Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Climbing Out of the Bog: Ending the Dating Drama

I was munching on surprisingly good chicken marsala at lunch today, listening to my good friend talk about ex-boyfriend drama, when I felt myself get mad. “He doesn’t respect me or my feelings,” my friend Isis* said while picking at her beef steak. I crammed a potato in my mouth to hold my tongue.
“I’ve told him over and over, but he doesn’t listen. It’s like he won’t get it”, she continued. My anger was beginning to rise. This was not a red hot anger, but a slow simmering one, built up over years. It’s the result of watching a friend repeatedly get her hopes up, just to have it not only squashed, but nearly decimated. It’s the anger borne of wiping away your girl’s tears, knowing that more would come. And then watching her get hurt again, and then seeing them come.
“When is he going to change?”, she asked, even though it was really more of a statement. And as I watched my beautiful friend across that lunch table, I couldn’t help but wonder, “When would SHE?”
I met Isis a couple of years ago while working in my former position in Hell. Ok, so it wasn’t literally “hell”, but to everyone working there it was. We felt we were being eternally punished for some kind of employment sins, even though “eternally” was actually just 9-5, M-F. But anyway, Isis and I quickly bonded. She has a natural eye for design, and helped me decorate my first apartment in my favorite autumnal colors. She dresses to the nines almost every day: 4 inch pumps, thrift shop finds with a mix of Target and Old Navy sweaters. Her gift for the aesthetic shines in her extremely large wardrobe.
However, it wasn’t long before I realized Isis’ gift for transforming the outside, was in SHARP contrast to her emotionally messy inside. She had fallen in love years before with the handsome Ex-Bf, and had a beautiful son as a result. The fairy tale began to slip away at the point; Ex-Bf began showing he was for more of a boy than a friend. She wound up handling all the business- doctor’s appointments for the baby, making sure bills were paid, food was bought and cooked. Even though they lived together for years, the long hoped for ring never materialized. They were playing house. This non-commitment was modeled for her growing up. Isis’ parents never married; her father was always an unknown. So she clung to Ex-Bf, even when he didn’t come home, crashed up her car and failed to spend time with their son. Her journal entries were full of anger, desire for change, but mostly, a desire for love.
As a dutiful girlfriend, I stood on the sidelines of the drama, cheering on her decision to end it with him when she moved into her own place. And when she chose to give it another chance, I likewise supported her decision. But when this cycle repeated itself, over, and over, and over, and over… I found my own heart hurting for her. We prayed on it and believed God would lead her out. Yet, the cycle remained. And still does.
So as I finished up my lunch, and Isis’ litany of recent charges against Ex-Bf continued, my anger reached it’s boiling point, and I asked: “WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS?” “Li, I told him ‘We’re over!’”. She said this like I had suddenly become simple. To be more precise, I responded, “Ok, yes, you SAID it. To HIM. But what are YOU going to DO now? Honey, you’ve been SAYING to him now for months that’s it’s over. But your actions aren’t lining up with your words. He knows not to take you at your word because you keep going back on it.” Isis looked down. “That’s the second time this week I’ve heard that. My cousin said it and my other friend, too… but how do I do it?” I had to admit, I didn't have a simple answer for her.
There are a ton of great books on relationships out there. “The Five Love Languages”, “Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man”, “Boundaries in Dating.” Isis has read a number of these. She has even read the ones I find slightly deceptive, like “The Rules”. But the first book that pops in my head when I think over our lunch is simply the Bible, and not just I Corinthians 13, either. When I think of her situation, I actually think of James 2. Ok, so that chapter is not typically used regarding relationships. I know. It’s been used as a never ending debate between Catholics & Protestants. But let me explain. Verse 14 says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” Many Christian women, like my friend, have faith that God will change their dire dating situations. They know God can change things. They pray earnestly for their hearts to be healed. Some go so far as to thank Him for the healing that hasn’t occurred yet. But then time passes, the guy reappears, and then, in the words of “Seinfield”, yada, yada, yada, they find themselves stuck in the same place. I don’t think it’s not a matter of not having faith; it seems it’s the next step that trips many up. And that’s to actually TAKE THE NEXT STEP- to do the “works” part. “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead,” says the seventeenth verse (emphasis mine). This passage is making it clear. We must actually step out on our faith, otherwise it’s not only useless, it’s dead. Verse 18b says “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”(emphasis mine). If we really believe something, then our actions should show it. It’s like the old saying, “You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?” Still not convinced? Let’s read the rest of the chapter then:
20Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"—and he was called a friend of God. 24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?. 26For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.(emphasis mine)
This chapter screams the way I wish I could: “Don’t be a fool! Without actually DOING something about the problem, just BELIEVING it’s a problem won’t change your situation!” Please don’t think I’m implying God can’t heal. He has, can and will. What I believe many women (and men, too- there are heartbroken brothers) must do is take the steps necessary for God to do His wondrous work and heal. When we sin, and want to be forgiven, it’s not enough to just know or believe we did wrong. We must go to God, and repent. Action must be done on our part.
While I did not have a simple answer for Isis on how she could escape her "Groundhog Day"-type relationship, I did give her some suggestions on how she could start taking action. "You know when he shows up at odd hours at your place, you don't have to let him in. And when he calls you late at night, you know he's not checking up on your son. Just because he calls doesn't mean you have to answer." She responded, "You're right. You know, last week I hung out with him because he took our son to the movies. I even asked myself while I was sitting in the theatre, 'Why am I here?' I didn't have to be there."

As we wrapped up our lunch, I told Isis about an episode of "Family Guy" that I had seen last night. (Now bare with me... you might be thinking "What the heck, what is she doing combining Scripture with that crazy cartoon in a single blog?" Good question. All I can say is that I have a wacky brain. C'est la vie, folks.) In one scene, Stewie, the youngest Griffin, was lamenting his loss of a girl he had a crush on. He asked Brian, the dog, how he should get her back. Brian took him outside and told him the best way to learn would be to watch their neighbor, Quagmire and how he handles women. Just at that moment, Quagmire appears outside following behind his date who ran angry out of his home, upset by, how should I phrase it, a very inappropriate request he made. She refuses to come back in, and stands on his front lawn yelling at him. Quagmire responds by calling her, among other things, "fat" and "stupid." She then asks, "I am?", and then walks back inside his home, agreeing to his assessment of her and deciding to fulfill his request. Stewie, still watching with Brian, has learned the lesson. All he had to do was treat the girl he wanted pitifully, and he'd be able to get what he wanted.

Reflecting on that scene again, it struck me how so many women fall in that trap. They allow guys to use their own insecurities against them- that they are fat, ugly, stupid, unlovable, cheap or slutty. They feel their biggest fear is being confirmed, and continue to remain in misery, believing deep down that no one else will want them. This is definitely not love, just control. I pointed out to Isis the characters in that scene were also revealing. There was a baby, a dog, and most tellingly, a guy named "Quagmire"- which means "an area of miry or boggy ground whose surface yields under the tread; a bog, " according to, with synonyms like, "predicament" and "dilemma." Is the guy you find yourself going in circles with an immature baby, a low down dog, or a life sucking bog? Because if you're finding yourself in a never ending drama, you might be dating a guy with those characteristics.

So to my lovely Isis, and anyone else who is going through your own "dilemma", I leave you with I Corinthians 10:13: "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure." And when God provides that way to stop the cycle, do your part, living out your faith through action.
*This is her nickname; there will be occasions, from time to time on this blog when I will use aliases to protect identities. As "Dragnet" use to proclaim, “Names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Lol.

Seeing The Inner Man- Thought For The Day

"For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7).

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Priest, The Pastor & The Dropouts Who Are Dropping Back In- Recession Stories

Over in California, a priest is putting his faith to work by steeping up to help members of his community who are caught in the foreclosure mess. Father Lasseigne’s involvement started when members of his parish began having their homes put up for foreclosure after they were given loans for mortgages with low interest rates which later ballooned. Some were faced with payments that more than doubled. Father Lasseigne with the help of community group “One LA, will receive finance preparation to better understand the fine print on loans. Lasseigne says that sometimes, people here didn't know what they were signing onto when they got loans.”

On the East Coast, another member of the cloth, the Rev. Brad Braxton, is generating not praise, but controversy, from the congregants of his church. According to this story, the newest pastor of the historically renowned Riverside Church in New York City, will be receiving more than $600,000 (yup SIX HUNDRED THOUSAND; that is not a typing error) in salary and benefits a year for overseeing the church with about 1,500 members. “The Rev. Brad Braxton’s salary and benefits total more than $600,000 by the time you figure in $250,000 in salary; $11,500 monthly housing allowance; private school tuition for his child; a full-time maid; entertainment, travel and "professional development" allowances; pension and life insurance benefits; and an equity allowance for him to save up to buy a home.”

At a time when many people are struggling, I can understand why quite a few members are in an uproar over the new pastor’s steep paycheck. Hopefully, Rev. Braxton will take a cue from Father Lasseigne and reach out to his community with support and action.

In what might be the sole high point to this whole economic meltdown, teens are actually “dropping” back in to school. According to this story, former dropouts, prompted by the high unemployment rate, are choosing to re-enroll in order to receive their GEDs. One Indiana student, Yamilette Colon, 18, three years after quitting is “an alternative school honor student on track for a May diploma, spurred in part by a sense of self-pride, but also, she says, by the economic calamity that has shuttered plants, claimed jobs and dimmed the future for many young people in this hard-hit county dubbed the “RV Capital of the World.”

The article describes young adults- some parents of small children, some now dreaming of attending college- all buckling down to give themselves a better chance in an economy that’s finding people with advanced college degrees struggling to find full time work.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thought For The Day

"I went into marriage thinking love would hold us together. I learned instead that it required marriage to teach me what love means.”

~Philip Yancey

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Musical Toast to 6 Months

To my Sunshine... thank you for 6 beautiful months. You amaze me more and more each day...

Can We Say Hypocrisy?

No matter where they stand on the issue, most people would agree that Miss California, Carrie Prejean, has the right to voice her opinions on the definition of marriage. However, what's very obvious is that two individuals, in this case, Prejean and Barack Obama, voicing the same exact opinion, but in different arenas, are met with two VERY different outcomes.

Thanks to The Dawn Patrol for first posting the video.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Soooo, why are you not writing again?"

After yesterday's well-received post (thanks for telling me... but you can actually leave a comment here to let me know, lol), I had a conversation with my co-worker Dawn about the field of writing. Since I do have a degree in English and have been published before, why am I not still writing as a career? Well, one reason is the increasingly unstable journalism field. The economy's downward spiral has had an affect on just about every area of employment, but journalism, particularly print, has been seriously hurting. A few newspapers have bit the dust this year, after struggling for years. Besides losing readers, newspapers are suffering a major loss in advertisement, which are really the moneymakers for publication companies. Magazines aren't faring much better. I've seen a few of my favs (remember Jane or Honey?) die sad quiet deaths. I'm not even sure if there is still a Vixen, and I liked that alot, too. Even Vibe, a mainstay in the music mag realm is obviously on rocky ground based on it's suddenly skeletally thin amount of pages (I learned as an intern at it's Manhattan offices five years ago that sales are everything; if it's getting "skinny" or has fewer pages, it's not for a lack of stories or photos, but plummeting ads). Thin magazine=life support...

The reality is many writers have day jobs. My fabulous friend Rajul is a great example. She spends her days weeding out diamond-in-the-rough manuscripts from the many submitted to a NY publishing company, and her nights covering music and entertainment events as a freelance writer for various websites and specialized mags. She even scored a coveted sit down with rapper T.I. for Rap-Up Magazine that was a cover story. My fellow poet (and former classmate) Kathy did some freelancing for the Star-Ledger (me, too!), but now relishes teaching kids as a substitute teacher- a gig that will probably lead to full time employment since she recently passed the Praxis.

Even for well-established writers/authors, big stories don't always equal big money. Writer Aliyah S. King, known for numerous magazine features, who I have followed for years, signed a book deal last year, but still finds herself counting each penny. On her website, she dedicated a story to the late King magazine (I didn't even know it was in trouble), for which she regularly contributed. Even though King has a book coming down the pipeline, for her, freelancing keeps her family budget maintained.

Sooooo, why am I not writing? Full time, professionally, because being an administrative assistant (i.e. a combination gopher/secretary) keeps our family budget maintained. Part time, in the blogosphere, I am still writing, and quite often. Even if it is for five people. And I love you all dearly for reading. Now start leaving written comments...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What Happened to Miss Independent? She Became Mrs. De Freitas!

What’s in a name? Everything to some, based on a number of critically biting comments I’ve received since changing my name to “De Freitas” after tying the knot last autumn. It might not be the new millennial, pro-women thing to do, but I had always known I’d do this since I was a little girl. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I was well aware that it was no longer a societal requirement to do so. There were plenty of women who opted to maintain the name they had since birth. Some did so because they were established in their profession and had become well-known by their maiden name. Others had adapted a more modern feminist stance that they didn’t need to shed their name for a man’s—despite the fact that most had their father’s surname.

Still others kind of split the difference by use of the very politically correct hyphen, like “Ms. Mary Jones-White” or “Jessica Smith-Hall”. This seemed a plausible solution that could appease both the traditionalists and feminists. Having two names can actually sound quite privileged to me, even stately. So why didn’t I choose this option B? Well, one reason, to be frank, is that having “Alisha Flemming-De Freitas” would’ve just been too wordy. Try fitting that 23 letter behemoth on a driver’s license or bank card. How about taking the time to scribble that every time I made a check card purchase. And the spelling? Forget about it! I already grew up having people assume my name was spelled “Alicia Fleming,” which are the more common spellings. However, my mom opted for “A-L-I-S-H-A” because she thought it sounded phonetically correct. Turns out, I prefer the Indian origin meaning of it better than the European “Alicia” anyway.

As for Flemming, well, who knows why some ancestor thought it better to have two “m’s” as opposed to one. It is what it is. I never liked it too much as a child. I’ll never forget Clem McIntyre’s middle school tease of “Phlem-ing.” He would pronounce it while half coughing and then clearing his throat. It was a popular and disgusting nickname that popped up repeatedly through high school graduation. Believe me, I was never enamored of a last name that induced thoughts of mucus and bronchitis. I often pondered why I couldn’t have had my mother’s common (and middle school approved) maiden name of “Williams”. I vowed to myself (ok, and to my entire family repeatedly) that I would drop the offensive “Phlem-wod” name (another 6th grade hit) for “Alisha Williams” when I became a famous writer as an adult. While I did do a few freelance articles, I never attained any kind of fame (well, my Mom and K think I’m a star) and I used “Flemming” for the writing credit.

Despite my childhood dislike of the name, I achieved much as a “Flemming”. Winning academic awards, a tween beauty pageant, being a cheerleader, having my first kiss, first boyfriend, the Prom, high school and college graduation…. Years, memories, laughter, tears… all as “Miss Flemming”. Adventures and misadventures, my journey under my birth moniker has been a true learning and growing experience.

Yet when Miss Alisha D. Flemming, full of past hurt, present joy and future hope, took my Knight’s ring and promise of fidelity and enduring love on our wedding day, I accepted his name, with the true honor it bestowed on me. Kelly Clarkson’s song could’ve been me:

Miss independent

Miss self sufficient

Miss keep your distance…
Miss don't let a man interfere, no

Miss on her own

Miss almost grown

Miss never let a man help her off her throne

In marrying Keiron, he not only swept me off my feet, but actually seated me on a new throne. No longer a princess, I became his queen.

So, by keeping her heart protected

She’d never ever feel rejected

Little miss apprehensive

As my love for him has grown, the fear caused by past hurts has subsided, along with apprehension. I no longer have to keep up a wall around my heart. He guards it valiantly, protecting it with his all.

What happened to Miss independent

No longer need to be defensive

Goodbye old you when love
when love is true...

With “I do”, I bid goodbye to Miss Flemming. Not with feelings of loss, either. Like the completion of a chapter, I turned the page. Memories intact, lessons learned… not all tied up in a neat package, of course. Nevertheless, on October 24, 2008, I finished being a Flemming, and wrapped myself in De Freitas.

So despite the negative comments I’ve received from overly critical co-workers and associates intent on sharing their opinion that I’ll always be a “Flemming,” I am Alisha De Freitas. And it fits me much better than Miss Independent ever did.

(You can see Kelly Clarkson's "Miss Independent" here.)

I'm Sure My Father-In-Law Would Be Proud...

During a break from the Summit of the Americas, President Obama had a chance to practice his cricket swing with cricket player Brian Lara in Trinidad & Tobago. You can find the original picture here.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fashion Flubs, Finances & Flat Screen TV’s

I feel I have slipped into a style rut. In the name of comfort and warmth (and a slightly expanding waistband due to post-marital bliss), I have let myself slide into a sort of fashion purgatory, so to speak. I pray that I’m being purified, because I have decided to rid myself of all the early 00’s skirts, slightly ill-fitting tops and blaise sweaters now cluttering my closet.

The next step in the undressing of my wardrobe, however, appears to be the hardest. What kind of outfits will be taking over the rejects’ spots? I’m proud of myself for even asking the question. For weeks I had been weighing the option of buying new clothes and felt it to be somehow inappropriate. With thousands being laid-off, the current state of the economy made me feel slightly guilty even contemplating the potentital purchases… that is, until the sexy husband began contemplating his own big ticket purchase of a 32-inch, flat screen television. He bounced between Best Buy and Wal-mart for months looking for the perfect model. He decided he would go out and get it- only to change his mind the next day. He found it hard to justify spending hundreds on a television we don’t really need (but, um, who REALLY needs a flat screen tv in their home??? Really???) It appears I have married my exact financial match, for we both believe in giving our ten percent to charity without question, paying our bills on time, saving, and then THINKING about spending the remainder on something fun. The thoughts rarely turn to action, though. This, overall, is a good thing. In our six months of being married, we haven’t had narry a squabble over money. A sore topic to many newlyweds, yes, but blessedly, not for us (now my habit of leaving like, A chip in a bag of Doritos then putting it back in the pantry?... battle royale, folks).

However, things took an interesting twist today when K purchased his oft mentioned, wholeheartedly desired flatscreen online. He AIMed me with a link to our new tech-toy addition. And I’m happy. So happy that I wanted to break out with the running man (I did not do this, though). Yes, the tv is cool, but what’s making me so happy is K allowing himself the splurge. He works so incredibly hard- often doing 9 or 10 hour days at work with no lunch break. Then he’ll come home, and still help me go grocery shopping or vacuum or fold laundry. All without complaining (I do this, though, too much). So if my Knight wanted a tv taller than me (definitely doable; I’m 62 inches), I’d applaud that purchase, too. He’d give me the world if he could- and I hope to see my World get everything his heart desires.

So anyway, back to my wardrobe. Now that the tv is on it’s way, I’m back to pondering what kind of clothes to get. After mentally sorting through my mostly sorry collection of duds, I’ve realized I actually have two fashion styles, both from the same decade- the 1960’s. I heart the neat, scholastic look of the early 60’s. Think fitted cardigan sweaters, slimming pencil skirts and little flats and lady like pumps Jackie Kennedy would’ve donned while playing with Caroline and John-John in the Camelot era. And at the end of the decade, say the long floral print skirts, peasant tops, and silver and bangled jewlery a Woodstock attendee could’ve worn. Although these are two VERY different and nearly opposing looks- chignons and free flowing, natural hair, for example- in my mind, they reside together quite nicely. Equal parts librarian and hippie girl, both totally attractive. And why not? I feel just as at home at Barnes & Noble picking out a new read as I do sitting outdoors, absorbing nature and reflecting on Transcendental writers like Emerson or Thoreau.

So, I have admitted my current style deficiencies. Singled out my prefered clothing looks-Audrey Hepburn meets Boho-chic. Next up, time to shop. If only I could just click a link to get my whole new wardrobe without having to try on a single thing. Or catch sight of the back of my thighs in a cruel 360 mirror. Let’s just hope I’m not leaving fashion purgatory for a slip downwards…

More to Come…

10 Things Every Woman Should Know -by Gary Watkins

My friend April's hubby, Gary, wrote this really great essay which not only expresses how deep his love is for his wife, but also provides great tips, from a Godly man's perspective, on how men want to be treated... Great read...

I was up late last night and my mind was swarming, but I couldn't notice how different I felt when I slipped into bed and watched my wife sleep. I became so grateful for so much. I don't know what others marriages are like, and I'm not sure what most of you single girls out there are aspiring to be for a man, but let me tell you that I couldn't be any happier and more at peace with my wife. So I just wanted to share with the rest of the girls out there how to really have an effect on a man, in the hopes that there would be more marriages out there like mine under the covering of what God has to offer.Here are 10 things you should know.....
1. It absolutely blesses a man when is wife is seen as a fun and personable woman who is genuinely liked by all his friends and family. Imagine life with someone who is everybody's favorite, or better yet contrast with being with someone who everyone hates to be around or feels is no good for you. I'm sure there are many men out there who can testify to both truths. To all the women out there, If you want to bless your man, be a beacon for love and gentleness to everyone.
2. It absolutely blesses me when my wife accepts the fact that I am sometimes a big kid. It's cool to every once and awhile talk about buying and air rifle at walmart just for fun, as ridiculous as it sounds. Every man that I've ever known has always been into child-like interests like remote control airplanes, video games, instruments, and collectibles. It's just in our nature, and it's so much fun to be with someone who won't make you feel stupid or lose respect for you because of our child-like interests. To all the women out there, understand that one of the greater things you can offer a man is recreational companionship, or at least be game to trying.
3. My mother always said that the one of the greatest blessings she could offer her children was to know that her parents were always in love with each other. So I grew up watching them hold and kiss each other every night when my dad would come home from work. In the same return my wife always puts pictures of us up on facebook and on her cell phone together and is writing her blogs about us etc.. It's a blessing to me when people see that she's crazy about me and that we have an exceptional marriage:) It makes me feel like I'm doing something right, and it feels great to have everyone know that I won her heart, and be inspired by it.To all the women out there, don't be afraid to be lovey-dovey. I know it sounds corny but it's an exceptional alternative to not doing anything at all.
4. April honors me, and by honor I mean respect. When I talk she listens. My cares genuinely become her own. She supports me in all that I do. She's not up for quarrel, and doesn't criticize me. I have to say that at least once a week when I think about it, I'm just blown away by how easy life is with her and just totally remember that I can totally live the rest of my life with this girl.To all the women out there, respect is on the top 3 requirements for any man to function well in life. It makes him feel more Godly, and it gives him strength and wisdom.
5. Don't let your man go hungry. I'm not talking about hunger for food. I'm talking about his hunger for you. It's every single man's fear that they will end up with an "I have headache" routine for the rest of his life. I have heard from many men what it's like to live in that pattern, and it's heartbreaking. I once heard from my Pastor once in North Carolina, that you can always tell how well a woman treats her man in private, by how he treats her in public (and vice versa of course). So when you guys see me playing with my wife's hair, holding her hand, opening her car door, and shamelessly embracing assured that my belly is full. I wish there were someway that I could help out all the rest of the guys in the world in this area.To all the women out there, if you ever want to be proud of anything in a proud of this one thing. It all starts when you're single too, get a jump start on this perspective, and it will bring you joy.
6. Transparency is the key to clarity. April is very transparent with me. She doesn't hide or herself or hold out from me. What I see is what I get. She doesn't put up false intentions, she doesn't act like she's fine when she's not, and she doesn't make me work to try to understand what she's thinking. This makes me a better husband because my understanding of her body language, her aura, and her non verbal communication makes it easier for me to accept the first thing that comes to my mind about the situation, rather then wonder if I'm going crazy, or is she playing games, or is this a test, or, or ,or etc.etc.etc...To all the women out there, if you really want to see how much your man cares about you, let him see you for who you are. Clouding his understanding of you is a self-centered sport that only results in greater separation.
7. April is very forgiving. When you forgive someone you basically bring things back to their foundation and start over. Maybe I make mistakes, maybe I'll say something and wont do it, maybe sometimes I'll leave a mess and she'll have to pick it up....but at the end of the night she does not hold it over my head, and she forgives me and we begin over like my mistakes never happened, and we enjoy each other like.. all we ever knew was love. At the same time it's easy as cake to forgive forgiving people and when it's my turn, it's almost a joke to even consider not forgiving her.To all the women out there, holding onto the past is like holding onto fresh fruits and serving them after they are rotten. Only makes the body ill, and the eater is never going to want you to serve them anything again.
8. (In Humor) Believe it or not your man has managed to survive life before you. Yes woman is man's gift as a helper.....not a nag. I've seen nag throughout my studies, and my wife openly proclaims herself against it, and it makes me feel like I've got a jewel. Many girls want to supplement their men, but do so by nagging and nagging and sometimes harassing their man. This is not what God has designed. Because April does not nag me, the few words that she speaks hold greater value to me. If she nagged me all the time my life would be numb to her voice and her words, and my interest in what she has to say would decrease. I am so grateful that I do not have a nagging wife.To all the women out there, PLEASE do not fall into the American sub-culture of what a women "needs to do" in a relationship with a man. Men, do not need a nag. Be a rebel and flip the script on them. If you choose to nag, you will be exchanging it for a greater stress.
9. The best advice April and I got at our wedding party was "Don't take anyone's advice". April and I took that and ran with it. We make our own rules. We don't measure ourselves and our expectations to anyone. This is our life, our relationship, and we are the ones ultimately and foreverly affected by it. Because of all of this, it has increased our own creative ways of communicating which makes us more attentive to each other. I love April for joining with me in this. To all the women out there, April blesses me by keep our lives together...our lives together. She is not influenced or manipulated by anyone. This protects me and us from fiery darts that other relationships are pinned by. Making our relationship unique which results in a unique love, which is what we wanted.
10. April is the purest girl I have ever met. Growing up we all thought that she was naive, and "holier than thou", but now that I know the true April I realize what purity has to offer. Her pure outlook on love, God, friendship, ministry, nursing, and family absolutely blows my mind. I am a student of the human race and human behavior and this girl has boggled my mind over and over. She has a supernatural beauty because she is pure, which makes her invaluable, which makes her my mystic. There's nothing like being amazingly married to someone you are truly impressed by. It's one of her greatest and attractive qualities. April and I never had sex before marriage and I'm glad because keeping her pure is one of my greatest joys. Even now, I am protective of her because she now is under my umbrella or protection, now that she has left her father's care. Because I love her with her father's love I want to see her thrive in all that she can so she continues to feel and be different from the rest of the tainted world.To all the women out there, it's never too late for purity. Be compelled and inspired by it. Seeing the value it has in April's life brings me my greatest joy.These are just my thoughts that I wanted to share with the rest of the world as I was awake last night watching my soulmate rest in my bed.
Thanks for listening ya'll. Feel free to comment, tag, print out, forward or even discuss these topics for the betterment of God's plan in our lives.-Stay in the Fight

Thursday, April 16, 2009

This One's for the Hubby & In-laws

When my in-laws were up visiting back in December, they were already discussing how President Obama may be visiting their home nation of Trinidad & Tobago this month. According to Mom De Freitas, the government had spent tons of time, energy and money to spruce up Port of Spain because the Fifth Summit of the Americas will be held there. And also to impress President Obama, a sensational hero to thousands living in the tiny island country (and hundreds of millions worldwide). Mom and Dad had worried, though, the President would send a representative (such as the VP or Secretary of State) in his place. Their worries were misplaced, since it's all over the web and blogosphere that the Prez will indeed be present.

Saying Goodbye to Bling, Hello to Babies & No Hiding from Pink Slips

After years of decadence, it appears that even hip hop, by far the most “blinged out” of all the music genres, has been affected by the current world economic down turn. According to this Associated Press article, hip hop “ …defined as much by diamond-encrusted watches and designer sneakers as its gritty urban lyrics is scaling down its flash, insiders say, as rappers join the rest of the world feeling the pinch of the recession.”

The article goes on to describe how even top selling artists like Lil’ Wayne are limiting how much jewelry they wear or even (shocker) going sans diamonds. Other artists are even donning diamond and cubic zirconia mixes (lol, QVC… he he he).

Over on The, writer Michael Arceneaux has a blog called “The Recession Diaries”, with today’s entry bemoaning a possible mini-baby boom (well in his eyes; even though being that two of my co-workers have just announced pregnancies, and my best friend is due to give birth this summer, perhaps he’s on to something) despite the record high costs associated with raising kids.

Less bling and spending thousands on diapers might be depressing, but I still think the worse recession story I’ve read recently belongs to the Wisconsin nurse who got her pink slip last week. According to the story, “A nurse was called out of surgery so a manager could tell her she was being laid off.” This story is disturbing to say the least. Has things really gotten so bad that nurses can’t finish out a shift, even if they are standing in an operating room assisting with SURGERY?!?

Forget change, I think we’re all looking for cash we can believe in…

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Silence Can Be Golden

On April 17th, many high school and college kids across the country will be taking part in the National Day of Silence. According to it's website:

"The National Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Each year the event has grown, now with hundreds of thousands of students coming together to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior."

At it's root, the reason for this quiet protest is quite honorable. No one should have to deal with being bullied, harassed or threatened, no matter their color, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Unfortunately, in a classic knee-jerk reaction, some Christians are up-in-arms about the matter. According to an article on, "A coalition of conservative groups (including the American Family Association and Concerned Women for America) has responded by urging parents to keep kids away from school, either via unexcused absence or a walkout, on the Day of Silence..."

Why is this even necessary? Why the fear? I believe this is exactly the kind of behavior that the authors of "unChristian", a book I blogged about yesterday, are trying to have us do away with. Many non-Christians view us as being "sheltered" and having a "head in the sand" type mentality. And forcing your kids to skip a day because of all that pesky, noisy "silence" will do nothing but reinforce outsiders' negative views.

How should a Christian react then? I believe one organization's alternate plan is quite golden.

On Girls & China

According to a Slate article I just read, "Sixteen million girls are missing in China. And now we know what happened to them: They were aborted because they weren't boys." Wow...

It seems the government in China has now realized their eugenics-enforced laws have had an undesirable result: "Without enough girls, the boys become unruly" and will be hard pressed upon maturation to marry and reproduce- meaning future generations will be negatively effected (or won't be born???). Click here to see the article in full.

As Seen On TV

So, K and I were watching tv the other day and we saw one of the most horrifically funny “As Seen on TV” commercials ever viewed- well at least since “ShamWow”. The commercial for the “Body Snake” reveals the hardships appearently experienced by all overweight, hairy men everywhere whenever they step into the shower to lather up. According to the visuals depicted, men of great girth risk life and limb as they struggle to scrub their backs clean. And during the “Wait! There’s More…” part of the ad, with the purchase of the “Body Snake”, they’ll even throw in a foot scrubber, a strange loofah-lined contraption that you step into repeatedly to get swollen tootsies squeaky clean. To view this sudsy insult to obese males, click on the box below:

We also saw the craptastic commercial for the “HD WrapAround Sunglasses”, which, despite it’s claims, are NOT attractive, stylish or cool. They seriously look like a pair of sunglasses Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder would’ve rocked… back in nineteen eighty-something. K was boggled by the very concept of “High Definition” sunglasses. Sure, we all admire high def television sets and movie discs (although, I was, admittedly, taken aback by the clearer appearance of my favorite morning show hosts; suddenly, wrinkles were more obvious, and makeup, does not cover all). Why? Because the picture quality looks much more like real life. So, why pray tell, do you need sunglasses to make real life look…more like real life??? Keiron thinks (and I agree) people who can suddenly see much better while wearing them should probably take a trip to their local optometrist’s office. You either need prescription glasses or at least a pair that blocks sun glare. Below, the ad:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On Being "UnChristian" Yet "Crazy for God"

When I get a little money, I buy books;and if any is left, I buy food and clothes. ~ Desiderius Erasmus 1466-1536

And this has been me over the past week. I plunked down cash for two new books, “unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters” by David Kinnamon and Gabe Lyons, and “Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back” by Frank Schaeffer. Both of these books would be found in the “Christian” category of Barnes & Noble, but actually flips the conventional Evangelical view of the world on its head.

“unChristian” polls thousands of nonbelievers (atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Hindus, etc), with special emphasis on people between the ages of 16-29, to find out how they view adherents of our faith. The results? Overwhelmingly negative. While this is no shocker, what was surprising for me as a Christian reader is just how negatively we are viewed. Christians are homophobic, hypocritical, too disconnected and not spiritual enough. Unfortunately, as someone on the inside, I could relate to some of the “outsiders” complaints. And it’s not just me who feels some negativity towards my own faith; quite a few of my fellow young Christians also feel some ambivalence towards today’s Christianity. While my view of Jesus has never faltered, I have been quite put off a number of times by other Christ followers.

The book doesn’t just provide poll numbers, though. It gives responses from a number of today’s highly influential Christian leaders, like Rick Warren, giving advice on how we can stay relevant, reach the “outsiders” (who, by the way, are composed of many ex-Christians) and stay faithful to the Word of God. I’m not finished with it yet, but it is definitely a great read.

Yesterday, I spent two hours devouring “Crazy for God”, Schaeffer’s warts and all tale of growing up in the famous (in evangelical circles, at least) Schaeffer clan, headed by dad Francis and mother Edith. Frank doesn’t mince words in revealing his father’s abusive ways, his mother’s controlling ways, and his own personal voyage as a rebellious teen-cum abortion fighter-cum Independent/Obama supporter with leftist leanings. While some have labeled him a traitor, he comes off more as searching for a peaceful median in which to live his life. And speaking as someone who went through an overly religious childhood, I can understand. Is it a good idea to mix religion with politics? Does being a Christian mean aligning yourself with a particular political party? Are we truly being “pro-life” if we only fight for the unborn and don’t support those who are here now? What are the motivations of many of today’s most powerful Evangelical leaders, like Pat Robertson and James Dobson? I believe someone can totally disagree with Schaeffer’s criticisms of the Religious Right, but still get a lot from this book. Perhaps, especially in light of the findings listed in “unchristian”, it is well past time born again Christians take time to re-evaluate what we believe, how we behave, and why. Our light to the world appears to be growing dimmer, especially to the youth.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He Is Risen!

John 20

The Resurrection

1 Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 2 She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus Appears to Thomas

24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. 25 They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

26 Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

28 “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

Purpose of the Book

30 The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

...And I Fit Into This Category

In my last post, I discussed inviting my brother to church last year, as I will be doing this year. However, in the winter, I stopped attending Christ Fellowship, a nondenominational evangelical church I had been a member of since 2004. I'm in a state of change now, as I have been several times in the past.

I was raised Oneness Pentecostal/Apostolic, which is a curious offshoot of traditional Pentocostalism. The church I attended growing up, Apostolic Outreach Assembly, was pastored by my grandparents, and was, and is, a part of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World. While I valued the instilling of Scriptures and value of prayer that I soaked up while belonging to the church, by the time I was 17, I was ready for a change. By then, my Papa had passed away, and my Grandma had become head pastor, while my father was assistant pastor. Sure, like most PK's (preacher's kids), I was sick of being forced to be a part of everything (I sang on the choir, played the drums, was an usher, and helped with the books in the office), but the driving force that was leading me away was the more unorthodox teachings of the denomination. While my parents were stringent in following the Oneness beliefs, they weren't militant. For seven years, my siblings and I attended a Trinitarian Pentecostal Christian school, so everyday during devotions/Bible Classes/ Chapel, I was taught the traditional view of the Godhead. So by the time I graduated from high school, I was ready for something different. Something more True...

... which led me to Mt. Zion Pentecostal. Ok, so it wasn't too different at all. But at 17, I was proud of making a "big step" on my own to another church. They were different from my previous church in that they didn't belong to PAW (although they had associations), and they weren't stuck on outward appearances so much. Or in other words, women could cut their hair, wear make-up, pants, earrings, and such without the fear of being labeled a "Jezebel." While there was a huge relief in ridding myself of all those regulations, I was still bothered by the preaching. We were taught in this church, like my former one, that the evidence of having received the Holy Spirit is speaking in tongues. Or at least the "initial" evidence is speaking in tongues. But what about passages of Scriptures like I Corinthians 12:8-11 which states: "For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things."

While these ministers played Bible hopscotch and pushed Acts 2:38 as proof of their teachings, it seemed more like they were commiting eisigesus to make the Scripture fit their doctrines as opposed to rightly dividing the Word through exegesus (please don't mistake me for a theologian with these terms... I wish I was, but no, I just have a BA in English, which familiarized me with literary theories). So after graduating from college in 2004, I left Mt. Zion, and the familiar seas of Pentecostalism for nondenominational Charasmatic Evangelicalism. Which I found to be much more warmer, inviting waters. While they believe in the gifts of the Spirit like Pentecostals, they weren't so rigid with the rules. My sister Joscelyne and I viewed it as being somewhat, Pente-lite. Christ Fellowship was seeker-sensitive, Christianese for "Come on in! We've got great music/skits/ videoes and entertainment! Don't worry about dressing up, come as you are! Bring the kids, and stay for the coffee and donuts after!" We were elated. The traditional choir was swapped out for the Worship Team with professional backing by the keyboardist, drummer, guitars and even a saxophone. We sang Israel & The New Breed songs, then some Martha Munizzi, Hillsong and Kirk Franklin thrown in for a kick. Sunday school was replaced by Kids Church, and Jos would happily drop her son Justin off for some toddler free church!

But I soon felt disappointment when I learned there was no regular Bible study, just Fellowship Groups. They were nice yes, but were really more about hanging out with fellow believers than going into a real discussion about Scripture. And then there was the irregular communion, the lack of singing any traditional hymns or songs except on a special occasion. And I couldn't help but notice that in being so intune with "seekers", more seasoned believers were being left out in the cold. I missed... tradition! Also troubling were some of the leaders Prosperity Gospel-like views. Name and claim your healing. "Thus saith the Lord" prophecies. Uh oh... like some of the Pentecostals I ran from, some of these people were addicted to Holy Spirit highs and abberant teachings. While I can't say any of the pastors seemed to be pushing this, there were plenty of "layleaders" who were. Since "every believers is a leader" as goes their motto, it was very easy for this to happen. Some members were supplementing their Spiritual nourishment with the teachings of Benny Hinn, Paula White, Joel Osteen and other Faith Teachers. So they were able to disseminate these very questionable teachings to others (like myself) without many checks and balances. Obviously, not good. If you're curious about WHY this isn't good, check out "Christianity in Crisis: 21st Century".

So what now? I'm church shopping, which is apparently, pretty common. I don't know if I like the term, because really, my husband and I are praying to be led by the Holy Spirit to where God wants us. We visited a nice church last week, and we'll be headed back there tomorrow (hopefully, with the aforemementioned "heathen" Joe). But being that it's another evangelical, nondenominational church, I'm still definitely in visitor mode. As I wait for God's leading, I can't help but ponder, that perhaps I'm now post-Pentocostal, post-nondenominational...??? But what now? I eagerly await for Heavenly Father to reveal it.

My Brother Joe Fits in This Category...

Last Easter, I asked, begged and cajoled (with a promise of a stop by the diner for an omelet brunch afterward) my older brother Joe into going to church with me for Easter Sunday service. It had been awhile since he had gone (probably Easter 2006), so he agreed (with thoughts of loads of coffee and a heaping pile of fried potatoes motivating him, no doubt) and had an enjoyable time. Unfortunately, he hasn't been back since. So, in about an hour, I'll give him a call and start my pleas for tomorrow.

If you find yourself in the same boat as my brother, or the similar one which has you attending church on Christmas and maybe Mother's Day, too, check out this hilarious article from The Entitled "Easter Tips for Heathens", it shares such gems as:

"Don’t overdo the Holy Ghost thing. After the downer of all downers, Good Friday, Easter is a joyous, celebratory event. If you find yourself in a Baptist, Methodist, Evangelical or Pentecostal church, there may be rocking and clapping and hand waving when the choir starts singing. In the more lively churches, people will likely even stand up. Go with the flow if you are comfortable with that, but don’t get carried away. Do not start doing the Cabbage Patch or, God forbid, the Stanky Legg—even if they start singing Kirk Franklin. The choir director has license to break out his funky moves. You do not."

The Psalm of the Cross

Even a cursary reading of Psalm 22 reveals the prophetic power of the Holy Spirit working through it's writer to reveal the words Jesus would utter while being crucified many centuries later. Check out Matthew 27, Luke 23, and John 19 and 20 for the corresponding Gospel passages.

Psalm 22

1My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

2O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

3But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

4Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.

5They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.

6But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.

7All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,

8He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

9But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother's breasts.

10I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly.

11Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.

12Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round.

13They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.

14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.

15My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.

16For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

17I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

18They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.

19But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me.

20Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog.

21Save me from the lion's mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns.

22I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

23Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

24For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

25My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him.

26The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever.

27All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

28For the kingdom is the LORD's: and he is the governor among the nations.

29All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul.

30A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.

31They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Reason

I was just on MySpace and I noticed my good friend Kandi's bulletin called "My Reason". I opened it up and watched the YouTube clip which moved me to tears. For many people this is a day off, time to catch an Easter sale or two. It is truly a blessing to have time away from work, and I'm enjoying spending time with my husband. But let's take time for the true REASON.

Colbert Takes on Ehrman

Even though this "interview" is full of jest, it speaks a whole lot of truth. Follow this link to watch Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert battle it out with Bart Ehrman, author of the new controversial, and many would say, blasphemous tome "Jesus, Interrupted".

The Passion of The Tweeters

A church in New York is twitering (or is that tweeting???) the Passion of the Christ. It's definitely different, and innovative, and a great way to reach out to this generation with the world changing story of redemption. Check it out here.

Conflicting Accounts of the Cross?

Being Good Friday, I tried to remember at what time of day Christ was crucified (you would think after 14 years of Christian school, this information would easily be recalled to mind, but alas, no, it has gone the way of geometry and the Periodic Table of the Elements), so I turned to the internet for a quick answer. I didn't know a simple search would result on my stumbling on a major theological debate. According to the Gospel of Mark, Christ was crucified around 9am. However, according to St. John, it was noon. There are a number of sites out there that use these differences as proof that the Bible is chock full of error. Some use this to bolster their views of Christianity being a sham and to boost their agnostic/atheistic views. However, I found a good article which breaks down the passages without tearing apart the authenticity of the Bible. You can find it here.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Happy Passover!

I was emailing my friend Miriam this morning, and she mentioned she was preparing for Passover by cleaning... ALOT. I wrote her:

"Oh, yeah, it’s Passover, beginning at sunset! God bless! I hope, that even with all the cooking and cleaning you’re doing, you’ll have a memorable and enjoyable time celebrating with your family and reflecting on how awesome our God is- He ALWAYS KEEPS HIS PROMISES! I think many times we forget that, in our everyday hustle (I know I do). We also tend to feel when things don’t go our way, He is not there. But time and time again (and always), He reveals His faithfulness, even when we don’t deserve it."

I just love this time of year. With Passover, Good Friday and this coming Sunday being Easter, the holiest time on the Christian calendar, I just feel so inspired. It’s the start of spring, too… a time of rebirth and renewal. It’s very spiritually invigorating.

If you're curious aboout the story of Passover, click here.

Reflections for Holy Week- II

Today during my devotions, I read from John 13:1-17. It recounts the story of Jesus humbly washing his disciples' feet. Here it is:

1 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. 2 It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.
6 When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”
8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”
Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

At a website I've been visiting lately, I found these words really inspiring:

Daily Meditation:

You gave us an example to imitate. Holy Thursday is one of the truly marvelous days in our faith community. We celebrate the gift of the love of Jesus, given to us for our nourishment - given to us as an example of self-less love.

In our prayer today, we let our Lord wash our feet - love us unconditionally - and we let Jesus be broken and given for us. We pray that we might be faithful to the one commandment of Jesus - that we might love others in the same way that we have been loved.

Where charity and love are found, there is God.

Decide today to act our faith, through love and self-lessness. What have you done lately to show Christ's love? Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to opportunities to live out humility.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wrapping Myself in Quotations

I wanted to share some really cool and inspiring quotes I found online:

"I'm a woman / Phenomenally. / Phenomenal woman, / That's me."-- Maya Angelou

"If you please man and never please God, you have nothing; If you please God and man forsakes you, you have everything."--Dorothy Patterson

"We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do small things with great love."--Mother Teresa

"The best way out is always through." Robert Frost

What lies behind us, and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
~ by Ralph Waldo Emerson ~

"What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God."

Good Reads

Staying on the theme of Easter, following are links to some great articles. Enjoy!

Betrayal's Role in Holy Week

Easter And My Struggle With the Brutality of God's Plan

Holy Week: Seeking the Light of Christ

Reflections for Holy Week

This week, I have been trying to dedicate extra time to reading the Word, praying and reflecting on the Great Sacrifice which was made by Jesus Christ on the cross. This morning, I found this prayer and set of reflections on a Catholic website ( Following are some excerpts which I edited a bit:
Please stay with me as I struggle to see how accepting the crosses of my life will free me from the power of the one who wants only to destroy my love and trust in you. Help me to be humble and accepting like your son, Jesus. I want to turn to you with the same trust he had in your love.
In your plan of salvation your Son Jesus Christ accepted the cross and freed us from the power of the enemy. May we come to share the glory of his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, for ever and ever.

Daily Meditation: He freed us from the power of the enemy. This is the last day of Lent. It is "Spy Wednesday," remembering the day Judas asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?"
The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Matthew 20:28
As part of my Bible reading for the day, I read John 12:27-36:

27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause came I unto this hour.
28 Father, glorify thy name. There came therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
29 The multitude therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it had thundered: others said, An angel hath spoken to him.
30 Jesus answered and said, This voice hath not come for my sake, but for your sakes.
31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto myself.
33 But this he said, signifying by what manner of death he should die.
34 The multitude therefore answered him, We have heard out of the law that the Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?
35 Jesus therefore said unto them, Yet a little while is the light among you. Walk while ye have the light, that darkness overtake you not: and he that walketh in the darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.
36 While ye have the light, believe on the light, that ye may become sons of light. These things spake Jesus, and he departed and hid himself from them.

Take time today to think over the true cost of Jesus’ death on the cross. The injustice of the shame “court” who convicted him, the demeaning, the beatings, the mocking, the excruciating pain. Our redemption was paid with a mighty price. Spend some time in prayer and contemplation.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Meet the Parents: Avoiding Being on the Outs with Each Other when the In-laws Come to Visit

You’ve seen a similar plot in many a holiday movie: young newlyweds are excited to be spending their first Christmas together. Only thing is, the groom’s parents are flying in for a visit. Staying with them. In their overheated one bedroom apartment. For two weeks. Bad enough? No? Well, let’s not forget that mom and dad are divorced, making things quite awkward. Embarassing situations occur, nickpicking turns to annoyance, and in the end, hilarity ensues, right?
Maybe in the movies, but when I found myself in the role of the young bride this past Christmas, I found nothing hilarious about the situation. Oh, before my new in-laws arrived, I had somewhat high hopes, despite my nerves. I had only met Keiron’s parents once, a week before our wedding. His mom lives in Trinidad, with his dad currently residing in Belgium, working as a diplomat from the Caribbean nation. Although things had gone fine that first time, I was feeling some uneasiness about their extended visit. First, while I knew his parents are civil to each other, calling each other from time to time, they were still divorced and had not spent so much time together under one roof since before they split back in the 90’s. Would they treat each other coldly? Barely speak? The thoughts kept running rampant through my head.
I also worried about my cooking. I will not pretend to be a chef here. Heck, I’m not even really a cook. Sure, Keiron happily eats the food I prepare, but for him most things are delicious compared to his bachelor/ college years eating ramen noodles and canned ravioli. Other worries floated through my mind, like “what if they get bored while staying with us?” “What do they like to do?” I also felt irritation every time I thought about not being able to sleep with K. And I’m not talking about sex, either. I literally could not sleep in the same bed with him since he’d be bunking on the air mattress in the living room with his dad and I’d be sharing ours with his mom (I still sigh when I think about that).
When I brought my concerns to K in the weeks preceding their arrival, he seemed to not have any. “They’ll love you, don’t worry!” I felt brushed off, but I knew he had other things on his mind, including some big projects at work. And after I got sick for 5 days a couple of weeks before their arrival, I decided to not focus on potential problems. And on December 21st, his mom arrived first, sweeping in like a tornado. Three days later, dad came, shaking up our home even more.
Do understand, there were no big fights, teary eyed arguments or screaming pronouncements of hatred. Although the premise of our holidays was like a movie, the pacing and action, or should I say, inaction was not. Instead, an awkward silence dampened our apartment. His parents spoke to each other quite cordially, talking about politics, Trinidad & Tobago government, and President-elect Barak Obama. But the lulls in their conversations left voids that couldn’t be filled. I noticed Mom mostly spoke at me- telling interesting stories from K’s childhood, and about their rich culture. But these weren’t conversations so much as lectures; I was there as an audience and not a participant. His dad barely spoke to me at all. Not that I said much to him either. Dad busied himself with the incessant task of opening personal emails which were funny (at least to him) PowerPoint forwards with bird sounds, music and jokes written in Portuguese or French. We would find out a little later those forwards were also packed with cookies that slowed our computer down, but that’s another story. K seemed the most uncomfortable. He would flip open his laptop and get lost. I, in return, got mad. I felt deserted. Here I was being lectured to by his mom about my over-processed American food and lack of kitchen supplies (yup, yup, folks, please refer back to the third paragraph in which I admitted my shortcomings in the kitchen, and considering I didn’t even have a dining room table until nearly a year after moving into my apt., I wasn’t crying over my lack of serving dishes), and he was reading software blogs and scanning for laptop batteries online. NOT FAIR!!!
And so began our silent battle. I snapped on him about not wanting to open his Christmas gifts in front of his parents. They wanted a photo-op show; he felt that was a spectacle. He wanted to open them quietly; they felt he was not being a good host and moody. I dragged him out to do it. Another night, I began to read alone in the bedroom while K and his parents were doing things in the living room. He came and snapped on me for my apparent rudeness. I wailed back at him, “You know this is my vacation, too! We barely get time off from work and now we have to spend it working as hosts with no breaks!” I was furious. He got quiet as he walked over and closed the bedroom door. “I’m sorry, you have every right to be in here reading if you want. It’s our home and it’s our vacation, too.” Yes, it was our vacation, and it was during that conversation that we realized we needed to relax, too. We felt, for the first time in our new marriage, disconnected. And we became determined to fix it.
So through our not-so-happy holiday, we learned some important lessons, some of which I would like to share with you here:
Communication is key! I had some nagging concerns about my in-laws coming. Unfortunately, I believe my expressing them to my husband came out more like nags than concerns. Keiron tried to assure me, but we both neglected to actually address the legitimate problem of what we would do while his parents were with us. We should have sat down and really expressed our feelings and began to make a schedule before they ever stepped foot into our home. Which brings us to number 2:
Plan, plan, and plan some more! If my close friends and I were to play “Sex & The City”, I certainly wouldn’t play the part of Charlotte. I am not so organized, neat & pulled together. But even I had the feeling we should have a few things mapped out for our visitors to do while they were with us. Unfortunately, the Carrie in me threw caution to the wind and it wound up leaving us stuck a number of times. Take the time to make at least a short list of to-do’s- museums, shops, restaurants, and theatres in the area. Be aware of cost and your guests’ likes and dislikes.
Stick Together! Interestingly enough, the more awkward things got in our little apartment between the 4 of us, the more his parents came together! They managed to make an unexpected alliance towards the end of their stay to nag K about some perceived oversights he was making. At the time, I was taken aback. Now, I know the best way to get through a sticky situation is to stick together. Remember your partner is not the enemy!.
Make time for just each other. On New Year’s Day, I did something I never thought I would. With K, I went to Pt. Pleasant Beach in the brisk, thirty degree weather. And had a blast. This, fair readers, was not planned at all (thank you, inner-Carrie). We had just dropped his mom off at yet another mall (and lest you think we just coldly dropped her off with no regard, she made the request- I think she was sick of us by then), when Keiron asked what should we do with our free time (and no, after all the stores we had been in over that week, we were not going in). “Let’s drive to the shore,” I suggested. It was a strange idea, but my equally quirky husband agreed, and we wound up at Jenkinson’s Pier playing arcade games (I rock at shooting up bad guys with machine guns) and shooting hoops for tickets (um, I don’t rock so much in this area). This was one of the best times of the whole two weeks. I’ll never forget it.
Don’t drop important appointments or events. My nephew Justin turned seven on December 29th and had a birthday at Chuck E. Cheese’s and both me and K were there (playing games, he he he). We were also at my friend Lori’s New Year’s Eve dinner and made time for coffee with my brother at Starbucks one night, too. While for the majority of the two weeks were with my in-laws, we did spend time with others, too, which helped keep us balanced.
Do not linger on the shoulda-woulda-couldas. In hindsight, there are so many things we could’ve done better. Things we should’ve tried. Time we would’ve spent better if we had only known. But time has kept moving, and so we must as well. Don’t get hung up on mistakes. Obsessing on the past does not make a better present. You will grow stronger together by learning from your mistakes. And hopefully, you have learned a few things from our merry mishaps. It might not have had a ..Hollywood.. ending, but our first holiday together was certainly an adventure.

Picture of The Week

Picture of The Week
K and Z enjoying the Christmas tree.

Pray for Our Nation

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