Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Circles

Source
One morning as is our habit, the Little One and I were reading the Bible. We were reading this passage and as I read verse 22 she blurted out:

"Circles.  Circles!!

The Earth is round. Circles mean the earth is round.

Why did Columbus think the earth was flat? Why did anyone think the earth was flat?

All they had to do was read the Bible; it's right there."

It was right there all the time. I guess we could save ourselves a lot of trouble and gain so much if we would take the time to read the Bible and process what we read.

God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. Isaiah 40:22 NLT

Do you read the Bible?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Job Hunting - Networking and The Wait

There's so much conflicting advice out there when it comes to finding your next opportunity; for example:
  • The resume is dead, but at some point it's what everyone asks for
  • Set yourself apart from the competition and do a prezume instead of a resume
  • Be creative but follow these steps
  • Go to networking events yet don't be pushy.
Do you see how all of this is a contradiction particularly the networking piece? Any networking event I've ever gone to always feels unnatural, because for the most part you can't connect with people in a hurry. You can't really tell if you truly have something in common over drinks. Really, all you want to say is can you help me find a job? But you don't want to come across as desperate or needy.  So you smile and shake hands.

Networking and connecting with others does work, but not if time is an issue. You have to be able to let go and let the chips fall where they may.  If you're a nice person or pleasant, no need to pretend so folks can connect. People generally want to connect unless you totally insulate yourself (and that definitely won't work if you're trying to network!)

No matter what the billboards say, connecting with people can not be forced. Sometimes networking simply fails because people realize that they are being used and in my experience no one likes to be used. You want to connect because you just fit. But you may not always have that opportunity when job hunting.

Instead job hunting involves a lot of waiting. Waiting for positions to open; waiting for the call back; waiting for the next move. Waiting is a huge part of life. While we wait, we should use it as an opportunity for preparation and for positive thinking. Waiting is part of the game; it's part of the game for job hunters and it's part of the game of life.

While you wait, build your faith, because faith and endurance go hand in hand. Networking is synonymous with living. So network as much as you can, but keep the faith.

Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. Hebrews 6:12 NLT
"We are twice armed if we fight with faith." ~ Plato

"There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer." ~ John Wooden

"If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm." ~ Mohandas Gandhi

Please keep the faith.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

This Person I've Become - Sacred Solitude

I grew up in a noisy, busy house. Noise was a constant - whether talking, yelling, music, toys banging, you name it, it was noisy.

When I had my family, since noise was all I knew, noise is what continued, and of course with three  young children, quietness seemed like a gift. I never mastered the art of reprimanding children quietly.

If I was on the phone and it was somehow quiet, the caller wondered why the house was quiet as if quiet was not expected. I guess I came to expect it too, until one day I heard myself saying the TV was too loud. I have a loud voice but I started making a conscious effort to talk softer. When the children were gone during the summers, I actually found myself looking forward to the peace and quiet. I don't mind when my husband travels, because I've discovered the infrequent times of solitude are OK and refreshing.

Though it seems to be all of a sudden, I love when I am home and there is no outside noise with the exception of music. I like the sounds of peace. And I am surprised because this is a 180 degree turn from where I started from.

While I like the sounds of a lived in house, I enjoy the solitude of a quiet house even more. And at this stage - I am pleasantly surprised by this but plan to enjoy it. More often than not in these times of solitude, my soul is refreshed and I cherish that; for often in these quiet times, I hear a still, small voice.

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:11-14 [NLT]

Do you enjoy solitude? Have you always enjoyed it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Choose To Live

Source
By now you may have heard of Brittany Maynard - the 29 year old who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and is choosing to die on November 1st, 2014. She moved to Oregon so that she and her family can take advantage of the Death with Dignity Act, and received the sedative that will end her life. She is married, and is her mother's only child. Somehow she is being hailed as a hero but something in me does not sit right with all of this.

All of us have had dark days where at some point we may actually think we're better off dead. The irony of life is that when you're dealing with something in that moment that's all of you have - the culmination of experiences leading up to that point. The beauty of life is to have survived, and look back in amazement, with new strength. If you hadn't overcome you wouldn't be where you are today. By choosing to die, you are shortchanging yourself of all the good life has to offer; the yin and yang; the growth and reward; the trials and overcoming.

But even when you don't overcome, you grow, because you realize life isn't perfect.

Choosing to die at a time that's convenient says I get to take my life in my own hands. I get to determine my perfection. I get to quit. The ultimate fallacy is it fools you in to thinking that you are really in control - when you're not.

We are not totally in control of our destinies, God is. [Job 14:5, Psalm 139:16] By choosing to die, you're trying to take over something that you have no control of, because you really don't know what death will bring. Death is a huge unknown; death is more uncertain than dealing with a terminal illness.

I also believe dying with dignity is a crock. Dignity is ideal but death isn't always dignified. Sometimes it's sudden or gruesome or painful. More importantly, since death is inevitable we should be prepared for death, but not in a controlling way but rather as an inevitability that we all have to face.

When my brother left this earth after 17 years of a long terminal illness one of the things that struck me was that he was no longer here. He didn't have to be perfect to be missed. He just needed to be here and he no longer was. He could no longer make an impact on those around him. He was gone. It didn't matter if his fingers were perpetually curled, or his skin had darkened, or he could no longer move - he was a presence in his house. He could still communicate with his family members the best way he knew how. The others around him were learning also - how to deal with adversity, how to smile, how to deal with pain, how to be tender and compassionate, and much bigger lessons. Lessons that were absorbed but were never spoken. He may have been diminished physically but he still had a lot to give, as the gap that is his death proved.

Diagnoses aren't final; as far as we know my brother outlived many people with his illness by at least 10 years. In this way, he made his doctors think and ponder all they knew about his illness. His living provided a challenge so that they could help the next person.

Do you know that dark days don't last forever? I know that's not a fair comparison to a terminal illness but everyone has something that they are dealing with.
What if everyone who had a terminal illness chose to die? What if the beauty is in living? Who says one has to be perfect to enjoy life or make a difference? 

I hope Brittany has a change of heart and lives as long as the days that were allocated to her.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Notes From My Daughter - Here's The Thing About Saying, "I would never date a black girl."

Occasional notes from my 20 year old daughter. I never know what to expect when she writes, but it's usually a pleasant surprise.  Read on!

PS - I have tried to instill in my daughters the following thoughts: Know your worth, stand your ground and men are stupid.  The stupid men part is a caveat and only applies when men aren't willing to accept any woman's, but in particular my daughters worth. Men aren't really stupid.  Seems like this daughter knows her worth, and wanted to share some thoughts on dating.

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My daughter
The fact that this needs to be explained is so utterly surprising to me, but being a black woman living in South Africa, I've heard this phrase expressed with unbelievable frequency. It’s not the individual component of you not wanting to date me that hurts, it’s the inherent racism that you condone that hurts black women globally. And the same goes to you black men across the world who would “never date a dark skin girl” or “never date a black girl” unless of course she’s an exception.


I realized long ago that for some people, I as an individual was an “exception” because of my body type, hair texture, and because “I’m not like other black girls” and I REFUSE to take that as flattery. (And this is warning for girls: when a guy finds you to be his exception, he will typically keep you around as his “friend” all the while trying to go after others. You’re his back-up plan because he is confused by your existence not because you’re his ideal. You have just been warned because he will never say it). I don’t need you to consider me as valuable by deeming my sisters as unworthy. But once again, let’s get away from the individual component and get down to the issues. There are only so many things about a person’s external appearance that can possibly make them attractive:

1. Their features; skin, hair, facial structure, body type, etc.

2. What the culture assumes about said person because of their features

3. What you conclude about yourself and how you would relate to the conclusions you’ve made about someone you do not know based off of culture and/or your own perceived notions.
Beautiful Black Women
How do you perceive blackness and how do you perceive womanhood to the point where when they intersect you are no longer interested? Seriously, I challenge all men to consider that. Many times we know a lot of stereotypes but we don’t really know the people that we are either consciously or subconsciously condemning as lesser than. 

Why is it that if I say white woman, you don’t think she may have a loud or “intimidating” (I hate that adjective) personality, but that’s the dominant apprehension one typically has when it comes to dating a black woman? Can white people not be loud? What makes someone intimidating? Can a black woman not be introverted without being praised for her “atypical” demeanor as if her culture guarantees that she will be a loud banshee with no “class”? WHAT. IS. THIS. TOMFOOLERY?
Beauty in all shades
As you may be able to tell from the tone of this post I do take offense when I hear this from men of any color because this idea about dating in general is not simply coming from a vacuum of personal preference (that’s another post for another day) but from a culmination of messed up ideology that leaves the black women with the role of inferiority while everyone else is considered better than. Men I know this post might make you feel guilty, but have you ever considered that you just might be? I’m not here to criminalize you, but to really make you consider the common lack of empathy, consideration, and compassion projected towards black women globally. You do not experience her pain and you cannot tell her she is being dramatic because “it cannot be that deep.” The concept is foreign to you, but just because it is invisible from your point of view doesn't mean it is mythical. It may be difficult to understand but go out of your way to do so.

And black women, love yourself in the face of the mainstream ideology convincing you that no one else will. I am not saying this as though it is a simple task but I know I’m charging you to do something truly difficult. Don’t ask yourself “Will he ever date a black girl?”, as if you are some sort of alien to this world. I understand the distrust we have because of the experiences we know, but darling do not let them consume and DO NOT encourage the idea that you will never find love. Relationships are difficult and the way in which the world has framed them is very broken, but you are a beautiful complete human being made in the image of God. He’s your creator, not men. Don’t feel like you have to adopt other people’s culture, lose yourself, hide your culture, or anything else because of the lies and rumors that you've heard about your existence. You are accepted because of the unique elements that make you, you, including your blackness. There are challenges to loving and there are challenges to being loved but please know that you are not less than. You are so much more than you know.
2 generations
So in conclusion understand that by saying “You would never date a black girl” you are indeed validating every notion that society has upheld in efforts to oppress black women. Conversely understand that if (not saying it’s right, but if) a black women says “I would never date a white guy” its typically out distrust for the hurt they've already experienced unlike the disgust that typically comes from men and the stereotypes they have of black women whether they've experienced them or not. Also IF (once again not saying it’s right) a black women claims “I would never date a black guy,” you as a male typically still have other options that will potentially accept you. However, there is no privilege or mobility for a black woman; as a black women it’s typically understood that no one wants you because you are not the norm or ideal in a majority of cultures. This topic is too complex to fully address in one blog post but I hope I clarified the general pain, and expelled the foolish excuses that encourage the acceptability of the phrase: “I would never date a black girl.”


Young Beauties
 Lastly, this is not a request for black men or white men or any men to start asking me out. Once again, this is not about the individual act of dating but the mindset we condone around the simple human issue of relationship. Please leave me and my singleness alone :). I am content, I just wanted to explain the mechanisms feeding a deeply rooted wound that no one seems to understand besides those who have to feel its pain on a consistent basis. That’s all.