Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Modern Day Parable

There once was a young servant girl named Luisa who lived in the town of Christianhood. She served her townspeople well. She got paid little but much was expected of her. She was chief, cook and bottle washer. Visionary, planner, and worker bee. She also responded to endless emails and interceded for many to answer problems that ordinarily required little thought (had people bothered to take the time to think for themselves). Luisa was the go-to gal. She enjoyed what she did and didn't complain. She knew that the job required to do things that were simple for her yet challenging to others. She spent countless hours listening to the needs of others and they confided in her as if she were their friend. She made people laugh and loved to see smiles where none were before. People took advantage of her intelligence and wit and often took the credit for the work she did in their behalf. She helped advance people in their positions and aided in their well being. This all gave Luisa a sense of belonging in the community of Christianhood. When people did not get what they wanted from Luisa, they simply stopped calling, giving no reason for the disconnect. They just figured that Luisa was of little use to them any longer. In any event, Luisa did what she could, even sacrificing time which could have been better spent with her own family. After all, there were many more people to serve. 

When tragedy struck Luisa, no one cared. Yet people continued to call on her for help in spite of her own need for assistance. No help was offered her. Her services were still needed with no time given to attend to her own needs. She was sought out by many, yet she herself was exhausted and overwhelmed. 

Now when the time came for entertainment, parties, lunches and such, the townspeople all gathered together; often times calling on Luisa to assist in the planning. She always made the false assumption that she would be included in the ultimate affair. When invitations were sent out, Luisa was always left out of the guest list, after all, it was an unspoken rule to never fraternize with the hired help. Her place was to serve, not to be served. The years passed and this modus operandi began to wear on her. It was frustrating and caused much pain.

Well, one day a voice came that reminded Luisa that her gift was appreciated by the One who gave it to her. She was told that she didn't need to over exert herself for others but to utilize that energy on herself and her family. She had been redirecting her talents where she thought they were needed but again she had made a false assumption. The voice told her that her time was better spent with those closest to her and to lavish those gifts on her family who would appreciate it all the more. As she pondered those thoughts, Luisa followed the voice of reason. Little by little she began to disappear from the public eye to engross herself in her family's needs and her own. Interestingly, no one missed her! BUT, she had a new found appreciation for herself and her family, and her family was grateful to have her back......full time! 

Moral of the story: Don't look for satisfaction outside where it is under appreciated but rather focus on that which matters most. The satisfaction that it brings is tenfold and the reward eternal!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Can't We Just All Get Along ?

A coworker where I worked once told me "Why can't we just all get along?" I knew the answer but I felt compassion for his plea (considering he was from Nigeria) and his sincere desire for peace. My answer to him then was "we are all very different people with different beliefs. we can't!" If he were to ask me again now, the answer would still be the same. However, after much more pondering, I have the following to add to my explanation and I also have my own query into the matter.

There is a religious group, that from my perspective, seem to be in union with their beliefs. They don't seem to have a variety of doctrines or denominations that divide their people group. If you meet one of them on the east coast, then chances are, that they believe exactly as one of them on the west coast. They may live in a different house, drive a different car but not much else is different. They probably dress alike, attend a similar house of worship, follow the same religious book without much differing, if at all, in interpretation, raise their children the same, and women retain the same status in the family as is the custom among them. The followers of this so-called 'religion of peace,' as they are referred to, live very similarly no matter where they are. If not for the fact that they want to be THE sole world religion, I would be envious of their ability to hold fast to their beliefs and retain consistency from person to person.

In reality coexisting with this people group is an impossible reality. The C reminds me of a 'pac-man' character that simply wants to gobble up all the rest. Now let's forget about them for a moment.
Christians on the other hand outnumber this religion mentioned above if you add up all the different denominations that exist. However, within Christianity, (which incidentally all follow the same Bible) there are many denominations and doctrines. Each time there is a disagreement on an issue relating to an interpretation of the Bible, a new denomination springs up. There is great pride in re-creating the wheel and claiming to be the master interpreter of the Bible.

It is so discouraging to discover that the one Bible has been interpreted in so many ways that it has lost its intent. No longer are we content in just following the Bible's word and message of hope and salvation, but we, "Christians," feel the need to interpret it to suit each of our needs. I could begin to list all the denominations, but that wouldn't even be enough to show the split within denominations of the different doctrines that exist within each one.

After all is said and done, what has happened is that this large Christian community as a whole has shrunk into tiny fragments scattered across the world. We were created by God to coexist and what has happened is that we've all gone our separate ways as a result of minor or major differences in beliefs to the point that we have great division now. If people (Christians) would just simply stick to the basic beliefs in the Bible and not over analyze it to suit their needs, then maybe we would be more united to stand up to the ideals of this 'other' religion which is hell bent on taking over this world by annihilating anyone that isn't part of their "united" belief system. Have you ever seen how many books are available that are meant to help us interpret the Bible? Doesn't the good book stand on it's own? From my perspective, this is what the coexist symbol should look like. Let's show a united front and face evil together! Let's just all get along!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Size Matters

The following is my opinion and is not intended to offend or incite any inflammatory response. If you are offended, perhaps it is out of guilt or conviction, but certainly that is not my intent in writing the following viewpoint.

The opinion written below describes a few who fall under the group targeted in this discussion. It is not to be inclusive of all. With that understanding, allow me to proceed...

I've noticed that large tends to assimilate with large and small tends to assimilate with small. There is affinity for those of the same kind. I refer, here in particular, to families of different sizes, in terms of the number of children. Let me explain.

I grew up with fond memories of Christmases spent surrounded by many aunts, uncles and cousins. My dad was one of nine siblings. We gathered in one of my aunt's homes in the city. I remember the chaotic sounds of kids having a great time playing games and adults talking -- all in the same open space of someone's basement equipped with its own mini kitchen so that everyone could be together for this festive time. I remember the smells emanating from the oven filled with the Christmas Eve dinner to come. Many tables filled up the space to accommodate the numbers of children and adults, and were loaded with many delectable foods to snack on that potentially could fill your belly before the meal actually arrived. The main course was set out later and, even with all of the snacking done up to this point, everyone ate like it was the first meal they had laid eyes on in days. My aunts and uncles only had 1 or 2 children each and yet, when we all got together, we filled a home to capacity. It was a very fun time, as we also exchanged gifts and the adults shared stories of days gone by. At the end of the evening, everyone retreated with their small families to trek to our individual homes.

Later, after those days had passed, my immediate family of 4 (mom, dad, brother and me) joined a family of 9 and their cousins for Christmas Eve. Again, we were able to enjoy the fun chaos and excitement that a large group offers as they 'adopted' us into their festivities. I remember digging into Christmas Eve dinner at the stroke of midnight after their grandmother prayed for what seemed like 10 minutes. For some reason, after all the pre-dinner appetizers were devoured, we were all very ready to dig into the main feast of the holiday -- a second meal, if you will. The party lasted well into the wee hours and, to this day, I still remember details that live in the recesses of my mind as fond times of my childhood.

Now, as an adult and with a family of 4 again (husband, myself and two kids), I notice a significant difference. We spend holidays alone -- just the four of us, or sometimes with my parents. It's our regular small group gathering, except with a large meal accompanied by gift giving. My children have never experienced the excitement and chaos of a large family gathering. After all, they don't have many cousins their own age and my husband's family no longer gathers for the holidays as they once did. Even when they did, it wasn't like the celebrations that I experienced. My Cuban heritage brought a different style. Cubans are flavorful, loud, and rich in heritage and deep in traditions. We're dramatic, opinionated, and excitable. A quiet evening is impossible when 2 or more Cubans are together. Think 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' - the same!

I am in awe of and I love large families and large gatherings. I think they're neat and seem to offer the excitement and thrills and sense of community that I once experienced as a child. I enjoyed being welcomed into the larger extended family described above, and sharing in their gatherings. They were very gracious and thought nothing of having others outside their own family join them at holiday celebrations. I felt like I was part of them. I was free to be me and we were not judged by the fact that we weren't part of their tribe.  

What I also admire about large families is their love for children. Not that we don't love our children or that others don't love theirs. Large families have a special appreciation for each one born to them as I do for mine. They are brought in as a member of an exclusive club. Unfortunately, it appears more often these days to be to the exclusion of all others.

Nowadays, I have noticed a shift in many large families I am acquainted with. It seems that larger families are comfortable in spending time with themselves or maybe with their own extended, blood- related family members. They create their own community by having more children and feel that it completes them.

We, for a variety of reasons have two children that God graciously blessed us with. We are very grateful with our small quiver. However, I sometimes feel that our family is often looked upon as being too small to bother with. We somehow don't have enough to bring to the table in terms of size and variety of ages. I'm not sure what exactly we're supposed to be bringing, but, whatever it is, we must not have it. Instead we have only our desire to be included. I have friends with large families, but they seem to get more delight in entertaining other friends who also have large families. In fact, just recently, we were left out in the cold when some friends of ours with a large family discovered another large family just like theirs. Their interest in us quickly decreased and the need to get in touch, as frequently as we once did, quickly dwindled.

Most of our acquaintances from the circles we are in have large families, yet we seem to get left out of a variety of activities because we're small. It feels like we're the malnourished family. We have no strength in our small numbers. Somehow we didn't fill our home as well, so we're not included in their so-called community/home as warmly. Instead, we get to sit idly by and watch the delight as those families relish in each other’s company, like outsiders doing a little window shopping.

Do keep in mind, that not all large families are this exclusive. There are exceptions to every rule. I have seen large families embrace a smaller family, and that is very encouraging to see. I have also noticed that a home where there are adopted members appear to be exempt from this tendency as well. They seem to see the benefit of expanding the 'color' of their 'family.' They tend to have less interest in simply just bonding with blood relatives, but would rather share their love with those outside of 'their own kind.' This is an interesting phenomenon. When families adopt, they more readily welcome others. There is no need to be homogenous.
They seem to recognize the benefit of diversity…in their family and friendships.

What I think large families tend not to see is that it's the 'malnourished' (small families) that sometimes need to get fed. They (large families) often ask me with no malice 'why do you only have 2 kids,' or they unwittingly ask about our plans for holidays with little or no intent to include us in their plans. After all, they are complete and have no more room for others, specifically those not of their own kind. I was once told that the reason for us having so many pets is to substitute for our absence of so many children. Really? Now knowing that, I’ll remember to bring all my babies to the next social gathering; furry ones included. That should make us more welcome.

On the other hand, a small family sees nothing wrong with another small family. It's actually ok to be small. I feel very accepted by families like ours with only 1, 2 or 3 children. However, I don't simply want to be in a group like myself. I want to diversify and expand our horizons. Why just hang out with those that look like yourselves? If I wanted to do that, I'd shut myself in the bathroom and talk to the mirror all night.

I want my kids to experience the thrill of being part of a larger community that embraces us as we embrace them. There is no reason that I needed to fill my home with kids just so I could isolate my children from the benefit of sharing our lives with others outside our home.

So, my message today is addressed to large families. Don't get angry. Just give this some thought. If you are from a large family, think about whom you surround yourself with:

- Do you just stick with your immediate and extended blood relatives?
- Do you spend time only with other large families?
- Do you 'adopt' many other people/families of various sizes in order to create a more diverse family which therefore enriches your own immediate family!?

Size shouldn't matter. The heart is what really matters.

Merry Christmas!

Matthew 22
37And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Private or Public Clutterer

Do you like to keep your clutter in plain sight or are you the type that hides it? We can only fall into two categories. Granted their extremes with either.

The plain sight clutterer tends to be more
of an organizer, a visual person, methodical and/or perfectionist. It may sound like quite a generalization, but from my experience observing plain sight clutterers, they see the piles as well laid out plans. If you look in their drawers, closets and cabinets, they are well put together. Clothes in their place, space saving devices to keep items in order and sometimes objects are sorted by color or size. It's the perfectionism in these people that keeps them from tackling the piles in the house because it's work to sort and locate the exact location for each item that needs to be put away. It's time consuming and today, no one has time.

On the other hand, the closet clutterer te
nds to be more focused on presentation, appearances, image and/or control. The house is immaculate with no papers on tables, sometimes no small appliances on the counter and certainly minimal knick knacks to be dusted. BUT, don't open that closet!!!! Out will come out all the hidden secrets. The doors won't shut again and junk will ooze out the bottom of the door. Take for example one of the last scenes of the movie 'Cheaper by the Dozen' where they are prepping the house for a celebrity visitor. Mrs. Baker comes home after a long trip and is looking for her clothing from the cleaners. The house is immaculate, but yet as she opens the closet for her clothes, everything from toys to garden tools falls out in an avalanche across the room. This is a perfect example of a closet clutterer.

There are extremes too where more professi
onal help is needed. An extremely cluttered home (closets and out) are a sign of a deeply ill person. The show 'Hoarders' exposes them and in each case, the homeowner is deeply troubled emotionally. The inability to clean a house is only a manifestation of a very consuming illness.

Keeping items in their place is a daunting prospect for most of us, but for the troubled individual it is virtually impossible. This post is not about them. Professional counseling should be pursued immediately.

Then there is the other end of the spectrum where both closet and public viewing areas are perfectly sterile and clean. No dust, no papers, no chaos anywhere. Some would say that it's a desired end. To me, it's a sign of a person void of emotional attachments. There are no items of sentimental value kept because nothing is considered to be of sentimental value. Sterility is the word that comes to mind when thinking of
these types of house keepers. They lack passion, drama and have a severe lack of connection to things for fear that it may remind them of a painful past. They too may need some professional counseling.

What I'm talking about most here is how the rest of us generally keep house. I enjoy going to other people's homes to see how they tame the clutter. I then analyze the type of personality they have and see if it fits within the spectrum I created above. It's a check point to see how well I compare with the rest of the world. Do they clean up like me? Do they clutter like me?

Speaking of me, I tend to be the plain sight clutterer. I put things away in spurts. I tackle a pile, with a large garbage bag by my side and then put the rest away where it belongs before moving on. In my house, everything has to have a place. It doesn't get to that place, until I have time to put it there. If there's a pile, I'm the one that has to tack
le it, because I'm visual and I have to know where those items went if I am to ever find them again. I'm not easily overwhelmed, but I do have to be in cleaning mode so I can tackle more than one area at a time like I like to do.

Which type of clutterer are you?
Can you handle it? or do you need professional help?
Can I open your closets? or will I just find what i'm looking for by merely looking around?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Fit To Be Tied - a disrespectful inconvenience!

There once was a time in the not so distant past when the average telephone call was a complete surprise. We never knew who was calling and there were no answering machines to tell us either. The phone could ring incessantly until someone answered. People answered it just to get the ringing to stop.

I call this the conditioning time. Pavlov, a well known psychologist, learned that dogs could be trained to salivate at the ring of a bell by offering food each time a bell was rung. After the period of conditioning, anytime a bell rang, the dog automatically salivated.

Nowadays the telephone companies have come up with ingenious ways for us to manage our own time so we are not 'dogs' to the modern conveniences that we 'need.' We have voice mail, caller id, and volume control at our disposal for screening, thus managing our time better. Unfortunately, many still have not gone past the original training that occurred of answering the phone as soon as it rings. We are anxious to know who is at the other end regardless of whether we have caller id or voice mail. The phone becomes the boss or rather the bell that makes us salivate.

Too many times I have been in the presence of others and their phone (cell or home) has rung and they literally JUMP to answer even though we may be engrossed in conversation. The pull of answering the phone is overwhelmingly strong and their will is defeated. It becomes a rather unlaughable joke to see how people have been conditioned to respond to the ringing of the phone.

It was just recently that I went to someone's door to deliver something and as we were talking, his phone rang. He quickly disappeared to answer it (as if I were not important) and reappeared with the phone in his ear, indicating that the caller (of which the conversation was obviously small talk) was more important than me. I was scooted off so that he could carry on with his phone friend.

I can understand when you are awaiting a very important call, like a doctor's office or your spouse, but answering the phone in the midst of a conversation with a live body in front of you, is just plain rude! What better form of communication then to have the whole person in front of you full of expression and body language that can communicate more than just the sound of a voice through a tiny speaker. Which is not to say that I haven't used that method of communicating to someone that I no longer wish to have them at my front door. hmmmmmm!!

The worst mistake the phone companies made was introducing 'call waiting' or as I've heard it referred to, 'call annoying.' I used to have this and found it so annoying to have to listen to a tone while I was on a call with someone. It not only distracted me from wondering who it was, but also caused a pause in the phone that the other party would hear as a momentary silence. I rarely answered it and eventually discontinued it altogether. However, there are still those who use it incessently. The call comes in and BOOM, they immediately tell you to 'hold on' for a moment. If you're one of those people, let me warn you that I hang up as soon as I'm put on hold, unless you tell me it's an urgent call coming in, in which case i'll tell you to just call me later. I find it offensive to be put on hold to take another call.

I also find it very distracting when a person takes my call when they are on the phone with their mother who lives in Uganda! Why answer the call waiting when you are on what obviously is a very important call?

How about this one....You call a friend and she answers only to tell you that she's at the checkout of a store and will call you back later. Did she forget about the voice mail feature on her phone? I do know how to leave a message!

I have my phone system trained perfectly. I turn the phone ringers off and the answering machine volume low. My machine tells callers the hours that I do not answer calls (which is most of the time). Then if I am on the phone and another call comes in, it goes straight to my cell phone and that voice mail picks it up. If I am expecting an important call, I can still answer it. I also am known to use the mute button on my cell phone when it rings and I am in conversation with someone. It's my time and no one else's. I also highly respect someone else's time if they are expecting my undivided attention.

To those of you who are led to answer the phone at inappropriate times, I give this advice..............DON'T DO IT!!!!!!!!!
Let the many modern conveniences of the phone companies do their thing. Check the caller ID. Let the voice mail catch it. Screen your calls. Manage your time. Don't let the phone manage you! Respect those around you by being in the moment, not on the phone.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I never thought I was an alarmist, but lately I've noticed a lot of alarmists out there and it's making me rethink how I react to issues. Often when I learn something that I have a strong opinion about, I react as an alarmist. I panic; my mind races; i'm easily agitated; I share the opinion readily with others; I expect others to react like I do. That is the definition of an alarmist. It's an unrational reaction to a nonsensical issue. It's also called a knee jerk reaction. With careful thought and consideration, a rational and intelligent person can view the issue with nary a wince. A logical person will evaluate both sides and arrive at a conclusion that requires little to no elevation in blood pressure.

After seeing the increase in alarmists in the world lately, I have to reevaluate my own tendency to do the same. For example, the swine flu. Every day we hear in the news that more cases are being diagnosed, schools are closing, people are quarantined and some even die of the illness. We also hear that there is a vaccine but there is a shortage or it hasn't been released yet. Oh!....the panic and pandemonium this is creating! Now let's look at the other side. The swine flu is not much different than the regular flu. Aches, pains, fever, lethargy. The vast majority of those who have gotten it in the US have fully recovered. Those who have died had compromised immune systems that would have died with any communicable disease they would have been exposed to. Sad, but true. The vaccine? From what I've heard, the long term effects are not known yet, since there has not been enough time to test it. We do know that too many vaccines are not good for us. It introduces too many toxins in the system and THAT weakens our immune system that we are trying so hard to protect. And what's with the shortage? Is it a way for the government to hold back as leverage for healthcare reform? Are people supposed to beg for it? Is the swine flu intentionally being put out there for the alarmists to do their job and get us all worked up about the pandemic and create a desire to have this unattainable vaccine that hasn't even been fully tested?

It reminds me of the time when I was a child and I was on a summer vacation with my family. We were outside on a very hot day on a tour that seemed to last forever (as it always seems when you're a kid). I was getting thirstier and thirstier as the time dragged on. At the end of the tour we hit a cafe and my dad ordered sodas for all of us. I grabbed the first one that got set on the counter, and chugged it until my thirst was quenched. It wasn't until the glass was half full that I had realized that I wasn't drinking a cola, but a root beer, which I hate!! It tasted awful after my desire for drink was satisfied. Had I not been so desperate to drink something, I would have taken the time to notice what drinks were being set on the counter. I would have selected the right one for me, based on logic and patience and not out of desperation.

After that episode, I try to way out the pros and cons of every decision and do my research carefully. A knee jerk reaction can hurt not only ourselves but others. Patience is a virtue
Ecclesiastes 7:7-9 (NIV) reads "Extortion turns a wise man into a fool,and a bribe corrupts the heart. The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.

God bless!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Daytimer

Everyone has their vices. For me, it's dry lips. I have to have lip balm within arms reach wherever I am. I probably have about 10 sticks in strategic places throughout our small house and then one in each car and of course another in my purse.

Another vice I have is my Daytimer. I can't go far without it in my hand. The cover is black leather with a zipper to keep loose contents together. Inside it, I have an old mechanical pencil with my name on a piece of tape wrapped around the top. The pencil is over 20 years old. The leather has lost it's luster from holding it so much and the zipper has finally given out. This is probably my 3rd cover in over 25 years of carrying one. I get the refill every year around this time for the next year. I think I'll have to order another cover this year too. This daily planner that is only about the size of a woman's wallet, goes with me from room to room in my house and then gets carried off to most anywhere I go when I leave the house. I even have to make sure that when I purchase a new purse, that it will fit comfortably inside it.

One time I misplaced it for about a month and nearly went out of my mind trying to figure out what I had to do day to day. You see, I use it to write every detail of my wherabouts, plans and to dos! It knows me better than I can remember myself. It's my secretary, my event planner, life coach, and my brain. I've replaced the lead in the pencil more than I can remember. (I don't keep a record of that.) Often, I wonder how anyone can live without one! They must have an incredible capacity to recall events, appointments, and important things to do. Not me!

My particular design has a full week on two facing pages. I can see at a glance what my week will look like. It also has times imprinted down the middle of each day so I can enter events at the precise time that they occur between the hours of 9 and 5. I also have my personal method of using it. I put lists on the left side of each day. Personal events to the left of the times and family events to the right. Then what happens in actuality gets recorded further to the right on each day. Some say it's a little OCD to put everything on paper. I consider it my own brand of organization. It works for me and it's fool proof.....that is if I look at it. You would think after 25 years, I'd be accustomed to looking at it frequently. But there are times that I get so busy with a routine day's events that I forget to review it to see what's next. I guess I'll have to write that in somehow.....'look at Daytimer!'

I need my Daytimer like I need my lip balm. Without them I would shrivel up! So next time you see me, all you have to do is ask me where my Daytimer or lip balm are, and I can draw them out faster than a cowboy in a western draws his pistol!