I Am Everything Because of Love

It was just an ordinary afternoon, a time when bank employees continue to service their customers with their account-related issues. That afternoon, tragedy struck at a SunTrust Bank where at least five died: four employees and one customer. As of now, law enforcement does know the reason behind this atrocity.

When my husband texted to tell me about the bank shooting, I was beside myself. “Are you okay? Is everybody okay? Can I call you?”

I did not wait for an answer, I called him right away to learn that it was not his bank, but one that was about forty-five minutes away from him, in Sebring, Florida. I am relieved and thankful that the shooting did not take place at his branch, but my heart continues to hurt for his colleagues and their families.

This is yet another shooting eating away our sense of safety. These shootings are hitting closer and closer to home. Last year, one shooting took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where my stepdaughter’s senior year was devastated with the loss of seventeen lives. The SunTrust shooter is just twenty-one years old and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter was nineteen years old at the time of the shooting.

What drove these young people to commit such crimes? Does a lack of love have anything to do with it?

I am everything because of love. The love of God, the love of my husband, the love of my children, and the love of my extended family make life worth living. The thought of losing them in any tragedy troubles my heart.

But, by now I know that there is absolutely nothing I can do to protect them from such tragedy. How can you protect people who are doing what they are supposed to do? Shouldn’t they be safe at work? Should they be safe at school? Shouldn’t they be safe at church?

What I know for sure is that only God can protect them. I surrender them to him. I also know that loving them with all my heart and with with both my hands is the only way I can reinvest in them. Love covers all. Love cures everything.

Do You Have a Growth Plan for Your Children?

This morning, my son and I had a heart-to-heart talk about the future.

As an eigth grader, he has a lot on his plate. He plays soccer for his middle school and the local competitive league. He made all-county, solo and ensemble program for playing trombone. He is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. All of these programs require after school practices. In addition, he is carrying a load of eight classes in which he is required to keep a “B” or better.

As a parent, I monitor all of these activities while keeping my eyes open for opportunities for his personal growth and development. One such opportunities is offered by his school district is the Cambridge program, where he can earn up to 45 college credits upon high school graduation. I was all over that opportunity and signed him up. This morning he had to get up at 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday to go take the test.

We talked about why is it important to work on his future today instead of tomorrow. If he wants to have a successful future, he has to show up to class, work hard, and keep up his grades. He has to participate in school and community programs to help him become a well-rounded person. We talked about the stages, seasons of life, how being in grade school right now is an opportunity of a lifetime, which cannot present itself in the future. Therefore, he must learn what must be learned right now.

As my son and I stood in that line waiting for registration to start, I could not help noticing that the group was not a balanced one. Why wasn’t there a more diverse group of students testing for this free program? The Polk county school district is one of the poorest of the entire state. Was the information available to all parents? What measures were taken to ensure that all parents had access to this information?

Too many parents expect the school to do their jobs for them. As parents we have to remain informed about how we can prepare our children for the future. We must partner with our children, their schools, and the community to ensure that we are taking advantage of all opportunities to enhance their future. At this time, we should make it our business to know our children school websites like the back of our hands. The information, programs, and resources are available, but it is up to us to sign up, fill out the application, come of the informational meeting, follow through with the directions we are given.

I know too many students who graduate high school and have no clue what their next step is. If you are lucky to still have a student who still has time, get moving to make the most of it. Research technical schools, community colleges, and work opportunities with tuition reimbursement. You can start to help your children develop a growth plan at any time. Why not start now?

Word of the Day

I sought the Lord

and required Him,

and He heard me,

and delivered me

from all my fears.

Psalm 34:4

Selectively Procrastinate

We all have way too much on our to do list.

We are continuously pulled from one thing to another with distractions surrounding us.

Year after year the result of this type of chaos is the same. We end up frustrated and tired with hardly anything to show for it.

This will continue to happen if we do not change how we approach things on our to do list.

Concentrate on what matters the most. The things that will give you the most bang for your time and money. The things that only you can do and nobody else.

Yes, there are so many things competing for our attention. What do we do?

Learning to selectively procrastinate is immensely important here. It is okay to allow the less important things to wait while you focus on the things that will accelerate your success.

Practice delegation whenever possible and free up time to work on what matters most.

How will you selectively procrastinate in 2016?

 

Enjoy This Moment

For most of my life, I carried a future perspective. I wanted to get so many things done and achieve greatness. I was never where I needed to be and believed that I had much ground to make up. You see I had to do it for so many generations who came before me and did not get the chances and opportunities that I had. But it never seemed I could make up the time lost and opportunities. Therefore, I burden myself with unnecessary loads of responsibilities that were not my own alone to carry. As a result, my capacity to enjoy the moment has been compromised.

It never occurred to me that I was playing God during those many years of my life. Even though I was a Christian, I was not living a God centered life. I was trying to do it all on my own. I was trying to save people that only God could save. I was giving people things that I did not have. I took the responsibility to care for adults who should have taken care of me.

I remember in college, I worked two jobs while maintaining an 18-21 credit hours of course schedules. Although, God blessed me with a four-year scholarship, my main mission was to finish a degree and make the big bucks, so I can continue to pay bills at home and provide for a slew of family members back in my home country, Haiti. I finish my four-year degree in two and a half years. The truth is I got the degree but I did not enjoy my college experience.

These were more than moments I failed enjoy—that was my life. That is why I make it priority to enjoy the life God has given me now. Here are a few ways I enjoy my life:

  1. I make God a priority. I know that He is in control of my life and my household. I read and study the word by myself and with my family. Since I have small children, things can get challenging at times, but I work on meditating on God’s word every chance I get because I desperately need to survive the days. I enjoy praying and studying with the children; they are hungry to hear about God.
  2. I listen attentively to my husband’s stories. I know I read the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” In that book I learned that the women love to talk and tell the stories to their husbands. However, in my world my husband loves to tell me about the stories he experienced at work. I am the one who would rather put my feet up and watch the news while snacking on something delicious. It was not at all easy at first because there is always a child asking for something, dishes needing washing, or clothes needing folding. However, over time I have learned that it is important to him to tell me how his day went, so I learned to welcome his stories and have many great laughs in between.
  3. I play with my children. The children love tickle time. Although, they are seven, eight, and nine years old if I start tickling one; I have to tickle all of them. I have reading time with them where we each read a book and share stories. Often time they read to me and that is an activity we both enjoy. We play soccer together. My husband is a huge soccer fan and a very good soccer player. The kids love when we put our soccer gears on and play together. We also enjoy playing chess and they have a blast when mommy and daddy lose. In addition, I take every opportunity to snack or have a meal on the table together. Of course, we do not have time to do these activities every day but we make it a priority to do one or the other during long breaks and over the summer.

We become happy and enjoy our daily life when we choose to do so. It is guarantee that we will get bombarded with distractions attempting to still our happiness. But we don’t have to give in and be miserable. We can choose to be happy.

Six Dynamic Ways Parents Can Help Children Grow into Leaders

In my professional experience, I have had the opportunity to work with children in educational settings as well as in the criminal setting. Although these experiences provide a number of windows to parenting, I have learned that the majority of parents strive to do their best for their children. Through that experience I have learned many positive and negative parenting behaviors. As a mother of three, I have learned that all the love and comfort in the universe provides no immunity to unintentional bad parenting. We mean to do the best by our children. However, many times we hinder them from thriving, obtaining independence, and fulfilling their potentials as leaders.

The world is tough and at times unforgiving. Therefore, it is imperative that we give our children a dose of the real world empowering them to confront and resolve any situations that they may encounter as adults.

1.      Allow them to engage in genuine risk-taking

The world is a scary place. We are not safe in our homes. We are not safe in our schools. We are not safe online. Therefore, we have become so preoccupied about safety that we prevent our children from experience genuine risk-taking. There are many adverse effects as a result. For example, as adults these children may suffer from low self-esteem and the inability to cope when things seem out of control. So, it is important to allow our kids to problem solve according to their abilities. Do not rush to pick them up when they fall during a sport’s game. Do not rush to save them when they get in trouble at school. Allow them to take in the fullness of the experience. That entails that they will process the situation, take positive action, and accept the consequences.

2.      Allow them to solve their problems

As parents we have to resist the urge to save our children the moment they experience hardships.  I remember as a young mom feeding the children breakfast, lunch, and dinner wrecked my nerves. I had so much to do. The kids were taking forever to finish their meals. I had a bright idea. If I fed them, the task would be over quicker. Little did I know that I was developing a situation that would become problematic in the future. It is through difficult situations that we become who we are. So why wouldn’t we give our children the opportunity to navigate through unpleasant and sometimes painful situations? That is how they develop self-leadership skills that would be priceless in their future lives.

3.      Praise them when they deserve it

Have you ever heard of the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality? This mentality is rampant in little leagues everywhere. The kid may never show up to practice or help win a game, but he is a winner nevertheless. Well, that is what we do all across this country and this mentality comes with some negative consequences. We praise our kids too easily and for little effort. As a result, they are not grounded in reality. And when things get tough they will turn to unspeakable behaviors such as cheating, exaggerating, and lying just to get that pompous rave from you. Eventually, they will find that they cannot trust you as parents because no one else can see what you see.

4.      Don’t let them manipulate you with guilt

Some parents feel so guilty when their children experience disappointments, so they spoiled them with material things. “No” is a two-letter word they cannot bring themselves to say to their children. They can’t bear the fact that their children may not love them even if it is just for a moment. The problem with this type of parenting is that these spoiled children will grow up believing that they do not have to fight for what they value and need. This will serve as a negative weapon that they will continue to use with those who enter their lives. We must teach children that success is a direct reflection of their actions and decisions. The goal is to develop that intrinsic motivation which would allow them to achieve whatever they put their minds to.

5.      Share our pasts with them

Parents are responsible to help their children navigate through the many stages of development. One way we can do that is by sharing our own relevant and similar mistakes that we experienced during the same age. That will help them to learn some positives lessons from the people that they trust the most. We can share with them how we faced a certain situation such as a bully, the specific steps taken, and the lessons learned. This will allow our children to see us as “real people” whom they can come to for all the problems that they may be dealing with.

6.      Be a role model to them

We are our children’s first model. We are the ones to teach them how to make good choices and decisions. We model character, dependability, and accountability for them. We model every day what kind of leaders we are in our homes. Therefore, we must practice what we preach. We can’t sneak in a little white lie whenever it suits our needs. We can’t cut corners, and expect them not to learn that from us. We cannot say “bad words” and expect them not to follow suit. Quite a few times my children would come to me at ask, “Is it okay for adults to say bad words?” My answer has always been an emphatic “No.” I know that they will hear certain things from other adults that they are not supposed to hear. But, I want to make it clear that in our home, we do not talk this way.