Saturday, November 12, 2005

Today, temptation is great to address the disappointment I feel regarding the Jordan bombings and this country's response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Terrorists continue to prove they are still alive, well, and very powerful. The billions of U.S. dollars devoted to reducing this global threat seem grossly misappropriated at this point. Likewise, drastic cuts in the FEMA budget funding a few years ago partially explain why the entity is understaffed and subsequently slow to provide adequate assistance to the many Texas cities charged with placing its New Orleans guests into housing. And why was their budget cut? Interestingly enough, it was cut to form the Department of Homeland Security which is supposed to provide improved oversight of both the country's homeland and international security! The two issues presented here is conclusive evidence Homeland Security is doing neither.

I am also tempted to complain about the recent decision that FEMA will pay for the distribution of absentee voter ballots to New Orleans residents in preparation for the Feb 2006 mayoral election. How absurd! First, they can't seem to find these folks. Second, they don't have enough money now to adequately serve Hurricane Katrina victims in Mississippi much less Hurricane Rita victims in East Texas.

Then something occurred to me during my commute from work yesterday. If there is difficulty getting these folks housing in Houston and Dallas areas and if there is also great concern that citizens will not re-populate in the city to reasonably hold an election, how about taking a hard look at ways to get them back home? After all, the majority of these folks had to be bused out of the city to escape the storm because they lacked transportation. What makes the government believe they miraculously have transportation to get home now???? As the saying goes: "Common sense is not so common." Moreover, people might be more interested in rebuilding the city if arrangements for temporary housing were made in N.O. to support families returning home!

OK, I won't belabor these troublesome issues any longer. I do have Noble News to report.
The State of Michigan has made great strides this month in empowering America's youth.

First, Kalamazoo, Michigan is the latest recipient of a lotto-sized donation. Anonymous donors pledged to pay for a 4-year education to every senior who graduates from the town's high school for the next twelve years. Free tuition to every graduate, every year for twelve years! The benefits for such a pledge are astounding:
  1. Children will be more excited about education;
  2. Students will be more motivated to learn so they can attend college;
  3. Lower and middle-class families now have options for advancing their family's educational capital without the strain of negotiating financing to do so;
  4. New families interested in taking advantage of the offer will move into town;
  5. Students will be excited and encouraged to come home and give back even more;
  6. As these students come home, they will start businesses and spark employment growth;

...and the list goes on.

What a creative way to revive a community! I look forward to hearing of more "neighbor-minded donors" who will do this in their respective areas of influence. After all, we ARE our brothers' keeper and in spite of all the naysayers, I do believe that God has given us sufficient resources to make the world a better place for all. There really is no justifiable basis for the haves and the have nots.

Second, the small town of Hillsdale, MI (population 8,400) elected a local high school senior as its next city mayor! This young man was 17 at the time of the May filing to have his name printed on the ballot so he ran the election as a write-in candidate. He earned money through a summer job to run his campaign. And this November he was successful in this efforts to win the city's lead administrative post! Who would have thought it could be possible? I've always dreamed of leading my small Texas town to greatness after I got age, education and accomplishment on my side. But this young man didn't hesitate to launch out and make a difference today.

What does this say about this young man's mindset? What does this endeavor say about his upbringing and parental support? Can America's new generation of youth really make a difference? I am encouraged to see the faith and will of this student, and I believe God is not finished using our children to direct this country's focus back where is should family and to our neighbors.

Los ninos traen la luz al mundo.

Happy Holidays,
Reina Proverbial

Thursday, October 06, 2005

My comments are very simple tonight...Donald Trump births "The Apprentice" and BET births "The Ultimate Hustler".

When a friend called to inform me of the newest BET reality show, I immediately responded that I would never waste my time watching such trash. I know that statement appears closeminded, but I have a huge problem with BET's shallow programming as of recent. The network is clearly targeting a hip-hop population that I am having trouble identifying with. This culture by my estimation has lofty dreams of building Rome in a day yet lacks interest in learning life principles of decency and respect that historically have been instrumental in sustaining long-term success.

As I see it, the problem with this new work is by its very title, the show implies and espouses a business methodology for success that may be attained in some way other than noble means.
My friend argued that I am overreacting. After all, the show's objectives are similar to The Apprentice's, where business theory is innovatively applied to solve some organizational dilemma. Maybe so...I'm a little tired to debate tonight. But even if I had more energy, I still believe BET execs could have launched a better program that suggested that Black America, too, can operate with class and responsible leadership to realize great business plans.

Espero a ver como mi cultura responde. Americanos negros tienen mucho a dar este pais.


Monday, September 19, 2005

As you may know, I have spent numerous hours over the past few weeks working with Hurricane Katrina victims from New Orleans. I am grateful for the opportunity God has given me to contribute in this effort, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of God's grace in each family's life that I have worked with. As one often anxious to view desperate and destitute situations from a spiritual viewpoint, I found the following Max Lucado's message both interesting and worthy of post on this page. Let me know your thoughts.

Somos una familia en los ojos del Senor Alto.

What Katrina Can Teach Us
September 10-11, 2005
(Special message preached at Oak Hills Church by Max Lucado)

Who would have thought we would ever hear this phrase spoken on a radio news
report in America: "Today, about 25,000 refugees were moved from the Superdome in
New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston." For days, we’ve watched the tragedy continue to unfold in Mississippi and Louisiana and, if you are like me, you’ve wrestled with feelings of shock and disbelief…feelings that, over the last five years, have become all too familiar.

We were barely into the new millennium when we saw towers falling in New York
City and planes crashing into the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania farmland.
We saw bombs over Baghdad and witnessed the ancient land of Abraham become a
war zone for his descendants. You’d think we had seen enough, but then came the
tsunami--a roaring wave that sucked life and innocence out to sea.
And now the fruits of Katrina. A city sitting in twenty feet of water. Citizens hacking
their way onto roofs and helicopters hovering over neighborhoods. Optimistic rescuers,
opportunistic looters, grateful people, resentful people—we have seen it all.
And many have seen it up close. Katrina came to San Antonio in the form of 12,500
evacuees. Many of you are meeting them, feeding them, writing checks, and manning
shifts. And you, as much as any, have reason to wonder…What is going on here? 9/11,
Iraq, tsunami, Katrina. And I didn’t mention nor intend to minimize Hurricanes Dennis and
Ivan and Emily.

Jesus criticized the leaders of his day for focusing on the weather and ignoring the
signals: "You find it easy enough to forecast the weather—why can't you read the signs of
the times?" Matthew 16:2-3 (MSG). What are we to learn from all of this? Is God sending us a message? I think so. And, I think we’d be wise to pay attention. There are some spiritual lessons that I think God would want us to learn through this tragedy. The first lesson we see is…

I. The Nature of Possessions: Temporary
As you’ve listened to evacuees and survivors, have you noticed their words? No one
laments a lost plasma television or submerged SUV. No one runs through the streets
yelling, "My cordless drill is missing" or "My golf clubs have washed away." If they mourn, it
is for people lost. If they rejoice, it is for people found.

Could Jesus be reminding us that people matter more than possessions? In a land
where we have more malls than high schools, more debt than credit, more clothes to wear
than we can wear, could Christ be saying: "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15)?

We see an entire riverboat casino washed up three blocks and placed on top of a
house in a neighborhood. You see demolished $40,000 cars that will never be driven
again, hidden in debris. And in the background of our minds we hear the quiet echoes of
Jesus saying, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his
soul?" (Matthew 16:26). Raging hurricanes and broken levees have a way of prying our fingers off the stuff we love. What was once most precious now means little; what we once ignored is now of eternal significance. A friend and I attended a worship service at Antioch Baptist Church last Sunday night. Several African American Church leaders had organized an assembly to pray for the evacuees that have ended up in San Antonio. Many of them sat on the front rows….
dressed in all the clothing they owned: t-shirts, jeans. Their faces were weary from the
week. But when the music started and the worship began, they came to their feet and sang
with tears in their eyes. They were rich.

Are you that rich? Were all your possession washed away, could you still worship? Would you still worship? If not, you are holding things too tightly:
"Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being so full of themselves and so
obsessed with money, which is here today and gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God,
who piles on all the riches we could ever manage—to do good, to be rich in helping
others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will last,
gaining life that is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19 MSG). Through Katrina, Christ tells us: stuff doesn’t matter; people do. Understand the nature of possessions. Be equally clear on:

II. The Nature of People: Sinners and Saints
We see the most incredible servants and stories of selflessness and sacrifice. We
see people of the projects rescuing their neighbors, we see civil servants risking their lives
for people they’ve never seen. My wife Denalyn and I toured a shelter supervised by one of
our neighbors here in San Antonio. We met a family of some twenty cousins and siblings.
One six-year-old girl told Denalyn about the helicopter man who plucked her off a third
story porch and lifted her to safety. That child will never know who that man is. He’ll never seek any applause. He saved her life… all in a day’s work. We saw humanity at its best. And we saw humanity at its worst.

Looting. Fighting. We heard stories of rapes and robberies. Someone said, "The
heavens declare the glory of God but the streets declare the sinfulness of man." The video
footage in New Orleans has confirmed the truthfulness of that quote. Can you imagine not
being able to sleep in the Superdome for fear that someone might try to rape your
daughter if she went to the restroom in the middle of the night?

We are people of both dignity and depravity. The hurricane blew back more than
roofs; it blew the mask off the nature of mankind. The main problem in the world is not
Mother Nature, but human nature. Strip away the police barricades, blow down the fences,
and the real self is revealed. We are barbaric to the core. We were born with a me-first mentality. You don’t have to teach your kids to argue. They don’t have to be trained to demand their way. You don’t have to show them how to stomp their feet and pout, it is their nature… indeed it is all of our nature to do so. "All of us have strayed like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own" (Isaiah 53:6).

God’s chosen word for our fallen condition has three letters- s-I-n. Sin celebrates
the letter in the middle. "I". Left to our own devices, we lead a godless, out of control life
of "…doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it" (Ephesians 2:3 MSG).
You don’t have to go to New Orleans to see the chaos. Because of sin, the husband
ignores his wife, grown men seduce the young. The young proposition the old. When you
do what you want and I do what I want, humanity and civility implodes.

And when the Katrinas of life blown in, our true nature is revealed and our deepest
need is unveiled: a need deeper than food, more permanent than firm levees. We need,
not a new system, but a new nature. We need to be changed from the inside out. Which
takes us to the third message of Katrina:

III. The Nature of God’s Grace: Inside Out
Much discussion revolves around the future of New Orleans. Will the city be restored?
Repaired? How long will it take? Who will pay for it? One thing is for certain: someone has
to clean her up.

No one is suggesting otherwise. Everyone knows, someone has to go in a clean up the
mess. That is what God offers to do with us. He comes into sin-flooded lives and washes
away the old. Paul reflected on his conversion and he wrote: "He gave us a good bath, and
we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5). Our
sins stand no chance against the fire hoses of God’s grace.

But he does more than cleanse us; he rebuilds us. In the form of his Holy Spirit, God
moves in and starts a complete renovation project. "God can do anything, you know—far
more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it
not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within
us." (Ephesians 3:20 MSG). And what we can only dream of doing with New Orleans, God has done with soul after soul, and he will do so with you, if you let him.

The most disturbing stories from the last week are of those who refused to be rescued.
Those who spent their final hours trapped in attics and rooms regretting the choice they’d
made. They could have been saved. They could have gotten out… but they chose to stay.
Many paid a permanent price.

You don’t have to pay that price. What rescuers did for people on the Gulf Coast, God
will do for you. He has entered your world. He has dropped a rope into your sin-swamped
life. He will rescue, you simply need to do what that little girl did, let him lift you out.
I mentioned my visit to Antioch Baptist Church last Sunday night. A local minister,
Pastor L. A. Williams gave a message on this one verse: "But Noah found grace in the eyes
of the Lord…" (Gen. 6:8).

The minister helped us see all the things Noah could not find because of the flood. He
could not find his neighborhood. He could not find his house. He could not find the
comforts of home or the people down the street--there was much he could not find. But
what he could find made all the difference. Noah found grace in the eyes of God. If you have everything and no grace, you have nothing. If you have nothing but grace, you have everything.

Have you found grace? If not, I urge you to do what that little girl told us she did.
When the rescuer appeared on her porch, she grabbed him, closed her eyes, and held on.
That’s all you need to do. And if you never have, and would like to, I urge you to reach for
the hand of your rescuer, Jesus Christ. Your Redeemer lives, too. This hurricane was his tool to get your attention. Trust in Him while you still can.

The Will of God will never take you to where the Grace of God will not PROTECT you.
Be Blessed in the Lord!

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A warm welcome back to my blog friends! Time and responsibility have kept me away, I can't believe....almost thirty days! However, I'm elated to update you on my latest find in the pursuit of nobility. I heard about this one on CNN....

The cloud:
There really isn't one. This is all good.

The silver lining:

NY Jets head coach Herman Edwards hosted his 10th annual youth football camp this summer in the military ghost town of Monterey Bay, California. More than 800 children from all walks of life attended the free week-long camp to have fun and better their skills in the great sport of football. College and Pro athletes volunteered their time with the children instilling best practices of football and exhibiting leadership by exposing these youth to new ideas and experiences. Even Coach Edwards' pregnant wife came to California to assist with camp's administrative responsibilities. Edwards, also known as Camp Commissioner, planned a camp Super Bowl of sorts where youth engage in friendly competition while learning drills, all-star plays and chants, and getting pep talks from their trainers.

This story, while seemingly quite simplistic when written, brought me to tears emotionally. The commitment of Herman Edwards is much needed yet very rare in this overly materialistic and self-indulgent society we call America. As you can see from previous entries, I am utterly repulsed by selfishness. Why? Because no matter how independent you think your decisions are from the world, each one of them has consequences within the broader scheme of life and communities indirectly reap the consequences of those choices.

Allow me to digress momentarily to address this line of thought that decisions indirectly impact communities. Take 3rd Ward in Houston for example. This area has been commonly inhabited by lower income citizens existing within moderate to sub-moderate means. Recently, some hot shot investors bought up a bunch of land and began building $300K-500K properties in the heart of the district, leading to a sharp increase in its overall property value. Now some would celebrate the business decision. The most common praise is that property value will increase dramatically, leading to revitalization and other new expansion projects in the inner city. But within this macroeconomic review of the new developments, many have failed to remember the countless families who have recently lost their homes in this very area due to sharp increases in property taxes. Little thought was given to sustaining these long-time residents other than possibly how to drive them out so further land acquistion can take place.

So I'm extremely enthusiastic when I hear of the Herman Edwards' of our communities who, rather than gloat in excess and showboat their wealth, use it instead to showcase the talent and potential in others. Herman Edwards, in effect, proclaimed during a banquet speech that life is not about what jobs and accomplishments you had but about relationships and how those were managed. In my opinion, Herman Edwards is a prime example of nobility and thus, he and his wife receive my Medal of Nobility & Honor today.

Herman Edwards, un ejemplo para el mundo.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The cloud:
My friend and her husband had an argument. In my observation, this is a very rare occurrence because they are both understanding by nature and very much in love with each other. They participate in many activities together and typically agree when it comes to childrearing, financial, employment, and spiritual decisions. Without belaboring the minutiae of what initiated the fight, suffice it to say the two had very different agendas for a weekend, and when they didn't come to an immediate understanding about each other's expectations, the "cold shoulder syndrome" ensued and raged on for an entire weekend.

The silver lining:
They've made up and they're back on track. In my friend's own words -- The moral of the story is "lack of communication and selfishness led to the disagreement. Instead of us talking about it first, he decided to make the decision on his own, and instead of giving him the freedom to [handle the matter in his own way], I was being selfish. He pretty much knows 'if it's not all about me' then I will have a problem with it, but I am also an understanding person and I do have a heart. He just didn't give me the opportunity to demonstrate that. Just sharing the fact that nothing's perfect."

Now I am not going to front and say that I'm always the most understanding person because I'm not. Sometimes I, too, am selfish and uninterested in anyone's agenda other than my own. And to makes matters worse, it's usually during those selfish moments that I am least motivated to verbally communicate my needs. But this instance reminds me yet again that a happy and successful marriage is a work in progress. Two people don't just meet and become cosmically likeminded once the wedding vows are exchanged. Marriage requires, among other things, love, patience and a committment to one another to survive stormy moments in the relationship. I believe couples usually enter a covenant with plenty of love and a necessary amount of patience to start a new life together. However, in my observation, committment is the most difficult to define and use within the context of marriage. Perhaps this is because in the world's eye, most committments come with contingencies where there is always an option to walk away when we do not get our way.

But are we [we being the Generation X'ers] fully equipped and prepared to face marriage with an unwavering resolve to work toward solutions even when we can't get our way? This is the basis of mediation, a skill I thankfully learned in high school. In my training, I learned that mediation means parties agree to find mutual satisfaction and compromise in the event of a disagreement.

I applaud my friend for displaying nobility to forgive her husband when he faltered. What's more, she went beyond finding fault in him. She determined that she, too, played a part in the dissolution of the marital communication lines and ultimately their special weekend. As a woman very interested in discovering these subtle acts of nobility, I'm encouraged to see women born in my era walking in the way of the Proverbs 31 woman, where her husband and children will rise and call her blessed. This gives me hope that the moral fabric of American women has not completely unraveled.

Amor verdadero se vive despues del tempesto mas violento.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Cloud:
Today brought tragedy for the citizens of London, England. During the early morning hours, the city was rocked by at least 6 bombings within their mass transit system. Officials have confirmed at least 37 dead and over 700 wounded. It seems obvious this was a terroristic plot to cultivate fear and desolation in Europe. Although not yet corroborated, the Group of al Qaeda of Jihad Organization in Europe claimed responsibility for the bombings in a Web site posting.

The Silver Lining:
I'm sure you are wondering how anyone can find a silver lining in this tragedy so early on. After all, a mass murder has been committed, and police have not yet identified any individual(s) to hold accountable for this heinous crime. However, let me challenge your mind to recognize noble acts that are already occurring in response to this tragedy. First, police and emergency response teams in London rushed to render security and medical assistance to the injured. These brave men and women performed their jobs while perhaps unconsciously risking their own lives since no one knew when and where the bombings would end. Moreover, during British Prime Minister Tony Blair's speech, we witnessed solidarity among world leaders attending the G8 convention as each of them stood in support and shared Minister Blair's resolve to protect values of world peace and democracy. And most beautiful of all, the world has responded to this tragedy with sincere sympathy and concern. News teams are quickly capturing the prayers and encouragement of people across the globe who offer their thoughts, prayers, and condolences to the victims.

Nobility means possessing a high moral quality to be sympathetic when other experience hurt, regardless of personal involvement or non-involvement. Nobility means being resolute in protecting your country from the extremism that terrorists threaten to impose on the world. Tony Blair, like President Bush in the days of September 11th, must oversee the tremendous task of investigating and locating the perpetrators of the violence we witnessed today while simultaneously rebuilding the city and encouraging citizens not to subscribe to fear and defeat.

Today, I pray God grants Minister Blair all the tools necessary to perform his required duties, and I thank God for allowing me to witness that nobility sees no color, nationality, or religion. It can be exhibited in people from all walks of life.
Se llama Al SeƱor.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Cloud:
Ethiopia, a country of 70 million, has more than 5 million orphans whose parents are lost to famine, disease, war and AIDS — a catastrophe the government has said is "tearing apart the social fabric" of the east African nation. Caring for these children costs $115 million a month in a country whose annual health budget is reported at only $140 million.

The Silver Lining:
In 2003, a record 1,400 Ethopian children were adopted from abroad, more than double the number in the previous year. Agencies charge fees of around $20,000 per child, a relatively inexpensive fee compared to many other countries. The number of private adoption agencies in Addis Ababa, the capital, has doubled in the past year to 30. Perhaps this upsurge in Ethiopian adoptions is a sign that the concept of global citizenship prevails. Committing your money to an orphan is one very important step; committing your life and energies to raising an orphan as your own is a more significant and lasting gift.

After adopting Cambodian son Maddox roughly three years ago, I read today that American actress Angelina Jolie filed a request last week to adopt an Ethopian girl. Her request was approved and she will take custody of little Zahara Marley Jolie, less than one year old, sometime this week. Why is this touching? I saw an interview with Ms. Jolie recently and as she reminisces about her experiences abroad, she celebrates her heightened awareness of human need across the globe. Having abroad experiences of my own, I understand her new-found sensitivity and desire to respond to those needs.

The fact is we all have opportunities to give, but only a person whose heart is tenderized to the broken social frameworks in other countries will feel an intense motivation to do so. Nobility can be exemplified in many ways and certainly being warmhearted and charitable are at the top of my list. Ms. Jolie saw a need and acted to remedy it -- something many unfortunately never do.
Gracias y bravo, Senorita Jolie!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;

but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Prov. 31:30). Posted by Picasa
A friend started blogging recently and invited me to witness his (now public) pursuit of self-discovery and healing. Although his journey seemed challenging, it simultaneously appeared refreshing and uplifting, and I felt compelled to follow suit. So I have started this blog entitled "Nobility Brings Rewards"; its premise is found in the Holy Bible -- Proverbs 31:10-31.

In the wake of America's newest fad to celebrate scandals, selfish pursuits, and reality shows, I have found that living a life of nobility is rarer than ever and brings one little appreciation among peers and "in the city gates". Therefore, I desire to use this space to document and give credit to acts of nobility I witness every day. Besides my sincere efforts to be a virtuous woman, there are other rarae aves in this world who share my resolve to make this world a better place to live and love. So as much as I can capture, they will get recognition here.

Call it a protest if you must, but I refuse to continue praising selfishness and other ungodly behavior and have chosen instead to honor those things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. After all, our God promises His peace to those who think on these things (Phillipians 4:8-9), and I want peace now and for the rest of my life. Many ask how do we achieve world peace? The solution begins closer to home than you think - in our minds. [For] as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.

Always [because I'd like to think I'll always be me],