Cannot go back to sleep. Fell asleep around 1:00 ish am and was awakened by a stupid balloon that somehow floated into the ceiling fan around 3:00 ish am. My dog and I were both startled because it sounded like gun shots.
Where is my Protector?
Where is my King, my leader, my covering?
What will life look like 2 years and 5 years from now?
Is everyone wounded?
Where is my defender? My Superman, my hero?
Where is my encourager?
Will I experience a normal, healthy, and loving relationship?
For those who know me, you know how much I love listening to music. I recently stumbled across this song, called, “For You,” by Kenny Lattimore. It came out in 2009, way back then! Any whoo, I love it! It’s beautiful. It makes me think of what could be one day….keep hoping..anyways.
I’ve been sitting with my feelings, acknowledging how I feel, and realizing that I need to make some changes to protect my peace and health.
Today, I’m reminded, God is good all the time. ❤️Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” ❤️🙌🏽
Late February, 2021, I was reflecting on how thankful I was that nobody in my immediate family caught COVID-19. A whole year and we all managed to not be a statistic, until I noticed my daughter was coughing a lot. I kept fussing at her, to cover her mouth, get out the kitchen, and stay away from me. I even urged her to get a COVID test. A couple days later, I start coughing, and then progressively declined. I immediately scheduled a test and got my results back the next day on March 4. Ironically, my vaccine appointment was scheduled the same day. I contemplated going if I did not get my test results back in time.
Thinking back, I believe now the symptoms started 5-7 days before. I normally go to the gym in the morning, and didn’t have the energy to go, not even for my normal walks. I decided to honor my body with rest and didn’t feel guilty about not exercising because I was truly fatigued. Hindsight, it was good I made that decision, to reduce the spread of COVID to others at the gym. I had body aches, and the fatigue was subtle. I did notice my upper back and shoulders were aching, but I thought it was work induced.
Once, I found out I was positive, fear was trying to set in. The logical part of my mind told me, many people survive COVID-19; however, it was hard to not think about the “what ifs.” What if I become a death statistic? I kept surfing the internet to see if my symptoms were normal. Nowhere does it mention symptoms about, having excruciating pain. My pain was severe.
On March 5, I noticed I have lost my sense of smell/taste. This is a few days after and not at the onset. These symptoms were far from “mild.” Having COVID was excruciating.
I don’t know about what you’ve heard, but no one tells you about the excruciating systemic nerve pain. There were nights, I cried myself to sleep because the pain was so intense. I tossed and turned all night long because I was very uncomfortable, almost unbearable. My lips were chapped from inhaling and exhaling, thinking deep breathing would help ease the pain. I was suffering. If I had to describe COVID, I would say, it was as if I had a continuous migraine with a lodged kidney stone, nerve pain from a bulging and herniated disk coupled with labor pain and without relief in the middle of a cold forest. I have never been this sick in my life. I could feel the disease attack my spinal discs, joints and kidneys. My options for pain OTC pain relief was limited. I am severely allergic to ibuprofen.
I let my guard down and have children who bounce back and forth from my house to their dad’s house. Unfortunately, we failed to make a plan if someone was experiencing symptoms. The whole family had COVID, 2 households.
I struggled with deciding if I should take time off the first week and did not want to leave work with so much to do. I managed to get through the first week, but then took off the second week. It was my manager’s gentle prompting, that helped me make the decision. I think the COVID fog, made it more difficult to make simple decisions about what was best for me. The second week was worse.
Propel to Action
Look out for those who are single, have young children, or elderly. They may not have the strength to cook, or order food online, nor the support system to ask someone to pick up prescriptions or groceries for them. Experiencing COVID-19 can be very isolating and can make one feel as if their on a planet all by your yourself. One of my Deputy Director’s sent me a gift card via email. It was such a kind gesture, and needed. I was unable to do anything for my family.
Two weeks after I “recovered” from COVID, I received my 1st Moderna shot. Some people thought I should’ve waited, but I was so anxious because I thought we might run out of vaccine and didn’t want to experience COVID again. After the shot, I was ill for the weekend, the pains came back, but not as intense- thankfully. I’m due for my 2nd shot on Friday, April 16. I am so grateful for Governor Newsom and the administration! Our state has the lowest COVID positive rates! I’ve always had a conservative view on vaccines, and appreciate both perspectives. There is value in vaccines, this I do know.
Lingering Effects are Real
My symptoms range from headaches, runny nose, shortness of breath, fatigue, chest/heart pain- not sure which is it, heart flutters, and increased feelings of anxiousness. I tried going back to the gym and resuming walking the beginning of April, but I have not been consistent due to my energy levels and prioritizing my time.
COVID Thriver & Survivor
Today, I have a renewed appreciation and gratitude for my health. I am so thankful none of my family members had to be hospitalized or worse – expire. Surviving COVID should be celebrated!! Over a half million people have passed away from COVID in the United States, young and old.
Remember: Wash your hands. Wear a Mask. Watch your distance.
Keep Looking Up,
There is so much value in identifying a day of rest and doing your best to honor that sacred time. Find it, reclaim it, and set aside dedicated space to allow God to replenish, renew, and strengthen your spirit. Each person has a Spirit inside their body. Resetting is crucial for health and well-being. This practice helps us to be better humans to others in our home with loved ones, in our relationships with friends, and even in workplace settings with colleagues and staff.
- Do not do anything that feels like work or a chore
What does resetting look like for you? How does it make you feel? How do you reflect and prepare for the upcoming week?
September 27, 2020
When I have a lot on my mind, I blog…
I woke up this morning and had to tell myself, “I am a daughter of the King, fix your crown.” I am worth far more than rubies. I just want to encourage my daughters, sisters, sons, friends, and brothers, this too shall pass. This season in your life, will pass. There are seasons of life that come and go. You’re not always going to be in a season of winning. It’s important to recognize what season of life you are in. Individuals have seasons. Marriages have seasons. Friendships have seasons. Relationships have seasons. Finances have seasons. Careers have seasons. There is a season of birth, re-birth, and death. Ecclesiastes 3, mentions there is a time for everything; beginnings and endings. In Genesis 8:22, there is time for preparation. A time for seedtime and harvest, summer and winter.
The Law of God is this: What you Sow, you will Reap. #FACTS
- Preparation. During the time of preparation you will not see fruits because it’s underneath the surface. Our culture only mentions producing, in other words, prosperity or winning.
- Producing. During the time of producing you should celebrate when you’re in a good season. The enemy never wants you to embrace the season you’re in. Rejoice with those who are happy!
- Pruning. During the time of pruning, allow God to prune relationships out of your life. God will cut some of those things out of your life, just like pruning a rose bush. Its not easy and can be painful. He’s shaking things up and OUT, its a violent shaking, and often times can be felt throughout all your senses. This is God putting us in a place to grow to another level. Being pruned, may be very uncomfortable, but its also productive. Sometimes, you don’t understand and can’t see, nor understand how or when you will see the production. Just know, God will never prune without your permission. He does not go against our will. Think about the potter in Jeremiah that jumps off the wheel.
- Perishing. Perishing is abnormal for us. We think it shouldn’t happen. We freeze. We question God. We doubt God. Friends, death is apart of the cycle, its apart of the life cycle of things that will happen. People die. Marriages end. Friendships end. Businesses end. Careers end. But, I want to encourage you and tell you, weeping endures for a moment. (As I blog, I’m rejoicing because God’s word is LIVING & ACTIVE, and– so, so good!)
My Season of Pruning & Perishing
I am embracing this season in my life and not running from it. We should be more concerned with what God thinks of us, than what others think of us. I am in a season of life, where I need to focus on what God thinks of me and how he sees me, not what others see, say, or think about my marriage ending. I don’t need man’s approval. If you’re focused on what Chana is doing or how someone else is living, your focus is in the wrong place. I encourage you to use this time to re-focus on your relationship with Christ. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. None of us are worth His forgiveness, but thank God for the blood of Jesus, right!
I hear what they’re saying on the streets and during family gatherings. But know, there are always 3 sides to the story. His truth. Her truth. The truth. Yes, I left my husband. Yes, I walked away. Yes, I committed adultery (still legally married). Yes, I sold my house. Yes, I ended friendships. Yes, I am angry. Yes, I drink alcohol. Yes, I listen to worldly music. Yes, I have friends who are not believers. Yes, I do yoga. Yes, I snapped. Yes, I am angry. Yes, I’m in grief. Yes, I hurt. But, what have you done?
Many people are looking in from the outside and don’t have knowledge of what happened in my life. You’re only able to see the external snippets of my life via Facebook/IG, all of which I chose to share. Not for one instance, did I make my decision lightly. I mulled and cried over my decisions. It’s one of the most difficult events I have endured, thus far and incredibly painful. The decision to leave was not an overnight thought. I was struggling for a couple of years. I prayed to God often, asking him to move and change my marriage. I tried everything, trust me. For so many years, I put my families needs above mine. I worked very hard at being a nurturer, provider, advocate, opened my heart and home to others, served, and encouraged my husband to be the BEST. I tried to be that Proverbs 31 woman in the midst of it all. Side note: I want to share with those who do not understand how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impact individuals later in life. Exposure to reoccurring traumatic events does have an impact neurologically, including the severity and frequency of events and the decisions individuals make. Some of you know my “story,” and others have only heard glimpses. I was attached through a wound and this is called trauma bond. Instead of judging, ask–what happened. As you mature, you grow in knowledge. I knew as a woman of faith that I did not have to continue to put up with certain events or behaviors simply because of my faith in God. That is absurd!
Sisters, You do not Have to be a Martyr for your Family.
As I reflect at this point in my life, I feel the sacrifices for my family were in vain. I sacrificed my own peace of mind and happiness for someone else’s happiness. Who said, I had to be a martyr for the sake of having “an intact family?” The societal pressures put on women are simply unfair. I don’t owe anyone, anything– anymore. I am tired and NOT confused. I did better than my parents, and I can only hope, my children will do better than I, with their children. They say it is supposed to get better each generation, right? The Word of God says, He will keep his promises from generation to generation. And I put my trust in the WORD of God, that even in my imperfect parenting or the decision to leave last year, that God will keep and sustain my children. I’m sick of people thinking they know what is best for me and judging why I left. Just know I left. I don’t have to answer to anyone, but GOD. But, GOD! Besides, you wouldn’t want to wear these shoes.
Learn to Know who God is and how He Sees you
God sees me as redeemed, and I was predestined as his child. He exchanged my sin for his righteousness. I may not be where others think I should be, and this is okay. Just know the good he started in me, will continue into completion. I was called at the age of 8 years old to serve Christ through my paternal grandmother. No man or no one can tell me differently or take that away from me! Friends, you are loved and valued by God. The enemy is defeated. No matter how far you’ve fallen, God is not far. He never leaves us. Don’t believe Satan’s lies. Satan will use God’s very own people to tear you down, condemn you, wear you out, and tell you that you’re worthless, and not saved. Remember, Satan is the father of lies. Get to know the voice of God. He never condemn us.
No One Can Take your Faith Away
Yes, I have my faith. Yes, God has me. Yes, I love God. Yes, I’m thriving. Yes, I’m healing. Yes, I’m pushing through. Yes, I’m moving forward towards the prize. Yes, I’m forgiven. Yes, I forgive him. Yes, I forgive her. Yes, I forgive them.
Reflect on Your season of Life.
What season of life are you in? What season of life is coming to an end? What does God want to end? How do you embrace these seasons? What is God teaching you? Do you embrace it through unhealthy coping mechanisms or do you seek God, focus on growing, and being your best version yet?
God is Good All the Time
Just know, God is good all the time, no matter what season of life we are in. He’s kept you this far. He will keep you in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Christ because your trust is in Him.
Like Whitney Houston sang, Exhale…Shoop, shoop, shoop, doop…Smile 😊 and be thankful. As, I’m writing this blog, I have to sign off because work is calling and there are fires in Napa.
In His Grip,
Daughter of a King, Chana
Author’s note: This has not been edited. Also, want to share this blog is in no way to put another person down. I believe in Christ’s redeeming power and hold no grudges or unforgiveness towards anyone. I also need to emphasize, just because individuals have strongholds, does not mean their walk is inauthentic, it just means they haven’t surrendered that area of their life to Christ.
June 13, 2020
Be a Good Human
I am writing this blog to appeal anyone who is associated with my estranged husband to please stay out of my business. Please recuse yourself from the conversation or situation. You become part of the problem when you get in my business. It also doesn’t lend to true repentance and him receiving the help he needs to identify past trauma or childhood issues that have resulted in poor coping skills. Please stop peddling in my personal life.
In the 90s, he was able to find out my whereabouts, activities, and personal life through FAKE friends and his “soldiers.” Fast foward, its 2020, and he’s still doing the same thing. Its upsetting to me, the same scenerios are being repeated as during my high school years. I am being exposed to the same TRAUMA. Please stop, I am tired. Its unfortunate that I have to continue to defend my decisions and that he receives so much empathy. You hear 1 side, his version.
You are enabling him to continue harrassing me, and contributing to years of oppression when you do the following:
- Lurk on mine or my friends’ social media and report back my whereabout & activities.
- Call me to quote scripture and/or convince me I’m making a bad decision. Just because you’ve tolerated similar behavior, doesn’t mean I need to do the same. Everybody has their own threshold. If you haven’t been in my life, please dont’ start calling me now.
- Call and tell me, “he loves you.’ How do you know? Please go back to the bible and read about love. Love is patient, kind, PROTECTS, not SELF-SEEKING, not easily ANGRY, does not DISHONOR others, does not DELIGHT in EVIl.
- Tell my children, “he loves me and to talk some sense into your mother.” Encourage my children to ignore me and to take a side. They don’t need to take sides. Keep them out of it.
- Let his behavior influence your relationship with me. Seriously, if you do, its probably for the best anyway. You lose friendships, people take sides. I get it. I’ve lost a couple, but that’s because it was ingenuine from the start. God bless!
- When he asks you to call my friends, please don’t get involved. There is just a whole lot of deceit and manipulation going on. Its really not your business what I do or who I talk to, nor his business. He doesn’t own me, I’ve been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus.
The Bible is Based on Choice.
I have choices. God does not go against anyone’s will. Just because I have faith in Christ, doesn’t mean anyone can tell me what decision to make concerning my life. You haven’t lived my life, nor walked in my shoes.
I need healing and was unable to truly begin my healing process because I continued to live in it, albeit in a different way, but it persisted and I did the best I could under the circumstances. I’ve been unhappy for a few years now, but tried to be the “obedient Christian wife,” while denying and stuffing my own feelings, losing my identity, and ignoring my needs. I tried. I was transparent. I sought help. Nothing was a surprise or shock to him. There was plenty of warnings. I shared my feelings with him over the course of years. I tried to explain how the trauma from the past was impacting me now. I learned its not my responsitiblity to help him understand how adverse childhood experiences or traumatic experiences impact’s a person’s inner-most being.
I actually wanted to save my marriage, but submission and love doesn’t change people. I prayed all the time and asked God to give him empathy, a wake up call, or raise up someone random to warn him. I’ve also learned, when someone is truly repentful for their actions, its demonstated in their behavior. I was dealing with the same demon, just different manifestation. He had the power to be the vessel for healing, yet he did not or was incapable. I still wonder about this part.
Three huge markers of toxic people
- Controlling behavior is toxic. Our highest calling is to be God’s servant. Controlling behavior is like asking for an allegiance to be God when you try to control people and tell them what they can and cannot do.
- Murderous spirit. God is the author of life. Jesus is the way, truth, and life. Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy. Did he destory me? Almost. He destoryed my joy. He destroyed my peace. He destoyed my self-confidence. He destroyed my self-worth. He destroyed my ability to trust others. Its evil to destroy a person’s joy. The Word of God says, the joy of the Lord is my strength! When you destroy a person’s joy, its evil!! Its evil because its their strength. It was difficult to love others when I was being destroyed. Always hearing that I’m a pagan, jezebel (because I had a hard time submitting and not believing in the same way), I’m mean, I don’t listen, I’m difficult, etc…it was far from building me up or encouraging me. Those words hurt.
- Love to hate. Anger, rage, malice. slander, filthy language and lying are symptoms of a toxic person. Resorting to violent communication and intimidating others shouldn’t be the go to. Being engergized and consumed with violent and wicked thougths is far from love.
1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I am sorry that my decisions have hurt my children the most. I’m also sorry I wasn’t aware of how trauma bonding/love works and for going back. That decision was made from not having a full understanding, nor healing from all that I experienceded from the age of 15 and onwards. I never had a chance to heal or learn or just feel. I am now just beginning to feel and the pain is real. I have 25 plus years of pain I’m dealing with right now. I admit, I haven’t coped in the healthiest way, but I’m working on it. I haven’t been perfect in my walk, far from it. My faith also made my past and future decisions very complex and difficult because of what I’ve been taught about the bible. As I read scripture more intently through a holistic view, I am finding that God abors all appearances of evil and that he is loving, forgiving, and merciful.
Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Healthy Christians are filled with gentleness, patience, kindess, and love and they build each other up. Because of the trauma, my patience and tolerance is very low and my reactions are high. I am working on myself to be a healthy person for my children and grand-daughter. I am a work in progress and God isn’t finished with me yet.
- I am guilty of changing my own behavior to appease others.
- I’ve made excuses or covered up his behavior.
- Minimized the situation and did not require accountability. I did try, but it didn’t work. I had to remove myself from the situation.
- I blamed myself for his behavior.
I have intentionally refrained from sharing the intimate and most personal details of my life out of respect for him. Its never my intent to bring shame, humiliation, or embarrassment to anyone. He’s the father of my children and I would never intentionally cause hurt. I also don’t question his love and relationship with Christ, nor, his walk with God. We all have strongholds and must surrender, before we can live eternally with Christ. Unfortunatly, we suffer due the sinful nature of mankind and from the choices we make. Thankfully, God is near the broken-hearted, he restores, and forgives.
I believe in the sanctity of marriage. However, there is a difference when a person is being sanctified thorugh a difficult marriage. This was not the case. I do believe God can heal every marriage, but its healed thorugh honesty and repentance with two willing participants. If someone is unwilling to repent (turn to God and change their behavior), then it will not work. The truth sets us free and God uses restoration through REPENTANCE. Humility leads to repentance. Both, individuals must be humble and honest. Evil can and does infiltrate the institiution of marriage, and all institutions for that matter. I certainly infiltrated mine. Husbands should never be harsh with their wives (don’t abuse your authority). Yes, God honors authority, but to abuse your authority has severe consequnces, and as a result, I departed. And I do believe God does has provisions for me. Divorce is not an inpardonable sin. If you believe this, that’s fine, but I know who my FATHER is and ultimately this decision is between God and me.
I am responsible fo my part, enabling this behavior to persist which is not honoring to God. I will no longer feel guilty for my decision. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made and yes, it does hurt. It hurts more than most people know. Just because I continue to move on, doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t ache or grieve for the changes I wished and prayed would happen.
- Luke 18 vs 29. Sometimes, you have to leave to pursue the Kingdom of God. For me, I cannot allow one’s thoughts, actions, and opinons of me impact my relationship with God. I am reteaching, deprograming, and learning who God is for me and to me, not through someone else’s lens. My marriage impacted my relationship with Christ. He was a stumbling block in my faith. I almost gave up my faith because of the opposition. It was very difficult to reconcile how someone who LOVED Jesus, prayed constantly, read his word, led others to Christ, and ministered to other hurting people, could continue to treat me as the enemy.
Until recently, I always spoke good of him. Until, I began sharing my narrative, my story, my life from my raw perspective. Nevertheless, I still see the good in him. I still see his potential, his gift, his calling, and his pain. I made myself look foolish for him. I cutoff relationships/friendships for him. I remained silent for him. I carried shame for him. I chose mercy for him.
Today, I’m unapologetic about the choices I make. I understand I am legally married, but the relationship is dead and I have carried on while waiting for legal proceedings to run its course. I realize divorce is not the popular choice with the church and with my fellow sisters and brothers and family. However, I will no longer sacrifice my own peace or joy for someone else’s happiness and for those who have no regard for my well-being. I’ve suffered in silence long enough. Its unfortunate that people can be more bothered and upset about a relationship ending, instead of their behavior for the harm caused to another individual.
But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28).
In His Grip,
I wrote this in December 2019, and didn’t publish until June 6, 2020. Still stands true today.
Again, I say rejoice! Rejoicing during suffering is sooooo difficult. For me, rejoicing in the midst of suffering, means God will get me through all this messiness, heartache, anguish, deep sadness, and fear because I put my trust in HIM.
I can describe this emotion and experience as a constant gnawing and achy emptiness in the pit of my stomach with loneliness, fear, a deep sadness, and lack of clarity.
Everyday, I manage to adult, post my pics/snaps on IG, try to maintain a positive outlook, an attitude of gratitude, even though inside I feel like crumbling. I keep telling myself, I just need to get through today, this week, this month, this year and then…
I imagine myself, falling down and sobbing uncontrollably by myself at the feet of Jesus.
I’ve struggled with what LOVE really means in this world. I know what it means biblically and through Christ from my Savior. I understand the concept and vision for Love, through Christ’s example.
What does it mean for me?
What does it mean for me in marriage? What does it mean for me in relation to others? I am learning, LOVE is a simple word, lacking true intent of its definition. Its tossed around in pleasantries, vocalized, written, repeated, but there is no weight behind it.
Love is ACTION. Love does not HURT. Love is not SELFISH. Love doesn’t seek its OWN. Love doesn’t ABANDON when needed the most. Love FEELS. Love EMPATHIZES. Love has NO expectations. Love gives FREELY. Love TRUSTS. Love is NOT easily angered. Love is PATIENT and KIND. Love FORGIVES. Love keeps NO record of wrongs.
The person I thought I could trust, failed me. The person I thought I could lean on, failed me. The person who should’ve protected me, failed me. The person who said, they loved me, failed me. The person who should’ve adored and cherished me, failed me. The parenting union, failed me.
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.