Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Beauty, Children, Determination, Discipleship, Faith, Generosity, Giving, God, Happiness, Health, Jesus Christ, Love, Parenthood, Perseverance, Racism, Relationships, Sharing, Success, Taking Responsibility, The Family, Truth, Willpower, Work

I’m thankful for…

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving.

This has always been a sore spot for me ever since my second year of high school. That’s the time that I learned about the betrayal and almost destruction of an entire race of people at the hands of the Pilgrims.

Since that time, I’ve learn to find good in a day marked to celebrate their evil. Thanksgiving is somewhat like the Trojan horse. Both involved a festive occasion marred by betrayal and a massacre.

But there is hope.

Instead of thinking about the historic events that make this holiday ugly, I choose to be thankful.

I am thankful that I knew to make the most of my opportunities.

I’m thankful that I didn’t have circumstances like abuse, grief, drugs or poverty to hinder me from seeing the potential in myself.

I’m thankful for all the people who are close to me. I’m thankful for their love and understanding. I’m thankful for their friendship and kindness. And mostly I’m thankful that these people formed a hedge around me to ensure that I  knew I was loved and shielded from hurt.

I’m thankful for my parents. I am what I am because of the parents I have. And even though they were not perfect, they turned me into the best me I could be.

I’m thankful for my race. Despite the tragedy and racism that still takes place, I am proud of the contributions of my race, the rich tradition of the African culture and our resilience. I still pray that more African Americans will come to know this truth. #cutitoutFerguson

I am thankful to everyone who has ever disciplined me. I needed it and I realize how evil it is for others to go around not disciplining those in their scope of influence. Every child needs discipline and one of the problems in our school systems is that they lack discipline.

I’m thankful to every man that has been or who is currently in my life. You have taught me about a very diverse brotherhood that I am thankful for. The closeness, intimacy and trust we share has made me the strong heterosexual man I am today. I am blessed to be able to draw from brothers who are White, Indian, Cuban, German and Black.

I’m especially thankful for every woman who has ever built a relationship with me. You taught me love and respect the right way and made me less of a dog. I learned how to be intimate without having sex and I learned to appreciate beauty.

I am very thankful for the three children I have. They are all little models of me. I’m learning so much from them. They make me a better man.

I’ve saved the best for last. I am most thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ. All of who I am and who I hope to be rests in Him. Christ, you represent all for me and I love you with every inch of who I am.

Please take time to share your thanks with the people who have earned it!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Generosity, Giving, Happiness, Love, Parenthood, Relationships, The Family

Praise for our First Lady!

It’s time to praise everyone’s first lady. The woman who you first fell in love with; the woman who will forever be in your corner; the woman who knows how to make things right: Mama.

If you are as fortunate as I am to still have your best girl alive, I would ask that you show her a little extra love for Mother’s Day in honor of the mothers who have passed on. And if your mother is alive, make sure you share her with those you know have lost their mom.

If your mother is no longer with you I believe it would be fitting to adopt a mom. You see, just as there are sons and daughters without mothers, the converse is true. This is why the “adopt a mother” concept makes so much sense.

Find her within your church; at the closest nursing home or Assisted Living facility; or take a stroll through your neighborhood — she’s out there.

And once you find her, make her day special. Flowers are always welcomed as would be something sweet. Mother’s also like cards of appreciation. Whatever you choose make sure on Mother’s Day you offset some of the evil in the world by showing unconditional love to a mom.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Posted in Happiness, Love, Marriage, Parenthood, Relationships, Sharing, The Family

How black was Friday?

So this past weekend we celebrated all the things we were thankful for. Then over the weekend we participated in the newest holiday on our calendars – Black Friday.

This tradition had a very humble beginning and had nothing to do with shopping. The term was born in 1966 in Philadelphia where the city used this term to describe the extra flow of traffic (particularly pedestrians) on the day after Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until 1975 that this saying spread beyond PA.

Historians are divided on whether or not the day referred to the amount of Black people walking the streets of Philadelphia or vehicle traffic in general. The media helped to dramatize this day by claiming it was the busiest shopping day of the year.

Truth be told, the Saturday before Christmas has held this title for years. It wasn’t until 1993 that the day after Christmas became the number one shopping day. Black Friday did not have the title of number one shopping day consistently until 2005 and it has been the number one shopping day since.

Capitalism’s favorite holiday is reported to be off to a great start. There were more shoppers out spending money than in recent years and this year it started a day early! There was much debate about companies “stealing” time on Thanksgiving and some tried to protest. I don’t know the actual numbers, but driving past a Walmart on the evening of Thanksgiving looked more like more people bypassed the second helping to spend money!

The worst part of the shopping season for me is that sales ads will be more obnoxious than political ads during a presidential election year! Crazy ads where companies are trying to unload their summer and fall leftovers masquerading as the greatest deal on earth. Operation: Make room for spring things is in full affect!

The question here is this: Do we really believe that we, as the consumers, are getting the best deals on these days? If we didn’t shop on “black friday” or decided to spend our dollars throughout the year instead of during the Christmas season, what would the day be called?

For years, retailers have over-charged us to make their money. That was fine until they got greedy. Items get marked up five to 10 times the cost to make them. What then actually happens is that retail shops sell off the year-end items (leftovers) as Christmas gifts. So if an item was marked up four times its wholesale price, the retailer will sell it for mark up during the products peak season. Then the item may drop to half off. A profit is still made on that item and it looks like we’ve gotten a great deal.

This retail information is not new. We all understand this, but we keep buying. I would like to think that we’re emphasizing the fellowship and togetherness as best friends, dads and sons, daughters and moms hanging out for a day of shopping, eating and laughing. It’s just too bad we have to spend money or need a holiday of sorts to get us to spend quality time. And many folks spend more than they have to impress, say sorry or over love the people in their lives. Some children are overindulged and others have nothing. It’s the time of year for haves, not have nots, but you will see everyone showing the money!

Life is too short. Make quality time a priority this season. Let those you love know how you feel…before your life gets interrupted permanently.

Posted in Accountability, Change, Children, guilt, Happiness, helping, kindness, Life, Love, Parenthood, Relationships, Sharing, society, The Family

Dealing with the affected of witnessing parental conflict

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Every now and again it’s good to provide information that will bring awareness to real life problems.

The family constellation is in trouble. Even when a family overcomes domestic violence, the effects of the events linger long after the watchful eyes of “little Johnny” can not see anymore. His memory of the incidents stays in the family and not easily forgotten, they affect him years later. These images are burned in his memory forever. This fact sheet will focus on and expose this often forgotten evil and offer helpful suggestions to counselors who deal with this type of abuse.

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Children today hear and see lots of things and unfortunately some of the most beautiful memories are smeared by some kind of abuse. Studies have shown that kids today see a wide spectrum of abuse that becomes hard for them to digest. Abuse such as physical violence, verbal abuse and threats are just a start. Some children have been injured while watching the father wail on their mother or were injured by trying to stop the father from beating the mother. Some, sadly, have taken an active part in the violence. Whatever the means, our eyes take “forever pictures” of these events. Each year an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to violence against their mothers or female caretakers by family members. (American Psychological Association, Violence and the Family: Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family,1996)

Researchers agree that most of the violence children see comes out of their own homes. A child’s exposure to the father abusing the mother is the strongest risk fact for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next (American Psychological Association, Violence and the Family: Report of the APA Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family,1996). Moreover, in families where the mother is assaulted by the father, daughters are at risk of sexual abuse 6.51 times greater than girls in non-abusive families (Bowker, Arbitell and McFerron, 1988). And then, Male children who witness the abuse of mothers by fathers are more likely to become men who batter in adulthood than those male children from homes free of violence (Rosenbaum and O’Leary, “Children: The Unintended Victims of Marital Violence,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 1981)

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When an incident occurs in the home, the focus always centers around the direct parties involved. When mom and dad fight, counseling is between mom and dad. Rarely do the witnesses’ feelings become an issue. Children experience emotional overload during this time and even when the parents seem to have “ironed out” their differences and resumed life, the kids are emotionally “stuck” at the scene of the crime. A survey of 6,000 American families found that 50 percent of men who assault their wives, also abuse their children. (Pagelow, “The Forgotten Victims: Children of Domestic Violence,” 1989). In addition, research shows that 80 to 90 percent of children living in homes where there is domestic violence are aware of the violence. (Pagelow, “Effects of Domestic Violence on Children,” Mediation Quarterly, 1990).

Professionals serving the needs of children exposed to domestic violence should be prepared to provide:
(1) Crisis intervention (i.e., assess for safety; develop a safety plan; file an abuse report; and provide crisis counseling);
(2) Assessment (i.e., assess current functioning, suicide risk);
(3) Short and long-term therapy (i.e., gradual exposure, trauma processing, reduction of feelings of responsibility and self-blame).

Posted in Parenthood, Relationships, Taking Responsibility, The Family

A Prayer for Mama

I couldn’t let this holiday go by without remembering everyone’s favorite girl – Mom!

This is one of the few things in life we all have in common. So in honor of Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate the person, the concept and the substitutes for the work that they have done, are doing and will do.

To the good mothers who are deceased, we pray that your souls rest in peace until the coming of the Lord. Like the Apostle Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 – “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The work that you have done and the legacies you have left behind will live in our hearts and minds for generations. Thank you and we will always love you.

To the good mothers who are living the golden years, we pray that the God of heaven will continue to bless you with years. You hold a special place in our hearts because you are a constant icon of everything that represents the joys in our lives. When we were young it was you who outlasted the great depression and took the lessons learned from it and made sure that we had food, clothing and shelter. You survived WWII and showed us how to make a home, how to stay married and how to love unconditionally. You were able to do a lot with a little and for that, we are eternally grateful.

To the good mothers who are still raising children, we pray that our Father in heaven will continue to give you the strength and patience to deal with all the “new age” problems facing children today. We thank you for listening. We thank you for the sacrifices. We thank you for not allowing a broken or dysfunctional home to be an excuse for not taking care of the children. We thank you for being able to provide for the family when dad is absent, unemployed or incarcerated. We thank you for being phenomenal women and we love you!

To the new mothers and mothers to be, we thank you for enlisting in the greatest army of caretakers on the planet. We thank God that you choose to raise children. We thank you for your desire, example and love. We pray that God will give you healthy babies to love and good men to raise them with. We pray that life’s challenges and opportunities don’t sway you from your task. We pray that you take parenting to the next level and educate our kids for a brighter future. Thank you for carrying the torch!

To the substitutes, step moms and grandmothers, you hold a special place in our hearts and we thank God for putting you right where you were needed. We thank you for bringing peace to troubled situations. We thank you for mending broken homes and relationships. We pray that God will continue to bless the work of your hands and for giving you such a big heart. We love you!

To the bad mothers, we thank God for you because believe it or not you are exactly what it was going to take to make some folks do better. God used you in a mighty way to allow his grace and mercy to shine through. Despite the wounded souls left in your path, we honor God on this day because His will is perfect. Don’t wonder why you are alone on this day. Go mend the broken relationships. Allow for healing by allowing your heart to be soft toward your sins. Ask for forgiveness. The ones that are hurt have been waiting on it. Once you have learned your lessons, teach others.

Posted in Beauty, Children, Giving, Happiness, Life, Love, Parenthood, The Family, Time

What being a dad means to me

I’m in love with being a dad,

I give my kids what I wished I had.

They live their little lives and have no clue

of the sacrifices made and the things I do.

I watch them grow up and I’m surprised at what I see,

a son and two daughters who remind me of me.

I get to provide for them, I’d die for them; I love to make a fuss,

I teach them to be responsible and try not to cuss.

With eyes so big and full of joy,

he’s full of potential, I’m talking about my boy!

Two heads full of hair and smiles that light up the night,

My daughters are gorgeous and they’re being raised right.

To be their protector and teacher is an honor for me

I learn more from teaching them who they really ought to be.

I thank God each day for the three I got,

You put your hands on my babies you will probably get shot!

I love you son, daughter and baby girl too,

I hope you appreciate your dad as much as he appreciates you!

Posted in Books, Children, Health, Parenthood, Sharing, Sports, Taking Responsibility, The Family

Another school year in the books!

Well, it’s June and that means most kids (and some are already out) are wrapping up another school year. It seems like they just started school and now it’s over. I used to get caught off guard every time school ended for the summer. By off guard I mean every year I would say that I wanted my kids to be active and have a fun, educational summer, but I had no idea of what they would do.

I was so used to seeing kids go wild over the summer! Teachers even prepare to received these little wild ones in the fall. Someone had to put a stop to this!

I decided that it was time for my kids to make good use of the summer and as much as I wanted them to be active and have fun, I also wanted them to not stop learning. I wanted them to have fun learning and stimulate their minds as well as their physical bodies. Here is a list of five things that I have used in the past to accomplish this goal.

Summer bucket list:

1) Visit the library weekly — the library is a fun and inexpensive way to stimulate the mind of your child. This is great for the whole family. The library has a full list of activities to enjoy.

2) Take a field trip with the kids once a month and — dare I say — have them do a report on what they learned. I had to pay my kids for this, but they did learn. We went to museums, festivals and even a concert. These become great conversation pieces at the dinner table.

3) Have your children write a reaction paper to the movies they watch over the summer. They can discuss the movies with you and then put their thoughts down on paper.

4) Teach your children about the wonderful fruits and vegetables that come in season over the summer.

5) Cook with your children so they learn how to be self sufficient and they get hands on learning.

These are my top 5. You can also make sure they are reading books, they have chores to do regularly and you limited their television viewing. Kids tend to watch more TV in the summer than any other time of the year. More than anything else, make it a summer that they can remember. Don’t forget that you are building life long memories.