31 July 2008

Hate on me...

Jill Scott -one of my favorite R&B artists, poet extraordinaire, beautiful bold Black woman - was in concert here in HotLanta last night and I was there! Now, there are some people who say I look like her- I'm convinced it is just the light skin, freckles and locs that make them say that 'cause she is BEAUTIFUL and I just have my moments occasionally. hahaha. On her latest album, she has a song entitled HATE ON ME (which I must admit, when I first heard it and saw the video, I did not like it - thought it was too hard and harsh and written from a place of bitterness after her divorce - but it's grown on me because of the truth of its lyrics). Basically, the premise of the song is this: no matter what I do, there's always going to be someone who doesn't like it...or me, because of it. As she introduced the song last night, she said (something like this): "you know there are some people out there in your lives right now who are mad at you because you are here at the Jill Scott concert. They sitting at home, hating your guts because of where you are and what you are doing. There are people who hate you because of the clothes you were, or the car you drive, or the blessings you receive...And these are the people who say they love you - ain't that a trip?" And truer words have never been spoken. At least two people (my best friend from college and my cousin) told me last night that they "hated" me when I told them that I was on my way to (or at) the concert last night. I mean, they literally said the words, "Ooo, I hate you!"

Now, I am going to state that I know that both of these women love me, but I also believe that there is an element in truth in the words that each of them spoke to me last night. It is common, normal and human to look at what others have or are doing and be upset/jealous/mad - whatever emotion you wish to call it - if we are not doing the same thing...or blessed with the same attributes. I have a BEAUTIFUL (inside and out) girlfriend who I tell regularly that if she wasn't so nice and such a positive influence in my life - I'd hate her guts! (She was at the concert last night as well.) She is bold and beautiful and artsy and confident in her skin and she has the longest, prettiest, straightest, down to her waist hair - and ugh! - like I said, if she wasn't so genuinely nice and supportive and nurturing, we would not and could not be friends because of my jealous feelings. And then there is my godsister (my favorite person in the world) who can sing like an angel and preach like John the Baptist and is accomplished in her own right - another person who I could spend hours "hating on" if she wasn't all that she is to me. Suffice it to say, we all have our hangups and jealousies.

One lesson I have learned in life (and I'm still learning it): be content with what YOU have, what God blesses YOU with, what God allows to happen in YOUR life. There will always be someone smarter or prettier or with a better car/job/house/vacation destination/401K savings account. Stop looking over the fence into someone else's yard wishing you had what they have. That car may be leaking oil in the garage...that job may be slowing killing them with stress and demands...that house may be falling down around them or not be a haven (as all homes should be) because it is filled with the sounds of anger and distress. Nurture what YOU have...be thankful for the blessings YOU are given...and when it seems like your friends are getting more than you...just praise God that He is loving and generous enough to bless them with the desires of their hearts...just as He blesses you with yours.

Ok, so that is the "human" side of being "hated on". In the spiritual realm, the time is coming (and for some, has already come) when you, as a child of God, will be hated just because...just because you praise His name, just because you give glory and honor to Him for everything...just because you woke up. (doesn't it feel that way some times?) You will be reviled, persecuted, talked about..."hated on"...just because. Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:22: "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." In other words, it is the natural order of things for men to hate you when you live your life according to His will and when you testify of His goodness to you. BUT, salvation is at the end of all the trials you go through for His sake...so, just hold on. Endure. Ultimately, it will be worth everything you go through.

Be blessed.

29 July 2008

"Give us this day...

...our daily bread." Matt. 6:11

Have you ever thought about what this text REALLY means? We live in a world of excess...we have multiple homes, multiple cars, multiple televisions, cell phones, BlackBerrys. As Americans, we throw away almost as much food as we physically consume - and think little or nothing about it when we do. I have even had the experience of offering a homeless person something to eat and have them tell me that they didn't like strawberry yogurt and if that was all I had to offer, they would pass. Ok, is it just me or if you are asking for money for food and someone offers you food, wouldn't you accept it EVEN IF it wasn't your favorite flavor? I'm just saying.

Back in Jesus' day (and in some cultures today), there wasn't this type of waste. I have never been to France, but I understand that the culture there is to every day go to the bakery and get bread for the day. "Daily bread", get it. In order words, the Parisiens only get what they will need for just that day. There is little or no waste.

Too often, when we petition the Lord with our requests, we ask for the sun, moon, stars and throw in a couple of planets while you're at it...instead of just asking for strength for the day and the trials inherent in that specific 24 hours. "This day". Jesus reminds us with this short little phrase that all we need help with is the immediate. We don't have to worry about tomorrow or next week or next year - in truth, none of those are promised to us anyway. Yes, we are to "occupy" until...make plans and set goals, but don't "worry" about them in the moment. And trust God to give you just what you need just for today.

Be blessed.

25 July 2008


I am always amazed when a new word makes into the English "dictionary" or lexicon. I mean, I remember a world before "Internet" and "iPod" and "Facebook" and "cell phones" and "BlackBerry" and yet, today EVERYONE has one or knows about it - even my 88 year old grandmother in the small, tiny town of Palatka, Florida.

Well, the new word of this summer is "stay-cation" - or when you take time off work to stay at home, instead of traveling somewhere for a vacation. With increasing fuel prices, it is becoming harder and economically infeasible for families to travel any great distance on vacation. Whether by automobile or airplane or train or whatever...with gas prices hovering near or above $4 a gallon, people have to make a choice with their vacation funds...and more and more people are choosing to stay at home. There was recently a Good Morning America spot about ideas you could implement to make it fun - picnics on the front lawn or at a local park; renting a hotel room and playing "tourist" in your hometown (added benefit: using their pool and facilities).

I'm taking a week off work next week and staying at home. Now granted, I will be getting my roof replaced - it was damaged during the tornado that hit our town in March of this year - so it won't be ALL fun and games, but I have some fun things planned as well. I took my first "stay-cation" last year and found it to be very productive and enjoyable. I made a long list of things to do - most of which actually got accomplished, believe it or not - but I also learned a lesson or two:

Time off work should be spent enjoying yourself. While you may have "projects" to do, taking time for a massage or spa day or afternoon at the movies will do wonders for the soul.

Don't make too long a list of things to do. You'll look at the list, get overwhelmed and do nothing.

Set a time limit for how much time you are going to devote to a specific project each day. If you want to go through a closet and clear it out, set a time limit. "I will work on this closet for two hours - or until noon - and then I'm done." Setting a time limit means the end is in sight at the very beginning and maybe you won't resent doing it so much.

Stay focused. If your goal is to re-do your budget - re-do the budget. Don't distract yourself with doing the laundry at the same time or clearing out the DVR queue or ... well, you get the picture. One thing at a time will get more things done.

Turn off the alarm. Your natural sleep cycle will wake you up when it is time for you to awaken. This is always hard for me because I naturally wake up at 4:00a. On vacation/stay-cations, I have to give myself permission to burrow back under the covers and go back to sleep. It usually only takes about two days for me to not feel guilty about it.

Go to a new restaurant.

Go to that tourist attraction that you only get to enjoy when company is in town and insists on visiting. You will find you will enjoy it more when you don't have to play "host".

I don't know what your plans are for summer vacation, but if you are staying close to home, I hope these hints help. Have a great weekend. I don't know (yet) if I'm vacationing from blogging, but just in case...

Be blessed.

24 July 2008

Small miracles

Yesterday, I talked about my host of fabulous girlfriends and mentioned that I'd done a "girls night out" with a group of them on Tuesday evening - and mentioned fortune cookies. My fortune that night was "You will witness a miracle soon." (or something like that - I threw it away - one small step for this packrat.) One of my favorite R&B singers, the now deceased Luther Vandross sang, "Little miracles happen every day..." Anyway, it got me to thinking - how many miracles do I witness every day and take for granted?

Obviously, waking up each morning "clothed in my right mind with all my limbs and faculties working as they should" is a major one.

Having a job to go to every day that on most days, I love and enjoy - and that pays me well enough to meet my financial responsibilities - and still buy shoes at will and leisure. [Of course, right now, I am still on my "shoe shopping fast" (only one more month to go), but you get the picture!]

Family and friends that love me - in spite of...

Sunrises, sunsets, full moons, rainbows, flowers

Traveling on the crazy, traffic-congested, construction-obstructed roads and highways of a major metropolitan city every day without accident or incident

Food, food, glorious food

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I admonish you to "stop and smell the roses" - learn to take time to appreciate the little things and the big things will be even more magnificent - take time to take stock of the many miracles that surround you every day. Maybe by doing that you will take your focus off of your problems and issues and concerns - and find relief from your burdens ('cause we all have them!)

Be blessed.

23 July 2008

Best Girlfriends in the World...

From a teabag: "Appreciation is like an insurance policy. It has to be renewed every now and then." AMEN!

Last night, I celebrated a "girls night out" with a group of six FABULOUS women (including me) and during the course of the night, as we were reading our fortune cookies, one declared, "I have the best girlfriends in the world!" and I have to agree with her. Not only the five women I dined with last night, but my life is chockfull of women who have "been there" for me. Which is an amazing thing in and of itself since I am a self-declared lover of male friends as opposed to female friends. (And not just for the obvious physical reasons either!) As a child (and even into adulthood), I was hurt several times by female "friends" who, out of spite or jealousy or over some man or whatever reason, lashed out and caused harm. And, if I am brutally honest: I KNOW I have done the same to some women who have passed through my life. And even if/though I have apologized, the wounds are still there. So for YEARS, I have loudly proclaimed, "I would rather have a male friend than a female one." And there is still some validity to that statement, but I have found (as I get older and hopefully more mature), there is value in having good female friends as well.

A magazine I was reading recently had an article about the "7 Female Friends Every Woman Needs" - and I don't remember all their categories, but it went something like: a travel buddy, a comedian, a wet shoulder, a spiritual guide, the childhood friend...etc. etc. I remember as I read the article thinking that I was blessed to have female friends who filled all their categories and then some. In a blog I did around Mother's Day, I paid tribute to a lot of women who have impacted my life...and in the spirit of the appreciation quote above, I'd like to briefly say "Thank you" to all the female friends, my sistagirls, the girlfriends, "my girls" who:

...continually lift me up

...support me in all my crazy endeavors (and I have more than one occasionally)

...are there at 3:00a when I text them crazy messages

...pray for me and with me

...offer financial advice and solutions to situations I put myself into

...don't judge me

...love me unconditionally

...are "related" to me, even if the same blood doesn't flow through our veins

...go shoe shopping with me

...remember me when they travel

...stand in line to get the autograph of my favorite authors "just because"

...travel with me - and still desire to remain my friend after we get back home

...laugh with me

...are honest with me when I mess up

...compliment me - even when I'm having a bad hair day (and yes, people with locs can have them too!)

...help me dye my hair because I need a little "pick me up"

...help me feel better when I decide maybe I should have stayed with the original color after all

...listen to me vent about ... whatever ... no matter how many times I need to vent

...tell me I am fabulous when I am feeling less than

...know me and love me anyway

...give me my space when I ask for it and wait patiently for me to come back

...encourage my ministry, even when I am feeling less than worthy

...remember me

...send me little notes in the mail because they know how much I enjoy going to the mailbox and receiving personal messages

...text me just to say "hey, how you doing?" or call because it's been a while

...nourish my soul in inexplicable and unexplainable ways

I am truly blessed to have each of them in my life. I pray you have a circle of friends who do the same to and for you. If you do, take time to tell them how much you love and appreciate them. It will mean the world to them...and a lot to you.

Be blessed.

20 July 2008

Packrats Untie!

(No, that is not a mis-spelling...just read.)

I have (yet another) confession to make: I am a packrat. I save EVERYTHING: movie ticket stubs, every receipt known to man (although, those come in handy if I ever need to return something or validate a warranty), calendars because the pictures are cute. I have tubs of greeting cards for every occasion, journals dating back to before high school (it's amazing to re-read some of those of find out what I thought was so important back then). A friend of mine recently reprimanded me for increasing my already very extensive DVD collection by 17 DVDs in one shopping experience, but it was WalMart's dump bin and I only paid $5 for each DVD! Some of them were brand new to my collection - but a few were to replace VHS tapes that I turned around and donated to the public library - so it was my civic duty to buy those! (hahaha)

Just stuff, stuff and more stuff. In my defense, I come by it honestly. I come from a long line of female packrats. My mother still has my childhood military medical records - and we ain't been associated with the military for over 30 years now! And my grandmother has a copy of my kindergarten report card (or she did not too long ago).

I have been home sick since Friday, so one of the things I thought I would do was to switch my closet from winter clothes to summer clothes. (Yeah, I know - I'm a little late, but I been busy!) As I dug through my storage bins to pull out the clothes to hang up and check for wear-ability and style, etc., the bags for Goodwill and "maybe someone at work can benefit from this" and "I know Mom liked this, so I'll see if she wants it" - grew fuller and fuller. As I rearranged and organized out my closet, I thought to myself that it is a blessing to have separate wardrobes for various seasons - especially when there are so many people who do without in this world. I truly don't take it for granted. And even though I make charitable contributions to help generate clothings, supplies, and food for those less fortunate than me, am I truly doing enough? Am I being a faithful steward of the resources God blesses me with? And, why am I keeping so much stuff anyway? In case of a catastrophic event, I wouldn't be able to take any of it with me anyway...just ask my brother and uncle who lost everything to a fire on New Years Eve. By the way, the picture attached is the "dress and skirt" section of my closet. Yeah, I know: I should never say the words "but I don't have anything to wear" - and yet, sometimes, that is exactly the thought going through my mind...pray for me, will you?

As Christians, we know that we "can't take it with us". The only thing that we will take with us into the earth made new is our characters. Am I packing my character with the fruits of the spirit as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23? Love, joy, peace, longsuffering (yeah, I need to work on THAT one!), gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (the bane of every packrat and a trait I personally need to work on)

If you recognize that you are also a packrat, I invite you to join me in "untying" ourselves from the things we have packed into our lives...not only the material things that tie us here on earth, but the spiritual things that we don't want to take with us into God's Kingdom.

[See, I told you it wasn't a mis-spelling!]

Be blessed.

17 July 2008

I hear you...

...but are you listening?

I seem to be surrounded by people who "hear" me, but never "listen" to me. And YES! THERE IS A DIFFERENCE! I am convinced of this fact. Listening, truly listening to people, is becoming a lost art. Webster's Dictionary defines hearing as "the sense by which sound is perceived" and listening as "to pay attention; to heed." Unless you are deaf, we all can "hear" - we are given the ability to discern sounds and words and translate them into language...but listening...that's something totally different. Listening is something we have to learn how to do...and unfortunately, there aren't a lot of classes out there teaching this skill.

I think the problem with listening is that, when you are truly listening to someone, you have to stop and focus on them - what they are saying (and sometimes what they are not) and often, [let's be honest here], we engage in conversations by just waiting for our turn to say something. How many times have you been in a conversation with someone and they are going on and on about something and after a while, all you hear is "blah blah blah blah blah" and you are just sitting there waiting to jump in with your comment or two cents or change of subject? That's "hearing", not "listening". Listening is truly a self-less activity - you have to suspend your natural tendency to make the conversation about yourself, and truly focus in on what the other person is saying or trying to convey. And that is not always easy - especially if you have had the conversation in question with the person in question before...several times...every day....for the last few years. I mean, really...how many times do you want to hear about a faulty relationship if your advice is going unheeded and no effort is being made to change the circumstances of the relationship? Probably not more than two or three times...but a good listener will sit there and listen to the story again as if it were the first time it were ever told.

I strive daily to be a good listener because it irritates me to no end when people don't listen to me and I have to repeat myself over and over again. But it is hard and few of us do it well. Turning yourself off in order to tune into the needs of someone else - difficult to do because most of us are basically selfish in nature. I admire professionals who, by the very nature of their professions, have to be good listeners - therapists, psychologists and pyschiatrists immediately come to mind. I know I couldn't do it. I would be too impatient..."Mrs. Jones, we have been working on this issue for ten years now - what part of (insert issue here) do you just not get?" Yeah, I don't think my practice would survive very long...

Thankfully, my Heavenly Father is a good listener. Would that I would listen to Him more often.

Be blessed.

This blog is dedicated to my mother who hears me say, "You never listen to me!" at least once a day.

15 July 2008

Don't you remember...?

The year was 1971 and two young mothers, with seven (7) children between them, were stationed with their husbands in Yokohama, Japan. Far away from their families in the United States and joined by a common belief in a loving God, these women joined in friendship. In 1973, circumstances drove them apart. They corresponded for years, but never saw each other again until a family reunion placed them in the same place at the same time. It was 35 years before they saw each other again...had their friendship survived? Would they still feel the same love and kindred spirits that forged a friendship three decades before? Or would time have changed the bond they used to feel?

Sounds like the synopsis for a epic friendship novel or a Lifetime movie of the week, doesn't it? Didn't you hear the theme music from GONE WITH THE WIND (or some other epic classic) playing in the background as you read it? And yet, this is the true life story of a reunion that I was able to witness between my mother and her military wife friend, Faye, on last evening. It was an incredible experience to watch, and I am so glad I was there to witness it.

I have to admit, I was reluctant to go. My mother kept trying to make me know who these people were: "Don't you remember? We used to ride to church together every Sabbath? Don't you remember her children? Don't you remember?" Ok, I was all of 7 years old when we left Japan...of course, I don't remember! In fact, even after she told me who we were going to meet, I still went around telling everyone that I was going with my mother to meet my kindergarten teacher...I didn't have a clue. Little did I know, "Aunt" Faye was doing the same thing to her daughter, Patricia, who had come along for the reunion..."Don't you remember? You all were best friends and inseparable." Uh, yeah...she didn't remember either.

And the funny thing: Faye and Rachel - the mothers behind this reunion - didn't really remember either. When we got to the hotel, we called to see what room we should go to and Aunt Faye said, "Oh, I'm in the lobby waiting for you...", so we go to the lobby of the hotel. There were a million convention goers milling around..Mom recognizes no one...we call on the cell phone...no answer...we walk around the lobby...still no one that catches Mom's eye...no one looks familiar...we go outside and see a couple of ladies sitting on a bench, but they don't look familiar and they don't call out to us, so we keep moving...back into the lobby...another call on the cell phone, still no answer...a little bit of frustration is setting in...where is she? she knew we were coming, I just spoke with her! why would she keep us waiting like this?...another call, this time it's answered and a lady stands up...yep, that lady sitting outside that we passed by (twice!) was Aunt Faye. She didn't recognize us...we didn't recognize her. Seated inside the lobby was her husband, George, who saw us looking around, but he didn't recognize us and we didn't recognize him. We were all at the right place, right time, but without the right tools to identify each other.

Aren't you glad that God always "recognizes" us...no matter how long we have been away from Him? In Luke 12:7, He tells us that "...even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Ok, if somebody knows how many hairs are on your head, He definitely KNOWS you!...who you are, what your foibles are, what trips you up, what encourages you...HE KNOWS YOU! And that is a wonderful thing.

I am glad that I was able to witness my mother reunited with her friends. As we sat down to dinner and they talked and reminisced and made plans to get together again before the end of the year, it made me aware (again) of how valuable friendships and shared experiences are to the fabric of life. We should be enriched by those with whom we fellowship...and we should enrich the lives of those we come in contact with each day. We should cherish each other...whether we've known each other for 35 minutes...or 35 years.

Be blessed.

14 July 2008

Being polite...

Here's my vent for today: I really hate social niceties. I mean, think about it: how much time do you and I waste every Monday morning either answering the question, "So, how was your weekend?" or avoiding it? I have literally caught myself asking the question and then bracing myself to see if the person I asked will just give the perfunctory "It was fine" and leave it at that - OR if I am going to be regaled for minutes on end with every little minute detail of the preceding 72 hours. And it's not that some of the stories are not entertaining and enlightening - they usually are 'cause I have some INTERESTING friends and co-workers..BUT sometimes, I really don't want to "waste" my time hearing it. Or I asked the question "just to be polite" as I was rushing to do something and now I'm stuck listening to the never-ending saga.

And horror of horrors, don't let something tragic have happened over the weekend - then what do you do? I mean, we've all been in the position when you innocently ask the Monday morning question, only to find out that the house was flooded, or the kid or pet is sick, or word was received of a death of a family member or loved one. And then you're really stuck! Because now you have to give consolation or offer advice or commiserate or...well, you get the picture.

I hate making this admission because (1) it makes me sound somewhat cold, callous and unfeeling - which is not my normal character...[stop laughing!]. (2) I know there will be some people who are going to read this the wrong way and run with the story that I said "don't ask her about her weekend and don't tell her about yours because she really doesn't care." Which is not what I am trying to say at all. I'm just saying...do you ask the question because you really care about the answer - or do you ask the question because it is what is expected of you? Is it just part of what you are expected to do on Monday mornings? How many times have you been asked the Monday morning question and just wanted to invent some fantastic, fabulous, unbelievable story just to see how the person asking the question would respond? I am often tempted.

That may be the reason that I started answering the other hated perfunctory question - "How are you?" with the response, "I'm fabulous - how are you?" When I first started responding that way, people stopped in their tracks..."Fabulous? Really? Why?" and then I could tell them - something, anything...but it started a TRUE conversation as opposed to a false one where no one was really listening. Unfortunately now, at work, people expect that as my response - so much so that when I respond, "I'm fine", people think something is wrong with me.

All I am really trying to say is this: I'd rather have a "real" conversation with someone than a conversation that I will forget the moment I am out of their presence. We have too many "fake" conversations during the course of a day, a career, a lifetime. I think it is time to have some meaningful conversations - conversations that will make a difference. If you don't want to know about the weekend, don't ask. If hearing (yet again) about the fabulous vacation someone just took will make you want to stick a fork in your eyeball - don't ask about it. Don't fake it. Be sincere in your relationships.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: My weekend was great - how was yours? (smile)

Be blessed.

11 July 2008

Social Networking...

They are everywhere: social networks...Facebook, MySpace, TeeBeeDee...and I am sure the list goes on and on. Places where people who have never met (ok, sometimes, they do know each other in "real life", but a lot of times, that is NOT the case) interact and mingle and share their secrets with each other..."let's connect", "let's be friends"...catch phrases that are new to my generation - a part of the natural scheme of life for the younger generation.

Ok...I have to admit, I am ADDICTED to Facebook. It just sucks you in! It's like legal "crack". I can see what my friends are up to, gauge how their days (and lives) are going by their cryptic status updates, see their pictures, send them virtual gifts, challenge them to online games and competitions...it is amazing...and time consuming. And I haven't even mastered 10% of the stuff that my younger friends know about the site. I mean, I thought I was the woman when my friend list hit 100 - but I have younger friends whose list of friends number in the thousands. I'm jealous...sort of. Because...for the most part, all of my friends are people that I actually KNOW - or know someone they know. I have very few "virtual friends" on my list (meaning, people I have never met, but we have connected due to mutual interests or hobbies, etc.) But even my "virtual friends" (shout out to Ms. Janice Ellis from London) have made significant impact on my life. Janice sends me "wisdom" on a daily basis as well as "growing gifts" and it always brings a smile to my face.

Like anything that starts off good, there are negatives to social networks as well. We've all heard the MySpace predator horror stories, and Facebook could lend itself to "stalking" (if that is a personality disorder you suffer from...hey! I'm seeking treatment! pray for and with me! hahaha) But as I delve more into the many layers of Facebook, I am finding positive things as well. Christian discussion groups are popping up more and more, including those that are based on my personal belief philosophy (the Seventh-day Adventist Church). I see young people joining in and discussing what they believe and why they believe - and I see them using the Internet as a tool to witness to others. And I am encouraged.

The Bible teaches us that "this gospel must be preached into all the world" before our Saviour returns to take us home with Him. No longer does that mean that missionaries have to pack up and move into wilds of Africa or Australia or even downtown Atlanta to preach the gospel. With technology, we can spread the gospel - on Facebook and MySpace - through text messaging and IMs - through our cell phones and Blackberries. We can each do our part to finish the work of the gospel - all through our social networks - real and virtual.

Have a great weekend.

Be blessed.

10 July 2008

He's a rock star!

This is not a political endorsement of any kind (you have to vote your conscience and heart), but I am a Barack Obama supporter. I haven't (yet) "put my money where my mouth is", but I probably will before the election foolishness is all over. Every four years, as the country makes a decision about the Presidency and the leadership of the country, there is a political frenzy - but this year, with the historic nature of the Democratic campaign, it has been crazier than usual - in part because of the charismatic nature of the now Democratic forerunner, Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama was recently in Atlanta for a fundraiser. The cost to stand in line to shake his hand was over $2000; the cost to have a picture taken with him $10,000 and to have dinner with the future President (hey, I'm just putting it out there!) - $28,500! Ok, a little steep for my budget, but I am blessed to be only 2 degrees of separation removed from the candidate. (I keep telling y'all - I'm am His Favorite!) One of my very good friends at work (and shoe shopping buddy extraordinaire), Cindy, works for an attorney who is very close to the Obama family and the campaign. [I know, you are thinking: Uh...that's 3 degrees, not 2 - but I'm friends with the attorney to, so I'm cutting my friend the secretary out for this scenario!] Anyway...the attorney was present at the dinner and got Mr. Obama to autograph Cindy's copy of EBONY magazine. Of course, Cindy wanted to share this with her friends, including me...so she brought the magazine over to my desk to show me. But, I wasn't there. [Talk about not being at the right place at the right time!]. Then she copied it and sent it to me in electronic format. Due to all the colors and text and...well, suffice it to say, the .pdf was not clear. So, I ALWAYS have my camera with me...ALWAYS. I volunteered to take a picture of the cover for HER...[of course, it was for HER!]. The photo is attached to this blog.

But the funny thing is the buzz that this autograph has caused among Cindy's circle of friends and influence. Already, someone has offered her money for the magazine. The magazine is being kept in a protective cover and plans for a shadow box display (with all her other Obama paraphenalia) is being discussed and scheduled. And he hasn't even become President yet! But the excitement surrounding this candidate is phenomenal....people want to be near him, people want to hear what he has to say, and if someone you know has heard him, then you want to hear what he said, how he looked, what his message was...

Reminds me of how the people flocked to see and hear Jesus when He walked the earth. [I am NOT calling Barack Obama our Savior or Messiah - I am NOT making THAT comparison - I am making a point! Bear with me...] The Bible tells us that wherever Jesus showed up, there was a crowd of people waiting to hear what He had to say - because what He said was different...it fed their souls...it nourished their minds...it pointed them to the Father. I bet if there was an Ebony magazine back in those days, He would have been on the cover and people would have clamored for His autograph as well.

And yet, He gave something so much more important: He gave His life for you and me. Nothing against Mr. Obama, but I bet he wouldn't do that for any of us. And, even if he did, it wouldn't have the same eternal meaning that Christ's sacrifice did and does. I pray every day for Mr. Obama and his family. I encourage you to do the same. Unfortunately, we live in a world where everyone may not be so happy for him to become President. The next few months until the election will be interesting.

Be blessed.

08 July 2008


Alarm sounds, hit the snooze, alarm sounds again, groan, turn over, look blearly at the clock, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, get back in bed, turn on the light, adjust the pillows, say a prayer for understanding, read the morning watch, study the Sabbath School lesson, pray, check out Facebook, write a blog, check the time, type faster, shut down the computer, take a shower, make a lunch (ok, sometimes this part gets skipped), write the "honey do" list for my retired mom, turn on the news (only for traffic and weather reports), get dressed, dump and repack purse and work carryall, check my blood sugars (yeah, this doesn't always happen either - sorry, Dr. Schramm), go to the bathroom one mo' time again before the commute, wake up the mom so she can drop me off at the commuter bus, get on the morning prayer call, commute to work, arrive at work safely (God willing) ... and all this happens BEFORE 7:00a usually.

Just writing that - I'm tired already...and yet, that is my weekday routine (few tweaks here and there depending on the circumstances), but to do what I do, I have to have "guidelines", a routine, some order in all the chaos. And when I am out of my element - on vacation, a day off, the weekend - the routine gets dropped and it ain't always pretty. This was brought home to me very clearly on my recent trip to DC for the Independence Day holiday. I was "off my game", not in a way that was immediately visible to others, but I felt discombobulated a lot because my routine was off - because things were not done in their usual manner.

I wonder if God has a "routine"? I mean, I know "He never sleeps, He never slumbers" (and praise Him for that!), but ... when you are keeping the universe in line, and making sure the planets don't collide with each other, and that the sun shines in the daytime and the moon shines at night; and sending the rain on the just and the unjust, and keeping the birds singing and the flowers blooming and the animals roaming, and answering the prayers of the saints and the desperate, and comforting the bereaved, and healing the sick, and laughing at the foolishness of the human being who calls herself your Favorite Child ... do you have to have a routine to keep it all going the way it is supposed to go? Or are you just God and it just happens that way without effort, thought, or planning?

Just another thing I need to make it to heaven so I can ask for myself, I guess.

Be blessed.

07 July 2008

...holding pattern....

"Ladies and gentlemen, the Atlanta airport has closed entrance to the airport due to severe thunderstorms, so we are in a holding pattern to see if the weather will clear. We have plenty of fuel for this, so just sit back and relax. We will keep you informed of the situation."

I spent the Independence Day holiday in our nation's capitol, Washington DC, visiting relatives and friends. We had a great time: good food, good fellowship, interesting sites to visit. Took some pictures along the way (but, of course)...and now I was flying home. It was a trip fraught with adventure. For this trip, I took advantage of my brother's employment with Delta and was flying home on a buddy pass. I'd already been scared at the airport that I might not get on the flight I wanted due to a large military contingent flying home, and duh! holiday weekend travel...but God blessed and my name was the last name called on the "cleared" standby list. [thank God for praying friends across the country!] As the gate attendant asked me if I minded sitting in the exit row, I thanked God for His mercy in allowing me to board...period.

Two hours later, we should have been landing in Atlanta, when the pilot made the announcement above..."Ladies and gentlemen...we are in a holding pattern." It made me think: how many times do we have things planned, only to have them interrupted by things beyond our control? How many times have our lives been placed in a "holding pattern" where literally, all you can do is ride out the storm and wait? I know there have been several instances in my life when this has happened. And how you survive it depends on your faith and your attitude towards the situation. Do you rail against the delay? Or do you accept that maybe it is for the better good that you don't move forward at the present time? Can I be honest and tell you, I don't always do the former and am only learning to do the latter?

My flight ended up being re-routed to Knoxville TN. As we sat on the runway for 2.5 hours, waiting to be refueled and to be given clearance back to the Atlanta airport, I had a text mail conversation with my godsister in which we both agreed - the delay was frustrating, but better to be safe in Knoxville [where the sun was shining and the winds were calm] than flying through thunder, lightning and high winds. A fellow passenger and I were talking about the delay and how cool, calm, and collected I was being about it. He commented, "Wow, you have a such a positive attitude about this." Well, what was I going to do? Go to the cockpit and demand that the pilot start the plane and get us out of there? Uh, no. It was out of my hands and control...and the best [and only] thing to do was to wait patiently until the designated time.

A trip that I thought would only take 2 hours to complete ended up taking about 6 hours, but I got home safely and for that I am grateful. When I landed, the sky was clear, the sun was shining, and if it hadn't been for the water puddled along the curbs, you would have never know that it had even rained in Atlanta. I may never know why God put that particular "holding pattern" in my life...but I am sure He had His reasons. I praise Him for safe travel to and from Washington DC.

By the way, my brother called me later in the evening to tell me that all inbound flights were eventually canceled into the airport. The delays, I believe, were too intense to overcome, so they shut everything down. God is good, let me tell you! Knoxville is close enough that I could have driven home, if necessary, but I am glad that I didn't have to make that choice.

Be blessed.

[PS: the attached picture was taken at 10,000 feet through the window of the plane, somewhere between Knoxville and Atlanta...how beautiful! What a wonderful Creator we serve.]

02 July 2008

Just for me...

Donnie McClurkin sings a song, JUST FOR ME, that causes me to tear up every time I hear it or sing it (in the car, shower - NOT in public). Lyrics include: What does the cross of Jesus mean? It's more than words you sing, much more than that emblem hanging on your chain...


And our lesson study for church this week talks about Christ, His crucifixtion, but more importantly, His resurrection and what that means to us as Christians. BUT, do we really think about the cost He paid for us? I know that I don't think about it as much as I should. If I did, I wouldn't do some of the things I continue to do...but that's the subject of another blog at another time....maybe.

One of my favorite Christian authors (Ellen G. White) admonishes us that we should spend some time EVERY DAY reflecting on the cross and the sacrifice made there for our sins. EVERY DAY...I cannot think of anything I think about EVERY day...not even Denzel or Shemar. (Ok, maybe Shemar...sigh) But I can see the importance of thinking on the sacrifice Christ made for...me. And He would have done it JUST FOR ME.

Have you ever really sat down and thought about that? IF everyone else on the world was perfect, never messed up, never did anything wrong - followed all God's commandments, treated everyone with love, compassion and mercy, shared their abundance with joy and not begrudging - if EVERYONE else did that and I was the only one to mess up, the only one to be mean, irritable, nasty, disobedient, intemperate...If I was the only one - Christ would have still given up glory and His place next to His Father on the throne - become a babe in a manager and died on the cross JUST FOR ME. Unbelievable! And He would have done the same thing JUST FOR YOU as well.

Something to think about. Something to ponder. Something to hopefully change your life.

Be blessed.