so i had a talk with my son last night

My little man and I went to Barnes and Noble last night, and after he talked me into buying legos (again) instead of a book, I decided to grab another Kindergarten level workbook for our evening study time.

One of the first pages in the workbook has a blank picture of a child where the workbook owner is able is to draw himself. We layed on one of the rugs in our living room, grabbed a new box of crayons that were bought specifically for these summer study sessions, and got to work. He started coloring his face brown and he looked at me and said, "I want to be white."

What? He pointed to the white crayon. After I recovered from the shock I asked him why. "Because all of my people are white." I thought about my son's school and once again, for the upteenth time since last August, I wondered if I was making the right choice. He's super smart, thoughtful, obedient for the most part and we can converse with one another about simple biblical concepts. And honestly, HE IS JUST SUCH A SWEET, SWEET KID!

My sweet, beautiful, brown boy!

My sweet, beautiful, brown boy!

NONETHELESS, MY HEART BROKE. Sometimes I look at him and get teary-eyed because he is soooo beautiful. I used to joke with my husband when I was pregnant, telling him that if we had a little boy that I wanted him to look just like his daddy. Big pretty brown eyes that have a slight slant, super long eyelashes that will remind you of the prettiest dolls’, and even, beautiful and blemish-free brown skin. So many times I have felt like God favored me by deciding to allow me to be my little man's mom. There are so many people who try for years and years to have children, and, unfortunately, never do. I have began to understand this on a whole new level as my husband and I have tried to have our second baby for well over two years now. Imagine going a lifetime trying to become a mother, wanting to have a baby to love on and raise? My heart sincerely goes out to every woman in the universe who hasn't felt her baby's hand in hers, or little lips brush her own cheeks. It is such a gift. 

My son attends a small school, and while his particular classroom was prodominantly white during his first year (pre-k), overall, the racial diversity in his school is quite fabulous. I knew that race would play a big part in his schooling eventually, due to none of the children in his class looking like him. I figured I would have to answer questions as he gets older and more mature, and in anticipation of these questions, I thought well, maybe I should take him out of this school and put him in a more "mixed" environment, or, maybe I should homeschool him, making it so much easier to avoid akward situations. At least at home I could better control who he is around on a regular basis. But who am I to say that his being around different is wrong? Naive thinking of a first time mother. We can always change schools, but racism is still racism and there are racist parents who send their children to public schools and private schools; and, just as importantly, just because he is the only one that looks like him doesn't mean that there would even be anyone racist in the general environment, realistically, it would be more of an identity issue. I could home school, and while things would be "easier" now at age five, what happens when college comes, and moving away and the shock of a diverse world is staring my son in the face? Thankfully, we've not encountered racism in our current school, and when concerns were brought to the Principal, it was nice to know that she doesn't see color and stresses that "we are all God's children," but honestly, it's easy to say that and speak in generalities when you child has never been the only one who looks like him (or her) in their classroom.

I feel very strongly about raising a son who is proud to be who he is, not only because of our black history, but because he is who he is because God made him to be that way, BUT how can I do this without changing the environments that we are deeply engrossed in? I've felt very lucky in these last five years because my son is HAPPY. And when I say "happy," I mean he has been able to be an innocent kid, which is all we've ever wanted for him. Here are a few things that I've made sure to do, in order to keep him this way...

1) We've talked to our son about God from the beginning. I didn't grow up in a churchgoing home, and, as a believer who is actively chasing a relationship with Jesus, I always wonder if some of the mistakes I (stupidly) made would have been reversed or made different if I knew myself as a daughter of the Highest King. I mean, there used to be so many things that I was afraid of before actively following Jesus that I can now view for what they are: minor things. I want my little boy to know that although he has an earthly daddy, he has a bigger, perfect daddy in Heaven who made him who he is for a reason. 

2) I've always told him how special and beautiful he is. Most importantly I call him a champion, because he really is quite awesome. I want him to always remain humble, but at the same time know that it is okay to be confident and proud. 

3) Until now, I've never really spoken with him about race. Sometimes, it is easy to identify others by their race, but that is something my husband and I have never done. We are all God's children, and while it may be easier to categorize someone by their looks, it is also just as easy to not do so. This may not be a realistic decision for an older child, but at age five, I do think a large part of these words my little spoke yesterday have to do with his truly noticing outer appearances of others more as he grows up.  

As I work on incorportating more racial pride into my normal everyday and conversations with my son, I will share and post more regarding this topic! (I hope I have lots to say in the next few months!)

In my online search this afternoon to find parents who are facing this same issue, I came across a TED talk, and, basically, it was beautiful. Check it out!

 

https://www.ted.com/talks/clint_smith_how_to_raise_a_black_son_in_america/discussion

 

 

xoxo

marlena

camping and a little camouflage

1.jpg

Okay, so I'm obviously a glutten for stress but a few nights ago while my little man was engrossed in Youtube videos of car crashes on mountain tops (I have no idea why this is so appealing!)  I spent about two and a half hours planning his fifth birthday!

Let me start off by telling you that first he wanted a tree cutter birthday. Right. Me too. I don't know what a tree cutter is, but my little person likes dozers, race cars, Kubota tractors and all kinds of things that make me truly understand what people mean when they say, "well, he's a boy." I definitely have a boy. So, when I politely explained that I didn't know what a tree cutter birthday party should entail (and in my head was completely freaking out because I couldn't find anything related to tree cutter parties on Pinterest) little man decided on a camping party.

Yes!

Score!

Momma can do that! 

So, four pages of notes and a few internet searches later, I found a really great camping invitation. I will report the progress over the next few weeks, but I leave you with these tantalizing ideas...

This is the backside of the invitation!

This is the backside of the invitation!

1) Bug juice

2) Outdoor obstacle course

3) Tents, tents and more tents!

Oh, it's going to be a DIY extravaganza y'all...

what does self-care mean for a Christian woman?

I went to small group two nights ago after missing each group of the semester thus far (approximately 5 or six meetings!) and I feel renewed. 

Three years ago, if my closest friend had told me that sitting inside a local eatery, eating good food and laughing with a group of girlfriends for an hour and a half would be fulfilling, I would have thought differently. I wouldn't have laughed, but at the time I would have probably considered "self-care" as my being able to save a few hours for myself each week, you know, going to Barnes and Noble, grabbing a pile of magazines and books (despite the fact that I knew I wouldn't read them all), and drinking a large coffee that I wouldn't have to share. But really, that's just motherhood. Sometimes we just want to read pointless celebrity gossip and intake calories from whipped cream and chocolate syrup that we don't have to share with our husbands or children :)

I spoke with a friend a few weeks ago, and I think we just happened to catch each other on a mutually rough day. We were both overwhelmed with wanting to be working supermoms who do not tire after a week of work, after school activities and everthing else we do regularly that we truly do love. Before we put our phones aside to resume our schedules, she told me that she needed to begin incorporating self-care, which is a word that more times than not will lead me to think about the spa gift card from my husband that I have been saving for a rainy day. 

But there is something about those words, self-care.  

As a Christian woman, I think self-care equates to a whole other idea. Sure, we feel fantastic when we look good or lose a few pounds, but lately, my desperate need has been one for spiritual health. I've learned that self-care quickly follows suit when you tend to work toward achieving spiritual health. I feel the greatest when I am close to God. What makes me feel close to God? Here are a few things that draw me nearer to Him.  

1) Marinating in God's word. Daily. This will seem hard if you overthink it. Yes, focusing on my prayers is "best" when I am at home in the early morning with my worship music playing in the background. I feel even better about this time when I can have this time for thirty to forty-five minutes uninterrupted. Is this realistic for all of us? Honestly, I wish it could be. But insert family, work, extracurricular activities, and a multitude of other things, and sometimes we are happy to just have five minutes of complete silence before bed. BUT...in the same way that we make getting up for work a priority, taking the time to be specific in our reading of His word is paramount to prayer life and relationship with God.

2) Taking part in community. Join a small group or community group and attend regularly. Don't miss. If you feel like missing, and find yourself coming up with excuses of things that you are responsible for regardless, understand that taking aside an hour will generally not effect your schedule negatively. In fact, after a life-giving fellowship you may accomplish more than you originally planned!  Never take yourself out of the running of being lifted up by other believers by God's Word. While in attendance, express yourself in a way that allows you to open up with other women who are seeking the same things: Jesus and how we can live our lives to bring glory to His name. 

3) Setting aside alone time, preferably each day for a few minutes, but definitely a few times per week. While prayer is our main means of communication with our Heavenly Father, and is a strong number one for this list, having alone time to process your thoughts is a strong habit to incorporate into your daily schedule too. When you are alone it will be easier to walk yourself through the things that you need to commune with Him about when it is time to pray. What do you need to thank him for? What do you have going on that you need to ask God to help you identify, and then correct? It's hard to deepen your spiritual relationship when it remains surface-level, and if you're trying to do this while driving in your kids' carpool or running errands on a lunch break, you may have brief revelations, but it takes time away from everything to truly make this time beneficial in your walk with God. 

4) Studying, asking questions and learning. In some circles today, Christianity seems to be like a popularity contest. I believe this sometimes results in groups of women who are taking the word of others over the word of God. If you are unsure of what you are being taught, hear, or read, make it a priority to learn God's word on your own!

You can find yourself cheering on someone else in their spiritual journey, and this is great, but you are the only one who can cultivate your own relationship with Jesus.