Defeat, Death, and Victory

Happy Resurrection Day!!! I hope that everyone reading this had a wonderful Easter weekend!

This evening at the dinner table we were discussing when it was that Jesus actually defeated the devil. I told my children what I know to be true, when he died on the cross. That confused them because they wanted to know how it was possible for Jesus to die on the cross if He was God in the flesh and He could just get down and kill the bad people that were trying to hurt him. Of course that set us down the path of talking about what qualified Jesus to win by dying. You guys probably already know the deal, Jesus was able to be the lamb without sin because He was the only perfect man to ever live. Therefore He was the only one who could take our place on the cross. Because of His death, we can now have access to the Father.

What I want to talk about with you all today is the times it look like we loss, but we really won. When you look back over your life how many times did you have to go to the cross, allow yourself to be crucified, even though you may have had the power to stop it? How many times did you humble yourself even when you had the ability to win? Perhaps, you thought that you had lost, and didn’t realize until after the fact that in that low moment that was your place of victory?

I want to encourage anyone who may be reading this and you’re having a really rough time, or you’re in the heat of the battle and you think that you’re losing the war. Be of good cheer! The places that we struggle the hardest and sometimes the very spot where we fail, is our most important victory. I have felt like a failure and failed many times at many different things; however, I have come to realize that the times when I thought I had failed so badly that a piece of me had died, those where the places of my greatest victories.

As much as dying to the flesh, or losing the things that we want so badly may hurt, we need those losses and we need to die to our flesh. We absolutely can not grow without experiencing death, or should I say separation. Without Judas’s betrayal Jesus would not have completed his destiny. Of course you can present the argument that God could have used someone else, and you would be right. Nevertheless, my point is the same there would still be a need for pain, hurt, betrayal, loss, or death. In order for us to truly be all that God has called us to be we have to experience defeat and sometimes even death.

The Bible tells us, “Verily, verily I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (Jh.12:24KJV).

Friends the difference between fruit and much fruit is the seed. Jesus was the seed for all man kind and the reason He did not get down when they teased him is because He knew that if he would be willing to endure the pain of death, that in a short three days he would be ascending to heaven with all power in his hand, to take his place at the right hand of the Father in victory.

Don’t fear defeat or loss, it’s in those moments that we truly win! Have a blessed day!

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

I really don’t like going to the doctor! I feel like every time I go the doctor tells me something crazy, or I get the rudest doctor available. This recent time was no different. With the military your doctors change so much, I use to have a great doctor. He was professional, but he had great people skills too! Unfortunately, this time I walked in and I had a new doctor, she was a female and that is the only thing good that I can say about her. The short explanation is she was just rude and cold! There was one particular moment when I was talking to her about my weight and I was asking her for some tips on nutrition and things that I could do to help facilitate the process of losing weight for me.  Instead of telling me some helpful tips or discussing how I could schedule something with a nutritionist she looked at me and said, “Why don’t you just have surgery. I mean you look like you could stand to lose a 100 pounds.”

Friends, when she said that to me I just looked at her baffled. I was stunned that a doctor would say skip the process and get surgery! I mean I do need to lose weight, but I don’t need surgery! After about thirty seconds of me just staring at her and wrestling with my wicked thoughts, I said, “No thank you, I would prefer to lose weight naturally. I will never consider weight loss surgery just to lose a few pounds.” She then had to leave the room for something and when she came back in she apologized for, “if” she sounded rude and offensive. I simply nodded my head and took my leave.

After I left I replayed the conversation over and over again in my head. I thought of at least a million things that I wish I would have said. The amazing part is the real reason I didn’t let her have it is that I am not a reflection of people, I’m a reflection of God. That means that I will not treat people the way they treat me, because I am not created in the image of this world. I was created in the image of God, and the Holy Spirit won’t let me do to others what they do to me. This does not mean that I don’t sometimes mess up, or speak out of turn, because I am not perfect.

I am however, God’s child and I do not return with a rude comment simply because I am offended by someone else’s rude comment.  1Pet.2:23 says in reference to Jesus”Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again…”  Matthew5:46-48 talks about only loving those who love us, and only being kind to our friends, what reward is there for that? If I’m only nice to people who are nice to me and rude to people who are rude to me then who is my Lord and Master? Who am I emulating?

What image will we reflect when we encounter rude people? Will we throw away our love for God and get nasty with someone who gets nasty with us? Or will we remember who our Lord is and still reflect his image in the face of offense? You know, I could have lost my cool and told her what I really wanted to say.  Sadly, that would have only made me feel good for a short time. I know that later on I would have felt guilty about losing my cool and allowing someone to drag me down to their level.

The real me is just not comfortable allowing someone else to have control over my actions, my thoughts and my emotions. if someone can make you change who you are or respond to them in a way that is outside of their character then they can rule over you. If we’re not careful instead of reflecting God’s image we’ll be reflecting the image of the person who wronged us.

I want to leave you all with this, “Who is your Lord, and do you project that image in the earth to the people around you friends and foes alike?

Decisions, Decisions

I’m one of the most indecisive people that I’ve ever met! I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to make a decision, but it’s something that I really need to work on this year.  I feel like I can make some decisions quickly, but others take much more time for me to decide on, and even then I may go back and forth.

I’m curious to know how do you all make decisions? If you find this struggle to be present in your own life let me know.

I feel like one of the reasons that I get so paralyzed when it’s time for me to make a decision is because I hate making mistakes! I always feel like if I make the wrong choice something bad might happen to me. Another reason why I feel like it’s so hard for me to make a decision is because I fear that I might miss out on a better option! Even after I make a selection I always wonder what would have happened if I chose differently.

One thing that I have mentioned here on my blog before, is my constant tug of war with satisfaction and the desire to see what’s next. I’m constantly looking forward to the next thing, or anticipating the joy that comes with tomorrow.  Perhaps there is a link between my indecisive tendencies and my touch of destination disease. Maybe I should work to strike the proper balance between enjoying where I am in life and looking forward to the future.

Tell me what you think in the comments!

The Black Educated Stay-At-Home Mom

This is a topic that I had been wanting to address for a while, but I honestly wasn’t sure how. I hate to talk about things that make me feel angry or divided, so I really wasn’t going to talk about it on my blog. However, I just can’t not talk about something that is so real and present in my everyday life.

Growing up I remember my mother always worked, and she encouraged my sister and I to get a good education so that we could have a great career. My mother was a great example of a woman who helped to provide for her family. She stressed to my sister and I that if we wanted something that we should work hard to have it.  I got my very first job at the tender age of fifteen and I worked all of my teenage years in some way. After my mom died I quit my job at Taco Bell because I wanted to be at home at night with my younger sister. I didn’t want her to be at home alone. My dad worked night shift and he never changed his schedule, so I thought it was important that I change mine. I was blessed to get a job as a regular babysitter for one of my teachers, and that helped us out so much. After high school I went to college, and I worked several different jobs in college.

I would have never thought that upon graduating from college I would ever become a SAHM(stay-at-home Mom). It wasn’t apart of my five year or ten year plan. I wanted to be a teacher for five years and then I wanted to become an principal.  God had other plans for me though! I took one look at my first born son and I knew that I didn’t want to leave him with anyone! For me that was the moment that I decided to stay at home with him.  Because we are a military family, this was normal where I lived(on a military base), and yet my family and friends did not see it as normal.

I was questioned relentlessly, about when I was going to get a real job, or what did I possibly do all day? I was criticized for having gone to college and not, “using my degree.” It seemed that no matter where I went or who I talked to, everyone wanted me to know that Black women didn’t stay at home. I was told that black women work hard to help their husband and support their children. “How could I help my husband if I didn’t put my children into daycare and get a, “real job?”

The funny thing was, I met several women black and white who were SAHM’s and I noticed a disparaging trend. All of us had similar stories of being criticized or berated for choosing to stay at home with our children instead of having a career. It seems like we all had this thought that one day we would go back to work and then we would be acceptable to everyone. It was like we always had to justify ourselves to others to prove that we had value and meaning.

I will never forget when a family member made the comment, “Torre can do it since she doesn’t do anything all day.” At that time I had two children under two at home and both of them were still in diapers! Are you kidding me? I was in the trenches at the time, between breastfeeding, diapers, potty-training, and laundry, I was constantly busy. Not to mention that I was a young wife, and my husband who was working long hours and we were still technically newlyweds! Needless to say, I was very offended by that comment, and the woman who said that was a working mother of four herself!  Yet, she had this air of superiority because she worked all day and then came home to her family, whereas I was already at home because I did not have a job.

For many years I allowed those little nit-picky comments to influence the way that I felt about myself and my worth. I always feel like I wasn’t as good as a mother who worked outside the home and that feeling started to bleed into other areas of my life. I started to internalize who I was and if I was living up to my full potential and all because I had listened to one to many negative comments about who I should be and what I should really be doing with MY life.

Pretty soon it got to the point where I was so defensive about not working or being a SAHM that I was just snapping on people before they could even tell me what they thought about it. I had one woman tell me, “You must think you’re a white woman girl! Black women don’t do that.” And yes her nose was turned up and her face was twisted into an ugly mask. I thought how can you say that it’s okay for a white woman to go to an Ivey League College, only to get married and become a SAHM and that is considered honorable for her but not for me because I’m Black? No, I reject that.

While I know that I can never go back and give my younger self advice, I wish I could have told myself what I now believe which is this; Your sacrifice is vital to your family life. Your unwavering presence and unyielding commitment is worth every hard day and nasty comment. Your family would not function without you. Your job is to be the very best wife, mother, and  homemaker so that your work to help raise productive, law abiding citizen, who will make positive, lasting contributions to this world. I want my children to be proud of me. I also want them to know that I chose to focus on just raising them for a while, and that I never regretted it, and I never felt bitter because of it.

Every time I look at the news  I see a stories about broken black families, or one of the well documented missteps of young black males, I am convinced that my contributions are important to my family. I feel so strongly that when children are loved and supported that they are given the perfect conditions for success. Now of course there are exceptions to every thing that I have said, but as for me and my house, I know my role is very valuable and I am convinced that this is the way for me right now.

I do struggle sometimes with the consequences of my choice. There are times when I get sick of being on a budget, and I just want to buy what I want and not worry about the cost. I have many moments when I want to be more than just a housewife, but what I’ve learned is that I can be many things and never diminish any of the things that I am. It’s possible to wear many different hats and still do what I believe God called me to do.

I ask you this question ladies, why did you choose to be a SAHM or a WM (working mom)? This is a judgement free zone so please feel comfortable sharing with me. I’m not here to critic you or point out why one is better than the other. I just want to hear from you guys about this topic.

Thanks for reading my blog!

The School Days Blues

Guys I may be wrong for saying this, but I will be so glad when my kids get out of school for the summer!

I feel like my kids have so many things going on at school and each one of them has a different schedule during the week. I feel like I’m being pulled in five different directions everyday of the week! It’s such a pleasure to be at home with my children and have such a prominent place in their everyday lives, but I’m plum tired. We have homework, Choir twice a week, Math Olympia, Computer Lab, and Running Club. Oh, and I forgot to mention that my Kindergartner is on a different schedule than my other three children!

It’s not just me either, whose feeling the pinch. I can tell that the teachers are longing for Spring Break as well. I think it’s just the ugly truth. We parents, students, teachers, and faculty are all working so hard to make sure that our children have a great school year and it’s really starting to show.

It’s always a field trip or something to volunteer for and as much as I like that, I’m ready to take a break from it all. Funny thing is, I feel so guilty when I can’t volunteer or help chaperone a field trip! I know so many of my readers have school age children or children that are in college, so I know you get where I’m coming from. How did/do you ladies deal with the everyday, mundane routines of school and homework and volunteering? What’s your secret to combat school days burnout?  How do you not get the blues from doing such important, but taxing work?

Most of all, I would love to hear how you all deal with the guilt! We all have Mommy guilt for whatever the reasons, but I feel like I’m losing the battle with Mommy Guilt. Let me hear your advice and tips in the comment section.

Spring Cleaning

It’s almost that time of year again at my house. The time of year when I purposely destroy every room of my house and put it back together again, while simultaneously throwing away several bags of trash.

I’m the type of person that prefers the bad news first, ripping the Band-Aid off, and volunteering to go first for things that are wholly unpleasant and fill you with dread. Which is my way of saying that our garage was terrible!!! I mean we had boxes upon boxes and storage bins full of clothes, shoes and junk!  Don’t even get me started on all the yard tools and outdoor furniture we had amassed!

I had decided that we would clean out the garage while my husband was at work because he is the type of person who likes to keep things, “because you never know when you might need it.” I am the kind of person who thinks that if you can’t remember the last time you used it, then you should get rid of it!  After I decided that I wasn’t going to leave the garage until it was sparkling clean, the rest was all about team work. Boy did we work!! We did take a few breaks for water and lunch, but we got after it!!

We did have a few hiccups, and a few times where we just looked around and felt overwhelmed with all the mess, but we pressed through and got it done. Because I decided that we should go through every bin and every box, we had a ton of junk out every where. At one point my kids friend came by to ask if we were moving! Which we are, but that’s not until later this year.

The beautiful thing is, the more boxes we pulled out, the cleaner things became. We went through box after box, throwing things into the trash pile and we did this for every shelf in every section of the garage. Thankfully, because there were so many of us cleaning, we had one person sweeping, one person breaking down boxes, one person bagging trash and still had two people tapping boxes and restoring bins to their rightful place. Finally, it got to the point where all we had left to do was to load the truck and that was probably the hardest part!  Trying to fit all that trash into our truck took some creative thinking, but we got it done. Also knowing that we would be throwing it away and that it would be gone for good.

The best part was how good we all felt when we looked at the final outcome. Our garage was so nice and clean that we just wanted to hangout in there.  Looking at the garage was satisfying, all we needed was some hero music to be playing while the wind blew our capes back for us. Seriously, it felt amazing to see what we accomplished in a few hours. In fact it felt so good that it made want to clean out other things, closets, the back yard, the playroom! I even wanted to go and clean my oven!!

I was pumped, but then I started to look inward and think about my spiritual garage. I know that I have a lot of clutter and junk that’s clogging up my spirit. With all the changes that we’ve been through as a nation these past five months, there’s a lot of junk lodged in my heart and mind that I need to get pull out and throw away. I started considering all these different kinds of detox’s that I could do to kind of clean out my physical body.

I started thinking about how important this time is in the Christian faith. The weeks leading up to the crucifixion and the resurrection. This is a time when many Faiths fast or abstain from certain things in observance of Passover and Easter Sunday.

I guess the question that I ask myself is, “Am I willing to commit to cleaning or detoxing myself the same way that I did to cleaning out the garage?” I already know that it will be a long, messy, tiresome, and at times, unpleasant job, but in the end it will be worth it.

That’s what I want to leave you with today? I’m a little behind and I’m currently under the weather, but I thought that this was an appropriate topic for the start of spring. Have a blessed weekend and thanks for stopping by my blog today!

Smoke and Mirrors

This week I went to school to pick up my older children and my two younger kids and I parked in my favorite parking spot under a tree and let the windows down to wait for school to be out. As most of you parents out there know pick-up and drop-off are two of the busiest parts of any school day, so I like to get there early. While I was parked and waiting, my other sons classmate’s Dad parked next to me.  He waved and smiled and I waved and smiled at them. He and his wife were always so nice, their really truly great people. Our kids have had a few playdates and this is our children’s second year being in the same class together. It would be fair to say that they appear to be the perfect family, loving, kind and just fun to be around. It would also be correct to say that I am well acquainted with them, but we’re not close friends.

I’m not a nosey person, I tend to try and mind my own business most of the time. I always say to my kids, don’t stare that’s rude, so when I thought I noticed something off about his wife sitting next to him in his truck I chose not to dwell on it. Normally she waves at me and greets me with a huge smile, but this time she didn’t. It’s been a while since I spoke with them, but I noticed a few months ago that she had lost a lot of weight. That was odd to me, but I just thought that maybe they had been dealing with a lot of stress. I mean everyone has problems, and who am I to judge right?  So, back to the story. Right before the bell rang he and his wife got out of the car, and that’s when I noticed that his wife was not his wife! It was another woman entirely, and I was very surprised. At first I thought oh, maybe that’s his sister, but then the two of them embraced in a way that would have been super creepy if they were related.

Can I just tell you that I was shocked!!! Naturally, I told my husband about it, and he promptly told me not to jump to conclusions and to not make assumptions because gossip hurts people. Of course I wasn’t planning on gossiping about it, but I really wanted to talk about it with someone who I trusted because it was bothering me. Fortunately,  a good friend,( who also has children in class with their child) whom I trust explained the whole situation to me. She confirmed that the couple, had indeed just gone through a divorce.

Ladies, this was not just about me being nosey or malicious. I can’t quite explain it to you, but this became like a personal warning to me. It felt close to home, because I instantly thought that if that could happen to them, then it could happen to anyone. I want to acknowledge that no one knows what goes on behind closed doors, but having said that, their public face was very convincing. Whenever I would see that family together they would all be smiling and holding hands. During school events this couple would sit close to each other and  touch in some way, always sharing a love connection, or so I thought. They were the couple that I would want to be honestly. They just always seemed so happy together. Learning the news about their divorce made me want to reexamine my own marriage and the strength of the love that my husband and I share.

We love each other and that’s no doubt, but we go through our fair share of ups and downs that’s for sure. We live a life that in many ways comes with more stress than the average couple and sometimes we handle it well, other times we don’t. It’s not all sunshine and roses over here. We have had many days that include rain and dark clouds. I found myself thinking, “Man what could have come between them to the point that they decided to throw away their whole marriage?”

I don’t know what the future holds, but I pray that we, my husband and I, will always honor our commitment that we made to God and our family to love and cherish one another. I pray that we stay together and that we grow together and not apart.

I prayed for that couple and I asked God to comfort them and mend their hearts and help them to co-parent with love and compassion. I also came home and tried to show my husband how much I love and appreciate him. I know that our actions are sometimes the first things to suffer when we get comfortable in our relationships. It’s so easy to take your spouse for granted.

Truly, the time to build a strong marriage is not when you recognize that there is a problem, but everyday. During the hardest times, the times when you are sleep deprived from being up late at night with a crying baby, or when you go through a difficult time at work. When we face real adversities and experience painful struggles that test our resolve and make us stronger. To me challenges build character and create opportunities for couples to make positive changes that strengthen their relationship. Not every storm will make us feel closer together, but every storm has the possibility to  bring us closer together and closer to God as well.

I firmly believe that God causes all things to work together for our good.(Rom.8:28)

God bless you all and remember to show the ones that are essential to your joy and happiness that you truly love and appreciate them today!

The Talk

How old were you when your parents had the talk with you about the birds and the bee’s? My oldest son is eleven and he recently had a one hour seminar with the school nurse about his, “changing body.” Now I should say that my husband and I previewed all the information that was going to be discussed and we approved of the material. Having said that I was ill prepared to discuss what he learned about in class!

He is such a sweet and innocent boy, he is not really interested in girls yet, and he is still very fond of running and playing with his little brothers. Nevertheless, his body is changing. He is almost taller than me and we wear the same size shoe!  He excitedly brought up the topic of puberty at the dinner table and I almost spit out my water!

I am not ready to have the talk with my son about sex and body hair in private places!!! Every time I look at him, I see my chubby little baby boy, who never let me put him down. At the mere thought of him going away to college I break out into tears. I feel torn between preparing him for all of the changes that will come and ignoring them altogether and pretending that nothing has changed.

I tried to talk to him without being too squeamish, but I was so clearly uncomfortable that he said, “we can talk about it later mom.” Help Me!!

My husband suggested that we get a book for him to read, because he loves to read, and then use the book to help facilitate the conversation.  I feel like that is kind of taking the easy way out, but I also feel that we have no choice. My daughter who is nine, recently had the same type of class seminar and it was so easy for us to talk about her getting her period, and what that means. I guess it’s because I’m more familiar with that aspect of puberty. I can’t imagine her getting her period or becoming a woman either, but it’s much easier for me to accept when I think about her than when I think about my son.

I frequently have talks with him about avoiding the strange woman and how a wife is a good thing, and how kissing girls can lead to things that I don’t think he’s ready for yet.  And yet if I were being honest, I myself did not wait to have many of the experiences that I am urging him to wait for. I want my children to do things the right way, and I believe that there is so much to be gained by waiting for that one special person.

I could fill this page up with worry over how to have a vital and important conversation with my child, that will be ongoing, but I would love to heat your thoughts on the situation. How did you all handle this issue? If you have small children have you considered what age you want to approach the topic?

Don’t be shy ladies and Gentlemen! I want to hear from you in the comments!

No more negative Nancy

You might be familiar with the title, it’s what we call someone who is very negative. You might even use the phrase, “Vibe Killer.” I typically don’t use either of theses phrases, but I feel like confessing to you all today. I am so mean to myself and the things that I say to myself during self talk, I would never say to my own daughter…or anyone else for that matter.

Ask yourself this question, “Do you have a problem with negative self talk?”

What kind of things do you say to yourself when your jeans won’t button, or if your “fat jeans,” are snug? What about when you make a mistake or forget something very important, what names do you call yourself?  I can tell you that the names that I call myself I would absolutely never call one of my friends or even a stranger! I will be the first to admit that this is abusive behavior that I practice towards myself and I’m trying to stop.

The thing that I often ask myself whenever I catch myself being mean to myself is, “Why?” The answer is not as simple as the question though, because a simple I don’t know just doesn’t seem to satisfy.

I believe that the moment that I made myself more aware of the hurtful and negative words that I was speaking over my life it became a problem that I am determined to solve. I really started looking at it from the perspective of, “would I want those words to manifest in my life?” The answer was no of course not.

I remember ten years ago thinking I was fat, so I called myself fat all the time. However, now when I see pictures of me I think, “why on earth did I call myself fat then? I’m bigger now then I was back then! Then I thought, what if I gained weight because that’s what I spoke over my life everyday, so subconsciously, I stopped even trying to maintain a healthy weight? I really truly believe that words have an effect on us, they can build us up or tear us down.

One of the most impactful things that I did to combat all the negative words and mean self talk, was to write down scriptures that pronounce God’s love or positive things about me on a piece of paper and put them on my mirror. By hanging them on my mirror, I never forget to say them everyday. I also pump positivity into my mind, and heart as often as I can throughout the day. I listen to positive music, I speak positive words over my day, and make a huge effort to chase away negative thoughts that otherwise might turn into negative words.

I guess you could say that I have resolved to stop the negative self talk. I set some goals to help me overcome negative self talk and I’m making progress everyday. I want to hear what you would do to combat negative self talk? Do you have any suggestions that you’d like to share? Leave them in the comment section! Thanks for stopping by!

Strength In Numbers

Recently my kids have been arguing with each other a lot, and when I say a lot I mean like non-stop. It finally got to the point where I couldn’t take it anymore, so I called them all to me and made them stand in front of me in the order of their birth.  My intentions were to talk to them about how important it was to respect each other because even though their siblings, that doesn’t mean that they have to be friends. My mother use to tell my sister and me this all the time. It was part of the glue that held us together after she died. Knowing that this is one of the few people on this earth that has some of the same memories that of my mother that I do.

Unfortunately, my little talk ended with everyone crying and hugging each other saying, “I don’t want to leave and go to college Mommy!” You guessed it, my talk went sideways a little bit, but I think that they got the point.

I don’t know why it’s so easy for us to be the cruelest to the ones we love the most. For some unknown reason, we seem to hurt the ones whom we are the closest to everyday. Maybe it’s just human nature to take for granted the value of someone is constantly there for us, consistently adding worth to who we are.

As I was talking to my children I made them each say something nice to every one going down the line. Then I told each of them a strength that I admired about them and that I personally wanted to emulate. I then told each of them how many more years they had to live together until they went to college.  When my oldest son heard that he only had about seven more years to live at home sharing a room with his little brothers. That’s what brought on the tears! It hit each and every one of us pretty hard.

We all started to cry because when you put it like that, it’s a really short time to have someone’s full attention. The message that I was trying to get across to them was understood so perfectly in that moment. I started to tear up and then one-by-one they did too. Everybody piled in and started saying things like, “I’m sorry for being so mean to you,” and “I love you too.” It was priceless, that moment.

I was holding all my children close to my heart and trying to reassure them that they could always come home and that we would always be family, but I wanted them to understand how important it is that we treat one another well. I stressed to them that being a large family is not a troublesome burden, but a wonderful blessing. There is always a friend to play with, a shoulder to lean on, and buddy who knows just what your going through. We’ll always have each other. There is strength in numbers.