The Blood

Gas. Food. Tuition. It seems like the price of everything is going up (except my paycheck). The premium for my health insurance will also be increasing this year. My employer has provided an incentive to get a health assessment, and premiums will remain the same for those who complete a biometric screening. I made an appointment and had 3 small tubes of blood drawn. Not more than 2 weeks later I received a 17 page packet in the mail with my results. I was amazed at how much information could be acquired from blood alone like total cholesterol, iron, electrolytes, glucose, creatinine, triglycerides, and so much more.

 

I didn’t pay much attention in anatomy (or any of my science classes), so I looked up a few things about blood. There are four types of human blood: A, B, AB, and O. These were identified in 1901, by Dr. Karl Landsteiner. The universal donor is O- meaning it can be given to any blood type. The universal recipient is AB+ meaning it can be received by any blood type. Not all creatures are alike. Cats have 11 blood types, and cows have more than 800. Our blood is red because of the presence of iron in the hemoglobin. Crabs have blue blood due to copper, and leeches have green blood due to chlorocruorin. It is false that blood is blue until exposed to oxygen. Veins only look bluish because of the surrounding tissues. Blood has oxygen in it, so the previous theory makes no sense.

 

As Easter approaches I can’t help but think of the importance of the blood of Jesus Christ. His blood has some unique properties of its own. It covers (1 John 2:2), cleanses (Revelation 1:5), and consecrates (Hebrews 10: 19-20). As I mentioned earlier, red blood cells deliver oxygen throughout the body and remove waste, but Christ’s blood delivers and forgives us of sin. Mathew 26:28 reads, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Remission means pardon, freedom, deliverance, and forgiveness. White blood cells defend the body against infections and diseases similar to how Christ’s blood protects us against the enemy. Revelation 12:11 reads, “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.”

the blood

In observance of Easter I’m reminded that I have access to God through my faith in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. In the old testament people had to bring their offering and sacrifice to a high priest to make atonement for their sins, but Christ’s crucifixion allows everyone to have a personal relationship with Him (Ephesians 2:13, Hebrews 10:19). I don’t have to let the guilt of past transgressions consume me into thinking I’m not good enough, holy enough, saved enough, or “Christian” enough. God doesn’t forgive the way people do. People will say they forgive you but bring up your past just as quick. The word says in Psalms 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.

 

Blood represents life (Leviticus 17:11). I thank God for the life of Christ including his death that sanctioned man’s redemption. His life saved mine.

Wiggidy Wiggidy Whack Lyrics

Lore'l

Even at the age of 13, I knew lyricism was on the decline in 1999. One sunny day while riding in the car with my dad I heard The Thong Song by Sisqo for the first time. Rap gets a bad rep, but bad lyrics show no favoritism between genres of music. I understand that artists (and I use that term loosely) don’t always write their own songs, but how can one co-sign such garbage? On a recent episode of Love and Hip Hop New York (don’t judge me), rapper Lore’l didn’t feel comfortable about Mandentures’ Consequence’s line of their duo which offended brown skinned women. I applaud her standing for her conviction and wish more would follow Lore’l’s lead. There are too many to list, but these are just a few of the rhymes I’ve heard that make little to no sense. [Note: The names in bold belong to the singer/rapper of the verse.]

1. “She got a big booty so I call her Big Booty.” Birthday Song by 2 Chainz, 2012.

Really, dude? There were no other metaphors you could use to demean her?

2. “Girl, take pride in what you wanna do/ Even if that means a new man every night inside of you.” Remember You by Wiz Khalifa ft/ The Weekend, 2012.

A woman should take pride in being promiscuous? In the equally appalling words of Nicki, “You a stupid hoe.”

3. “I don’t know if this makes sense, but you’re my hallelujah/ Give me a time and place and I’ll rendezvous, and I’ll fly you to it.” As Long As You Love Me by Justin Bieber ft/ Big Sean, 2012.

You’re right. That doesn’t make any sense.

4. “Real G’s move in silence like lasagna.” Six Foot Seven Foot by Lil Wayne ft/ Young Gunz, 2011.

You’re right Weezy, Tunechi, Grand Master Gremlin or whatever you call yourself these days. The g in the word lasagna isn’t pronounced, but what does pasta have to do with gangsters? Is that their favorite dish? I like mine with garlic bread. Does that make me a gangster too?

5. “You gay as f*** bruh, you sweeter than a lemon man/ LBG stand for lil b**** in the game.” F*** Bow Wow by Soulja Boy, 2009.

I have three problems with this bubble gum lyric. First of all, lemons are sour not sweet. Secondly, stop trying to diss someone by questioning their sexuality. That’s their business and should be of no concern to you. Lastly, the acronym you should be referencing for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered community is LGBT.

6. “Witch, twitch, b****! M*****f****n right this is World War 6.” Roman Holiday by Nicki Minaj, 2012. In the same song, “Come all ye faithful/ Joyful and triumphant/ I am Roman Zolanski.”

I’m no history buff, but how did I miss World Wars 3, 4, and 5? And why is there an excerpt from a Christian hymnal included? One of those personalities needs to get a grip.

7. “Thirty eight revolve like the sun round the Earth/ Try to play hard get you found round the dirt.” It’s Hot (Some Like It Hot) by Jay-Z, 1999.

Someone was obviously snoozing when his science teacher reviewed the solar system. Earth orbits around the sun.

8. “I’ll treat you like milk; I’ll do nothing but spoil you.” Sunshine by Lil Flip ft/ Lea, 2004.

Are you going to spoil me as in do whatever I want you to (which would make you a punk), or are you going to let me sit in a refrigerator and not think of me again until I expire? If it’s the former, what does milk want anyway? I’m thoroughly confused and don’t like either option.

9. “So tell me baby/ There’s no need to lie/ Why you sleepin with your eyes closed/ Wanna talk, alright yo.” Get on the Bus by Destiny’s Child ft/ Timbaland, 1998.

Besides vampires, who doesn’t sleep with their eyes closed?

10. “If you don’t bring back my m*****f****n money or my m*****f****n dope/ You can forget about Christmas n***a cause you ain’t gon even see New Years.” Do You Know by Fiend ft/ Master P and Mystikal, 2009.

Somebody get this man a calendar because he (and no one with him) knew that Christmas comes before New Years.

11. “Young, black, and famous with money hanging out the anus.” Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down by Diddy ft/ Mase, 1997.

That sounds uncomfortable. I know banks are paying close to zero on interest, but whatever happened to storing your stacks in a mattress?

12. “My paragraph alone is worth five mics (uh-huh)/ A twelve song LP, that’s thirty six mics (uh-huh).” Five Boroughs by KRS-One ft/ Redman (and many others), 1999.

Nuh-uh. The last time I checked five times twelve is sixty, so you’re a few mics short.

13. “Hated on so much/ Passion of Christ need a sequel.” My Life by The Game, 2008.

This is a common offense rappers and entertainers alike need to stop doing. Jesus lived a blameless life yet was crucified undeservingly, so you’re not surprised by the hate you receive. I get it. But you who are hated on for “getting money” by rapping about bad b*****s, killing snitches, and blowing riches should in no way be afforded the comparison to our Lord and Savior. Stop it.

Now Hiring

Notice: I apologize to any Millenial reading this post who may have a short attention span as some work will be required on your part to understand the gist of my subject. Please reference the hyperlinks.now hiring

 

If you take a close look at a job opening for RFMD as an RFIC & Module Design Engineer versus that of Wendy’s for a Crew Member, you’ll see some noticeable differences. On RFMD’s description alone it is slathered with acronyms most of us, including myself, don’t know the meaning of. There are also extensive requirements the average person would not have accomplished. Although both use colorful wording, Wendy’s solicitation of employment is shorter in length, does not require a unique skill set, high education level, or prior training. The summaries don’t specify compensation, but one can infer the pay isn’t as lucrative for the latter in comparison to the former.

 

I mention all of that to say this; the alleged relationship experts and gurus are wrong (and money hungry). They would have us believe we are in error for having high standards and dating would be so much easier if we’d just let our guard down. I’m not buying it. Dating would be easier for women if we weren’t so pressed to not be single.

 

If you consider yourself an H.B.I.C., then men opposed to dominant women with a lot of attitude pride need not apply. If you’re an outgoing adventure seeker, then homebodies need not apply. If your goal is to have a relationship whose end result is marriage, why are you accepting applications from part-timers?

 

We, ladies, talk that talk about knowing our worth and being priceless. If you’re priceless, you shouldn’t be looking for someone who can afford you but someone who understands you. *Spoiler Alert* There is a trade off. Once you decide what you want, don’t want, are willing to deal with, and are not willing to deal with there will be a long period of singledom. Why? Because your requests are going to narrow the pool of qualified applicants. How many employed, attractive, single, straight, no-baby-mama-drama men do you know your age that are willing to forgo sex before marriage?

 

Cricket. Cricket.

 

I have a friend in her mid-twenties who has never been in love or had a “real” boyfriend. It bothers her, but I told her like I’m telling you; you can be satisfied and single. I’m not talking about the women crying, “I don’t need a man,” neck roll and all. They’re egos are perverting the truth. No one, man or woman, should seek another person to complete him or her to make him or herself happy. Be real with who you are and what you have to bring to the table. Then wait. It may be months or years, but you must be willing to wait. Greatness doesn’t come overnight (or with a one night stand). I know that’s a hard pill to swallow in our fast food, instant grits society which is why patience really is a virtue. (I’m still working on it.) I’m not saying not to date proactively, but don’t water down the job description to fit someone else’s persona.

 

It’s about that time for a quarterly review. Take inventory of your relationships and fire anyone who does not provoke your potential. Delete. Unfriend. Deuces. Any way you slice it, “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!”

The Other Side of Customer Service

the other side of customer service 1

You order a “Number One” without pickles, but once you get home to devour your burger you find that it has pickles. You place your groceries on the checkout lane, but the cashier doesn’t make eye contact or greet you with a simple, “Hi. Did you find everything ok?” You call a place of business, but the receptionist answers, “Hello?” as if it’s a personal line. You walk into a retail store with a sales flyer seeking direction on an advertised offer, but the sales associate points in the direction of nowhere answering, “Over there.” You call your cable service provider to cancel the subscription. You think the bill is up to date but receive a letter in the mail weeks later for a $175 cancellation fee no one made you aware of. *coughs*Comcast*coughs* And don’t you dare think about calling a 1-800 number. Good luck speaking to someone who speaks good English post 3-5 transfers.

 

We’ve all been there. At some point (or many) we all experience bad customer service. Remember the phone call from the guy who tried to cancel his subscription with AOL? Or how about the delivery driver for FedEx who threw a customer’s television over the gate while he was home? I highly doubt either of them is still employed by those respective companies.

 

What about the flip side of the coin? There’s a saying in business that states the customer is always right, but anyone who has ever worked in the customer service industry knows that is not true.

 

Although I am a stockbroker* by title, I work for a discount firm who does not offer advice. Instead of managing portfolios, my position is more related to customer service by helping people navigate through the trading platforms, clarifying jargon and rules, and handling paperwork. What I didn’t know is that I would have to reset passwords (which can be done online i.e. “Forgot Password” link) for people who don’t know what a CAPS lock is. Sometimes I feel like I’m being Punk’d with some of the simple, self explanatory questions I get.

 

I don’t mind helping people, especially when they’re able to acknowledge they don’t know what they’re doing. The issue I have is with the know-it-alls who really don’t know what they’re talking about but insist, loudly mind you, that they do. And don’t hang up on me. That’s one of my pet peeves and is a surefire way to get me all the way turnt up. Yelling and screaming obscenities isn’t the best method in persuading someone to help you. After all, I do have access to your social security number, date of birth, and address. Am I the right person to piss off?

the other side of customer service 2

We’re told not to take it personal, but I admit to not having thick skin. I get tired of being nice to people who are not nice to me. HR forgot to mention in the job description: ability to manage asinine halfwits. I’d like to tell a few people to do the world a favor and play soccer with a brick barefooted in 5 o’clock traffic, but I can’t. My conscience and the presence of a recorded line won’t let me. I’m a firm believer that we reap what we sow, so I thank God for giving me the maturity to understand Exodus 14:14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. Peace, as in freedom from strife; not piece, as in your 9 mm pistol. Woo-sah.

 

I’d love to hear from you. What’s your worst customer service experience, or if you were on the receiving end, who had you up in arms at work? Be blessed and BREATHE.

 

*I have a series 7 and 63 license.

Kids Say the Darndest Things

I used to date a guy who went to the same gym as me. One day as I was leaving, he and some friends were just arriving. Someone from his job was also walking out of the gym and stopped to say hello. They made small talk briefly, and I was introduced to everyone. My son, Aaron, was probably three at the time. One of the ladies turned her attention to greet what she thought was a cute little boy until he blurted out, “Fuck you.” Needless to say I was mortified and beyond embarrassed.

kids say the darndest things

Though currently in remission, I used to have a potty mouth. Pray for my deliverance. One of my best friends and I still laugh to this day about the time my Cocker Spaniel ran out the door as she was leaving and my son yelled, “Bentley (the dog), get your ass back in this house.” I could hardly reprimand my little rascal because it was my fault. He hadn’t learned those words at daycare or from Dora and Diego. He was doing what kids do; following the example of those they look up to. The good news is when I stopped swearing so did he.

Our words hold a lot of power, and sometimes we don’t realize it until we hear what we ourselves have spoken through someone else’s voice.

There are a few series like VH1’s Behind the Music or TVOne’s Unsung which tell the story of a certain celebrity/entertainer. Specials like these will start from the beginning of that person’s childhood days. We see video footage and pictures of them acting in school plays, performing in recitals, singing with their church choir, auditioning at talent contests, and so on. My son is six, so it’s too early to tell, but I wonder what he’ll be when he grows up. He’s structured like his mother and a goof ball like his father. A comedian wouldn’t be farfetched.

Other than Aarons’ obscenities, he does a good job of making me laugh. There’s a McDonald’s right by our previous home that had closed for remodeling. When it reopened they put an inflatable Ronald McDonald on the top of the finished restaurant. One day on our way home we neared the curve right before you can see the McDonald’s and he told me to “get my eyes ready.” I guess he wanted me to know that a trip to the drive-thru was in order.

A while ago Aaron had been misbehaving in school. After reading one of the notes his teacher had sent home I threw away his Nintendo DS admonishing him it would not be retrieved until he started acting like he had some sense. The following Valentine’s Day he made me a card in school that read, “I love you but not like when you throw away my DS.” There’s no video footage for times like these (although I could exploit his antics on YouTube), but that day and numerous episodes like it prompted me to start a journal of the darndest things he says. He doesn’t have to reach Richard Pryor status for his words to have importance. I’m sure it will make a nice gift once he’s an adult; otherwise, I’ll keep it for my own amusement and memories.

Check Your Ego at the Door

Annie Lee's "Eb'Body Say Amen"

Annie Lee’s “Eb’Body Say Amen”

Last night I woke up around 2 a.m. and couldn’t will myself to go back to sleep. After lying in bed for an hour or more I hopped on the computer to check out some praise break videos on YouTube. When did they start doing this at weddings? Some saints are jukin and jiggin so hard that you catch the Spirit right along with them while others have you laughing out loud and shaking your head. This particular night was interesting though. Along with browsing through the various praise parties I read the comments section that accompanied them. They reminded me of Gandhi’s sentiment, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

As you can see in the video, it is being recorded by someone sitting in the front of the service and there are close-ups on the individuals in the Spirit (as church folk say). Some commenters are questioning the motive behind the posting of said participant’s movement. Is it to “showboat” or to spread the message of Jesus Christ? One’s query of objectives stemmed from the unprofessionalism of the video. Many ministries record their services. That is typically done from the back of the sanctuary with other cameras throughout but not with a smartphone.

Really dude? Has this become a conversation about what my church does versus other churches? If it isn’t like your church then it must not be right?

This is just silly. I have a Muslim friend who joked, “Christians are the first people to tell somebody they’re going to hell.” It’s kind of sad, but I’d have to agree with him. We, believers, claim to love God yet aren’t as ready to show that same love towards others. Preachers and the congregations they lead shouldn’t throw stones but build temples. Judgement should be left to God and God alone. He doesn’t need any help, and if he did he certainly wouldn’t need to ask any of us. From the pastor in the pulpit to the usher guarding the back door, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

I hope critics within the church don’t deter others who may feel guilty about their past (and present) transgressions from believing in Christ and the love He has for them. A foundation is nothing more than compacted dirt. You should never feel ashamed of the dirt you’ve done. God can still build on you. That very thing that He brought you out of can one day be used as a testimony for someone else who is presently going through the same or similar struggle.

I’ll leave you with a quote I like from T.D. Jakes’ God Leading Lady, “…the church is like a well. It may be eroding, discolored, or inconveniently located, but it still has the coolest water your soul ever tasted. Be real about where you are and what you’re thirsty for.”

Pregnant With Purpose

In March of 2012, my church went on a corporate fast. At the time I had never fasted before, and initially, I didn’t want to. Anyone who knows me knows I can put away some food. I seem to have an infinite appetite. Even so, in my desire to be obedient I participated. As a precaution I did not fast the full six days with no food or drink. I felt that would be irresponsible. You can’t expect to run a marathon tomorrow if you’ve never run a mile in your life, right? Instead, I went on a Daniel fast which consists of anything that grows from the ground and water. It excludes meat as well as the hardest part (for me) of abstaining from sugar and other sweeteners as well as salt and any preservatives.

ImageDuring my fast I was praying for several things. My best friend who had suffered through 2 miscarriages was pregnant, so I prayed for the healthy delivery of her child to come. My brother and his wife were also expecting their first child to be born in the same month they had to move across the United States from Colorado to Maryland. Their smooth transition into parenthood was also in my prayers. Then there was me. Although I have a son, I felt spiritually barren. I was literally living from day to day with no direction. I wanted the purpose driven life so many others seemed to have already discovered. I too wanted to conceive and give birth to a God given vision for my life.

James 4:8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you…

The fast was a wonderful experience for me.  I had the opportunity to command my body to do as my spirit said rather than always giving in to my flesh’s desires. As for my best friend and my brother’s wife, they both gave birth to beautiful, healthy baby girls.

My niece @ 6 months

My niece @ 6 months

Now it is one year later, and I am turning my plate down once again. I still seek to know God’s purpose for my life. Fasting has many natural benefits including but not limited to reducing blood sugar, increasing fat breakdown, correcting high blood pressure, and boosting immunity. A physical change that I hope to benefit from is bringing my body under arrest to what my mind is committed to. The same discipline I need to not eat in the midst of hunger and headaches is also required in other situations. I have to be disciplined when I’m tired after work and contemplate driving by the gym instead of exercising. I have to be disciplined when a delicious dinner tempts me to go back for a second serving even though I’m full. I have to be disciplined when someone is irking my nerves and I feel like giving them a bus-driver-uppercut.

The task doesn’t feel anywhere near as impossible tedious as it did last time, but this year brings an even greater charge. Sure I can fast for six days. For six days I can abstain from alcohol, sex, television, gossip, cussing, and unkind thoughts. I can do anything for six days, but what about the other 359 days of the year? What then? The fast is like detox; cleaning your system of impurities. But as anyone who struggles with sobriety knows, it’s post fast where the real work begins.