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?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 - A Crisis of Faith

I pondered long and hard if I wanted to write about 9/11 considering that so many others have and would be, and decided I must.

9/11 started like any other day for me. There was one ironic event that occurred at the beginning of this day - at least it now appears profoundly interesting when I think back. I was listening to Family Radio in the mornings, because I liked the hymns and the morning show by Dr. Cook. Between shows, the announcer made a point of saying in a very cheery voice that since today is 9/11, don't forget to thank your 911 dispatchers. I had never given this much thought before. Who knew that so many would be calling 911 within the next hour or so?

Prior to 9/11 I had recently been downsized and up to this point, I was trying to determine what I should be doing with my life. I had already dropped the children to school and went to the park for my regular morning walk/jog (i.e. - my time alone with God). My husband normally commuted in to Manhattan, but on that particular morning he woke up with a debilitating migraine, and decided not to go in. Thank God! When I came home my husband ran out of the house in a state of panic (in his boxers) saying, "Everyone's calling you, you wouldn't believe what happened, a plane crashed in to the World Trade Center." He's telling me this, but I'm not grasping the magnitude of the situation. As a matter of fact I wanted to blow him off, but I didn't (I think it was the boxers!). We proceeded to watch the unfolding events on TV and I contacted my friends to make sure they were OK (2 of them had husbands in WTC) then proceeded to see both towers collapse on the TV with running commentary from my husband.

When the towers collapsed, it hits me like a brick. The image of the planes hitting the towers and then imploding is seared in my memory; first one, then the other. It was a perfectly synchronized disaster; both buildings were smashed in to the earth.

I had an appointment to see my career counselor that day. Trying to maintain some sense of normalcy, I went to see him. We didn't talk about too much that day, except the morning's events. I was his last client for the day. After I left, the center was closed for the remainder of the day. Driving back home the roads were like a ghost town - it was eerie.

I couldn't cry, instead I got a massive headache that lasted for 3 days. First I kept thinking about all of those people, trapped, trying to escape for their lives. Then I thought, "Darn, my job search has to go on hold for a while!" Then I thought, "Is that selfish of me only thinking of myself when thousands have died?" And "Who is Osama bin Laden?" "Why would anyone go back to their desks?" Oh, I had such conflicting thoughts.

For days I hoped that all the people that were trapped in the towers were safe…but it was not to be. At some point during this day, I ended up at my best friend's house with another friend. The three of us lay on her bed, with me in the middle and we just sat, talked, and maybe cried for what seemed like an eternity.

At the end of this horrible day, I just wanted to hug my husband and children, and that's what I did.

Life goes on, and in our house as we watched the unfolding events, we prayed so that our children would have peace instead of fear.

Ten years later, 9/11 represents something so horrific you question your very reason for being. A friend of mine was in the towers when they were hit, but survived. She said, "you have to understand we didnt know what was going on; you could see it on TV, but we had no idea." She told me how her supervisor told a group of them to go back to their desks; she didn't. Those who went back were never seen again. She talked about the fear and just running, being so dirty after she got out and being directed to showers, probably at a gym. The only thing she looked forward to was getting home to her husband and her daughters. She thought I knew what she went through - I had no idea.

When we go through a crisis of faith we have no idea of what we're going through until after. Also in a crisis there's something that keeps you going. For many it's family; but for me it also something and someone bigger than my earthly family. Regardless of what happens, I know that I have a God that is faithful and loving and if I lean on Him I can get through any crisis.

Later this week, I'll share my own personal 9/11 with you.

Where were you on 9/11? What has 9/11 taught you?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Disappointment Does not Discriminate

Have you ever felt that everyone's life is rosy but yours? Does it feel like you have a large cross to bear while others seem to be skating through scot free?

There are two things I've learned about disappointment:

1. It is an absolute waste of time to compare your life to others - you will either come way inflated or deflated but both are a false sense of self. In this life, we will have tribulations, but there's a promise at the end of this verse - "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

2. Have you heard of Usain Bolt? He is the world's fastest man and hails from the country of Jamaica. Last week at the World Championships in Korea, the 100m was the hottest ticket. All the athletes were in the blocks and the stands were silent. Then in a split second, Usain Bolt false started and was disqualified...for the entire world to see! Think about it - this is a world class athlete, who has trained for this moment, on one of the biggest stages and he makes a colossal error - he jumped the gun. He is quite familiar with the rules of his sport - one false start and you're out; so he could not defend his crown. What a blow!


What do you do when you are disappointed? Usain Bolt came back and won the 200m in one of the four fastest times in history and then anchored the 4X100 relay for Jamaica, while setting a new world record.

We're not all Usain Bolt, but we all go through disappointing times - we make a mistake, we say something in error, or we go through a tragedy or loss. The key is to recognize that we are disappointed, and then move on. If your disappointment grows it may lead to discouragement, creating a downward spiral that becomes harder to conquer over time.

The next time you are disappointed, think about the world's fastest man and how he came back from his disappointment. Disappointment may be a blessing in disguise, as it allows us to regroup and focus on the task(s) ahead.

Our best successes (can) often come after our greatest disappointments.~ Henry Ward Beecher

How do you handle disappointments and how do you eventually move on?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Money, Money, Money!

One should never say "never", but typically I never worry about money. I've been frugal and a saver most of my life; I know how to get a good bargain; some would call me cheap. I have four children so I've learned how to stretch a dollar and look good doing it. I believe in the word "SALE". When I work, I'm not one of those folks stressing about, 'When do we get paid?" Some times I forget when pay day is. Because of this attitude, I've been asked if I'm rich. I know money is the currency of life and we need it to get things done, but I never ranked it higher than other things in my life. While I understand the importance of money and having it, money does not consume me. I don't think I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about money (perhaps, I'm wrong).

So it is quite surprising to me, that within the last couple of months I'm really stressed out about money - particularly:

• Do I have enough?
• Can I afford this item?
• Why does it feel as if everything costs? Is nothing free anymore?

This stress can drive me crazy. Recently my laptop needed fixing and I took it in for repair. I was quite happy that it was under warranty, so I thought the repair would cost nothing. As it turns out, they're trying to blame me for the problems, citing physical damage and now all of a sudden the repair is estimated at $500.00 and counting. I've decided that I'm not repairing the laptop, but only after much angst about the cost, and questioning if these folks are for real. But my main concern in all of this, what guided my conversations with service techs - was the cost, and not the necessity of the laptop.

This mindset makes me angry and I don't like it. I guess this is why the Bible says be anxious for nothing; because I realized the more anxious I became the more unproductive my feelings - anger, restlessness, helplessness and finally lashing out at those around me.

Writing this and praying about my recent anxiety around money really started to give me clarity and peace.
My God promises to provide; He tells me not to worry; He takes care of the birds and the lilies - how much more me?

Do you worry about money?

I would suggest turning this area over to the Lord. In praying, may you find the wisdom to learn how to manage your resources.