Thursday, June 29, 2017

A Vacuum Cleaner and Hope

I own the Cadillac of vacuum cleaners, or so I was led to believe - a Kirby G5. You see, we bought this vacuum cleaner over 20 years ago as the result of a sales presentation at our house.

Normally, I am resistant to these demos but the salesperson caught us at the right time - our son was just diagnosed with asthma and was having major attacks and when he vacuumed his mattress and showed us what this vacuum cleaner could do, we were sold. (BTW, do you vacuum your mattress?) So we invested and bought this vacuum cleaner.

This vacuum cleaner came with a manual and a video, providing instructions on its maintenance. Over time I became intimidated by the maintenance of the vacuum cleaner; I felt like I could never remember the steps for changing the belt - but thankfully the need for changing the belt was not often. I did use the video to tap into some of the other features of this Cadillac such as shampooing the carpets, but again over time I stopped. It was too much of a hassle (or so I thought).

This vacuum cleaner moved with us to the west coast; initially, it was working and then it stopped. I couldn't find the manual or the video so I left it sitting in the garage for years and in the interim bought two cheaper vacuum cleaners. Both of these ultimately died and both were not as good as my Kirby. In my new location, I discovered that there were two vacuum cleaner repair shops that specialized in Kirbys. Because everything is more expensive in CA or so I was led to believe, I hesitated before finally taking the vacuum in for service. My house was becoming dusty and this was becoming a crisis. I anticipated paying $200.00 to have this vacuum cleaner serviced; imagine my relief when I was told it was 50.00. I was never so excited to spend $50.00. Finally, I had a working vacuum cleaner and my crisis was averted.

Within the past two years, that service store closed so now I was forced to use the other store. Well, the service is different at this store and more costly. I paid, but I decided my trips would be minimal. I asked my husband to vacuum our bedroom recently. While vacuuming, something got in that shouldn't and all of a sudden the place smelt like burning rubber. He thought he'd ruined the vacuum cleaner and with great remorse, called to let me know as I was not home at the time. I told him not to worry, I'd deal with it later. As I assessed the problem I realized the belt was off and installing the belt was always my nemesis. What to do? Somehow the brilliant idea came to me that I could Youtube it. So I had the Little One search for "how to change a belt on the Kirby" and lo and behold we had options. I chose the shortest one - one minute and 32 seconds, watched it a couple of times while pausing as I completed each step until I had successfully changed the belt.

Why did it take me so long to master something so simple?

  • My thoughts got in the way - I thought it was complicated to maintain because of the initial cost.
  • I believed some myths/lies - it's complicated and costly to maintain.
  • Bad timing - it's hard to maintain; I couldn't find the manual or the original video


But this time I was motivated. I knew I could do it. I wanted what every Kirby owner enjoyed - peace of mind and knowledge. I decided to try a new method of grasping the same old information. Youtube did it for me! There are many ways to share information - speaking, writing, texting, blogging, vlogging, youtube. And since we're all different and have different learning styles, none of these methods are right or wrong. As I watched that video, I was grateful that someone chose to make it and I was encouraged to continue sharing information, truth, and encouragement in the medium that works for me because there are those that are receptive to it. I also was glad I was motivated and never gave up and kept trying different methods until I conquered this.

Sometimes it seems as if we praying for a long time to see the truth, or for a particular person. Many prayers have been sent up, but still, we see no change. Like a Youtube video 20 years later, you may finally see the light. Don't give up, remember your motivation, stop believing lies and keep trying.

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

Have you ever felt like giving up? What motivates you to keep going?

--Nylse

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Find Good Friends

"Find good friends." This is what my dear friend said to me as she shared her recent experiences. "Find friends that have your best interest at heart, that will do you no harm, that you can trust. You don't need many, but if you have one good friend, you are blessed." She was practically choked up as she said those words and as we spoke with each other I knew exactly what she meant. Having completed a major move, she had to rely on her friends more than she anticipated but they came through for her.

Real friends, true friends, good friends will do that for you. Perhaps she thought her needs and requests were burdensome, but the friends in her life didn't see it as such. They stepped up to help carry the load,

Good friendships stand the test of time; there are shared memories that are hard to walk away from because of a perceived slight or a real hurt. Because sometimes friends do hurt each other, but not intentionally. If it's intentional, question that friendship. Sometimes in our well-meaningness, we may say or do things that aren't received in the manner we anticipated. My friend explained that she has said things to her friend and the friend would say, "you know you need to apologize to me for what you said." She'd apologize as she never meant to hurt her friend, but she still needed to speak her truth and have her friend receive it. Sometimes truth convicts and hurts - so the apology maybe for the expression but not for the truth. Good friends are able to be truthful with one another but due to closeness, the painfulness of the truth may hurt more. Iron sharpens iron; this is not an entirely pleasant process but a profitable one for both.

Good friends give each other space but they also know when to step in.

Good friendships don't feel draining but rather are refreshing with no fear of judgment.

Good friends nurture each other spiritually, physically and emotionally.

Good friends regularly check on each other.

Good friends really get to know each other through shared life experiences.

Good friends don't try to connect with each other, they just do.


Good friends are people of integrity.

Good friends have unbreakable bonds.


We see vivid examples of friendship in the Bible - David and Jonathan  (1 Samuel 18:1-3) whose souls were knit to each other. There are aspects of friendship in the relationship between Moses and Aaron - brothers who were there for each other (Exodus 17:11-12).  An unlikely friendship occurred between Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:16-17), a daughter and mother-in-law. Friendships surprise us and come in all shapes and forms; we never know where a friendship will take us.

I recall Drew and Rob from college. Drew and Rob were good friends in college and have remained so with their bond getting tighter over time. Drew suffered a major health crisis in recent years and Rob was there for him as he spent a significant amount of time with his friend as he recovered. I can hear the love in Drew's voice as he talked about Rob. I think as a culture we are surprised by deep friendships between men, but it happens. It's a given that women will have friends, but gender alone doesn't determine the quality of our friendships.

A friend is one of the masterpieces created by God.  A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature - Ralph Waldo Emerson. We all have the opportunity of being masterpieces by being good friends.



Can two walk together, except they are agreed? Amos 3:3

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. 
Proverbs 27:17

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. 
Proverbs 18:24


Be a good friend and find good friends. Are you a good friend?

--Nylse

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thoughts While In a Lingerie Shop

The wedding is approaching and as such, there are different events that go along with a wedding. In my day, I had a bridal shower where I was showered with everything from housewares to lingerie. So I visited a lingerie store and I have questions.


Why are male appendages everywhere?
Why are cake toppers, toys, and assorted gadgets in the shape of the male appendage?
Why are there so many toys made for every crevice in the body?
Why is everything so "in your face?"
In this particular shop, there was a whole section devoted to pornography which left nothing to the imagination. Why?


We were visiting for lingerie but found that and more. Curiosity got the best of me as I wandered around until I just felt soiled and dirty. I knew this wasn't God's design so I mentally checked out until the other parties were done. As I was mentally checked out I was struck by this thought: As Christians, we are called to be different; no part of our lives is exempt from this calling, including our sexuality." Nowadays, sex is over the top and in your face and I can't help but feel that this is not the way its supposed to be. The world has made the sacred into the profane; something special into something sordid. God created man and woman, and when He was done he declared creation very good. Genesis 1:27, 31

But as Christians, we can redefine the standard. What this specifically means is that we don't have to do things the way the world does and we can still have fun which is defined as enjoyment, amusement or lighthearted pleasure; we can still enjoy ourselves. Too many Christians act as if they don't know how to enjoy themselves. The world doesn't get to define what is fun or what is acceptable. If things aren't in line with who we are as believers, we don't have to participate. This may take some courage but it's worth it because there's no internal conflict on our part and there's no obligation; it's freeing. So as a Christian, your bachelor party shouldn't have strippers and debauchery and your bachelorette party doesn't have to display male appendages at every turn. By participating in these activities there's an unspoken assumption that you're missing out. Are you? You're not. One last thought - how are you any different than your non-Christian friends? You may be inadvertently creating a path of confusion for them by your choices.

Perhaps, this was the wrong store for purchasing lingerie, as the lingerie appeared to be an afterthought. This is not my area of weakness, but if it's yours I would recommend finding a different type of lingerie store or purchasing online (google "Christian lingerie," but be careful!) because there's nothing wrong with frilly undergarments that make a girl feel pretty for her intended beloved, or just to feel pretty for herself.

As our minds are transformed, our consciences can be our guide. A transformed mind does not use the standard of the world but the standard of God to determine how to live.


Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

How do you approach purchasing lingerie? What would you say to a bride to be in this area?

--Nylse

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Reflections on Fatherhood from a Daughter

Yesterday was Father's Day - a time to acknowledge the fathers in our lives and their contributions whether good or bad, physical, mental or spiritual - to our lives; though I do think these days are more an acknowledgment of the good and an ignoring of the bad. Life is never so binary or so simple - there's a whole spectrum between good and bad. As I talked to my father on Father's Day I was grateful that he is a presence in my life and that he's still here. Having lost two close relatives so far, death reminds me to cherish the people in my life even if they don't live up to my standards.

My father is old now and in old age, you become a certain way; some call it stubborn. Though everyone should be understanding of each other regardless of age, it seems that the older you get the understanding is not mutual. As the younger and as the child, I have to extend greater understanding to an old man who is my father.

I believe as a child I was fearful of my father as he and my mother were very strict, so I made it my point to obey and stay out of trouble. But our household was not turbulent in a horrible way; it was lively and noisy. I remember going to the beach every Saturday - all seven of us piled up in the back of a Ford Escort. At the beach, we spread our towels and played in the water. Then two to three hours later we'd spread the towel on the seat and pile back into the car and go home.  I remember the time my dad brought home a puppy which we christened Gilda, named after a hurricane. I remember our first dog Bobby who eventually had to be put to sleep because he got hit by a car. I remember my dad bringing home a box of Julie mangoes which were the sweetest thing I had ever eaten. He was happy as he watched us devour those mangoes. I remember a time when my father seemed to laugh more. I remember him going to work with pride every day and having workers from his company take us to school and then pick us up in the evening.

When we immigrated to America his disposition seemed to change - he was never able to go back to the professional level he had but in this transition, I learned from my father discipline, presence, perseverance, and stability. I got a new appreciation for "life isn't fair but you still have to live it well." Daddy didn't complain, he just did what he had to do for his family.

My father is a man of parables and few words - he says a whole lot while saying little. "You might be smart but you ain't wise" or "Marry in haste repent at leisure" or my personal favorite - "Start late, you finish late." I had to learn discernment through listening to him because everything he said was not applicable to me but his proverbs also required you to think. When I got married, I saw a different side of my dad as he walked me down the aisle. He was happy, proud and relaxed. Even then he was giving me some last bits of advice, "Take it easy, relax!; Hold on to my arm." We'd never been so close until that moment!

My dad's personality is somewhat reflected in me. He was very disciplined with his spiritual walk - every morning he woke up he had a cup of tea and he read the Bible. In the evening, we always had Family Devotions where he and my mother would lead and then we would go around in the circle reading the scripture, then he would pray and we would all kiss him and my mother good night. We did this for many years.

So I've had the presence of my earthly father all through my life but yet I've not always felt close to him though I love him dearly. I'm grateful that his presence has shaped me in ways that sometimes I don't even understand. I can't say that the void of an earthly father is replaced by a heavenly one because I've had both. But I do know my relationship with my heavenly father supersedes my earthly relationship and there is no comparison. My Heavenly Father is always there, always faithful, keeps his promises, disciplines appropriately, is holy, is a constant provider, forgives without question, and offers true freedom.

Earthly fathers will fail us; some may have abandoned us; some of us may have never known a father. I can't say I know what that feels like but I've known enough people - men and women, to whom the absence of a father has left them incomplete and troubled. And then there are those whose fathers were in their lives and they too don't quite understand their fathers and are troubled by some of their actions. The Bible gives us a picture of a heavenly Father that no human could ever live up to. My Heavenly Father is who I have chosen to anchor my life to - he never disappears, never leaves, and always understands me. I also know that the closer I am to Him, the closer he is to me. I'm grateful for the presence of my Dad and how he has impacted my life but more grateful that I'm a child of the King and that His presence brings a greater joy.

“He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples...... For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’" Acts 17:24-28
How was your Father's Day? What's your relationship like with your father? Is it worthwhile to compare your earthly dad to your Heavenly Father?


--Nylse

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

How Wedding Planning Mirrors Daily Life

Going to the chapel and we're  gonna get married.
Going to the chapel and we're gonna get married
Gee, I really love you and we're going to get married
Going to the chapel of love

We are eagerly looking forward to my daughter's wedding. For us, there's a palpable excitement in the air. We've had long phone calls with the bride and the groom - my future son-in-love, to discuss plans for the day and life after that. We realize that the day itself is a celebration of their love and our love as parents.

But it hasn't been all roses and sunshine. This phase of our lives and theirs has been an opportunity for letting go. For us, as parents, it is recognizing that your children are indeed adults and they're going to be all right. We've all become keenly aware that everyone thinks differently and sometimes it's not right vs. wrong, just different, especially when it comes to wedding traditions. For example, on a very trivial scale - cake or cupcakes. If you're Jamaican, that would be Black cake. The trivial oftentimes leads to a greater understanding of whom each person is. While I appreciate our closeness as a family, boundaries are firmly in place which recognizes the bride and groom as a new emerging unit. In this planning phase, they are establishing patterns for their new life as husband and wife.

There are so many details involved in planning any endeavor and in that regard, a wedding is no different. Colors, cost, location, venue, bridal party, and the biggest detail - how many guests. Sometimes these details threaten to take over the big picture - the start of something new on your wedding day. With a loving fiance at her side, and her family as a sounding board, my daughter has been able to navigate the details. In our day to day lives also, details threaten to override the big picture and we have to take deep breaths, step back, pause, pray and remind ourselves of what's important.

As she plans and we're involved the following lessons are being learned:

Enjoy the journey. For all the details, this is a part of life and enjoyable part at that. Attitude is everything and it's only as stressful as we make it.

Planning forces you to prioritize. Money isn't the only consideration, peace of mind is important also so it's essential to also take care of yourself. Like Esther, this time of planning can be used to nurture your mind body and soul. (Esther 2:12-15)

Life goes on so there will be unexpected bumps along the way which can take many forms - health scares, unexpected costs, difficult people; all have reared their heads.

The planning phase is an opportunity to fall in love with your future spouse over and over again. When he sees how gifted you are at negotiations, this makes his heart swoon. When she sees you quietly taking charge of things she doesn't want to be bothered with, she is reassured again that she made the right choice.

This is an emotional time - sometimes you just need to cry especially if you become overwhelmed with some of the details. Or as you look ahead, you may cry because of the happiness and peace you feel.

Nothing works without having a good support system in place. The happy couple has a built-in support system in each other. In addition, they both can rely on their families and new family members. (Proverbs 11:14, Proverbs 15:22)

The culmination of all of this planning is your marriage but the day still requires some thought and preparation whether it's a big or small wedding, casual or formal, big budget or low budget.

We've had many phone calls - where I simply reminded my daughter to not lose sight of what's ahead which is a declaration of your love and commitment to each other. It's a happy time and a celebration; trust me when I tell you no one will care what favors you gave them or if you even gave favors. They will remember the atmosphere of love in the room that the bride and groom exudes. When planning a wedding, as in life, it’s so important to enjoy the journey. So whatever your timeline is, give yourself permission to enjoy each step until the big day. Take deep breaths, step back, pause, and pray as often as you need to until that day when you can finally say "Going to the chapel and we're gonna get married!"


“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” Geoge S. Patton

What have you learned from planning?


--Nylse

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Monday, June 12, 2017

What's Your Frequency?

As I was reading Psalm 119, I became fascinated by verse 164, which says "Seven times a day do I praise thee because of thy righteous judgments."

Recall that this is the longest chapter in the Bible with 176 verses, where practically every verse highlights the attributes of God's word all from the very personal perspective of David, Ezra or Daniel since the author is unknown. This chapter demonstrates raw devotion toward God and his Living Word. It affirms not only the character of the Scriptures, but it affirms that God’s Word reflects the very character of God Himself. The format of Psalm 119 is an alphabetic acrostic, meaning that the first letters of each line in Hebrew follow through the alphabet, 8 lines per letter, thus 8 lines x 22 letters in Hebrew = 176 lines. One message of this psalm is that we are to live a lifestyle that demonstrates obedience to the Lord, who is a God of order (hence the acrostic structure), not of chaos. [Source: gotquestions.org

The Word of God can literally save a life: George Wishart was the Bishop of Edinburgh in the 17th century (not to be confused with another Scot by the same name who was martyred a century earlier). Wishart was condemned to death and would have been executed. But when he was on the scaffold he made use of a custom that allowed the condemned person to choose one psalm to be sung, and he chose Psalm 119. Before two-thirds of the psalm was sung, his pardon arrived and his life was spared. [Source: blueletterbible.org]

Back to verse 164 - what makes a person so emphatic in their declaration of praise? Well, one quick answer is already noted in the verse - it's because of God's righteous judgments. He has seen that God has always done right by Him - He's never left or abandon him.

But there's more. The frequency speaks of devotion; it indicates that God is top of mind and that if He's not, he becomes so. He may be using it as a mechanism to allay anxiety and refocus. Praising God so often must elevate his spirit while acknowledging the sovereignty of God. His praise - whether it is a word, a phrase, a thought a song or a lengthy prayer happens with a notable frequency. Regardless of the length of his praise, it his often. It allows him to starve the flesh and feed the spirit. It equips him to handle what is before him or be grateful for what he's just walked through because the writer of this Psalm had seen his share of troubles.
In trying to take this verse literally, I became aware of how often I could praise God throughout the day. I definitely started my day with praise and often did the same at the end of the day. That left five times throughout the remainder of the day and the precise among us may figure that to be every three hours. The more cognizant I became for the opportunity to praise, the more I did so. It was freeing and I lost count. I realize that there are opportunities to praise God throughout a day at every turn - when I wake up because I have life, when I go outside to get the newspaper and absorb the quiet beauty of nature in the morning, the mess my daughter makes in her room leads to praise because she has a room; dirty dishes lead to praise because I have a sink and I have a family; my family with all their quirks. Opportunities for praise abound. Other religions have an obligation to prayer, a certain number of times daily, facing a certain direction. God makes no such requirement of you. You can exceed your seven times within an hour! Seven is not a limit, but a reference as to what the writer noted in his life.

It was in the process of being cognizant and being aware, that praising God with regular frequency became a habit. Like the psalmist, I could now say, "Seven times a day I will praise you because of your righteous judgments." (Psalm 119:164)

And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness And Your praise all day long. Psalm 35:28

Praise the LORD! For it is good to sing praises to our God; For it is pleasant and praise is becoming. Psalm 147:1

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. 
James 5:13

How often do you praise? Do you have a reason to praise God?

--Nylse

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How to Survive the Unexpected

When I'm in the midst of unforeseen events, I always have to remind myself that everything happens for a reason; everything happens when it's supposed to. I don't often remember this during good times but somehow this thought rises to the top of my mind during trying times. Perhaps it's a coping mechanism. When life is good, we take things for granted; it's almost as if we forget how to utilize our faith and trust muscles. We have a different experience during misfortune as there is an opportunity for solemnity and stillness.

Three weeks ago, in an effort to help her sister heal from a muscle injury, my older daughter placed a heating pad combined with Vicks on the Little One's calf. The exact placement was her outer left calf. After this treatment, there was a huge welt and then blisters which combined to form one large blister. It was at this point that I realized that she was burned, so I went to the pharmacy and bought the necessary first aid for a burn - burn gel and bandages. Of course, I checked with Google first which indicated that in approximately two weeks I should begin to see healing.

After two weeks, or thereabouts, I noticed that the site of the burn was not getting better, as a matter of fact, it looked gross, so I decided to visit the pediatrician because I had a concern about infection.

I went to the doctor on Friday. When he examined her leg he said, "That's a big eschar" which sounds like big ___ scar! As I sat there, I wondered why the Doctor would be unprofessional and make such a statement. I thought I waited too long to bring her to the doctor. For reassurance, I asked him to repeat what he said and he said, "eschar....ESCHAR - which means a dry, dark scab or falling away of dead skin, typically caused by a burn, or by the bite of a mite, or as a result of anthrax infection. [Source: Google.com] When I indicated what I thought he said, we all had a good laugh.

She was referred to the Outpatient Clinic of the Burn Center which is across the street from the doctor's office. I went in on Tuesday with the expectation that she would be treated on an outpatient basis. Instead, I was told she had a third-degree burn which would require debridement - the removal of damaged tissue or foreign objects from a wound, and skin graft surgery. She would have to be hospitalized and the surgery would commence on Wednesday and then the skin graft surgery would take place on Friday. What we thought would be an outpatient procedure became a five-day hospitalization.

After we got over the initial shock, this is exactly what happened.

What has this experience taught me?

God's placement - The Burn Center is a world renowned facility located in my neighborhood. Automatically she would be receiving the best care for this type of burn regardless of its size. By default, she is now part of a burn survivor community and will reap the benefits for many years of receiving treatment here.

God's provision - We have lived in California for 10 years and have struggled with connecting with others. We had the mistaken notion that it would be the same as when we were in New York. But this incident showed me that community is being part of the family of God. The Little One and us have been overwhelmed by the genuine care and concern demonstrated by the body of Christ. I never expect this care, even though we are called to look after each other and to bear one another's burdens. I will now be more intentional about caring for others in their time of need.

God's providence - So many things could have been worse in this scenario, but they weren't and I attribute that to the mighty hand of God that orchestrates all things. The Little One is in good spirits despite the surgeries, the older sister does not have unnecessary angst over this situation, we are now more educated than we ever thought we would be on burns and can now help others in this situation, and this is yet another situation where I have increased my faith by trusting God more.


Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. Psalm 139:16


You CAN rely on God's placement, provision, and providence for all areas of your life even when circumstances are unforeseen.



--Nylse

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Monday, June 5, 2017

Women of The Word - Michelle Harris Collins

Women of the Word is growing faster than I anticipated. Praise God. I met Michelle Harris Collins when I moved to California. Initially, it was through Track and Field but as I spent more time with her I discovered her heart for the Lord. Last year she spoke at a women's conference I attended where she fired up the entire room! I'm excited to share her insight with you. Be blessed as I was by her.

Michelle Harris Collins


1. As someone who studies the Bible, what are your favorite tools and resources?
MHC: Whenever I need to prepare a specific message, or for leisure reading, I use various commentaries to gain different perspectives. I don't have a favorite. Although my personal version is the New King James version, I also like to read different versions of the Bible, in order to gather a more wider meaning of a familiar or unfamiliar verse. Additionally, Google is my friend and right at my fingertips if I want to study deeper in Greek or Hebrew for context comprehension.

2. Old Testament, New Testament or both?
MHC: Both. I love the patriarchs in the Old Testament. The New Testament shows us what the church in action should be.

3. Why do you study the Bible? What was your initial motivation?
MHC: Having been raised in the church, the church life can become what you're told as opposed to what you learned. As I matured in my walk with Christ, I developed and answered my own yearning for the things of God, including His word.
The Bible serves as a blueprint for most of the issues we face in life. I am intrigued by the characters, character flaws, the faith and even the dysfunction. I believe what is most captivating is the way in which God, as Father rescues, delivers and fights for and on the behalf of His people.

4. How does inspiration work for you? How do you know that what you're writing or understanding is as if God is moving the pen and you're just the vehicle?
MHC: Inspiration is a sudden quickening in my spirit that calls me to immediate action. It is the divine unction to move in a certain direction, to share a nugget that is downloaded in my spirit in word or deed and even a tug to pray.
I know that it is of God when the manifestation is more than I could have ever imagined.

5. How do you handle complex topics that may not align with popular views? (Can you give an example?)
MHC: By personality, I have a need to understand and until I reach a state of understanding where compassion is displayed, I know that I must continue to deal wisely with complex issues. The Bible says that we must bring down "every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Christ." And for me, this includes all judgmental thinking, pride, and prejudice, which are contrary to what Christ stood for.

6. When confronted by the truth of scripture, even for difficult topics, how does it re-orient you?
MHC: I'm grateful for the Holy Spirit that resides in me, to poke, nudge and rebuke when I'm confronted with the truth of the scripture. Allowing the Holy Spirit to do His perfect work is living in submission to the Spirit of God and a call to be more Christlike.It's a matter of life and death. I have no desire to be a walking dead and I don't want my brothers and sisters to do the same.

7. Tell us a little bit about yourself, current projects you are working on and where you can be found.
MHC: I am a Speaker, Author and Founder/Program Director of The Persona Program www.thepersonaprogram.org, a youth organization for girls 7-18, where through our sessions and events, we develop confidence, build character and promote proper conduct. I designed a WORKbook for moms raising daughters "30 Ways in 30 Days to Be That Mom."  It's a journal style guide that allows the for the nourishment of the soul for both mother and daughter. I am a wife of 17 years and mother to our two daughters and son 16, 12 and 8 years old. I am enthusiastic about seeing others embrace their divine magnificence and allowing their creative aspirations to flow for the advancement of the Kingdom.
You can follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/personaprogram/ and https://www.instagram.com/michelleharriscollins/
More information for the Persona Program can be found at www.thepersonaprogram.org

8. How do you deal with discouragement and doubt? (Bonus question)
MHC: I constantly feed my spirit with positivity. It serves as my bank. Therefore, whenever I'm low in spirit, in turn, my own spirit dispenses whatever I previously deposited. Works every time! So I encourage everyone to read, listen to podcasts, find a mentor, pray and you too will be filled.
--Nylse

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Book Review - Americanah & Crossing the Lines

Sometimes no matter how much we plan, things don't go as expected. In the midst of planning a wedding which by the way is going well, we've had some unexpected turn of events all related to our health. My husband has a nagging knee injury that required an MRI and my Little One suffered a third-degree burn. And life goes on.
So while working and waiting, I read. I'm reading my Bible and completing a Bible Study but I also read whatever interests me.

One of my newest favorite authors is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her most recent novel is Americanah which lived up to all of its positive reviews. Americanah captured all of my senses. I read it with awe not just at the storyline but at the way, the sentences were constructed and thoughts were developed. This is a confident writer who has no problem sharing her world, or her heritage with the reader. It's shared as common knowledge though it is new to many who are reading.
The story of our two protagonists - Ifemelu and Obinze starts off in Nigeria and winds its way through London, various cities on the East Coast of America and then back to Nigeria.
In mainstream culture - one would say they were high school sweethearts whose paths diverged and then they finally come back together. But in the Nigerian and African American cultures, this is so much more colorful. There are cultural norms associated with immigrating and then returning home - hence the name Americanah - a Nigerian slang term for someone returning from America pronounced with a heavy emphasis on the last syllable.
There's the plight of being undocumented while trying to maintain your dignity and make a living. There's getting to know others who are not like you and falling in love. There is losing yourself in love, yet trying to find out who you really are. There's a discovery of your race and what it means in other countries outside of your own; discovering you weren't black until you came to America. Then there's coming home and how it makes you feel whole again.
Through the eyes of Ifemelu and Obinze, we experience all of these things while we receive a sociology lesson on various cultures. This is pleasurable reading.

Then recently I read Crossing the Lines: A Novel by Richard Doster. This book caught me by surprise in a good way. I don't know why I downloaded it to my Kindle but I'm glad I did. Have you ever thought about the Civil Rights movement through the eyes of a white sports reporter who really loves the South but hates its portrayal to the entire world, while figuring out where he fits and how he feels based on his Christian faith? Those are the intersections that are explored in this book in a believable and entertaining fashion.
As a sports reporter, Josh Hall takes a stand on the integration of baseball and his family suffers for it. As they attempt to rebuild, he is presented with new professional opportunities that have him interviewing leaders of the Civil Rights Movement - Martin Luther King, in Montgomery Alabama and Arkansas. The book humanizes the bus boycott and the integration of Central High. While all of this is happening, we are also introduced to the genius behind the musicians B.B. King and Elvis Presley. We see how race impacted the music of the times and how we came to have the Blues and Rock and Roll.
The book is set in Atlanta, in a suburb, where Hall's local church also struggles with how to deal with integration. The struggle is for the "Beloved Community" that MLK envisioned and the one vs the exclusionary status quo.
This book is a lesson on race in America, with some of the ugliness removed.





--Nylse

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