Posted in Faith, Family

Finding Comfort In God’s Word

I think everyone has that moment in their life that they will never forget. That one moment, that one incident that will forever alter their reality and changes that person for better or worse.

If you haven’t had that moment in life trust me you will.

For me, that moment took place four years ago on a dark cold January night, much like tonight. As I think about it our bedroom was set up in almost the exact configuration.

I remember laying in my bed next to my husband. Anxiously awaiting the news he had to tell me. News that would forever shatter the happy world I once knew.

I had an affair and I have daughter she will be one next week…words no wife wants to hear. A situation no wife wants to bear.

At that moment, four years ago, my life changed. It was the worst day of my life and without a doubt the hardest year of my life.

And even though I found myself broken emotionally and mentally. God was there to comfort me spiritually.

Even in the midst of my pain and my anguish God was there through it all. His word was a constant light shining into the darkness.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105

When I felt like the wounds would never heal He reminded me that He would heal my heart.

He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3

When low self esteem tried to take me to the pits of depression He said…

…You are fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful…

Psalm 139:14

I cried many tears and had many sleepless nights, but…

…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

And years later the weeping has subsided and has been replaced with His joy.

No, things aren’t how I want them to be, but they’re not as bad as they could be either.

When I found myself struggling with trusting those that I had once held so close He reminded me of where my trust should lie.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

When we are in consumed by the darkness in our lives, we often overlook the promises of God.

You know, human nature is funny that way, when we need him the most we often pull away from God. But it is in those times that we should draw closer not farther.

It is in His word where you will find hope for your tomorrow. It is in His word that you will remember that trouble won’t last always( 1 Peter 5:10). It is in His word that you remember that He is near the broken-hearted(Psalm 34:18).

You see no matter what you are going through God is there to comfort you. Waiting for you with outstretched arms.

For those who believe, the word of God provides us with light and hope in the midst of the storm.

Maybe you have a favorite verse that brings you comfort and hope. Please share it in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

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Posted in Family, Lifestyle

How To Crush Your New Year’s Resolutions

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The new year is finally here! We’ve made it past New Years Day and we’re ready to start tackling our New Year’s resolutions!

This year will be the year that you’ll finally lose that weight, start that business, finish that degree and spend more time with your family!

Yes, this year will be the year!

And then…it’s March and our resolutions have fallen to the wayside. We’ve slipped back into our old habits for one reason or another. And we’ve resigned ourselves to try again next year.

But what if that doesn’t have to be the case. What if there was a way we could crush every resolution we’ve set this year?! Are you ready to try it?

Alrighty then! Here are 5 tips to help keep those pesky New Year’s Resolutions.

1. Ditch the Resolutions

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In the spirit of being transparent, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago. Instead of making a long list of vague resolutions like losing weight, saving money, or getting out of debt my family and I make New Year’s goals instead.

Why is a goal better than a resolution? Goals tend to be more specific, which makes them a little easier to tackle.

When you go to the gym and work with a trainer one of the first questions they ask you is what your fitness goals are: Do you want to lose fat? Build muscle? Or just tone up a little?

Goals give you something to focus on and cause you to think about HOW you’re going to achieve it. For example look at these two statements: I’m going to get out of debt this year (resolution). or I’m going to pay off one credit card this year (goal).

Which one sounds more manageable? The resolution sounds a bit overwhelming, while the goal seems practical and something that can be easily worked towards.

2. Use SMART Goals

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So now that we’ve decided to ditch the resolution and trade them in for goals. I want to show you how to make those goals achievable.

When I was a teacher we were required to create SMART goals for our class assessments.

Before we switched to SMART goals my lessons plans would look something like this:

Objective: By the end of this lesson students will be able to identify the parts of the food web and how energy is transferred between each level.

Goal: Students can identify the parts of the food web and show the flow of energy on the ecology exam.

That sounds like an acceptable goal. What teacher doesn’t want their students to pass their quizzes and test?

Then our school district changed the way they wanted our lesson plans written and introduced us to SMART Goals.

What is a SMART goal and how is it different from a regular goal? Good question!

In order for something to be considered a SMART goal it has to meet the following criteria:

SMART Goals

As you can see, unlike a regular goal, smart goals tend to be very specific. If we go back to my original example:

Goal: Students can identify the parts of the food web and show the flow of energy on the ecology exam.

SMART Goal: Students will be able to identify the parts of the food web and transfer of energy with 90% accuracy on the unit exam. (FYI: these goals were more for the teacher than the students.)

But we’re not here to score well on tests. We’re here to create life goals!

And the process behind SMART goals can be used to achieve those life goals. (And it’s way easier, than those education goals. It took a lot of brain cells to get that right!)

This year I have a few different goals: losing weight, being a more consistent blogger, developing my spiritual relationship with God, and getting out of debt.

I’m sure many of you have at least 1 or 2 of these on your list. I’ll start with the easiest one and probably most common of all new years goals…losing weight!

After 3 kids and transitioning to being a SAHM. It hasn’t been easy to shed those pesky pounds.

2019 Goal # 1– To Lose 20 lbs.

Now let’s turn that into a SMART goal.

SMART Goal– By April 5th, 2019 I will have lost 20 lbs.

Is it truly a SMART Goal? We’ll let’s see..

Is it Specific…Yes,the target weight is 20 lbs.

Is it Measurable..Yes, I can measure how much weight I’m losing per month.

Is it Achievable…Yes, as long as I stick to my diet and exercise plan.

Is it Realistic…Yes, that’s about 6 lbs a month which is a safe and healthy rate of weight loss.

Is it Time-bound…Yes, I have 3 months to complete the goal.

Goal # 2: Get out of Debt

Ok, I don’t know if you’re like me, but I have a lot of student loan and credit card debt that I need to get rid of. And being a SAHM makes this part a little more challenging since I only work once a month.

SMART Goal: Pay an extra $25 towards my credit card with the lowest balance each month.

Is it Specific…Yes- the target is paying down my credit cards by and extra $25.

Is it Measurable…Yes, I can keep track of my balances with my monthly statements.

Is it Achievable…Yes, I can make an extra $25/month .

Is it Realistic…Yes, with the plan being to roll that extra money over into the next card when the other is paid off. (The Debt Snowball Method)

Is it Time-bound…No, I don’t have a specific date for when all of these cards will be paid off, but If I crunched the numbers I could probably come up with an actual date.

I’m not going to bore you with the rest of my goals. I think you get the picture.

SMART goals are a great way to help you break down your new year’s goals and transform them into something that you can manage and succeed at.

3. Don’t Go Overboard

I have A LOT of things I want to accomplish this year. I mentioned a few of my goals earlier, but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

I could try to tackle them all this year, but when it comes to setting goals and being able to achieve them more is NOT better.

If I tried to achieve all of the plans that I have running around in this little head of mine I probably wouldn’t achieve any of them.

So my advice to you is to pick your top 3-5 goals and focus on those.

However, don’t toss out your long list. Many of us have goals that can be considered short-term and long-term goals.

A short-term goal is anything that can be completed in 1-4 months, while a long-term goal is anything that is going to take 5 months or longer to complete.

Yes, yes. I know this is not the technical wisdom on short and long-term goals, but we’re talking about stuff you can realistically complete in a year. It’s relative.

So if you finish one of your short-term goals early, then you can always add another one to the list.

4. Visualize

There is nothing more satisfying than crossing something off your to-do list. In order to crush your goals this year, you need to have a place in your home where you can see them daily.

You can dedicate a whole wall in your house to your goals or you can just write it on a sheet of paper and tape it to the bathroom mirror.

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you can see it. And when you complete a goal celebrate it! Throw yourself a mini-party.

And keep the completed goal on the board. So on those days when you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything you can look back at your paper and remind yourself that you finished one goal and you can knock out another one.

5. Breathe

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My final tip for you today is to remember to breathe and relax. Goals are just what they are goals. Something that you are trying to reach for.

It’s awesome if you complete the goal. But it’s not the end of the world if you don’t.

If I don’t lose 20 lbs by April 5th, but I’ve lost something or I went down a dress size. Then that’s still a success in my book.

If I can only manage to pay an extra $5 a month towards my credit cards, at least I’ve still taken a step to getting out of debt.

When your goals become a source of sadness and frustration they are no longer goals but have become unnecessary weights.

At that point it’s time to take a deep breath and re-evaluate your goals.

Maybe it wasn’t realistic or maybe the time to complete it wasn’t long enough. Or maybe life just happened.

But that’s the good thing about goals. You can always re-evaluate and start reaching for them all over again. Just don’t stop reaching for them and I’m sure you’ll succeed.

I hope that you crush each and every goal that you set this year.

If you’re excited about the New Year and all that you have planned leave me a “Yes!” in the comments section.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Family

A Look Back at 2018

man beach holiday woman
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As we come to the final day of 2018. I can’t help but reflect on the year that I’ve had.

If I could characterize this year…I would say that 2018 has been a year of change for myself and for my family. It has also been a year of faith as we stepped out into unfamiliar waters.

In March I officially published my first book, “ The Death of Marriage: A Lesson in Love.” , through Christian Faith Publishing. One day I hope to write a few blog post on marriage and surviving infidelity.

However, this book has opened the door for me to share my experience with other women and offer them hope for their own marriages and working through the healing process.

In June, I walked away from my job of 10 years as a high school science teacher to become a stay at home mom. We have had to adjust from living on a dual income to a single income while trying to raise 4 kids.

It has certainly been a learning process for us as a family. But I still believe that it was and still is God’s will for our family and that all the sacrifices have been worth it. We are not experts at it yet and we still have a way to go in learning how to live on a budget and make budget-friendly choices.

author blog create creative
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In August, I started this blog, The Crafty Afro, it took me forever to work up the courage to even start it. I felt like no one would care about what I had to say or even read what I wrote.

And even though I don’t have 1000’s of followers I am just grateful to have a place to express what’s on my heart and share the things that I care about. I only have 29 followers, but I am grateful to every one of you.

My Top 5 Post of the year were:

It appears that my crafting corner is quite the hit!

chocolate cupcake with white and red toppings
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In October my daughter turned one. If you would have asked me 2 years ago if I wanted a little girl the answer would have been, No. But I can’t imagine my life without my daughter. She has changed me in some many ways.

In many ways, she has made me more aware of my feminine side and softened me up a little. I have always been a staunch tomboy. Even now I’d rather wear a pair of jeans and a comfy shirt, then put on a dress and heels.

Having boys definitely played to my strengths as a tomboy. My husband didn’t mind it as much. He would fuss that I didn’t dress up enough, but it wasn’t a deal breaker.

But now because of her, I find myself being a little more mindful of my looks and the things I wear. I’ve learned to be a little softer in my responses to her and her brothers. I’ve never wanted to paint nails and have pretend tea parties.

But my daughter has definitely opened my heart to the possibility of doing those things if that’s what she wanted to do.

At the end of October, my eldest son (who was 7 at the time) was suspended from school for accidentally bringing a pocket knife to school. This was his first year of public school and he’s never been suspended for anything before. Unfortunately, this incident made him a target at his school.

The weeks that followed were stressful and tumultuous for us. We were told that none of the kids at school knew why he was suspended only to find out that his teacher had done a lesson on the incident with his classmates.

Everything he said was monitored by the teacher and other students. I was called to the office because he said a joke, from a kids joke book, about shooting a bee with a “bee bee” gun.

They sent him to the counselor because he said if he was the governor of Virginia he would have guns (They were doing a lesson about the settlers and Native Americans!). At this point, we went into fasting and prayer for my son and the issues he was facing at school.

He began to be scared of going to school and was constantly afraid of getting in trouble for anything he said. As a parent nobody wants their child to feel that way. But after a month of prayer, fasting, and visiting the school. Things have calmed down.

As you can imagine I didn’t do a lot of posting to my blog during that time.

Now, we find ourselves in December.

people doing marathon
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 In my infinite wisdom and in somewhat an attempt to re-live my glory days as a college athlete. I signed up to run the 3000m in an actual track meet! I had been ” training” since October and I felt pretty good running 2 miles.

So yea…this 35-year-old mother of 4 got her butt on the track and raced against young ladies in their prime. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I contemplated if I had lost my mind.

As I ran 15 laps around a 200m track…by the time I got to the halfway mark I seriously considered stopping and just walking off.

But all the while I could hear the voices of my kids, husband, and parents cheering me on. I couldn’t let my loved ones down even if I came in last place.

I finished (15:24). I survived. Not in glorious victory like I had hoped, but I pushed through it. I didn’t come in last lol  There is a meet in January…but I’m not making any racing promises.

After all that has happened, I am looking forward to wrapping up the last day of the new year. We’re not doing anything fancy.

My son turns 8 today and we’re going to celebrate his birthday and then bring in the New Year with our church family.

2018 has been a good year for us. Full of challenges and new endeavors. I’m looking forward to 2019 and all that God has in store for us.

How has your 2018 turned out? I hope that you will take the time and reflect on your own progress this year and see how far you’ve come in 365 days.

See You Next Year,

The Crafty Afro

Posted in Faith, Family, Morning Musings

Morning Musing: When Your Child Says Their Ugly

rear view of a boy sitting on grassland
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You’re beautiful, my sister is beautiful, my brother is handsome, and I’m ugly…No, parent wants to hear their child utter such words. But this beautiful morning my 7-year-old son did. I was taken aback by his statement. Why would he say such a thing? Who had told him he was ugly?

As a mom, my brain went on high alert. How do I fix this how do I convince him that he is not ugly?! Better yet what child do I need to yell at for saying such a thing to my darling boy?!

So I asked him,” Why do you think you’re ugly?”. “Well mom my teeth are crooked and my face looks weird”, he said. “Your face isn’t weird. You’ve got two eyes, a nose, a mouth, and two ears. And everybody’s teeth are crooked at this age. ” I replied.

As an adult, it’s easy to tell a child not to worry about what other people think. When we as adults are constantly worried about what others think about us. We live in a world that constantly puts pressure on adults and children to be like someone else.

Yes, we are becoming more accepting of different body types, and skin tones, but at the same time promoting an ideal of physical perfection. When is the last time you’ve seen a model with acne or movie star with crooked teeth? (That wasn’t part of their character.

For kids, the pressure is no different. Perfect skin. Perfect hair. Everyone needs to have a boyfriend/girlfriend or some unrequited love. Where are the shows about the kids who are just happy being kids? Not worried about boyfriends and girlfriends or what they look like.

Before my son had talked about being ugly. He told me he didn’t want to be alone. That he needed friends and a girlfriend. And I’m thinking to myself,” Where is he getting these ideas?”I for one am not a fan of kids having boyfriends/girlfriends in elementary school.

Crushes yea sure. But being in a committed relationship at 7 or 8. No, thank you. Let’s just be kids and have innocent fun. But at this age, he is already wrestling with the idea of loneliness and what the ideal boy looks like. And as far as he’s concerned it doesn’t look like him.

I don’t even remember being concerned with those things at that age. I don’t even think I started to really like boys until I was 10/11.

But back to our conversation.  My son decided to give his life to Christ when he was about 5. And as Christians, our self-worth and our self-esteem should be based on Christ.  I should have started with what I told him in the end.  It is often said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And as Christian’s our beholder is God.

…I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

I reminded him of Psalms 139:14,”… I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”. That God has made each and every one of us unique. We are like a piece of abstract art made by the creator. Some people will think it’s beautiful and some just won’t get it. But to God we are beautiful we are his masterpiece. The work of his hands.

Low self-esteem was something I struggled with as a child. I could have shared my own personal story with him. My father always told me that I was beautiful, but there was a part of me that wanted that validation from the outside world.

It’s actually something that as an adult Christian I still struggle with. My husband constantly tells me I’m beautiful, but there are times that I still struggle with how I feel about myself.

As an adult, I have to remind myself that God created me as a unique individual and I don’t have to strive to be like anybody else. As a parent, it’s hard to see your child struggling with these issues, but the best thing we can do is be there for our children.

If I could rewind this scenario I know I would have addressed it differently I would have:

  1. Stayed Calm- The first thing I did was go into high alert mode and started to figure out how I could convince him in the 10-minute drive that we had to school that he was not ugly.
  2. Listened & Asked Questions- I did listen and I did ask questions. But I asked them to try to refute his reasoning as to why he felt that way. When instead I should have asked questions just to listen and absorb what he was saying.
  3. Asked God for wisdom- If you’re not a Christian, then maybe this step isn’t for you, but I should have prayed and asked God for wisdom on what to say to my son. Aside from you’re not ugly!
  4. Shared my own personal story.- Sometimes our kids think we have it all together. That we don’t struggle with anything. We’re adults we can do whatever we want. At least that’s how kids think.
  5. Prayed with him- I should have prayed with him before he got out of the car. School can be a harsh place for children.  As a Christian parent, I feel that it’s important to always cover your children in prayer. Especially, when they are going through something.

I would love to hear what other parents have to say about this issue. I have 3 more kids that I’m sure I’ll have to go through this with. So any advice is welcome.

If you can think of more tips or things that I could have done differently. Please share them in the comments below.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro

 

Posted in Family, Lifestyle, Morning Musings

Morning Musings: Step-Mom

In my previous post, I talked about a shirt that my oldest daughter wore and my issues with said shirt. I also mentioned that I didn’t buy her that shirt. Why?  Because her mother brought it for her.

See my eldest daughter, Kayla, is not my biological daughter.  She is my husbands’ daughter.  I have known this little girl since she was one and I consider our bond to be a special one.  And I have only on rare occasion ever referred to her as my step-daughter to other people.

So the other day when she snuggled up to me and called me her, “step-mom” I was a bit offended. I guess by now you all are saying what’s the big deal? You guys are a blended family that’s normal.

However, I did not willingly walk into step-motherhood. My husband and I just recently celebrated our 11th anniversary. Our eldest child is 7, followed by Kayla who is 4, my youngest son who is also 4, and my youngest daughter who just turned 1. I could spell it out for you, but I’ll let you put two and two together.

When I decided that I wanted Kayla to be a part of my life. I made a decision that she and her siblings would never refer to each other as step/half siblings. They are brothers and sisters. Period. This was something that I also made her mother aware of at the time.

I knew that she would never be allowed to call me Mom. So I came up with a nickname for myself hence I became MoMo to her. Even though sometimes she does slip up an call me mom, I just gently redirect her.

And that’s what I did the day she referred to me as her step-mom. I just gently reminded her that I was her MoMo and nothing else. I know for her mom it makes it easier to describe who I am without having to explain anything to people.

I am sure it’s all well-intentioned, but I don’t want to be Kayla’s stepmom. I just want to be her MoMo. Stepmom just seems like a bad word to me on top of being something that I never wanted to be. It kind of makes me feel slighted, even though I know that’s not the intent.

I feel the same way when people infer that we’re a blended family. But that is a story for another day.

It’s just a way to designate me as the woman that is not her mom, but the woman that takes care of her when she is with us. I don’t know? Maybe some of you are step-parents and get where I’m coming from or maybe you’re just like girl get over it. (lol)

It is just a name after all. But if you can or can’t relate please leave a comment or share your own story. I’d love to hear from other step parents.

Until Next Time,

The Crafty Afro