2 weeks ago

Mondays for Moms: The good kind of contagious

My babies have only been back in school for a few weeks and we’ve already had a few brushes with some sick bugs.

I’m guessing any mommas out there reading this have dealt with these typical school bugs, frequent colds and maybe even the dreaded pink eye …dun dun dun…

Kids tend to pick up sicknesses fairly easily, especially when they are little.

But what if I told you that there is also something else that is highly contagious?!

Turns out our children are watching. Every. Single. Move. We. Make.

Sure, they’re busting down the walls of institutional privacy as they watch us shower and potty, but, more significantly, they are watching how we handle grown-up conversations. How we greet strangers. How we forgive those who hurt us. How we discuss serious issues. How we comfort those who are hurting. How we address disappointing behavior. How we acknowledge successes.

And what they see can either be contagious in a good way or contagious in a bad way.

I started thinking about our “Contagious Character” and how we can be sure we are only passin’ along the “good” character bugs.

When I pull up to a green light and get behind that precious old soul who somehow missed the fact that the light turned green a minute and a half ago I have a choice. I can either lay on the horn and get frustrated, or I can choose to breathe a little deeper and count to 10 until she finally decides to press on the gas.

When someone cuts in front of me in line, I can throw a fit or I can acknowledge that moment as an opportunity to give a little grace.

When a friend disappoints me, I can gossip about the situation to my hubby over dinner, or I can choose to speak with encouraging words.

When my babies cover their faces in my lipstick again as if they are tardy for their circus clown audition, I can jump to judgment and scream in angst, or I can encourage their artistic prowess and gently suggest better contouring next go around.

The moral of the story is we have little eyes staring at us 24/7 whether we like it or not. As moms, we will all stumble at times and provide a not-so-great example.

But, if we keep our little “mini-me’s” in mind, it will begin to transform our character into the “good” kind of contagious rather than the “bad.”

Our pastor, Dr. Gary Fenton, performs the most beautiful and meaningful baby dedications. He personalizes them to each family, but more importantly, he utilizes those moments in time to truly speak to the parents and the church about their responsibilities in the child’s life.

As he gazes into the child’s eyes, he suddenly shifts his focus to the parents and softly speaks these words: “This child will occasionally listen to you, but she will always be watching you.”

Wow. What a powerful reminder!

As moms, we can spend our entire lives reading every baby book, attending every momma class and relentlessly searching the Internet for the answers to being the “Best Mom.” The truth is actually much simpler to discover than all the hassle we exert.

If we wish for our children to be kind, we must be kind to others. Even when we’re tired. Even when the cashier is making us angry. Even when someone slams on their brakes in front of us causing us to veer off the road. We can strive to teach our children that we cannot control others’ actions, we can only work on our own actions and our own reactions. It’s a great reminder for them, too, that our smiles are our greatest free gift to the world. Something as simple as a smile may be the act of kindness that makes someone else’s day.

If we wish for our children to be grateful, we must express gratitude in front of them. We can make it a habit to thank them when they clean their rooms, wash their hands and share with others. We can model for them how to thank God for their food, their clothes and their health. And we can show gratitude to daddy in front of them for all the ways he provides – even when his shoes are strewn about on the floor, the bathroom’s a mess and he was late for dinner.

If we wish for our children to be patient, we should make every effort not to rush them through life. We can give them the extra five minutes to tie their shoes properly (even when we need to be out the door). We can take a few minutes to examine the best way to respond. We should offer them the grace (even in the moments that send us straight to the insane asylum) because God has offered each of us undeserved, indescribable amounts of grace even before our children entered this world and continues to do so on a daily basis.

If we wish for our children to be truthful, we must be cautious to always tell the truth. Even little white lies are easily exposed by our super-sleuth kiddos. If we say we will take them to a friend’s house for a playdate, we can make every effort to make good on that promise. Promises to children are life-and-death. When we utter the words “I will,” “We will” or any version of “I promise,” we must remind ourselves that we have entered into a binding oral contract with our little ones.

If we wish for our children to be giving, we must be charitable with the many blessings God has given us. We can take opportunities to expose our children to the power of giving to another by taking them along for serve days in the community, making Christmas gifts for those in need or baking cookies to gift to the sweet ones in the local nursing home. Consider taking a Saturday to clean out your closets and take the clothing to a women’s shelter or church. Be part of a toy or school supply collection that benefits local children in need. Let’s teach our kids to be the change they wish to see in this world.

If we wish for our children to be responsible, we must follow through with our own commitments. If we take on a role at work, school or church, we should strive to commit ourselves to serving in the best capacity possible. This may require making sacrifices. The example we will be exhibiting in front of our children is by far worth the extra effort.

If we wish for our children to be forgiving, we must give them grace when they make mistakes. No child is perfect, no matter how much we feebly hope they might be. They will disappoint us. They will cause us to lose our patience. And they will even enrage us at times. But, if we wish for them to have the ability to forgive, we must remember to forgive even in their darkest moments, too. When we make mistakes, we can pause for a moment and apologize. By asking them for their forgiveness, we are exemplifying a humble heart.

We could go on and on – the list of cause-and-effect parenting rules is endless. But we get the idea. “The proof is in the pudding,” as we’ve heard it said so many times before. Sometimes it’s easy to let ourselves slack in terms of being kind, grateful, patient, truthful, giving, responsible and forgiving when we are only exercising those traits for ourselves. And truth be told, there is no way for any of us to be perfect all the time. Perfection is a losing game, my friends. (Thank goodness, am I right?)

Children will emulate celebrities, musicians and even Olympians popular today.  But, the humbling fact remains that the people they should be looking up to most is their very own mom and dad.

The truth is this: We can tell our children all the right things and we can teach them all the proper “rules” of life. But if they don’t see us living out what we say, we may be missing out on our greatest opportunities to groom our children for greatness.

Praying for all of us to strive to be our best selves each and every day!

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…”

Ephesians 5:15-16a

To receive encouragement and read more about thriving rather than simply surviving in motherhood, check out Erin’s book, Cheers the Diaper Years: 10 Truths for Thriving While Barely Surviving here.

Erin Brown Hollis is Yellowhammer’s lifestyle contributor and host of Yellowhammer Podcast Network’s “Cheers to That” podcast. An author, speaker, lawyer, wife and mother of two, she invites you to grab a cup as she toasts the good in life, love and motherhood. Follow Erin on Instagram ErinBrownHollis or Twitter @ErinBrownHollis

20 mins ago

Dick, Liz Cheney to headline Bradley Byrne Senate fundraiser

Former Vice President Dick Cheney and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) will be the “special guests” at a U.S. Senate campaign fundraiser for Congressman Bradley Byrne (AL-01) on November 21 in Birmingham.

The fundraiser invitation obtained by Yellowhammer News outlines that there will be a VIP reception and a general reception. The VIP reception calls for a sponsor contribution level of $5,600 per couple, while the general reception allows for either a $2,800 host level or $1,000 attend level — both amounts also per couple.

The event is being held at The Club.

Rep. Cheney is currently the chair of the House Republican Conference — the GOP caucus within the lower chamber. As such, she holds the third-highest position in Republican House leadership.

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Like her father, Liz Cheney has been critical recently of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces from Northern Syria. The Cheneys generally have found themselves at odds with Trump on foreign policy issues for years, carrying through his time in office.

Back in 2011, Trump in a since-deleted YouTube video said of former VP Cheney, “He’s very, very angry and nasty.”

“I didn’t like Cheney when he was a vice president. I don’t like him now. … Here’s a guy that did a rotten job as vice president. Nobody liked him,” Trump added.

His criticism of the George W. Bush administration has continued in recent days and weeks. Trump in one tweet emphasized, “GOING INTO THE MIDDLE EAST IS THE WORST DECISION EVER MADE IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY!”

Similarly to her split with Trump on foreign policy, Rep. Cheney has found herself in a heated spat as of late with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). The two have fundamentally different worldviews when it comes to intervention abroad and the United States’ national security strategy.

Byrne has found himself somewhat split between the Cheneys and the Trump/Paul side of things recently when it comes to foreign policy. While Byrne signed on as an original cosponsor to Rep. Cheney’s resolution to impose “very tough sanctions” on Turkey over the Syria/Kurdish conflict, the coastal Alabama congressman also voted against a resolution opposing Trump’s decision to withdraw. As Byrne outlined in a column published on Tuesday, his public stance on the issue does not fit neatly on one side of the debate or the other.

Yellowhammer News sent a request for comment to the Byrne campaign on the upcoming Cheney fundraiser, as well as posing a few specific questions.

Yellowhammer asked whether Byrne more aligns with Trump or the Cheneys on foreign policy, as well as whether Byrne would be more like a Senator Paul or Rep. Cheney on foreign policy if elected to the Senate. Rep. Cheney herself is heavily rumored to be weighing a U.S. Senate bid in Wyoming, and the three could even find themselves to be colleagues. Yellowhammer further asked the Byrne campaign if he would support a Cheney Senate bid.

Additionally, given Rep. Cheney’s high leadership perch in Congress, Yellowhammer asked, “Does this signal leadership in D.C. getting involved on behalf of the Byrne campaign?”

The request for comment and questions were met with a brief response from Byrne’s campaign press secretary.

“Think you’re making something out of nothing. See below— we’re excited about the event!” Lenze Morris wrote in an email.

Morris pointed to a Monday tweet from Trump thanking Rep. Cheney for backing him against House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, as well as an article from August detailing that both Cheneys are helping the RNC and the Trump 2020 reelection campaign with their joint fundraising efforts.

While the Byrne campaign is “excited about the event,” so too are the other leading Republican 2020 Senate campaigns.

A spokesperson for former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville’s campaign told Yellowhammer News, “Politicians are supporting a politician while the Alabama Farmers Federation is supporting Coach. He’ll take Alabama farmers over the swamp any day.”

In a statement, Secretary of State John Merrill told Yellowhammer News, “My campaign is focused on traveling around the state to all 67 counties meeting with Alabamians from all walks of life and listening to their concerns. When I am in the United States Senate, my only concern will be representing Alabama thinking and Alabama values and not the thinking and values of the Washington, D.C. elites.”

State Rep. Arnold Mooney’s (R-Indian Springs) campaign declined to comment.

Read about the latest fundraising numbers from these GOP Senate candidates, as well as former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

50 mins ago

Sewell: Trump tweet comparing impeachment inquiry to ‘lynching’ is ‘despicable’

Along with Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), count Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) as an ardent critic of President Donald Trump’s Tuesday tweet comparing the ongoing House impeachment inquiry to a “lynching” of him.

Trump tweeted, “So some day, if a Democrat becomes President and the Republicans win the House, even by a tiny margin, they can impeach the President, without due process or fairness or any legal rights. All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching. But we will WIN!”

In a Facebook post sharing a screenshot of that tweet, Sewell outlined, “From Reconstruction to the Civil Rights Movement, 3,446 African Americans were murdered by lynching.”

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“The history of lynching in our nation is one of white supremacy, humiliation and dehumanization,” she continued.

Sewell, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, represents a district that includes Selma.

“For President Trump to liken the impeachment inquiry—a lawful investigation—to the racial terror millions of African Americans endured is despicable,” she concluded. “And for the people of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, who marched, bled and died to end this type of terrorism, the sting of the President’s words is especially sharp.”

RELATED: Rep. Sewell: ‘You don’t need a quid pro quo’ for an impeachment inquiry

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce launches initiative to support local startups

The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday launched a new  initiative to help boost the River Region’s entrepreneurial  ecosystem.

The new “Work Together” business studio and coworking space located at 600 S. Court Street in Montgomery will be more than just a physical space, according to a press release.

Starting in 2020, “it will also feature dynamic programming and events focused on creating a haven for makers, creatives, small businesses, entrepreneurs, freelancers and the community to connect, innovate, create and learn.”

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The Work Together location offers flexible space for working, training and community building that can accommodate up to 100 individuals and includes WIFI and audio-visual resources. Additional smaller spaces inside Work Together provide areas for small group or one-on-one meetings, and it also offers a conference room set-up that can accommodate up to 10 people.

The chamber announced the new initiative at InnovateMGM, a half-day event celebrating  those who are innovating within traditional and non-traditional businesses, start-ups and creative ventures.

The event served as a taste of the community building that Work Together aims to provide, which goes far beyond the limits of a physical gathering space and seeks to provide meaningful programming that empowers users to achieve their greatest potential.

In a statement, Montgomery Area Chamber Chairman Willie Durham said, “Supporting and strengthening our start up and entrepreneur community is one of our biggest priorities at the Chamber.”

“Our mission is to connect people to people and people to resources and this space allows us to do just that,” he continued. “By providing the training and the space for creatives and entrepreneurs to connect, we are enhancing our ability to build community, elevate the quality of life of the region and ensure the prosperity of our business community.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Clyde Chambliss named 2019’s ‘Outstanding Public Official’ by American Society of Civil Engineers

State Senator Clyde Chambliss (R-Prattville) was recently named the 2019 Outstanding Public Official by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

ASCE’s Committee on Advancing the Profession selected Chambliss to receive the prestigious national honor for “impeccable service and dedication to the State of Alabama, as well as to the civil engineering profession and land surveying professionals.”

“Instituted in 1963, the award is made to those members of ASCE who have contributed substantially to the status of the engineering profession by meritorious public service in elective or appointive positions in civil government,” Lawren Pratt, the ASCE member who nominated Chambliss for the award, advised in a statement.

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During his tenure in the Alabama Senate, Chambliss has led the effort to reform and modernize government regulations on the engineering profession. He was first elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018.

In 2018, Chambliss helped write and pass Senate Bill 316, which required Qualification Based Selection (QBS) to be included in the State Administrative Code and added two public members to the Alabama Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors.

Brad Williams, P.E., president of the Alabama section of ASCE, praised Chambliss’ leadership.

“Senate Bill 316 led to one of the strongest QBS laws in the nation; it would not have passed without Senator Chambliss’s leadership,” Williams outlined.

Chambliss and his wife, Tara, also a civil engineer, own and operate a civil engineering firm that provides engineering services to small towns, water systems and developers in central Alabama.

“Senator Chambliss’ knowledge of our profession as a practicing Professional Engineer was instrumental in how he was able to lead meetings, mediate between parties of differing interests, and educate legislative members on the importance of QBS,” Williams added.

In accepting the award, Chambliss said that he appreciated the collaboration between legislators and professionals in the engineering field that led to the passage of SB316.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by my peers and colleagues with this award. Passage of SB316 was truly a group effort, and I appreciate the work of my engineer and surveyor peers in the development of such a great piece of legislation. I also want to thank my legislative colleagues for their support in voting for the bill, and Governor Ivey for signing it into law,” Chambliss said.

Chambliss was recently named as a member of the 2019 Yellowhammer Power & Influence 40.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

Byrne: How do you solve a problem like Syria?

Recent developments in Syria highlight the need for the United States to revisit its broader Middle Eastern policy.

Early last week, I joined a small meeting of House Republicans for an update on Syria from Secretary of Defense Mark Esper where he discussed a phone call from President Erdogan of Turkey to President Trump.

During that call, Erdogan notified President Trump that after years of waiting at the Syrian border, Turkish troops would finally cross over. He assured that Turkey was not coming after our troops but targeting certain Kurdish factions they consider terrorists. He gave President Trump 48 hours to relocate the two dozen or so American troops stationed on the border.

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President Trump was faced with a difficult decision. Ultimately, he decided to remove American servicemembers from harm’s way to prevent a full-blown conflict with Turkey.

Turkey’s incursion into Syria is wrong and very troubling. Erdogan should never treat our president and our country the way he did on the phone call. There will be serious consequences for his behavior.

I support seeking methods of leverage with Turkey that do not endanger our troops.

After President Trump proposed harsh economic sanctions, the administration negotiated a cease-fire with Turkey. The cease-fire has been shaky at best, but it probably prevented many more deaths in the region.

This is happening in the context of a greater strategic problem in the Middle East. For at least a decade, we’ve lacked a well-defined mission. What are our interests in the Middle East? What do we do to pursue and protect those interests?

Since coming to Congress and serving on the House Armed Services Committee, I have not seen a strategic, conventional interest for the U.S. in Syria, other than destroying the ISIS caliphate.

To be sure, Kurdish forces were the largest part of the successful campaign against the caliphate, and we need to stand by them as best we can under these challenging circumstances.

But Syria is a failed state. It is bewildering the number of groups in some form of combat. With so many factions, it is often difficult to know who the good guys are. Problems between the Turks and Kurds will persist for generations, but this dispute is one of many combustible problems in the Middle East today. Just weeks ago, Iran attacked our Saudi Arabian ally.

We need to work with our allies to determine our strategic goals and how to reach them. We should continue providing assistance to our allies, including the Kurds, but progress requires buy-in from all of our allies in the region.

Turkey, as a NATO member, does currently play a role in supporting our alliance goals. Turkey is the home of an important U.S. airbase and many other critical NATO assets including U.S. nuclear weapons.

However, Turkey’s actions cast serious doubts on whether they will honor their NATO commitments going forward, and frank discussions between Trump, Erdogan and other NATO leaders are needed.

We must be tough with Turkey. I still believe strong sanctions to weaken and punish Turkey are needed, and I signed on as an original cosponsor to Liz Cheney’s resolution to impose very tough sanctions.

After the Turkish incursion, I was disappointed that the House hastily put forward a resolution condemning President Trump’s actions without knowing the full facts. The very next day, I received a classified briefing shedding more light on his tough decision. I think everyone in Congress should have access to these classified briefings to gain a fuller understanding of what happened.

Instead of attacking the president, we need to have sincere bipartisan conversations and propose concrete solutions for Syria and the Middle East. On critical national security issues, we must put America first.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican from Fairhope. He is a 2020 candidate for the U.S. Senate.