Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Choosing a heart of peace

We live in a stressful world, dealing with rudeness and a lack of empathy for others. I made a decision some time ago to choose a heart of peace. For a while now, I have been letting God work on my heart to react with peace. It’s not always easy, but it is always worth it. By choosing peace, people are easier to work with, because they have no cause to react to a peaceful answer. 

Romans 12:18 advises us “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.” This can be a humbling process, at least it is for me, because my part is to stand firm and not allow gossip, disrespect, or the need to be right interfere with my peace. I have learned that trying to argue with people leads nowhere. I have learned that gossips and disrespectful people are digging holes for themselves.

I remember poems I have read, and what my Mom always said about me. I march to the beat of a different drum. Henry David Thoreau wrote “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”  Being a Christian I am marching to the beat of a different drum. But God also wants me to walk in the measured beat of the world, understanding that without Christ, we lack understanding.

One of my favorite poems is also a source of advice and remembrance when I am in stressful situations.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute                                                                      
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
 And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son! -  Rudyard Kipling

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Choosing a dress for holiday occasions

With the holidays fast approaching, you can expect invitations to holiday parties, galas, fundraisers, and holiday dinners. But who has a closet full of ready to wear elegant apparel? Before you head to the store, consider how to pick a dress for your special occasion.
Choosing the perfect dress can be both exciting and challenging. When you receive an invitation to a special occasion, the invitation may state formal, semi-formal or casual apparel. We all want to look great, but don’t want to be over or under dressed. These simple guidelines for formal, semi-formal, and weddings will help you find the best dress for the occasion.

Formal dresses

When invited to a formal occasion, the invitation usually includes a clue to the dress code, such as 'black-tie' or 'formal'. Usually fundraisers, galas, balls, and formal dinners require formal attire.
Formal dresses can be floor length or cocktail length, but not too short or too revealing. The fabric for formal dresses includes silk, brocade, lame (a metallic fabric) and jacquard. Dresses can be off the shoulder, strapless, or have thin spaghetti straps. Formal colors are white, black, red, gold and silver. Formal dresses should be one color and may have limited patterns. Remember the darker the color the more elegant you will appear. Formal dresses can be trimmed with rhinestones, embroidery or other accents.
It is important to make sure the color of your shoes match your dress. If you cannot find an exact match, the rule is the color of the shoe can match the hemline or be slightly lighter. Formal footwear can be elegant high pumps or dressy sandals.
Choose an elegant small evening bag that matches your shoe color.
For a truly elegant appearance, understate your jewelry. Choose a simple necklace and earrings, and keep bracelets to a minimum.
Semi formal
For a semi formal occasion, choose a cocktail length (short dress) or dressy pants paired with a jacket. The fabric can be the same as for formal dresses; however, semi-formal fabric can includes taffeta, chiffon, and other fabrics that flow.  Avoid fabrics that cling to your shape and dresses that are too revealing.
Follow the same rules as formal dressing when choosing your shoes, handbag and jewelry.

Choosing a dress for a wedding has only one unbreakable rule. “No one wears white except the bride.” Other than that, dressing for a wedding will depend on the formality of the wedding. If the couple is being married at a park with a barbeque reception, the dress will be much different from attending a formal reception at a hall or hotel. Unless the reception is casual, a cocktail dress, elegant pants, or full-length dresses are acceptable. Good etiquette is to choose an outfit that compliments your beauty, but will not draw attention away from the bride. Other than that, buy a dress that is fun and looks good on you.   

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fidel Castro dies at age 90
Fidel Castro has passed away at age 90, and with this news, I remember one of the scariest days of my life. I was just 12 years old when the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred. The US was already a volatile and scary place to live: we watched the riots in the fight to equality, we did duck and cover drills at school, and the nuns had us consider whether we would die for Jesus when Russia invaded the US.

In a TV address on October 22, 1962, President John Kennedy (1917-63) notified Americans about the presence of the missiles, explained his decision to enact a naval blockade around Cuba and made it clear the U.S. was prepared to use military force if necessary to neutralize this perceived threat to national security. Following this news, many people feared the world was on the brink of nuclear war.

I was home sick from school. I was laying on the floor watch boring daytime television, when the news interrupted with news of the missile standoff between the US and Cuba. The picture shown here is what I saw on television. Twelve in the 1960s was still very young, and I was terrified. I called my mom at work.

After watching for awhile, I went into my room and said some prayers. Then I wrote this poem.

I would hate to be in a war
Even if I didn’t get hurt.
To have some strange man come and say “I won you”,
I didn’t know I was a prize.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Even Jesus had to be patient

I was reading Luke Chapter 12 this morning, and found a statement that surprised me.  Even Jesus had to be patient.
Jesus was talking with his chosen twelve, and shared His personal challenge with stress. I can't say I have ever read where Jesus expressed His own experience with being patient.  I read the Word to discover how to be a better Christian, how to handle a situation, and to strengthen my faith in God. But did you notice: I was reading to find out what I should do and what I could experience. When the Holy Spirit lit up these verses for me, I was filled and thought about this all day.

Jesus was speaking with the crowds “So stop concerning yourselves about what you will eat or what you will drink, and stop being distressed.” Luke 12:29 (ISV). I believe Jesus had stopped speaking to the crowd, because “Peter asked, "Lord, are you telling this parable just for us or for everyone?" Luke 12:41 (ISV)

Jesus answered His disciples: "I have come to bring fire on earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and what stress I am under until it is completed!” Luke 12:49-50 (ISV).

Jesus taught others not to be afraid because the Father would supply their needs. He told them how much God loved them, and how even the hairs of their heads were numbered. Even ass Jesus spoke these words, He was practicing patience. Jesus knew when He started His ministry how it was going to end. Jesus knew He would be crucified and rejected by the very people He was helping. And He helped them anyway.

I spent a portion of my lunch hour today reading different versions of Luke 49 and 50. The words remained the same.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The secrets in aging

Aging is beautiful

Aging is what we do as long as we live. I don't really 'know' how old I am. I am light on my feet, filled with smiles, and mostly pressing forward towards the future. Oh, I do get frustrated, life happens, but there is still an air of excitement.

Aging's Secret

Aging is coveted by small children,
Tall enough to ride, or walk, or simply reach.
Then reaching seems easy and aging turns
Mastering math, catching a ball or boy, and beauty,
Aging is distracted by desire, dreams, goals,
Lost in achieving, gaining, raising kids,
Regaining momentum in attainment, and watching babies
Turn to small children.
Then somewhere in the mix, age becomes a distance,
Disregarded, and conversations skip.
Unseen, unknown, aging is creeping always on the young,
Bending them into worn wisdom, advanced by small children.
Cycling, aging, beauty, achievement, master, wisdom
And a small sly smile.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Worry sneaks quietly into our heart


Sometimes worry sneaks in before you know it. I have been going through a stressful period; don’t we all have these times in life? I came back from vacation in Florida and had some little red bumps on my legs. My doctor sent me to a dermatologist. Turned out, I had squamus cancer on my face and basil cancer on my legs.
I had to go weekly for four weeks to have my skin dug, scraped, and sewn. I found out I am a bleeder, so Waa, this was tough. Then there is the concern of how to pay for all this. Add to this the need to do major and minor repairs on my home. My home had its 72 birthday this year.
I became negative in my thinking, worrying about finances and repairs and cancer. The words of my mouth were complaints and whining. This Saturday I was getting ready to visit my brother for his birthday. I knew he would ask me how things were, and I was rehearsing my problems.
Suddenly the Holy Spirit reminded me “What about God?” This hit me like a brick. How could I go to my brother’s house and complain, when I serve such a mighty God. I realized that over the past few weeks I had let worry creep in like crabgrass. It was choking me and I did not even notice it.
I had to apologize to God right then. I asked Him to create in me a contrite heart and a right spirit. I asked him to restore my salt so that I would not lose my ability to praise God and be a witness with my life.
I felt like going to every single person I whined to and apologize. However, this would not serve a purpose. Instead, I have purposed in my heart to be more watchful. The Word says in life there will be trouble, but God delivers the righteous from them all.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV2011)


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cancer is changing my heart

So maybe I will go in another direction with Christian Living. How about personal experiences? Right now, I am going through surgeries for skin cancers. I had squamous cell carcinoma and basil cell carcinoma. The doctor removed the squamous and one of the basil cell spots.
Cancer is always scary. I found myself looking to Jesus for strength. I realized that I am not ready to die, I still have some dreams and hopes, and I have sweet grandkids. This is my second round of cancer, and this moves my focus to how fragile we are as human beings.

I am more aware of kindness, more aware of my surroundings, and have a heightened sense of sharing the love of God on the earth. I listen to Joyce Meyer a lot. In her teachings, she discusses how God looks at our hearts. I have found many instances in the Word to support this.
But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 (NASB77)

The unbelievers in our lives, the ‘world’, may listen to our words about Jesus, but they look at how we act. Knowing this helps me to be diligent at work, kinder in the grocery store, and generally more adamant about controlling my moods and temper.
Cancer may, in the end, consume my flesh, but God has my heart safely in His hands.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Loving the unlovely

Do you know people who make you crazy? People who are just mean, or seem to be bent on making you look bad. I have lots of experience with people like this. My challenge as a Christian is to love them.
So what does that mean to my walk with Jesus? It means I have to be kind, patient, and look for opportunities to get along with them. Sometimes this means saying I am wrong when I am not, saying I am sorry because they perceive I have done something to offend them. Other times it means standing and taking their anger and accusations quietly without lashing back.
Truthfully, this makes me crazy. I have difficulty understanding why people are so proud. I believe they have not realized that they are someday going to die and nothing they think right now is going to amount to a hill of beans. I believe that pride, that preening little devil that lives in us all, stands like a guardian on the cave of insecurity inside us all. When we let pride free, we lose the ability to practice love.
I think of Jesus standing before the accusing crowd of Pharisees and Pilot, listening to the nonsense they were all spouting. Jesus did not say a word. What words would you have to rebuke such nonsense? Many times when dealing with people I have no words. Some folks think I am weak, one person told me I was “milk toast’.
But why should I shame my Savior just to look good to a person who is going to die and turn into dust?
Matthew 5:44-46 (NKJV)
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Obama-A man of his word

Whether you like President Obama or not, I can offer proof that President Obama is a man of his work. I did not vote for Obama in the first election. However after he took office, I learned that President Obama was a man of his word. My situation took a year to resolve, and the Obama administration is responsible for the resolution. With their intervention, I did not lose my home and my mortgager, Bank of America, did not win the day.

I lost my job suddenly in August of 2011. I was two month short of beginning early Social Security payments. I contacted Bank of America and asked that they move the September and October payments and move them to the back of the loan. I also sent in the principal and interest payment for September as a second option.

Bank of America went crazy and said they were foreclosing on my home. I had never missed a payment and simple asked for a little relief. I understood that Bank of America took a hit on the value of my home during the 2009 meltdown, and as time went on, I realized they were trying to foreclose to write off a bad debt and resell my home at market price.

My Social Security began in November of 2011 and I sent in my full payment. Bank of America sent it back. They would not accept my house payments. They were poised to foreclose.

I remembered that President Obama had signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. After reading this act, I decided to see if the government would really help. I wrote a letter to President Obama explaining this bizarre situation. In November of 2011, I received a letter from the Department of the Treasury in response to my letter to President Obama.

I was instructed to file a complaint with the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). With the power of the presidency backing me, Bank of America was forced to accept my payments. They kept threatening foreclosure, however I was able to catch up the two missed payments in October of 2012. Bank of America stopped threatening me.

I received a second letter from the CFPB in July of 2013 to let me know they had kept up with this case.

Then in August of 2014, the department of justice cited Bank of America with financial fraud in conjunction with President Obama’s Financial Fraud task force. This is the press release dated August 21, 2014.

Bank of America to Pay $16.65 Billion in Historic Justice Department Settlement for Financial Fraud Leading up to and During the Financial Crisis

Attorney General Eric Holder and Associate Attorney General Tony West announced today that the Department of Justice has reached a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America Corporation – the largest civil settlement with a single entity in American history ­— to resolve federal and state claims against Bank of America and its former and current subsidiaries, including Countrywide Financial Corporation and Merrill Lynch. As part of this global resolution, the bank has agreed to pay a $5 billion penalty under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) – the largest FIRREA penalty ever – and provide billions of dollars of relief to struggling homeowners, including funds that will help defray tax liability as a result of mortgage modification, forbearance or forgiveness. The settlement does not release individuals from civil charges, nor does it absolve Bank of America, its current or former subsidiaries and affiliates or any individuals from potential criminal prosecution.

This settlement is part of the ongoing efforts of President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and its Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) Working Group, which has recovered $36.65 billion to date for American consumers and investors.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sometimes being a Christian is hard work

No matter what happens in my life God is there with wisdom and comfort.


Yesterday was a trying day at work. I was asked to prove I did not make a mistake, that I was not “wrong”. My pride pounded in my chest, my anger flared-the Holy Spirit counseled “do the work, see if you made an error. Swallowing my pride (this is my private battle), I did the work, and low and behold, I was correct.
People do not always believe we are who we say we are. As Christians, it is our job to ‘do the work’, to let our hearts and personalities be open to God, changed to reflect His glory.
I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)