He Belongs…

So today was one of those days…the days where there is absolutely no reasoning with your toddler who is doing theee most, raising absolute hell with no regard for your sanity or schedule.

So let me give you a little bit of the backstory on our oldest toddler (by ten months). Big boy U is three years old, meets no stranger and if by chance, you even thought of telling him that I wasn’t his mama, you’d definitely have a fight on your hands. We brought Big boy U home with our family when he was just three weeks old. I know his biological mom and you can say throughout the years, I have tried to be a mentor/big sis to her. Unfortunately, she has had some struggles. Growing up in foster care, mental health, teenage pregnancy, drug addiction/abuse, and homelessness are just a few. So when we got the call that she had given child services our contact info due to her newborn needing a home or would be placed in foster care, I knew that we would be loving on this little baby.

But what I didn’t know was all that would come with him; the unexpected world wind that comes with dealing with foster care and the twist and turns that happen to a child who was exposed to illegal drugs and alcohol while in the womb. The first few months I literally had to put him on my chest to put him to sleep. He would cry and shake uncontrollably. After the first few days of this happening, I took Big boy U to the doctor. With a look of sympathy and a voice filled with confidence, the doctor told me that this was normal due to Big boy being exposed to drugs and alcohol throughout the pregnancy. He told me to hold him close to me, tightly, throughout these tremor episodes and eventually they would pass.

Honestly, these three years have been a little rough. Listen, I am so not used to all that goes in to this. Yes, we have a total of six children, but let the record show that I am the mom that can give my children the “look” and hey get their lives together. So for me to have to be in the midst of the extreme tantrums, anger, screaming, disobedience and sometimes hurt that can come from my sweet boy, I have totally been out of my hook-up. I’m not used to this. I’m not used to dealing with so much from such a small package….

So, I’m learning.

I am learning to be patient. I am leaning to be calm and consistent, even when my guy is in full meltdown mode.

I am learning to hold him close and allow him to adjust to my heartbeat when his is racing.

I am learning to speak in an even, kind tone although there is so much screaming happening all around me.

I am learning to redirect negative behaviors.

I am learning to advocate for my child, the ins and outs of IEP’s and to not take the stares and uncomfortable looks of others personally.

But most importantly, I am learning that there were no mistakes made. Without a doubt, I know that Big Boy U being our son is God ordained. He was meant to be with us. So learning to teach, love, discipline, advocate and redirect him with love, and without breaking his spirit, is my mission…not easy, but for sure, it belongs to me.

Praying for Parents…

In light of all that has happened in the past few days, there has been a sadness. If you’ve watched ESPN or even glanced at social media, you can feel the weight of shock and sympathy for Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and the other passengers on the helicopter that mean so much to so many…

I dont have anything enlightening or super soothing to say. All I do have is a praying heart for parents…

Lord, I pray that you cover our children in your grace and protection. I pray that as parents, we be able to love our babies well and give them all that they need to become all that you have called them to be. Father, I pray that our homes be a peaceful place for our children to learn, grow and make beautiful memories. Father, I pray that you strengthen us as parents to speak into our children, nurture their gifts, correct them lovingly and teach them to love you and others well. God, I pray that we be impactful as parents and that when we do see You, that you tell us well done….In Your Precious Name, Amen

Silo Living??

Wednesday morning, as I was getting ready, I had a thought…”no more silos”.  At first, I didn’t think too much of it but then I started pondering it.

Have I been living in a silo?? Do I isolate myself?  If I’m being completely honest is that silo living is easy for me.  That’s how I grew up.  There wasn’t too much community, it was just us.  It was always the underlying life lesson that “what happened in this house, stays in this house”.  There was no doing life together.  Even if something wrong or out of the ordinary happened it was never addressed and as if people turned a blind eye to whatever it was going on.

Before November of last year silo living was my thing.  My comfort zone. I am a introvert and being alone is my sweet spot.  Going through things and pushing past the pain and/or hurt to keep up a sense of normalcy is how I grew up, it’s what I seen all my life. All that I was used too.  Then tragedy hit…my older sister, who shared our home with us, died unexpectedly.  It was like my silo could no longer survive…I needed people, I needed community.  Looking back, I don’t know if I would have mentally/emotionally survived without the love and care of others.  People came in and did the things that I just did not have the capacity to do; cooking, cleaning, taking care of my children…just being there to catch my tears and pray healing over my heart.

My silo living has so shifted to communal living…and I’m okay with that because I seen all the good that came through the people in my community.

2020…Do You Have a Word?

Can I admit that I could not think of a word for 2020 until a couple of days ago??? Yes, I have thought about it, tried to journal through it, and all the things but there was absolutely nothing coming to mind….

There are definitely things that I plan to improve on.  A list of things that I need to do has been sitting readily available in my planner, but I just could not think of one word that I could put my all into for this new year.

And then it came.  I was watching something and people were paying tribute to a great woman.  One of the words that stuck out to me was “IMPACT” (definition: can refer to a physical force, an influence or a strong effect).  Whoa….that one word carries so much weight but has so much love, humility and giving attached to it.

Impact…That is my word.  I want to have an impact, positive/godly of course, on those around me.  Not in an arrogant, look at me type of way. But in a wow, I can learn from her/I can do whatever because I’ve seen her do it too.  I want my life, the things that I am doing and have been through, to be an example of faith and not giving up to someone else.  If another mom can be encouraged because they see me not totally loosing it with my six littles, that’s impact.  If my children can see me loving their dad and tuck it in their heart as it being a part of what marriage looks like, that’s impact.  If one of the young moms I mentor can take to heart one of the conversations we have and it creates a spark in her to do something different; to see herself differently, that’s impact.

My word for 2020 is Impact…and doing what it takes to live my life as such, even in the midst of the mundane.

Growth in the Uncomfortable…

Last week I was talking to my moms (I facilitate programming for teen/young moms) about growing in the uncomfortable spots…I asked them about what theyve learned in some of the most difficult times in life.

Some said that they learned to love themselves. Some said they learned that they had to do what they didnt want for the betterment of their children. Some said they learned that they could accomplish way more than what others told them they could.

I have been thinking about this all week. How is my discomfort causing me to grow???

Motherhood…at the moment it is anything but comfortable. Having six children, just finishing up the adoption of our number 5, and dealing with two toddlers… whew chile!!!!

But I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m learning that I cant always do what I’ve always done. Dealing with the day to day with toddler who was exposed to drug use can be overwhelming. Therapy, the constant discipline, note taking, researching and just trying to sort through what is neuro and what’s just being a two year old is exhausting. Tantrums, hitting, not listening all together make for some long days.

But I’m growing. I’m seeing that I have to be not only a great parent but an informed and assertive advocate. My job is not only to love our #5 well but to also create an environment where he can thrive and learn in the way that best suited to his personality.

The growth is hard, the discomfort is constant but it’s worth it…

Rest…

I’m not good at resting. I didnt come to this realization until last night–while I’m at a retreat…a rest retreat. And the first night I got little to no rest….so much was running through my mind that I layed awake most of the night…

It has been like this for the past few months…rest has been nowhere in sight. Tragedies happen and without any notice, a new normal has to be established. A new normal that wasnt expected and honestly not even wanted.

And rest…well that becomes a word that was often said to me but I couldn’t personally grasp. How do you rest when life keeps moving even when you dont want too? How do you rest to care for your broken heart when those around you still need you? How do you rest when checking out, emotionally or physically, isnt an option???

I forced myself to rest….with the help of a friend. I went to Florida for the weekend and did nothing. I didnt check in too much on my family, laid in bed and looked at the ceiling, gazed at the ocean, cried, journaled, read and told God what I was feeling no matter what it was.

I left feeling lighter, like I had taken off a weighted vest for the first time in months. I pictured God taking the pieces of my heart and putting them back together again. I realized that rest, getting away from the norm, is essential for me. It cant be just a want. I Have to make it a NEED. Another friend of mine told me how she had scheduled rest times for the year. She sat down with her husband at the start of 2019 and put them on their calendars. Nothing big…just specific times for her to get away and recharge.

What if we, especially as moms and dads, became our own advocates for rest?!?!? What if we made rest and recouping time a priority and not just something that we really wished we could take the time out to do??

Rest. Make it a part of your life. Recoup and get away to ensure that your family is getting the very best of you…mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually…

You are worth it…rest well friends💜

The End of an Era…

Today was the end of an era…my baby making era. I did it…I made the ultimate decision…I had tubal ligation surgery today.

It was a bittersweet moment. I remember tears running down the sides of my face as I lay on the table, grasping my doctor’s hand. I’m done. I’m done feeling (physical life) growing on the inside of, I’m done living in awe of a person developing within me, I’m done giving birth to a person who I could literally see my love reflecting in their eyes.

Although this was a hard decision, it was what was best for not only me but our family. Having six kids isnt easy, its alot of work. Motherhood is something that I strive to do well, create bomb memories about, and also be all that I needed when I was younger.

Motherhood is my gift. It’s part of my calling. It’s something that keeps getting better…and the ending of my childbearing days is just the beginning of one of my life’s best journeys.

The Unexpected….

November 23, 2018 changed everything for me…my sister, Melissa Ann Askew, died. Unexpectedly…no warning. No signs. Nothing that I would have ever seen coming.

I have literally felt as if my heart is breaking inside my chest…unresponsive. life support. no brain activity. These are things I never thought I’d hear concerning my sister, Melissa.

Honestly, everything has been a blur. Nothing seems real. My sister, my childrens second mother-their Auntie, the person who knows me most outside of my husband, the person we have shared a home with for the last four years is gone…

I’ve cried. Screamed. Questioned God. Played the what if game. Laughed. Pinched myself. Wept uncontrollably. Prayed that Melissa’s life, passion and love would be in the forefront of my mind and not just how my sister died.

But I keep coming back to…hope and gratitude.

Hope in the fact that I will see my sister Melissa again. Hope in God never making mistakes. Hope that in time the shattered pieces of my heart will come together again.

Grateful that my sister Melissa was here on earth for 44 years and that I got to share 38 of them with her. Grateful that God saw fit to give me someone who loved my babies as much as I do. Grateful that my sister loved me to the moon and back. Grateful for the good memories, laughs and talks that can never be forgotten. Grateful for how I can now see the hand of God leading her in the last few months of her life. Grateful that my life will honor hers.

God thank you for my sister Melissa’s life. Thank you for her loving us and her loyalty. Thank you for her passion, nurturing spirit, beauty and strength. Thank you choosing me to be her little sister…Daddy God, please tell my sissy I love her and miss her so…

In Loving Memory of my Sister Melissa Ann Askew 4/3/74-11/23/18😇

Hard Things.

I dont like hard things…especially when it comes to people and circumstances. We could all pretty much say that right???

Well, for me this is so true. Maybe bc I’m such a laid back, nonchalant (on the outside) person or maybe bc the thought of inconveniencing others makes me want to break out in a sweat.

Either way, “peopling” can be hard for me. Which is why this is so much for interesting…my job, well my purpose, centers around people!!! Young mothers, young women to be exact. And yall…this is no cake walk!!!

Emotions. Problems. Insecurities. Generational curses. Just not knowing how to handle some things. Lack of attention. Not knowing their worth.

All these things play a role. All these things are familiar. All these things cant go unaddressed for too long.

And again…its hard. Hard to know how to love others well enough so that when you correct them they dont break. Hard enough to nurture and not allow wrong behavior. Hard to give your all when it’s easier to shut down and back off. Hard to go through the muddy waters and not come out covered in filth.

Its hard but there is so much at stake. What I’m learning is that my purpose isn’t going to be lived out doing things that are easy. Being relational, “peopling”, loving others well are not and will never be easy tasks. But they are essential and needed more than anything else.

So for me I’ve decided to not go through the muddy waters trying to avoid the filfth… I’m going to go through, come out, rinse off and clean myself up, and go in again prepared to bring someone, something good, out with me💜

Boundaries…

So today I was listening to a podcast by Havilah Cunnington about boundaries. Yall …straight conviction!!!! I had been putting off setting a boundary, no longer doing something that was inconvenient, because I was afraid that this thing wouldn’t be done…

“It is no ones responbutlty to know what they are taking from you. You are the only one who will know what others are taking from you.”

So after hearing this a made the move to let the person know what I was doing was no longer convenient, so therefore I will no longer be doing it.

No is not a bad word!!!! It is so okay for me to not try to take on every single need that is presented to me… I cant. I’ve tried- its impossible and exhausting to try and do.

Having boundaries can be hard, especially when you have a heart to love and help people. By all means, when I can help I will, but I am no longer willing to exhaust myself and my family trying to do so.

Link to podcast:

https://castbox.fm/x/PrTb