Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sounds of the Morning


Birds chirping, singing and whistling.
Squirrels running through the trees
Other critters coming to life
Thud - the sound of the newspaper being delivered.

I am able to hear these sounds because it is so peaceful and there is nothing else going on. Most humans are still asleep and there's not a lot of cars on the road, yet.

The sounds of nature are not drowned out by the sounds of daily living.

This is the best time of the day as it allows me to just be still. Sometimes I am in awe of all that is around me. Where I live fruit trees are prolific - the orange tree in my backyard is swelling with oranges. The lemon tree has produced quite a bit this year and the scent of fresh rosemary is heavenly; this is just my backyard.
Nature's bounty

As I run around the neighborhood, I enjoy the scent of flowers blooming. I am simply attuned to the beauty of God in nature and I am humbled.

I am no scientist, but I think about how everything knows its purpose and operates anew daily.

In the sounds of the morning I am reminded to be still. I am reminded that God has a purpose for me. I am reminded that God's mercies are new every morning. I am reminded of faithfulness.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

What are your favorite sounds of the morning?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Job Hunting - How Do I Look?

I have to tell you, I worry incessantly about if I am aesthetically pleasing to an interviewer. I worry about how I will style my hair and now that I'm natural, I think I spend way more time thinking about this than necessary. I plan outfits in my head and worry about which shoe will complete the outfit, then I worry about if the shoe is comfortable. I get my nails done, because I believe that matters. And my face - it needs to look perfect.

While outward presentation is important, there's no need to spend so much time worrying about it.

Ultimately, if a positive hiring decision is made, it will be because of what is in your head, not what's on your body. If you're only hired for your outward appearance, in the long run, its a bit demoralizing and more than likely you won't be satisfied in this position long term. Proper emphasis should be placed on your appearance, but be clear on what you are bringing to the table.

One caveat about appearance - professional attire means different things depending on where you are in the country. Coming from New York I was used to wearing a suit to all professional meetings, however for my first interview in California, I was definitely over-dressed in my suit and heels. I stuck out like a sore thumb. Perhaps it was the industry, but it was also the location as everyone in the company had on t-shirt, jeans and sneakers. Needless to say I did not get that job.

Nowadays, this is my standard interview "uniform":

  • Black slacks (you can't go wrong with black, preferably boot cut); if I wear slacks I'm not concerned about wearing stockings or not.
  • A white or neutral button up shirt; the white should be crisp and sharp. A good white shirt is a great investment, though sometimes a crew neck will do depending on the organization.
  • A black cardigan or blazer
  • Hoop earrings
  • Minimal makeup (though I don't wear heavy makeup on a day to day basis).
  • Mid height close toe pumps or wedges
  • Portfolio for resume and other essentials
  • My favorite hairstyle is a bun positioned at the nape of my neck or in the middle. 
  • A smile!

Depending on the industry and my mood, I may change my uniform as I see fit. Once I open my mouth, I let my light shine.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 (NKJV)
What's your interview uniform? What's your favorite hairstyle? Do you wear stockings?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Job Hunting - The Beauty of Experience

The Israelites were being taunted by Goliath, a warrior for the Philistines. No one could defeat the giant Goliath as he was big and tall - 9 feet 9 inches. But then David stepped up. He went to King Saul and presented his case. He basically said, "I have experience killing animals that appear to be giants, that torment my sheep.  I have killed lions and bears with my own hand, so I'm sure I can kill this giant. I mean I'm not supposed to be able to kill lions and bears, yet I do with God's help, so why not this giant? Anyhow no one else has been able to do it, so why not me?"

I'm paraphrasing, but I can only imagine that's what David was thinking as he volunteered to kill this giant.

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, 35 I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.36 Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 Moreover David said, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.1 Samuel 17: 34-37 (NKJV)

David could rely on past experience - with my hand I have killed lions and bears. It didn't have to be exact, just similar.

David also had faith in God - the Lord who delivered me from lions and bears will deliver me from this giant.

Experience and faith are great things to rely on while job hunting. I'm using my experience to show that what I've done in the past can be done in the future though there may be a greater challenge. The greater challenge is where the faith comes in and I'm relying on that also.

The beauty of experience is that when you're in a situation that appears challenging to others, you have the fortitude and wherewithal to execute successfully. Your methods may astound others or may appear unorthodox, but they are successful. As you keep slaying giants, you can become an expert giant killer.

Have you killed any giants recently, based on past experience?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Job Hunting

This is not a typical post for me, but I wanted to share because even in the ordinariness of life there is commonality.

I'm job hunting and I'm totally ambivalent. For so long, approximately 5 years, I've had the flexibility of working from home as an E-Rate and Technology Consultant. I work for a small educational non-profit based in Northern California. Through this opportunity I have learned a lot, but I've reached a point where I'm ready to move on. To that end, I've put in serious work on my resume and have started sending out resumes.

We all know the key way to find your next opportunity is through networking, but when you are relatively new to an area networking is next to impossible. For the past 7 years while working and consulting, I've also tried to build a network.

Professionally, I'm not one of those people who has a straight line to the next opportunity.  Because I've done various things, sometimes I'm not even sure what my next opportunity would look like. So some times, I submit my resume, just because. I've learned that this is not a good strategy, because if you don't know where you are going any road will take you there.

I'm beginning to streamline my options and am getting calls that are more in line with my skill set and also a challenge for me.

Believe it or not, I'm having a crisis of confidence. Every time I express this thought the folks that know me are shocked, and then I'm shocked that they are shocked. But this is where I am.

Job hunting is challenging:

  • You must believe in yourself
  • You must always put your best foot forward
  • You must prepare
  • You must be able to say why you are a good fit for the position
  • You have to want what you're going after
  • You can't entirely be yourself (nerves are good)

There will be missteps along the way; you may have a bad interview, not connect with the interviewer or midway through the process realize this is not what you want. I have determined that I will use the missteps as opportunities for learning and not beat myself up too much.

In all of this, I rely on scripture. You know why? Because people mean well and have nice platitudes of encouragement. But I've found the best encouragement comes from scripture and may even be mirrored by well meaning friends. So I rely on scripture and talking to God.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

Are you job hunting? What kept you going? 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mom of The Year

After Kevin Durant's touching MVP speech, I may not be a contender for the Mom of the Year.

But really, what is the mom of the year? Who determines if you're a good mom to the children that were entrusted to you? Who knows the sacrifice you make for your offspring?
Who can understand the person you've become since motherhood changed you?
Why do we give out, or even rely on these titles?

If you've birthed a child, changed a diaper, examined poop, removed mucus, tricked a child in to eating - you're mom of the year.
If you've wiped skinned knees, and elbows, or felt sad when your child was hurt - you're mom of the year.
If you find yourself standing up for your child in ways you never expected - you're mom of the year.
If you find yourself wanting to protect your offspring from every bad thing - you're mom of the year.
If you  equip your child as best as you can to deal with every possible situation - you're mom of the year.
If you find yourself yelling because they've done something dumb, yet regretting it later - you're mom of the year.
If you've punished them, though it hurts you - you're mom of the year.
If you've instilled discipline - you're mom of the year.
If you've loved their friends like they are your own - you're mom of the year.
If you find yourself crying when they first leave home - you're mom of the year.
If you find yourself cooking their favorite meals because they're coming to visit - you're mom  of the year.
If you always want the best for your children - you're mom of the year.

I re-read Hannah's story recently - she too was a mom of the year. For many years she prayed for a child and promised the Lord that if he granted her request, she would give him back to the Lord. She became pregnant, and after he was weaned (anywhere between 2-3 years) she entrusted him to the priest, Eli, just as she promised. But she went on to have 5 more children. For whatever reason, her first child made her pray and make a promise to God. Children do that to us, don't they?

Motherhood is not the be all or end all, but it is fulfilling and matures you in an unexpected way. If you're not a mom, be sure to show your mom some appreciation; let her know that she's your mom of the year. If you're mother, don't beat yourself up; enjoy all the moments of being a mom and even if your children don't say it now, may they rise up and called you blessed, as you embody the qualities of mom of the year.

Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31:28 (NLT)

Happy Mothers Day!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Women, Exercise and Change of Life

I was reading a recent blog post about one woman's need for surgery due to female issues. But I was disturbed by the comments. There were two over riding themes:

  1. A lack of knowledge on what happens at this stage
  2. A lack of exercise

From my own experience, exercise is not a cure all but it comes pretty close. I'm on the other side of 45 and pretty close to 50. I'm still tickled when folks don't believe my age or somehow think my children should be younger. I'm flattered when I'm told my daughters and I could pass for sisters. BTW - I will enjoy these compliments until they stop coming.  I use to try to rebut, or wonder what people think my age would look like, but now I gracefully smile and say thank you.

But there's a segment of women that have let themselves go physically. They have doughy arms, distended bellies and dimpled thighs. They try to convince themselves that they're fine, until they start dealing with the effects of aging combined with menopause. It's rough. But what I know is that if you take care of yourself physically, dealing with female changes aren't so hard and daunting. Infrequently I'll have hot flashes,or other physical changes associated with this phase of life. There was a point when I actually had insomnia. I found that when I increased my exercise the insomnia subsided. None of these things have ever reached the point (for me) where I thought I needed medications or hormones to correct.

So I want to encourage all women to make physical exercise and well-being a regular part of their lives.

  • Start by walking, and gradually build up to something more rigorous. I like to run as I can pretty much do it anywhere. Besides the investment of proper sneakers and proper attire, this is something that is low cost. And we all know the benefits of running.  It doesn't have to be running; it can be speed-walking, dancing, swimming, table tennis, hiking, horseback riding, weight lifting, cycling, stair-climbing. The main criteria is that it works up a sweat.
  • Push yourself, a leisurely stroll is just that, leisurely - you need to put in some effort.
  • Watch what you eat; make sure you're getting all your vitamins.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Incorporate more fruits and vegetables in to what you eat.
  • Make small changes over time; Rome was not built in a day.
  • Watch your portion sizes
  • Connect with other women who have this mindset.
  • See your doctor annually.

You've raised children, and as a dear friend of mine says, "Now it's my time." For so long you've put yourself on the back-burner. No more, use this stage of life to start nurturing yourself physically, which hopefully will spread to other areas. It feels good to invest in yourself and its not selfish.

From a spiritual perspective there is nothing wrong with exercise or taking care of our bodies. We are told to take care of our bodies, but not at the expense of our spiritual health.

“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)

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)

She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms. Proverbs 31:17 (NKJV)

Do you exercise on a regular basis? What works for you?

Disclaimer - before attempting any physical exercise program, please consult a health care professional.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Timeless Truths

Mornings are my time - it's quiet. I have time to just think and who knows what will come in to my mind. (Of course, if I look at the kitchen sink it totally ruins my peaceful thoughts, but that's another story for another day.)

I also find running in the early morning cathartic, comfortable, and it further allows me to cultivate my relationship with the One who matters. Also, I solve all the world's problems on these early morning runs.

This morning I didn't go for a run, nor did I look at the kitchen sink. I simply sat and sipped a cup of tea (my favorite beverage.) As I sipped, this very old song came in to my mind:

Tis true o yes tis true
God's wonderful promises are true
For I've tested, trusted and tried it
And I know God's promises are true

I'm not sure why that song came to my mind this morning. But it encouraged me in more ways than one:

  • Keep pouring in to your children - I learned this song as a child many moons ago at home. In our home we had an old hymnal called The Believers Hymn Book. I think my mom knew every hymn in that book because she sang them with us and to us when ever she can. Funnily enough they stuck, and many times in my life I've relied on the truths from those hymns.
  • God's promises are timeless - There are as true today as they were many years ago.
  • God's promises are true - In my life, God's promises have proven to be true.
  • If it's in you, it will come out; be careful what you take in.


But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. Jeremiah 17:7 (NLT)
Are you ever surprised by the songs you find yourself singing?