Parenting the Stages of Life

It was over a decade ago that my oldest child changed our world. I remember leaving the hospital on that July afternoon in my brown, cotton sundress walking slowly towards the exit door as my husband carried our baby girl in her car seat. The reality of parenthood swept over me.  I recruited help.  First mom visited, then my mother-in-law, then some help from the sisters at church. Eventually, the help ran out. I had to face the fact that parenthood means you have the duty. And so began my mission to successfully accomplish milestones.

I don’t find it the least bit reassuring that the word milestone has a close similarity to its cousin millstone which means to have a heavy and inescapable responsibility. Did I ever use the word milestone before I became a parent? Parents never just look at the next step in development as a success, we are focusing two – three steps down the road. For that reason, I don’t think I ever celebrated her milestones.

Fast forward ten years, two boys added to our brood and many gray hairs in the front of my head, I am facing yet another milestone. She is now about to transition to her middle school years. I have been praying about this for months. I was having a conversation with my godmother when she said, “Jenesis only has seven years left before college.” Suddenly, I felt like I was behind the power curve. Stories of how middle school transforms our children began to create fear in my heart. Then one morning, the spirit of the Lord encouraged me to get excited about this time. Look at what she has accomplished in her decade of existence. I thought of her friends, teacher comments and many projects. I remembered when she cringed in fear at the Talent Show in 1st Grade. She held me in a death grip on the floor in front of the stage when her name was called to perform. My thoughts went from concentration on the elapsed time to focus on how I am the very best person for the job of facilitating her next move. Her life (as well as that of her brothers) has meant so much to my discovery of my purpose in this earth.

We, mothers and fathers, are given the responsibility of raising children to help bring about favorable outcomes for them. Call it what you will. As for me, parenting takes laborious effort. Yet, I am finding that intentional effort makes all the difference in whether your child reaches her milestones in due time. You should celebrate when they do.

It is graduation season and everyone is looking towards the future. What about the time in between the close of the last door and the opening of the next? Perhaps, you are not the parent of a graduate, but you are facing just as important a transition with your child. Maybe your daughter is having her first baby? Is your son about to start a new job? Here are some ways you can parent them through their passage to_________ (you fill in the blank).

Reflection is Good for the Soul Back in March, Victoria Beckham was deemed an “internet troller” for embarrassing her son, Brooklyn, in several photos posted to social media. Referencing the proud mother’s shameless gush over her son in post after post, Hollyscoop’s announcer @MADDISIONHILL93 stated, “Parents. How would anyone know about our accomplishments if we didn’t have them to brag about them for us?” I loved the truth in that statement. Brag on your child. We give parents a hard time because they brag. You should celebrate children. More importantly, brag to your child. Remind them of what they have done and retrace the road they have been on that has led them to the place they are today.

ACTION ITEM: Keep a large binder of their report cards, good grades, photos, writings and artwork. Sit down with them and flip through it. Afterward, have them write their own vision/purpose statement or draft a personal CV reflecting on their life experiences rather than on their held positions.

HOW IS THIS USEFUL? Children need to be directed to their life track. You want them to live their life. By showing them how they have lived to date, you are helping them re-center. This is also useful for your older children. You can’t imagine how thankful they will be that you helped them to remember the things they loved as children. It may just refocus their life’s purpose.

Model the Way It is a fact that we are our children’s first teachers. We influence their faith and their actions. Actions speak louder and resonate with children like no other message you give. Consistency with them is important. Stop with the sermons. (I am talking to myself here.) If you want them to practice good values for their lifetime, you have to model them before them. They will carry forward what you show them more than what you told them.

ACTION ITEM: Spend at least one period a month demonstrating something with your child like a new project or teaching a new skill such as how to make a certain dish. Memorize a Bible verse each week. In addition to reading a bedtime story, show them how to pray. Make a list of things that have been practiced at home (such as curfew). Practice consistency.

HOW IS THIS USEFUL? When your child does leave home, they will likely continue doing the things that they have practiced with you as well as what they have watched you do. Your rules at home will extend to their neck of the woods without your physical presence because your character presence before them has made an enduring impact.  

Be Village People As much as our children would like to think that they know how to pick friends, judge and listen to the right voices, they don’t. Parents, you have to introduce them to how to discern safe people and build community among like-minded supporters. You must encourage what my friend Natasha Robinson, author of “Mentor for Life: Finding Purpose Through Intentional Discipleship”, calls “village” experiences. You want your child to gravitate towards life partnerships that encourage them to be their authentic self, value their unique gifts and encourage individual goal achievement—–PARENT THEM.

ACTION ITEM: Help your child list the characteristics of a friend and a safe person. Introduce them to people who can serve as mentors in their lives such as a professional in their desired career field. Invite their friends over so that you get to know the people around them. Read together the book, Touching the Holy: Ordinances, Self-Esteem, and Friendship by Robert J. Wicks. Talk to them about creating safe boundaries and how to protect their environment.

HOW IS THIS USEFUL? God created us to be relational people. Even after your child leaves home, they will need people. They need to know how to build a village and protect their fort. This will benefit them in the long run. Your child must know what belonging looks like and be able to cultivate healthy relationships. Help them understand that peculiar (1Peter 2: 9) is extraordinary.

I pray that this helps you look forward to the next stage in your child’s life with peace and reassurance.

Prayer: Thank you, Heavenly Father, for life and the blessing of progression through life’s stages. In a time of transition, let us recall Ecclesiastes 7:8 that reminds us that the end of a thing opens the door to a future reward.

Congratulations to whom it is due and best wishes on your achievement of this momentous milestone!

CELEBRATION TIME, COME ON!!!

Obama’s time is done. It’s High Time for Wisdom.

I remember watching the television alone in my living room, curled up on my sofa as I listened to Senator Barack Obama prepare to give his victory speech on the night of November 4, 2008.  At the time, I was the mother of a toddler girl and barely three years in marriage.  I watched Barack and Michelle Obama take that stage with their two girls.  You might be thinking that I was sitting there grinning from ear to ear.  I wasn’t.  Several clips flashed across the screen of people all over the world witnessing this historical moment in the United States.  It appeared to me that many of them were more proud to be Americans than I was at that moment.  I wasn’t a fan of Barack Obama. I feared for Obama.  On that night, visions of Martin Luther King and President John F. Kennedy raced across my mind.  I clutched my decorative pillows.  As people were carrying signs at Grant Park in Illinois that stated “HOPE”, I sat there gripped with fear.  I feared for the life of the next president of the United States. 

The years passed after Inauguration Day 2009 and I grew weary of hearing the dialogue about RACE IN AMERICA. I am not one to say that race relations worsened under The Obama Administration.  I believe the evil of discrimination just got really bold.

I served as an officer in the military. I was taught that you never speak harmful words about the Commander In Chief.  You can have your convictions but it would be best not to share them publicly and certainly not in uniform. Was I the only officer that got that training? You have to wonder that when you hear high officials speaking of the leader of this great nation with such hard to hear disdain.  If my child hears me screaming through the house, I set the example for him to follow.  And that is what I felt was taking place in America…everybody screaming how much they hate Barack Obama.

When the following election came, I just wanted Obama out of office so the screaming would stop.  I just wanted to see him and his family go back to their lives and safely live.  For those first four years, I believe he had a target on his back and I just knew it was a matter of time before someone would try it.  So, there I was election night in 2012 waiting to hear that the Obama Era had come to an end and I would get my wish.  But when it was announced that he was elected for a second term, I sat alone in the quiet of my living room.  I looked up at heaven knowing surely this was the Lord’s doing because the Bible says that the existing authorities are established by God (Romans 13.1).  I asked a question of God, “What does this mean?” For three presidential elections in a row, it appeared that I had voted contrary to God.

Do you think that after his second term elected to office that my feelings about him would have changed? No.  I am not a fan of his politics.  I don’t support his views on many, many issues.  But you know what, I have to tell you that despite the fact that I disagree with him, I’ve grown to love the person.  I am extremely proud of the family man that is Barack H. Obama.  I am not his fan but I love him for what his image has done for me; a black woman, the oldest of three girls whose father was absent when we were Sasha and Malia’s ages.

Family Man: President Barack Obama

If I can say anything about his presidency, I cannot deny that he has stood the test against much adversity AND he has represented the versions of the leading man in black families that we rarely see (how many good examples of that do we see in celebrity?)  For that, I give you a high five and a bow President Barack Obama.  You showed the world.

1)      Black men love black women, faithfully. (First Lady Obama has hips and an attitude too.)

2)      Educated black men seek out talented black women, marry, raise families and treat each other like royals.

3)      Black men want to be involved in the lives of their wife and children. They want to build families and not just breed seed.

4)      Black men aren’t afraid to show deep affection for their queen in public.

5)      Strong, black men are not rock hard, unfeeling people.  They cry and they get emotional at times.  They are forgiving.

6)      Black men don’t have to curse, change their facial expressions or get loud to let you know that they are in charge.

7)      Black men can have non-black buddies and really get along to the point it is special to watch.

8)      Black men demonstrate what a good man looks like to their little girls because they treat her mother so well.

9)      A black man is unselfish and he wants you to have the best and he will give his best trying to give that to you.

10)  Black men want to see younger black men succeed and so they lead them and mentor them.

“Pretty sure I’ve never cried during a President’s speech until tonight, for he’s a fantastic orator. Please tell me I wasn’t alone.” – Jodi McGovney Sewell, USNA Class of 1999

I didn’t watch President Obama’s Farewell address.  I was grading papers that night. But I certainly heard about it the next day. It was my Naval Academy classmate’s Facebook post that reinforced my need to write this note.  (Thank you Jodi Sewell for allowing me to share this.)

You may not have liked everything that he was about.  You may not have liked anything he put out.  But I believe there is plenty about this President of the United States that you can say that you absolutely loved.  And you loved it to the point that you are going to miss it when he moves on.  Go ahead, be honest, Barack Obama, got under your skin…in a good way.  I won’t tell anyone you said it.

So, on to tomorrow.  I have another kind of fear for tomorrow’s Inauguration Day.  I am asking you all to pray.  Pray for this nation.  Pray for the Trump Administration.  Pray that he leads with wisdom and that he makes us proud.  I am not his fan either but who knows, Obama had Hope.

Blessings to the Obama Family! Live Long.

QuaWanna Bannarbie

 

Real Ways to Engage without Facebook Live

Have you noticed how much “live streaming” is dreadfully disturbing? It is becoming addictive just like Candy Crush. People seem to be hooked on this stimulant that is screaming “watch me, watch me”.

via GIPHY

I will admit that I was attracted to that LIVE LIFE for a while (although I haven’t streamed anything live myself).  Each time I saw a friend “go live”, I was immediately there to check out what they had going on.  But this past week, I realized this “live buzz” is killing us and we need to get back to some real effective ways to engage with people via our social networks without suddenly becoming a witness to a crime. (It really is that serious.)

Social media has its bad points but I believe if we use it socially as it was meant to be used, we can make better use of its good qualities.  Think about how much you scroll through your accounts during the day.  No one has time to read everything posted and truly some of us need to let go of a few subscriptions (but that is a conversation for another time).  However, for the things that we do read, what would happen if you took a moment just to let the content creator know that you were hooked in the scroll?  Just stop to say “keep it coming guy, I liked this!”

Every family has that member that spends their life on social media.

Well, why don’t you employ that auntie to help you out with your reach and expansion?  Ask Aunt Jen to share your content, every time you share your content.  Then tell Aunt Jen to make a comment that says something like “My Niece is Doing Great Work.” Her engagement on your post is going to get others engaged.  If Aunt Jen can share Bishop Jakes sermons and she is not his auntie, why shouldn’t she share your goods? Support is best understood when people give of their resources to another person’s work.  Family members are good encouragers in words. They can be good encouragers in deeds too. 

Speaking of encouragement.  How many times have you read a post on Twitter and loved it but kept scrolling? YES? Well, shame on you.  We are too focused on getting rather than giving.  If the content blessed you, let the content creator know it and encourage them to continue.  We have got to encourage each other more.  I recently joined the 500 word challenge with Jeff Goins.  I have scrolled through a few of the other sites in the challenge and I have taken Jeff’s advice to say hello on the blogger’s site. I haven’t been blogging that long but I know it must make anyone feel great to know that their words reached another human being. I know there is power in my engagement so I don’t mind giving a little bit here and there. Own your power and use it to lift others.

Several people I know are on a path of something new at the start of 2017. 

You all know it is hard to keep the momentum going after January 15th has come and gone and certainly after February 1st arrives.  So, do this for me.  For every person in your life that you know is doing something new, challenging and exciting, text them and let them know you are looking forward to the next thing.  People want to deliver when they know that you are looking for something from them.  So encourage them to keep it going.  Don’t let them give up on whatever it is that they are working on.  Your encouragement keeps them engaged in whatever they have purposed to accomplish this year.  You’re helping them see it through.

Lastly, take the time to encourage those people in your life that serve you.  Recently, my bus driver texted me that my daughter had gotten into a bit of trouble on the bus.  I have told the driver many times that she is free to contact me if she ever has trouble out of my children.  She took me up on my offer.  I responded to her compliance with a hearty thank you and encouraged her to stay safe on the roadways.  Her response, “Thank you. I will.”  Everyone can appreciate encouragement.  Encouragement is the ultimate power of engagement and we have it at our finger tips with these mobile devices. You don’t need to be in someone’s personal space to be engaged.  Invite yourself in by merely saying “I SEE YOUR HUSTLE. KEEP FLEXING YOUR MUSCLE.”  Engagement is a super power.  Don’t give all yours away to live streaming.

My Write Path: “It is Not Too Late for You (or Me)”-Episode 2

I said this is the last episode of My Write Path and it is worth repeating, people are often curious about progression.

Since I started this blog, I find myself reading the posts of other bloggers wondering about their “success path” and trying to follow their timeline.  But as I shared in the last episode, my sitting, reading and watching their work was hindering my own progress.  I am not pointing the finger at them.  I am very much to blame.  I was spending so much time on the sidelines that I wasn’t putting action to what I learned from dissecting their stories.  I read and I listened in on the webinars.  I admit, I kept wishing I had started a long time ago.  I found some old piece of my work in a journal and thought, where would I be if I had gotten off my tuff then?  Well, I am so glad that God heard my foolish thoughts and told Jeff Goins to send me this message, It’s Not too Late.

Why It’s Not TOO Late For Us To Become Writers

I am actually a subscriber to Jeff Goins’ emails but I missed this recent message from him about Sandy.  He was announcing that he would be releasing a 3-part interview he recorded with Sandy Kreps, a student of his who founded the popular blog modernsimplicity.org and recently became a published author.  I had not opened the email yet.  But then I saw two message from another influencer of mine, Jonathan Milligan, who mentioned these same videos with Sandy Kreps.  When Jon sent his message, it made me think, “you probably want to go back and take a look at this if Jon has mentioned it twice now.”  So I did.

jeff-goins-and-sandy-kreps

I actually downloaded the transcript for the first two videos before I watched them.  (Jeff really knows how to do it doesn’t he?)

After I watched them both, I went back and read the transcript of the first one specifically because I was intrigued by Sandy’s timeline on her way to becoming a professional writer.

So here is what I gathered:

  • Sandy, a full-time wife, and art director gave birth to her first child in 2005.  (That probably means we are about the same age.)
  • So in love with her first child, she dove into the world of mommy blogging in 2007.  Her first son ignited the “blog spark”.  But she only considered it a hobby.
  • She was laid off her job in 2010 and wanted to stay home with now two boys because her husband traveled a lot.  She still needed income.
  • The lay-off fanned the “blog spark” into a burning flame while unemployment checks provided a bit of kindling.
  • She signed up for the first Tribe Writers Course with Jeff Goins in 2012.  Meanwhile, hubby is not so sure about all the social media stuff that is going on.
  • She spent 2007-2012 teaching herself “the ways of a professional writer.”
  • With the support of the Tribe Community, she released her first ebook on Amazon called Fresh Start.  More book ideas followed and she just keeps writing.
  • She attended the Tribe Conference in 2015.  During the conference, her table talk manifest into a JUST DO IT challenge and she finished the book she had gotten stuck on in 90 days.  One month after finishing the book, Mommy Simplicity, it was published and on Amazon.  She went from stuck to a book published in print in 120 days.
  • Today, Sandy Kreps is a Lifestyle Business Writer full-time.  She has four books under her belt, 12000 email subscribers, blogging business and repeated writing income.

What the success of another person should mean to YOU

If you are able to read this post and look back on Sandy’s story like I did, guess what?  YOU ARE ALIVE!

The timeline was important to me because it spans eleven years from the time her son was born until today.   Which speaks to the beginning question that Jeff asked in this video series, “Can this still be done today?” It’s never too late.

I paid particular attention to the point Sandy made about the years from 2007-2012 that she spent “teaching herself”.  I think intelligent creatives really think we can “figure it out.”  I read something in Jonathan Milligan’s blog that made so much sense to me regarding our sensation with “gathering information.”  He says, “education without action is futile. I see it first-hand all of the time. People take courses, but never take action.”  When I think how relevant that statement is, it stings like a hornet.

In October 2015, I participated in Michael Hyatt’s virtual stream of his Influence and Impact Summit.  Since that week in OCT last year, I have listened to about 25-30 webinars from professional bloggers and creatives who are using the gift God gave them to get their message out to many.  I wish I started then.  I’m convicted of being a bystander.  However, I plead NOT GUILTY of sitting on my gift.  Not Anymore.  It’s Not Too Late for Me.  You Either.

I’m On My Write Path.

Q.Nikki

This post is dedicated to my loved one who have believed I can write and prayed for me to believe it too!

How the faith of children strengthens adult faith

Ten-year-old classmates, Simon and Jenesis lagged behind the rest of us as we approached the front doors of the school.  I looked back wondering what was taking them so long.  Simon had previously expressed that he didn’t want to go to school and his mother said that he had had a difficult morning.  I could relate to Simon because my early morning hadn’t been so great either.  I should have expected the unnecessary distractions.  I triumphed despite that.  It is #BringYourBibleToSchoolDay.  We pressed on.live-it

When Simon and Jenesis came around the corner to the school door, they both were showing each other how they were going to hold their Bibles in their hands as they went to class.  They barely seemed to notice their mothers standing by to wish them well on their day.  I watched as they disappeared through the double archway of the school hall heading toward their class.  Jenesis on the left and Simon on the right both nodding heads as if to say “let’s do this”.

MOTHERING IS A TOOL

Motherhood, for me, has up and down seasons.  There are days when I feel like I want to close myself up in a closet because I get so overwhelmed.  There are other days when I can pat myself on the back and say, “Girl, you done good.”  Today, I am a good girl.

When I told my children about the Focus on the Family campaign, neither of them declared that they wouldn’t do it.  I thought about the fact that in this day and time, my reality could have been that they were uncooperative.  Children today tell their parents what they are and are not going to do.  No, my children were eager to see who would participate in #BringYourBibleToSchoolDay.  And lucky for me, they were surrounded by classmates and friends of like faith.  No wonder Psalm 127:5 says “blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them.”  Children keep you sharp in your faith.children-and-religious-freedom

MY CHILDREN, YOUR CHILDREN, ALL CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE

Our nation should pay close attention, these warriors won’t back down from a challenge, campaign or conquest.  The future is theirs and you better know that they plan to LIVE IT WELL!  Today, they are shining their light in school hallways, tomorrow on Capital Hill.
margaret-mead

Did you know about #BringYourBibleToSchoolDay and did you and your family participate?  Share it with us in the comments.

The Romance Between Follow and Love

 

In a land far away, a young ruler named Follow was living a good life.  He was popular and had great wealth.  He was strong and healthy, his family and servants cared for him well.  In Follow’s world, it seemed there was nothing more to want.  Follow was a good son, obedient to what his parents and advisers told him to do all his life.  As a young prince, he had been taught well the ways and traditions of the land.  He was intelligent and had reached each milestone expected of him according to his development as a wise man.  But Follow lacked one very important lesson in life.  Though his family were generous people and gave to many needful projects and causes, Follow was ignorant to social activism.  As the only heir to this Father’s throne, he was highly protected and confined.  Some of his friends spent days on great missions and returned to the land with trophies of accomplishment and high respect for their humanitarianism.  Follow longed for that level of human engagement.  He prayed and asked his father to bestow on him just one opportunity to travel beyond their land to distribute unto the poor.  His father saw the hunger in the young man’s eyes and could not deny him his petition and so he sent him on his quest.

For months, Follow led a life much different from the kingdom privilege that he had known.  It was difficult at first to adjust to the threatening livelihood of the people in the poor country.  But the more time Follow spent with them, the more he wanted to save them.  And he wasn’t at all anxious to leave.

One dfolloway in the country, a young lady was working in the river to catch fish and Follow took notice of her.  He laughed to himself as she fell repeatedly in the mud after dropping her slippery prey and diving to retrieve it.  Fishing was hard but she seemed not to mind.  She was engrossed in her day’s work.  She never took notice of Follow standing nearby on the riverbank gathering reeds.  Each day after, Follow returned to the same spot along the river in hopes to see her again.  He gathered the nerve to ask her if she would allow him to assist her in gathering the fish.  Shy and ashamed of her muddy appearance before the disguised prince, she agreed to accept his help and told him her name, Love.  Many days passed that Follow met the girl at the riverbed day after day after day.  She rarely said a word as he spoke of nature and how beautiful it was and how he so enjoyed the days in her country.  Some days it rained and they continued in their work never seeming to mind the downpour.  At the end of a work day, Follow turned to the lady and pulled the dangling, muddy strains of hair from her face and tucked them gently behind her ears.  He lifted her chin up to his gaze and gently whispered, “what shall a man do to spend life with you?”.  She looked squarely in his eyes and replied, “he needs to give all of himself to LOVE.”  She took his hand and place it on her heart and cupped it under her hand.  Follow smiled and took her hand and kissed the center of her palm.  Knowing his time was ending with the young lady and the people he had come to adore, he said to her, “I am going away and I am coming back to you. If you love Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because my Father is greater than I.”  He left her there in the river. He knew what he needed to do.

Follow returned to his land and to his parents.  The countrymen were eager to know where the young prince had been and what he had done.  But Follow was eager to talk to his father.  He asked for a private meeting and told him of his journey.  When he finished his story of his time with the young lady, his Father had only one question. “What do you want to do son?”  Follow grabbed his father’s hands and cupped them in his own.  “Father,” he said, “I left my throne here in this kingdom and I found LOVE.  I denied myself for LOVE.  I have come to prepare a place for LOVE for where I am there she may be also.”

The young ruler’s time away was expected to mature him socially.  But this was astonishing news.  His Father was delighted that Follow didn’t return home disappointed and was overjoyed to hear Follow’s plans.  The ruler of the land understood that Follow could never be a leader of people without first giving himself to love.  Wonderful things happened in life because of Follow and Love.  Follow and Love married and had Flow.

As the rich young ruler learned in the Biblical parable of Luke 18, Follow discovered that he left the things of the kingdom for his own sake.  You leave not the things of the kingdom for kingdom’s sake, you leave your possessions for your own sake that you may possess more and life everlasting.  That’s LOVE!

Following is a faith thing.  Anything that requires faith, requires love to keep focus on the right things.

Follow.gif by Ben Stafford

What does love have to do with how and who you follow?  Share it with us in the comments.