Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lessons from Our Mothers

 I am going to make the huge assumption and say that most of us have learned at least one thing from our mothers/mother figures. Since we are all human and we learn in a wide variety of ways, I think it is semi safe to also assume that our mothers have taught us different things in different ways.

          After a very intriguing conversation with one of my good friends a few months ago I was inspired to put this blog post together!

          I asked some of my favorite bloggers to join me this Mother’s Day to share some of the most valuable lessons that they have learned from their mothers. I asked them two simple questions…

1. What are the most valuable lessons you have learned from your mother, from the things she has explicitly said to you?

2. What are the most valuable nonverbal lessons you have learned from your mother?

I hope you Enjoy!!!! Feel free to comment and share some lessons from your mother!

Tasha M. Brown (Me)
Most Valuable Verbal Lesson

I remember one day I really needed to get my nails done (ok, really wanted to). I was running out of time, or didn’t have enough money, or something like that. I was talking to my mother about my little (in my mind HUGE) dilemma and during my rant I said “You know what I’m just going to do my own nails from now on, I don’t know why I give those people my money anyway.” My mother looked at me and said “Tasha that is so rude. That is how those people make their money and take care of their families, don’t be like that”. Now usually when I tell this story I say the lesson that the learned was, it’s ok treat yourself to mani and a pedi despite the circumstance (great lesson, but not the most important one, clearly).

What my mother really taught me in that moment was a lesson about respect. She taught me to always Respect and Support (when you can) someone’s “hustle”. Her words/tone taught me to always respect a person’s contribution to society no matter what it might be.  From this I learned that it is always so important to be mindful of those that you come across on a daily basis, there is always a story behind everyone’s hustle so RESPECT and SUPPORT it when you can!

Most Valuable Nonverbal Lesson

I can NEVER and I mean NEVER remember a time in my life that my mother has not working on some big project, brainstorming a new awesome idea, and/or putting on a fabulous event/program. All while working a full time job , taking care of her family, and making sure she takes care of herself. When I was younger I was somewhat fascinated by her planner. Her Black planner that she got from Office Max, where she wrote down all her plans, goals, meetings, etc (she has upgraded to her iPhone!). I vividly remember the times she would let me be her “secretary” sometimes I would beg for the job , other times she would freely give me the opportunity. My job as her secretary was to listen to everything she said and then to write it down exactly the way she said in the right spot(not to big, as she would always remind me). One of the many things that I respect and love about my mother is her Ability to GET THINGS DONE!

Watching my mother of the years has taught me the importance of being organized and efficient when getting things done, she taught me that when God blesses you with a talent no matter what it is, you have no other choice but to turn it into your ministry. She showed me that when you are passionate about something and put in the work you can make some amazing things happen. Lastly, watching her taught me that you can be great at all that you do while still being a boss work , on top of it at  home, AND taking time to care of yourself! I owe a lot of  my understanding of the value of hard work and commitment to my mother!

I now have my own version her Black planner....mine is just a little more fun!

Sophia S. Vilceus

Most Valuable Verbal Lesson

While going through my awkward teenage phase when both my weight and self-esteem were fluctuating, I was insecure about my long and skinny legs. Before going to bed one night, I bursted into my mother’s room as she was sorting through bills and said, “Mom…I just hate my legs!”

She looked up at me and gently said, “Soso…at least you have legs.” That truly resonated with me even in my adulthood. My spirit of gratefulness began with her. She taught me to put aside insecurity and frequently remind myself of all that I have and everything that I am. Naturally as a woman, I continue to deal with silent insecurities; however I live by the mantra: “no negative self-talk...”

Also, my mother wrote letters and notes to me for every birthday, holiday, and accomplishment. I have years of inspiring words from her. It’s no coincidence that I grew up wanting to be a writer.

Most Valuable Nonverbal Lesson

Before God took my mother home after fighting Cancer, I spent my days by her side in the hospital. She was going through intense treatment and it was taking its toll. One day, the nurse came to inject her IV and we knew it was painful. My family and I did not know how to be comfortable with seeing her in this condition.

With tears in my aunt’s eyes, she asked my mom, “Jackie--Are you in pain?” My mother looked her straight in the eyes and said, “yes…I’m in so much pain…I have the worst wedgie right now! Help me pick it out!” We all laughed hysterically.

Through that situation, my mother inadvertently taught me that no matter how grave a situation presents itself to be, there is always room for humor. Even when our world literally is ending, through God, we can handle it with grace and laughter. It’s a blessing to laugh.

Check out Sophia’s Blog -

Arielle Dwyer

I would be lying if I said my mother and I have the best relationship, but I absolutely love her and she has definitely taught me a lot - verbally and nonverbally.

Most Valuable Verbal Lesson

Through our many talks, my mother has taught me that I can't let how people treat me affect how I live my life. She taught me that I should never be lackadaisical. She always stresses the importance of education. Lastly, my mother always expressed to me that she didn't like my boyfriends, so I guess she was telling me to do better and never settle (if only I could've seen it like that then lol).

Most Valuable Nonverbal Lesson

Nonverbally, she has taught me that people do the best they can. I grew up not understanding why she did certain things. Now that I'm older and I have my own child, I can see that she always had my best interest at heart. Seeing my mom work hard and always come home exhausted taught me that I never want to let someone else dictate how I spend my time. She's definitely responsible for my entrepreneurial spirit (thanks mom! :-) ). The last thing I'll say she taught me is to be BOSS no matter what hand you're dealt. Being a single mother is HARD, but I've always lived in a house, she bought me my first car, and I can still call on her whenever times get a little rough. Thanks again mom!

Keep up with me as I follow my dreams at!

Greg Lewin

When most people reflect on their life, undoubtedly, there are several moments they can distinctly identify as having the biggest impact on helping them evolve into the person they’ve become (ie: college life, high school, a particular job, a specific experience, etc..).

For me, that period was 2002 – 2006. In late 2001, I got laid off in the wake of the “dot com” era disaster coupled with the 9/11 aftermath. In mid-2002, I landed a job opportunity to work for the City of New York. As fate would have it, the building where I worked was conveniently located directly across the street from my mother’s office. Because I still lived at home, this meant I got a chance to commute with her daily. I often look back at that time in my career and credit it with being the most valuable of all my experiences. In that role I gained a great deal of professional knowledge and experience that helped propel my career, but that paled in comparison to the valuable lessons and wisdom I gained, and the countless laughs we shared on those daily commutes. In honor of Mothers’ Day I will share a couple of those gems with you…

Most Valuable Verbal Lesson

The most valuable lesson I learned from my mother, that she explicitly said to me was “If you were that ____, you wouldn’t have to say it” While I always knew my mom was an excellent cook, it was during those years I realized she made the best “humble pie” ever! She never hesitated to serve me healthy portions if ever she felt like I was starting to “get gassed”. I would say things like “Ma, I’m killing this suit right now ... I look good, don’t I?!” She’d respond, “If you really looked good, you wouldn’t have to say it”. If I ever said anything that sounded remotely like I was implying “because I’m so smart”, “because I’m such a nice guy”, “because I’m ____”, she would never hesitate to reply “If you were that _____, you wouldn’t have to say it”. It took a little while, but I finally got it … my mom was a hater! (lol)

In actuality, it was during those moments I learned the valuable lesson of humility! I learned that if you do anything well enough, you’ll never have to sing your own praises. Just work hard, take pride in all that you do, and people will notice.

Most Valuable Nonverbal Lesson

Matthew 7:1 reads “Judge not, lest ye be judged”. During the years we shared those commutes, it dawned on me how much my mother personified this scripture. I realized that this was easily the most valuable non-verbal lesson I’ve ever learned from her. She never has a negative judgmental word to offer about anyone regardless of their situation. If she overhears someone saying something negative, she’s quick to respond “they made a mistake, we all do it” or “sometimes the best lessons we learn is through our mistakes” which often quiets the critics. When people make mistakes or are feeling down she is often the person they seek advice from her because they recognize that she will encourage them in a spirit of love and only wish the best for them. This is a quality that I have tried my best to embrace … and admittedly haven’t quite mastered, but don’t judge me … lol.

These are just two of the great lessons I’ve learned from her out of the thousands that have helped mold me into who I am, and for that mom, I am forever grateful!! I love you!! Happy Mother’s Day!!

Check out Greg’s at Blog -

Anthea Knight

There’s no way I can boil down what my Mom taught me into a simple set of lessons…wait a minute, that’s not what my Mom taught me. My Mom taught me to give it my best shot, so here it goes:

Most Valuable Verbal Lessons

Remember who you are and whose you are. Each time we left the house as children, my mother would utter this phrase. To me that meant remember what you’re made of and who made you.

Work as hard as you can. My mother graduated from business school, cared for two children, a husband, studied through all hours of the night, kept a clean house, and holds multiple roles in church at the same time. She gives her all to everything that she commits to, and that is not easy, but it’s doable - and it’s worth it. Because of her I continue to compete with myself. It’s a process.

Family is everything. Everyone needs a support system, preferably a strong one to get through this crazy, wonderful, outrageous rollercoaster ride we call life. I am blessed to have an amazing one!

Most Valuable Nonverbal Lessons

Stay Classy. My mother is the classiest woman that I know. As a pastor’s wife, she has been faced with countless challenges and has found a way to navigate through them all, with a smile on her face. She can put you in your place without raising her voice or using one foul word…a talent I am still perfecting

Be the example. “If you can be the role model, be it.” Sometimes this means being the bigger person. Sometimes this means paving the way. It’s easy to complain… it’s more effective to be the change you want to see. My mother is one of my role models and most of what I learned from her was through watching her actions.

Have Faith. My mother’s faith is legendary. She always tells me to “take everything to God. If he brought you to it, He’ll get you through it.”

Check our Anthea’s Blog -

Janel Martinez

Most Valuable Verbal Lessons

“One thing no one can ever take from you is your education. That’s something you’ll always have.” My Mom always encouraged my brother and I to do well in school and not be ashamed to be intelligent and confident. Academics were important in our household and my mother always encouraged us to do the best we could in school. No matter what, education is something that can’t be taken away from a person, she’d remind us.

My mother came to the U.S. at five years of age and she would remind us that life could be very different if she/we grew up in Honduras. Her reminders were humbling in a sense because although we grew up in America, received a great education and reaped the benefits of hard work, our outcome could’ve been very different had my grandparents and dad not come to this country.

Have your own money.” As long as I can remember my mother advised me to have my own stash of money for emergencies or whatever. Even when I get married, she’d say, you’ve gotta be able to support yourself. I didn’t fully understand the importance of a rainy day fund until I got older. I’m so glad she raised me to understand that I have to be able to support myself financially, with or without a boyfriend/husband.

Most Valuable Nonverbal Lessons

To be aware of my surroundings, always. I swear she knows what’s going on miles way—she just knows, lol.

Be strong and hold it together. My mother is one of the strongest people I know. Not sure how she holds it together so well but I admire that about her.

Check our Janel’s Website-

Once Again feel free to comment and share lessons from your mother

Sunday, January 26, 2014

God....Is This my Best?!?!

This weekend my personal devotion took me to the story of Cain and Abel. If you are not familiar with it, I will give you the quick version of the story. If you want to read the whole thing you can find the full story in Genesis 4:1-16. (Disclaimer: This REALLY is the short version, so if you are interested or have time read the full thing!)

Cain and Abel are brothers. Cain and Abel both bring offerings to God. God does not accept Cain’s offering but accepts Abel’s offering. Cain gets really mad and jealous and kills his brother. God confronts him about it.  Cain utters the famous line “Am I my brother’s keeper?” God punishes Cain for killing his brother.

I have heard this story many times; it is frequently used in sermons and I even had one those Bible story tapes that depicted the story of Cain and Abel with music, color, and animation. Although I was familiar with the story, this weekend it touched and blessed me in a way that I wanted to share with you all. 

Now, the Bible does not say specifically why God did not accept Cain’s sacrifice, but we can infer from what they brought to God (Cain brought some of the plants he had planted, and Abel brought the firstborn of his flock) that Cain did not bring God his best. Maybe he just put together his offering at the last minute, maybe it did not come from the heart, maybe be brought something he would not miss,  or maybe he put absolutely no thought into it. Whatever, it was God did not accept it, God was not pleased, and he let Cain know! 

Cain’s sacrifice got me thinking about the offerings I bring to God( not just the offering I place into offering plate at church). It got me thinking about the offerings I bring to him on a daily basis, my worship, my devotion, my time, my service, etc. Overall, they story just got me thinking about my  discipline when it comes to my relationship with God,  and the effort I put into things that  are a direct service to God. 

Are my sacrifices/offerings always acceptable to God?
Do I put forth enough effort?
Am I giving my best?

Truth be told, I don’t always give God my best. I don’t always give him my best effort, energy, or time. God not accepting Cain’s sacrifice reminds me that God simply just, EXPECTS and DESERVES the best. We all bring God offerings on a daily basis and it is our duty to ensure that what we bring God and what we do for God is our best. I urge you my friends to think and pray about what it is you bring to God.  Strive to make it your best!

My FAVORITE part of the story is what happens at the end!!

After God dishes out his punishment to Cain, Cain gets all upset and starts to complain. He tells God that the punishment is too hard, not fair, etc, etc, etc (really Cain?!?!). God being the compassionate God he is puts a special protection over Cain  (EVEN though he brought a bad offering AND on top of that killed his brother). God alleviates some of Cain’s anxiety about being a "wanderer on the earth" by telling Cain that no one would kill him and if someone did kill him they would be punished “sevenfold” (that’s mercy in a nutshell, if you ask me!).

I am happy I serve a God that even when I don’t bring my best, even when my actions are not acceptable in his sight, and even when I blatantly do wrong he STILL WILL  protect, love,  bless, forgive,  and comfort me. I don’t know about you, but that makes me what to bring him my best and get to know him  EVEN more! 

Have a GREAT week my Friends!  
 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer” Psalms 19:14

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Who holds YOU Accountable??!

            Most nights when I come home from what is typically a 10-12hr day, the LAST thing I want to do is sit on my computer and continue working. However, after I stuff my face, I usually have to get back to work for at least another 2 hours. To be completely honest, sometimes I choose the wake up early option (once I’m out of steam for the night, there is noooo turning back). If I have decided to stay up and get some work done, several things usually happen before I get to work. 

          Before, I sit down to get started I usually call and/or text my friend, if she has not already called and/or sent me a text.  Our texts and/or phone calls are very similar each day.  Text messages usually go a little something like this “we working tonight?!” or “what time you gonna be on?!”. Then depending on my mood, I try to talk her into joining me for some work on Skype, or I try to convince her that we should both wake up at a very disrespectful time to do work (  Sometimes she is the one doing the convincing).  Once we make a decision we get on Skype, and after 20 -30 mins of catching up on the happenings of our day, talking about something in the news, complaining about life as a grad student, laughing at something that only we would find funny, or “checking emails” (the most productive procrastination tool); we GET TO WORK! Most nights we are pretty productive. However,  when we choose the morning option I’m usually the productive one!

           Now I know this sounds like a lot, but this all happens because my friend has become my accountability partner, and I would like to think (actually I know) that I am hers.  

            I also have accountability partners in other aspects of my life as. I have found that having people to hold me accountable in not only my academic life, but in my spiritual growth, and attempt at living a healthy lifestyle has proved itself to be very beneficial.

           Now, don’t get me wrong I am not dependent nor should I every become dependent on these people for my growth. I simply just believe and recognize that as humans it is natural and extremely beneficial for us to seek support and guidance from others. It makes us stronger people when we recognize that sometimes we can’t accomplish things on our own. We are also naturally social creatures and should take advantage of our daily interactions with other.

        I encourage you all to go out and find someone to hold you accountable. Maybe you have a goal you want to accomplish, maybe you need an extra push to work out, eat healthy, change jobs, apply to school, get closer to God, or make some other major life change. Maybe you simply just  need someone to encourage you when you are not feeling your best. Whatever your reason for seeking out an accountability partner choose: 

1. Someone who is honest.
2. Someone who will and knows how to  put you in check.
3. Someone who knows how to deal with your crappy moods.
4. Someone you know will stay on your back (even if they get annoying).
5. Someone you trust. (Most important)

           Your accountability partner will be there to motivate you, check in on you, encourage you, and help you see your goals to the end. If you already have one, tell them you appreciate them!!

In end it is most important to be accountable to God and yourself!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

“Dear Heavenly Father, Please make me Content"

It’s short and to some it may be simple, however the prayer “Dear Heavenly Father, please make me content” has been the most sincere, desperate, and powerful prayer that I have ever prayed.  For weeks it was a prayer that I prayed daily; and at the time it was a cry for growth, clarity, and peace. Over the past year and a half it is a prayer that I have seen change my outlook and approach to this thing called life. 

My idea of contentment was always what I would call simple. I have spent a lot of time praying, reflecting, and talking about the concept of contentment and I have come to realize that it is not that simple at all. It is complex and requires work, the type of personal work that takes time and vulnerability.

 Contentment for me was always situational; dependent on my perception of whatever it is that was going on. It was based solely on my emotions and required nothing from me. My contentment was simply just …a reaction; a reaction to a good day, a major milestone, a good conversation, good weather,  or a nice time. Content was the word that I used to describe my happiness and/or satisfaction.  Naturally, this type of contentment felt good, and I would be totally thrown off the moment that whatever it was that was making me “content” ended or disappeared. 

I have come to realize that contentment is not and should not be situational, it requires a constant understanding that God is in control, and everything that happens in life is a part of a greater plan that we might not always see or understand. Contentment requires that we fully embrace the not so nice moments in life; the moments we feel lost, afraid, hopelessness, lonely, and/or overwhelmed. Oddly, I think it requires that we find some comfort in situations that are not at all that comfortable. It also requires that we also continue to recognize and embrace moments of immense joy and comfort.

You see, contentment is the perfect peace that God promises us, a peace that is not dependent on life circumstances. In this new year, I challenge you to pray for contentment, as you continue to work towards  fulfilling your goals and dreams. I'm sure like the years that have come before it 2014 will be filled with some highs and some lows (hopefully more highs than lows!); I urge to to own, embrace, and find contentment in every moment. 

It is my prayer that God not only continues to develop and deepen my understanding of contentment, but that he continues to develop and deepen yours!

Happy New Year my Friends!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Permanently Under Construction

There is a line in the Marvin Sapp song called “Don’t Count me out”, that I have always been in love with.  This week I spent some time reflecting on it, and thought I should share.
“God is molding me and shaping me, he’s building me and making me. A “queen” is being formed right in front of your eyes”
I have become fascinated with being a young adult, and I think it’s because in many ways it has been extremely uncomfortable! Yes, I am fascinated by discomfort. More and more I realize that most of the time God is trying to show us, teach us, or do something with us during the times that we feel most uncomfortable with what life is presenting us with.   I think I  love that line in the song so much because it reminds me that my God is soooo good, and loves me soooo much that he is taking the time to mold, shape, and build me into the Woman he created me to be!

The construction site across the street from my apartment reminds in such a powerful (and loud) way that the building, molding, and shaping process is not a fast and easy one. There are some rough days, injuries, and even tears. Throughout the building, molding, and shaping process there may be periods of time when it seems no progress has been made for weeks or even months. There actually may be circumstances that make it impossible for work to be done. The process requires time and commitment, but most importantly the construction process requires that each construction worker constantly refers to the “master plan” (blueprint) in order to bring to life what the architect has envisioned.

I would like to suggest that our lives are constantly under construction, and in order to become what our master planner has already envisioned us to be, we must be in constant communication with the one who holds the master plan!

I urge you all to remember that God is molding and shaping you into something so GREAT and BEAUTIFUL. Although sometimes the “building” process may not be so smooth, you serve a God that is more than capable and willing to hold your hand each and every step of the way. A God who had promised that the end result will be GREAT!
The Wonderful thing about God is that when he has built you into the person he created you to be, he will always be there is make minor repairs! I don’t know about you but this just makes me fall in love with God even more!!

 “…No eye has ever seen or no ear has ever heard or no mind has ever thought of the wonderful things God has made ready for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9… New Life Version


Friday, September 2, 2011

A Love I can’t Comprehend

Do you remember Giga Pets?!?!?!

I definitely do and I remember just how bad I wanted one. For those of you who have no idea what I am taking about Giga pets were these virtual handheld pets, that you could keep on your keys, on your backpack, or in your pocket. You could do so much with your Giga Pet, you could feed it, bathe it, play with it, put it to sleep, and all this other good stuff. For those of you who had one, I am sure you remember the hype.

Well, like I said I really wanted a Giga Pet. At the time when Giga Pets were really big and sold out everywhere, KFC started selling them at a cheaper price with the purchase of a meal. The advertisements for these KFC Giga pets seemed to be everywhere, and they made me want one even more. So like any kid who reallllly wants something I asked my Daddy to take me to KFC just to get a Giga pet. I was so excited the afternoon he took me to the KFC by Greenacres mall to get my first Giga pet. However, I was quickly disappointed when the lady at the counter told my dad that his bill was too big and as a result she could not sell him the Giga pet. I remember my Daddy turning to me and telling me that he had no other money, and that we had to hurry up and get home, so I would have to get my Giga pet another day (Sighhhhh). I was bummmmed, and my Daddy could clearly see that. As we exited the KFC my dad noticed a check cashing place across the street, and decided that he would quickly run in and change his money so I could get my Giga pet. We rushed across the street, just to find the longeeeeeeest line EVER. Although my Daddy was in a rush we stood in that line for almost 2 hours just so he could get some change, buy my Giga pet, and most of all make his little girl happy. I honestly will never forget that day, or what seems to be millions of other times my Father has gone out of his way just to provide for me, or make me happy. The ways in which he shows me his love! My Daddy and I have this connection, and I know his love for me is one that I won’t just find anywhere.

Today as I read my daily devotion, I was reminded ONCE again that there is someone who loves, and knows me much more than my Daddy ever can and ever will. There is a song that I have had on heavy rotation for the past couple of weeks, and the words simply go “I have a Father, He calls me His own, He’ ll never leave me, No matter where I go” The song also goes on to say that “ He knows my name, He knows my every thought, He sees each tear that falls, And hears me when I call”. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get a little emotional when I think about God’s Love and the fact that God is Love. I think it’s because God’s love is soooooo great that my human mind can’t comprehend it. I am learning day by day to find extreme comfort in a love that I possibly will never wrap my mind around. I find even more comfort in the fact that there is nothing that I can ever do that will get God to stop loving me, and showing me his love.

I hope YOU too can find sincere comfort in the fact that YOU have a Heavenly Father who knows your name. Not only does he know your name he knows and understands each and every one of your wants and needs. He rejoices when you are happy, and he sees and understands your pain. He has a plan for your life that is greater that you can ever imagine, and he is ready to bestow upon you so many blessings that he says you will not have room enough to receive them. Your heavenly Father will ALWAYS there when you call out to him to comfort, guide, and protect you. Simply Just….Because he LOVES you! And no matter what you do, your heavenly Father will NEVER stop loving you, or showing you his love.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:38-39

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