23 July 2010

Are you blinded by the darkness???

One of my favorite books in the bible is 1 John.
I spent an entire summer dedicated to studying this short book of the bible with a bunch of Christian students and scholars alike.


Today this was inspired in me.
1 John 2 :9-11
9Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.


How can we be blind by the darkness?
How can we claim to love God but hate man? How can we speak badly about others yet claim to live in the Light??


You can't. No excuse for it. You can't justify it. You can't talk yourself into it.
You may have yourself fooled that what you do is right, but in the end there is One Judge, one Juror, and only one Great Decider.


It's not mine to decide. But can you really read those words and interpret it in a way to justify your hatred, anger and harsh words??? I'd love to hear it if you can. I'd love to hear anyone justify living in the darkness but claiming to walk in the Light.


Its one thing to be imperfect, its another to act pious and above reproach.
And we wonder why the unbelievers call the Christians hypocrites.... 

21 July 2010

A STORY OF HOPE



In the Summer of 2002, just after college graduation, I flew to Jamaica with a church group from Raleigh, NC to work for a week on a church, do some bible school stuff, and have fellowship. It was an amazing trip that really touched my life in ways I am probably still now realizing. 

I grew up rather well off. I would probably consider my life upper middle class, but what do I know. To this day I have no idea what my father makes for a living, but I do know that I was never in need. I might have wanted things, but that was just my parents doing an excellent job at teaching me values and work ethic and that i can't be handed everything.

I'm supposed to be going to bed right now and rightfully so i should, but i am just now inspired to write, and so I shall. Aside from farm life where the houses had huge yards, nice gardens, and no cable TV, and the one trip i made into Mexico as a kid, I had no idea how the rest of the world lived. We, as Americans, are quite naive as to our socioeconomic status. We have everything in super size, bulk size, and enough for months and months, but yet we live in want. We want more and more. We are plagued by ourselves and our greed. The rest of the world, they want food in their stomachs, a roof over their head, and clothes over their bodies, and maybe will rest assured that they will get the same thing the next day. They count every single blessing and remain positive and optimistic through all trials.

In May of 2002, it was quite a rainy time in Saint Annes Bay, Jamaica. Days and days it rained as we built this fellowship hall for the church.  One of the young women, who had recently had a baby, was living in a tiny home, and i'll describe in detail. It had a double mattress and a single mattress, and just enough room to walk through. That was it. And on top of that, inside the home lived, her mother, her grandmother, her 2 brothers, her 2 nephews, oh, and a new baby probably about 6 months old.

Because of all the rain, the home was absolutely flooded so they had to put everything on top of the beds to keep them dry. The dirt behind their home, where they typically cooked their dinner, was too flooded and wet to eat, and they shared among them, a granola bar that i had in my bag. Trying to get a little nourishment, while thinking of the other. But they were full of so much Joy and Love and Hope and Faith. I think had a typical American been in that position, we would complain and gripe, we would expect our handout. I don't know really. I'm so blessed and fortunate that I was born here in the US, and not in a mostly third world nation.

I never understood why my soccer coach, a former member of the Jamaican National Team always told me, "Sloan, don't go to Jamaica there are much better places to go" At that moment, as my heart broke for this family that was getting by with shelter and clothes and very little food, just then, i realized why he said this.

My life was never the same after that. I go in spurts. I can easily get caught up in being an American and living the Big Life. I have way too many things and I honestly have been trying to give my things away.  When i left Jamaica to come back to the states, I left a large amount of things behind. I kept my favorite worn out clothes, but i left things i knew i didn't need and that i knew would bless someone elses life.
One of my favorite parts of that trip was waking up early every morning, playing my WOW Gospel CD and working in the kitchen with the women that prepared breakfast for us every day. I think it meant a lot to them too, that i wanted to help and just be in their presence. You see, i believe you can't really go to another country and really experience it, until you experience the people. The things that really count. I left that CD with them and often think about the songs, and hope that they are still being blessed by the gifts that God has given them. Such great examples of happy faithful people who have so little but possess so much. I could very well give it all away and walk away and be happy. You just never know, that might just happen one of these days.

And i think its time for me to do it again, at least in spurts. I hesistate to donate to Goodwill. They "sell" their clothes and give you a tax writeoff. I want to give my clothes to someone who really needs them, Who cannot even afford to buy them and who really would allow me to be a blessing to them. Because I was so fortunate to be born on American soil. I realize why the Filipina woman that gave me a bath in Bahrain asked me to bring her back to the US (and she was NOT kidding at all). We really have it so good. Air conditioning in our stores, our public places, stores, malls, bus stations, airports, homes. A land of plenty, even if right now we have less than before, we still certainly have plenty.


Lorraine aka Hope and I made a great connection, and then i lost touch with her. I moved and didn't have her number. Several times i went online to find her, but never succeeded. tonight was different. I found her. And I am thrilled to reconnect.

That's all for tonight. i'm really in trouble now, its way past my bedtime.

Tonight, I was moved by my memories and the realization that I am so incredibly blessed, and i do want to make a difference in the world, even if just to one person. Remembering that by reconnecting is a great start. God uses people to reach others. To remind us of who we really are, and not who the world has told us we are, but the true person that God has made us to be. I need to hold onto this with all my might. To give away the greed and desire to have more and more.... and just be. Its almost time to make that move. Its time to get ready, that is for sure.

Ricky is still in Cali and i'll be joining him soon. Everyone I talked to was so excited to tell me about their day and they are looking forward to my arrival, even planning out our time. I sent them a package that they will receive tomorrow. I absolutely LOVE my new family, they are all so wonderful and I'm very excited to see where God will lead us next. God has been faithful, even when i wasn't. Isn't it time to give back?

19 July 2010

Red Eyes and Good Guys

My husband is an amazing man. He is also amazing under pressure. At times where I would freak out or panic, he keeps his cool and prays. And it always does work out anyways doesn't it? No matter how we react or behave.

I have been in the Bay area of Northern California for the last 4 days. Ricks parents live out there. The view from their living room and front porch is amazing!

I flew back to RDU today. I left SFO last night. Rick drove me to the airport. Once we got there we realized that the trunk wouldn't open. We had taken the Valet key and once we put it into the ignition, the computer told it not to open. We tried and tried, so finally we called Ricks father to come out and bring the master key.  We ran to the US airways counter to get my ticket and explain my case, while rick waited outside for his dad to arrive. The Airline guy said that they were boarding in 15 minutes and if we got back in time with my bag, he would help me get on the plane. So we ran back to where Rick was waiting on his dad, anxiously and nervously. Of course while we waited, the little photographer took a few pics of us. He was even directing, and the third shot you see, was his idea.


So my father in law, Don finally arrived. We opened the trunk, grabbed the bag, thanked him graciously, and quickly ran to the elevators, down to the first floor, across the parking garage, across the moving sidewalks, up the 2 escalators, to the US Airways counter, and the man escorted me to the front of the very long security line, 30 minutes before my flight was set to depart. He cut me in line, took me to the front of the xray machine, and wished me safe travels. I think the hundreds of people behind me were grumbling, but it really wasn't my fault. Silly Valet keys and thank God for Don and the USAir guy! As soon as i put my shoes back on i hear, BYE JENNI! it was rick and he had a little person on his shoulders and they were waving at me madly!! They were waiting that entire time just to tell me goodbye. What a great guy! And i would had never seen him had he not had someone on his shoulders. And I yelled to them that i loved them and they said goodbye and i looked back several times, all of which they were still there, watching and waving. It made me tear up to know how loved I am, but i was running late and had to look back one more time and then start running to my gate... I made it to my gate just as they boarded the last of the passengers. I slept the entire flight and we arrived in Charlotte at 545AM. Sadly, my flight to RDU was delayed. I waited for 3 hours to board what should've been arriving at 830 rather than 1030... I came home and slept and went to work. What a day. I prefer the redeye because it gives me a whole day in Cali (we went to San Francisco) BUT the downside is sleeping on the plane and having to start the day when you arrive. Unless you're like me. I went home and slept. Went to work later. Talked to Rick again and some wonderful boys it was cute that they wanted to get on the phone. Having a three way conversation was quite interesting really. Then i came home to skype. They went to a movie and i stayed home. Work tomorrow and i'm beat. Only a few more days until i head back to California. I can't wait!

13 July 2010

Taking Rick to the farm


Rick sure does love pork... These piglets will be ready by Christmas I think... :)

08 July 2010

Carolina on my Mind

My vacation ended a little short. I never made it to San Francisco. Maybe i'll make it out there in August or September... one of these days... but for now, its a long story. I'll save it for another time after the storm blows over.
Every minute with Rick is like a honeymoon, so we are having a fabulous time.
I'm back to work today and Rick will hang with the girls. Our life is great. No matter what.
I'm sitting in the eye of a hurricane just waiting.
Back in NC. Time to work.

07 July 2010

My daddy

My dad and I are so much alike. With the exception of me being a bit more laid back than him, I have his total personality. I think that difference comes with the different upbrinings. He was raised by a Naval Captain who fought in WWII, I was raised by the son of a Naval Captain. And we look so much alike. I mean check this picture out.

This is the one i really wanted to post for Fathers Day. I had a horrible relationship with my dad for a few years, mainly from high school and a bit on. I mean it wasn't THAT bad, but in my head it was. And if i could take it all back i would. If i could do it over again. But , he made rules that i didn't care for. I saw rules as his hatred for me and my having fun. But I'm an adult now. I see it all differently. I wonder if my dad ever reads this... because over and over i find myself telling my father how sorry I am for how horrible I was to him. You know, life is so short. You really never know when it will end and you have to make the most of every opportunity. Like the flash of a light, it can just end. But no matter how horrible I was to my dad, he never gave up on me. He was always there. Cheering me on. Supporting me. Loving me.  
I think thats what its about. Unconditional love. I never deserved the love he gave me. Not after the way I behaved towards him. I said some really mean hurtful things, but he chose to love me anyways. Because my dad is a real man. A man full of honor and integrity. He is the most respectable person I know, and I think others around him know this about him. He works hard, he gets it done, and he tells the truth. He is a real man. And because of that which he modeled before me (oh mom was exquisite as well but that is another blog for another day), because of them, I became a real woman. And now that I'm a woman, I can see the truth, that my teenage angst blinded me from.  But my dad really did love me and he really was my number one fan ( i mean he did show up to nearly every single soccer game i've ever played in with the exception of Maine and NY and a few in Virginia)... So dad, i know i said it on Sunday a week ago, but i felt so compelled to write this again. Because the amount of support and love that you've given me, I am who i am. And though I don't believe i'll ever be able to return even a fraction, i'll continue to try my best to make you proud of me through a life well lived through honor, integrity, hard work and a strong sense of family. Everything modeled by you for me.  I felt compelled to write for you tonight dad, so here's to you. I love you a million billion times!


06 July 2010

The Calm Before the Storm

Ever notice how right before a storm it gets really quiet? I always wonder, is that mother natures way of preparing itself for the impending doom, torture and destruction
There are always signs of what is to come. Birds disappear. The sky turns green. Clouds roll in and quietly everything grows dark. We all brace ourselves. The grass and trees even seem to deepen their roots, fighting to stand their ground. But the stillness of the air, as it suddenly grows stagnant and stale. Everything stops, time stands still, and then it strikes. One drop of rain then another, and suddenly you can't see more than inches as the rain comes down in sheets.

People living in California don't really know about our storms. Thunder and lightening are scarce as is the rain. But here in the south we get rain. Buckets of rain. Floods. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Green skies. House shaking booms of thunder. The crack of lightening as it hits a target.We know these things all too well.
There's always a calm before the storm. Question is, are you ready for it to strike?

05 July 2010

houston.... again?

Im in Houston again. Rick and I have some business to deal with here. Yeah. thats what i'm calling it. Business.

So last night, we had this awesome night planned. We booked a suite downtown Houston very close to the Largest Land Based Fireworks display in the country.  At least that is what they claimed. It was beautiful and totally awesome. And we could walk quickly from our hotel to get there so we avoided the cluster of traffic that pervaded the streets. Yeah, i said pervaded.

We walked to the fireworks, grabbed a late dinner and had an amazing time. The song playing in my head right now is "aint nothin gonna break my stride, cant  nobody slow me down oh no, i got to keep on moving" Here's what i mean



This morning we had room service breakfast, totally, comped, at 730. It was romantic and wonderful. We get along so well and are really best friends in the world. Today rick and i worked together to show our awesome teamwork skills. We have great attitudes about our life together and are having so much fun. Rick has a beautiful home in Spring Texas, outside of town. I'll spare the details but lets just say a dude skipped town and rent and probably lived in filth for a long time. We decided to make the most of today and cleaned the master suite and bathroom. we have such amazing attitudes and we are so positive. ITs so nice to be with someone so positive and optimistic. Having all aces in your hand helps. My life actually has a running soundtrack playing as i live.  As we were cleaning this disgusting filth, I started humming, subconsciously and didn't realize until rick started singing along. You are my Sunshine. It was cute. We are so perfect, but i digress. I want to say,  Some people are idiots. Some are jerks. Some are lazy. Some are greedy. Some are cocky, like the song says. Some people think they have the world in their hands. I'd like to think in the end, Good Prevails. Innocence wins. The naive are vindicated and Life is good.