When Silence Isn’t Golden

I have been a church girl the majority of my life, and church has been instrumental in my development. I remember completing homework, while at church. If church was going on, we were in attendance. It didn’t matter what day of the week or what time church would be over, were were present and still had to attend school the next day.

We learned a lot of Bible facts and increased our biblical knowledge, but one area was missed in our education – sex education. Oh we had sex education at school, but at church we were told don’t do it and at home we were taught nothing about sex. Let me clarify – I wasn’t taught anything about sex.

I remember the one conversation that I had with my mother about sex. A few of my classmates were pregnant, and I asked my mom what would she do if I told her I was pregnant. She said, “I will kill you!” I believed her. That’s the only conversation we had that even remotely involved sex.

Fast forward to a night on a school bus returning from playing basketball, and the conversation was “who had had sex and with who.” I had not had sex, but I wanted to fit in for a change. I lied saying I had sex. I didn’t figure out until later that the older girls were asking the younger girls the questions, but never told about themselves…

I mention this moment because maybe, just maybe being able to talk to my mom about sex could have prepared me for moments like that. Maybe I would have been more confident in being a virgin, and not ashamed to admit I was still a virgin. Maybe I could have provided other virgins the courage to stand in their truth.

I stumbled through my teens not knowing the importance of my virginity. Only being told sex was bad, and church girls didn’t have sex until they were married. Parents and church leaders forgot some important information along the way. What happened to equipping me with knowledge other than sex is bad?! Sex isn’t bad. Sex feels good!

The church and my parents failed me in this area. I needed to be taught the value of my virginity. I needed to be taught that every choice has a consequence. I needed to be taught that with having sex comes responsibility. Was I ready to discuss sexual preferences with a sex partner? What about getting tested for STDs? What if I become pregnant? Would I want this person in my life for essentially the rest of my life? Am I willing to share what makes me feel good sexually?

Having these conversations in a youth group or in a safe environment, would have prepared me for my future sex life. Instead I stumbled along. I tripped and ultimately I fell until finally I learned with the help of my husband.

I vowed to have open and honest communication about sex with my children, and children I have taught along my journey. When we only say sex is bad, we do a disservice to our children. We need to tell the truth, educate our children so they make good decisions, and more importantly confide in us. We want them to value our opinion, and seek out our wisdom as they make life altering decisions.

Pet Peeve #1

I’m doing a series of vlogs to share my pet peeves.  I’m posting them in no particular order.  Each one shares equal importance of being on my list of topics that will illicit an emotional response from me that I say is passionate, and some may say is anger.  We can debate the emotion expressed forever, but these are my pet peeves.


Do you have any pet peeves?

More pet peeves to come…

So We Said Goodbye *Book Review*

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This was an interesting read. I’m married and I tried to place myself in Aya’s shoes and couldn’t. It was a little far-fetched to me to totally immerse myself in a past relationship and create such an emotional tie. What really was astounding to me was the level of honesty between Aya and Uri. I do believe marriages need this level of honesty, and there would probably be less divorces. However, I can’t think of any husbands I know that would allow what Uri allowed without some type of demands to stop the behavior.

Another thing that stood out to me was the impact Aya’s and Yaron’s choices has on their families and friends. I did not enjoy the amount of time in the book that was devoted to their letters. I know it showed the level of their emotional attachment, but I think readers could’ve understood the attachment without the amount of letters that were included in the book. The footnotes of information, while interesting, did not add to the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the complexity of marriage that was demonstrated by the book, and I liked the ending, but I wonder what would’ve happened if Aya and Yaron had made different choices.

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.

 

 

Rules To Live By


I thank God I’ve survived so far and made most decisions using common sense. Common sense is priceless.

I just want to help others that may need need assistance navigating this journey called life.   These rules are not listed in any order of importance because they are all important.  Here’s some rules to live by:

Don’t burn bridges – 9 times out of 10 you’re going to need that person again.

Listen to your elders – you’ll have less headaches, heartaches and stress.

Practice good work ethics.

Don’t quit a job before you have the next job.

You are responsible for your own happiness. Don’t buy into this romance movie happiness that includes statements like “you complete me.”

Don’t have sex with folks that just look good. Are they responsible? If a child results, will you have to put out an APB for them to help with the child? Would you want this woman to be the mother of your child? Do you want this person in your life for the rest of your life?

Don’t have sex in every relationship.  Is there a rule you have to have sex? Everybody ain’t worthy – ijs.

Surround yourself with folks that encourage and support you.

Learn how to be a real friend. Once you learn the real meaning, you may find out the folks you’ve been saying are on your squad are not on your squad.

Have a personal relationship with God. Give Him some of your time. He’s worthy.

*photo created by Samuel Zeller

Fathers – A Lasting Impression 

  
I was getting ready for work this morning and I began to think about my dad. As my birthday is fastly approaching, I wondered what would my dad think of me. I wondered would he like the person I have become, and would he be pleased with my morals and values.  

Then, I thought of one of my most vivid memories of my dad. I had to be four or five years old. I was living in Henry Horner projects – 1847 W Lake St, Apt. 806. I still remember. It was in the winter time and I was standing in front of my school. My mom had bundled me up and no one else was standing in front of the school. I realize now she must have dropped me off early to make it to work.

 
This man pulled up in a car and called my name. I went to the car and he said, “do you remember me?” I nodded my head and said, “Yes, you’re my daddy.” He had me get in the car to stay warm and he talked to me until it was time to go into the school. He told me he hadn’t seen me in a while, but that was going to change. I later found out I wasn’t seeing my dad because of my evil stepfather, but that’s another story.

Father’s make a permanent impression on their children. The time you spend holding your children when their babies, allowing them to sleep on your chest, feeding, bathing and all the other quality time you spend with them makes a difference. Even though time had passed, I knew “that man” was my daddy.

After my dad passed, I got a tattoo over my heart that says “Daddy’s Lil Girl.”  My dad always called me “daddy’s lil girl.” I was in my twenties and my dad was still calling me his “lil girl.” The special bond I had with my father has kept me grounded. When I feel like fighting as my mom would do, the peacemaking spirit I received from my dad prevails. My dad was the first man that loved me unconditionally. He showed me what unconditional love from a man looks and feels like.  

This is a call to action for father’s everywhere. I pray it’s not too late for you to make memories with your children that will help you leave a good permanent impression on your children. What do you want your children to say about you? Do you want them to remember you with good feelings, or do you want them to learn the hard way that you failed as a father. I plead with you to make a renewed commitment to your children and be the great father your children need you to be in their lives. 

This can’t be happening!

 Writing 101 Day Five: Be Brief

You discover a letter on a path that affects you deeply. Today, write about this encounter. And your twist? Be as succinct as possible.

 

I heard a knock at the door and then running feet.  Someone had pushed a note under the door.  The note was addressed to “Babe.” 

My curiosity took over and I couldn’t resist reading the note:  “I should have told you this a long time ago.  My HIV test results came back and I’m…”  The word is unreadable due to smudged ink. 

My heart begins to beat fast!  Who is this note for?  I have two roommates and at one time or another our boyfriends have called us “Babe.” 

I quickly dial my boyfriend’s number and receive his voice mail.  Oh, I forgot he’s in his big meeting today about his scholarship.  I text him – CALL ME ASAP!  I text my roommates 911 – COME HOME NOW!

Silence Breaker

 

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Studies completed by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, show that:

  • 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
  • Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
  • During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
  • Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.

According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well (page 5).

Alarming statistics for an act that is silenced over and over again by the victim themselves, family, friends, churches and even authorities figures.  I wonder will we ever have a time when children can feel safe, and not be in danger of being sexually molested.  It is true that  most of us that have been sexually molested were victimized by someone we knew.  For years I didn’t count myself among those that were molested because I was not penetrated by my perpetrator.  However, I always recognized what he did was wrong, and carried emotional scars that negatively impacted by body image for a long time.

Molest means to touch someone sexually when it is not wanted.  I was a teenager in the stages of puberty.  My breasts seemed to have grown overnight, and they were not the normal size you would expect from someone my age.  I was thirteen years old that summer.  I was uncomfortable with the changes in my body, and this incident made me feel even more uncomfortable.  My breasts were grabbed and held by someone I trusted.  Someone who knew better and should have been ashamed of themselves.  I was very shocked, but didn’t know what to do other than call my dad and say come get me.  My dad knew me well and he kept asking me was everything okay.  I kept lying and saying yes, everything is fine.  Just please come get me.  My dad came and I never told him what happened.  My dad went to his grave not knowing what happened that summer.

Fast forward to 1999, when my dad passed and I told my mom and my step-mother what happened that summer.  They both were shocked!  My mom said why didn’t you tell me.  Why didn’t you tell your dad?  I told her I knew it would destroy family relationships, and I felt like what happened wasn’t that bad.  I mean I wasn’t penetrated.  Isn’t it crazy how victims rationalize what happened?

I realize what happened to me defined me for more years than I care to remember.  I didn’t like my breasts.  I hid them as much as possible.  If I didn’t have these breasts, this wouldn’t have happened to me.  Hindsight allows me to recognize that I did nothing wrong, and the perpetrator was a sick individual.  I was well into my thirties before I became comfortable with the blessing God gave me:  big, beautiful breasts!  Finally, I became comfortable in my own skin.

These posts may cause questions from my family, but I don’t care!  I am a silence breaker!  Audre Lorde summed up silence the best for situations such as this: “Your silence will not protect you.”

Be a silence breaker!  Be inspired to break the silence from here.

Image by bryanbope on Flickr

Too old or Too young: the focus is age

Nice perspective from a young worker in Corporate America.

The Urban Talented Tenth

Welcome to my current situation…..

Let me start by saying I love my job and I love what I do, however I have never been too keen on office politics. Currently, I am the youngest on the leadership staff by at least 20 years or more and I am GREAT at my job, but more often then not my coworkers stay a little too focus on my age and not my knowledge. Which brings me to this question, “how old is too old to be in leadership and how young is too young?”

Every day there is a mention of my age, however I have successfully increased my companies production rate by 10% and put business practices in place that has given us an effective way to track and analyze production on any metric. Yet, to the others on my leadership team they only see my age. It’s an uphill battle…

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For My Daughter…

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I was thinking about a letter I wrote to my daughter in 2007, before she went to college.  I asked her for this letter, and then remembered I kept a copy of my flash drive.  This letter continues to be timely, and maybe it will inspire you to have a much needed conversation with your children, or maybe you need some inspiration.  There are some grammar errors in this letter, but I decided to not change anything about the letter.

August 13, 2007

9:28PM

Kendra,

Where do I begin?  It seems like yesterday you were biting people at church (lol)!  The years have gone by so fast.  Who would have thought we would be at this time so quickly in your life??  I am so happy and excited for you!  This is a major milestone in your life.  Off to college.

I am typing this letter to you because I want you to keep it and reflect on it those times when you may seem to forget what you focus is for going to college.  When temptation is presented and you don’t know if you can resist the temptation.  Grab this letter and read it quickly!  There are so many things I want to tell you.  Some last minute “nuggets” to help you along the way.  Well, here goes:

IF YOU DON’T REMEMBER ANYTHING I HAVE TAUGHT YOU, REMEMBER THESE TOP 10 THINGS:

10.  Be true to yourself – Don’t let anyone stop you from being who you are.  Don’t wear mask or be phony – be Kendra.

9.  Have fun – you will have to have a balance between fun and school.  Too much fun will be reflected in your grades. Too little fun and you will not be a happy person.  You have to figure out that balance for yourself.

8.  Boyfriends – I know you feel you are in love.  Well, remember that you have to put love in perspective.  Anyone who wants to be with you will understand the need for you to get off the phone, the computer, whatever means you all communicate.  That person will be happy for you and be content in the fact that when it’s all said and done you are still with them.  Any boy that doesn’t have your best interest at heart is not worth your time.  Any boy who has no goals or aspirations to achieve success is not worth your time.  You need someone who shares the same goals, aspirations and dreams that you have for life.

7.  Sex – We have talked about this subject.  For the record I will state my stance – no sex until you are married.  If you decide to have sex, I pray you weigh out the consequences and see if that moment is worth your future.  That’s all it takes is one mistake and your entire future can be altered.  You say you want to be a doctor.  Well, you have to live your life like you want to be a doctor.  There will be plenty of time to have sex when you get married.  There’s nothing like being able to have as much sex as you want and not have to be concerned about the risk of pregnancy, disease or death.  It’s never to late to decide to abstain.  Anytime you want to you can decide that you are going to wait until you are married to have sex.

6. Friends – everyone is not your friend or will want to be your friend.  People will dislike you because you are beautiful and smart.  Recognize when people are trying to use you.  Get to know people before you share your private information.  Don’t let people in your room until you feel you can trust them.  I say meet them in the lounge.  Some people will want to come into your room just to see what you have.

5.  Alcohol – Don’t ever leave a drink sitting and come back and drink it. I don’t care who is sitting there.  When I say drink I mean any type of drink.  Never drive after drinking.  Don’t ride with anyone who has had a drink. Don’t trust your life to anyone who has had any alcohol.  I don’t care how “okay” they may seem.  Don’t take a chance.

4.  Seat belt – WEAR IT!

3.  Intuition – If you feel something isn’t right, even if you don’t understand it; follow your intuition.  If you feel like you shouldn’t go a certain way, don’t.  If you feel like you shouldn’t do something, don’t.  Follow your intuition.

2.  Classes – If you don’t understand something – ask!  This is money we are spending to get a good education!  Make that teacher earn every dime.  Don’t wait until test time to say you don’t understand.  Get the help you need ASAP.  Get to know people.  If you need a study group, take the initiative and form one; because if you need help there is probably someone else who needs help too.

1.  God – You’re going to need Him!  Pray as much as possible.  Let Him lead and guide you.  He won’t lead you wrong.  God is the key to you being successful.  He said “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Take your Bible with you.  Read it!  Go to church as much as you can.  Church is where you will gain the strength you need to make it.  You need to give God 10% of your time, just like you give him 10% of your money.  You owe Him that!

I am here for you. You can tell me anything.  Don’t ever forget that!  I love you and I am going to miss you.  I’m sad but I’m happy for this next phase of your life.  So many people are in your corner and cheering you on.  I’m sure you can tell from all the gifts and money you received.  People are praying for you to be successful.  I don’t want you to get sidetracked.  Stay focused.  I don’t want you to have to come home because you made a bad decision that alters your future.  Every decision you make now affects your very future.  Please remember that.  Before you do anything, think about the positive and negative consequences.  If it’s too many negatives, it’s not worth it!

You are beautiful, gifted, talented and intelligent!  You are going to be successful!

I will be praying continuously for you!

Much love,

Your Mom.

What do you wish your parents had told you before you left home?

“Image courtesy of mrpuen / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.