Even in Rural Areas

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I had a meeting with Lara Olson, an advocate for youth in crisis,  about how we as the church can help impact our at-risk youth in our county. She said that one of the things we must do is get STD awareness out to the public because what we don’t know is harming us. That caused me to begin reading and learning.

Here are some facts:
Chlamydia is on the rise in Merced County and shows very few symptoms, pain in the eye, abdomen, or pelvis. If left untreated it can cause infertility.

Syphilis is also on the rise. Symptoms include, sores or legions, skin rash, headaches, fatigue, patchy hair loss (alopecia). If left untreated it can affect the organs.

These are two serious diseases that are plaguing our county. If you think you may have one or more of these symptoms please do not hesitate and go and seek medical attention.

Do I think the church should be involved in these conversations? Yes. We, the leaders in the church, teach about the sin of premarital sex but we often fail to teach on the why. God isn’t a fun spoiler. He is merely trying to save us a lot of heartache over decisions that have consequences that we can’t take back. He is protecting our hearts, our minds, our physical beings from the things that could pollute us and change forever the course of our lives. That word forever is no exaggeration. So while these are delicate and difficult discussions, let’s be honest, who really wants to talk about this, they are necessary conversations. We can’t pretend that it isn’t happening or that it doesn’t affect us all in some way. We must be wise and we must be informed if we are going to help others navigate what can sometimes be difficult heart-wrenching decisions. We can’t be afraid to speak up and we certainly can’t be afraid to tackle the tough stuff.

I choose to lead with eyes wide open and ears listening to the pulse of humanity and to what God is saying and sometimes that means I have to get uncomfortable as we bring to light what is trying to destroy us in the dark.

What is happening in your community that is needing your attention? Are you ready to get uncomfortable in order that it could help someone?

Published in: on September 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

On Loyalty

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As the world awaits here are my thoughts.

Loyalty CAN NOT be demanded.

Tyrants demand it.

Insecure managers demand it.

Let me type that again.

Tyrants and Insecure managers demand it.

What demanding an oath of loyalty does is expose the hand of a manager, notice I was careful not to say leader, who has to avoid negative feedback at all costs to soothe their EGO (Edging God Out).

There is no need to pledge allegiance as if you were pledging to a god. A manager who is demanding loyalty does so because they can’t listen to negative feedback or can’t lead without unwavering loyalty because of insecurity. They make a terrible boss and that person is not a leader at all.

You will be loyal out of a heart that believes in the mission. A covenant of mission never demands an oath to a person. An oath to a person is always bondage. Christians have dominion over the earth not over people.

Walk away from anyone who demands an oath of  loyalty to them or one who would disguise the verbiage in the word covenant. Demanding loyalty to a person is a dangerous precedent of the abuse of power to come.

I am not loyal to Doug Young because he demands it. I am loyal to Doug Young because I love him and I believe in our marriage. My loyalty can’t be made by force and doesn’t negate his leadership when I disagree. My covenant of marriage was to the mission of our marriage under God.

In the military leaders are taught not to demand personal loyalty and they teach subordinates to avoid personal loyalty at all costs. The reasoning is that eventually the tyrant will rise up and cause you to do things you never thought you’d do out of loyalty or be cast out of the ranks. It’s too high a price.

God never demands loyalty and these oaths and covenants that are demanded by men are not of God in any way shape or form. God is looking for a people with love and a heart for Him and service in the freedom of Free Will. This is not blind ambition or loyalty. This is eyes wide open, mission-focused, unity because we want to not because we must. We give our loyalty out of love not fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Poor To Date

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Couple Receiving Their Check

Here’s an excerpt from Heather Jensen’s article on Relationship Deal Breakers that for some reason popped up in my newsfeed:

If you can’t afford a cell phone bill, rent or even a dinner out, you really shouldn’t be in a relationship. Guys, this goes for you too – if you can’t take your lady out, that can definitely be a relationship deal breaker! You don’t have to be rich, you just have to have enough money for savings and not to be completely broke all of the time. 

“Of course!” I thought, “Except college students who are generally poor while studying but yes, anyone over 30 shouldn’t be dating if they have to spend every dime they have to do so. This should be a Dave Ramsey blog.” Then I did a search on too poor to date and article after article talked about how we shouldn’t be dating if we can’t pay the bills. One man said that because he had student loans, and a car debt, he considered himself undatable because financially he couldn’t offer much yet. One woman said, she had an IRS debt and until that was paid she would not be dating. No surprise there but what was surprising were the comments.

Generally speaking most women said they agreed with the concept of not dating until you can afford to do so. I wasn’t surprised by that response because a woman’s number one need to is to feel secure in a relationship. What did surprise me were the men. Generally speaking the men disagreed. They felt that a woman should pay her portion of a date and that it was archaic to expect to ask a woman out on a date and then be expected to pay for her portion of the date. In fact, a survey concluded that 51% of men want to split the bill on a first date.

Here are a couple of comments I read:

“I can afford going out to grab drinks and eat a reasonably priced restaurant but only if she foots her own half of the bill.”

“I’ve never once taken the full bill for a restaurant. Coffee or something yeah, but not full meals. Is that something that’s still expected?”

So I went to my resident expert my Southern Bred Husband.

“Baby, I’m reading about being too poor to date and most men feel that since women fought for equality that we should be paying for our half of the bill when a man ask us out on dates. What do you think about this?”

“Well, you did fight for equality.”

“So you think we ought to pay for our portion of a date?”

“Darlin’ I’m a Southern Gentleman. I would never think to go out to eat where I couldn’t pay the bill and I would never allow a woman to pay for a date.”

Which is true because even when we go out to eat and it’s the same debit card coming out of the same joint account, he always grabs the bill and doesn’t let me pay, except a couple of times when he apologized profusely because he left his wallet in his briefcase when I picked him up for lunch and that’s after being married over a decade.

So what do you think? If a man asks a woman out on a date does she need to bring her own money? Is there such a thing as too poor to date?

 

 

Having A Library Card Doesn’t Make You A Reader

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Back in 2007, New York started this Family Focused Pilot Program. It was a program that was supposed to help underprivileged people get a leg up by paying them for certain things. One of the things they paid them for was education. People were paid $25-$50 a month for their child being in school 95% of the time, $50 for going to a parent-teacher conference, and they received $50 for obtaining a library card.

I was flowing with the program until the library card. The library card had me puzzled. A library card doesn’t ensure you’re a reader. I know the government is trying to get people to read but there has to be a more effective way.

I began to think about things in church. Just because I have a bible, doesn’t mean I know what’s in it. Just because I call myself a Christian, or a follower of Christ doesn’t mean I am one.

What makes a person a reader? The fact that they read books.

What makes a parent concerned about their child’s education? Does money cause interest in making sure their child is getting an education? Money may cause a parent to go to the school to meet with the teacher when they are called, and perhaps through dialogue things could change. The incentive is followed by a way to track success.

What makes someone a Christian? The bible says you’ll know them by their fruit. This is a way to track success. I know people who say they follow Christ and have the church talk down pat but their fruit doesn’t show a relationship with God. A relationship with God causes things to change in your life. So that couple that beat each other and sing Hallelujah on Sunday do they know God intimately?  The married woman who is flirting with the man at work and is on the brink of an affair does she really know God intimately?  The person who would pass a person by on the street who doesn’t have warm clothes on when it’s freezing out, do they understand God’s love for His children?  The guy who is sleeping with his girlfriend and shaking her father’s hand as if he’s honorable, doesn’t understand why God doesn’t get it.What makes us a follower of Christ? The fact that we actually do our best to walk it out.

The reward isn’t earthly like the program in New York but the payoff is a life transformed and that is the point of the program.

 

 

Published in: on February 19, 2016 at 8:03 am  Comments (1)  

Integrated

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Integrated – Adjective – combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole:
an integrated plot; an integrated course of study.
2.organized or structured so that constituent units function cooperatively:an integrated economy.
3.having, including, or serving members of different racial, religious, and ethnic groups as equals:

I was sitting with my Godmother who is 89 years old. She was born in a time of segregation and being a Latina I am acutely aware of these circumstances on some levels and acutely oblivious on other levels. Meaning my heart hurts at the stories but to say I have experienced this level of treatment in my lifetime would be a lie.

My Godmother told her story with quiet assuredness,

“My mother wanted us to attend Cecil Avenue School. It was the white school and some of us our parents sent us to that school for a better education. Back in those days it was much different than it is today. We were not allowed to eat in the cafeteria because we were Mexican. Instead we had to eat outside. In the rain, in the heat, whatever the weather was, but we were kids and we made the best of it. Huddled under trees we stuck together.”

I sit and listen to her story and wonder if this is the reason she became a school secretary? She certainly never hesitated to give a student a what for. “You’re here to get an education make yourself a better person. You’re here so that if you desire you can go to college. You have been given more opportunities than we ever had. Don’t waste them.”

This is why segregation in any form is abhorrent to me. This ideal that it’s us against them regardless of the excuses for the behavior is ignorant. Studies show integration pulls people up not down. So why do we so quickly abandon the notion of equality? Because it requires we set our mindsets and our idea of who they, whichever they we are prejudice about, are aside for the truth. The truth being that we are all more alike than we care to think. That regardless of where we came from we are now here, wherever here is for you, and therefore should be working together to make here better.

On my way to see my Godmother I listened a podcast on This American Life. I have posted the link at the end of this post and I would ask you to listen to it by clicking on it please. I cried because here we are still squawking about equality by being separatists. It’s no better in the church. We elevate the segregation to doctrinal issues to make it holy.

Yet, I have hope. I see millennials who are crossing lines, untethered by pants, raised hands, and a tone of a voice which makes it male or female, and instead making an effort to make the world a better place in the name of Jesus. While CNN and FOX scream about Jihadists 24/7 there is terrorism of a different kind going on, in our neighborhoods and in the church. Let’s make a difference where we can. I think Jesus would be pleased if we extended our hands regardless of the color of our skin.

Click Here for This American Life Podcast

Published in: on November 20, 2015 at 8:16 am  Leave a Comment  

It Feels Personal

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I posted this on my Facebook page and received many comments and likes but I also received quite a few private messages with stories from women who were trying to learn not to take things personally. This was coming on the heels of the  Kelly Clarkson body-shaming tweets so I thought I’d respond with what I’ve learned.

First off, there are mean people out there. They have no filter. They mask it under the, “I just say what I think you know? I’m just being honest.”, only their honesty is aimed as the knife that stabs you to your core, and remember this, their honesty only pertains to the output not the input. In other words speak the truth to them and it’s WAR. Not everything needs to be said but so often we think what we have to say is important, because it is important to us. No one is exempt from this not even me, hence this post.

Compound that with the phenomenon of social media where because we can’t see the hurt look on someone’s face it is easy to blast people. These are your typical pounce and flounce people at a new level. I have a friend who seldom replies to online posts because she says the attacks begin immediately and sadly she is right.

So how do we not take things personally when they seem so personal? My husband taught me a great trick I’m going to pass on to you. He said,

“If they have nothing nice to say about anyone, and they talk about everyone then it isn’t personal. If they don’t say nice things about even those they love then they aren’t going to say nice things about you. It isn’t personal, it’s just how they are.” 

“If they don’t have problems with others but they have problems only with you, then it’s personal to them not to you. They have things that need to be worked out and they need to grow up and come to you about the issue.”

Listen, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Friendships happen with like-minded people. Leave it at that. I often hear people say, and I’ve said it myself,  the solution is to go and confront the person but the problem with that is that those who talk behind your back never say it to your face so oftentimes my experience has been that  I’ve gone to the person and asked if there is an offense because I’ve heard such and such from so and so, I get the standard answer of nothing is wrong it was a misunderstanding, and more often than not, the pattern continues.

So here is a pattern that I chose to live my life by, and so far it’s working, so let me post it and hopefully help you.

I no longer take it personally. The comments, the blasts, the opinions, come from people who don’t know me. It’s okay. Those comments and opinions don’t pay my bills nor do they pour my cup of coffee in the morning. I have a choice to snuggle with those opinions in bed at night or kick them to curb. I choose to boot them out of my life. I hope you’ll try it because you’ll find your life is a lot less messy.

Published in: on March 6, 2015 at 6:49 pm  Comments (1)  

A Mother’s Heart

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I watch with interest as thousands of children arrive at our border. While the pundits on both the left and the right argue and do nothing but fight for political gain, I can’t help but be saddened. For us and for them.

I see a hopeless parent put their child on a train to cross borders of countries illegally in hopes of a promise. Perhaps the child will die in transit but for a parent it is better than the life they can provide. As a citizen in a country where we don’t even let our child play outside alone, let alone talk to strangers this must be heart-wrenching.

Oh, we can demonize the parent if it makes us feel better because parents of children from other countries can’t possibly love their children as much as we do. We can say it’s a political ploy and these are nothing more than pawns, and we are correct they are pawns, only the more we dehumanize children the easier it is for us to make snap judgment.

And they have lice and diseases, and we have lice and diseases, only we have access to a drug store and vaccinations and money and we clean up well and they don’t. And they send gang members and children who are incorrigible and we have gang members and children who are incorrigible in big cities sent to live with relatives in smaller towns, but somehow we measure more worthy because our poor children are a product of the lack of opportunity and a system that isn’t fair, oh wait, is that them or us? Are they simply pawns of human traffickers? If they are then what? And while we create a chasm of difference we forget that a parent sent this child on the road, and may never see them again, knowing the danger and risking their own child’s life a parent dared to hope. And what was Moses’ mother’s name because I seem to recall her story?

Your political view says I am naive, and I get why you think so! We have a messed up immigration system and people take advantage and draw unemployment on fake social security numbers and live in welfare housing undeserved and feel entitled and commit crimes and while yes, that is a real problem and I don’t like it, until you change a political system that is broken down, there will be no remedy. However I trust in a higher court, and in that court the people who cheat, lie, and steal, will have an end that will not be profitable for life despite their religious affiliation, but in the meantime a mother has sent her child across countries to find hope. And while I don’t have solutions I have compassion. “Send them to Mexico”, is the cry I heard and despite Mexico’s screams for immigration reform in the United States, Mexico does not care for the immigrant. They don’t provide medical care or education. They are country who screams for the United States to have compassion while I have seen none from them. A poverty mentality only looks after their own. So their doors are shut.

And the words of TD Jakes run through my heart in this time, “Where money rules there can be no justice”, I wonder if these parents would have sent their children away if they had not been desperate? For you see, despite America’s problems, we are still a beacon of hope. The Taliban targets us because they say we are the bearers of the cross and if that is so, then we must bear our cross. I have a Mother’s Heart and that heart keeps saying; There is parent out there that is desperately missing their child. They may never see each other again, or our government may send them back, the jury is still out. But we have a parent who thought, I can endure heartbreak and send my child away, or we can sit here until we die.

Published in: on July 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm  Comments (3)  

The Selfie-ish Generation

Duck Face Diva? This woman may never be out of the internet spotlight thanks to her memorable mugshot --> http://abc30.tv/1nqxDTI

Duck Face Diva?
This woman may never be out of the internet spotlight thanks to her memorable mugshot –> http://abc30.tv/1nqxDTI

 

I stepped out and said it. I did. I posted on my Facebook page that I was proud of Pastor Rob Cox, who pastors a group of young adults training for ministry at his church A Place Of Refuge, for all that he is doing. I also commended him for making a rule of no selfies for the seminary students.

I swim upstream here. I know I do. I don’t mind an occasional selfie. A profile pic, a picture on vacation, but I have an issue with the obsession of it.

Romans 7:9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.

Matthew Henry’s commentary on this scripture says:

Paul describes himself as in sensible of the corruption of his nature till he saw himself in the glass of the law (Rom. 7:9 ): “I was alive without the law; that is, I took all to be right with me, and thought myself not only clean, but, compared with the generality of the world, beautiful too; but when the commandment came, when the glass of the law was set before me, then sin revived, and I died —then I saw my spots and deformities, and discovered that amiss in myself which before I was not aware of; and such was the power of the law, and of sin, that I then perceived myself in a state of death and condemnation.’’ Thus, when we attend to the word of God, so as to see ourselves, our true state and condition, to rectify what is amiss, and to form and dress ourselves anew by the glass of God’s word, this is to make a proper use of it.

There is this look at me mentality that we need to overcome. All of us. And I’m not the only voice speaking. In an article by Stephen Miller True Worship in a Selfie World he writes:

This is the world in which we live, the world of the selfie.

The world where people take something that is not about them and make it about them through the lens of their camera.

Grown men pose with their best “Blue Steel” smolder while the tip of Paris’s breath-taking Eiffel Tower protrudes from the side of their heads like a tiny, awkwardly placed steel horn.

Teenage girls attempt their cutest look while a singular stone column of Rome’s ancient, awe-inspiring Colosseum is barely visible in the background.

We are not seeing the world through their eyes so much as seeing their eyes blocking the world.

And there is my point. I want to see the world through your eyes when I’m talking to you. Facebook is considered a one on one conversation with your closest friends. It’s the new water cooler meeting, the new breakroom chatter. I want to read about what you see in the world. I want to read about your thoughts on current events. I want to know what you think about issues that face our world. I want to read about how you are working in your area of ministry. As my friend Adrienne Piasta says, “tell me something good”. So I take the time to read my newsfeed and day after day I read, “I love myself.” Well, that’s great. I’m truly happy for you, the first 10 times, but after awhile I want to know if there is anything else going on around you? I want to know if you care about others? I want to know what you have going on today. I want to know about your goals. I want to know what you’re reading, what you’re learning, that you need prayer or you’re stuck in traffic and need a misery buddy for an hour. I love you, I think you are beautiful, but you don’t need constant approval….

Or do you?

 

So, I honor Pastor Rob Cox who is trying to change a generation’s view. I honor the Apostle Paul who said and I paraphrase, “I thought I looked okay until I looked in the mirror of the Word of God and then I realized there is a bigger picture.”

Stephen Miller ends his article perfectly:

May we all resist the temptation to fill the frame with our face, but rather fill our minds with his eternal glory, and never stop repeating the refrain of John 3:30:

“He must increase. I must decrease.”
“He must increase. I must decrease.”
“He must increase. I must decrease.”

 

Published in: on July 15, 2014 at 8:02 am  Leave a Comment  

Men Don’t Matter

What a lie we have been given.

If you haven’t read Part 2 click here.

As women, born of this generation in America, we have this ideal of a single mother that while true for some is not true for most. We can buy a house without a man, we earn our own income and for some we earn more than the man in our life. For some women who are not interested in equality in a marriage, often because of their own daddy issues, this becomes the seat of power in which we devalue a man and emasculate him to show our power. This has nothing to do with love and everything to do with pride.

We can buy a car, we have great credit and we can afford to do so. We can pay for private school, camp, medical care, and trips to amusement parks. This is the picture of a single mom. Only that usually isn’t the case. Many single moms struggle to make ends meet. Often have more month than money left at the end of their payday, and life isn’t this happy place they thought it would be. They get up early to get their children ready for school, lunches packed, themselves ready. They work hard to get the laundry and dinner and homework finished while they are dogged tired. They make grocery lists and hope there is enough money for the food they need to buy. They make pancakes for dinner at the end of the month because sometimes that’s all there is. They don’t get to go and have spa days or go with friends to have a nice dinner because it isn’t in the budget.

And no matter how much we try and no matter how much advances in technology and medicine we make:

A woman can’t be a father.

 

No matter how much we try to fill the void of a male influence we can’t do it. We’re failing miserably statistically. Our children are missing out whether we want to admit it or not. Sure, there are statistics of moms who raised incredible people on their own but they don’t outweigh the statistics of those who can’t. I have a saying,

“A woman can do it all. She just can’t do it all at once.”

So while we’re busy earning a buck and climbing a corporate ladder, our children are missing out on a critical component of a family. In their mind, they are learning that they may have to go it alone that one day, they too may be called to raise children on their own because families may or may not be sustained.

So let’s throw the lie out. Let’s begin a discussion with young women about how valuable they are and how we need to make better choices in the men we choose to father our children. Let’s talk about working on our marriage before they are broken and let’s talk about marriage before babies. I know it sounds counter-culture and I know it it will sound sexist and it will be met with push back and name calling but I’m okay with that. And here is why: Watch this video and tell me daddies aren’t important. Watch this video and tell me that she has someone else who fills this void in her life regardless of who her daddy is. Tell me that these daddies are not necessary. Tell me that she isn’t affected.

“When he does time, she does time.”

 

I’m okay with the being an unpopular voice if a child gets an active, involved, worthwhile, father. I’m okay with the term baby daddy being thrown out of our vocabulary. Because it was never meant to be there in the first place.

I Changed My Mind

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My husband and I took a drive to the beach to sit on the sand, enjoy the sun and read a book on our day off. It was a hot day and there were children playing in the waves of all ages. As I glanced at them I noticed something. Each child had a personal lifeguard. There were blankets on the beach and coolers and bags but they were empty because all of the caretakers were on duty. I saw mostly mommies but there were dads and grandparents as well.

Such a strange dichotomy between that scene and a 20/20 episode I watched recently about moms moving out and choosing to be non-custodial parents click here. One mother said she didn’t want to to do the bath and bedtime routine. One mother moved states away and Skyped in to speak to her children. Her middle child, a daughter, took care of feeding and getting her little down syndrome brother ready for school. Dad was there and the family was coping. At first I went into judgment mode, “What?!! Who does this?!!” Then I stopped and thought, she is doing what fathers have been doing for decades. I am outraged either way, maybe I understand it less because I am a mother or a woman I don’t know but I do know that it seems incomprehensible for a parent to leave their child.

The mothers were in new relationships, didn’t know if they had ever really wanted children, but knew they didn’t want the daily interaction of it. I get that actually. I remember once in a particularly frustrating day I announced, “That’s it, I’m running away from home.” Casey who was 4 at the time said, “Wait, mommy! Let me get my shoes on, I’ll run away with you.” I laughed and went on with my day. But what if I had been serious as apparently these mothers were?

The women made the argument that men had been doing it forever and they wouldn’t be judged as harshly as the women were. I just can’t go there. Children need their parents mother and father. They don’t get to change their mind.

One mother when asked if she loved her children more than herself answered, “Should a mother love her children more than herself?” I guess I think we should.

Published in: on May 16, 2014 at 8:34 pm  Comments (4)