Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tragedy Found Me!

I don't care how much you may try to avoid a tragedy, it might just find you. Few of us go through life without experiencing some type of tragic event or loss.

It comes out of nowhere.

It's never expected.

It has a way of finding you whether you open the door, answer the phone or say hello to it.

Recently I returned home from a 10 day vacation. Our family time away started in West Palm Beach with us cheering on our youngest in his rookie baseball state tournament. We were on such a high because the boys dominated and won their district championship that allowed them to advance to the state competition. Unfortunately our state appearance ended quickly. Oh well. Despite the sweltering heat and game losses, we had a blast!



Accidental country girls!
We then traveled from the Palm Beach area to our yearly vacation with my sister and her family. Just two hours north we would find the wide open fields of ranch living. Beaches, city lights, and a vibrant night life gave way to roaming bison, energetic billy goats, and nightly line dancing in an authentic western saloon.

Everything around the ranch moved at a slower pace. I had time to hear and ponder my thoughts, listen to God's gentle whispers and relax my body. I could finally catch up on my reading. My mornings started with peaceful walks and ended watching the sunset off in the distance. What could be more enjoyable?


Life was beyond great UNTIL.........


Tragedy struck.



This particular night we would sit out by the open fire in front of the saloon and make s'mores with the kids.

In an INSTANT my life was different.

One minute a flaming hot marshmallow is on the end of my stick and in the next second, my son is on the ground kicking around in the mulch screaming that he's on fire. Everything happened so fast that I can't even remember the details of the event. As I sit here on my computer at 1:00 in the morning, the memory of seeing my son still torments me. Not nearly as much as it did the night of the incident.


His screams pierced my ears.
My babies. (Post surgery)


I run with him into the saloon to try and find mustard and ice. (Mustard is great with burns. Don't believe me, google it.) He tries desperately to fight the tears because the saltiness of them cause his facial burns to hurt even more.


His flesh is burned. It's a sight that no mom should have to see. What in the heck happened? Lord, please help me!




I don't remember much else, except, we leave the saloon and rush my son to ER. Since we're in the middle of nowhere, it takes what seems like a lifetime to get him there. My sister is driving while my son is sitting between my 17 year old nephew and 15 year old daughter. Roslyn is driving 90 mph to try and get us there. My sweet baby boy is screaming to the top of his lungs. I've NEVER heard him scream like this. I can't even begin to imagine the intense pain he's feeling. It overwhelms me and I BREAK DOWN! I can't stop the tears. I briefly remember my sister's hand on my knee as she tries to drive and console me at the same time.


And then, out of the chaos, my teenage daughter begins to PRAY!


Wait, what?


Within minutes of her prayer ending, the ear piercing screams from my son are SILENCED! Jordan fell asleep.


Crap, I hadn't even thought to pray. I only cried out. Praying any type of audible prayer was so far from my mind. In that moment, I wasn't an inspirational blogger, Bible study teacher, small group leader or any other role. I was a teary-eyed, privately hysterical mom in desperate need for her son's pain to stop.

I knew God would use this experience as a testimony in some way, I just didn't know how. Read these beautiful words from the Psalms...

Psalms 8:2 (TLB)

You have taught the little children to praise you perfectly. May their example shame and silence your enemies!

Enjoying God's beauty!
All the prayers we'd prayed together, she listened. When she didn't always want to pray, she recognized it's power. In a moment of tragedy, crisis and chaos, she knew what to do!

My deepest and most fervent prayer for my children is that they may know Christ for themselves. On that night, Hannah clearly demonstrated, she does! (Posted by Renee)

Isaiah 43:1-3 (NIV)


Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Almost Dad Day - Who cares?

In his footsteps!
There is so much love during Mother's day. Everyone knows that most kitchens are closed that day because mom is taking a much needed break.

I remind my kids constantly about the MOMENTOUS occasion called, "Mother's Day". I tell them not to ask me ANY questions that day, especially this question:

Mom - What are we eating for dinner?

I find a way to solve and answer that question most nights. But on Mother's day, I want someone else in the house to figure out what's for dinner.

Now the tables are turned as we march towards Father's day. I wonder at times, does anyone care? The stores are a bit slower. Restaurants and churches aren't as noticeably busy, as we find it on Mom day.

WHY are dads overlooked?

That might appear as a loaded question. Well, I CARE that Father's day is on Sunday. I am pleased to celebrate the many men that are in my life and are respectfully phenomenal fathers. It truly takes a village to raise children (I say that often). I know so many incredibly talented fathers that sacrifice just as much as any mother.

Happy Father's Day Tyjuan!

This Father's day, spoil him. Maybe he is the father of your children, a teacher, mentor, coach or crossing guard. Find out what interest him. Find a great gift or create a new memory. Give him the same appreciation that was given to mom. The road of parenting is not easy. Our world is changing faster than the sun rise and sets. Our children are more exposed to peer pressure than other generations.

Appreciating that awesome father in your life speaks volumes of your priorities. Tomorrow isn't promised, he might not always be with you. While he is still here, shout out LOUD how much he matters. To those grieving their dad like me, you are in my prayers. (Posted by Roslyn)

Fathers, do not be too hard on your children so they will become angry. Teach them in their growing years with Christian teaching. ~Ephesians 6:4

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Purposeful Pause

Happy Friday! The weekend is here and we are already into the month of June. Many kids are graduating whether it is pre-K or college. It's been fun to see and read about all the senior / grad activities.

I've had the pleasure of reading, "Finding The Space To Lead" by Janice Marturano. I quickly learned that many people are going through life fractured. They just push through due to the demand of the day.

She states, "We often simply do not have the space, breathing room, necessary to be clear and focused, and to listen deeply to ourselves and to others."

I have learned how to take purposeful pauses each day. It's as simple as setting aside 5 - 10 minutes daily just to breath and focus your attention. I know this seems easy, but it really isn't. My mind runs away with thoughts of what to cook for dinner or what I need to cross of my "to-do" list.

HOW CRAZY?

I can't find 5-10 minutes a day just to breath. Well, if I don't, think of the long term impact on my health putting so many needs ahead of my own. I now stop and pause each day. Somedays, I realize that I'm tired and I take a 10 minute nap (yes, I set an alarm).

Well the FUN thing today, during my purposeful pause, I realized that I wanted ice cream. I've been on a weight loss journey for over a year. What used to be a nightly habit is now just an occasional reward.


Afternoon Treat!


What will your Purposeful Pause tell you to do?

#happyalmostsummer (Posted by Roslyn)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

20 Years & Counting


Last month, Alton and I celebrated 20 years of marriage!  It was an exciting time in our house.  We pulled out our wedding album and the kids couldn’t believe how young we looked when we got married (we were also both a lot smaller).


 


Wedding Day
In 1997 we both walked down the aisle having no clue what the future held.  Neither one of us fully understood two simple yet complex words, “I do”. I’m happy to say that I’m still madly in love with him. I don’t just tolerate him. We’re not just roommates staying together to raise kids.


We are FRIENDS!


We make each other smile and laugh at our corny “inside” jokes.


Now, with that being said, we’re not a perfect couple by any means.  Does he get on my nerves? Yes!  Does he make me want to scream at times? Yes!  Do I get on his nerves?  No! 



Just kidding.  Of course I do. 


Despite those facts, he’s the one for me and I’m thankful to God for him.


20 years = 2 decades. 240 months. 7300 days.


To prepare for this blog, I wanted to get some advice from friends and family that have successfully made it beyond the 20 year mark together.  Here’s their tips for all of us to learn from:


  1. Have lots of understanding with each other.  Give to get.
  2. Don’t go to bed angry with each other
  3. Laugh often
  4. Be friends first
  5. Put God first and please Him first before each other.
  6. Don’t have too many expectations of your spouse.
  7. Accept each other’s strengths and faults.
  8. Communicate
  9. Be intentional about having fun together.
  10. Have lots of good sex! (Love this advice)


Recent trip to Busch Gardens!










Our advice for couples is to make a CHOICE to love each other.  It’s that simple.  Beyond all adversity, choose to love each other through it.  Keep your home a place of serenity and peace.  Read I Corinthians 13 for a robust understanding of the depth of LOVE needed to withstand the test of time (see an excerpt below).

 






Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. (Posted by Renee)

Monday, March 27, 2017

When Was The Last Time You Did Something For The First Time?

This is my favorite question to ask, especially in a group setting. It never gets old. Now, it's time for me to ask you:

When was the last time YOU did something for the first time?

Ahh, are you still thinking? If you think about this question more than two minutes, that means you need to GO out there and have a new experience. Sometimes we just get stuck. We are on the wheel of life going around and around. Only doing the mundane and routine events every day. That can get boring fast.

The wheel never stops. Where can we get off? How do we make it stop? What's going to be the NEXT thing that knocks us off our feet?

Instead of expecting tumultuous times ahead, try experiencing something NEW. It can be as simple as flying to a new city, trying a new restaurant or taking a new route to work. I challenged my husband to take a new way home from work. GUESS what - it took him less time. The old way isn't always the best way.

NEW hair for our 90's party!
Renee and I recently went to a party excited about a 90's DJ. We both love to dance, so this just seemed like the perfect event. Well, when we arrived, what we didn't know was that it was an all Jewish party...yikes! I guess we should have read more about it before attending.

The morale to this story, we had the time of our life. We experienced new people, new food and new ideas. In the midst of all our differences, was the familiar music we all loved. In the world we live in, it's easy to only look at our differences. But what I've found is that we are more alike than we ever are different.

So I ask you again - When was the last time you did something for the first time? 

God created a majestic world. Hopefully in a few days you will have a new experience and quickly be able to answer that question. (Posted by Roslyn)

#goexplore

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Saying GOOD-BYE is hard!

At some point in our life, we will have to say good-bye. It might be to a relationship, career, marriage, school, or even an old way of thinking. Realizing that everything does not last forever is sometimes the hardest part.

The only constant in our life is CHANGE.  

Our country went through transition of power on Inauguration day, saying good bye to an old administration and welcoming in a new vision.

In my own personal life, I had to say good bye to a special friend.  Many miles and ocean water now separate us. Moving away from our comfort zones causes us to sometimes proceed with caution. When you say that final good bye you feel sad and devastated inside. You move forward, but not always really sure how.

My friend name is Kanoon, and she was my nail technician for over a decade. She's seen me through some of the toughest and greatest celebrations of my life. She helped me welcome in a new baby, prepared my nails for my 40th birthday shoot, encouraged me through surgeries and always made sure I wore the best color of the season.

No matter how tough the week, she always had a smile waiting for me.



Over time we developed a loving and authentic relationship. We spent time together, talked about our cultural and religious differences. She's Buddhist and I am a Christian. We have such a loving respect because we are ALIKE more than we are different.

My morning tradition of drinking warm water and lemon came from her, Kanoon has inspired me on so many levels. She has helped lead me on a path of health and wholeness. BUT that season of my life has abruptly come to an end. On December 31, it was the last day that these nails and hands held her. It's hard to imagine being so attached to someone.

We miss you Kanoon!
Some of you are saying good-bye in your own life. Don't be devastated or selfish with your feelings. Allow yourself not to become guarded, but open to new opportunities and new ways of thinking. This is the year for all of us to shift our thinking. The world as we know it is changing right before our eyes. If you are feeling unsettled politically, politically rejoicing, or just unsure of the future remember this:

People are with you for a SEASON, a REASON, or a LIFETIME.

Although Kanoon is miles away from me, she is with me and my family for a lifetime. I allow this scripture to comfort me in times of uncertainty:

SET your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. ~Colossians 3:2

Choose to let heaven fill your thoughts. The life that we know here on earth will soon pass away. Our love from God is eternal. (Posted by Roslyn)

#beblessed

Monday, January 9, 2017

I Love Raising a Teenager!

Parenting is probably one of the biggest challenges in my life. There are days that I win as a parent and days that I fail big time. Every day it's a different twist and turn. I have a teenage daughter and an 8 year old son. They have different personalities, likes and dislikes. Most days they don't agree but on the days that they do, it's a wonderful blessing to see them together.



My kids when they were younger!
Photo credit: Delana Brooks

When I share with some people that I'm absolutely loving the teenage years, most look at me like I'm crazy. Especially raising a teenage girl that's full of emotion and attitude. It's not easy BUT I'm just resolved to enjoy every phase and stage of my children's lives. Those were words of wisdom given to me by a colleague years ago and I've never forgotten it.  Before I know it, she will be an adult and living on her own.



If I CHOOSE not to enjoy these years, I WILL MISS OUT!




I recognized early on that in her short life span, she doesn't have this world figured out. Heck, I'm more than twice her age and I don't have it all figured out.  I'm here to support her and help her navigate life. God entrusted my husband and I with her and I vow to do my best to love, encourage and support her through good and bad times.

Here's a few lessons I've learned about teenagers:


  • They need you to be their parents NOT their friends.  I'm not her equal and I'm not going to try to be.  She needs boundaries, discipline, and guidance. NOT friendship from her mother.


  • Teenagers want you to listen to them on their schedule.  There are times when my daughter will wait until the most awkward times to want to talk through a situation.  I'm normally ready to go to bed, in the middle of cooking or headed out the door.  Those are the moments when I have to take a step back and listen.

  • As hard as it is, they have to learn from their mistakes.  They need to understand that choices have consequences.

  • The teenage years are when you HAVE to move from directing every facet of their lives to consulting/coaching them through the rough spots. God is writing their story. Let Him do it! This is when they will learn to resolve conflicts, find their voice and fight their own battles. They need to learn how to interact with adults, teachers, coaches, etc.  I can't be her mouth piece in every situation.  She has to learn to make decisions for herself. 


I recently asked (on my Facebook page) the keys to success when raising teenagers.  Here's just a sampling of the many comments shared.....
  1. Pray for them & pray with them!
  2. Patience & open communication
  3. Being supportive
  4. Prayer!
  5. Intentionally develop a "village" of trusted adults for your child.
  6. Meet them where they are.  Avoid trying to make them who you want them to be.
  7. Sometimes you have to steer them into the pain to help them learn valuable lessons while they are still in the "nest".
  8. Prayer!
  9. Give them room to make mistakes.
  10. Listen without interruption.
  11. Lead them by your great examples.
  12. Use wisdom, have faith and watch God do the rest!!

I leave you with a familiar passage of scripture from Proverbs 22:6...

Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old, he will not depart from it. (KJV)

Point your kids in the right direction, when they're old they won't be lost. (MSG)


What's your parenting advice for parents of teenagers?

(Posted by Renee)