation are enough! I love hearing him tell me, ” I love you, mom- give me a hug.” Cooper and Ontonio gifted me their time with massages. They are the sweetest. And all the kind words, well wishes from my FB friends and text messages mean so much! Am I bragging? Absolutely! Birthday celebrations mean alot to me. Its another year of life! It doesn’t cost anything to say a prayer for someone, to wish them well, or to say, Happy Birthday!
Today, I’m grateful for my health, thankful I can still turn it around. I’m grateful for my children. I was able to spend some time with my older boys, we talked about where God brought us from, our journey, our dreams, and our struggles. We are overcomers.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thank Nguyen
Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
I had a super lazy weekend. I didn’t cook. I didn’t clean. I didn’t go to the garden. I did absolutely nothing, but finished two novels, Cowboy Pride by Lacy Williams and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. (The latter I recommend reading with your middle or high schooler. There are some deep topics worthy of discussion related to justice, racial discrimination, interracial dating, etc.)
Last night, I began to feel guilty for not cooking or cleaning, but I just didn’t have it in me. I’m still trying to figure out if this lack of energy has something to do with my impending menses. You would think after 25 years, I would know by now, but….I don’t.
This morning I was in a funky mood. I was frustrated because my grand-parenting role becomes blurry at times. More of this topic, another day. As I become older, I treasure and value my me time. Sometimes, I wonder if guarding my me time is a result of having children at a young age. I had my first child when I was 18.
Today was a telecommute day, which is always a blessing because it allows me to catch up on reading work materials, its a change in environment, and let’s be honest – flexibility is a work perk!
I crafted a chore chart for the kids because a couple of them forget their responsibilities and I’m tired of reminding, asking, griping, and yelling. Speak less, mama.
Health goals this week
- Workout in the hotel gym since I will be out of town for business.
- Yoga twice this week.
- Track on MFP daily.
- Focus on daily water intake, just 8 cups.
- Abide Meditation daily.
- Complete my 5 minute Gratitude Journal
Current Read, just started! Join me.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Question for you.
How was your Monday?
Thanks for joining me!
“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” – Elizabeth Edwards