Search This Blog

Sunday, May 29, 2011

{Spirituality Sunday} Time, Talents & Treasures

One of the things my Bishop always talks about is the importance of giving of one's time, talent and treasures to the house of the Lord. I couldn't agree more. I've been attending DWO for about two years now and up until now; I've only given my treasures (tithes) and was trying to figure out where I could fit in terms of giving my time and talents to one of the many ministries.

Well, a few weeks back, the leader of the Children's ministry asked me if I had ever considered volunteering with the kids. I had, back when I first joined but never followed through with it and I told her as much. She told me to give it some thought. I know me; I'm a (bit) of a procrastinator and I knew that if I took the application that I would probably lag on turning it back in. So, I filled it out and submitted it then and there.

After a background check and a few weeks, I was given my first assignment which begins today at 10:30. I'm excited but nervous; it feels like the first day of school. I'm not sure what to wear (my ankle is still all messed up so I can't wear dress shoes). I normally wear sneakers to church, so it's not that big a deal, but I usually attend the 8:00 service. I'm not sure how wearing my Adidas Samoas will go over at the more crowded and formal 11:00 service.

At any rate; I'm excited to follow through with one of the charges that I have felt led to do over the past two years. I don't know if kids are my niche but, you gotta start somewhere. I'll report back to let y'all know how it goes...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

All Things Work Together

I discovered Red Box (you know, the movie rental thingies you see at grocery stores and Wal-Marts) on Sunday. I rented Gulliver's Travels (not suitable for kids) and The Green Hornet (more suitable for kids than the former, surprisingly). The box I went to to return them yesterday was out of order so I took them back today to a Kroger on the way to my parents' house.
Back when I was with my ex-husband; the bank inside the store was the one we used the most. Walking in, I was hit with a thought that confounded me.
So, I left my ex-husband in May, 2007, eight months after our daughter was born. She and I moved into an apartment in Downtown Detroit and left him in a rent-controlled, subsidized apartment. I knew that the only way that we could be free from him was to leave which seemed impossible. Back then, I was working as a Security Guard making less than $10 an hour. Looking back; it's hard to remember how the three of us were making it on just one income.
Anyhoo, Shey and I moved away, never to look back. I was going to file for divorce, start dating and live happily ever after sans husband. Of course, it didn't happen quite that way. Without a job, my dear husband was unable to keep the apartment we once shared and was forced to move voluntarily or be evicted. He insisted that I allow him to come stay with Shey and I until he got on his feet. Reminding me that it was my fault that he wasn't employed (how he figured that, I still wonder) and that I owed it to him, if I ever loved or respected him, to let him sleep on my couch until he shipped out for Basic Training with the Army National Guard.
I stood my ground. "No Paul, you're going to have to find somewhere else to go."
He later told me that he slept in his car for a few days until one of his boys "took pity on him" and let him sleep in his spare room. I didn't feel any kind of way about him telling me that. Afterall, what grown man can't scrounge up $200 to keep a roof over his head?
After about a month or so, he left for the Army. I was indifferent. I had met a couple of guys but I was chillin for the most part. Working and getting used to life as a single mom, figuring what I was going to do with all of the potential that had been staunched thanks to my soon to be ex-husband.
As I contemplated life without Paul, he was stewing in a foreign state with a barracks full of strangers suddenly missing the family he took for granted and the wife he treated with disdain.
Soon, the calls started. Initially under the premise of wanting to talk to Shey (who only knew a dozen words). Before long, he was asking if he could come 'home' after boot camp.

"#*^% No!

Absolutely not.


No, thank you.

I accept your apology. The answer is still no.

I'm sure your daughter misses you too. But, no.

Sure we can use some money. You still can't live with us.

Let's see what happens when you get home.

We'll see.


I can't wait to see you. I love you too. 

He wore me down. He promised that he had changed, that he was sorry, that things would be different. Being away from us had been the hardest thing he had ever had to do. Harder than leaving his mom and sister in Ghana. 

He wooed me. Sending money and gifts (something I'd never really experienced in the four years we'd been married), holding extended phone conversations, making me feel like a priority. We 'honeymooned' in Virginia for two days, he said it was important for us to do that because we'd decided to forgo our honeymoon when we got married to save money. All in all; the future with my family looked promising. I owed it to myself and to Shey to see if the changes he swore he'd made were legitimate. 


They weren't. It took all of three days for the real Paul to come back. Within a week, we were back at it and I was stuck with him. Again. It had been a miracle saving the $1500 I needed to move into my apartment downtown, I knew throwing him out wouldn't be an option so I tried to make it work to bide time. 

We did the round and round thing, going back and forth; together, not together. All while living and (occasionally) sleeping together. But things started to get ugly and I confided in Racheal; my best friend. I had never been one to talk about the things that happened between Paul and I. But truthfully; that's what told me in my heart of hearts, that things were over between us. I no longer cared what anyone thought of him. My first instinct was no longer to protect him from what people thought of him. I couldn't care less. 

Racheal, (part owner of a Process Serving company) suggested that I serve him with a Personal Protection Order. Kinda like a restraining order, but free. 

So I did. And, he moved. 

When he left however, with him went what was to be my Bush tax incentive (of 2008) to the tune of $900.Money I'd earmarked for rent and groceries since Paul had appropriated the 'household funds' toward his business capital shortfall. 

[Paul's only job in 2007 was with the US Army National Guard. He did not pay any state or Federal taxes. As such, the entire tax refund that 'we' received was earned by me. Even the incentive did not account for any contributions on his part. Paul had taken the entire Federal refund and placed it into his business banking account to start the illusive business that he'd never had the capital for. Most of the money was spent cleaning his driver's license (which was suspended in 5 cities), buying Chinese food while I was at work, and shopping.]

Without the money for the rent (which Paul felt entitled to since I'd put him out) the process to evict Shey and I began. as did the race against time to find a new place to live. 

Enter Marvin J. A kindhearted senior from Northern Michigan with several income properties and a liking for Black women. He was Racheal's best server and she paired us up; he had a place for rent; I needed a place to stay. 

After making it VERY clear that there would be no exchanging of 'goods' for landlord 'services'; Marv and I agreed to a lease of the home above his basement apartment.

Through Art, I met John, a Service Manager who referred me to the company where I work now. A job that I love. I'm making more money now than I ever have in my life. Last year, I made three times the maximum wage I'd EVER made doing security; (even with overtime).

I say it all the time, and it's true Romans 8:28 ALL things. Not, some. Not a few. Not MOST... ALL things! Even what someone meant for evil; God turned it around and made it favorable for me... Amen to that!

'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.'

Monday, May 9, 2011

{Money Monday} Earn More to Save More

I don't want to speak prematurely but I think I have this whole work thing figured out. I've been making more money while working fewer hours. What's better than that right?
The truth is; I've got a new mantra... Three very simple things that I charge myself to do daily; Write, Save Money and Exercise. Today, I actually have done all three. I'm blogging now, I went to the grocery store and picked up stuff for my lunch for the week so that I'm not buying takeout and, I did a pretty intense calisthenic workout that I'm sure to pay for in the morning when I go to workout again. 
In an effort to both maximize and simplify my life (kind of oxymoronic, eh?), I've all but figured out what I need to do in order to truly be able to live the life I've always wanted to live. 
I'm in the market for a car (again). It'll be the third one I've had THIS YEAR... Buying $1000 cars, obviously, doesn't get you very far. So, I'm working my tail off to save up for a $2000 car, lol. 
Truthfully, I don't believe in financing cars but at this point, I'm ready to bite the bullet and do it. I've given it some serious thought but the reality is while I can afford the car payment; I can't and will not do it. I live on the last street in the city of Detroit, my home shares a zip code with a suburban city. But, it is still Detroit. As such, full coverage insurance (a requirement for a financed vehicle) would l i t e r a l l y cost me twice what the car note would cost. It's not worth it.
Which is another reason why I am saving money. Not only for another car but for another house. As much as I love my home and my neighborhood; my vision has changed. This house is perfect for my daughter and I; a 3 bedroom, 1 bath bungalow. Both of our rooms are on the main floor, my office is in the big room upstairs and the basement is used for storage. I've thought about what I would do to make the man that will be my husband feel comfortable and a part of what is now my space when we marry.
He has really nice furniture and it would be wasted in an unfinished basement. So, I thought "I'll finish the basement for him." The more I looked into doing that for him; the more evident it became that it wouldn't make sense to make such a huge monetary investment into such a small, older house. 
We agree that we want more children. So I've began a house hunt in the suburbs. It's exciting; looking at properties that have master suites, dens, family rooms, finished basements, pools. Things I never even really thought about. I never really thought about life outside of the city of Detroit. At least not this early on. But really; this is the best time to do it. The entire prospect is invigorating. To think that I will be in a newer home in a different neighborhood during a timeline that will be determined by my willingness to work for it is a driving force in and of itself. 

CNN - How to Buy a House

Sunday, May 8, 2011

{Mother's Day} Parenthood Sucks!

Being a parent sucks!

      I really do feel that way. Me voicing how I feel about this is bound to illicit many different reactions. I know this because I've told lots of people this very thing. But it's true. Being a parent SUCKS! (Especially being a single parent).
     Many parents won't verbalize this out of fear of how people would react to this but I've got to keep it real. Let's be clear; I would DIE for my daughter. Everything that I do is for her. My motivation, what gets me out of bed is knowing that I am responsible for providing for her.. Hell, I left my husband for her. So, don't get it twisted; it's not a decision I would reverse, take away, or change for anything! However... all things being equal, kids are walking, talking BILLS. You invest all that you have into them and you have no idea if you are doing a good job. Only time tells you, and you have to wait 18 years before you're sure if they're even on the right path. 
    What's true about parenthood is that it is the highest calling that one can receive. It is the greatest responsibility that you will ever take on. It is a job that if you are not ready or prepared for, that you will fail at. You have the potential to raise a professional or a crackhead. You have no idea if you're doing things right at any given moment and you are bound to make mistakes because kids do not come with a handbook. 
    Most people are born with the ability to have children but everyone is not given the tools and/or guidance needed to rear them properly. 
     To spank or not to spank, to be a friend or to take the hard road. Personally, I play it by ear. I was raised (obviously) and I try to take the good and the bad and mesh it into how I raise Shey. But! At the end of the day; I'm human. I make mistakes and I'm really just winging it. I'm a working, single mom. Work often comes first (cuz we gotta eat right?) even though deep down, I'd love to stay at home and raise her full time.
     This is my 5th Mother's Day. I was pregnant back in '06 during Mother's Day but I still considered myself to be a Mom. In fact, I can remember telling my Mom and Step-Dad that I was going to make them Grand-parents that very Mother's Day weekend. I knew what I was being charged with; a precious gift from God, on indefinite loan to me to raise in a righteous, virtuous way until she was called home or he returned. It's heavy! 
     I look at my friends who are moms. Mainly my two besties Amirh and Racheal. Amirh is busy raising geniuses and Racheal is aptly nicknamed 'The Kid Whisperer'. Their oldest kids are 5+ years the senior of my little one and seemingly on the right path. I have no choice but to ask for advice and glean from the benefit of their experience. 
     Oddly enough; I want more children. A son especially. I've got a 12 year old God-son and a 13 year old nephew that I love dearly. Heck; I wanted Shey to be a boy (they seem easier, lol). My would be husband doesn't have any children and we've agreed that we want more. I think it would be good for Asheley to have a sibling (/friend) to play with that will take some of the pressure off of me! 
     In truth; it's just me and her; all day, everyday. She looks to me to compensate for her loneliness and lack of friends and I can't. My daughter is a girly girl... Make-up, manicures, pedicures, feather boas, and tiaras...  Y'all know that a'int me. But I try! I swear I do. If I had ANY cool points left before I became a Mommy they are gone! Though I've got a bucket full of Mommy cool points that I can cash in with Shey for 'smoochies' anytime I need to. True story; I'd rather have those. 
     I've said all of that to say this; be certain that you are ready for parenthood and ALL that it entails before becoming a parent. It's hard! And anyone who tells you otherwise is either lying or anxious to see you struggle like they did/do. 
    Boyz II Men 'A Song for Mama'

The stereotypical Mother's Day Song.... (I don't care; it fits! :) )

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

{Random Post of the Week}

So, I try to stick to themes when I blog but lately I've been missing my blog days... I suppose that's what happens when I don't make it a habit to blog.

The recurring theme throughout my blog is that I'm trying to get my life together. It comes to me sporadically; exactly how I can get my life together, but I definitely see it taking shape.
I can feel it.

Work has improved significantly. Mostly because I've changed my thinking and my approach. At one time, I LOVED that job and somehow, I lost my zeal for it... But I think it's safe to say that I've gotten it back now. My vision for the future is a lot clearer than it was even just a few weeks ago. I'm addressing issues about myself that make external issues easier to deal with. And that makes life a lot simpler.

I'm focusing now on simplifying my relationships in my life. All of them. As much as I try not to let people get to me; a lot of things not only scratch the surface; but they dig in deep. Simple things. Like, this old dude nearly smashed into me in the parking lot at Wal-Mart then HE flipped ME off. That one almost ruined my Friday.

But. The more I delve into myself, the more I see and understand the way that I work, it becomes easier for me to control my reaction to things. Because I am hardly ever in control of the things that happen, it is a must that I control my reaction to said things. By doing that; my blood pressure stays down and the events that follow any negative event are not stained because of my negative reaction to said negative event.

The Bible says that the Joy of the Lord is our strength. Agreed. However, being joyful does not always mean being happy. I heard a man of God say once that joy is not the absence of pain; it is the presence of the Lord.

By taking this approach and applying it to every aspect of my life; not only is my stress (and blood pressure) down; but my joy (and most times) happiness is way up.

I'm working out again. I'm eating better... All around; I'm doing the exact opposite of what I feel inclined to do. "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten." That is the definition of insanity; continuing to do the same things and expecting different results.

I have to admit; it can be downright scary, doing the opposite of what you've become used to doing. Even when you know it's the right or better thing to do. But it's roller coaster scary; not suspenseful movie scary. 
I love roller coasters and I've always hated horror movies.

So that's my approach these days. So far, so good. Either way; I'll keep you posted.

Until tomorrow.

Be well!