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


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?