Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sometimes the Message is Serious

What does your mind think when you hear of a woman whose daughter was shot, execution style in the head? What do you think when you hear that this daughter was in her early 20's and had finally made the decision to leave her abusive boyfriend? What in the world is my spirit supposed to do when I think that a woman was planning to leave tomorrow, Friday. Her family had helped her pack her things last weekend.

But, on Wednesday a man with evil intentions decided that he was not going to let her go. On Wednesday, the years of threats and violence culminated in a murder/suicide.

There are those moments in life when your spirit just is still. It feels like your heart has stopped, but you are still breathing. That is how I felt when I heard the tragic story above. A local friend of one of my close friends lost her daughter in an unspeakable tragedy. And seeing the aftermath has been terrible.

Of course, there are no words for the family. No words to ever help with the regret that is pulsing through their lives.

But there are words for the women and men I know who are raising daughters.
No matter how old or young your girl is. She MUST know that it is never OK, for a boyfriend, fiance, husband etc., it is never OK for that boy or man to verbally, physically or mentally abuse her. EVER. It is black and white. There are no gray areas. It is as serious as life and death.

It's a slippery slope, the tumble into an abusive relationship. It's a back and forth struggle and there are always lives on the line. And our girls, who today are in pigtails and tomorrow will be in prom dresses. Our girls are strong but fragile, smart, but also foolish. And I know that sweet talking, and romance, and misguided definitions of love, cover up a multitude of hurt and harm.

I think families have to be explicit. There has to be a point where you sit your girl down, while she is still a girl and look her in the eyes. And that moment has to be real and poingnent and loving. And you HAVE to get across a message. Maybe it is this message.
 "Because you are amazing, and because we love you so much, we need you to love yourself. We need you to value yourself so much that you won't accept the lie that says that it's OK for a man to yell at you, and talk to you like scum, and hit you. The lie that whispers that you can "fix" him and that your love will heal him. Because we have lived our lives as your parents, trying to show you daily that love can be hard but it is worth it. But that even though love is hard, it is NEVER violent! There is never a reason for a man to put his hands on you with violent intent. And you know what, we need to back it up a bit. Because often before the hit or punch comes the words. There is never a reason for a man to curse you, or threaten you, or put you down. Don't be fooled my girl, there is no real love where these things exist. And if for some reason you are ever confused, if you are torn between what your heart and your head is telling you to do. Come talk to us. PLEASE, and there will be no judgements, but instead there will be understanding, and our real love that will illuminate the shadows of what he is saying and doing."

The statistics are real. Our friends and neighbors and co-workers and maybe ourselves are dealing with abuse. It happens much more often than you think. And in my life, this week just reminded me to keep on investing in our children. It reminded me to continue to show true love and acceptance to my students. Because the more of that in their lives, the less confusion they will have when the lies try to sneak up on them. I want my kiddies to grow up in affirming relationships, so that when the false comes by, they can compare it to what they know and choose what is real. Because in the end, as much as we love them and want to protect will be their choice and we will have to trust the people that they have become.

Need help or more information. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is one place to start.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Catching Up

I can admit that I have missed blogging. Really, I have missed quiet moments of reflection. And typing and then retyping thoughts and ideas about this life of mine.

Because I hold myself to absolutly no standard of how often I update, I don't feel any stress at all to write just to take up space. I figure the Internet is full of that already.

But this little spot has been my escape hatch. It has seen me at 25 and now at 28. It has gone through life with me. And it is my reminder of how good things always turn out.

Life is going along for yours truly. Working and playing all combined to make me hyper-aware that November is almost here. 2013 you have been quite a year. I'm glad I didn't give up on you. I am glad you came along just in time to help me grow up more and more.

My age group is still settling down, and moving to grand adventures. They are still having babies, and looking for relationships, and getting hitched. And me? I am still here, kinda in a place of working and waiting. Not "there" yet by any means, but also really excited about the future.

My mama read a letter to me the other day. It was from 10 years ago! A freshman Sabrina wrote it as she sat back and completely looked into her future and claimed all of the things that she wanted. She was unstoppable that girl. And surprisingly, that is what my future brother-in-law always calls me. Unstoppable Brina (and I love him for that).The letter is classic Sabrina. In the end, we actually don't change that much in life, and that is surprising. Things have matured, but at my core, that 18 year old, she would recognize me and smile:)

Anyway in that letter I boldly declared that I LOVED my life at Florida State. I also had the realization that I wanted to be a School Counselor, I was 18 people. Out of the mouths of babes and all that. I questioned my parents about traveling abroad. A dream that became a reality a few years later.

That letter got me thinking that soon I am going to write a letter again. And if I live long enough, go back at 38 and see what 28 year old Sabrina was talking about. Should be interesting!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


                                                                           from here

Aiken, SC; Tampa, FL; Macon & Atlanta, GA; Jekyll Island GA & Jax, FL; Tallahassee, FL; Orlando, FL; AND then back to Jax, FL for the wedding.

Yep, the list above encompasses the next 7 weekends of my life. When this time of travel is over I will be sitting pretty, ready to celebrate a quiet Christmas with my parents. Then ring in a brand New Year.

These weekends all have the common thread, of me, spending time with those people that I love. These weekends are me, going to, and continuing to invest in the friends and family who have supported me through times both fun and frustrating.

I'm blessed to have a full life. I'm grateful that these travels will reunite me with people who are always in my prayers. I am at peace because these weekends are abundant blessings. And I will treat them that way.

I won't take safe travels for granted.
I will take pictures of smiles and sunsets on the beach.

I will try to put my phone away.
I will pack books and my journal, so that I can read and be happy.

I won't focus on what has been lost or limited this year, as far as friendships are concerned.
I will make it known how thankful I am for the people who continue to stick with me, and allow me to stick with them.

I won't waste these good times complaining of "grown-up" things.
I will laugh really hard, and I will gasp in surprise, and I will be oh so content to be with my people.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

THE Question that follows a Sister's Engagement

It is a new phenomenon that the Stewart 4 have noticed recently.

Ever since Melanie said YES to Lee. A new question has entered our lives. Last night we all smiled about it together.

All of a sudden, it seems like everyone is wanting to know about me! Am I dating anyone? Is the family ready for me to get married next? The list goes on and on. And the questions are coming from everyone.

It makes me chuckle of course. The questions imply that I have had a ton of date-able options and that I just have been turning down relationships right and left.

The truth is, that once we get one Stewart sister down the aisle. Then maybe, if the person and timing is right, I will put more energy and attention on dating and marriage and family life.

I could write an essay on why I am single. Moving around every few years, being distracted by work and travel, not being aware until the moment had passed that someone even was interested. Whichever the case, I would tell anyone that right now I have never been in love. And I don't think I have met my guy. I would tell everyone to hold on a while and let life just happen:)

Of course people are just curious. Does this older sister feel any increased pressure to be in a relationship? Just a smidge, not from my amazing parents, who raised me with an independent streak and a desire to be loved, valued, and respected wholeheartedly. The future bride, she has been circling the dating wagons lately. Popping in with random questions about my future. I tell her oh so nicely (not) to mind her own business. But, I know that she just wants me to share in all of her happiness in this new stage of life. I was a late bloomer, so in my own time I think I will catch up. For once, the older will be behind the younger.  And it will be something brand new for both of us.

I guess I would just fill everyone in on a secret that I have known since I was about in 11th grade. Even back in high school I had this strong feeling. As I watched couples get together and break up and figure out the heartbreak and joy. I knew that in my spirit I was never going to be that girl who dated a lot. I don't need to personally sample all the selections on the menu to make my choice:) I have been meeting people and learning my likes and dislikes. I have watched carefully the faithful and committed relationships of those exemplary people in my life. I have a gut feeling that the first person I really date, will be the person I marry. I just can't see sharing so much of myself with someone, and not wanting to enter into married life with them. I don't have any timelines or realistic prospects currently. And I am thankful for all of the loving people who just want what is best for me. But, just know this. I am not hiding anything:) If there is ever anything to share, you can bet in my excitement, I might even be that person to over share. Right now my life is full and I'm feeling blessed everyday to have everything that I do. Change is always possible on every horizon. I have a faithful hope in what is yet to come.