Driver’s Training Time!

Chey is 16, and we are teaching her to drive. We are excited for her!  😃 At 16, we are not just teaching driving skills, but important life skills at the same time. It’s scary that she’s almost on her own, so we have to get it in when we can. Here are a few lessons I want to teach her about driving/life that Driver’s Ed class may miss:
1. Be prepared – know where you are going ahead of time and plan it out. Have gas, enough money and time. My grand father said, “being on time is too late.” Be early to work, school, interviews, meetings, everything.

2. Check the horn – use your horn like you use your words, wisely. Toot the horn when you need to communicate to someone. Sometime, they can’t see you or hear you. Make sure you can confidently express yourself and be heard when necessary. It’s okay to be proud of yourselff, too.

3. Use your blinkers – nonverbal communication is necessary. Let people see your path so they can move out if the way or be of assistance. You never know who is watching you. They may need to see yur path for their own destiny.

4. Use your mirrors – ALWAYS pay attention to who is around you, and what they are doing there. Who is In front leading, beside you or behind you? Everyone around don’t necessarily want to see you make it. They are there to watch you fail. So, know their intentions.

5. Expect Detours – know the alternate way to make it to your destination. There will most likely be set backs, but don’t give up! You will make it.

6. Make A decision – you can’t just sit at the cross road, or the turning lane. You have to make a decision about which way to go. The decision may lead you to a traffic jam or a short cut, but you have to make a decision. Learn to quickly calculate and analyze the consequences of a decision in a split second! At least you experienced the decision you chose. No regrets.

7. Prepare to stop – know where the brakes are! There will be trials and slippery roads that may set you off course, but keep your destintion in mind. Keep moving towards it.

8. Give it gas! – Move forward when you have an opportunity! Cease the open road and push the gas! Don’t look back, just go! Sure, the car will move when it is idle in drive, but its fast with a little push and motivation. Don’t worry about the “coulda-soulda-wouldas” because its too late. Take advantage of NOW!

9. Be VERY selective who you let ride with you! – Don’t let people ride with you or give them rides if they are NOT going your way. Only ride with people who have something to offer to get you to your destiny. DEFINITELY don’t let them take the wheel!!!

10. Frequent Speed Limit Checks – don’t be fast! Sometimes it tooks fun or easy to go as fast as other people, but its not necessary. There is no need to rush life or grow up fast. You will get there. You will be better off taking your time. What God has for you is for you.

11. Use Bluetooth/Handsfree GPS – let the path be told to you. Trust God. He will lead you to the destination if you listen. Follow His lead. Use handsfree to keep focused, and  keep your eye on the road and keep your hands lifted in total obedience.

12. Use Lights in Darkness or Danger – Let your light shine!  Use your headlights and hazards. “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

13. Keep Insurance – Cover yourself!! You may be safe driver and learned from the best:), but others aren’t so lucky. Keep health insurance, life insurance and car insurance. Also protect yourself from diseases or accidents with condoms, birth control or just abstain all together. Real talk. Insurance isn’t there because you trust yourself, its to protect yourself from the carelessness of others and unforseen circumstances.

14. Take care of the car – get your check ups regularly and check your fluids. Know your cycle and the regular characteristics of your body. Leaky fluids in the car should be looked into by professionals, as should leaking body fluids. (ijs)

15. Learn to put on your OWN spare tire – just in case you need one, carry your own. ; ) Get it?

14. Pull over to text or talk – At any time of the day or night, we will always be by the phone hoping you are okay. If you need to take a break from driving or just want to call, please do! Pull over to the side of the road, go into a closet, go for a walk or just come home just to say “Hi” or “Help!” We will be on the phone or on the road to help drive you the rest of the way.

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Technology!!!

It could be strongly debated that technology is awesome! I have arguments for both bad and good. I’m sure it was intention of Alexander Bell to add value to the world with his telephone invention. The television has become a major part of life with so many additions and upgrades to make it better and better. iPads, computers and video games are a part of life and deemed necessary now.

I must say that I love the tech free days, though! We had a black out in the neighborhood the other night. The phones eventually died, and there was no television on. The wifi doesn’t work without the electricity, so therefore the iPads and handheld whatever’s did not work. What a great time of teamwork the kids had to find flashlights, hide-n-go seek, and comfort the little ones who were afraid. The kids reenacted movies they liked with shadow puppets. They laughed and talked to each other! Wow! How cute! For a moment in time, technology was not between them, and they were bonding with each other. Now, I do take away electronics as a form of punishment from time to time. However, they work to get them back, so technology is still in control. It was nice to have the moment celebrated, because there was no technology available.

I can’t control when black outs come. I wish there was a trigger for technology to automatically shut off when they see something or read something that poisons their precious minds. It’s a tough battle as parents to protect children from information and bad ideas! I have had to convince one that they do not have diabetes, because of symptoms they googled. It’s a necessary battle. Technology should be a tool to help your family, not a weapon to hinder your family. You may not be able to filter what they see and learn, but you can teach the values necessary to process information. Enjoy technology free moments!!!

Why am I Here?

This question is addressed often behind the doors of our home. Life just brought us together. But, why? People can get into the “coulda, woulda, shoulda talk” and get stuck. We address the big statements like “Life would have been better if…” or “I think I would be different if…..”, as well as little drama, like losing my favorite toy, bad hair days, sibling fights, etc. that make the kids feel like their life is forever ruined, BUT is it really? I’m no psychiatrist, but it doesn’t feel healthy to always feel that choice or a circumstance was the worst thing EVER. Anything could be worst or better, but it’s not either. God promises that all things work together for the good. Everything and everyone has a purpose. I think it is important to communicate love, encouraging words and sacrificial actions for children so that they can understand they have a sense of purpose. They are where they are, because God planned it that way. Deliberately tell them. Groom their sense of purpose. They are not any less of what they “coulda, woulda shoulda” been, because of their circumstances or choices. I am a strong believer in divine intervention and connections. Everyone you come in contact with in your life is there for a reason, whether it is for a lesson or a blessing. (I prefer the blessing kind, because some lessons are hard and brutal, but nonetheless necessary.)

Children are born with a sense of purpose, but it takes a little trial and error and several experiences to find it. In our home, we jungle between several of the kids’ after school activities, including basketball, t-ball, dance, track and field, acting, football, debate team, school plays and other activities that come and go. (Thank you shared Google calendar!! Love that function!) We encourage them to find something to be committed to and learn to balance. We support the development in their skills. It’s not so much the skill we are concerned about, but the sense of achievement in that area that they like or at least tried. The time commitment is difficult, but it is an investment in their lives. Who is on this new team or club that will be an instrumental lesson or blessing in their lives? A step closer to discovering their purpose. Learning to accept their path as the plan. Even if there were other “coulda, woulda, shoulda” scenarios or possibilities for life, show them that they can choose to be happy now!

Fast, Pray & Keep It Moving!!

Let me back up a bit. There are a few women I know that are recently divorced or living in a marriage on paper ONLY. I want to share my story to encourage someone today. Divorce is one of the most lonely things to experience. Leading up to it was very confusing, because we get married before God, family and the world! It’s covenant. It’s serious. When, there are children involved, it’s not just you going through this event.

A few people know the sequence of events leading to my divorce, but I didn’t share with many people at all. (Different blog) The fact remained that you are STILL married during divorce. You shouldn’t air your “dirty laundry”. Suppose he comes back, and you guys are going to work things out? You will just make it harder to mend what was broken. I know several people who divorced and remarried the same person again, for a beautiful new beginning. Until it is final, you are still married. It is still a covenant. I did not want to let God, my family or myself down. I prayed, fasted and made sure I was making the right decision before jumping the broom. I also knew what God had promised me. I had plainly wrote what I wanted in my husband years prior. I didn’t look for him, he found me. Long before I met him, the Lord was preparing me for him. There were things He would tell me I needed to work on. I was single, but I was honestly working on myself and my shortcomings and thinking like a married woman. Dying to live. I read several books on marriage and being a Godly woman, wife and mother. I believed God.

So, when my marriage failed, almost immediately, I was sick. I was more angry at God, because I would not have went through with it had He told me NO. One thing I know about the Lord is that His promises do not return void. He promised me what I asked for. Remember, I had plainly written what I wanted in a husband!
I had some AMAZING prayer warriors around me. They know who they are! I came to a prayer meeting at the church that January. This was about 3 months after our wedding. I was broken and trying to make sense of everything. Saints were telling me it was a sin to divorce, but it wasn’t worth staying. (even a few that knew the details…. Sigh) I didn’t trust many people, but prayer warriors will “go in” no matter the situation.

At the church during the January fast, Sis. M slowly and quietly sat next to me. She has this mean hum!! Her simple, non-melodic hum brings the heavens down!!! Lol! Seriously. I was reminded of the promise God made me. He promised me the husband I asked for, (characteristics were specified, mannerism, father skills and everything!!!) I went and wrote it again on the walls of the church that day. I didn’t write a name, I just wrote

“My Husband: Lord strengthen him right now. Be a comfort to him right now. Direct his path. He is strong, smart, sensitive…….(and so on)”

It’s not vandalism, because the church I attended lined the walls with paper during the fast, so that you can write prayers. So, I would not recommend going to a church doing graffiti. I was mad at God, so I wrote on the paper as a challenge to Him, “You promised me, and now what?!! Since your Word will not come back void, how are you going to make this happen? Are you changing my husband, or moving him out the way for a new one?” I literally asked God these questions. I know I was faithful to God. I was in His face. I was eating purple carpet!!! (Shiloh will understand that.)

Fast forward: I met my Real Deal Husband during that same fast. It was a 21-day fast. A prophet came to me and said,

“For your faithfulness, the Lord will move quickly with what he promised you. He is going to blow your mind…….someone is coming fast.,,(and so on).”

There are prophets that you rebuke and keep it moving, but everyone knows that this particular prophet means business. I also got a lot of support and encouragement from my pastor and his wife. They helped me understand and deal with the rejection while focusing on God. It was scary, but I was prepared when I finally met the Real Deal. My strong, smart, sensitive (and so on) guy. Of course, I didn’t accept it right away. I didn’t know it was him actually. I appreciated the molding process. We are best friends. We Blended and multiplied. This will be my last marriage. By the way, support http://www.iwillwillu.com. Tim and Samone offer awesome tools for marriage!

Be faithful to Him, He will be faithful to you.

Busy Nights

Busy bodies!!! I’m sitting here approaching the climax of the night. Several busy kids are making lunches for tomorrow, looking for linen for baths, arguing about chore assignments, fighting for the last Swiss roll, spilling juice, telling jokes for attention, quoting a movie, singing random songs. All of this is happening at the same time.

Sounds like a train wreck, but It is organized chaos in here. Loud, but in 20 minutes the house will be a “kid version” of clean, quiet and the first time today I can relax.

We make a plan and execute it. Plan for tonight was shared: “after you eat, make your lunches, do your chores, take a bath and get into bed.” Without structure, there is no guidance, and our mornings would be 10 times more hectic!!! Now, if I can get Q to remember to wear his glasses to school, and D1 to give me permission slips before the deadline!!

Getting Ready for December Festivities!!

We love the holidays! We just get all into this season. I make sure its magical! Yes, I have a great relationship with Santa. I know some people teach that he’s not real, but in my house, he shows up. It’s fun, and the magic they experience is priceless! I don’t think it takes away from the glory we give to the Lord. My opinion.

Christmas season is multiplied in my house by the number of birthdays around and ON Christmas Day. There are 4 kids with birthdays within 2 weeks of Christmas, including 1 on Christmas Day. Fun times for US! Takes a little creativity on my part. We try to make it special for them, so planning starts waaaayy back in September. We plan the amount of gifts, for birthdays and Christmas. My kids like to count gifts on the days leading up to Christmas, making sure they are not left out. It’s not really about the price for kids, as it is about the quantity. (At least right now, while that are clueless about the value of money.) So, we strategically wrap gifts so that everyone has the same amount of packages. I may put a scarf and hat in 2 boxes just so that they will not compare and complain before they open the gifts. I better have 6 wrapped before placing one under the tree, baby! Everything even and everything fair, or else there will be some tension!

Now, we do try to teach that it’s not about the gifts. It’s better to give than to receive. That message is received, but I am not sure how well, based on the lengthy Christmas lists I still get from a few of them. Smh.

I not only have to plan my Christmas and Birthday gifts, but also the gifts from other people to the kids. With good intentions, some people give gifts to different “sets” of children, in different quantities and qualities…….. And there goes my planning efforts deflated. Some people get it, and some people don’t. So, in anticipation, I will have to have spare gifts put aside to prevent feelings of rejection that may last a lifetime. (Small, but it’s not the value that matters. The younger they are, the more vocal they are about their feelings of rejection. We spent many birthdays and holidays dealing with tears with the older group!!! Omg! Tears of rejection and overwhelming guilt, too. The older kids will now express that they know who they will and will not receive gifts or acknowledgment. They understand it’s not personal now. There is nothing they did wrong or can do differently to make other people change. We teach them that they are one family, but other people see them as they want to.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we are grateful for any blessing we receive, but they are still kids with feelings. I don’t like this division, but I just use it as a teachable moment. Character building. I tell them to be the change they wish to see in the world. When they have an opportunity to bless someone, they should remember that feeling. Keep it moving with love!!

Seasons greetings to you all!!! The hubby said you will be hearing from him soon on this blog!! Yay!

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.” ~Gandhi

Soooo, He’s The Oldest?

I get that question a lot! lol. Its funny, because people are really saying: “your kids all look like you, but he’s the only one that doesn’t resemble your husband. He must be the first born from a previous marriage and you and your husband had more kids OR you had some explaining to do!”

I usually just tell them the truth and say, no actually, he is the third oldest. (I’m referring to the my firstborn son that is a few shades darker then the rest, so it throws people off in their wondering.) It’s really exhausting to have to explain our story every time that confusion happens. Especially knowing that the kids do not like to be looked at with that awkward sad face, when they tell someone that their biological mother passed away. Or for the third oldest to explain why he’s different than his sister and brother. Its sometimes just out of place.

The same type of responses are warranted when someone says your daughter looks like you or your son looks like you. We just say, “I don’t see it. hmmmm” or “Yes, he does look like his mom!” or “I think she looks more like her dad than me.” I’ve learned to just agree and keep it moving. Blend.

It is weird how we do favor a little. What’s more scary is the fact that after all these years, the kids have picked up on our mannerisms and characteristics. So we act alike. There are a few of ME in the house!! And the boys act like their dad. We all know each other well.

Honestly, with the number of blended families in the world (and in the bible too actually), I am not so sure why people need to ask how a family is formed. I wonder how many people knew that Jesus and His brothers did not have the same dad? He had to look different. And I don’t recall reading about Jesus referring to Joseph as “stepdad” either. He just loved him as his own son. For some reason, that’s how the world is.

Family Mission Statement

1st Rule of Families, blended or not is to have a common mission. Express your mission and love of your family to your children. The days of “them” and “us” are gone! Everything is all inclusive. Everything. No one wants to be left out. There is no secret that the children have experienced death, lost, rejection and pain. We encourage them to express their feelings about those experiences (which I will share in later blogs). My point here is to foster a spirit of togetherness, against all odds. No matter what different paths we took to get together, we are a family.

My husband and I have a mission statement. As vague as it is, it does give guidance and a map when making decisions. Keep God first.

Mission statement
“Our mission is to be a devoted Christian family and to strengthening our community as lead by Jesus. We will set strong examples for our children and we will raise them with the proper mounts of nurturing and discipline. We will give The Lord praise daily for bringing us together for his glory.”

“If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Mark 3:25

Write the Vision, and Make It Plain

I made a new year’s resolution to start my book about our blended family. I did start it! However, I don’t think that a paragraph will exactly qualify as a best seller. One thing we like to do as a family is write our new year’s resolutions or goals, every January 1st. There are 4 categories: Spiritual, Financial, Mental and Physical. I teach the kids to write their vision and make it plain. One of my physical goals was to run a marathon in my father in law’s honor. I ran a marathon! Whoa!! With the family goals posted to the fridge, which the children frequent a lot, they can see their progress and something tangible to keep them focused. I love it! Most of all I love to see them cross something off the list.

The goal sheet is not only for goals and resolutions. What I love about the sheet is the amount of growth we can share together as a family. The initial meeting. The follow up. The accountability. The seeds planted. Our own Toastmasters.

“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:2 KJV