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Lessons Learned from my Back Surgery

black wonder womanThere is nothing like 2 months spent flat on your back to give you a new perspective on life. My world quickly went from vertical to horizontal in a matter of days when I discovered I had a collapsed disc in my lowest lumber. I found myself deeply impaired, lacking the ability to walk, drive, pick up my kids, cook or do much of anything else. I was stunned. My initial response to this news was to just keep pushing through. I treated my acute back pain like anything else in life: If I just give it the old college try I will eventually conquer it, right?

So that’s what I did!  I just kept trudging along waiting for deliverance from my pain but changing nothing about how I operated. I would rally my entire might to lift myself out of my car. Once I found myself upright, I would stand there with my head lifted to the sky for a moment, as if to beg God for one more ounce of strength.  For any normal woman, this would be a sign that somethings gotta give but not for me! Besides Wonder Woman had just come out and I was ready to defy the odds with sheer willpower.

Have you ever tried and tried and will power just wasn’t enough? I finally came to a point that putting one foot in front of the other was not sufficient and it was there that I broke. I was scheduled to make a presentation that morning and my only focus was to get there and make it happen. But the fatigue of chronic pain and the emotional toll of being totally helpless, finally had it’s way with me on the side of a road in South Dallas. I sat there in my car crying big ugly tears. There was a man parked in a black truck and I could tell he was looking but I didn’t care. My tears came from the depth of my soul where I usually store them away so no one can see. But this time they erupted from my hiding place and I couldn’t quite figure out how to turn off the faucet.

It was in that state that I cried out to God pleading for him to answer. It’s not that I hadn’t prayed for God to alleviate my pain before, I said my prayers and asked for relief every day, maybe even every hour. Even still, it was a passing prayer, maybe one in which I just spoke the name of Jesus as my prayer. This time I came to God exasperated from not hearing his response. I couldn’t take it any longer and the veneer of self-sufficiency that had masked my prior prayers fell off as I sat and wept that day.

Discerning the voice of God can be a tricky thing sometimes as He speaks to us in many ways and primarily through his written word. But it was this moment in that still small voice, I could hear the Lord say- “Go to the doctor RIGHT NOW, emphasis on RIGHT Now.” that was all the permission I needed to let go of the helm I was so desperately trying to steer. I crumbled like a toddler held in her father’s arms. I needed God’s approval to stop trying to fix my pain and get help. It took several days and 2 failed attempts to return to work for me to accept my superior’s approval to let go too, but I eventually got it there. From then on it was a whirlwind of diagnostic tests and appointments. Soon enough I found relief through surgery and I couldn’t be happier that I stopped when God told me to stop.

Maybe you are going through something, where you feel the weight of the world crashing down on your shoulders. Sometimes our trials feel like a boulder that we fight to push uphill; with every passing second and each slip of the foot its possible, that boulder could overpower you with its great force. We often wear our hands to the bone while making little progress. When someone steps in and says “let me help,” we cling to the success we’ve had; we point out how far we have come with the bolder and with the end in sight we feel that a victory may be cheapened by accepting a helping hand.

What I learned from my back surgery was this… accept that hand. Help does not make you weak, help signifies that you are strong enough to realize your own limitations.

 

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Should your Women’s Ministry drop the self-esteem talk- featured on bible.org

I hate opening up about stuff that’s embarrassing but when it may bless someone else I am down 🙂 share, like comment here is a quote from the article- “My search for value also created a  deep divide between my sisters in Christ; instead of assets to my personal walk, I saw other women as benchmarks that either challenged my worth or affirmed it because I personally devalued theirs. ”

Click link below to view full article

 

http://blogs.bible.org/engage/christen_jacobs/should_your_womens_ministry_drop_the_self-esteem_talk

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Bounce houses and parenting 

I’ll be the first to tell you that as a wife and mother my nurturing instincts usually make me think that I am right and my husband is wrong. 

Alas I learned a lesson this weekend about the value of co parenting and the fact that my husband, at times, is so very right 🙂 

I was drawn to this bright red and blue obstacle course with climbing walls and rollers! Being in my third trimester I had to restrain myself from jumping in! 

So I did what mothers are supposed to do and suggested that my 3 year old son tackle the beast with the help of my husband of course. 

They started the course with thrills and giggles as I watch my baby boy glow with victory as he tumbled over the first wall. 

All was well, I had created a memorable moment for my little guy and boosted his courage. Plus since I couldn’t go in so someone had to! 

I turned away for a bit only to find that my enthusiastic husband had conquered the course leaving my son to battle in the trenches all by himself. 

I was mortified to find his little face pressed against the mesh walls overwhelmed by the hanging rubber flaps in his way. I watched his nervousness turn to terror as the only way out was to finish! 

Of course I turned to my husband demanding that he go in and get him but to my dismay my husband refused to listen. I plead with him thinking that going in after my son was the only rational response to this situation. After realizing that my healthy dose of nagging was not going to change my husbands position, I stormed off saying “I’m not just going to stand here and watch this.” 

Seconds later I see my husband trailed by his mini version skipping along as if nothing occurred.  “And just how precisely did you get him out of there?” I asked.  “Well I coached him though it of course, now he knows that with a little hard work and help he can get though just about anything.” 

I admit in that moment my mom madness that I was so desperately holding on to started to fade. My instinct was to rescue my son, although his methods were slightly questionable my husband’s method was to teach my son! 

What a difference another perspective makes! 

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Why Kim K just may be my pregnancy hero

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West catch a movie together

So right about now those of you who know me or those who just operate on common sense are probably doing a “Say what now?!”  I admit there are not many things that would make me put the word hero and Kim K in the same sentence.

But my honest truth is that she really is a model for pregnancy for me. Let me tell you why…

She wasn’t blessed with a “cute” pregnancy and that’s ok!

Yes I know all pregnancies are beautiful but lets face it some ladies have that perfectly round ball and no fat that appears any where on her body! People asked me all the time if I was going to do a pregnancy photo shoot. My answer was no! I enjoyed feeling baby move inside of me, I enjoyed the pregnancy attention I got but I did not love the way I looked.  In my first pregnancy I never seemed to pop out! In fact I got wider and wider until my belly button just collapsed on itself.  I was ok with that but I didn’t have the picturesque pregnancy that you see in magazines and neither did Kim! So a real life famous person had a baby bulge instead of a baby bump and the world got to see that this is a beautiful pregnancy too!  Work that bulge Kim K! You are a trail blazer for wide pregnant women every where!

She had cankles and the world needs to learn about this! Stop telling lies to young aspiring mothers every where! Your feet will grow and heels will spread and they may never come back!  

Ok I will not tell a lie this was a tragic choice of foot wear on her behalf. However this happens in pregnancy! This is what many moms suffer through before the bouncing baby comes! Kim K! Work those cankles and try another shoe but good for you!

Kim K feet

She is not afraid of having babies back to back! 

Kim-Kardashian-and-North-West

Come next May I will have 3 kids 3 and under! I love my life! I love my Kids but to most people you would think that I have somehow lost my mind having so many children back to back. Here are the top front runners of strange rhetoric about having multiple children.

  1. You guys need a TV in the bed room! ummm ok we have a TV in our bedroom but we also like to engage in marital intimacy is that ok with you.
  2. Don’t you know how to use birth control. Why yes my husband was actually a sex ed teacher for some time you know.
  3. (Now on my third pregnancy) Are you going to have your tubes tied?  …I am glad that you are concerned for my reproductive organs however I think I would rather have a conversation about life altering surgery with husband… THANK YOU!
  4. After I found out about my second child another mother says… Oh I am so sorry…I’m like sorry for what? The miracle of life? No need to be sorry we love having our kids close in age.

 

All in all you can see that Kim is an every day women pregnancy hero. She isn’t concerned about what social norms say about how many children you have and how long you should wait. For me when I often feel like a baked potato warped in foil I am proud to see another lumpy pregnancy in media.

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Black in America: Here’s my story

Yesterday I read a post by a good friend of mine. A good man father of two husband to one a law abiding, tax paying, highly educated black man. While picking up his children he was belittled as a white woman yelled at him calling him a Nigger, telling him to get out of her neighborhood. I felt his pain and confusion as  he tried to navigate his rage while still holding the responsibility of responding as a Christian man in front of his girls.

What befuddles me about this, is the question, why all the anger? Why all the hatred? Why would a grown woman find it to to be socially acceptable to belittle a man who has done nothing to her in front of his children.

Hot on the trail of Beyonce’s Politically charged video “Formation” along with an equally symbolic Supper Bowl performance all of a sudden my social media is a vortex of erupting old wounds, bearing new ones and two side who don’t seem to get each other. I have no answer to the issue at hand. I have only bewilderment, only questions, only a lack of understanding.

So in light of it all I figured what they hey I should share my story. I am black. Born to a light skinned mom and a darker skinned father. I grew up with brothers and sisters who were all lighter than I with green eyes. I knew I was different.

I attended a school that was culturally mixed but majority white. I saw the popular girls. In particular there was one she had crystal blue eyes and straight blond hair. She was beautiful and I wanted to be like her.

When I was in the 4th grade I rushed to perm my hair so it could be more straight just like her. No one ever told me my hair needed to be straight but I just knew it deep down that is what it supposed to be.

My parents are well educated and I grew up in a middle class home. We speak properly and I was told that I talked “white” by my peers.

When my mother had her first child she named him Michael David. At our neighborhood pool a white woman told her that, that was a white name.

I was a proud member of the girl scouts in a majority white troupe. We had a lot of fun together. When the girls asked me where I lived they told me that my neighborhood was dangerous. The same neighborhood where I road my bike and walked my dog and knew my neighbors and was never threaten, I learned was a dangerous place.

I transitioned to a majority black middle school where I quickly took to the task of redefining myself. I think this is where I first learned that I could have two sides to who I am. I wanted to talk black, I wanted to dress black I wanted to be accepted.

When I came home I was told that my diction had worsened due to my school.

I played soccer the majority of my life. I love the game and I was good at it. One year I played for a majority white team and it was fun. During one intense defensive exchange with another player from a different team, the girl called me a monkey. I was rightfully upset but when I shared this with my teammates they said I was making something out of nothing.

On a family trip we begged the truck drivers to honk their horns for us as many children do. Instead of a honk the drivers held up middle fingers. I watched the man’s snarling face. He was so pleased with himself. Giving the F U sign to a kids seemed like the highlight of his day.

In college I was spat at. In college I was called a nigger. In college there were no repercussions for those who did these things. I was disillusioned.

I hung out with a white guy from my dorm. He wasn’t my first white boyfriend but he would hang out with me in private but when we crossed paths on campus he wouldn’t speak.

One time while in the car with my dad he got stopped for a routine traffic stop but they asked him to step out of the car. They then seated him in the back seat of the cop car to run his plates. I sat anxiously awaiting and praying.

I was in TJ max one day and the sweetest little girl came up to me and called me a Nigger. Her mother apologized profusely. I knew that she learned this from the very person who apologized to me.

We vacationed in Hilton Head. I was told by a white friend of mine that what looked like racism was really classism. It was a pretty silly idea to begin with that the two are not intrinsically tied together but I humored his argument.  But Hilton Head is known as a vacation hot spot for the elite. Here we were among them. My dad dropped us off at a public swimming pool near our own villa, me and my two sisters. When our hands touched the gate people got quiet. We were children. A man on the balcony called security. Apparently there was a pool designated for our cluster of villas. A reasonable thing but we were carted off. I couldn’t help but feel the disgrace.

Here I sit now. Watching some police officers act without accountability. Watching judges dismiss cases without having to give a rationale. Watching a lack of due process applied to even a criminal who has basic rights under the law. Watching a child with candy in his hand and nothing else killed. Watching others call him a thug and digging up how many detentions he attended to defame his character. Watching a man being shot and left in the street like a dog. Watching a 12 year old boy shot in the park, watching a young man shot and killed at the gas station for playing his music too loud. Watching the disparity  of unfair sentencing. Watching my friends family and neighbors telling me that everything is ok. That there is nothing to be concerned about. That racial tension is dead. Watching the republican candidates address a question about police brutality not by suggesting higher accountability for those who abuse their powers but taking the time to applaud the police with no mention of change. (Don’t get me wrong honest law enforcers should be praised)   All I am doing is watching. All I am doing is waiting. Everything disillusioned…. I can’t understand why you can’t see the problem.

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Oh great another team building thing at work

team-building-580326You know the drill, they call in a consultant and you meet up with your co-workers for bagels and coffee. You throw around colored feeling balls with emojis on them. You do a personality indicator test and your are told that you’re a mole or a rabbit, an lion, a D, I , or L M N O P.  You have a box lunch and you end the day writing a letter to your future self about professional goals.

Most of us have been there with any organization right? Well our number came up yesterday and I was expecting a cookie cutter version of Kumbyya, instead what I received was mind blowing, face melting, awe inspiring collaborative training! I have to remind myself not to judge a book by its cover!  My team had the honor of being trained by a highly talented consulting group (no I am not getting paid for plugging them). J. Spooner Consulting  the same organization that has done team building for NASA’s Orion Mars mission! (How freakin awesome is that I have been trained like an astronaut so that kinda makes me one).

If you are anything like me you have a great experience one day and learn a lot of things and then you forget them all. So I write in order to not forget. I am really writing this for myself but if you’d like to come along with me that’s cool.

Here are some major takeaways I must remember to apply in my personal and professional life I learned at my astronaut training yesterday:

  1. Be a Trust Builder! Relationships in business, ministry and all of life cannot function without trust. Show yourself trustworthy and be willing to take the risk of trusting others. If you are building trust you may have to take a hit but true trust builders can handle it. You continue to extend trust and typically break through to a person once they have let you down and you give them another chance to prove themselves.
  2. Self-Confidence and Self Esteem! These are paramount for collaboration! One’s ability to produce has less to do with what their management thinks of them, and more to do with what they think of themselves. However management can reinforce how one negatively views themselves.
  3. In light of #2 be a confidence and esteem builder! Be careful to not undermine the confidence and esteem of your team members. It is so easy for us to unconsciously cut down one another.
  4. Don’t be Hitler, Be Martin Luther King! You may have heard that both Hitler and Martin Luther King had the same leadership and personality profile in most systems, but what made the difference is their motivation. One focused on self aggrandizement and one focused on the collective building of all people. Motive is key!
  5. 80% of the Work force is underutilized and underdeveloped! People who have been labeled average typically produce average work and never push to the next level. The difference between a sub par worker and an exceptional worker is typically building self esteem, confidence and trust. Almost anyone can be taught skills, but its harder to teach self worth.
  6. Don’t Hold your Cards Close to your Chest! It is counterproductive to work as a team while practicing secrecy and hidden motives. Over communicate your intentions and needs so as to not leave room for misinterpretation. Ask questions and be truthful. If you decide on a plan of action do not hold a secret plan B behind your back because people can smell dishonesty.