Keeping Busy

I took it upon myself to get more involved, more so with my church. A small group of believers of about 300. Compared to my church district, 300 is relatively small. Other churches have up to 1,000 members.

I’ll be taking on Communications ministry, Music ministry, Health ministry, and Singles ministry….a lot, I know, but I decided to take on things I’m passionate or have a strong interest in. For the Communications ministry, I’ve already compiled a list of e-mail addresses to send weekly news of our church’s activities and started sending out birthday e-cards to members. I found, while at my church that the “love thy neighbor” factor was missing. Meaning, though our church does a fantastic job reaching out to visitors and guests, I didn’t think members within the church were being thought of as much or remembered and I wanted that environment to change.  Somehow I wound up being voted to serve as the Communications Secretary (assistant) for 2012. It’ll mean a lot of work, but I really look forward to the ministry. As far as the other ministries, that’ll be work in progress, but work I’ll enjoy.

I’ve been managing the church’s Facebook. Please take a moment to view it at http://www.facebook.com/qftsdachurch.

Hoping that 2012 will be the year of progress.

What I learned after “Irene”

  When Irene passed over NY, my family and I were left without power for six days. That meant no electricity and no hot water. After we got the power back, I learned a few things:

  • It’s okay to take a break from “online” when being “offline is as productive. With no access to the Internet, I felt unproductive. I couldn’t get access to e-mail, view videos, or social network. Without those things for six days, I took to reading and found myself enjoying it.
  • Adjust your feeding routine. Without power, meant no stove, no microwave, no oven, nothing to cook on but used the grill to cook or warm up food. That only lasted for awhile until we started driving into town to get good, hearty meals (meaning, Chinese takeouts).
  • Time with family skyrocketed. Every evening I came home after work into the dark, my family and I huddled in the living room to talk. That’s all we did, but I was engaging in discussion and having a good time.
  • My sleeping habits became easier. My neighborhood was so peaceful and quiet that you could hear the crickets talk, but despite the darkness I had wonderful rest and actually slept better.
  • Get a generator. Didn’t realize that until our lights went out.
  • Cold water became my enemy. Ohh, I disliked taking baths in the cold water…worse, I was getting over a cold, so you could imagine my fear, but as they say “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
  • I began to experience what my parents went through in their early years. When I think back to the days of my dad, his experiences were far intense. At times, he had to go to a lake to bathe, and to use the toilet he had to go outside, and sometimes his siblings (of eight) would have to sleep on one bed.
  • I am privileged and blessed to have the things I have. I don’t always realize it, but I am a rich person. Meaning, I have running water, I have a fridge to keep my food fresh, I flick on a switch for light, I have a car for transport, and a thermostat to keep the place cool or warm. Some people don’t have those things and I feel blessed that I do.

Irene left an impression those six days, and though I count my blessings there are some people who still don’t have power. My thoughts and prayers go out to them. It’s one thing to have a home and then another thing to lose it to mother nature. I just hope another hurricane doesn’t come to NY again. If it does, I’ll be ready.

In Cold Blood

An e-mail was sent to me regarding a principal found dead at the Memphis Junior SDA Academy (in Tennessee) in a pool of blood. The accused is alleged to be a 17- or 16-year-old male who, according to police, killed the principal because he “didn’t like her and because she made him angry.”

I am deeply saddened and share this story because for one, the school system is Seventh-day Adventist, to which my Christian faith is based so ultimately I feel tied to the system because of my affiliation and second, a murder has never occurred in the SDA school system since its beginnings in the 1800s.

I had gotten off the phone with a colleague, currently a superintendent of schools in New York, and his reaction was one of remorse and concern. He added that security would have to be taken into consideration, in essence, stricter screening of students who apply to the school system. But he concluded, we must extend care and support of the family of the slain, school faculty, and especially students, including the accused killer and his family.

I can’t understand why this happened, though, to a woman whose love for children was all she knew and instead of receiving that love had her life taken from her because “she wasn’t liked or made the student angry.” I just can’t fathom it.

Right now, I will keep thought and prayer for the family of Principal York and the Memphis Junior SDA Academy. At a time like this, it isn’t God we should be angry at for allowing this to happen. I believe God didn’t cause it or would want this to happen, instead I believe it was a result of sin. In Exodus 20:13 it reads, “Thou shalt not kill.” Yet, I’d like to think that the sin was not the killing, but the thought in this young man’s mind that turned into planning, that turned into action that killed Principal York.

It is my prayer that we show and continue showing love to everyone. Despite the heartless event, deep down, I think I would find it in my heart to forgive this young man. It might not bring Principal York back, but the anger in this young man might heal and maybe, just maybe he’ll realize his actions, seek forgiveness, and do no more harm. Ultimately though, I leave the judgment to God.

CNN covered the story in length, which you can read here.

My Year in Review

It’s the Christmas weekend and I’m amazed at how fast it’s come.

A lot happened to me this year, which I’ll briefly recap:

  • January – left my job to pursue a career interest
  • February – couldn’t get unemployment benefits b/c of my voluntary leave, so I had to depend on savings.
  • March – Began my first interview with an Advertising Agency, but something told me to move on.
  • April through July – Got couple more interviews but either I was rejected or I didn’t like what I observed.
  • July and August – Babysat and kept job searching.
  • September – I celebrate another year of life, but no birthday party : (
  • October – landed a job! YEAH!
  • November – Counted my blessings and enjoyed the food for Thanksgiving. (I usually end up washing the dishes.)
  • December – Got accepted into OT School, but am considering Law School instead. I even earned a volunteer opportunity with a wonderful PR team at a hospital.

Now, that 2011 is a few days away, I’m not sure I’m ready for it. 2010 has left me going through so many disappointments and frustrations I feel like 2011 might be just the same. There were times throughout this year I didn’t know how I’d pull through it all BUT my faith in God kept me going. Any time I hear people say, “I hate my job!” or “Is it Friday already?” I’m like, “Don’t you people know how blessed you are to have a job?” STOP COMPLAINING! I’ve been through unemployment for a few months and have been blessed to find something and KEEP IT!

This Christmas holiday is another reminder of how blessed we are to have jobs, families, and the necessary things that keep us holding on to life. If you’re reading and don’t have a job right now, one advice I’ll give you is DON’T GIVE UP! It’s easy to become complacent and give up after rejection, after rejection, but believe me when I say “keep trying” – you’re bound to find something.

Thank you again to Jesus, to my family, to my friends, and esp. my blog readers. As I write this, I just wanted to share this: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.” Cherish each day you have going into 2011 and beyond and I pray that many successes and blessings come upon you.

NOTE: As I was writing, my pent up frustrations (esp. in the first paragraph) began to be expressed. If there’s anything you got from this piece, which will be my last for 2010, you can be sure to expect more in 2011—real, expressive blog pieces : ).

The Film “Conviction” and My Two Points from It

I watched Larry King Live yesterday and I said to myself, “I want to go see that movie.” See trailer below. 

Two things I want to write about after watching the program: (1) Family and (2) Judgment.

It makes me think about what family really means. I’m not focusing on the make-up or structure of a family, but the bind, the molecule, the atom that keeps a family together. I never faced (nor do I want to face )the hard reality of time in prison or was sentenced for a crime to which I did not commit, but my family has always been there for me in other ways. On countless times my parents helped me out, especially with speeding tickets or the sacrifice of putting me through college, and though I might not have understood it then, I understand it now, family is worth sacrificing for.

Sadly, I am aware that not all families grow up with support or encouragment or love, but instead with dominance, abuse, and aggression. I wish in my heart every child grew up in a loving home, maybe this world would be a better and safer place. I am convinced though that the most important ingredient of a healthy family is love or where love abounds. Some people I realize will never understand what that word means because they grew up not feeling it or it being shown to them in the right way. I have my family to thank, because of my upbringing, I understand the love of family and try to show it to others. I always believe, a little love goes a long way. Reverting back to the film, I keep thinking, it must have been really hard for a sister to willfully defend her brother, when everyone was against him. That’s simply, self-sacrificing love.

Second point is, it concerns me that people are finding it too easy to pass judgment on others. In the movie Conviction that was discussed on Larry King, the guy who is sent to prison had tendencies for aggression, and because of that the police thought he could’ve committed the murder and without securing the facts or getting a DNA test, the guy is put in jail for life. Throughout the film, the viewer is taken through a series of events that will broaden the narrow perspective of that judgment into a much broader lens. Yet, it happens all the time, we judge before we see all the facts. Why are we prone to such instinct? 

I don’t believe this world will get any better, but only worse, yet I truly believe in my heart that though judgments are being made constantly through the year and years to come, it is up to us to make sure we pass on goodness and objectivity so that it lives on. The key to passing those on is having the power to DO IT, even if we stand alone.

I don’t know why I just wrote that, but I am convinced that life is so precious and we should treasure each moment we have with our families now and remember not to pass on judgment so quickly that we isolate the facts. This world might not be a better place, but at least we can try to make it better starting with family. After thinking about it, I think my formula for family will be: Love + Objectivity + Sacrifice = Family.

By the way, the movie comes out in theaters October 15.

My 80-year-old friend

For the sake of privacy, I’ll call my new found friend, Jane.

She’s 80 and has six great-grand children.

I met her while serving as an inspector during the primaries, held a few weeks ago. Our shift started from 5 in the morning and ended till 10 in the evening. But seated next to her made the day go by so fast. We must have talked about everything: from the new machines and ballots used, love, work, young people, life as a whole. I think I learned more from her than I did with any senior citizen.

A couple of things I learned from Jane:

  • Laugh often.
  • Life is too short to groan and complain.
  • Every minute counts so make the most of it.
  • Don’t hold back. Take action when your intuition tells you.
  • Socialize and keep good close friends. The time will come when you’ll appreciate having them around.
  • Love among humans comes and goes, but love in God is always forever.
  • Read books and when you’re tired of reading, keep reading. Your brain will thank you.
  • Don’t change or alter your body just to enhance your beauty, your natural self is more beautiful than you know.
  • When times are hard, lean on God. You’ll soon realize He’s the only one around whose shoulder you can do that on.
  • Never give up.
  • Travel when you can.

Jane and I stay in touch and call each other every week. I never thought bumping into an 80-year-old woman would have an impact on me, but it has. I thought I had friends of all ages, but Jane beat the cake and it’s truly a joy having her for a friend. I don’t think I’ll ever reach her age and be fortunate to have six great-grand children, but I realize one can never be too young or too old to establish friendships, it’s up to me though to reach out and befriend. The impact could be surprisingly wonderful.

Have you done something kind today?

I stumbled on Theycallmejane’s blog  on WordPress’ homepage and just out of curiosity clicked on it to read more. It intrigued me that it was about random acts of kindness. At the end of the reading, there was a challange posed by Jane to “pay it forward” over the weekend. I decided to pay it forward by being kind, especially when others least expected it.

That very day I paid it forward by helping my cousin with washing the dishes, then helped to tuck away every utensil, cup, plate, pot in the cupboards, then wiped the counters, then swept the floor and then watered the flowers outside our home.

The next day, I paid it forward by smiling at everyone I came across. One woman’s frown, as she approached me, turned upside down once she saw my smile. When I greeted a neighbor and stopped to inquire how they were, it inspired them to be at ease and we kept the conversation going.

That very night, I paid it forward by helping a stranger whom I met through LinkedIn edit their resume for a job they were interested in.  They offered to compensate me for the work, but I declined only hoping my effort would help them to get the job.

Later during the next day, I paid it forward by calling a long time friend I hadn’t spoken with in a while to catch up on how things were. I discovered she had been facing a lot of trials and had been going through some hard times. I encouraged her to keep focused on her dreams and to not be discouraged by those who criticize her work or hinder her from getting to reach her goals, but to keep her head high. At the end of the call, we exchanged our goodbyes and I silently prayed that all would be well with her.

These are a few of my pay it forward through unexpected acts to people, and you know what? It made me feel good. I didn’t want anything else in return, just the fact that I helped them in some way. I was watching MSNBC interview a blogger who started “Operation Beautiful”, a blog about writing beautiful and positive messages on post it notes.  These messages could be written to encourage self or transform another person’s life. It truly is an amazing project. But it goes to show each of us that we don’t have to wait for someone to start a trend of passing on goodness, we can do it right now and it can start with you and me.

I still continue to pay it forward with some little act of unexpected kindness and don’t plan to stop. If anything, let’s continue to make the world a better place (at least try to while we live) by showing kindess to others. As my pay it forward kindness to you, here are a few kindness quotes from quotegarden.com to inspire you or maybe someone you know. 

  • Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping him up.  ~Jesse Jackson
  • Today, give a stranger one of your smiles.  It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.  ~Quoted in P.S. I Love You, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  • If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.  If you want to be happy, practice compassion.  ~Dalai Lama
  • Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.  ~Mark Twain
  • Don’t wait for people to be friendly, show them how.  ~Author Unknown
  • How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.  Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.  ~George Washington Carver