Friday, December 23, 2011

Blessings - Giveaway (CLOSED)


It is with great excitement and hesitancy that I'm doing my first giveaway.

From a child, I've been blessed by the daily devotionals in Our Daily Bread.

Discovery House has offered one  reader a copy of  Our Daily Bread 2012 Devotional Collection. This daily devotional with selected readings encourages the reader to spend time with God each day - praying, reading the Bible, and reflecting on how His Word applies to everyday life. It is small and elegant enough to be carried with you on a daily basis.

Basic giveaway information: 


  1. Follow this blog (optional) and 
  2. Leave a comment telling me how you would use this (required); be sure the comment includes your email address.

I will pick a winner using random.org on December 31, 2011, so please get your entries in before then. Winner will be notified and have 48 hours to respond to the e-mail or another winner will be chosen.

I know the winner will absolutely enjoy this gift throughout the year.


The winner of the giveaway is Tina Shoulders.  Thanks to all who stopped by, it's much appreciated.
Have a wonderful New Year when it comes.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Secret Santa Made Me Smile

THANK YOU!


I think I know who it is - Mrs. TDJ!!!





Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Day or Two in My Life...

For the past week I've dealt with the flu - I don't know if that what it is, but I seem to have all the symptoms.  On Thursday I went to the doctor as it seems I was getting worse, not better. He prescribed a very strong cough medicine and some eye drops for my eyes.  The medicine was supposed to knock me out, but for whatever reason, I could not sleep. By Thursday, everyone was home from college and I'm officially sick.
Thursday night, we sat and talked, reminisced and prayed. It's great to see children maturing.

During this sickness, I've been trying to work from home - some days were better than others.
On Friday in the middle of the day, I heard my doorbell ring and then quick footsteps. By the time I answer the door, my neighbor is running away in a state of panic. She yells out my name and said she thought someone was trying to break in to her house as she was entering, so she grabs me to come home with her. When I answered the door, I had no shoes on and I still had on my pajamas. I go outside with her, and she is beyond panicked.  We're all standing around because everyone is afraid to go in the house.  I call my husband, who is also home - because I know he's not afraid.  He's not afraid of most things. He was on a very important call for work that just ended.  So he rushes over.  He goes in the house, with my neighbor and I stay outside, keeping an eye out for what, I'm not sure.  In the midst of all this excitement, I remember that the little one is home (now by herself), so I run back home, put on shoes and tell her what's going on.  It turns out that it was a false alarm, but I was glad that she remembered that we were neighbors at this pivotal time. I didn't even know that she knew how to pronounce my name!

The day continues uneventfully and finally on Friday night, the narcotic qualities of the cough medicine kick in.  I sleep until 11:00 am on Saturday, which is unheard of for me.  I wake up to the smells of big breakfast - that's what the children like to do when they come home - pancakes, hash brown, bacon and eggs.  Someone makes me a cup of tea and back to bed I go.

As I'm preparing to go back to sleep my husband says - can I come to the front to talk, it's good news.  My son, home from college announces that he's getting baptized on Sunday.  Just like that.  I don't have too much to add to the conversation, so I go back to bed.

I have a conversation with a friend, and said something that may have offended.  I could blame the medicine but I won't.  Recognizing, what I did, I apologized.  I had a long conversation with another friend, and while on the phone an older friend from the church I used to attend calls just to bless me.  She wanted to bless me with good health and to let me know that she prays for me and my family regularly.  I couldn't believe it.  She couldn't believe I answered the phone. She called it a Christmas Miracle!

At some point I decided to watch my wedding video from 22 years ago.  It still makes me smile in a good way - but the fashions - why did I do that to my bridesmaids??? All the children commented that my husband looks completely different.

My parents are coming in next week, and while attempting to fall asleep (again) the phone rings.  It is now 11:00 pm. My brother is  calling to tell me about their itinerary and plans for the trip. And then we get to talking about relationships and marriages - in particular our parent's marriage. His observation is that he thinks my mom is not often recognized for all the work she does, in particular by my dad.

I eventually went to sleep, so I could wake up for the baptism today. Of course, we were running late. And as we're running late, my husband tells me how he's glad and happy that he married me! I thought it ironic, since he was not aware of my conversation with my brother.

We get to church in time for the sermon, my son walks forward to prepare to be baptized, and the service ends with his baptism. Of course they were tears in my eyes. Happy tears.

And that's why our family motto is:  Never a Dull Moment!!!

The tree will go up and the house will be decorated, but more importantly we're all together at home for Christmas. Home is wherever we all are.

Are you enjoying the holiday season? What's your family motto?




Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Songs - The 12 Days of Christmas


I've got the Christmas spirit but my body is fighting the flu. Who wants to be sick at Christmas? I don't.
So while I'm recuperating, here's something I learned today while surfing the net, thanks to my blog friend Kathy at A Gentle Answer Ministries.


The twelve days of Christmas are the twelve days between Christmas Day, Dec. 25th, the birth of Jesus, and the Epiphany, Jan. 6th, the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Magi (Wise Men) and the revelation of Christ as the light of the world.

The Christmas song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" may sound silly and contrived to many of us. But it actually had its origins in religious symbolism - and with a serious purpose.

It dates from a time of religious persecution. The song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas," was written as a kind of secret catechism that could sing in public without fear of arrest - a learning or memory aid to Christians in fact.

The song can be taken at two levels of interpretation - the surface meaning, or the hidden meaning known only to the Christians involved. Each element is a code word for a religious truth.

  1. The partridge in a pear tree is Jesus.
  2. The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments.
  3. Three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
  4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
  5. The five gold rings recall the Hebrew Torah (Law), or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
  6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
  7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight Beatitudes.
  9. Nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit.
  10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
  11. Eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful Apostles.
  12. Twelve drummers drumming symbolize the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostles Creed.


If you think Jesus being symbolized as a partridge in a pear tree sounds blasphemous, remember: "Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How often would I have sheltered thee under my wings, as a hen does her chicks, but thou wouldst not have it so." (Luke 13:34 and Matthew 23:34) The "true love" in the song refers to God Himself.
The "me" receiving the gifts is every Christian.
So that "silly" song we sing at Christmas time has more meaning than we thought.

Did you know this?

I'll be back soon.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Maranatha


I had the good fortune of being part of an active youth group.  Unlike many young people today, I actually enjoyed going to church.  The Youth Group was counter cultural - if you didn't fit in with the world, no worries, you definitely fit in here and to a young person that is comforting. This group ranged in age from 13 - 35.  They were young adults who were successful in their lives, for the younger folks to look up to. One year, under the leadership of one of our members, a musical production was created called Maranatha. Maranatha means -  the Lord is coming. It was often a form of greeting in the early church.

The musical production was about Jesus, what He did, how He impacted lives and how He's coming again.
It was set in a modern day setting so that anyone could relate to it.
The music was hip and happening yet not taking away from the message, the sets were realistic (as we had some artists in our youth group) and the acting was superb. It was performed at a local theater for 2 nights and both nights to a packed house. This was approximately 20 years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday.
My description may not do it justice as I think it was something that everyone should have seen.

I distinctly remember this poem being quoted by a group of guys during the play set to  a rhythmic musical background.

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village
The child of a peasant woman
He grew up in another obscure village
Where he worked in a carpenter shop
Until he was thirty

He never wrote a book
He never held an office
He never went to college
He never visited a big city
He never travelled more than two hundred miles
From the place where he was born
He did none of the things
Usually associated with greatness
He had no credentials but himself

He was only thirty three

His friends ran away
One of them denied him
He was turned over to his enemies
And went through the mockery of a trial
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing
The only property he had on earth

When he was dead
He was laid in a borrowed grave
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race
And the leader of mankind's progress
All the armies that have ever marched
All the navies that have ever sailed
All the parliaments that have ever sat
All the kings that ever reigned put together
Have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life


Dr James Allan © 1926.

It impacted me then and it impacts me now. Though many wish that Jesus did not exist there is no denying His existence. This is one of the hopeful messages of Christmas - that Christ came as a babe in a manger but He's returning as a King!

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20

Maranatha!

Have you ever heard of Maranatha? Does your church do anything special for Christmas? Does your church have an active youth group?


Monday, December 5, 2011

Marinating in Family History

This weekend I went home to attend my uncle's funeral. His wife passed during the summer and on Thanksgiving Day he went to heaven to meet her. He had a debilitating strain of Alzheimers and it was often uncomfortable to see his demise.

At this stage of the game, funerals and weddings are the only times we get together and of late it seems to be more funerals than anything else.  I told my younger cousins that it's time for some weddings and baby showers - hopefully they get the hint.

I learned a lot about my uncle this weekend; I learned that:

  • He was a bodybuilder in his youth
  • He was a  dapper dresser
  • He eloped with his wife of 56 years
  • He had a secret thanksgiving recipe for stuffing
  • He had a bike that he treated like a Cadillac
  • He really loved the Lord and took his Christian walk seriously
  • He sometimes preached at his church


During the burial, I had a chance to sit in my mother's house and think about my life and the people I came from.

A picture of my brother for whom this blog is named

My parents on their wedding day



Our 1st Photo shoot (yours truly is somewhere in there) - that's a picture of my brother and the three girls.

The family photo circa 1983
My brother had recently taken a photography course and had all of his equipment.  I remember him putting the camera on the tripod, telling us all to smile and rushing back over so we would all be in the picture.  We were all excited about his new hobby!

Writing this and thinking about him makes me sad. We were a large loud family, and looking back the good times outweigh the bad.

Ending on a happier note, Saturday evening my sister and I went in to Manhattan to see the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Plaza.

As a Christian, though I'm sad at the passing of family, if they were believers I know that one day I will be reunited with them in Heaven.



Believers Who Have Died
 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18


Are you missing someone this Christmas? Are you cherishing the family you do have, imperfections and all?


Secret Santa Smiles!


One of the many reasons I started blogging was because I was lonely. I had moved from one coast to the other and it just seemed like it took a long time to meet new friends and make new meaningful friendships. In the interim, I discovered blogging and thought I'd blog and meet blogfriends!  I have met some wonderful bloggers in blogworld and this year for the for the first time ever I'm participating in a Secret Santa via the blogworld.

I participated on a hunch thinking it would be a lot of fun - we shall see.

Part of my instructions is to blog and give my SS some hints about me.

Well, if you read this blog, you can get a sense of who I am:

  • I'm a Christian who loves to study the Bible and apply to it my life (hope that doesn't scare you off!)
  • I'm a wife and mother
  • I love my children, love my husband, and love life.
  • I love to laugh
  • I love to read
  • and...I have a thing for shoes!!!


Honestly, I'm not picky and I'm just grateful that someone would take a moment to remember me in the form of a gift.

For the person I've selected, I've read your blog and think I know exactly what to get!!!

Ho hO HO!!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Experience and Expertise



My husband and I are having the most interesting conversations of late, which I really enjoy.

So Sunday, at church the pastor made a comment that when a young man is courting a woman he should also court her mother.  He then said, "I'm no expert but I have experience."

This led to a number of back and forth questions (in church).

Eventually after church, I asked, "Can you have expertise without experience?"

Before I tell you my final conclusions, I'd love to hear what you think.

Can you have expertise without experience? If yes, how? Isn't that just knowledge if there's no experience? Is one better than the other? Is this true for certain areas and not others? Do you think this relates to your Christian walk? Can you be an expert at being a Christian? Or can you be an experienced Christian? Or can you be both?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Has the World Gone Mad?


Shopping is causing folks to:
  • Pepper spray each other
  • Creating mayhem in malls
  • Shoot gunshots in the air

All of the above occurred throughout the country on what is known as Black Friday. And yet we are in the midst of a recession.

They are no excuses - if you don't need it and it's on sale is it a bargain?
How about giving the gift of time instead of stuff?
Why not become creative and make a gift or write a heartfelt letter?
How about helping those less fortunate than you?
Why not cook a meal (as simple or elaborate as you please) and invite someone over?

If you have a roof over your head, food on the table, clothes on your body and shoes on your feet you have a lot and quite possibly more than you need.

Let's shift our thinking this holiday season - let's become more mindful of the blessings we already possess and let's incorporate the "least of those" in our holiday celebrations; and if you must shop please don't pepper spray anyone to get preferred access.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matt. 6:33

Are you a Black Friday Shopper? Are Black Friday bargains worth it? What's the best bargain you've found? If you don't shop what do you do instead?


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Four Years Ago Today.........


Four years ago today, I did not know that:

I'd be living in LA - I'm thankful.
I'd be living in a smaller house - I'm thankful.
I'd be working from home - I'm thankful.
I'd be a soccer mom and all that entails - I'm thankful.
I'd have a more ethnically diverse group of friends - I'm thankful.
I'd have deep meaningful conversations with my in-laws and connect with them more - I'm thankful.
My sister-in-law would be able to move on after my brother's death and now has a degree of happiness in her life - I'm thankful.
Some family relationships would grow more turbulent before they could get better - I'm thankful.
I'd be part of a growing church that is totally different from any church I've ever experienced - I'm thankful.
My brother's death would allow me to never take anything in life for granted, and to approach everything with a positive prayerful attitude  - I'm thankful.
My husband and I would see the fruits of our labor in our children's lives - I'm thankful.
I would be a blogger - I'm thankful.


Everything that has happened in the past four years has brought me closer to God. God has been there the whole time, but I didn't always sense his presence. As he worked on my heart and my attitude, looking back I can see how His hand is on everything. The irony is, all of the situations listed above aren't perfect and depending on who you talk to, they might seem downright negative, but yet I'm truly thankful for all of the circumstances.

I heard this poem this morning, and it sums up how I feel this thanksgiving season.

My Life is but a Weaving

My life is but a weaving
between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow,
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the under side.

Not 'til the loom is silent
and the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
and explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
in the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
in the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,
nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
who leave the choice with Him.
~Author Unknown

In everything give thanks 1Thessalonians 5:18.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Refreshing Rain


Recently, it's been raining frequently here in Southern California; because it's so unusual for over here I actually enjoy it. Today felt like a beautiful east coast fall day with the rain and it gave me a chance to relax and think.

Rain is beautiful - even though so many complain and it seems like an inconvenience, its pros outweigh its cons. Rain waters and refreshes the earth; it cleanses and removes grime; it brings growth.

When I complain about the rain, it's usually because I wasn't expecting and I'm not prepared for it. I may not want my hair to get wet, or catch a cold, or be cold.

One day as a teenager it started to rain profusely and I was totally unprepared - no raincoat, umbrella or boots.  It occurred to me at that very moment that I could complain and grumble or I could enjoy it.  I chose to enjoy it while walking eight city blocks from the subway to my house and I still remember the feeling of floating. I was wet, my hair was matted, but I was smiling as I walked and the rain felt absolutely refreshing. I stopped thinking about myself and I noticed others smiling along with me.

Rain is a blessing, but sometimes it doesn't seem that way. It's all in how you choose to look at it.  As the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow says, "Into each life some rain must fall." There's a benefit to the rain.

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. Genesis 1:31

Enjoy the rain, the sun will shine again!

Is it raining where you are? How are you approaching the rain? Do you feel refreshed or aggravated after being in the rain?


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Blahs


Ever feel down? Ever feel like a loser? Ever feel like you're not making a difference?
Today, I feel like all of the above times 10.
I have many posts in mind since my last post, but for whatever reason I can't seem to make it happen.

The good thing is I know that this is a temporary feeling and will pass.

I've learned to acknowledge this feeling but to not stay here.

I've learned to move on.

Here's how I move on:

  • I recall the words of songs (usually hymns) that lift me up. What a Friend We Have In Jesus is one of my favorites.
  • I always remember Psalms 139, but particularly verse 17.
  • I know my worth in Christ - He died for me and no one else has ever done that.
  • I call a good friend.
  • I talk to my husband - he never understands these moods but somehow talking and listening to a pragmatic person who understands me, makes this feeling disappear sooner.
  • I hug my husband, my children or whomever is nearby.
  • I drink lots of cups of hot tea - one of my only vices.
  • I shop, but it has to be a ridiculous bargain!


What about you? How do you get over the blahs?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Morality


As evidenced by the headlines in the news, the world we live in is lacking in morality. The allegations in the Joe Paterno Penn State case are sickening and shocking, and if they are true, it makes me wonder.

How can we be so skewed that if we see a child being raped we walk away?
How do we then sit down, discuss it and do absolutely nothing?
How do you live with yourself after having done nothing?

The other thing that stands out in this situation is - who do you surround yourself with? Who provides counsel? Do you have friends that are willing to tell the truth or speak a hard word when no one else will? Are all your friends yes men?

If we study God's word and are willing to do what it says, when tough situations present themselves, we will know how to respond. We can't continue to blur the truth in the name of self interest or self preservation.

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 16:25

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. Romans 12:10

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Proverbs 13:20

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it. Proverbs 22:3

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalms 32:8


Let's be brave men and women of God who make a difference in this dark world. Clearly the world needs it.

When presented with what appears to be a tough moral situation, do you take a stand? Is there a situation where you would not take a stand? Does your comfort matter, or is it about the bigger picture? If it meant losing your job, would you take a stand? Who do you turn to for advice when dealing with tough situations?


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Conception Control



So after yesterday's post on very large families, it made me think about birth control or more specifically preventing the conception of children.

There is no particular mention of birth control anywhere in the Bible - yet clearly some control was employed. Everyone did not have a large family. Even though families were large all the children did not come from the same woman. Abraham was the father of many nations and he had children from Sarah and Hagar. Jacob had twelve sons but they were from four different women and for a time Rachel could not have any children. She died in childbirth after giving birth to her last child.

In Bible times, to be barren was a source of shame. Hanna prayed for children until God blessed her with Samuel.

In Bible times, carrying on the family line was important. Levirate marriage (Deut: 25:5-6) is a type of marriage in which the brother of a deceased man is obligated to marry his brother's widow, and the widow is obligated to marry her deceased husband's brother. If a brother was not available the next of kin could marry - this is what happened to Ruth.

From the Bible we know that God controls everything including the womb; He blessed Sarah with a child at the age of 90. The same can be said of Elisabeth; Mary the mother of Jesus never knew a man yet gave birth.

From the way our bodies are made we know that there are certain times a month where we can conceive.

We also know that if you're breastfeeding it reduces one's fertility - so if you are constantly pregnant and nursing for any length of time, the chances of a very large family are reduced.

We also know that some women can have children and some can't and today the stigma is not as huge as it was in Biblical times.

We also know that there are medical reasons to limit having children or to not have any - I have a friend that has severe scoliosis and it was considered a miracle that she was able to get pregnant and deliver a baby.

There's a movement known as the Quiverfull movement. Prior to yesterday, I'd never heard of it.

Even though a woman is married she is still responsible for her body; the coming together of husband and wife is by mutual consent. 1 Corinthians 7:4 says - The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Each sex here is put on exactly the same footing.

There's a resource out there called Christian Family Planning - I came across it from reading another blog called tolovehonorandvacuum where she queried her readers for their thoughts on birth control. Due to this post I learned of a method called Fertility Awareness Method [FAM]; I think in my time we called this the Rhythm Method.

What to do with all of the above?

God has given us the responsibility for many decisions in life, including how many children to have. Does using birth control imply that we don't trust God? I don't think so. I think it is an area that requires pray and wisdom from God. When we manage our responsibilities it does not mean that we have stopped trusting God.

How did you approach your birth control decisions? Is preventing the conception of children a display of lack of trust in God? Any other thoughts?







Tuesday, November 8, 2011

20 Children and Counting........



Breaking news today is that the Duggars are expecting baby # 20 in April 2011. She is 45 years old. This will be the biggest gap between any of their children - the 19th child was born in 2009.

I know children are a blessing from the Lord and everyone should have their quiver full - so some may have one, some four, some none, but 20? I have a brother that has 5 and a good friend that has 7.

I come from a large family - they were 9 of us. I saw the work involved in maintaining a large family; a huge amount of the physical work of rearing children fell on my mother. My father was the one who worked outside the home and was the disciplinarian. I remember as a child, that laundry was never done. Guess who had to fold baskets of cloth diapers in those days? I HATED IT. My mother didn't seemed to thrilled about all the work involved either. House work was never ending. She loved us but didn't seem happy about the toll it took on her.

These thoughts colored my perceptions when I got married. I knew going in that I DID NOT want 9 children. My husband came from a family of 2 and initially wanted 5! After 3, we both agreed that was enough. We have four children - our quiver is full.

Honestly, it always rubs me the wrong way when I read of the Duggars. It seems excessive and extreme. I don't really understand why families put their lives under the microscope by being on TV constantly. I take no issue with their financial situation - just the fact that they keep having children, even if it is a blessing from God.

Ultimately, a couple’s motives for how many children they have are between them and God - I know this in my heart.

Without castigating the Duggars, please share your thoughts in the comments.

Can one have too many blessings? If you came from a large family, do you now have a large family?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Good Gifts


If you have good gifts, it implies that you can also have bad gifts.

I recently gave my mother the gift of house cleaning. I wasn't sure how it would go over since she's set in her ways and can be a tad exacting. I received so many phone calls prior to the scheduled date of the cleaning that I wondered if I'd done the right thing. I fretted and then I prayed. I said, "Lord, please send the right person to clean the house; may Mummy be happy; I'm turning this over to you; thy will be done." Well, she called me this morning and she was impressed with lady who came and the work that was done. She said the bathrooms look brand new. This was a good gift!

My daughter left this link on my FB page;she said it made her think of me. This was a good gift!



Our Father in heaven, gave the best gift by sending his Son to die for us. This was a good gift! As humans we sometimes fail in the gift giving department - but Jesus didn't and he hasn't.

A gift is only good when we see how it benefits us or enhances our lives; when we can feel the thoughtfulness of the giver as we open the gift; and if it is given in love.

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11

Have you received any good gifts lately? Ever received a bad gift? What makes a gift good?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Don't Know, Don't Show or Don't Care.......



This statement cemented in my mind why Boyz in the Hood became one of my favorite movies. It was said by Doughboy after his brother was shot in a drive by shooting. The movie takes place in Crenshaw, CA. (Unfortunately this movie spawned a genre of movie that was difficult for me to watch...I couldn't do it).

The truthfulness as it related to the character's situation and the depth of that statement sums up what it means to be marginalized. The official definition is to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group. There are many groups that are marginalized within our society which leads to a lot of the the isms we hate: racism, feminism, sexism, classism, etc.

The movie did not portray my reality but I know enough people who have lived what the movie portrayed and if it’s someone’s experience then it’s valid.

When I did my MS in Education there was a class where we researched the demographics of poverty in our educational system. The case studies were, to put it mildly, discouraging and one of the great thinkers in the field wondered if it was a conspiracy – that a group of people could be so broken by poverty who happen to be primarily Black or Hispanic, who within the educational system (at that point in time) were ignored.

Recently I met a principal at a charter school in Los Angeles. She lives in AZ, but commutes to LA for her job. One of my co-workers asked her why and she said “Racism.” In her experience, because she was female and Black, even though she had all the credentials she could not advance in her field, until she took this current position.

There’s a strain of poverty that when it intersects with race can leave one hopeless and angry as portrayed in the movie. Racism alone can do that to you, but to combine it with poverty or gender can sometimes make one hopeless or do things you normally wouldn't do.

This is why the Bible offers great hope; there’s more to life than this life. Some of us may have material wealth and some of us are scraping to make it from day to day; some of us may have perfect children and some we wonder “Did this child come from me?” Some of us are healthy and some of us are so sick we don’t know if the next breath is our last. Some of us skate through life, and others it seems as if there is always a trial because of our skin color. Life is complicated.

Hope from the Bible
Psalms 9:18 – But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.

Psalms 25:5 – Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalms 42:5,11 43:5 – Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalms 62:5 – Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.

Psalms 130:7 – … put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Hebrews 10:23 – Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.


I can only get through whatever unfolds in this life because I believe in God. It has been said within every human there is a God shaped void. Let God fill the void and don't become weighed down by racism or any other ism.

Have you ever felt marginalized? How did you deal with it? At what cost racism, or any other ism?

PS - I'm not oversimplifying racism, I know it exists in many forms. I don't believe in the post racial idea - until we get to heaven we'll always be dealing with our differences, race included.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

House Hunters




Since moving across the country I've become addicted to House Hunters and House Hunters International. I live vicariously through the House Hunters and fantasize about some of the amenities that the buyers want in their next home. House Hunters takes viewers behind the scenes as individuals, couples and families learn what to look for and decide whether or not a home is meant for them. Focusing on the emotional experience of finding and purchasing a new home, each episode shows the process as buyers search for a home (source: HGTV.com).

Sometimes it's amusing to me, the expectations potential homeowners have; nowadays everyone wants granite counters, stainless steel appliances, and huge master bedrooms with an en suite dual vanity bathroom, regardless of their station in life.

First time home buyers are notorious for quibbling over cosmetic things, like paint and carpet, and not seeing the overall potential in a house.

They are also those who have lived in one part of the country for many years and have moved and would still like to find Atlanta houses and prices in Connecticut, as an example. At some point the home buyer realizes, we're not in Kansas anymore, so let's deal with the reality of living in California.

Some buyers are willing to sacrifice amenities if the price is right; some sacrifice square footage based on their budget or their lifestyle.

There are buyers that are filthy rich and are looking for their dream house; the budget really is arbitrary. But a million dollars buys different things in different places.

When I watch this show, it reminds me that even though a house is a major investment - I have a better house to look forward to that will surpass my dreams. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2

Are you looking forward to your new house?




Thursday, October 27, 2011

Things I've Learned Since I Started Blogging

In no particular order, here goes:



Personhood
Marriage - in all it's various stages
Experts don't know either! (especially when it comes to relationships!)
I am no expert
SEO
You're not alone
They are an awful lot of bloggers in Atlanta
Generating traffic (I haven't mastered this yet)
The difference between Wordpress, Blogger, typepad
HTML (I've upped my game!)
Running - marathons, triathlons, ultra distances and all variations in between
The benefits of spirulina
Healthy recipes like lentils and curry
Photoshop (not quite, but editing pictures, etc)
Alot of folks blog about Christianity
Prayers work, even in the blogosphere
Giveaways (I've done pretty well with these!)
They're alot of bloggers who love to read
Black science fiction authors
ALL things natural hair related
How to convert a Nook in to a Tablet
That while MSM may spur hair growth it also makes your breasts grow
Style bloggers inspire me to change my look ever so often
Disqus
New Technologies
Vinegar really does prevent pasta from sticking (put a little bit in the water)
I really don't need to tweet
I like doing research
Alliterative sentences make me happy
I love words!
Homelessness is pervasive
I serve a Good God


What have you learned since you started blogging or reading other blogs?
I can now reply to your comments individually - so take a moment and leave a comment. Thanks!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Wimpy Christian



Recently, I had a breast cancer scare. To make a long story short – I found a lump in my breast and went to my doctor; she recommended a mammogram and an ultrasound. After the ultrasound procedure they recommended that the lump be aspirated and if necessary a biopsy would be done.

The day I went in for the aspiration, I was nervous yet peaceful. I was not worried about the outcome. While in the waiting room there were other ladies – all of us sitting around in these ill-fitting gowns trying not to think the worst and hoping for the best. There was one particular lady who struck up a conversation with me. She was very worried. I told her, not to worry; I would pray for her. She said "Thank you." I really wanted to ask her if she was a Christian, but I talked myself right out of it.

During the aspiration, the doctor and the ultrasound technician were surprised that the lump disappeared as soon as the fluid was drained from it. Listening to them, it seemed as if this was not the normal course of events. I thanked God and sent up another prayer for my nervous lady friend.

I hope she has a positive outcome.

I hope she’s a believer.

I really wished I’d said more to her. I told myself, “It’s not the right time; she’ll think I’m crazy!”

I have something good to share – something that keeps me calm in trying circumstances. Now that I look back, I think most people want that.

Someone close to me said, “Wimpy and Christian don’t belong in the same sentence. While I know this to be true, I know, for me, many times I wimp out on the opportunity to verbally share. I’m glad that my life is different in a way that makes people curious, but out right sharing sometimes seems uncomfortable.

There, I’ve said it!

Going forward, I want to be bold yet wise as I speak about the Difference in my life. It doesn’t hurt to share the good news and we never know how God will work in a person’s life. Let's each of us do our part in telling others the Good News.

Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I (Paul) have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 1 Corinthians 3:5,6


Do you have a hard time verbally sharing your faith? For those of you that are good at this, how did you overcome your fear?




Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hard Times




Gen 26 begins with this ominous verse - and there was a famine in the land.

When there’s a famine, there’s a drought, crops aren’t producing, people can’t provide for their families, therefore creating a shortage of cash which produces a vicious cycle. It is a state of extreme or general shortage. Does this scenario sound vaguely familiar?

For the past year or two we’ve been experiencing a recession which might have been a precursor to a depression. A recession is a temporary depression in economic activity or prosperity. A depression is an economic condition characterized by substantial and protracted unemployment, low output and investment, etc; a slump. During a recession, jobs are scarce, therefore creating a shortage of cash which produces a vicious cycle. A famine would be equivalent to today's recession.

In verses Gen 26:12-15 God chose to bless Isaac in spite of the famine in the land. He had so much abundance, that his enemies envied him.

We don’t know why God chooses to bless, but we know that God is not limited by a recession, depression or any economic activity in the land. So despite the trying times that we live in, remember that we serve a faithful God. He is in control – not us, even though we think we’re smart. God is. He can bless you during this time as He sees fit.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.

He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.

Psalms 37: 23-26 (KJV)


There was a famine in the land.....God blesses!



Monday, October 17, 2011

Great Music - Love Songs

My husband is a music afficianado and has been playing these beautiful songs for me, which I've never heard. I have an ear to ear smile!

Enjoy...









Have you ever heard these? What's your favorite love song?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cat Fight



Cat fight is a term often used to describe two females fighting. It can be an argument or a physical altercation. In the Bible they were two women in Phililppi that had a long standing argument between them that was affecting the local church; their names were Synteche and Euodias. The chapter doesn't state what caused the disagreement, but noted that it had created division in the church.

People may have been taking sides - but the unity was not there. Paul doesn't focus on the problem, but on the resolution: be of the same mind in the Lord.

What does it mean to be of the same mind in the Lord?
  • Put your differences aside - this requires humility.
  • Recognize the bigger picture - you are being shaped in to His character as you go through situations in this life.
  • Acknowledge that feelings have been hurt on both sides - it's ok to have hurt feelings; talk about it and pray about it until the pain is not so raw. God hears and heals.
  • Forgive each other and don't hold grudges - none of the above matters, if you don't forgive.
Christians are not immune from contentions and hurt feelings. Don't let contentions, little arguments that grow in to big things, divide the unity in your home, your family or church. As much as lies within you, live peaceably with all men.

No more cat fights, OK?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Passings

After seeing Steve Jobs in one of his last public appearances, I always thought to myself that he looked like my brother just before he died. The deterioration of internal organs wreaks havoc on the entire body.

Sad to hear of his passing; he left a great legacy behind.

Listen to the Stanford Commencement Speech given in 2005.

"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." - Steve Jobs.



Friday, September 30, 2011

Stepping Out Of the Box

I have been especially touched by Kristin's posts on reaching out and ministering to the homeless in her city.

Take a minute to meet some of the homeless that she has ministered to with God's grace and love:

A Homeless Family

Bruce

Greg

If you're feeling called by God to do something, to help someone, to minister - do it no matter how insignificant it may seem to you. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Marriage and Divorce

Apparently there is a fine line between marriage and divorce. Click on the link to check out the article.

But to me it's not that fine - it's actually a barrier.
Many things in marriage make you think of the alternative, however just because you think of it does not mean you have to follow through with it. I've never seriously considered divorce, because I never really wanted to raise children, or do anything else by myself. I've realized that I like the comforts and companionship of marriage. My husband is a good man - my running joke is "I had a good eye!" I didn't know what I was getting when I said yes to him. Because we come from different backgrounds, and we both think we're smart, we've been known to disagree heatedly about a number of things. Some disagreements simmer and some are quick to be resolved. But we try to get to the place of resolution so that we can move on. We're always learning about each other. The person I married is not the same person today - the essence of him remains the same, but his interests, hobbies, and opinions change and grow on a daily basis, and so we both try our best to deal with our evolving selves. The commitment we have to each other is clear.

This line may be the crux of the article,"Who stays married and who doesn't is a question not always about commitment or deep abiding love -- it's about endurance." My view is, if you don't have commitment which leads to deep abiding love and loving, then it becomes an endurance race.

According to the author these are the traits of longterm happy marriages:
  • "Couples who allow each other to grow separately are the ones with the best chance of growing together and staying together." I have found this to be true.
  • "Finally, the wives with the highest marital satisfaction have a tight circle of wild women friends with whom to drink, travel and vent about their husbands." For me, it's great to have girlfriends.
  • "Most women told her they stay married simply because they like their marriages more than they dislike them, even if much of the time it's 51 percent "like" to 49 percent "dislike." For me, the like percentage is higher.


The older couple in this comic represents where I am right now and I'm fine with it.

What about you? How long have you been married? Did that article make you look forward to having a long marriage or was it disappointing?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sale



I love a sale. I found this great dress today on sale at Ann Taylor Loft for $3.41. It was originally $79.50. The picture does not do it justice, but it looks beautiful on. I wanted to tell the world, or at least tell all my friends.

I became a Christian at the age of 8; I made the decision to follow Christ and got baptized at the beach in Nassau, Bahamas soon after I made that decision. The Monday I went to school, I knew something had happened because I was giddy with excitement. I remember a classmate asking what's wrong with me; I don't remember what I said or if I said anything.

As I went on through school and migrated to the States, the people I came in contact with knew there was something different about me; they just didnt know Who was making the difference in my life. Sometimes I shared, but most times I didn't.

There was a young lady that I went to middle and high school with, and she had somewhat of a reputation. During HS she became a Christian. I was happy to hear she was a Christian, so we were talking. Do you know what she said to me during that conversation, that stays with me these many years? She said, "You knew about this life and Jesus all along, and you never told me?" I smiled, but I was deeply convicted.

From that moment on, in addition to living my life a certain way, when given an opportunity I'm no longer afraid to share Who is making a difference in my life.

If you can tell someone about a great sale, you can tell them about the Person who has made all the difference in your life. Just think, salvation and a new way of living is bigger than the best sale on any day.

It's like finding a great sale - you've got to tell somebody because it's something worth telling.

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 2 Timothy 4:2


Do people know why you're different? Tell someone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Abortion...sigh

I really wished that Dr. Yang on Grey's Anatomy did not go through with her abortion last night.

My first introduction to abortion was while working at a summer job in the late 80s as a File Clerk. This job was one of the worst jobs in creation - so bad that I never listed it on my resume. The requirements of the job were to file pertinent papers pertaining to a client’s file all day. For 8 hours this was all we did. The pay was horrid - minimum wage. The room where all of this filing took place was grey, full of files and about the size of a standard basement. My co workers were all women from different walks of life; I remember that some of the girls smoked marijuana religiously on their lunch hour and seemed to have been beaten down by life even though they were relatively young. Then there was an older lady probably in her late 30s; she was married and was doing this job as a means to support her family. One day she told me that she wouldn't be coming in for the next three days because she was pregnant, but she couldn't afford to have another child so her and her husband were going to take care of it. She didn't seem comfortable telling me this as a matter fact she seemed quite pained, but it seemed that they had decided this was the best they could do at the time. This was my first introduction to abortion and I thought to myself this is surely not how it's portrayed in the media.

Fast forward a couple of years - I'm now married, have a couple of children and am working. I worked with a young lady who was very “giving” of herself, and if she got pregnant, she aborted. When I met her, she had already had three abortions, but was still living the same way. I tried to influence the best I could, but I don't know if I made difference. I hope I did.

Every election year, abortion comes up. I don't see how abortion becomes a litmus test for who is a great politician or who will run the country well. In my mind, both parties are guilty since neither is acting on the greatest commandment, which is to love. Any how, within my circle of friends I randomly decided to ask if anyone ever had an abortion. To my surprise more than half of the group had.

So what has all of this taught me?
  • For the most part a woman does not come to this decision lightly.
  • Last night on TV - they said it’s better to have no child than an unwanted child; I can't agree with this. In the long run a career does not equate to a human life.
  • Having children forces you to think outside of yourself; I know all of us aren't always ready for it when it happens, but you learn to put yourself aside.
  • If you're here - someone did it for you. They might not have done it perfectly, but you're here and you now have an opportunity for hope; an opportunity to do things differently.
  • Once you've gone through a pregnancy and delivery you recognize the miracle of creating another life - even if the circumstances around the pregnancy aren't ideal.
  • When you abort they're lingering feelings/emotions that may show up at the oddest times for both you and the dad.
I am pro-life but not judgmental. I recognize that life is complicated and sometimes things happen that we wouldn’t have planned for ourselves. Bad things happen to good people all the time. But I know I’m not always in control of my circumstances. When difficult situations arise, I turn to God to provide wisdom and direction. Turning to God will not lead you in the wrong direction.

So if you’re wrestling with this, forget the politicians. Be still. Stop – do nothing. Talk to God and let Him lead you in the right direction.

I will leave you with Psalms 139 which has helped me many times, particularly verses 13-18. God made you (and your unborn children) and knows you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Celebration


I recently attended a professional soccer game. Most of the fans in the stadium were cheering for the home team. Soccer is a low scoring game so when a goal is scored there's a huge roar in the stadium and everyone cheers. I was so surprised to find myself jumping up and high fiving anyone around me when a goal was scored. It was such fun!

The happiness in the stadium when a goal is scored made me think about what happens when a person comes to Christ. Luke 15 is considered the Lost chapter because it contains parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal (lost) son. We are all lost until we return to the Father and when we do, the angels rejoice. Heavenly beings rejoice when you have found your way to the Father. There's no earthly measure that can compare to the sound of angels rejoicing, but just imagine a soccer stadium. Can you imaginge what the angels sound like? It's all for YOU. God is patient, He's waiting for you and does not want anyone to perish.

Do you know my Jesus? Would you like to know him?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Finally Friday




School finally started for my youngest this past Monday - Woohoo!!!
Every year when school starts it feels like a new beginning for me; I feel this more so in September than in January. You know I believe in the power of prayer, so at the beginning of this school year, I pray for wisdom, peace, favor with God and man, good grades, protection, patience, faith and trust for my children and all of those in my extended family (that includes your children also).
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I'm experiencing some new beginnings in my professional life which I'm very excited about. God is good!
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I've been talking about blogging so much to one of my best friends and now she blogs! Congrats to her. I don't think she's ready to share with the whole world yet, but when she does I'll let you know. They are some really genuine sincere people in the blog world. I was recently challenged by this post from my blog friend Kristin.
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One last nugget, from the mouth of babes. I was debating which musical lessons my youngest should take. In the past she did piano and now she wants to do strings - violins or guitar. We've had a running conversation for the past couple of days. So one evening this week we had the following conversation:

Me: I'm trying to decide if you should do piano or strings.
Little One: long pause....Mummy, if I'm doing something and I don't like it, it's just wasting time.
Shocked by the profoundness and the truthfulness of this statement we continued.
Me: Do you always like school?
Little One: No
Me: Is it a waste of time?
Little One: No...OK, anything that's not educational, if I'm doing something and I don't like it is a waste of time...
I just had to smile, because she gets it. If you're willing to learn from them, children can teach you so much.

Have a wonderful weekend. I hope you have a place of worship where you can meet with other believers, if not I encourage you to find a church home.
God's riches blessings on you, my friends.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Thought You Were Dead!

That's what my angel said to me when I saw her in Walmart a month after passing out in the park; as she said it, I got goose bumps. In all my years of living in my neighborhood, I had never seen this angel, and after seeing her in Walmart I never saw her again. At this point in time, I was questioning God so deeply, I think he sent the angel to Walmart to provide some semblance of closure for me.

More than a month had passed since the September 11th attacks. On this particular morning, the weather was beautiful – the air was crisp and clean. I had completed a 3-mile loop and was about to stretch when I felt unbelievably lightheaded. Having never experienced this before, I decided to lean against a light pole for support, with the intent of sliding down to the ground and sitting.

The next thing I remember is being on the pavement, and seeing my glasses scratched in a twisted, mangled heap. My brain says "something's not right – how'd your glasses get this way?" but I'm so out of it, I decided to deal with it later.

So there I lay on the pavement at the park. I don't know how long I was laying there. God sent an angel along, and she asked me, "Are you all right?" I'm beginning to think something's wrong between the glasses and this lady talking to me.

I answered her halfheartedly by saying "I guess I'm OK." She saw my face and gasped, "O My GOD!" She gave me some tissue to wipe my face. As I wiped my face, I noticed blood on the tissue. Lots of blood. I became HYSTERICAL. Then I wriggled my tongue around my mouth and realized teeth are missing. I become more HYSTERICAL. This poor lady is trying to get my vital information to see how coherent I am and I was screaming about missing teeth. Another lady walks by, quickly assesses the situation and decided to call 911. The ambulance came very quickly and I was taken to the Emergency Room of a local hospital. As I'm being placed in the ambulance, my tooth is spotted on the pavement and is brought with me to the Emergency Room. Thankfully, I only lost one tooth.

At the hospital, my tooth was immediately reinserted. Then the long wait began. No one would tell me what I looked like, no one. I knew it was pretty bad. The left side of my face took the impact of the fall. I had lacerations under my eye and the left side of my lip was split. My lip had to be sutured. 4 teeth were chipped. Ultimately, because of the trauma to my teeth, I had to have a root canals done. I had a series of tests done and spent 2 days in the hospital for observation and treatment.

Once I was released from the hospital, I had to see cardiologists, specialized dentists and plastic surgeons. God is so good, because many of the outward scars were gone within a month. The ultimate diagnosis: vasovagal syncope. Vasovagal syncope is a brief loss of consciousness due to a sudden drop in the blood pressure. According to the doctors, this is not normally serious condition, in and of itself; it depends on what happens after you black out.

In my case I suffered a serious fall that shook me up. Though my church family came through for me in a big way, I started to withdraw from everyone. The blackout combined with my job search led me to a huge pity party.

But God is faithful – He sent sisters to encourage me and let me know that all things work together for good. My best friends were beside me the entire time; they stayed with me in the hospital and prayed for me – heartfelt sincere prayers that really made a difference. My roommate at the hospital commented – "I love the prayers! I love the way your friends pray." My husband stepped up to plate and handled all the household chores.

Through it all, God reminded me that I have so much to be thankful for – my life, my health, my family, and my friends. And he constantly reminds me that he has a plan for me – plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11). So I held on to this. I remembered the words of that old hymn – with Christ in the ship, we can smile at the storm. This gave me peace.

Have you survived a near death experience? Did it help you find your purpose?