No Mercy, Kids! No. Mercy.

Zac’s been home sick a few days. I was so over hearing “I’m bored!” “There’s nothing to do!” “I don’t want to be sick anymore!”

I decided to be a great mom, like a super great mom. We turned on some National Geographic Show about polar bears brutally eating innocent little baby seal, ate pizza and played cards. When playing games with my kids, my rule is: No Mercy. (Well okay, maybe a little.) But the one thing I will NOT do is let my kids win.

Sounds mean, doesn’t it?

We were playing Skip Bo and Zac only had one card left in his pile, I had four. He was so arrogant, just knowing he was going to win. But then mom AND

Boom

 

But the thing is, Zac doesn’t lose well:

skip bo

 

He was so mad, he threw the cards everywhere and stomped his way upstairs.  I sat and patiently waited for him to come back down and pick them all up. It took a good 20 minutes or so before he worked through his tragic loss and picked up the cards.   I thanked him and we moved on.

I just don’t “get” the everyone deserves a trophy, where we don’t take score, and all kids are winners. Life doesn’t work that way. Life is way harsh and mean. Losing well is a necessity in life. We spend way more time on this earth losing, than winning. If our kids can lose well, even at a game, then they will be more prepared to deal with the real losses, the ones that actually matter.

What do you think? Do you let your kid win at games? Comment below.

Let’s Chat!!

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Ferguson, Garner and Cop Killings through the Eyes of a Bi-Racial Family

racism

 

I sat on the couch breathless as the Grand Jury results were released on CNN. There would be no indictment of Officer Darren Wilson in the tragic death of Michael Brown.  Brown’s death was tragic because it was unnecessary, no matter where we place fault. And the tragedy continued as small business-owner’s had their life and livelihood burned down, stores were ravaged and an entire community was completely ruined.

I watched until I couldn’t watch anymore.

We talked about it, for days. We muddled through the events, the quick shift in the tide of the Nation and how our world needs, well let’s be real, it needs Jesus. But we didn’t just talk about it from a middle-class, churched, Suburban America perspective. We talked about it from the perspective of black, Hispanic, white, mixed and law enforcement—because our family is all of those things.

I am white.

My husband is black—his background is in law enforcement, he is currently a forensic investigator with a Masters in Criminal Justice.

My two (step)daughters are black.

My son and daughter are half Hispanic, half white.

My youngest son is half black and half white.

We are a blended, bi-racial family.

We have learned that the world is very jaded and racism is alive and breeding right here, down your street, in your family, at your church. It is based on ignorance, and lack of respect for the whole of humanity.

We have heard comments like:

“What is it like to have a black step dad?”

“Wow, your kids look really Mexican.”

“Your mom is white? That’s not your mom!”

“How is that your last name, you don’t even look Hispanic at all?”

When my husband and I started dating, I was on the receiving end of racism for the first time in my life. I married a black man, and the black community has not always welcomed me.

Recently my son texted me this photo found on the wall in his high school, where the demographic is predominately Hispanic:

 

taft racism

 

When we walk into a restaurant, we get glances and blatant stares. People don’t know what to make of us.  My kids have fun with it. I was at Walmart with all five of them, and they convinced everyone I was their adoptive mom, who rescued them from the foster system. I walked out of that store a saint that day.

 

But I am their mom, 3 of the 5 came out of my womb. My husband is their dad—biologically 3 of the 5. We don’t see our race, our color, or origin. We are family. I don’t think about my husband being black, and don’t look at my kids as Mexican or Hispanic. They are just my kids. We don’t have to “work hard” at not seeing the color of our eyes or skin or hair as a definition of who we are.

So when these things happen—these racially charged issues, these murders, these injustices—we are forced to reconcile who we are individually and as a whole—and re-examine our worldview.

My husband’s perspective is unique. He has been a patrol officer, in dangerous situations with all races. He is military combat trained, he is highly educated, and considering law for his future. But he is also black, and has been on the receiving end of profiling of police officers, where respect and courtesy only come to him AFTER the police officer finds out he too is in law enforcement. Being a former officer, and a current investigator he also has great respect for law, and the reality of consequences for our actions.

I grew up in a predominately white family, although my step-dad is Hispanic and my younger brother is white and Hispanic. I lived a somewhat sheltered life, and my grandparents, who were influential in raising me, grew up in segregated Texas. They were loving and accepting of all people, yet traces of their childhood remained.

My son and daughter are also mixed with Hispanic and white.  They are influenced by both races, and are exposed to their Hispanic culture, yet don’t see themselves as anything but simply, people.

My (step)daughters grew up in a predominately black community. They went to an all black private school, and attended an all black church. As they have grown up, they have embraced the diversity of our world, and love people just because they are people.

Then there is the youngest: Half black, half white, with 2 black sisters, and a Hispanic brother and sister. He gets lots of questions, and I’m grateful that he has yet to experience any overt racism.

But as we sit and watch CNN and read the tweets—and we hear of police officers being murdered, it all hits us, because we are all of those things. We aren’t just the white cop who was the shooter, or the black teenager who was shot—we are both. We aren’t just the people angry at the injustice of the world or just the police officer who got killed leaving his family behind, we are both.

We can’t pick a side, because there is no side to pick.

I remember dreading time on the playground during recess when teams got picked to play soccer. That was the worst feeling, not knowing if you were even going to get picked at all. But it didn’t really matter as long as you got to play.

Somehow, our society believes that we have to pick a team, but by picking a team, we are leaving out the most important thing—the privilege of humanity. We watch the racial divide growing, and are stunned at the growing fire of racism because we know it’s possible…It is possible to look beyond stereotypes.

It is possible to look at a person’s actions apart from their skin color.

It is possible to embrace humanity.

It is possible to take responsibility for who you are, without blame.

It is possible to co-exist.

It is possibly to live in harmony.

It is possible to simply love.

I don’t have any other solution but this:

We must learn to love, in an unconditional way, with deep humility and passionate servanthood. We must teach our kids, and every other kid we are in contact with, ever in our entire life, that people are human—not black or white or Hispanic or Asian or … We must push our kids out of their comfort zones—we must push them into situations where they are forced to see the world through a multi-colored lens. (I know too many kids who live in middle-class bubbles whose parents won’t make the effort to expand their perspective on the world. Not just from a race perspective, but from a socio-economic one as well). We must take responsibility for our own thoughts, ideas, and the conclusions we jump to because it’s the way we have always thought.

We must challenge ourselves to walk through Samaria, and talk to those we wouldn’t normally talk to, regardless of how they dress, or what type of education they have or what they have done in their past. We can’t change this generation, but we can change the next!

But we can’t do that alone.

Until we admit that we need help, until we humble ourselves, and admit that we need the power of Jesus to flow into us and then out of us, we will remain the same—living in the impossible.

It is only in Christ that all things are possible.

I’m grateful for my possible– for my bi-racial, blended family. I believe, even in our imperfections and failures, we are a picture of the power of the love of Christ!

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10 Things To Teach Your Daughter

I pain at the thought of my daughter leaving for college, but it’s happening. In less than a year, she will be off in the world, the cold, harsh world. I keep telling myself that the first year is my test. My LSAT, my SAT, my GMAT. It will be the time to see if I did my job well as a parent. I am suspecting I got lots of things right, but I still have nine months or so to ‘cram’. I know I”ve taught her character, and empathy and love. But I have a laundry list of things I need to make sure she knows before she leaves.

1. FINANCES: I need her to know how to budget, how to save and how to balance her account. This is is something I was never taught and it still bites me in the butt!

2. CHURCH: go to church even if you don’t feel like it. It’s a priority. Church will make sense even if th wrld doesn’t.

3. IRONING: I watched my grandmother iron all my Poppy’s shirts for the week. I was never really taught, but I watched. My mom was a working mom and everything was sent off to the cleaners (which to this day is my preference! Thanks mom!!) But she needs to know how to iron, the cleaners isn’t always in the budget–which I will teach her first, remember?

4. COOK: I want to teach her to cook (5) full meals from memory. Anyone can follow a recipe. But cooking from memory is when you really learn–and make mistakes.

5. GROCERY SHOPPING: My daughter can shop for clothes like a master. In fact, rarely do I shop without her because she’s so Boss at it. But grocery shopping is a whole other bag of tricks. It seems easy and logical, but really it’s not. To be able to shop on a budget and your food be able to last you as long as you need it is an art! Trust me, I’m the Master at this!!!

6. MEDICATION: I was in my 30’s before I knew the real difference between Motrin and Tylenol. I want her to know what she is putting in her body and side effects.

7. DOCTOR VISITS: I want her to be able to communicate effectively with her doctor without me around. I don’t want her to shy away from the intimidation of doctors. I want her to take control of her health and fight until she gets answers.

8. CAR MAINTENANCE: I want her to know basic mechanics and how things work. She needs to know what a raditor does, how to fill the wiper fluid and what to do if her blinker goes out–especially that there is no such thing as Blinker Fluid — but that’s a story for another time.

9. TOOLS: I want her to know the difference between a hammer and screwdriver, a wrench and pliers. She doesn’t ever have to use them if she doesn’t need to, but I think she needs to know what they are.

10. DRAINS: How to unclog a drain. With our long hair and constant showers, our drains are about to get all backed up. It is necessary for a woman to know how to pour some DRANO down the sink!!

Luckily she is amazing at housework (it’s her OCD) and knows how to sew on a button. She is committed to learning to sew on a machine and knows how to set goals and accomplish them. I am certain she can teach me a thing or two, or three.

I don’t want her to go into this world unprepared. I want her to be empowered with the knowledge of simple things. What am I missing? What are important practical things you are teaching your daughter?

COMMENT AND SHARE WITH ME! I don’t want to screw this up!

 

LG|LP

How To Not Be Like Your Parents

“You look just like your mother!”

“The two of you are just a couple of bookends.”

“You and your mom even sound so much alike.”

Every corner I have turned, I have stumbled upon someone who is shocked at the uncanny resemblance I have to my mom. We look the same, although I am much taller. My eyes are blue, and hers green. But we have similar mannerisms, and often say the same phrases at the exact same moment. My brother said once during high school that being in our house is like living with two of the exact same people, who speak in stereo.

Then there is this guy.

Zak ebrahaim

When his uncle uttered the words, “Like father, like son,” an entirely different curse was spoken into existence. But he took a stand, and decided to NOT be like his father. It will take ten whole minutes of your life, but take a watch:

Zak Ebrahim is the author of the book The Terrorist’s Son. He grew up in Pittsburgh with a school teacher mom and an Islamic extremist father who was on of the men responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. A National Youth Convention, Busch Gardens and Jon Stewart challenged Zak to change his worldview. Although he grew up in a house of hatred, Zak has committed to living and spreading the message of peace. Zak has professed that he is not his father.

Even though we may look, sound and sometimes even act like our parents, we have the power to say no to carrying on any destructive habits they may have inadvertently passed on to us. Parents aren’t out to pass on their junk. In fact, most of them spend their entire lives trying to protect us from the very things that negatively affected them. But here is a TRUTH: Curses are a part of our history, whether we like it or not. VICTORY: We can choose what we do with that.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. now choose life, so that you adn your children may life and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deut 30:19-20

No matter how fantastic your mom is or how horrible our father is, make a choice to let go of anything that chains your heart, digs up the hurt from your childhood, or allows you to soak in unforgiveness. Like Zak who was doomed for a life of violence and instead chose peace, you have permission to not be like your parent. You can be a curse breaker. Choose life, choose blessing…there is freedom awaiting for you, and that freedom will allow you to love… and my friend, love is what it is all about!

Who do you look more like, your mom or your dad? Comment and share with me your story of breaking curses!

LG | LP

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That One Time We Sold EVERYTHING

“I think we should just get rid of it all.”

He looked at me and said, “I was thinking the same thing but was afraid to tell you.”

We were moving back to Texas, and had a house full of “stuff”. A 2800 square foot house full of “stuff”. Toys, clothes, shoes, things to dust. Boxes and boxes of stuff.

And we hauled it all into our front yard, posted the signs and sold it. Well actually, we gave most of it away…and the rest, we might as well have.

It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Not just because it was me, but because I had to stand along side my kids while they learned the difficult lesson of materialism.

We loved our stuff. We attached ourselves to our stuff. Those are “my” dishes I bought in Mexico. Those are “my” legos. That’s “my” bag. Mine. Mine. Mine.

We kept a few things. I had a few pieces of furniture that have been in the family. I kept our memories, and school stuff from the kids. Those are still piled in my best friend’s garage in Florida. ( and I can’t wait to go back and dig through my boxes and get rid of more).

We came to Texas, all five of us, with just some clothes and shoes(and deodorant).

We call it “being in transition” but really we were technically homeless. So we shacked up with my bro and his fam for a few months until we could figure things out. Michael was waiting for his job transfer to come through from Florida to Texas, and I was figuring out how to organize the four of us in a few rooms, while feeling guilty for kicking my nephews out of their rooms.

We finally moved into our own space with still nothing but our clothes. We didn’t have a huge hunk of cash, so we financed mattresses, a fridge and a couch and dining room table (which we are still paying on a year later…smack me in the face).

My room has a bed. Yes just a mattress on metal slates. I have a broken tower fan in the corner by my side of the bed, just for the noise–it doesn’t stand on it’s own, it just leans in the corner.

We have the minimal of everything. And have now for a year.

And it’s absolutely freeing and amazing, and I love it!

Well, sometimes….

Sometimes I get caught up in the materialism of the city I live in, because believe it or not San Antonio, Texas is a town that likes stuff, likes to buy stuff, and wear new stuff, and spend a lot of money on stuff.

But most of the time I stay pretty grounded, because none of the “stuff” matters.

That one time we sold all of our stuff changed me forever. Not just on what I should own, or what I buy for my kids. No just about living minimally (Because ladies if you have to clean all the time, you need to get rid of it!) But about so many other things in the world.

I find myself sometimes sickened by the materialism in America. Not just because other countries are in poverty or need. Not because I’m on some high-horse, filled with pride about being able to simplify.

The reason I get sickened is this — people don’t even see what materialism, and wanting stuff, and taking things for granted is doing to them. People don’t see how it completely blocks a flow of the Holy Spirit into their lives. People fight for the wrong things, and work for stuff that doesn’t matter. People ROB THEMSELVES of joy and peace and love because of their Americanized perspectives.

I know, I know. Not you.

It’s just me.

This has been my soapbox lately. This idea of wastefulness and taking things for granted. This soapbox standings is probably why I got in a few heated discussions over the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS awareness and fundraising.

Maybe it will pass, this feeling of being disgusted by our world’s selfishness and willingness to just accept things as they are.

But I hope it doesn’t.