Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Wind At My Back

On this last day of the year, I went running. Baby, it's cold outside, and windy. It was so cold that after the first mile I ran home got my jacket and continued. My splits were amazing - today was my fastest 5k. I completed this run in 25 minutes.

During my run, my effort felt the same but because it was so windy, I was getting a much needed push. I didn't realize it until I heard my time. 2014 was an interesting year - to my mind my effort felt the same but my result may have been better than I anticipated because God had my back the whole time. He was there through all the twists and turns, sending His wind to keep me going. I wanted to go in to a malaise today, but this run made me realize that God is there. Even when I can't see Him, He is there. We just need to keep prayerfully seeking and living for Him and through Him we can do more than we can ask or think.

As you prepare for next year, drop the weight, worry and debt. Weight holds our bodies back, worry stifles our spirit, and debt makes us poor stewards. Run the race that you are called to run. Even if you don't know what your purpose is,  keep living and keep believing.

God's got your back.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:1,2 [NLT]

Have a wonderful 2015.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Things That Don't Have to be Perfect

Perfection is an ideal that has many caught in its trap; it is an illusion that is unattainable.There's a false pride associated with trying to do everything to perfection which dulls the spirit and irritates many. As a parent I sometimes see my offspring place unrealistically high expectations on themselves (sometimes I wonder if I played a part in this); but be that as it may, I try to let them know that while it's OK to have goals it's crippling to be so hard on oneself.

In the spirit of dispelling the myth of perfectionism and for those of you that struggle with being perfect here's a list of things that don't have to be perfect:

a hairstyle
an outfit
a Christmas tree
Christmas cake or cookies
a cover letter
a presentation
an interview
job performance
a report
a gift wrapped present
a meal - breakfast, lunch, or dinner
your children
your spouse

What can you add to this list? Do you struggle with perfectionism?

I wanted to end this post with a scripture like I typically do, but I couldn't find the perfect one for this post. I was stuck. So instead of delaying this further, I decided to follow my own advice - this post doesn't have to be perfect either. I hope it gets the point across that most things do not have to be done to perfection to be worthwhile; and if you think of the perfect verse for this post, please share it with me.  Blessings.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Ever run in to a goat while running?
Sometimes when I run the road is rough, sometimes it's hilly, and sometimes it's smooth. If I'm running the same route I always I know what to anticipate in terms of the terrain.  However if I'm running on a new route I never know what to expect.

Sometimes the terrain works with me and sometimes it doesn't.

It works with me when I'm going faster than I anticipated with minimal effort. This usually happens on a flat piece of land or if I'm going downhill.

It works against me when I'm going uphill or there's lots of crevices in the sidewalk. I have never had an easy time going uphill and don't think I ever will because hills aren't meant to be easy.

Life is analogous to the terrain we run. Sometimes it's hard and sometimes it's easy. As a runner, regardless of the terrain, because I know how to run I keep running.  We give it more effort when we're going uphill and coast when we are going downhill. We are more aware on uneven sidewalks but breathe more easily on smooth trails. We don't quit, we adjust. We are grateful for the downhills but just as grateful for the uphills.  The steep inclines really help us appreciate the down hills. When you've gone through a rough time, the fact is you have gone through and are grateful to have made it to the other side. As a runner, how I make it to smooth terrain is almost irrelevant. Being able to pump my arms, breathe and whisper to myself "you can do it," gets me to smoother terrain. 

If we can do this while running, we can do this as we face various challenges in life. For the longer you are in the is race the more experience you gain in navigating the terrain.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
Don't quit; keep doing what you have been trained to do.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Staying Young

It's Thanksgiving break and the Little One said "Let's run a mile tomorrow." I was shocked but said yes as I have recently decided to take it easy.  After our run, we were on our way back home and I saw my neighbor. My neighbor Sal is a very interesting man with a lifetime of stories. He loves to talk, or at least when he starts talking to me, the conversation is very interesting. Somehow we got to talking about memories and how he sometimes forget things but remembers things that happened a long time ago so vividly.

He then proceeds to tell me this story. Sal said, "I remember my two little sisters. They would be on the balcony and would pop their faces out and say, 'Salvador, where are you? Where are you?' During WWII in 1943 the Germans bombed Naples and his house was bombed and his sisters did not survive. His mother made it out but she kept calling for her two young daughters. She was in a state of shock for a while. His dad was a Socialist, was arrested and taken to a concentration camp. He survived the concentration camp but he too was never the same. His dad was injured or tortured while he was in the camp and a doctor from Norway befriended him and took care of him. Many years later this doctor was in Italy and Sal's dad recognized the doctor. They were able to talk. His dad told the doctor the story of his sisters and how his mother was suffering and he asked the doctor what could be done for his mother. The doctor suggested that they have another baby. Sal says it worked and he remembers his mother walking around and hugging his little brother." Sal says laughter and being thankful keeps him young even though he forgets. His current doctor reassures him that he's doing well and it's a function of age.

Talking to Sal on this Thanksgiving Eve made me realize that we all have a choice in how we deal with the things that happen to us. Talking to Sal makes me realize that many have dealt with racism and injustice, not just those that are my skin color. I'm not always thankful even though I know I should be. Sometimes I want to have a pity party or believe that there's nothing good happening for me but nothing could be farther from the truth. So thanksgiving eve is a great time to reflect on the goodness of life in spite of all the horrible things that are happening. To realize that the simple pleasures are what makes life worthwhile - fellowshipping with friends and family, being able to enjoy a meal, watching the generations grow and listening to the elders.

I don't have a HouseBeautiful house; but I do have a beautiful heart thanks to the One I serve; hopefully as I interact with others they can see what makes me beautiful.

Have a wonderful thanksgiving and remember to give thanks.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)
There's ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


One morning as is our habit, the Little One and I were reading the Bible. We were reading this passage and as I read verse 22 she blurted out:

"Circles.  Circles!!

The Earth is round. Circles mean the earth is round.

Why did Columbus think the earth was flat? Why did anyone think the earth was flat?

All they had to do was read the Bible; it's right there."

It was right there all the time. I guess we could save ourselves a lot of trouble and gain so much if we would take the time to read the Bible and process what we read.

God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. Isaiah 40:22 NLT

Do you read the Bible?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Job Hunting - Networking and The Wait

There's so much conflicting advice out there when it comes to finding your next opportunity; for example:
  • The resume is dead, but at some point it's what everyone asks for
  • Set yourself apart from the competition and do a prezume instead of a resume
  • Be creative but follow these steps
  • Go to networking events yet don't be pushy.
Do you see how all of this is a contradiction particularly the networking piece? Any networking event I've ever gone to always feels unnatural, because for the most part you can't connect with people in a hurry. You can't really tell if you truly have something in common over drinks. Really, all you want to say is can you help me find a job? But you don't want to come across as desperate or needy.  So you smile and shake hands.

Networking and connecting with others does work, but not if time is an issue. You have to be able to let go and let the chips fall where they may.  If you're a nice person or pleasant, no need to pretend so folks can connect. People generally want to connect unless you totally insulate yourself (and that definitely won't work if you're trying to network!)

No matter what the billboards say, connecting with people can not be forced. Sometimes networking simply fails because people realize that they are being used and in my experience no one likes to be used. You want to connect because you just fit. But you may not always have that opportunity when job hunting.

Instead job hunting involves a lot of waiting. Waiting for positions to open; waiting for the call back; waiting for the next move. Waiting is a huge part of life. While we wait, we should use it as an opportunity for preparation and for positive thinking. Waiting is part of the game; it's part of the game for job hunters and it's part of the game of life.

While you wait, build your faith, because faith and endurance go hand in hand. Networking is synonymous with living. So network as much as you can, but keep the faith.

Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. Hebrews 6:12 NLT
"We are twice armed if we fight with faith." ~ Plato

"There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer." ~ John Wooden

"If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm." ~ Mohandas Gandhi

Please keep the faith.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

This Person I've Become - Sacred Solitude

I grew up in a noisy, busy house. Noise was a constant - whether talking, yelling, music, toys banging, you name it, it was noisy.

When I had my family, since noise was all I knew, noise is what continued, and of course with three  young children, quietness seemed like a gift. I never mastered the art of reprimanding children quietly.

If I was on the phone and it was somehow quiet, the caller wondered why the house was quiet as if quiet was not expected. I guess I came to expect it too, until one day I heard myself saying the TV was too loud. I have a loud voice but I started making a conscious effort to talk softer. When the children were gone during the summers, I actually found myself looking forward to the peace and quiet. I don't mind when my husband travels, because I've discovered the infrequent times of solitude are OK and refreshing.

Though it seems to be all of a sudden, I love when I am home and there is no outside noise with the exception of music. I like the sounds of peace. And I am surprised because this is a 180 degree turn from where I started from.

While I like the sounds of a lived in house, I enjoy the solitude of a quiet house even more. And at this stage - I am pleasantly surprised by this but plan to enjoy it. More often than not in these times of solitude, my soul is refreshed and I cherish that; for often in these quiet times, I hear a still, small voice.

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-14 [NLT]

Do you enjoy solitude? Have you always enjoyed it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Choose To Live

By now you may have heard of Brittany Maynard - the 29 year old who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and is choosing to die on November 1st, 2014. She moved to Oregon so that she and her family can take advantage of the Death with Dignity Act, and received the sedative that will end her life. She is married, and is her mother's only child. Somehow she is being hailed as a hero but something in me does not sit right with all of this.

All of us have had dark days where at some point we may actually think we're better off dead. The irony of life is that when you're dealing with something in that moment that's all of you have - the culmination of experiences leading up to that point. The beauty of life is to have survived, and look back in amazement, with new strength. If you hadn't overcome you wouldn't be where you are today. By choosing to die, you are shortchanging yourself of all the good life has to offer; the yin and yang; the growth and reward; the trials and overcoming.

But even when you don't overcome, you grow, because you realize life isn't perfect.

Choosing to die at a time that's convenient says I get to take my life in my own hands. I get to determine my perfection. I get to quit. The ultimate fallacy is it fools you in to thinking that you are really in control - when you're not.

We are not totally in control of our destinies, God is. [Job 14:5, Psalm 139:16] By choosing to die, you're trying to take over something that you have no control of, because you really don't know what death will bring. Death is a huge unknown; death is more uncertain than dealing with a terminal illness.

I also believe dying with dignity is a crock. Dignity is ideal but death isn't always dignified. Sometimes it's sudden or gruesome or painful. More importantly, since death is inevitable we should be prepared for death, but not in a controlling way but rather as an inevitability that we all have to face.

When my brother left this earth after 17 years of a long terminal illness one of the things that struck me was that he was no longer here. He didn't have to be perfect to be missed. He just needed to be here and he no longer was. He could no longer make an impact on those around him. He was gone. It didn't matter if his fingers were perpetually curled, or his skin had darkened, or he could no longer move - he was a presence in his house. He could still communicate with his family members the best way he knew how. The others around him were learning also - how to deal with adversity, how to smile, how to deal with pain, how to be tender and compassionate, and much bigger lessons. Lessons that were absorbed but were never spoken. He may have been diminished physically but he still had a lot to give, as the gap that is his death proved.

Diagnoses aren't final; as far as we know my brother outlived many people with his illness by at least 10 years. In this way, he made his doctors think and ponder all they knew about his illness. His living provided a challenge so that they could help the next person.

Do you know that dark days don't last forever? I know that's not a fair comparison to a terminal illness but everyone has something that they are dealing with.
What if everyone who had a terminal illness chose to die? What if the beauty is in living? Who says one has to be perfect to enjoy life or make a difference? 

I hope Brittany has a change of heart and lives as long as the days that were allocated to her.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Notes From My Daughter - Here's The Thing About Saying, "I would never date a black girl."

Occasional notes from my 20 year old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise.  Read on!

PS - I have tried to instill in my daughters the following thoughts: Know your worth, stand your ground and men are stupid.  The stupid men part is a caveat and only applies when men aren't willing to accept any woman's, but in particular my daughters worth. Men aren't really stupid.  Seems like this daughter knows her worth, and wanted to share some thoughts on dating.

My daughter
The fact that this needs to be explained is so utterly surprising to me, but being a black woman living in South Africa, I've heard this phrase expressed with unbelievable frequency. It’s not the individual component of you not wanting to date me that hurts, it’s the inherent racism that you condone that hurts black women globally. And the same goes to you black men across the world who would “never date a dark skin girl” or “never date a black girl” unless of course she’s an exception.

I realized long ago that for some people, I as an individual was an “exception” because of my body type, hair texture, and because “I’m not like other black girls” and I REFUSE to take that as flattery. (And this is warning for girls: when a guy finds you to be his exception, he will typically keep you around as his “friend” all the while trying to go after others. You’re his back-up plan because he is confused by your existence not because you’re his ideal. You have just been warned because he will never say it). I don’t need you to consider me as valuable by deeming my sisters as unworthy. But once again, let’s get away from the individual component and get down to the issues. There are only so many things about a person’s external appearance that can possibly make them attractive:

1. Their features; skin, hair, facial structure, body type, etc.

2. What the culture assumes about said person because of their features

3. What you conclude about yourself and how you would relate to the conclusions you’ve made about someone you do not know based off of culture and/or your own perceived notions.
Beautiful Black Women
How do you perceive blackness and how do you perceive womanhood to the point where when they intersect you are no longer interested? Seriously, I challenge all men to consider that. Many times we know a lot of stereotypes but we don’t really know the people that we are either consciously or subconsciously condemning as lesser than. 

Why is it that if I say white woman, you don’t think she may have a loud or “intimidating” (I hate that adjective) personality, but that’s the dominant apprehension one typically has when it comes to dating a black woman? Can white people not be loud? What makes someone intimidating? Can a black woman not be introverted without being praised for her “atypical” demeanor as if her culture guarantees that she will be a loud banshee with no “class”? WHAT. IS. THIS. TOMFOOLERY?
Beauty in all shades
As you may be able to tell from the tone of this post I do take offense when I hear this from men of any color because this idea about dating in general is not simply coming from a vacuum of personal preference (that’s another post for another day) but from a culmination of messed up ideology that leaves the black women with the role of inferiority while everyone else is considered better than. Men I know this post might make you feel guilty, but have you ever considered that you just might be? I’m not here to criminalize you, but to really make you consider the common lack of empathy, consideration, and compassion projected towards black women globally. You do not experience her pain and you cannot tell her she is being dramatic because “it cannot be that deep.” The concept is foreign to you, but just because it is invisible from your point of view doesn't mean it is mythical. It may be difficult to understand but go out of your way to do so.

And black women, love yourself in the face of the mainstream ideology convincing you that no one else will. I am not saying this as though it is a simple task but I know I’m charging you to do something truly difficult. Don’t ask yourself “Will he ever date a black girl?”, as if you are some sort of alien to this world. I understand the distrust we have because of the experiences we know, but darling do not let them consume and DO NOT encourage the idea that you will never find love. Relationships are difficult and the way in which the world has framed them is very broken, but you are a beautiful complete human being made in the image of God. He’s your creator, not men. Don’t feel like you have to adopt other people’s culture, lose yourself, hide your culture, or anything else because of the lies and rumors that you've heard about your existence. You are accepted because of the unique elements that make you, you, including your blackness. There are challenges to loving and there are challenges to being loved but please know that you are not less than. You are so much more than you know.
2 generations
So in conclusion understand that by saying “You would never date a black girl” you are indeed validating every notion that society has upheld in efforts to oppress black women. Conversely understand that if (not saying it’s right, but if) a black women says “I would never date a white guy” its typically out distrust for the hurt they've already experienced unlike the disgust that typically comes from men and the stereotypes they have of black women whether they've experienced them or not. Also IF (once again not saying it’s right) a black women claims “I would never date a black guy,” you as a male typically still have other options that will potentially accept you. However, there is no privilege or mobility for a black woman; as a black women it’s typically understood that no one wants you because you are not the norm or ideal in a majority of cultures. This topic is too complex to fully address in one blog post but I hope I clarified the general pain, and expelled the foolish excuses that encourage the acceptability of the phrase: “I would never date a black girl.”

Young Beauties
 Lastly, this is not a request for black men or white men or any men to start asking me out. Once again, this is not about the individual act of dating but the mindset we condone around the simple human issue of relationship. Please leave me and my singleness alone :). I am content, I just wanted to explain the mechanisms feeding a deeply rooted wound that no one seems to understand besides those who have to feel its pain on a consistent basis. That’s all.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lost and Found Stories - Stolen Laptop

I love sharing these types of stories with you because they provide hope. This lost and found story is a bit different in that an item was stolen, but it was found and returned to its owner.

My son has a Macbook. On his off days he would go to a local coffee shop and set up his "office." On this particular day, three weeks ago, he went to the restroom and when he came back the laptop was gone, but everything else was there. After going through a range of emotions, he spoke to the store manager and reported it to the police.

When I checked with him two days later, he said he was over it. He knew his faith was being tested but he would continue to believe. BTW the ability to bounce back higher after adversity is a quality I admire in others.

In addition, he had activated "Find my Mac" on the laptop so he knew that it had not been turned on because he had not received any notifications. This week he received a notification on his phone which provided the exact address of the laptop. I suggested he call the police since a report was filed and provide them with this information. Ultimately the police were able to go the address and retrieve the laptop. On Wednesday he picked up the laptop and it is none the worse for wear - all of his data is still on the laptop.

All I could say was, "Wow!"

Despite all our good intentions, sometimes horrible things happen. I am so glad he had the presence of mind to initiate the tracking software (I never knew about this), but more importantly to continue to trust God in spite of his circumstances.
That's what trusting God is all about - doing all that we can and leaving the rest up to Him.

O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lord, from childhood. Psalms 71:5 (NLT)

Have you lost anything lately? Are you learning to trust?

Friday, October 3, 2014

Presentation is the Key

Today on the way to school we saw a high school girl wearing a medium cropped top and sweat pants. As you get closer to the HS one can see all manner of dress and undress.

I am not the modesty police or a fashion cop - but as I think back to HS I wonder, was I so influenced by everything other than what was in my household that it changed the way I dressed? To a certain degree, yes. I read magazines, and all sorts of books. I've always had a strong personality and a strong sense of self. I went through a phase where I wore long t-shirts with booty shorts for two reasons: I liked my legs and knew they looked good; and I wanted you to think I was walking around with only a t-shirt on, though if you knew me you knew that couldn't be true. I was trying to make a statement and I don't know how much I succeeded - keep that in mind when you see high schoolers walking around in questionable outfits; they may be testing the boundaries.

I grew up in the Bahamas and Brooklyn. We were never given strict guidelines of what we could and could not wear, but we were taught to take pride in our appearance. My mother was a seamstress so I think we inherited a sense of fashion and its choices from her. My mom did not wear pants in the Bahamas but once she moved to NY and went through one winter, pants became a practical choice.

I grew up in the church and the girls and guys hung out together. At church picnics we were in the pool together. Most girls wore a one piece and guys wore trunks. Either sex had a great view of the other but babies were not being made in the pool! (BTW as humans it is inevitable that we will notice each other). We didn't have any rules about hemlines and cleavage. We wore shorts during the summer, arm holed shirts or camis as they are now called, t-shirts, shorts. Clothing choices were dictated by climate and practicality. But then there was also an unwritten line. To be sure I don't think crop tops were the rage in the Bahamas (but I could be wrong). We were taught about sex, but there was never a direct teaching about what we wore affecting our sexual actions.

Sunday Best!!
Once we moved to NY, I developed a sense of style of fashion. I was never ashamed of my body and teachings at home or at church did not cause shame. Quite frankly, some how I had a healthy sense of self. Sunday was when we wore our new outfits to church. I experimented with various colors, shapes and styles; back then everyone did. I do appreciate seeing a well dressed male or female and being well dressed. As I grew older, I took the subway and bus to get around. In NY you can be the recipient of cat calls whether you dress provocatively or not. As an obviously pregnant married woman, I was hit on. I found it amusing. Every female in NY knows this and comes up with strategies for dealing with it and it's not always changing your outfit.

All of this comes full circle as I think of my Little One who attends a private christian school that has all of these crazy rules about how each gender should dress. Kindergartners can't wear pants on the playground; every female wears skirts that have to be a certain length; they are prescribed haircuts for men and women. None of these rules allow for cultural differences; and sometimes I wonder what the point of all of this is. It's not as if dressing a certain way makes us better Christians. I think there is a fear that our clothes will make us act in a way that is unbecoming, particularly as it relates to sex.

As a society, we have sexualized everything - they really are people who just want to wear certain things "just because" and their minds aren't geared to fleshly thoughts. And then they are those who want to create a reaction. Either way they're making a choice and with choices come rewards or consequences.

As you become an adult, as a female, you begin to realize the power you possess in your sartorial choices. And just as women can look good in certain outfits so can men; this lusting is not a one way street. We are each responsible for our choices. Clothes do not make a person or change a person's heart. Clothes may reveal a person's motive but that may be giving too much power to apparel. The burden is not only on the female to watch how she dresses but it is also on the male, after all what would happen if men walked around in their Speedos in public? You begin to understand what's appropriate and what's not. You learn to work with your body - accentuating positives and camouflaging negatives. You recognize that beauty and attraction varies. You recognize that sometimes no matter what you wear you always attract attention. Or you wish someone would notice you, so maybe a particular outfit will make that happen. But these are all thoughts and choices.

Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,  for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body 
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. Psalms 139: 13-14 NLT

Do clothes make the man or woman? No, but they surely influence how you are perceived, and as much as you can control that you should. Presentation is the key.

As a teenager, did you struggle with clothing choices? Do you think about your impact on others or do you dress for you? Can you dress for you and curtail unwanted attention?

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

This Person I've Become - Emotions

Change - it's inevitable. Fluctuations seem to be one of the constants of life. Apparently we fight against change in organizations, but as humans we're constantly changing. Interactions shape us, relationships move us, thoughts enlighten us.

I've become more emotional, and I remember when I first noticed it. It wasn't motherhood per se, because I've never been a sentimental, overly emotional, mushy mother. But I do remember feeling sad the first time one of my children relayed a story where they weren't treated favorably on the playground. I remember feeling deeply sad and that if I could clobber the offending party, I would. And then I thought - "Who is this person and when did this happen?"

Once I was listening to a song on a talk show, and I found tears in my eyes as I listened. It was a song about motherhood, and I remember asking my mother if she cried, to which she said, "Who me? cry? no." Again I thought, "Who is this person?"

I remember during a brother's wedding, I was so caught up in their love, happy tears rolled from my eyes. Everyone wanted to know what was wrong with me. Nothing was wrong I was just happy. And sometimes happiness shows up in the form of tears. But other emotions are also wrapped in tears: anger, hurt, disappointment, relief. Commercials make me cry as do movies. A good conversation can really move me. Seeing a child being respectful to their mother makes me want to jump for joy.

All of this emotion can't be chalked up to me being more in touch with my feelings, some of it may just be a function of physical changes in the body.

Either way this person I've become, has me perplexed; some days and all I can do is smile and cry.

Have you become more emotional?

Friday, September 26, 2014

You Are Not Your Mistakes

Have you ever kicked yourself for doing something so dumb? "How could you?" you say over and over again. You deal with it, you talk it out, and you do your best to learn from it and you move on. I've done some dumb things in my life - haven't we all? But that's no excuse because when I should have known better, I didn't do better and as a result I was humiliated. I'd venture to say that if I wasn't humiliated I might have continued not doing better.

I remember that humiliation.  Isn't it funny that no matter the passage of time, sometimes that mistake just rears its ugly head and all of a sudden it's hitting you square between the eyes.

What do you do?

At this point, I've learned to remember that I am not my mistake. The feelings may come to make me doubt where I am now, but I'm not that mistake - I'm not the person I was when I made that mistake. All of these thoughts take root in our minds and if we ruminate on them they can grow and produce undesirable fruit that is rotten.
Is this how you feel?

Instead, take every thought captive. When you capture something, you surround it and muffle it so that it is stifled and has no room to grow. Do that with your thoughts. Then replace the mistake with your growth from that point on. Don't marinate in the mistake, marinate on the growth.

While we may always wrestle with things that caused us pain, we don't have to let our minds stay there. We can remember that we have overcome and we are now better for having made that mistake.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 6-7

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23

If this is your struggle, remember you can overcome and you are not your mistakes.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Notes From My Daughter - The Temptation of Irresponsibility

Occasional notes from my 20 year old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise.  Read on!

My daughter

While abroad it’s very easy to have a “I can do whatever I want” mindset but this is not always beneficial. Everything has a consequence and it’s important to live faithfully no matter where you are. Sometimes I want to put my guard down because I’m in this beautiful city and there are no worries but I’ve actually been there and done that before. It does not set up a good future, it does not build good habits, and does not bear good fruit. Studying abroad is not an escape from reality, it’s an opportunity to grow and to be prepared for whats ahead. Your choices matter no matter where you are.

Friday, September 12, 2014

National Day of Encouragement


I looked at my wall calendar and noted that today is: National Day of Encouragement. Per Wikipedia National Day of Encouragement was announced in 2007 and occurs every year on the 12th day of September.

“The National Day of Encouragement is about inspiring Americans to make deliberate words and acts of encouragement a part of this day first, and then a part of every day of their lives."
The U.S. Senate simple resolution that was passed goes even further:
Whereas negative images, stories, and influences in the day-to-day lives of the people of the United States can detrimentally affect their emotional well-being, interactions with others, and general demeanor;
Whereas a group of teenagers participating in a leadership forum at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas, identified a lack of encouragement as one of the greatest problems facing young people today;
Whereas the youth of the United States need guidance, inspiration, and reassurance to counteract this negativity and to develop the qualities of character essential for future leadership in the United States;
Whereas a National Day of Encouragement would serve as a reminder to counterbalance and overcome negative influences, and would also provide much-needed encouragement and support to others;
Whereas, following the events of September 11, 2001, thousands of people made sacrifices in order to bring help and healing to the victims and their families, inspiring and encouraging the people of the United States; and
Whereas the renewed feelings of unity, hope, selflessness, and encouragement that began on September 12, 2001, are the same feelings that the National Day of Encouragement is meant to recapture and spread: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) designates September 12, 2011, as ‘National Day of Encouragement’;
(2) acknowledges the importance of encouragement and positive influences in the lives of all people; and
(3) urges the people of the United States to encourage others, whether through an act of service, a thoughtful letter, or words of kindness and inspiration, and by that encouragement to boost the morale of all people of the United States. (Source:

So I'm all about encouragement over here regardless of what's going on in your world. I recently wrote this post about encouragement.

In addition why not:

  • Tell your parents thank you
  • Show your appreciation for your job
  • Have a grateful spirit
  • Say hi to a random person on the street
  • Encourage yourself
  • Pay it forward

Be encouraged.

So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Instead, your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will lead the people into the land. Encourage him, for he will lead Israel as they take possession of it. Deuteronomy 1:38

Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 1 Samuel 23:16

The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense. Proverbs 10:21

How do you encourage others?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Catching Monkeys

It is said that the way to catch a monkey is to take a coconut, cut a hole in it and place a pebble inside the coconut.  The monkey will see the coconut, place his hand in the coconut and grab the pebble. But then the monkey can not leave because he now has to figure out what's important - the pebble or the coconut. And so in his distraction he becomes easy bait to be caught. (I don't know how true this is, as I've never ventured to catch monkeys, but the premise makes for worthwhile discussion.)

Sometimes, we are like those monkeys. We hold on to things that we think are important and forget the bigger picture. We get sucked in by wanting things and then those things take a hold of us. Things like: placing a premium on getting a dream job; sending our children to the best schools; buying a car or a house; or a relationship.

When we finally get these things we hold on to them so tightly, and before we know it, we are not enjoying life. We're also in a position to be distracted and to be caught. At this point, we hear and interpret things differently. For example what used to be, "education is important and we will do our best to ensure our kids receive the best with what we have to offer." now becomes, "education is the most important thing and nothing matters but sending my child to an ivy league school."  What used to be, "this job is the next step in my career because I really enjoy what I do," now becomes, "I'm here and I don't care what I have to do or who I have to hurt to keep this job." Our thinking becomes warped the longer we hold on to the pebble. The coconut has more value than the pebble. The coconut can be used to sustain us and help others. The coconut wasn't meant to trap you but the bait inside the coconut was, and so many of us take the bait.

How about we open our hands and let the pebble go; just let it go because it's not as important as you think it is and if you really want a pebble you can get it outside of the coconut. When you put things in their proper perspective, a pebble is just a pebble.

Monkeys like humans are smart, but sometimes we do things that are to our own detriment. We focus on things we want that are so little and inconsequential instead of focusing on bigger things.  For me the bigger things are always about increasing my faith by trusting in the One who made all things. When tempted to take the bait, He gives me the wisdom, the insight and the foresight to let go of the pebble. In that moment of letting go I know that I won't be bait for anyone and I won't be a monkey that gets caught. You can still enjoy all that God has for you without it becoming the priority in your life.

19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT)

Have you taken the bait? What are you holding on to?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Unforced Errors


Since I'm married to sports aficionado, I've learned the game of tennis and actually enjoy watching it. Of course once two women came on the scene who turned the tennis world upside down, I've watched it ever since.
Unforced error is tennis term that means: the ball you hit was not good - it went outside the line or in to the net. You did not score the point and the opponent did not cause the error - you did. Perhaps you double faulted or hit the ball wide. None of these are intentional.

The official definition is: Error in a service or return shot that cannot be attributed to any factor other than poor judgement and execution by the player [Source: Glossary of Tennis Terms ]. But poor judgement is entirely subjective. There is no mention of physical fatigue, tactical decision making, and mental game.  See more at: Tennis Game.

The thing about unforced errors is that they don't necessarily determine the outcome of the game. What really matters is your proportion of unforced errors to winners; typically if you have more winners you win.

An example of an unforced error is a double fault. In tennis a fault occurs when you do not serve the ball within the lines of the opposite box. This is the only space that a serve can land. A player has two chances to serve a decent serve. If you miss twice its called a double fault and it is also considered an unforced error. Now it takes a lot of effort and skill to place the serve in the box. Because you're playing against an opponent you think tactically and so you do things to the serve that make it difficult for the opponent to return - after all that's the point of the game; you're trying to win points. If the serve is not returned it's called an ace and the player who served wins the point. So you may serve with a high speed, or your placement is always on the line, or you may also spin the ball. As a player, you're always going to go for it, because the rewards outweigh the risks. It never looks effortless when an unforced error is committed.

Here's what Roger Federer - currently ranked #2 for men, has to say about unforced errors:

“I don’t care about unforced errors. The guys that love the statistics, they love those things. I don’t care if I make 20 or 60 unforced errors. I don’t care, as long as I’m doing the right things and staying true to my game plan and it makes sense. If I’m just making errors and I can’t hit a winner any more, then I’m in trouble, clearly."

Sports provides great analogies for our lives particularly our spiritual lives. So what's the point?

  • Sometimes you have to go for it.
  • No one is perfect - perfection is unattainable for imperfect human beings even for the #1 players.
  • You'll never know until you try,
  • Once you've made the error, put it behind you and move on to the next point. Don't get bogged down by your errors.
  • When you go for it, give it your best effort 
  • There are things out of your control like the wind, or the crowd.
  • In tennis it's about the win.

Tennis like life is complicated and requires some mastery. The only way we can master life is with God. Don't let the fear of failure prevent you from going after your goal. Even if you've failed, don't stop trying. Give every effort one hundred percent. Don't get stuck on your failures, but instead keep moving. We're not perfect, so all of us will make errors at some point, but with God's help we will succeed especially if what we are going after is what He has in store for us.

True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life. Proverbs 22:4 (NLT)

Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God,[a] for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Ephesians 1:11 (NLT)

Have you made any unforced errors lately? How did you recover?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Encouragement - We All Need It

Today I was sharing some of my job search "adventures" with a sister after church. As I recounted different experiences and the jumble of thoughts that may sometimes cripple a job seeker, she in all of her innocent beauty said, "Those weren't the right opportunities for you, that's why they didn't work out."

Her aura, and her encouragement just did so much in that moment and she didn't even know it.

But encouragement can be like that - sometimes it's just the little word, thought or action that makes all the difference in the world.

And then I remembered this verse later: God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of LOVE, POWER and a SOUND MIND. 2 Timothy 1:7 This week as I deal with whatever comes my way I'm holding on to two things:
I don't need to be afraid and God has got it all under control.


What will you hold on to this week?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Life's Little Pleasures

There is a lot of unrest in the world as I write; without me naming specific incidents you can probably recite them.
Those things can weigh you down, so instead I'll think about life's little pleasures. Not because I'm in denial, but because these things make me happy and when I'm happy I can tackle bigger problems.

So here's some of life's little pleasures:

  • The Little One had a friend over; they're doing nothing special but the laughter and enjoyment of each others company puts a smile on my face.

  • When visiting my parents in NY seeing the smiles on their faces as everyone was around.

  • Having conversations or small talk with my children; extra pleasure - hearing maturity.

  • Catching up with friends over a cup of tea.

  • Alone time.

  • Couple time.

  • Holding hands.

  • Sunrise - being outside at the crack of dawn.

  • Telling a joke and everyone getting it.

  • The satisfaction you get from the smell of clean laundry just out of the dryer; actually being at the dryer when it stops so you can still feel the warmth of the clean clothes.

  • Exercise.

  • Reading - I just completed a variety of books on my vacation which increased my enjoyment.

  • Praying - in the moment right where you are; sometimes just to offer thanks or to ask for help.

  • Answered pray - seeing solutions in small ways to big things that I've prayed about. 


Little pleasures for me often involve laughter, smell, touch and memory. Little pleasures put a smile on my face. Little pleasures remind me that even though this world has gone mad, there's still much to smile about and perhaps there's something I can offer to quell the madness. Little pleasures have a huge impact.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

What can you add to the list of little pleasures?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Capturing Memories

Capturing memories - that's some of what I do here on this blog. This year, we didn't have an official family reunion but my long winding vacation served as one. 

On July 16 I left Los Angeles, and headed to NY. My husband was leaving Jamaica and meeting me in NY. Funnily enough we both missed our connecting flights to NY and got in later than we anticipated. I spent the first four days of my vacation on Long Island where I had lived before relocating. I was able to spend a good bit of time reconnecting and reminiscing with girlfriends.
Our old house
Partying with a good friend

The following week we spent in Brooklyn. Brooklyn has changed and is now the place to be. Can you say gentrification? I took the subway, walked, even jogged in Prospect Park a couple of times. We took in Motown on Broadway and it was worth every penny we spent. When I heard my husband whooping after the first song, I knew we had made the right choice. It's a good show from beginning to end. We walked around Times Square before taking the subway back to Brooklyn. In addition we really got to reconnect with family and friends. I got to see how my parents were doing, and catch up on all the family happenings. On the weekend of 7/26 in particular, it seems like everyone was there, though it was not planned.

Grand Army Plaza
Playbill from Motown

Sightseeing with my sister on the Circle Line

The following week we drove to Toronto for a cousin's wedding taking place on August 1st. This was yet another good time with family. The dress code was black tie and the women were asked to indulge the bride by wearing fascinators. Boy, did the women oblige - it was nice to see everyone elegantly attired. On Saturday, we went to Caribana. I've heard of this festival for years and wanted to see how Toronto puts on a party - they did a good job though I might be getting a bit old for it. On Sunday, my Bajan cousins had a picnic and we spent part of the day with them. Then in the afternoon we spent the remainder of the day with my husband's Jamaican family and friends. 

On this trip I used AirBnB for the first time and my experience was overwhelmingly positive. Our host Liz shared her home with us and made us feel like family. Not every BnB experience is this way, but Liz is used to opening her home and letting others in. In addition she lives in a beautiful neighborhood, so on Monday we jogged together and explored. Before leaving Toronto, we drove to Niagara Falls. We didn't do a tour but we saw the Falls and all of the tourist traps.

Me and the girls from Ghana at Caribana

Once we left Toronto, we stopped in NY for a day and then we were off to Maryland to spend a couple of days with my brother. While I love the inside of his house, my favorite part is the outside which I have dubbed "The Meadow", it's that big. I generally don't like dogs, but he has a dog named Lyric which liked me and I, her. I even let her jump on me. In the evenings I played with my niece and nephew. While here, I caught up with my best friend from college - good times.
my new best friend

bff from college

One last hurrah on the last leg of the vacation.

We left Maryland early Saturday morning and came back to Brooklyn. We took my parents out to a lovely Indian restaurant called Baluchis (it sounds Italian but it's Indian). I'm not a fan of Indian food, but after eating here I am. The portions were the right sized and everything was seasoned perfectly. I think this meal made my parents very happy because we started to talk about things that we had never talked about before - particularly their histories.

Now we had to return the rental - so we drove in to Manhattan for the return and met one of our favorite couples from the Bronx. We caught up while driving, stopped by their house, then went to the Cheesecake Factory in the new Ridge Hill Shopping center. It didn't matter what was ordered as the conversation was great. Finally we made it back to Brooklyn.

Our flight was at 6:00 am August 10th, so we didn't get much sleep. My parents wanted to continue talking and then we prayed.
We made it to the airport in time and arrived safely. I fell asleep around 3:00 pm Sunday afternoon and and finally woke up at 6:00 the next morning.

I had initial misgivings about the length of this vacation, but I'm glad we did it.