50 Days to 50 Years: Day 35, Acapulco Happy Hour with Jana Benson

27 06 2016

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” — Anaïs Nin

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Jana and me, cracking up about something. She enjoys laughter, and so do I.

I had no idea there were still Acapulcos in Los Angeles, but amazingly enough, some still exist; this particular one is in Glendale, just off the 134 Freeway. Of course, Ms. Jana knows where everything is—she is a total social butterfly, who gets around to all the great eating and shopping places—especially if they have a discount.

Jana is my new friend who I met at the Women’s Bible Study at Montrose Church. She is a totally welcoming, warm presence, and enjoys bringing people together. She is the organizer and heart of the Women’s Coffees, and if there is a social event or free food giveaway happening in the Los Angeles-LaCrescenta-La Canada-San Gabriel area (and probably beyond), Jana is aware of it.

I was blessed that even though we are just getting to know each other, she wanted to be a part of my 50 Days to 50 Years challenge. It is all about the people who have had an impact or influence in my life, no matter how small or large; and Jana has done that with her hospitable spirit.

Church groups can be the most precarious of atmospheres: sometimes cautious, often cliquish, and at times downright hostile. As I wrote in Day 49, I have received nothing but inclusion, warmth and welcome since attending the women’s functions at the Montrose Church, and Jana has been a big part of that.

So we hit Happy Hour at the Acapulco Cantina, and found a few surprises. While the Margaritas were still $2 (Thank God!) the Happy Hour menu appetizers were no longer half-priced, but $2.00 off, and the choices left much to be desired. Poke Tacos?! Uhhh, maybe not. So we ended up getting full-priced appetizers from the dinner menu to go with our discount drinks. Not the happiest, but not a major crisis either. I ordered a Coconut Cream Margarita, and it was pretty slammin’.

So over tableside Guacamole, Pork Nachos, Chicken Taquitos, and blended tequila, we got to know each other to a more focused degree than the snippets from our times with the group. As is the case with face-to-face interactions with friends, you go away marveling at the incredible depth, wealth and fortitude resident in human beings, and you admire the ability to navigate and a build a life, as well as weather the storms that threaten to tear at the fabric of that life.

Jana felt like she wasn’t her best self during our time, but I wasn’t expecting anything except getting to know her better and putting some building blocks onto this new foundation. I am most blessed to have the opportunity to do more of that during the remaining 15 days of this challenge. Both you and I get to see more of Jana, and I am most certainly better because of it.

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50 Days to 50 Years: Day 36, Elizabeth House and the Montrose Church

26 06 2016

“Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” — Matthew 25:35-40 NASB

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I was blessed with the privilege of presenting a workshop to the women of Elizabeth House titled, “Job Seeking Skills for the 21st Century Worker.”

Elizabeth House is a 501(c)(3) organization which the Montrose Church supports. The organization exists to provide shelter, hope and support to homeless pregnant women and their children by addressing their physical, emotional, spiritual, and economic needs in a nurturing atmosphere. Elizabeth House has been serving women and children in the Los Angeles area for more than 20 years. With two houses in Pasadena, the staff and volunteers of Elizabeth House are committed to the health and welfare of adult pregnant women and their children; part of that health and welfare is offering programs to help them grow and thrive.

Once we became members of Montrose Church, I knew I wanted to pick up the work I had started at the Congregational Church of Northridge through Tuesdays with Transitioners. I felt a distinct loss when I ended the ministry, and knew that I would continue it in some fashion somewhere down the road.

After a Sunday service, I spoke with Debbie Unruh, Executive Director of Elizabeth House, to see if they would have need for the type of career help that I could offer. She passed my information to Terry Bright, the Programs Director, and we had a very lovely meeting where I shared my ideas with her, and she explained some of the needs of the women who are residents of the house, as well as alumni—women who have been able to transition out of the house. From that meeting, the workshop was born, and a month later, I was presenting it.

While it was a different challenge from many of the members who attended the T-w-T meetings, it was a good one. The bulk of the workshop was spent walking the ladies through LinkedIn, explaining the benefits and features of the social networking site, and helping them get a profile started. We also touched briefly on how to deal with gaps in employment, and learning to tell a compelling story about their job history and job skills that reflected positively on them and the work they could do for a potential employer.

I supplied handouts and articles that they could reference later, and each woman asked insightful questions and shared key information on what they desired in their next job or career. Some of the women who attended remembered me from church, and we talked about the services, and how Pastor Dave had just returned from a mission in Swaziland. They seemed intrigued, and some of the women who hadn’t attended church in a while talked about returning.

So when I arrived on Sunday, I was highly encouraged to see most of the women from the workshop in attendance! Debbie said that they had to take two trips to get everyone there. One of the women greeted me warmly, and we talked for a bit before service began.

I hope I have opportunity to do more work with Elizabeth House, but even if it was just this one time, I believe it made an impact on the lives of these women and for the Kingdom. One of the alumni even asked about my reinvention services, and wanted to talk further on this. I encouraged them to connect with me via LinkedIn and to give me feedback on the seminar via my website. I hope to hear good things, and desire to see these small seeds sown reaping a harvest for these ladies.

 

 





50 Days to 50 Years: Day 50, Life’s Embrace

12 06 2016

This is 50-Day 50 collage

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really: Get busy living or get busy dying.” — Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

“I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live.”
— Deuteronomy 30:19

I find it fascinating that I last posted on this blog exactly a year ago today. It seems fitting that I have chosen my odyssey of “50 Days to 50 Years!” as the series to revitalize it.

As I approach my 50th revolution around the sun, I have chosen life, and will always choose life. Many times along the road I have had opportunity to choose otherwise, and it is because of the encounters, life circumstances, and deaths in the midst of my journey that I have chosen to embrace the time leading to my actual birthday with celebration, rather than somberness.

You see, I really never expected to see 50. I was a suicidal teenager, and had crafted an elaborate plan to end it all when I finished high school. Thanks to a lot of prayer and a real encounter with death when I was 16, I was fortunate enough to revise that plan.

Then in my early 20s, I was caught up with eschatology (the study of the “end of days” or “end times”), so I just knew that Jesus would return and the world would end before I was 30. Thankfully I distanced myself from those energy draining pursuits well before my 30th year, and amazingly, life went on, and so did I. I still believe Jesus is coming back, I just focus more on what he wants me to do in the here and now, rather than obsess about times and seasons that are not in my control.

Then there are those who were not as blessed as me; mainly my two sisters, Barbara and June.

Barbara died from a massive seizure in 1992; she was only 36. In 2008, June lost a long battle with cancer at 49, months before her 50th birthday.

So I have reason to live, and reason to celebrate. In the 50 days leading up to August 2 (my actual birth day), I plan to document my celebrations, with various bucket list items, things I have always wanted to do, and most notably, 50 friends and family that I will spend time with over these 50 days to acknowledge their contribution to making my life worth living.

So here’s to 50! All it entails, the highs, the lows, the challenges, and the triumphs, I fully embrace with open arms, and rejoice to see the day. Anything else is not an option.

I hope you enjoy traveling with me, as I embrace the change of season, the change of life, and the turn of a new decade.

This is 50…

 





“In My Orbit” has expanded into new worlds!

10 04 2013
Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“In My Orbit” has expanded into new worlds!

The Girl has been busy with some new projects, one of them has been mounting a new column on Washington Times Communities. This is a wonderfully innovative online community of writers, and their global reach gives an expanded platform for my writing.

I’m very excited! Feel free to click the link and take a read at my column, and the other voices that make up the site.





Election 2012 Post-mortem: Still looking for the Silver Linings

7 11 2012

This is the last post I expected to write on November 7, 2012. But life, often gives unexpected results.

As opposed to 2008, when I went to bed early already knowing the outcome of that election (and wrote about those “silver linings” the next day), this time around, I was much more optimistic that Americans wanted to oust this fraudulent leader. A friend even invited me to an election night party with other like-minded Conservatives, and I was excited to go and have a room full of people to potentially share in victory. So I prepared to stay up late, but be happy in doing so.

The stay up late part came to pass, the happiness and victory, not so much. President Obama was re-elected for a second term, and this grieves me beyond measure. After watching the demise of the America I thought I knew last night, I did what I do in good times and bad: look for God’s perspective on this. For my life, this is best found in God’s word.

So my comments will be interspersed with scriptures that come to mind or that fit the focus of my thoughts. Take it for what it’s worth. I will start off my rant with railing at the storm clouds first, because that’s always the first thing you. But take heart, after gazing at the dark clouds, if you look deeply enough, you can still find silver linings.

In honor of PBS funding and Big Bird being saved by an Obama re-election, this rant is brought to you by the Letter “D”.

It is Disastrous and Disgraceful that a Leftist media protected and propped up this President in order to ensure he be re-elected. Former-Hurricane-now-reduced-to-SuperStorm-Sandy is the most recent example, but they are legion. The most egregious is Benghazi, which I have written about, and will continue to write about until justice is done for Ambassador Stevens and the other Americans who lost their lives because of the incompetence of this President.

Concerning this corrupt and gangrenous entity called the mainstream media, Isaiah 5:20-21 came to mind, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”

Describes the MSM to a “T”. But what they do not know is that any shred of credibility they may have had left is now completely gone. I portend that their Demise will continue to be swift and Decisive–more than we know. I plan to dance on the graves when this happens. The collective lot of them are a Disgrace to Democracy.

It is Disheartening that American people refused to watch both the Republican and Democrat conventions, the debates, or read anything the candidates were saying and critically compare their messages. More important, the refusal to look at the false and inaccurate claims on both sides and weigh the information accordingly. Some of these people are culled from my Facebook and Twitter interactions, but if this is even a microcosmic representation of a cross-section of our population, then we are in a world of hurt as a country. Laziness and Ignorance really do great harm.

It is Disturbing that a sector of Blacks are perfectly fine with having a Black President for the sake of having a Black President. No care about his lack of character, his ability to lie, blame, and obfuscate, along with his inability to keep his promises. Again I go back to the aftermath of Former-Hurricane-now-reduced-to-SuperStorm-Sandy as a shining example of who this President is and how he operates. President Obama showed up, made promises, took lots of photos, pretended to “feel their pain” , and then left to continue campaigning. Yet the people of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut continue to hurt, continue to be without food and power, and most frightening, as the weather turns colder, remain homeless. FEMA is failing in its execution of emergency aid to a degree that exceeds Katrina. But this crop of voters is still blaming Bush for the bad economy? Well, you can’t blame Bush for Sandy, or for the next four years. It’s all on our “first Black President” Obama.

Even with all this evidence, some Blacks still laud Obama as a hero and hold him up as a shining example for the Black race. How Delusional is that?

It is beyond me that some Blacks are content with 14.3% black unemployment, preferences of another race group’s voting power over their increasingly dwindling one, and black genocide in the form of highly-funded and unfettered abortions among minorities. I doubt that I will feel any sympathy toward them when they come to see that they have been bamboozled. What I do have is Hosea 8:7: “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up.” Matter of fact, they should read the whole chapter, as it is a frightening reality on what America has become and what may be in store.

So glad I got that off my chest. Now on to that flash of light in the darkness.

God is in Control. Daniel 2:21 “He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” I navigate in lots of worlds, and in my Christian world, lots of people were fasting and praying for the outcome of this election; I believe God’s will was done. What that means for me as a Christian is that I continue to pray for President Obama and our nation, according to 1 Timothy 2:1-2 “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

What it also means is that I do what I can to fight and stand for what is right. And much about this administration is not right. I am also praying Luke 8:17: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” I will work for this revealing to unfold, and for believers to know their role and place when it does happen.

I gave 2 Corinithians 4:8 to another Christian Conservative who was very disheartened at last night’s results: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not defeated, crushed, but not in despair.” For those who believe like me, if we pray and we seek, we are going to see God’s intended plan for this time, and hopefully make a difference for righteousness–no matter what the circumstances.

Black Conservatives have become more visible and vocal. I’m not just talking about Herman Cain, Congressman Allen West (who continues to fight for his seat), and the “acceptable” ones they trot out on Fox and CNN. I’m talking about all the grassroots brothers and sisters I have found (and who have found me) on Twitter, Facebook, and some organizations of which I have recently become a part. These fired up folks represent and fight with reasoned thought, penetrating words, facts, and their presence. We will no longer be ignored.

I know I have increased in my conservative thought and activism over the years. It started in 2000, crystallized in 2004, and became more strong in 2008. Now on the other side of 2012, I am no less fired up, and no less motivated to see Leftist memes about Black monolithic thinking destroyed. Not every Black supports everything this President does just because he is Black. His policies and practices are the problem, not his race. I and other Black Conservatives will continue to trumpet this, and hopefully join together to make our stance known. A fellow Black Conservative, Demetrius Minor said it best on Twitter: “The racial division will only continue to widen under Obama. Conservatives: We need one another. Let’s unify.” Amen to that. Let’s demonstrate Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Finally, Grassroots activism is still alive and well. Now that this national election is over, I can turn my attention to local affairs of city and state, which is where leaders are built and real change can occur that affects the national level. While I still plan to point out the falsehood and hypocrisies of this Obama administration, I’m shifting some of my to focus the Los Angeles mayor’s race. Antonio Villaraigosa has overseen the decline of Los Angeles business and it’s economy, while feathering his nest for whatever place he will be rewarded with in the Obama administration. Many of the candidates running to replace him willingly aided and abetted Mayor Eleven Percent, and I plan to point this out, while promoting candidates who truly want to reverse the damage Villaraigosa has incurred on this city through his negligence, neglect, and power mongering. Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan.”

Please don’t misunderstand me that I want a theocracy or only “religious” people in elected office. I take the textbook definition of “righteous” which says, “morally upright people.” I know moral atheists and immoral believers, and I’ll take the moral atheist any time. If you hold to a worldview that embraces, uplifts and seeks to further the good of a people and a community, then you are righteous in my book. On the converse, are leaders like Obama and Villaraigosa who use people and communities as a tool for the furtherance of their own agenda–and damn the consequences.

We need “righteous” leaders locally and regionally, so we can have better choices nationally.

I’ve said my peace.





CareerCampSFV is a week away! See what people are saying about CareerCamp

15 09 2011

CareerCampSFV (San Fernando Valley) is coming up, so I wanted to show some highlights from our last CareerCamp back in July, in the Santa Clarita Valley (CCSCV). We had a grand time and people were energized, empowered and inspired in their careers!

The below video link, created by CareerCamp Founder and Chairman Emeritus Douglas E. Welch shows the testimonials of attendees and speakers from CareerCampSCV.

The jobs news is bad, folks–initial jobless claims jumped last week to 428,000–the highest this quarter. But we at CareerCamp International don’t dwell on this! The beauty of the CareerCamps is that it equips individuals to take control of their skills and assets, and in doing that, take control of their future–so they can  build the career they deserve.

Registration is still open for CareerCampSFV on September 24, but may not be for long–don’t miss out on this effective and unique Career Event!

Video: What are people saying about CareerCamp?.





The Turning of the Tide

2 08 2011

Water Surge by Michael Drummond/Public Domain Pictures.net

It is indeed that, as I turn 45 today. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how I went from a teenager who didn’t think she’d live past high school, to middle life. I have never needed drugs to go on mental trips–they simply come to me from everyday life.

My sea-change of life somewhat parallels the sea-change in the Christian world, and I’ve written about it on my Examiner.com page. Give it a read! It’s my birthday, after all.

And it looks like Congress, the Senate and the White House decided to give me a birthday present of “resolving”? the debt-ceiling debacle before the deadline, ensuring the United States does not go into default. Yeah… Uh Huh.

My favorite quote of the post-mortem on this deal comes from Jim Geraghty on the Hugh Hewitt Show yesterday. Jim expressed his own lukewarm feelings on the resolution, and said something to the effect that every time it looks as though we have government spending locked up and under control, they pull a Harry Houdini on us. Well said.

I have the feeling that this so-called Super Committee will have as much affect as the Debt Commission. Lots of time and money spent on coming to conclusions and solutions, which ultimately end up in the political round file.

But for now, neither side is giving high-fives or breaking out the champagne. Quin Hilyer’s piece in The American Spectator pretty much sums it up: “The Deal Sort of Stinks… But Only ‘Sort of’“. Erick Ericson, never a glass-half-full fellow to begin with, headlined his RedState Morning Briefing with “We All Lose.” Tell us how you really feel, Erick.

The far Left is particularly in a tizzy.  The favorite quote on their side comes from Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, who called the deal, “A sugar-coated Satan sandwich.” Cleaver’s a poet, and he didn’t even know it!

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones trips over a familiar leftist canard: People are too stupid to realize just how important government is in their lives, and we just have to be more persuasive, dammit! It’s Public Opinion, Stupid. He blames the progressives for not turning the tide of public opinion to support liberal agendas:

“We just haven’t persuaded the public to support our vision of government. Until we do, the tea party tendency will always be more powerful than we are.”

Oh, please. We have seen your vision of government and we don’t want it. And every attempt to ram it down our throats simply causes us to stiffen our backs even more. This is why the pendulum is swinging in the Tea Party direction. Get over yourself, Kevin.

But ultimately, it’s Nick Gillespie, Reason Magazine blogger, who hits it out the park: “The Debt-Ceiling Debate is Dead! Long Live the Debt! Or, Will ObamaCare Cover What Krugman’s Smoking?”

Spectacular headline aside, he pretty much echoes my feelings on this entire debacle:

“In fact, the real reason to be bothered by the whimper with which the debt-ceiling squabble seems to be ending is this: It doesn’t address the real issue, which is the debt load of the country.”

Or as I would say it, kicking the can to the next generation. I have no children of my own, but I feel sorry for my nephews and nieces; they will ultimately pay for all this malfeasance.

Happy Birthday, to me!








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