Posted in Beauty, Children, God, Love, Relationships, The Family

Birthdays are bigger than we think

I think we all know people who, when asked about their birthday, say that they don’t celebrate it anymore or that it’s just not a big deal.

What are we really saying about ourselves when we make these statements?

One of the things I love about spring is that in addition to the season in the Midwest beginning to change, I have two lovely daughters who celebrate birthdays in March and in April.

My girls are special to me. They know that they are special, but on their birthdays, I have an extra opportunity to celebrate the fact that they exist.

This is a fact of life that is often overlooked in childrearing.

The stability, security and self-esteem for any daughter are wrapped up in her daddy. A father is the first man that a daughter should be in love with. The number one reason is because this would be the daughter’s first taste of TRUE love – unconditional, never-ending, God-like love.

Codependent women, for the most part, did not experience a strong interpersonal relationship with their fathers.

I have counseled a variety of women who have said that even when their father was there, he really wasn’t there. He lived at the house, they ate dinner together sometimes and he was a great provider of physical things.

But how often they exchanged intimacy was in question.

There were no tender moments. They would say things like. “I know my Dad loved me, he just doesn’t express himself that way.” Or, “Dad loves me, he’s just very busy.”

The effects are devastating.

The daughter that doesn’t have the strong interpersonal relationship with her dad will always struggle with her relationships with men. The codependent part comes in her defining moments. She will always wonder is she beautiful, does she matter, who loves her.

And she will look for a male to supply her with these answers.

Just imagine the teenage boys willing to tell these girls that they are beautiful, they are important and they are loved.

What do you think these codependent girls will do in return for these simply words that should have come from her dad?

If you have ever wondered how some guys ended up with these very beautiful and intelligent women – you guessed it, codependency.

The point here is this: Every little girl needs to know that she is loved and that she matters. In fact all of us do. These two things are directly attached to her inner conscious which she will then use to fight off the voice that tell her no one loves her or she’s ugly.

This is why birthdays are especially important to all of us. They should be used as a tool to express love and to celebrate the life of a person we love. Everyone should have at least one day a year where people make a fuss, go out of their way and express their love all because of the birth of that special someone.

It is also for this reason that my two little girls will always know that they matter, that I love them more than life itself and that they are smart and talented enough to do whatever they put their little minds to. They need to understand that our spirits are forever connected and death can’t even separate us. That our love is everlasting – which means from the day they were conceived, it was in love and that their life and death will be spent in love.

Make sure the people you love know it. This must be demonstrated and said out loud often enough to make it a habit. This is how we live with no regret.

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 Accountability, Achievement, Change, Confidence, Determination, Discipleship, Faith, helping, Justice, Life, Love, Perseverance, Progress, Sharing, society, Success, Taking Responsibility, The Family, Time, Truth

The power of one

untitledIt is easy to look at this world and all of the evil there in and feel that as one person we are powerless. It seems like my voice and vote doesn’t matter and my single voice is too small.

Well, this ideal is family to the fear and doubt that is given by the evil one. This concept has halted a lot of would be powerful movements. A wild forest fire can be started with one match and whole wars have been started with one shot.

What if the energy that was donated to the negative thoughts were reserved for the one? The one who would dare to speak out against injustice or the one who would dare to love their spouse in spite of infidelity.

Or the one who would dare to challenge a bully or plead for the less fortunate. Or the one who would choose to see that the glass really is half full or understand that the best dancing is done in the rain.

Jesus made a huge impact living only 33 mortal years on earth. God has given most of us more time and the same power!

Let’s celebrate the power of one and do something with it.

Posted in Confidence, Faith, God, Happiness, Jesus Christ, Prayer, Relationships, The Family

Yes, no and not now (Part 3 of 3)

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So you want your prayers to be in step with the will of God do you? I don’t blame you, too often we ask God as a last resort and we’re still struggling with what things we should pray for.

Remember, prayer is designed to be a comfort to us. It’s like being able to talk to the king of the land and having favor with him. It’s a privilege to be in a covenant relationship where he has requested that when you’re going through rough times you talk to him about it.

Prayer is not a wishing well or a Jeanie in a bottle. It is not a set up where if God likes you, he will give you what you ask. Prayer is not a way to gain material things that we want and it is vain to pray for things God has already granted.

For example, for you to pray to God because some poor person needs food and you already have a house full of food is vain. God doesn’t expect you to rid the world of hunger. He just expects you to take care of the situations you know about. I have a family and let’s say I lose my job. God knows what I need before I ask. Well in a covenant relationship, I need to thank him for the job I know he has purposed for me. Why? Because the Bible says if a man does not work, he doesn’t eat. And a man that doesn’t take care of his family is less than an infidel. So, I can be assured that God has prepared a way for me to take care of the family he gave me so no panicking! Just simply be relentless in search of that job because faith tells you it’s there.

When someone is deathly ill and we pray for them, our prayer should be one that is honest, vulnerable and direct. There is no way to know if it is time for the sick person to die. All we know is that death is common to man and therefore all must die. My prayer would be to let God know how I feel and then let him know that I trust his decision and that he knows best. There is nothing wrong with asking God to heal someone, what makes it bad is when God has revealed his will and we don’t accept it.

God is still GOD when things turn bad, when death visits our house and when we are at our lowest point. He still works things out for our betterment. If we really understand this, then all of our prayers will be of faith. And remember faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

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 Accountability, Change, Divorce, Giving, Greed, Happiness, History, Life, Love, Marriage, Opinions, Perseverance, Relationships, Sharing, society, Taking Responsibility, The Family, Truth

Unconditional marriage?

unconditional loveSo we know that the divorce rate is really high. But it doesn’t have to be. Is it really possible that all of these divorced people just happened to marry the wrong person?

I know that there have been some in terrible abusive relationships and for safety reasons they had to get out. But the lion share of divorces stem from unmet expectations and selfish motives.

No one told them that unconditional love was supposed to be brought to the marriage, not generated from within.

They didn’t know that forgiveness wasn’t optional when they said “I do” and that expectations were only conditions you place on yourself.

They were ignorant to what things should have been the most important. It’s a bad feeling to be judged by how much money you make, how you dress, how shapely your hips are or the size of your breasts. It’s extremely shallow for someone to expect their own version of what’s perfect to be matched or exceeded by their partner.

Of all the scriptures we take literally, no one bothered to take Jesus seriously when he said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out!” Or “If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off!” (Matt. 5:29-30).

The simple fix for marriage is for each party to take a step back and really look at what they are bringing to the table. What you are bringing to the table can’t just look good to you alone. It needs to be valuable to the person you pledged to live forever with.

If it is not, and it probably isn’t, the two of you need to talk and stop playing married and truly work at being married.