Feb 1, 2015

Black History

If the only Black history you are aware of is the "history" you were taught in school then you probably don't really know much about Black history at all.

"The most imperative and crucial element in Woodson's concept of mis-education hinged on the education system's failure to present authentic Negro History in schools and the bitter knowledge that there was a scarcity of literature available for such a purpose, because most history books gave little or no space to the black man's presence in America. Some of them contained casual references to Negroes but these generally depicted them in menial, subordinate roles, more or less sub-human. Such books stressed their good fortune at having been exposed, through slavery, to the higher (white man's) civilization. There were included derogatory statements relating to the primitive, heathenish quality of the African background, but nothing denoting skills, abilities, contributions or potential in the image of the Blacks, in Africa or America. Woodson considered this state of affairs deplorable, an American tragedy, dooming the Negro to a brain-washed acceptance of the inferior role assigned to him by the dominant race, and absorbed by him through his schooling.

Moreover, the neglect of Afro-American History and distortion of the facts concerning Negroes in most history books, deprived the black child and his whole race of a heritage, and relegated him to nothingness and nobodyness. This was Woodson's conviction as he stated it in this book [The Mis-Education of the Negro] and as he lived by it." -{source}

I encourage you to read as many books as possible about black history (and other subjects).  Learn as much as you can, grow in the process, and watch how it changes your perspective.

A few places to start:

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X edited by Alex Haley
  • The Miseducation of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson
  • Brainwashed by Tom Burrell
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome by Dr. Joy Degruy
  • The Will To Change by bell hooks
  • Destruction of Black Civilization by Chancellor Williams
  • Women, Race, & Class by Angela Y. Davis

A full, lengthy book and film list can be found here - Stay Woke: Consciousness Guide by Taurean Brown.

Stay woke,

Jan 27, 2015

Misery and the Company it Loves

I was very upset the other day. And I mean very upset!

I wanted to tell people.
I wanted to get it out.
“Off my chest.”
I wanted to feel better.

For some reason, I thought telling others would be helpful. But I didn’t say a word. Then I wondered why I felt that way; why I wanted to tell someone. I posed the following question on my Facebook fan page: “Why is it that when we are hurt we want to tell the world about our pain? Is it that we believe that sharing somehow makes us feel better? “

The response I received: "Maybe the old adage, 'misery loves company,' is true."

But is it really true?
Is that what I was feeling?
Is that what you feel when you seek others when you’re hurt, sad, overwhelmed, going through something?

After some thought, I understood the response and I agree that ever so often that is the case. But to me, “misery loves company” has a negative connotation; that someone wants others around them to be upset, hurt, in pain, etc. too. I just don’t believe that is the objective of most who want to express their feelings.

I believe that oftentimes people just desire support and reassurance that no matter how things look in the moment things will work out for their good. I think when you're hurt, sad, frustrated, etc., you just want people to be there for you. You want someone to listen, to have empathy, to understand. Of course, we have to be careful about what we share, how we share it and with whom we share. But, I don’t believe bottling up our emotions and feelings when we’re going through the storms of life is the right approach. At least not for me it isn’t.

I use this blog (and my twitter account since tweets have such a short “life”) as my main outlets. But there are just some things I can’t/won’t share online so I need other ways to express myself. Although I have people that are very supportive I tend to keep things to myself to keep from burdening others. Even beyond that, sometimes I’m embarrassed by things (that may be going on in my marriage), or ashamed that I felt a certain way (about parenting), or uncomfortable (by my lack of forgiveness or hurts that I’m holding on to from my past), or self-conscious (about a bad decision that was made). You name it and I have an excuse for why I rarely share anything with anyone besides my husband. But, he can’t always be my outlet, right?!

I wonder if other people have similar thoughts/feelings.

I do know the devil wants us to feel hopeless and alone, and I believe one of his strategies includes isolation. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Lions tend to identify and isolate the weakest in the herd before attacking.  So yeah, that.  With that said, don’t become isolated; not as Christians, as woman, men, family members, friends, etc. Stay connected to those around you and pray for discernment as to who best in your circle can provide the accountability, admonition, encouragement, etc. needed when trials and tribulations come.

If you find that you have similar ideas as I have, I pray that you too find the appropriate outlet that you need, when you need it.  You can even shoot me an email if you'd like.  Who knows, we may be able to support each other.

Find Joy,

Jan 22, 2015

$100 Instagram Giveaway

Guess what?!

I’ve teamed up with a lovely group of bloggers to offer my Instagram followers a chance to win $100 (PayPal Cash)! All you have to do is head over to instagram to "follow" me and six other ladies and even tag a friend to gain extra entries.  

Easy right?!

Well, what are you waiting for?!
NOW ;)!!!

Jan 19, 2015

The "I Have a Dream" Speech WITHOUT the Dream

When most people think about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech delivered on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., they often quote just the "flowery" parts.   The partly improvised peroration most excited the crowd during the speech, and tends to excite us even now, as this is the part of the speech when Dr. King departed from his prepared text and improvised due to Mahalia Jackson's cry: "Tell them about the dream, Martin!"  

This part of the speech gives us all "warm fuzzies" about how we should all be equal and free, and rightfully so. I love his speech in it's entirety; however, the meat of his speech occurs before he even begins to discuss his dreams.  I've included the speech below (emphasis mine) but left out the peroration.  I pray that you take the time to read it and grasp the true heart of his message.

"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream."

Jan 14, 2015

Couples Reading List

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.

Mario and I started reading books together when we got married. Or should I say, a book/person, since we've only read two (that were a pairing).  Nonetheless, we're trying to get back to reading together as a couple.  I think it's important for couples to do things together that aren't just fun but encourages growth also.  I tend to go for books (usually biblically based) that will help to strengthen our marriage or ones that will help to shape the way we think about parenting. Of course, I tend to be the driver behind this effort and choose the books.  However, I'm so grateful for Mario's willingness to actively participate and engage in something that is so close to my heart; reading (together).  Perhaps I should actively watch sports with him a little more.

I've listed a couple of books we've either read, are currently reading or have on our list to read next.

by Alex Kendrick, Stephen Kendrick and Randy Alcorn (275 pgs.)

Synopis: The Resolution for Men stems from the movie, Courageous (by the makers of Fireproof). “The Resolution for Men strategically inspires men to reconcile with their past, re-engage in the present by taking full responsibility for their wives and children, and then move forward with a bold and clear resolution for the future. Written in partnership with the movie and Priscilla Shirer’s new book, The Resolution for Women, it is designed to inspire a revolution."

by Priscilla Shirer, Alex Kendrick, and Stephen Kendrick (288 pgs.)

Synopsis:  “This book is a resolution that challenges you to realign your daily decisions in a way that glorifies God and fulfills who He created you to be. Layered with biblical truth and seasoned with encouragement, The Resolution for Women will inspire the woman you see in the mirror to trust God’s perfect plan for her life, resolving to become “purposefully feminine, surprisingly satisfied, and faithfully His.  The focus of the various chapters are: being content, biblical femininity, valuing myself, devoted to Christ, following God's priorities, esteeming others with my full attention, demonstrating forgiveness, living with integrity, blessing your husband, training my children, living with grace, and leaving a godly legacy.”

Currently Reading:
by Gary D. Chapman (208 pgs.)

Synopsis:  This book identifies the five languages of love; Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch, and discuses how to strengthen your marriage by speaking the language of your partner.

Up Next:
by Sissy Goff, David Thomas and Melissa Trevathan (256 pgs.)

Synopsis:  "Intentional Parenting is built around 12 chapters that each dispel some of the most common parenting myths and reminds all parents of truths that can empower them to be not only the parents that their children need but that God has called them to be. The book helps you discover first who you are and then takes that healthy person into a discovery of being more intentional, playful, consistent, merciful, and connected to your children."

by Alex Kendrick (256 pgs)

Synopis: A forty (40) day devotional that explores the nature of mature love and challenges you to live it out. It emphasizes how each individual in the marriage must take responsibility for themselves and how they can change (whether their partner does or note) and shows how a relationship with God is the foundation of a powerful marriage.

by Emerson Eggerichs (324 pgs.)

Synopsis: This book provides biblically based counsel that discusses a man’s need for unconditional respect and a woman’s need for unconditional love.

by Emerson Eggerichs (288 pgs.)

Synopsis: This book provides a new way to approach the family dynamic and builds on a foundation of biblical principles to do so in order to defuse issues between parents and children.

Going forward, as we start to complete books and I get through books on my personal list I will begin to share my own short, sweet review.

Do you have any books to add to the list for couples?!

Find Joy,

Jan 11, 2015

Year by Year

On the sidebar there use to be a 30 before 30 tab but I've recently changed it as I was updating my blog's design and pages.  I'll be 30 in June and if I'm honest I hardly ever thought about that tab.

The goals there were good but I think they were just there just to be there.  Maybe what I've change it to will be too. But let's just see, right?!  

I changed it to Year by Year.  I like how it sounds and what it represents.  It's a list of things that I'd like to achieve each year. Most will change year by year (get it *wink*) but a few may always be on the list because I should strive to do them every year.  I think this years list is good.  Real good.
  1. Read the bible daily.
  2. Read at least one book/month.
  3. Read at least one book/year with the hubs.
  4. Serve in our church.
  5. Travel.
  6. Work out three days/week, consistently.
  7. Reduce sugar intake.
  8. Run a marathon.
  9. Do something eventful for my 30th birthday.
  10. Paint another room in our house.
  11. Start either a kitchen or bathroom remodel.
  12. Reduce credit card debt.
  13. Increase emergency fund.
  14. Increase photography skills.
  15. Obtain another certification; Certified Quality Engineer.
  16. Blog consistently and strive to understand, SEO, marketing, etc. (solicit help).
  17. Service fireplace for use next winter (and for a romantic dinner).
  18. Buy window coverings for all rooms in the house.
  19. Donate to charity.
  20. Invest.
  21. Plant a garden.
  22. Take care of myself.
  23. Take at least two family trips per year.
  24. Take at least one trip without Maddie per year (to continually build/sustain our marriage).
  25. Find Joy!
This year I just want to live life intentionally.
How about you?

Jan 5, 2015

Process of Elimination

One of the goals we set for ourselves as a family was to make better food choices.

Not to diet.
Not to take on challenges that we can’t maintain over the course of a lifetime.
Not to flat out eliminate things that we love forever and ever.
But, to at least make a few changes as to what we will buy and allow in our refrigerator or pantry.

I always plan out a grocery list before I go shopping and I have learned not to deviate from it. Doing so has been essential to maintaining our food budget each month and it keeps me from buying things that I already have at the house or things that I want but don’t need. Going forward, I will no longer be including the following items on the list:

For years now we’ve had a rule that no soda is allowed in the house and it’s been upheld quite well. Now, we’re eliminating juice. The only beverages that we plan to allow in the house are water and milk. That’s it. I plan to buy lots of lemons since Maddie and I both love lemon water. Hopefully, this will somewhat help with the transition since I’ll be eliminating her beloved apple juice boxes. I’ll miss OJ myself (which we had initially planned to keep around for sickness purposes) but we’ll get our Vitamin C (sans sugar) elsewhere!

We just don’t need these in the house. They’re just plain out no good and since they are kept in plain sight Maddie asks for them often just to be told no the majority of the time which leads to whining. The hubs has an obsession with chips as well (that he’ll probably deny) so I’m no longer adding them to the list. Done.

Mario and Maddie tend to like Frosted Flakes which, in my opinion, is nothing but a bowl of sugar. I had considered limiting the purchase of cereal to Honey Nut Cheerios only but after doing a comparison of it to Frosted Flakes, the sugar and sodium content is basically the same so I’ve decided to eliminate cereal altogether. This is going to force me to cook breakfast more often during the week so I’ll be relying heavily on fruit, oatmeal (that I can slow cook overnight), eggs, homemade muffins and yogurt as my go to in the morning.

Ice Cream
There is always ice cream in our freezer. Always. And we all know how fattening it is. I’m not a fan of store bought ice cream so this is one of the hubs’ guilty pleasures but I do LOVE ice cream too. So again, we don’t plan to not go out on ice cream dates, thereby eliminating ice cream all together knowing how much we love it, we just won’t buy it to store in the freezer any more.

Lastly, we LOVE cookies, or should I say that I love cookies. I buy a pack almost every shopping trip. It’s on the list. But no more. If we want cookies I’ll have to make them from scratch. In the words of Michael Pollan, "eat anything you want, just cook it yourself."

So that’s our start towards eliminating some unhealthy products in our home. I’ll be grabbing double the fruits and double the snack-able veggies (e.g., carrots, celery, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.) when I go shopping instead of the items we’re eliminating above. I will continue to buy Honey Maid Teddy Grahams, Nutrigrain bars, FiberOne brownies, Goldfish and marshmallows because I am not currently of the opinion that serving only fruits and vegetables at all times is a realistic, sustainable approach for children or adults. For now, we’ll try our hand at finding balance (tipped towards healthy) between fruits/veggies vs. salty/sweet snacks.

For some reason I don’t feel like this will be too hard.
But I’m praying it’s as easy as it feels!

Find joy,

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