24 February 2009

The Buzzard, The Bat, and The Bumblebee

I didn't write this one, but I had to share it. I hope it blesses you as it did me - Kristina

THE BUZZARD: If you put a buzzard in a pen that is 6 feet by 8 feet and is entirely open at the top, the bird, in spite of its ability to fly, will be an absolute prisoner. The reason ist that a buzzard always begins a flight from the ground with a run of 10 to 12 feet. Without space to run, as is its habit, it will not even attempt to fly, but will remain a prisoner for life in a small jail with no top.

THE BAT: The ordinary bat that flies around at night, a remarkablenimble creature in the air, cannot take off from a level place. If it is placed on the floor or flat ground, all it can do is shuffle about helplessly and, no doubt, painfully, until it reaches some slight elevation from which it can throw itself into the air. Then, at once, it takes off like a flash.

THE BUMBLEBEE: A bumblebee, if dropped into an open tumbler, will be there until it dies, unless it is taken out. It never sees the means of escape at the top, but persists in trying to find some way out through the sides near the bottom. It will seek a way where none exists, until it completely destroys itself.

PEOPLE: In many ways, we are like the buzzard, the bat, and the bumblebee. We struggle about with all our problems and frustrations, never realizing that all we have to do is look up! That is the answer, the escape route and the solution to any problem! Just look up.

Sorrow looks back, Worry looks around, But faith looks up!
Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and trust in our Creator who loves us.

21 February 2009

Hot Topics...

I hope the women of THE VIEW will excuse me for borrowing their tagline, but I just have to sound off on a few issues that have had everyone talking all week long. These are just MY opinions - you can agree or disagree - I will not take offense one way or the other. Ok, here we go:

CHRIS AND RIHANNA: First, can I just say this: There's three sides to this story - his side, her side and the truth, which we as the public will probably never ever know in full. Stop weighing in about what should happen to him or what she should do or how justice should be served. All the facts aren't out there yet. And while I FIRMLY believe that there is NEVER a reason that a man should lay his hands on any woman, I also know that in relationships, people (male and female) know just what buttons to push that can make the other person lose their mind. So, stop and pray for BOTH of them. Having lived in a situation of domestic violence as I grew up, let me tell you - both the abuser and the abused are victims and in need of counseling, prayer and support. Fortunately, both Chris and Rihanna are young and can bounce back from this incident - with counseling, love, support and prayers.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: I don't understand why people don't "get" what Mr. Holder was saying when he said that America is a "nation of cowards" when it comes to race relations in this country. He's speaking the truth, people. I guess if you are not a person of color, you don't understand it. Lou Dobbs on CNN, while reporting this story, made the comment, "What is he talking about? We just elected our first African-American President." - and I about came off the couch. While that was indeed a historic and wonderful moment in our country's history, it doesn't change the fact that while our workplaces may be intergrated, we are still socially segregated. I had a long discussion with a Jewish attorney friend of mine who I greatly respect and he told me that he thinks that maybe, after working around White folks all day, Black folks don't just want to socialize with them too. They'd rather be "around their own people." He went on to say, it was probably the same for White folks as well. And I think I agree with him.

There are subjects that we don't touch as we cross racial or cultural lines. We don't discuss that most African-Americans still live in urban areas that are in need of infrastructure and police protection and other basic amenities -while most White Americans live in the suburbs where those problems are not so prevalent. CNN reported that 56% of White Americans admitted that they feel "uncomfortable" when "too many African-Americans" move into their neighborhoods and will usually pack up and move when the discomfort becomes too much while less than 50% of African-Americans said that they felt similarly. And there are other subtle things that are done as well: a report I saw on CNN recently about people whose homes were being foreclosed on focused on African-American homeowners, while the report about people who were upset about how the bailout for homeowners is not fair to those of us paying our mortgages on time interviewed several White Americans and only ONE African-American. Doesn't this send a subtle message that Black Americans are the ones who aren't paying their mortgages and the "good White folk" are the ones who have to bail them out? I think it does - but when I said that in mixed company, the reaction I got almost made me want to take back what I said.

(For the record, I not only pay my mortgage on my home and my timeshare on time every month (Praise God!), I am making additional payments to the principle because that is what I was told 1 years ago was the right and responsible thing to do in order to pay off my mortgage quicker and own my home sooner.)

I just think we need to pull our heads out from the sand and recognize that just because we may have friends across the racial and cultural lines doesn't mean that we don't have a long way to go when it comes to fully healing the breaches in our society.

And last, but not least: THE NEW YORK POST CARTOON: First, yes, the cartoon was offensive, but I truly believe that the uproar and media hype about the cartoon afterwards was a little over the top. I cannot tell you how much time I "wasted" this week talking about a cartoon that when I initially saw it, I went, "ooo, that wasn't nice" and then moved on with my day. It wasn't until I started getting all the emails about boycotting the Post and calling for the firing of Sean Delonas (who just became a footnote in history by the way) and the editorial staff that allowed the cartoon to print, that I realized that other people were much more affected and impacted than I was. Whatever happened to "freedom of the press" and "freedom of speech". Yes, the cartoon was in poor taste, but so are a lot of things that go on in this society, and we ain't protesting all those issues. I think people over-reacted just a little. I mean, what good is my boycotting the Post going to do when I live in Atlanta, GA and don't buy, subscribe or even read the Post online? Nada. Should we let the editors know that we don't agree with their running of the cartoon? If it means that much to you, yes you should. Should someone get fired over it? No. They'll just move to another newspaper and do the same thing there, possibly.

So, why did I post John Legend's OPEN LETTER TO THE POST on my Facebook page? Because I thought his response was well thought out, well written and made some important points. And for those who read the cartoon to be a direct attack against our new President, here is the most important thing John Legend said, which I think is a perfect response: "Please feel free to criticize and honestly evaluate our new President, but do so without the incidiary images and rhetoric." And there you go.

Ok, this turned out to be a much longer post than I expected, but that's what happens when you have "hot topics" to discuss.
Be blessed.

Terms and Conditions

My favorite social network recently came under attack because it changed the terms and conditions for membership on their site. Even the women on THE VIEW chimed in. From what I understand ('cause I have to admit, I didn't read the terms - the old ones or the new ones - I know, HORRIBLE to admit for someone who works in the legal profession), one of the issues that caused the biggest uproar was the statement that any and all content you posted on the site as a user became the property of Facebook to do as it would - even if and after you closed your account with the website. I can understand the concern, but didn't really understand all the whoopla. I mean, you post stuff on the site and ANYONE (who has access to your site) can run with it - do whatever they want with it. C'mon now, admit it. You've seen the "ugly" picture of your ex's new girl/boyfriend or spouse, printed it out, and marked it up for target practice...or is that just me?* ;-)

I'm just saying, you put your personal business "out there" and in my opinion, you implicitly give "permission" for people (and Facebook) to do whatever they will with information. Prayerfully, the people who call themselves your friends will be scrupulous and not use your photos, notes, comments, etc. for evil or harm, but as in everything in life, you have to use common sense, good judgment and then pray for the best.

But for a week, I've been stewing over this and comparing it to other "terms and conditions" that I don't really think about or maybe even ignore. For example, when I signed on to be a Christian, there are "terms and conditions" inherent with being a follower of Christ. But how many times to I really sit down and think about those baptismal vows I took (ok, I took them three times, you'd think they would stuck by now, huh?)? I mean, one of the vows (for the Adventist Church) is to refrain from caffeine and other poisons (since my body is "the temple of the Lord") and yet, I have a gift card to Starbucks that is renewed every month because a sista needs her weekly dose of "tall toffee nut latte in a grande cup with whipped cream to the top." (Yes, I'm one of THOSE people!) Do I think drinking my latte twice a week (more if its a particularly bad week) is going to keep me out of heaven? Not hardly, but it was a "term" that I agreed to when I professed my faith and joined my church. There are probably much more serious terms and conditions that I am violating: like, not treating people with kindness, or gossiping, or lying, or lusting after (you insert whatever name here you wish) in my heart.

Even with my breaking of the "contract", God still loves me and probably just shakes His head at me when I mess up one mo' time again, sighs and gives me yet another chance to get it right. What a wonderful and merciful God I (try to) serve. I really am going to try to do better about keeping the "terms and conditions" of His contract, because in the scheme of things - that is the ONLY contract that really matters anyway.

Be blessed.

*DISCLAIMER: Just for the record: No pictures of any ex or their significant others have been harmed since I joined Facebook. That's my story, I'm sticking with it.

10 February 2009

Disappointed, discouraged...and yet, determined.

On Sunday, my mother, cousin and I went on a three mile walk at a nearby state park. While walking, we passed a gentleman who called out to us, "Hey, be careful. I left a puddle of fat up there on the trail." We all laughed, but then he patted his stomach and said, "it sure was a lot easier and much more fun putting it on than it is taking it off, isn't it?" Truer words have never been spoken.

I wrote recently about how "motivated" I was on my quest to regain my girlish figure. Yeah well, since then, I've hit some plateaus and valleys and low points and sometimes it seems like all my efforts are in vain. Where the Wii Fit graphs were showing a decline and the encouragement on day 48 was, "You are well on your way to making your goal - keep up the good work!", more and more the statement is "It takes time for your efforts and hard work to pay off - don't give up now." A little harder to do when you see the red line on the weight and BMI graphs slowly creeping back up to...oh, we won't even go there!

And as my godsister would tell me: it ain't nothing but the debla...(slang for "devil")...trying to discourage me and stop me in my tracks. Well, it ain't happening...not yet. I am still determined to meet my goals - it will just take more effort, more work, more...more...more. And less too! Less late night snacks (my #1 downfall - I count it a victory every time I can get past the 10:00 to 11:00 hour at night without shoving something into my mouth - even "good" snacks are bad if you eat them and then go straight to sleep!); less carbs (yeah, pray about that one as well! I love me some pasta...and rice...and potatoes); less...less...less.

But old habits are hard to break. 44 years of bad eating habits don't go away overnight. I remember my brother (who is athletic, plays basketball all the time, and has never really had a weight problem EVER) telling me, "all that late night snacking is going to catch up with you one day." Whatever! Bite me...but he told the truth and it has and it's hard. I know it is going to take time and commitment and effort...and I am willing to do all that. I watched my mother walk - in spite of the wind blowing in her face which triggered her asthma and some heavy breathing; and my cousin Yulanda, who has 65% arthritis in her left knee who pushed past the pain to keep walking, singing at the top of her lungs in an effort to ignore the throbbing pain in her knee...we all did what we had to do in order to complete the walk. And it was worth the effort...and it will be when I make my goals as the year progresses.

And when I do...we all gonna celebrate...aren't we?

Be blessed.

07 February 2009

On the back burner...

I had an e-mail conversation with a good friend on yesterday where I inquired about an ambitious project she was going to undertake and had solicited prayers for on her behalf. (You do realize that when you say you are going to pray for a person or situation or outcome, you should follow up occasionally just to see how things are progressing, right? Of course you do.) Anyway, I asked and she confided that things had been put on "the back burner" for now because other projects were taking more precedence in her life. I told her that I would continue to pray because her idea is a wonderful one and should one day come to fruition. But, as most things do, it made me stop and think: What do I have on my back burner that is just simmering away, waiting to be brought forth into fruition?


- the novel that is inside of me that would be an instant best-seller;
- the inspirational, devotional book that my godsister and I talk about - over and over again;
- the "God's Favorite Child" website - bought the domain, just need to develop the website;
- the travel journal articles that need to incorporate all my pictures from my vacations and be submitted to travel magazines worldwide so other people can enjoy some of the adventures I have been blessed to enjoy over the years;
- the relationships that need to be nurtured and/or restored;
- the relationships that need to be abandoned for sanity sake;
- the responsible reigning in of my financial portfolio and stimulation of the economy;
- taking time to smell the roses in the midst of all the chaos; and
- getting "it" together before "it" all falls apart.

So, now what? How do you move from the "back burner" mentality to the "front burners blazing, pots boiling, steam saturating the air" stage of creativity and production and actual results? I don't know, but I think 2009 is going to be the year when I find out.

Be blessed.

03 February 2009

Being tested...

This morning in our prayer call, the pastor made the following statement: A faith that is not tested is a faith that cannot be trusted.


Reminds me of another quote that the saints like to throw out: You cannot have a testimony without a test.

Hmm again.

I understand that there is definitely a wealth of truth in both of those statements, but it's a little hard to hear when you are the one being tested, don't you think? I used to think that way. Until one day a friend of mine told me, "you know that the trial you are going through has been SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED just for you, don't you?" and my perspective about trials shifted. See, what she was telling me was the trial I was going through at the time (the illness and eventually death of my paternal grandfather) was a part of God's purpose for my life - there was a reason behind it - it was NOT just some random, incomprehensible, makes no sense, happenstance to make me go crazy - there was a purpose, a design, a reason for why it was happening to me at that time in that way. Once I realized and recognized that - the paradigm shifted and things became a little clearer. And over the past 8 years since his passing, this has become more and more true for me.

I am not saying that it is not sometimes hard, difficult even, to go through the trial...believe me, it is, or can be. But once I realized that there was a lesson to be learned by going through it and focused on learning the lesson rather than dealing with the chaos: the trial itself became easier to bear. I have friends who right now are going through unexpected trials - 24 of my co-workers lost their jobs unexpectedly last month; others are facing terminations within a specified period of time; a dear friend lost her brother in a car accident just hours ago; single parents who are feeling overwhelmed by the "burdens" of doing it all by themselves; I cannot even count the number of friends who have health issues to deal with on a daily basis; friends whose parents are getting older and requiring time, energy and attention beyond what should be required and expected of their children - and yet, I want to encourage all of them: Your trial is SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED for you! You will survive it and be a better person for it. Just trust in the One Who has only your best interests in His heart. You will get through this! We all will. Just hold on. Better days are coming.

Be blessed.

02 February 2009

Learning about my friends...

Yes, this is another Facebook story. Recently, I wrote a note about "16 Random Things About Me" which I posted to Facebook and it has circulated my group of friends, especially the ones I "tagged" to ensure that they read what I wrote - and then encouraged them to write their own notes about themselves. The experiment has grown exponentially on Facebook and now people are writing up to 25 Random Things about Themselves (and retitling the note as it morphs and expands and grows). Can I tell you - I have learned so much about so many of my friends through these notes!

I have friends who have done some fascinating things in their lives and who are willing to candidly share that information with others. Granted, you are only supposed to be sharing with your friend, but in the ever-evolving world of social networking, it becomes like that old commercial - you tell 2 friends, and they tell 2 friends, and they tell 2 friends - and before you know it, hundreds of people are reading what you wrote - and in some instances, depending on how you have your profile with Facebook set up, even commenting.

As a blogger, I shouldn't say this, but I am continually stunned by some of the personal, intimate details that people are willing to share - and other people are willing to read - with and about total strangers. BUT on the other hand, as I read these stories about my friends (and believe me, some of them have been quite entertaining and creative as they are written), it has opened my eyes (yet again) to the wonder of God's creation. We all live here on the same planet, breathing the same air, having the same opportunities (for the most part) - but all of our experiences are different because of who we are and how we respond to the blessings given to us and sent our way. It is a wonderful thing to behold and I am so glad that my friends, old and new, have been willing to open up and share themselves with me in this forum.

I encourage people to keep writing, keep sharing. As we learn more about one another, we will discover that we really are God's Children under different skins and that the things that are common among us far outweigh the things that are different. And if you haven't written your 25 Random Things - what's stopping you? I, for one, am very interested in hearing what you have to say.

Be blessed.