Sharpen Your Blade

Sharpen Your Blade

I was dressing Titus (my two-year old) for church yesterday.  I had the phone on my shoulder with my head tilted while maintaining a conversation with my father.  Titus, being who he is, would not stop moving as he adamantly exclaimed, “I don’t like this shirt!”  My dad busted out in laughter as I continued to wrestle Titus.  I told my dad, “Titus is so stubborn!”

Titus responded, “I IS SO STUBBORN!”

A routine Sunday morning suddenly turned into a “truth moment.”  Titus repeated exactly what I said to him; it didn’t matter that he was grammatically incorrect.  He listened to what I said and he repeated it.  I thought about the profound influence I have over his life as his mother and the influences others will no doubt have over him someday.  (Side note, he heard someone says “boobs” and now that is his favorite word to describe female anatomy.  The influence is REAL!)

Looking at my life I have come to realize that although I’m 22 (okay, 30ish-ish) I have to be watchful over who I allow in my life and the influence they have.  Everyone I speak with doesn’t belong at my dinner table.  Likewise, everyone I disagree with isn’t an enemy.  The Bible is clear in Proverbs 27:17 “iron sharpens iron.”  When iron meets, the blades sharpen one another.  Have you ever seen a chef sharpen her knife on a wooden chopping board?  Nope; it would dull the knife and damage the wood!  This is the same for us.  We have to be prayerful and watch the circle we run with.  We should be sharpening one another and challenging one another to do better and to reach new heights.  Some of us would benefit from loving people from a distance and surrounding ourselves with iron, not wood.

Watch for complacent friends who never push themselves or have any goals.  Be on the lookout for gossiping friends, for you just may be the topic of discussion when you turn your back.  Keep an eye out for people who never celebrate your accomplishments or people who only come around when they need something.  Pay close attention to these people because if you stay around them long enough they may have a negative influence over your life before you realize.

People frequently do “social media cleaning” where they delete friends on their pages.  I challenge us all to evaluate the relationships in our lives and the influence they may have.

It’s time to sharpen our blades.

Don’t Be a Bench-er!

Don’t Be a Bench-er!

Have you ever been on a merry-go-round and seen the people who sit on the bench? You know, there are the benches and then there are the horses that go up and down. The “benchers” like to sit still and go around and around without movement. The “benchers” puzzle me…

Over the weekend, I tried multiple times to clean my house. Now, I am able to keep the downstairs clean because if I have company that’s where people will go. The upstairs, however, resembles an A&E show that will remain unnamed. After multiple attempts, I stopped trying to clean the house; instead I chose to turn my attention back onto my kids. We left the house and picked up a friend and we headed to the mall for the evening. I had a great time hanging out at the mall laughing and talking and chasing after my son. When I returned home, guess what? THE UPSTAIRS WAS STILL A MESS! Wait a minute; NO ONE CLEANED UP MY HOUSE WHILE I WAS GONE?! Nope, they didn’t and I’m fine with that. I’m okay with the decision I made to abandon ship and enjoy the evening with a friend and Two Live Crew (my nickname for my kids).

What is the takeaway from this? Well, for those of you who are neat freaks, your takeaway may be that my priorities are out of sync and that I need to go home and straighten up my house. In fact, I’m 100% positive that if my mother reads this she will shake her head. But, for those who juggle a career, volunteering, kids, a spouse, single life, pets, etc. (yep, that’s pretty much everyone), I hope you realize one thing. LIFE IS NOT PROMISED! I wasn’t guaranteed a wakeup call from God this morning, on THIS side of Earth and if I woke up in Heaven this morning I’m pretty sure God wasn’t going to drill me on the cleanliness of my bedroom. You have one time and that’s it; no do overs! For me, the mall was a choice I made to enjoy Saturday. I have a friend who packed up and along with her son, moved to Abu Dhabi. I have a friend who juggles work, a husband, kids and a career ALL while pursuing her PhD. I have a friend who is working night and day to launch her business. I have friend who chooses to the hit the gym early in the morning to reach her goals. I have a friend who is thinking about leaving behind everything she has grown to love and know, to follow her husband to Bahrain for a few years. I have a friend who walked away from her comfortable job with benefits to pursue her passion in the restaurant industry. I have a friend who pursued the military which meant leaving her beautiful kids for a few weeks for basic training. I have a friend who after experiencing heartbreak, she still uses the hashtag, #LivLyfe, and she does EVERY moment she gets!

For me, it was simply going to the mall on a Saturday. For others, it is something larger, although it doesn’t have to be. The point is, get off the bench and do something! Ask God for direction and then get up and MOVE! Stop sitting on the bench and playing it safe. Don’t do what “you’re supposed to do” and how society tells you to do it and just LIVE as you’re called to live. No, we won’t all have grandiose stories; it just may be breaking away from the norm for a few moments. Whatever it is, just do it!! You actually may discover that the horse is pretty fun!

#LivLyfe

“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.  This also I saw, is from the hand of God.” –Ecclesiastes 2:24

Fragrance

Fragrance

I spend a lot of time talking about Titus, because honestly, a 2-year old is a lot more interesting than an infant (at times). However, if you have checked out my “About” page you will see that we have a baby girl; Addison, who will be 11 months this week. Like her brother she is incredibly awesome and she makes my heart jump.

So, this entry will be short and sweet- hey, that is exactly how I would describe Addison… short and sweet! Okay, how many of you can recall the sweet scent of new baby smell?  You know that fresh, powdery scent that comes from a newborn baby? I have a friend who says she loves smelling baby’s necks because they smell so sweet and this is totally true! Like my friend, I love smelling newborn babies and I even love smelling their little clothes. Sadly, although Addison still smells good, she has lost that fresh, newborn smell (but please do not think I don’t bathe her because I use Shea Moisture and I promise she still smells delightful)! LOL…  Every day that Addison is on Earth, she loses her fresh scent that naturally came when she was born.

Now, another captivating scent I absolutely love… is the scent of my man; my adoring husband! He is now deployed. I remember coming home and laying down in the bed about an hour after he left for his deployment and guess what? I could smell him! His cologne was still on his pillow. Since that day, the linger of his scent faded and the sheets have been washed. So long for that…

For those of us who profess to be Christians, what do we smell like? Has the sweet fragrance of Christ faded like Addison’s newborn baby scent? Can our fragrance be washed away like the pillowcase my husband laid on? What type of lasting fragrance do we leave at our jobs, in the grocery store or in our neighborhoods? What type of scent comes from what we even post on Facebook or other forms of social media? Do people smell our “body stench” (hypothetically speaking) or do they smell the sweet fragrance of Christ? If they smell Christ, it’s a lasting fragrance they won’t forget.

I have days where my “body stench” is so foul that it’s embarrassing. How does my stench surface? I have days where I fuss at traffic, lose patience with my children and think horrible thoughts about people. Beyond these actions, there are days when I spend more time on Facebook and neglect time with the Lord. There are days my Bible pages are crisp because I haven’t opened the Word. There are days when I don’t open my mouth to share how awesome God is with a single soul I encounter. I STINK on those days! By the way, please let me know when I stink; as Christians we need to be called out!

May we all be aware of how we smell and may we leave an unforgettable sweet scent wherever we go.

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” 2 Corinthians 2:15

The Elephant

The Elephant

“That not right, Mommy!  Do it ‘gin!”  After about a dozen tries, I was unable to master the elephant sound. Sure, I had the bird, the monkey, the tiger, the dog and even the cow but my two-year old was not pleased with my rendition of an elephant. In an attempt to better understand the sound this majestic animal makes, I ‘Google’d’ it so both of us could hear. However, this only made matters worse as Titus was able to hear just how awful my attempts were at making “elephant noises.” “No, no!  Do it ‘gin!” Towards the end of my attempts and now throbbing headache, I began screaming thinking that was the closest I would get to sounding like an elephant. Titus was still utterly displeased with my efforts and walked away.

I’m thankful that elephants are not on Old MacDonald’s farm because no matter how hard I try, I’m unable to replicate their sound. And, that’s okay! Do you remember Michael Leslie Winslow who played Larvelle Jones in Police Academy? Actor Michael Leslie Winslow is dubbed “the man with 10,000 noises.”  Winslow is able to replicate countless numbers of voices and sounds using his natural voice; raw talent at its best. And, then there’s me; Atiya Nathan dubbed the “the mom with maybe 5 to 8 noises” which are vaguely recognizable.

Where am I going with this?  I’m not great at making animal noises but I’m pretty decent at other things!  Actually, animal noises will probably never be what I’m known for! Cooking, encouraging, writing, talking (especially talking)… all of those are up my alley. We live in a society that tells us if we try something we must be able to master it but if not, try, try again!  However, that’s just not everyone’s reality and nor should it be. Not to mention when we throw in that green-eyed monster into the equation, Mr. Jealously, things go from bad to worse! Have you ever worked with that person who seems to master everything they put their hands on or that one person who is a super achiever? It’s so easy to look at their lives and wonder why you don’t function at the same level. The truth is we should bloom where we are planted. You will excel at what you’re purposed to excel in and “they” will do the same. Don’t beat yourself up over something that you can’t seem to master or something that you’re not even passionate about in the first place! Now I’m not saying to be a bum and not try new things but what I am saying is that it’s okay if you’re not a natural at something and it’s definitely ok if you never reach mastery levels in a particular skillset.

So, I will give this elephant noise one more try… err-wait a minute, no I’m not and that’s ok! I’m going to stick with the barn yard animals because I have those down pretty well and I will cook Titus the BEST chicken nuggets he has ever tried. Hey, maybe I will try a zebra sound later on. Wait a minute; does anyone know what sound they make?

In the end make the most of where you are and the skillset you have!

There is Poop on My Finger…

There is Poop on My Finger…

“Momma, there is poop on my finger.”  Yes, that’s what he said.  My darling 2 year old stood behind me as I was in the middle of a conversation and told me there was poop on his finger.  Yep!  During last week’s snow storm in Virginia a young man came by and offered to shovel the snow.  Titus, unknown to me, stuck his finger in his pull-up and it emerged with poop.  Of course, being 2 years old, you don’t wait until your mother is finished talking to someone to make her aware of the poop.  Nope!  You interrupt her and proudly announce, “There is poop on my finger!”  I turned around and Titus stood behind me in a T-shirt and pull-up, (his outfit of choice) with his finger pointed towards me.  The young man laughed and told me he could come back.  “Titus!  What did you do (I’ve learned that mom’s ask ridiculous questions to their kids)?  He smiled and proudly announced again, “There’s poop on my finger!”  Needless to say, I cleaned him up and his finger is fresh again…for the moment.  He’s actually in his room right now, so he may have poop on his finger again; one can never tell.

Why am I grossing you out about poop?  Well, it dawned on me; the Bible says we should approach the throne with child-like faith.  Okay, so how many times do people tell you what the Bible says and they misquote or can’t tell you where the scripture comes from?  So, let me be more specific, Matthew 18:3 reads “And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’”  I probably shouldn’t type poop in the same sentence as a Bible verse but this is my reality for the moment.

Children have a way of coming to you and believing without doubt that you will help them.  Titus believed I would stop what I was doing to address his need.  If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have come to me.   I neglect time with dear friends because at times I discredit the value of leaning on others.  I figure my friends are too busy so I try to tackle things on my own instead of asking for a listening ear to vent, a shoulder to cry on or a good laugh or reasoning.  Even more crucial, I forego prayer time and try to handle things on my own instead of approaching God and asking for help.

The moral of the story: When you have poop on your finger, just say something!  It’s almost like we would rather walk around in our stinky mess than to ask God for help. Watch God lead you through difficult situations when you fully lean on Him and trust Him with childlike faith.  Watch God use the people in your life to walk through the dark times with you.  You’re never alone. Believe me when I say that, YOU’RE NEVER ALONE!

Just speak up and “get the poop off your finger!”

It’s Ok to Tip Toe

It’s Ok to Tip Toe

Did I tell you about the time my two-year old son searched high and low for my grandmother’s hat and cane?  Sounds strange, huh?  Yep, he decided he wanted to be a 91-year old woman for the evening.  After relentlessly searching he found one of her hats and her cane and he proudly walked around my parent’s house interchangeably using the cane as a walking stick and as a microphone.

I have come to realize over the past two years that God naturally endows children with a particular skill set; the ability to teach life lessons in even the oddest moments.  Day in and day out my two-year old and nine month old both teach me and even remind me of past lessons.  So, I decided to do what any decent mother in 2017 would do with these lessons…BLOG!  I figure I will have at least two committed readers in let’s say 15 years; my kids.  So, by my calculation if I continue writing these entries my kids will have “toilet reading” to last them a lifetime.  (I can’t be the only person who takes a magazine, book or even junk mail in the bathroom).

For the handful of you who have stumbled upon this, I’m a 35 year old military wife and mother of two.  I spend my days as a school social worker in Virginia and my evenings as the mother of Titus (my two-year old son) and Addison (my 9 month old daughter).  There is nothing spectacular about my life other than I enjoy living it and learning along the way, which reminds me…my 91-year old son, I mean 2-year old…  I forgot to finish my thought (blame that on sleep deprivation)…

Well, as I watched my son search for the hat and cane, I thought about the many times I have given up on ideas or even given up on staying in touch with people for no real reason other than the effort it took to do so.  My son, however, looked in every location in the house until he found what he was looking for; he even stood on his tippy toes to reach the hat.  My prayer for 2017 is that I, too, will relentlessly pursue and achieve my goals.  I pray that when things get tough I don’t abandon ship, instead “tippy toe” my way until I reach the goal.  This is my prayer for you too!  May God reveal your next goal to you and give you the wisdom to know that it may require some work and dedication to achieve.

Stay in prayer and stay on your “tippy toes!”