Family

A Word to Young Single Parents

I’m now 31 years old. I’m divorced, and I’m the main provider and caretaker for my two children affectionately known as B&B. Big B will be 9 (Jesus, take me now!) in just a few weeks, and little B is 7. They are my children. Let me rephrase that…

They are MY children.

(And one more time…)

These children are MINE!

I don’t rely on anyone else to meet their basic needs. I don’t expect anyone else to pour into them or speak into their lives. I don’t allow anyone else to have more influence than me. Because again… they are MINE! (Ok, technically they’re God’s, but He put them on loan to me for their lifetime, and one thing I don’t want to have to answer to Him about on Judgement Day is raising horrible children. But I’ve digressed…)

Many of us have birthed our children out of wedlock, while a handful were married and suffered loss via divorce or passing of a partner. Some of us are married now but have husbands who are away for work, or at home every day but absent mentally. I’ve been through all of this minus the death part, and to be honest… wait… shouldn’t write that. (B&B’s dad is involved by the way, so there’s that disclaimer.)

Whatever your situation, I want you to know that you CAN do it!!! You are NOT as disadvantaged as you think. And your children might be the ones to save your soul.

I’m going to say some seemingly ugly things in just a few moments, but they are TRUTH, and we know truth ain’t always pretty. Digest them one by one. Single dads, these apply to you as well. I want you to walk in your freedom as a parent KNOWING that our Heavenly Father has your needs in mind.

  1. God wanted your child in this earth. Regardless of the circumstances, that child was brought here because you needed someone to love and for God wanted them here for His purpose. It’s up to you to discern what that purpose is. Nobody knows better than mom or dad the gifts that God has placed inside their little ones. Spend your years of parenting discovering and nurturing that child’s gifts instead of forcing him or her to become who you think they should be.
  2. A two-parent family is ideal, but no where in the Bible does God judge parents for being single. Why? Because God knows people are mortal, fickle, and funny. In fact, you’ll find that God judges nations based on how well they care for the widows and the fatherless. So remember, He is ON your side. He WILL provide. He’s NOT mad at you. Don’t believe me? Go read 1 Kings 17.
  3. Speak life into your children, and shut anyone up who does otherwise. “Oh, she’s so mean.” “He’s destructive.” “Look at them– they so grown.” SHUT. THAT. NOISE. UP. These words affect our children so much so that they become the very things they hear. Issue a gentle rebuke to those who say these foolish things and then tell your children ‘You is smaht. You is kind. You is impohtant” or the like…
  4. Put the loneliness away. Contrary to popular belief, you DON’T have to succumb to negative emotions. Sometimes we get so caught up in the pathos of it all, but nah… it’s POISON! The only way to deal with soul-rocking loneliness is to become closer to Jesus. He will FILL you, woman and man at the well. Loneliness drives us to make bad decisions which may lead to babies 2, 3, and 4, which equates to more sex partners, more heartbreak, more disappointment, more loneliness, more child support paid, etc.
  5. Keep your children close. I mean, physically close. The younger they are, the closer they should be. I know you can’t breathe, shower, pee, or eat without their interrupting everything, but both of you will be the better off for it. They will learn to trust you, and you’ll stay out of trouble. Lol. I strongly advise visiting Raising Godly Tomatoes. This site revolutionized my parenting skills, and all three of us are better for it.
  6. Don’t beg the other parent to be involved. Yes, it’s good to have parent #2 around, but truthfully, if they don’t want to be present, you shouldn’t want them there either. Allow them to be as involved as they choose because then you’re maintaining your authority and influence over your child… as you should be. Having said that, GET THAT CHECK and feel no guilt or shame about it.

If any person on this earth deserves the best of you, it is your child. In everything you do for them, love them unconditionally and be willing to serve them while teaching them to serve others. If your kids are ornery and difficult, well… I have other posts for that, but parents are well within their rights to mold their children into becoming more pleasant and loving little beings. I had to with mine… *shrugs*

To read more about parenting, just follow this link here: http://www.consideringthelily.com/tag/parenting-advice/

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your happy family’s future,

 

Alana

 

Being Smart, Family

How to Raise a Jerk

I know that sounds horrible, but I really don’t believe any parent sets out to raise a self-indulged, arrogant person who rubs folks the wrong way at work, church, and home . But somewhere between childhood and adulthood, things happen– or don’t happen– and children leave the nest with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and a nasty attitude.

This jerk epidemic, ladies & gentlemen, is universal. Jerks are not limited to one race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class. They are as common as flu virus we’ll all be avoiding in a month or two, and twice as infectious. And, I hate to admit it, but I see jerk tendencies in one of my children. While I realize that selfish behavior is common at age 8, I find that as he grows he becomes harder to handle. I won’t blame anyone for it, but I can say that this little nastiness won’t be tolerated in my home. Y’all pray for me. Pray for his rear end too.

And so this morning on my drive to work, I thought of men and women who are self-confessed jerks and connected the dots. Sometime back in the 80’s lived a child with a strong sense of self, wasn’t disciplined, didn’t learn to care for others, only sought his or her own purposes, and now walks around with 8-year old sensibilities though he or she may be 28 or 38. Ugh. If this is you, I’m sorry. But let’s grow together. Lol.

Just in case you ever DID want to raise a jerk, here’s how to do it:

  1. Tell the child “no”, but give in. I’m bad with this, and this might be why my kiddo pushes me to the limit some days.
  2. Teach them that their qualities and gifts make them better than others.  Bring balance to the conversation and help them find ways in which to grow as caring human beings.
  3. Teach them that everyone needs their help. As opposed to offering it kindly as a service, some feel they can fix others. God is not nearly as impressed with the act as He is with the manner in which we offer it.
  4. Allow them to think their rights and wants are more important than the needs of others. No parent directly teaches this (I hope), but if your child is a squeaky wheel he or she may get more oil than they really need. Teach them to hush up and submit to you and to their siblings. Then again, I have heard parents say things like “Get yours, boo boo. Don’t let nobody tell you otherwise.” Bad business…
  5. Allow them to think that they’re blessed because of their own goodness. Nawl. It’s because you work hard and love their little stinking butts. Grace is a gift! Kids are capable of understanding this. When mine need a spanking, they request grace and mercy, and too often they get it.
  6. Permit them to speak their mind without reservation. I believe in open forums with respectful tone for the most part, but I don’t want my children thinking that they can speak all of their mind to the world. My daddy made me study frowardness as a child, and it taught me early on that it’s best to just keep quiet about most things and until I’ve acquired wisdom in that area.
  7. Give your child everything he or she wants. Say no at least 2 out of 5 times or as often as you need.
  8. Allow them to display their emotions any way they choose. Even when they’re tired or there’s tension in the family, a child should still be expected to behave. Give them space to vent, then reel them back in. Being tired or sad is not an excuse for being rude and disrespectful. Deal with whichever issue is more pressing first. Sometimes sadness or anger supersedes the need for discipline, other times they’re just being manipulative.
  9. Tear them down with harsh words and unkindness. Kids who are constantly belittled seek ways to build themselves back up. You ever met a State Trooper who was bitingly sarcastic and almost cruel? I suspect this is why.
  10. Withhold love and affection. Some days they can be so needy and I can be so empty, but I take a few minutes to gather myself, then give them the hugs and kisses they need. Without it children will surely act out and become hardened to affection as they approach adulthood. Unless you want your child’s future spouse crying on your shoulder, give your kids what they need while you still can.

 

I think we’d all agree we want our kids to be confident in who they are, but still compassionate towards others. I know that I have work to do with my little ones, but I’m determined to press forward until my kiddo is the kingly young man that God has destined him to be. I know you’ll do the same for yours.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: By imagerymajestic freedigitalimages.net

Being Smart, Family, Uncategorized

All the Bad Things I’ve Done As a Mother

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]E[/dropcap]veryone has an opinion about how children should be raised. Outside of two resources that I can recall, a blog titled Raising Godly Tomatoes and a book about raising strong-willed children (scroll all the way down to my footer to see the book info), I can’t really think of a resource that’s given me such great advice that I’d swear by it. And there’s the Bible of course. Not all of us are nurturers by nature, but I want to share all the bad things I’ve done as a mother to my children just to prove to you that what’s bad for one may be great for another. And all the research may be chalked up to someone’s dissertation hours instead of actual parenting…

  • I nursed one longer than the other.
  • For the past eight years, they’ve slept in the bed with me more often than not. They’re just now starting to venture out on their own.
  • We skip school sometimes to stay home to rest or worship.
  • I let one go to school knowing he had not brushed his teeth or put on deodorant. He needed to learn his lesson.
  • I let the other wear pink nearly every day.
  • I believed Brandon when he told me it was dress-up day at school and let him wear his Batman costume. It was actually “Sunday’s Best” dress up day hence the featured photo.
  • I tell them about Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.
  • I totally forgot the kids lost teeth. At one point they were falling like dominos.
  • I took the tooth and forgot to leave the money.
  • I left the money and forgot to take the teeth.
  • I got a divorce.
  • I spank them when they tell each other’s business.
  • I don’t always spank them when they lie.
  • I can’t say no to school fundraisers… not because I want to buy the crap… but because they want that stupid prize at the end.
  • I let them do the current dances provided they aren’t impure. I don’t know the dances myself, but I like to see exactly what they know.
  • I talk trash when we play games, especially any Wii game that involves dancing.
  • I’ve removed some family from their lives, but I let strangers show them affection. Sometimes all the little lady in the mall needs a hug.
  • I allow them to make observations about people and tell me what they see, and we privately address it.
  • I follow their lead.
  • I say “no” to things and “yes” to experiences.
  • I put them out of my room.
  • I let them question my dates.
  • When they’re being punished, I never ever ever send them to their room alone. I keep them closer to me and give them things to do.
  • I make them scrub the carpet with Resolve, wash the windows with Windex, and dust with Pledge. They just wash their hands afterwards.

I”m sure you can find something research-driven and maybe even experiential that says my list of 21 things makes me certifiably crazy and therefore a bad mother. But my children are bright, happy, healthy, well-balanced… outside of being messy and moody sometimes, I cannot complain. Everything doesn’t work for everyone.

By the way, I feel guilty for NONE of the above!

Which unconventional methods do you practice with your children that contribute to their well-being?
Tell me about them in the comments section. 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

Alana

 

 

Being Saved, Family, Uncategorized

Seven Songs Every Little Saint Must Know

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]S[/dropcap]o as I shared last week, THIS week we’re celebrating the art of PARENTING!!!

Being a mother has to be the most challenging, yet the most rewarding experience of my life. There is something about my little people that just makes them a thousand times better than everyone else’s… Teehee! You should feel the same about yours, but if you don’t, perhaps you might instill some qualities into them to help them become more enjoyable. We know that children can be terribly unpleasant if they are fearful, disrespectful, and disobedient. So the songs I’ve selected below will guard your children’s hearts against issues that have create problems in our homes. To be perfectly clear, B&B haven’t always been as delightful as they are now, and still aren’t always beams of sunshine, but over the years, along with the help of family and the Almighty, I’ve been able to train them… and what better way to teach a child something than through a song!!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Few songs are more powerful than this simple tune. Every child raised in a Christian home knows this song, and it’s so deeply embedded in us that as adults it pops into our spirits when we need it most. I remember a friend (I use the term loosely for blogging’s sake) telling me about a nightmare he had. And just when it seemed he was going to die, he began to sing this song and his attackers fled. Just a few weeks ago, I could not feel God’s presence as I usually do. So I sat down and began to search for Him and this song bubbled up from my spirit. Immediately I felt His presence wash over me to the point where I could barely sit up. All that to say, there is NO weapon more powerful against the enemy that knowing of Christ’s GREAT love for you. People who feel unloved soon begin to do anything to seek validation and inevitably hurt others. Arm your children with this song. Remind them daily that there’s nothing they can do to make Jesus stop loving them.

O, How I Love Jesus!

As a toddler Brandon used to croon this tune as he rocked side to side in his giant Pull-Up. He’d sing it for anybody that came around. His worship would stop an adult in their tracks and provoke them to jealousy. Children love deeeeeeply. And who better to love than God? And why love God? Well the song says it… BECAUUUUUSE HE FIRST LOVED MEEE!! And children get that. They totally understand that mommy and daddy love them and take care of them, so the appropriate response would be to love mommy and daddy in return. For children, loving is simply not an option. And loving falls right in line with obeying…

Children OBEY your parents in the Lord, for this is right!

Ok, so this isn’t a song, but who says you can’t make it into one? From the time B&B began speaking I had them repeating this little phrase as we marched and clapped our hands. Did I provide them with a Biblical definition of what obey means in the Greek and Hebrew contexts? Of course not! But they learned quickly, that if they obeyed, good things would happen, and if they didn’t, other consequences would be in store. Obey simply means “Do what mommy says right away.” Another scripture we learned involving this concept was “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” Two reasons your kids should know this— one, because it’s so darn cute to hear them try to say sacrifice, and two, because at some point children will start to weigh their options. I don’t want my kids to think about whether they’re going to obey or not. I want them to immediately choose obedience. All this crap about counting to three… nah. That’s called a power struggle. They don’t get to choose whether they’re hit by a car if they run into the street. So, yes, OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE! Little ones can learn this easily if parents are faithful to reinforce it.

I Command You Satan in the Name of The Lord….

To pick up your weapons and fleeee! For the Lord has given me authority to STOMP all overrrr THEEE! Who says our babies can’t fight for themselves? Children are exceptionally sharp when it comes to spiritual matters which is why so many have bad dreams. So how do we handle this? Well arm your little soliders for the Lord by teaching them to rebuke the enemy IN JESUS’ NAME! I remember my mother teaching my siblings at 2 and 3 when they became afraid of the dark or storm to say “Go in Jesus’ name!” And they did it. And their little butts learned not to be afraid. Children must be trained to fight against the enemy, and often because of their unadulterated faith, their prayers and commands accomplish more than our own. You wanna see some prayers answered? Tell your baby to pray about it!

The B-I-B-L-E!

I was absolutely mortified when four-year old Briana put her pink Bible on the floor, stood on top of it, and sang this song to the top of her lungs. Her father stopped me from tapping her legs and suggested that she might be learning this sort of thing at school. Duhhhh… I STAND ALONE ON THE WORD OF GOD! Lol. I gave myself a facepalm. Yes, we STAND on the Word, so we want our children learn to love the Word so that they are able to stand in the day of testing. This brings me to my next song…

Father Abraham

This song isn’t one of my personal favorites, alas kinesthetic learners in Sabbath/Sunday schools everywhere are enthralled with the corresponding movements. So what’s the point of the song outside of the flailing of arms and legs everywhere? BIBLICAL HISTORY!!! Kids loooove Bible stories, and I must admit this is my weakest point as a Christ-following mommy. I’d rather teach my children about prayer and hearing God’s voice, but knowing the Word is even more important particularly at an age when their minds are so open. So yeah, we’ll do a Father Abraham or two, but more importantly, we’ll talk about who Abraham was. And Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jonah… the list goes on. These stories serve as a point of reference for their lives later down the road.

Grace

So I know there’s a song floating out there that kids sing to bless their food. I don’t know the song though. I do know the sing-songy “God is great. God is good. And we thank Him for our food…” You know the rest. I’m not a fan of anything particularly sing-songy, but the message is clear. WE THANK HIM!!! Thankfulness is one of the most beautiful qualities a child can have. Should you teach your child what true thankfulness is, he or she will learn to eat up all the yummy food you’ve taken the time to prepare for them.

Ok… last story about my kids. When Brandon was two I put him in a daycare, and he wasn’t there for two weeks before he came home and confidently blessed our dinner with the following prayer:

Father, in the name of Jesus, we thank you for our food. We bless it and SANCTIFY it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

My baby boy said ALL of that. His father and I were stunned and I laugh and giggle uncontrollably through the entire dinner. Not long thereafter Briana began to pray this very prayer with him. They’d fight over who got to bless the food first. To this day, we still use that prayer, and they have noooo problem demonstrating their thankfulness by cleaning their plates.

What songs from your childhood experience have helped you through adulthood?
Share in the comments below!

With love, sincerity, and hope for your children’s bright and shining future,

Alana 

 

Being Saved, Family, Uncategorized

Five Things Kids Can Teach You About __________


[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]G[/dropcap]od’s love? Greatness? Living? I don’t know how to finish the title, so I thought I’d give YOU the chance to fill in the blank.

I had a rough upbringing… not bad, just bumpy. I always thought of God as He who sat on the throne pointing his long judgmental finger in my face about the one pan I left soaking in the kitchen sink. I thought that if I didn’t do things juuuuust right, I’d be doomed to live in misery until I died and barely made it to Heaven. But when I had children, I didn’t feel that way about their shortcomings, and so it didn’t make sense that God would feel that way about me. So as I’ve loved my children, I’ve learned some things about God’s love for me. And as I’ve watched them grow, I’ve learned about faith and humility and forgiveness and loving. What I did not learn as a child, I am re-learning and re-experiencing as a mother.

So here are the top 5 things I’ve learned from my children about how I should interact with my Heavenly Father on a daily basis. It may be something different for you.

 

Stay hungry knowing you’re going to be fed.

Every hour or so it feels like B&B are begging for a snack. They’re always digging in the fruit bowl or snack jar looking for something to fill their bellies until they are content. Last week when I sprained my thumb, they demanded to know who was going to cook for them if I couldn’t. How hungry are we for God’s presence? Do we inquire of Him daily? Do we spend time with Him knowing He will respond and waiting for it? The Word says “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” God’s very words are sustenance for us. They are strength for our day. And like our children, we should want to feast at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and enjoy snacks in between. Being spiritually hungry is a sign of spiritual health. Keep reading, keep praying, keep seeking until you are filled and able to pour out to others!

Rest when you need it.

Briana’s not much of a napper, but if Brandon’s tired, he’ll make himself a spot anywhere (usually my bed) and go right to sleep. As adults we run circles around ourselves thinking that if we don’t take care of every single item on the list, our entire world will crumble. My friends, if there is one thing I’ve learned about God in this year, it’s that He moves most when I’m at rest. I’m not saying kick your feet up every time you feel stressed. I’m saying we must work hard to find the place of rest in Him where we need not stress or feel condemned over things that won’t matter in the long run. Our God is not a hard taskmaster. Take a note from your children. Grab a pillow and blanket, and rest your head on the Father’s chest. Speak to Him about your cares, and watch things miraculously get checked off your list.

 

Ask for what you want expecting to receive.

Mommy, can I…? But mommy, it only costs… Mommy… Mommy… Mommy… pleeeeeaaaassseee!

They ask for any and everything that they want, and who am I to stop them from asking? Even if they can’t have it at the time, it is my desire as a mother to know what things interest them. I want to bless them when the time is right because I love them, and not because they necessarily deserve it. Why would God be any different? Old religious folk used to tell me not to bother God with small things, but how wrong were they!!! I believe that anything that matters to us, matters to God. I pray about my weight, my skin, my hair… things some would say are superficial. But if it matters to me, be it in my control or not, I talk to God about it. There’s nothing He desires more than our companionship. Our prayers do not make Him weary.

 

Remind God of what He promised you…. often.

When my kids ask to do something I’m uncertain about I say “We’ll see.” They cheer knowing there’s a chance of a positive outcome. If for some reason, we can’t bake cookies or go to Busch Gardens or wherever else they want, they say “But you promiiiiised…” Of course, I didn’t, but still there’s a lesson to be learned. God tells us to remind Him of His word. Children have no problem reminding of you what you said, did, thought, the face you made, et al. When you don’t see the outcome, remind God, in faith, of what He promised. The act of reminding Him shows that you believe His word is true and that He is able and willing to perform it. Leave the whiny bit off though… No one likes whining.

 

Make friends!

When Briana was a mere 19 months, she would squeak out simple phrases to let me know what she wanted. Well one day, I took the children to an indoor playground, and she walked her short diaper-laden self up to a toy car, climbed in next to another kid, and said “Do you watch Caillou?” I. Was. Floored. I had no idea my baby could speak in complete sentences, use vocal inflection, and communicate her personal interests. Even now, I watch B&B walk up to other kids in the grocery store and carry on complete conversations about where they attend school, etc. I’m 30. I can’t do that. But my children understand something that I’m still learning. We cannot complete this walk alone, and to make friends we must first be friendly. B&B force me to come out of my introverted self, smile, and show kindness to others. After all, God uses people to show His love for us.

 

[quote] At that time the disciples came up and asked Jesus, Who then is really the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And He called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them, And said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven at all. (Matthew 18:1-3) [/quote]

 

What lessons have you learned from your children?
And how did you fill in the blank?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Family, Uncategorized

Mommie Not So Dearest

[dropcap style=”font-size: 50px; color: #9b9b9b;”] E[/dropcap]ver find yourself being constantly criticized, manipulated, torn down, or even deceived by the very people who were given charge over you? Ever wondered if they could love you as you are? Or if their well-meaning attempts to “help” are, in fact, well-meaning at all?

One of my loyal readers sent me a message a few days ago asking if I had any posts regarding difficult parents. Outside of The Greatest Story Never Told, not really… but I certainly have some experience in this department.

So, sir, this one’s for you and me both…

This morning I had a flashback of a scene my mother acted out for me from the old movie Mommie Dearest. At the time, I thought the movie might have been a comedy, but from watching a few YouTube clips I now understand that this story was one girl’s nightmare of a life.

Here’s a clip from the infamous “wire hanger” scene.

Can you imagine being raised by someone like this? Emotionally unstable? Full of rage, hate, and delusions? Growing up in these conditions makes one insecure and susceptible to almost every wile of the enemy. Children who are rejected and abused work harder to become pleasing to their parents who are often unable (and sometimes unwilling) to do better. So they look for acceptance and love outside of the home only to find more rejection and abandonment via alcoholism, drug abuse, illicit sex, depression… You get the point.

Quick Biblical example… Jesse was hardly a father to David. He only called the eldest of his seven sons in to be inspected by the prophet Samuel leaving David out in the fields with the sheep (1 Samuel 16). What father, in his right mind, abandons his youngest son to the point where the child is left to wrestle bears and lions? Imagine the rejection David suffered that would cause him to feel more at home with sheep than with his own family. And even though David was anointed king AND strongly anointed as a worshiper, he had serious issues stemming from poor parenting and ended up being challenged as a parent.

Selah.

Often we hear about the parents who were absent, but what about the ones who stayed and raised hell in our lives? And even those who continue to do so even though we are now adults?

Here are some truths that have helped me endure much of what I cannot share.

 

If someone doesn’t love you the way they should, it’s not your fault.

You were created to love and be loved. The need for love and affection is encoded into your very being. Make no apology for that. The way you love to be loved is also part of who you are. Our parents are no different at the core, but something has happened in his or her past that has hurt them so deeply that they may not be capable of accepting you as they should. I won’t point blame at them, but I can say with certainty… IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT! People can’t give you what they don’t have. Forgive them, and release yourself from the blame and the lie. You are worthy of love. You are acceptable. You are a blessing.

 

God told Abraham to leave his father’s house for a reason.

Earlier this year the Lord separated me from some family members in a very evident way. I received a phone call from someone who said “God never separates family. This is of the devil.” I beg to differ. God absolutely does separate us. Early in Genesis we find God telling Abraham to get off his behind and to leave his father’s house. When I studied this chapter, I found that Abraham’s father’s name Terah means delay. Could momma and daddy’s heavy hand upon your life be holding you back from entering into the fullness of your purpose?  That’s a strong word that most of us have never heard before.

 

Purpose supersedes EVERYTHING… including family!

Sometimes mom and dad cannot see your destiny. They see what they want and think is right for you, and though it’s well-meaning, you know God has more! Even Jesus had this issue when He was ministering inside of a house and Mary and her sons came to speak to Him. When the crowd told Jesus his mother was outside, he replied “Who are my mother and brothers? Those who do the will of the Father are my mothers and brothers.” My point is not that we should outright reject our families, but that your Kingdom purpose is greater than any relationship you have on this earth. That includes your parents, siblings, spouse, AND children.

 

You can love them from a distance.

Both my parents were (and still are) difficult. I remember going to my pastor as a college student and asking him how to deal with them. I wanted to love them, but their control over me was far greater than it should’ve been. I was stifled, trapped,  and unable to mature as a young woman should. It’s very hard to love people who can be intentionally unloving. His advice to me… “Finish school and become independent. That way you can love them because you want to and not because you need them or feel obligated.” This concept carries over into our adult lives. Sometimes you have to put distance between you and mommie dearest. You may not call as often, or when you do, keep the conversation short and focused. There have been times when I’ve said “Mom, I love you, but I’m going to hang up now”. Initially I felt guilty, but how it set my spirit free to do what God wanted me to do!

 

Judge not.

You may not know why your mom picks a fight about the most trivial things, or why your dad thinks you’re a waste of flesh because you didn’t “wait” until marriage. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter why as long as you choose to forgive them. Harboring bad feelings against them will only put you in their position… forced to make bad decisions from an emotional condition. Don’t believe me? Read about David and Absalom, etc. Hot frickin’ frackin’ mess!

 

I want to leave you with the words of the author of Mommie Dearest, Christina Crawford, daughter of the famous actress Joan Crawford, after her mother passed. I pray we can make peace with our families before anyone departs from this life,  but the most important thing is that peace rules in your heart.

[quote]I know you’re not really here with me anymore, mother. I know your soul is gone already. I just want to tell you that I love you… that I forgive you. You know I forgave you long ago. We had so much pain together, you and I. But now, mother, God has set us both free.[/quote]

 

What pain from  your childhood could you be harboring?
How is it affecting your adult life?
If your interactions with your parents are detrimental to you,
what changes can you make to continue moving forward in your purpose?

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

Alana

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dating & Relationships, Family, Uncategorized

Love Your Kids: 10 Things You Do But May Not Know It

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] T [/dropcap]wo weeks ago I shared two posts, Love Your Husbands & Love Your Wives. Google Analytics tells me these are favorites among my readers. So thank you all for reading and sharing! If you haven’t read those posts, you DON’T want to miss them.

My original intent was to also write about loving your children, but with the hustle and bustle of work, I didn’t have time to think into the matter. But since summer break began last Friday and the children have been with me almost every waking moment, I’ve been able to come up with a few things.

  1. Be an example of what you want them to become. Children should see us reading our Bibles and hear us praying. If we’re married, they should see us caring for our spouse. If we’re single, they should see us having the utmost respect for ourselves by not allowing negative influences into our homes. Little people will mirror and imitate everything you do, so let us choose our actions carefully.
  2. Be accountable to them. My kids will poke my tummy ANY time they see it jiggle. If there’s an altar call at church to which they feel I should respond, they give me the eye. I don’t care too much for that part, but the point is that my kids take responsibility for who I am just as much as I do for them. When I was growing up, I could never question my parents as to why they were doing something I didn’t understand. I wasn’t trying to correct them even though they took it that way. How insecure must we be to feel challenged by our own children! Don’t miss teachable moments with your little ones because of your own pride.
  3. Cuddle with them. Studies show–*inserts reputable child-rearing source here*– that children who are shown affection make better choices as adults. Boys needs hugs and kisses just as much as girls do, so let us not neglect their emotional and physical needs trying to make them tough. Children need to be touched, held, and cuddled on a DAILY basis. I try to spend time with each kid to just give them the special attention they need. When I do, they’re much more respectful and easier to be around. I’d also add that the younger the child, the closer that child should be to you. When B & B were small, I kept them in the same room with me. Now that they’re older and we live in a small place, I’ll let them go into another room but my ears are always open. Be vigilant. Kids pick up things from others and you want to know what attitudes, words, and actions are creeping in that need to be uprooted.
  4. Smile when you see them coming. You love your little booger, don’t you? I know you’re shocked by the damage done to the hair and clothing at the end of a day at camp, but still… greet your child, and anyone else you love with a big ol’ grin and a warm “I’m so happy to see you!”
  5. Tell their little butts “NO!’ I’m bad at this… Well, I say no but then I have a tendency not to follow through. Children don’t need half of everything we give them. Our closets are busting at the seams with toys and clothes, and I am NOT a stuff person. Let them kick and scream… nah, don’t do that. Spank their bottoms if they kick and scream. Teach them to take “no” with dignity and self-control.
  6. Teach them to be responsible for their emotions. Some kids are born with it, and others are just… challenging. Depending on your child’s needs, you can teach this in a variety of ways. I have one kid who gets overly emotional when tired. So my goal is to teach that child to exercise self-control. Most adults can’t do this, but simply making a child aware and teaching them how is a step in the right direction. When you’re feeling bad inside, smile on the outside. When you’re mad because you didn’t get something you wanted, think about all the things you do have and yell them out!
  7. Give them chores. I’m appalled by the number of 15-year olds I teach that don’t know how to wipe down a table. If I can get my first grader to mop and my third grader to vacuum, certainly your teenager can handle some tasks. Not only is this good for the children, but it’s GREAT for you too! Starting tomorrow, my daughter will be washing out the pan I use to make her breakfast. My son will clean up EVERY mess he makes including the chocolate syrup spills, toast crumbs, dirty butter knife, etc.
  8. Guard their hearts. Not everything that is marketed for children is actually FOR them. It’s so easy to sit a child in front of Disney, Nickelodeon, Sprout, Poptropica… all that… and think they’re good to go. I ASSURE you… there is SOMETHING malevolently planted in some of these sites and television stations. When Brandon was in Kindergarten, he used to play games on Poptropica while I’d cook dinner, etc. Well a conversation bubble popped up and I heard his little stacatto reading voice chirp “Let us change our passwords so mom and dad don’t find out what we’re doing.” I went over to verify and sure enough!! When you see something or someone influencing your child the wrong way, cut it off! But you have to be around to see/hear it.
  9. Speak life to them. Old Black folk love to say kids are bad, grown, and mean. I know it’s part of our culture, but I hate it with a passion. My children are none of those things, nor do I want them to be. People become what you speak over them. Of course Man Man is cussing at two… all you do is cuss and call him bad. Whenever I find myself around small children, I be sure to say to them “You is smart. You is kind. You is impohtant.” You get the point. Really I just say “Jesus loves you” or “You’re a good boy/girl.”
  10. Validate them! Our kids have soooooo much to say, but we have to be tuned in so that we hear what matters. Though their feelings may be misguided, they are valid and easy to redirect if we first validate that the child is a person deserving of respect. Not to talk anyone down, but I was often told that my feelings didn’t matter and I went through life thinking that everyone else’s feelings mattered more than my own. What a cockeyed way to live life!!! Think of all the times you felt unloved and insecure. Don’t you DARE allow your child to navigate through those emotions alone. It is irresponsible and negligible for a parent to allow their child to suffer through rejection and shame without offering love and support regardless of what a child has done. When our kids become isolated, they are easy prey for the enemy. All types of evil things like hatred, sexual perversions, violence, self-hate, suicide creep in. Keep them close to you and remind them that they are loved unconditionally.

So many of you are great parents and could add so much more… so please please please share and comment!!!

In what ways do you and your children show love for each other?

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your family’s future,

 

Alana

Family, Uncategorized

Tough Cookies: Kids Who Need Spankings

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I love scanning through my FB News Feed and seeing the pictures of my friends’ beautiful little ones. I have one particular friend from high school who has THE most gorgeous little girl. This kid has cheeks for days, bright gray eyes and a smile that will melt anyone down to the ground. She is a baby doll… so it would seem.

I had no idea this kid was a tough cookie, so it surprised me when her “mild-mannered, sweet as pudding” momma emailed me to say “What the heck am I supposed to do with this kid? She’s whiny, manipulative, and strong-willed. I don’t know if spanking is right or wrong, but this kid is running my home. How do your kids behave?”

Welp… I have a lot to say about this— so much so that I will have to break the content down into two to three entries, but I’ll do my best to get it all published within a week’s time. But let’s address the first few objectives… why spanking is good and how to determine if your child is the kind that will need them often.

Why Spanking is Good for Your Child

Children do not have the reasoning ability that adults have, so we must guide and direct them. Here’s an example. Little Tyrone is riding his big wheel in the driveway. He starts to feel a little confident and wants to head out to the main road. You tell him to stop and to turn around. Now, depending on whether you’ve instilled an attitude of obedience in him (or not), he will respond.

Let’s say Little Tyrone disobeys and rides his bike out in the street. The unthinkable happens. And who’s responsible? You are! We must teach our children that they must respect us (liking is optional), that we discipline them because we love them, and that obedience is better than taking a chance and getting hurt and/or in trouble.

As unthinkable as the scenario above may be, it’s very realistic. How often do I children step to the line of danger and attempt to cross it not realizing what may lie ahead? The minimal amount of pain you give them as a response to disobedience cannot be compared to the danger that faces them in that moment. When you spank your child within the right context, you literally save their soul from future troubles and possibly even an eternity apart from God.

Another good reason… you don’t want a child running your home. As temperamental and stubborn as Brandon was at two and three years of age, I refused to let him dictate what would happen in my house. We would go grocery shopping and he’d run away from me to another aisle. I’d have to leave Briana behind (in her carrier) to catch him. I would whine and cry about the situation, but eventually I realized I’m the adult and he’s the kid. I started to teach him that if he ran from me when I called him, he’d get spanked right away. And when we were at home, I delivered on that promise. Next few times we went out shopping, I’d call him and he’d start to run, then stop and look at me, then look to run again… He was contemplating what to do! Eventually he brought his short self over and held on to the cart like I asked. He learned the lesson and lined up with my expectations. (I’m laughing as I write this, but it was very challenging at the time.)

There are far too many stories about children abusing their parents, and I will not be one of those casualties. Neither will you! Don’t let your children go so far that you have to call SuperNanny in to rescue you. Get them in line NOW!

Some kids need spankings. Some don’t.

Some kids need spankings as their main form of discipline while others can be disciplined via time outs, taking things away, or a good scolding. But if your kid has the following qualities, he or she will more than likely need a good swat to the thigh or backside on a daily basis until they really learn to respect and obey you.

  • Strong-willed and stubborn
  • Fearless and adventurous
  • Mean-spirited or angry
  • Moody and temperamental
  • Disrespectful

Parents must understand that a child’s personality is formed by the time he or she reaches 5 years. So you have fewer than 5 years to create an attitude of obedience and respect for authority. If you’re past that time, you’ve got to reinforce what you’ve already instilled or do damage control. Hopefully the former…

Age really isn’t a factor either. Of course no one should spank a baby… Use common sense. But there are ways to let babies know that what they’re doing is not acceptable. I used to tap Briana’s little legs when she decided to run her baby teeth across my baby-feeders. The first few times, she didn’t understand that I wanted her to stop. But around tap number 4, her big ol’ eyes widened, she grinned, and stopped nibbling on me.

I remember another time… indulge me here… she wanted something from the cabinets but she wasn’t talking yet. I thought she was pointing to her cup. So I passed her the cup and she threw it on the floor in anger. I picked it up, and handed it to her again. Again, she threw it on the floor. So I tapped her hand (not hard at all) and said “No no.” Third time giving her the cup (and still not realizing what she wanted), she looked at me with her frustrated baby face then bent down and placed the cup on the floor. I never did find out what she wanted, but I both learned a lesson that day. Young children (under 18 months) do understand discipline.

One more tiny piece before I end… life brings about changes, and often our kids misbehave because they are sad or grieving over something. In those situations, I stop and ask the Lord if I should spank or not. Usually, I get a yes. We don’t want our children to think it’s acceptable to be disobedient just because they’re tired or sad.

Whew… that’s only a small piece of what’s in my heart about this matter. I hope this helps those mild-mannered moms and pushover-dads out there. Take back your homes one bottom-swat at a time…

 

Does your child need spankings? If so, how often do they come begging you for one? :)

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your (and your children’s) future,

 

Alana

Photo credit:  Some rights reserved by Geomangio

 

Family, Uncategorized

I’ve wanted to tell it since it’s happened, but for fear of being too transparent to too many people, I haven’t.

Granted, I’ve already opened up quite a bit on this blog and tolerated your judgmental sneers and jabs so far– But what makes this post most different than any other is that it provides the explanation of why I went krazy in the first place.

So let’s go back to 2003. It was my senior year at William and Mary, and I planned to graduate in December, a semester early. I had been blessed with a great internship at Anheuser-Busch, and though it wasn’t the line of work for me, I didn’t mind the $14 per hour pay. So during summer 2003, I worked, took a few classes, and did a little partying… something I was neeeever good at.

Did I mention I’d also hit rock bottom? I had gone through a nasty break-up and my parents had finally parted ways. Emotionally I was a wreck and ripe for predatory picking. Classes started and within two weeks I discovered that I was *ahem* with child. I made two great choices at that time… to keep my baby and to leave that hot mess of a sperm donor alone.

(I’m leaving out some details here, so if you know the full story hush your mouth. It’s not time for all of it to come out yet. If you don’t know, then just grin, nod, and carry on.)

In an effort to keep the sharing of dirty laundry to a minimum, let’s just say I later found myself in another precarious position. I was in a court… between mom and dad… defending one… never intending to hurt the other… desiring only to tell the truth and watch them part amicably. It didn’t go so well.

And just like that the already shaky relationship I had with my father came to a screeching halt.

By October I had made peace with my pregnancy, and even though I spent most of my time bent over the toilet, I had new sense of purpose. I felt like I was working hard for a reason. A new relationship was growing despite the loss of another.

Don’t get me wrong… I was upset, but relieved at the same time. I know people think we’re supposed to feel a certain way about things, but you feel how you feel. And I felt relieved.

My father was a terrorist of sorts. You just never knew when he was genuinely agreeable or when he was about to take your head of with a fit of rage. I had suffered tremendous emotional trauma, neglect, rejection, and abandonment at his hands… so I gave myself closure and let him leave. He didn’t know I was pregnant. I didn’t dare tell him that because in that case, I would’ve been afraid for my life. Seriously. My daddy was crazy. The real crazy… not the kind I spell with a k.

Now imagine the scene in the movie with the violin serenade and changing scenes… Marrying. Teaching. Birthing of second child. Earning MBA. Divorcing. Moving into mom’s house. Suffering in mom’s house. Moving out of mom’s house. Moving into my own place. You get it… Life happened.

While life was happening I did my best to hold on to my faith, but truthfully, faith held on to me. And one night, three months ago, I felt strangely impressed to pray for my parents and my siblings, particularly my father. Let me tell you… I WENT INNN!!! (“Going in” is church vernacular for seeking God’s face fervently…) I didn’t know what God was doing, but I prayed as He directed.

Shortly thereafter my brother graduated from Campbell University. My mom and I attended the ceremony and off in the distance I saw my father. I didn’t let my mom know it, but I missed him. Really I just missed having a father. But I said a quiet prayer. He saw me as he was leaving and greeted me. First time in 8 years.

When mom and I made it back to the car she handed me an envelope. Inside was my brother’s graduation invitation. Pointless, right? Well I opened it anyway…

Go grab a tissue right now… No? Suit yourself. I’m not liable if the forthcoming tears short-circuit your electronic device.

…and inside was a letter from my father telling me that he missed me. He left me his phone number and email. I slid my glasses over my eyes, pretended to nap, and cried as discreetly as I could.

It took me some time to contact him, but on Christmas Eve of 2011, I sat down and talked to my father for the first time in 8 years. And for the first time, he met my children. And for the first time, they exchanged hugs, kisses, and Christmas presents. And for the first time since my divorce, I felt secure.

He told me he was proud of me. That I was still the smartest person he knew. That I made the right choice in my former marriage. That my kids were strong, healthy and smart because of what I’d put into them. That he knew I was doing great things in my school and in the world for education. He’d been asking about me and following my accomplishments all along.

He was proud of me. He was sorry that he left me and offered reasons why… But when it comes down to it, those reasons never really matter. I assured him that I was glad to have him back.

We don’t talk often, but things are fine. I know how to reach him, and I know he loves me. Only months before I thought he was still angry and had forgotten all about me. I thought my children would never see their six-foot three-inch giant of a grandfather. And since we met again he’s sent me gifts for both my birthday and Valentine’s Day…

*pardon me while I wipe my face*

I know some churchy person is out there thinking, “Well you believe in God, and you know He’s a father to the fatherless.” And this is true… He was and still is Father to me. But in His fatherly wisdom, He knew I needed my daddy back.

So the deeper, more relevant truth remains. God loves us soooo much that He causes us to desire the right things in the right time so He can reconcile and provide in order to propel us into the next level.

I saaiiiddd…

God loves us SOOO much that He CAUSES us to desire the RIGHT things in the RIGHT time so He can RECONCILE and PROVIDE in order to PROPEL us into the next level.

Don’t believe me? Ok… Psalm 37:4. Read and digest for yourself. I’ll blog on that another day.

So what secret desires has God placed in you? Maybe you need someone to come back into your life. Maybe you need to be freed from others. Whatever it is, I pray the hearing of my story has increased your willingness to believe that God is ABLE and WILLING to do what you never thought was possible!

Your less krazy, much happier cybersister,

 

Alana

 

Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, For the Brothers, Uncategorized

Letter to the One that Got Away

It ain’t you, so just read the blog and don’t worry. LOL!

(Truth be told, he’ll never see this unless I send it to him.)

Dear Sir, 

I remember the first time we met. You were charming, and somewhat handsome… I was quite taken by your inner swag though I could’ve passed on your sense of style. No one, and I mean NO ONE, should’ve been wearing their hats two sizes too big. But just the same, you were very smart and very much a gentleman, and what woman isn’t drawn to confidence?


I don’t recall what we did on our first or second dates. If I did I probably still wouldn’t write about it. Those days…sheesh! (My readers are judgmental. Don’t mind them. Thank God for the blood of Jesus!) We had so much in common… both having passion for faith, family, and business. You were much further along in life than I was. We attended different colleges, so that drive up and down 64 was a killer. You had a good family background which was rare, and I held you in such high regard. We never made a relationship of it, and part of that is my fault… but it would’ve helped tremendously if you made it clear how you truly felt about me in a timely manner.


I remember sitting beside you on your sofa. We had just finished dinner. I rubbed your chest (always a sucker for a big chest), and you told me about your future goals. I thought for a bit that I could be happy settling down with you, but there was always something nagging at me. Most of the time you were gentle and kind, but sprinkled in were moments of insensitivity, almost to the point of cruelty.


In short, you reminded me of my father.


I remember the last time we went out. Another guy that was competing for my attention called while you and I were together. You urged me to answer the phone, so I did. You must have thought I was going to end it with him and choose you. 


Honestly, between the two of you he was better looking. And between the two of you, he was funnier. And between the two of you, I knew how he felt about me. But one thing you both had in common… You both were jerks! LOL… But I didn’t end it with him that night. I didn’t end it with him until four years ago. So that night, you left in a fit of rage which surprised me to NO END! And by no end, I mean I regretted that night for YEARS! But I eventually let go… Well, you got away.


No one should ever find out a person’s true feelings that way. Things could’ve been different. 


But I’m so glad they aren’t.


You are married.. happily… finally. Your wife is gorgeous. Honestly, if you didn’t have all that swag there’s no way you could’ve gotten her. I hope you keep her. I can’t imagine any other woman putting up with your biting sarcasm. For the year you two were separated, I pray our conversations helped you realize how blessed you are. Your children are beautiful and smart. Your business goals will come to pass.


I had fun seeing you from time to time… just friends checking in. Whenever we walked into a place, people treated us like we were made to be together. It was the strangest thing… But God kept us from doing anything shameful. I’m grateful.


The fact of the matter is I love you like a brother. I don’t miss you, and I don’t wish we had stayed together. I just wanted you to know that I appreciated you.


You see, some men today don’t respect a woman’s choice. Despite the fact that you were the better man, you walked away with your dignity and left me with mine. I learned a lot about a man’s heart that night all of which I had forgotten until a few moments ago.


You love just as hard as we do. You hurt just as much as we do. 


And if… for some reason… any unforeseeable reason at all… I mean it’s very unlikely… but just in case the ish don’t work out between you and your wife….




You need to find somebody else! Because when I let go, it’s for good…




“Platonically” loving you from a distance,


Alana

 

Photo Credit:

Harry Rowed. National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque. Library and Archives Canada, PA-112824 /