Mothers

I know mothers who work 16 hour shifts.
I know mothers who wrapped coins to buy their lunch so their children could have steak for dinner.
I know mothers who iron sheets so you sleep better.
I know mothers who will mend your clothes and hand wash them.

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One of the plants growing from seeds my girls and I planted on Earth Day

I know mothers who start Christmas shopping in July.
I know mothers who video chat their children on their breaks at work.
I know mothers who dream of their children.
I know mothers who cook 3 meals a day …every day.
I know mothers who didn’t get a chance to watch their children grow.
I know mothers who are mothers first and women second and who completely forget that they are at all, human.
I know mothers who want everything.
I know mothers who never get anything.
I know mothers who know they are privileged to be chosen by God.
I know mothers who feel burdened.
I know mothers who would do anything for their children.
I know mothers who don’t know what to do with their children.

I am privileged to know you. I learn from you every day. There is a chance for a miracle in the life of a child every day. We hold a responsibility every day along with great fathers to build up dreams. We hold a responsibility to see a new sparkle in a little eye. Celebrate EVERY day.

Bless!

-Shaun M.N.

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Good Morning

I’ve never been big on New Years resolutions.  They always seemed counterproductive. People would make them and then break them so quickly. However, I’ve noticed that some of the most successful people (or at least more positive people) are individuals who set goals for themselves.  We live in an age of motivational speakers and affirmation creators.  Social media, bookshelves, and infomercials are flooded with people who claim they can “fix” you.

I’ve had a difficult 2013 and I’m sure I’m not alone.  What happens if what doesn’t “make you stronger” kills your spirit?

I had dinner at my favorite restaurant with my mentor on Sunday.  We laughed and she was excited to see my 6 month old (yes I’m one of those parents who bring kids to restaurants!) We talked about ministry, evangelism, and motivation.  She was glad I was skating by at work, still singing in choir, and squeezing in time to write.  The compliments and praise were pouring in so I was a little stunned when she said :

“So what’s stopping you from really taking it to the next level?  Make your book a reality.  Establish yourself as a writer.  You were published when you were 10! Don’t you want to be more recognized by now?  You qualify for the recognition but do you deserve it?  You want more money at work but do you get there ontime?  Do you dress professionally DAILY? What sets you apart?”

As I picked my ego off the floor, she continued to talk to me about commitment.  She talked about being busy with the Creators work and less self involved.  She said to think about the people who need a word or a push and not to take my blessings for granted. 

Then she challenged me.  It was time to make a pact with the Father and with myself.  She said she practices fasting from time to time, meditation, no devices for a few hours to remove the voices of others so she can hear the answers to her questions.  She tithes regularly to put her money in His “storehouse” and let him decide how to allocate her treasures. 

I’ve been thinking all week about the disciplined commitment that’s right for me…

I LOVE sleep.  I work hard and I look forward to a soft pillow and a warm comforter at the end of the day.  I got lucky because our infant loves sleep just as much as I do.  In fact, right now my typing is interrupting her beauty rest and pissing her off. 
I’ve decided that no matter how late I go to bed due to work schedule, family obligations, etc…
I’m still going to rise at 8am everyday. No excuses.  No rushing. No dodging speeding tickets.  More time for writing. More quality time.  More time for prayer and reflection. 

Its time to take it to the next level.

What commitment do you need to make?

-SMN

Hope and Homeostasis

When I was young my father would take me to the park often. We would do all the fun things you do at the park but I distinctly remember him walking on fences. Kids would gather round to see my father walk on the fence surrounding the playground. I always felt so proud and cool because no one elses father could do that. My father was 6’2″ 180 lbs. Tall and lanky, walking casually across the fence like it was your everyday sidewalk. Everyone would stare and couldn’t help but smile.

When I think back to those times now, I think about the figurative artistry of that trick. My father spent his whole life doing a balancing act. My significant other told me today that he believes most men struggle between their innate basic desires and the need for family and companionship and stability. It’s an internal pull, a tug of war, spiritual warfare. It’s a psychological counsel deliberating over your future and your body just does what it’s sentenced to do.

My dad balanced. He was an ex military man. A Navy man. He’s the one who taught me how to iron my school uniform, how to turn corned beef hash into a meal and how to make a bed properly. He taught me how to re-seal and cement our front porch every summer and how to cut the lawn. He taught me to skate and ride a bike. How to maneuver a motor scooter and hang on to the back of his Triumph motorcycle.

My father struggled with everything else though. I know now that he could have been more connected and more mature as a husband, a son and a brother. He could have been more disciplined as an employee. He could have sacrificed a little bit more for the people in his life who believed in him and had sacrificed so much for him. He could have been more reliable. He tried to be a good father and to his credit, he still occasionally tries but it seems as though he was only good on that fence.

When your children grow older, they require the same maturity and selflessness as everyone else in your life. They require something better than balance. In my experience, love is involuntary. You may make a decision at some point to be with someone, or stay with someone, or to take care of a child. However, when you love someone in it’s true form, it’s uncontrollable. It escapes all logic. It takes over. Start by balancing. You must end with total submission. You don’t have to forget about who you are. Your identity can stay in tact. I believe that you must accept new aspects of who you are. Everyone has layers. Some layers you shed like an exoskeleton and you leave them behind.

What im suggesting is a balance beyond balance. I’m suggesting an ego-less equilibrium. Homeostasis of humility if you will. I am only suggesting this because I believe in the return. There are multiple moments when you must choose a side of the fence,stand on solid ground and dare to enjoy it. Everything in your life is a gift. I believe even struggle is a gift because it defines your determination and your ability not to be devoured by life.

My father taught me many things. Unfortunately, some of them were about the repercussions of weakness. Some lessons were learned through observation. Some of his actions taught me how not to be and what not to tolerate. No matter what…that fence trick was very impressive in it’s time. Ironically, my dad only fell when he was on the ground.

Happy belated fathers day. Learn how to balance your balance.

By:Shaun Nickens

Beating the bold and Black

What has fear prevented you from attempting? I look back at years of opportunities. If I had to illustrate my life, I would draw a bold black line. I would be on one side of the line with a hammer, a drill, an eraser, white out and virtually every tool imaginable that could potentially destroy the line. The other side of the line is a variable. It changes throughout my life. It was college graduation. It was buying a new car. When I was a child it was the status of being a great athlete. Fear is the tranquilizer that will prevent you from detonating that bold black line. I remember being in my senior year in college and discovering how many credits I actually had left to graduate. I was a transfer student and I lost a few credits when I changed schools. I had options. I could have stopped working, taken more classes, summer sessions, winter sessions, could have just sucked it up and stayed as long as I needed to in order to graduate. I was scared. My friends were graduating on time. Some of them had made those sacrifices but I didn’t take that into account. I was embarrassed and I gave up. I couldn’t get passed the bold black line. I told my family I would go back to school (which I eventually did in fragments) and I went to work for a fortune 500 company. In my mind, I was successful but I learned later that the black line reappears. It can stand between you and a promotion. You will have to compete with others. It can stand between you and love. Love takes just as much work as anything else. You have to overcome fear to be empowered by it. Every time you encounter that black line, you will have to bond yourself with commitment and subdue your fear. If you cannot become courageous and somehow turn fear into a personified villain in your own mind, you subconsciously turn yourself into a victim. Overcoming fear requires trust, faith, courage, discipline, and preparation. You must prepare yourself for the possibility that you could fail but at least you got a glimpse of what is on the other side of that black line. Maybe it won’t reappear as often. Make fear afraid of you! Who has fear prevented you from becoming? What’s on the other side of your bold black line?

By Shaun M Nickens