Guest Blog – Building Your Own House

Building Your Own House – Chapter Two of Chop Wood, Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf

Author gave permission to use his work here. As we embark into July; discussing freedoms, having hot dogs & hamburgers, let’s remember with each action, motivation of our heart, every syllable, and even our unspoken communication – WE, are, building, our, own, house. 

 

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What’s Love Got to Do With It?

What’s Love Got to Do With It? | By Sonya Finley

Featured image from: (https://www.walsallcollege.ac.uk)

A couple of weeks ago, my “blogger in crime”ended her post with the question, “What if we considered how we loved our children as a measurement of success?” Well, I ask you, “What if we considered how we loved people (all people) as a measurement of success?”

These days, there is a lot of discussions centered on diversity, inclusion and unconscious bias. The responses range from defensive anger, to candid conversations, to denying its importance. Even you, as you read this may have a polarizing reaction based on what you have read, heard, or experienced. But have we really taken the time to see what those words truly mean? And what does it have to do with loving others?

As a person of color, my default meaning of diversity and inclusion is the never-ending fight to belong, to be included, to be seen, heard, and accepted for being me. Understanding bias is accepting the fact that when I go shopping I will be followed by a sales clerk who tries to hide it by surreptitiously fixing a rack of clothes that don’t need fixing at all because she believes I will steal (yeah, that happens a lot). This vision is based on my own experiences, yet they are certainly not the only way these concepts can be experienced.  Diversity, inclusion, and unconscious bias encompass so much more than just race relations.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Dr. Aaron Bruce, Chief Diversity Officer at SDSU, present on this topic. He was African-American and has experienced marginalization because of his race, but his presentation was not race-centered. It was presented in a way that greatly expanded the attendees’ understanding of what those big ol’ words mean on a much larger scale. He pointed out how all humans have biases against a variety of characteristics—gender, race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic status, background, education, physical abilities, politics—the list is endless.

Here are a few highlights from what I found to be a powerful and enlightened presentation:

  • “Equality is about ensuring everybody has an equal opportunity, and is not treated differently or discriminated against because of their characteristics. Diversity is about taking account of the differences between people and groups of people, and placing a positive value on those differences.”Equality is not enough. The goal is diversity or in this case equity. Dr. Bruce explained this concept using the illustration of three different people, one tall, one short, and one in a wheel chair,all trying to see over a fence to watch a game. Equality says give them all the same crate to stand on—which is fair but still does not enable everyone to
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    Original image concept Craig Froehle

    see over the fence. Equity considers their differences and gives them what they need to achieve the same goal. One person (the tall one) needs nothing, the other (the short one) needs double crates and the third one (in the wheel chair) needs something totally different. This reminds me of what parents do when they have more than one child. Each child is different and so, understanding this, they may employ different methods to raise a healthy, happy, successful adult. Equity is giving everyone what theyneed to be successful and understanding that it may not look the same for all.

  • “If you are not intentionally including, you are unintentionally excluding.”This was kind of my “aha” moment. He proved his point by engaging us in an exercise where we listed our top ten “ride or die” friends (your “go to” homies that know you best). Then asked us to note which ones matched us in characteristics such as, gender, race, age, social class, and sexual orientation. Not surprisingly, for most, our friends looked very much like us. Dr. Bruce let us know this was not a negative, it just highlighted the fact that people are naturally drawn to other people who are like them. Because of this, we may find ourselves within an exclusive community—unintentional, but exclusive all the same. So, since it is not our natural inclination to engage with those who are different, in order to achieve diversity and inclusion, we have to intentionally step out of our comfort zone and seek out those that are different.

 

  • Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own consciousawareness. Racial prejudice is pretty straight forward and needs no definition. Implicit or unconscious biases, not so much. Biases are those generalities we apply to whole groups of people even though we have only experienced it with a few. They are those unconscious feelings we have that influence our judgement of certain people and how we may treat or react to them. These biases can be determined by a number of things; lifestyle, media, environment, experiences, or how we were raised. For example, the media constantly bombards us with the stereotype that fat/overweight people are lazy, ugly, and unhealthy. And while you may not purposely be mean to people like that, you may find yourself judging their eating habits, changing yours, and vowing to lose weight so you never find yourself in their place. Your conscious mind says you would never treat a fluffyperson differently, but your reaction to them is different than your reaction to a slender person would be.

So what does love got to do with this? Dr. Bruce ended his presentation with the concept of empathy (which is a key component of love). “When it comes to the inability to practice empathy/love, lack of exposure to or an understanding of other people or cultures is the primary culprit.” We are called to love one another in the way Jesus loved us—with unmerited grace, mercy, and without boundaries or conditions. To do this, we must intentionally step outside of our own likenesses and like-minded communities. We must be authenticand seek to understand our own identities—what are our triggers and fears. We must practice active listening, turning off our inner voices and focusing on the other person. We must get curious, assume a learning mindset and find out what has shaped the other person’s life. We must respect and connectby being more open and respectful of one another. Doing all this leads to empathy and understanding of the world around us. Only then will we be able to say we truly love people as we have been called to do.

Yeah, that’s what lovegot’sto do with it.


20170113_074913-1-1Sonya A. Finley has been living the single life for 24 years. In that time she has raised four awesome young men (James – 26, Kevin – 23, Joshua and Johnathan – 18), graduated from college with a BFA, and began a huge step in her professional career. She is on the verge of a new season in her single life that now focuses on a journey not centered around child-rearing. She has made many mis-steps, learned quite a few bits of wisdom along the way and is happy to share with women who find themselves in the same place.

April showers bring May flowers…

April showers bring May flowers | By Bethany Sousa

For me, Springtime has typically been associated with the word refreshing and newness in my mind through the years. Probably because I automatically picture fresh tulips on my parents dining table growing up as a child. With Mother’s Day still on my mind, I find myself reflecting on all the mothers that have been in, and around, my life so far. All the wonderful jewels they have each placed in my crown of feminine identity and social womanhood. What a crown they have built for me, and I get to wear it proudly every day!

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79ideas.org Photo Credit

However, it wasn’t always so simple and easy for me to receive such wisdom with grace and understanding. Along with refreshing and newness, Spring also brings maturity. Now there’s a word I probably would’ve never associated with Spring prior to today – maturity. For all those women who have poured such wisdom into my life, I had no idea they were instilling a mature femininity into the way I would live my life out.

It’s quite fascinating for me to look back and recall all the “ah-ha” moments of gaining a new perspective, or patiently working out the painful moments of maturing. One of the greatest words of wisdom I gained from a woman in my mid 20’s was about how sometimes the harvest of God’s promise takes us through the long way around, similar to the Israelites. Now that was a very loose translation, but I’m sure you get the idea. They had to “work out their faith” so to speak, for many years before being able to receive the fullness of the promise land. Time for me, meant waiting on the Lord in His non-linear timing. For example, waiting on the Lord to fulfill a prophetic word, or a dream, or even a desire that weighs heavy on the heart. Well, I was all of these examples! Finding myself questioning His involvement at times, and even asking was He even involved anymore or did He skip out on me for a little? It was quite the opposite!

He graciously asked me one day what Spring meant to me and what I saw when I thought of it. My response was a field of flowers, similar to the Carlsbad field of flowers. What He spoke next blew my immature mentality out into a maturity I had no idea I was in need of. He showed me a picture of small little sprouts budding out of rich soil. Rows and rows of sprouts. Then He said, “Bethany, this is Spring. Behold, I will make all things new. You have plowed and worked the field, look and see that I am good. Spring isn’t always a time of reaping abundance. It is also a time of new beginnings and starting over”. I felt such a freedom from an old way of thinking. No longer did I have to pressure myself with an expectation of having to see a full field of harvest, but now I can rejoice in the simplest of refreshing and newness that the Lord is working out through me!

Featured Image Photo Credit: OgNature.org

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cityuniversity.ca Photo Credit


IMG_3304BETHANY is a singer/songwriter currently living in Nashville, TN. Her dream and desire is to partner with other artists collaboratively to help bring awareness to the audience an awakening of purpose. In today’s western culture, we have focused too music on selfish ego and not enough on the bigger picture–we’re all here for a purpose, and we all play an important role in achieving that goal in each other  Art is such an intense expression and tool to use to help awaken peoples minds and souls of their own existence. Music heals us mentally and spiritually, and one of her main goals is to help bring that healing, one song at a time.

 

Coffeehouse Conversations

Coffeehouse Conversations | By Sonya Finley

Hey girl, good morning! Give me a hug. Good to see you. Oh yeah, I already got my coffee. Yes a Venti! Ha ha! You got me out early. I needed something to wake me up. Go on and get yours. I’ll grab us a table outside in the sun.

How am I doing? Me? Girl, I’m fine. Putting one foot in front of the other. Keeping it moving.  You know me, that’s how I roll.

What? Be honest?  Yeah, I hear ya.

So, well, if I am completely honest, I am having a bit of a struggle these days. Oh, you knew that, huh? Okay. Well anyway, for most of my life I have fought with an identity crisis. Whether it was from things spoken into me, experiences that left wounds, or unfairly comparing myself to others—I just never quite felt “enough”. I know who I am now, having gone through an incredible season of God defining my identity and showing who He has called me to be. And yet, and yet. . . .

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And yet, one word of criticism couched in the guise of “mentorship” from a person in authority over me takes me all the way back to feeling inadequate. One word subtly suggesting that a change be made to a core personality trait that will make me more appealing to a minor minority who “doesn’t’ get me”.  It leaves me helpless, defensive and not a little angry. And sister, that is not a good look on me.

So, I began, again, the cycle of questioning myself, my actions, my perspective, my “me”. I began, again, to wonder, is there something wrong with me? Should I change certain things about me to suit someone else’s ideals because maybe they see things from their vantage point that I can’t see? So I began, again, to retreat inside myself. And again, I am lost, struggling to find me, the “who” that I am deep down inside. Sigh….

identityWhat’s that? I am who God says I am? Girl, I have that taped to my bathroom wall as a daily affirmation!  It is there with a list of others and my eye lands on it just when I need it. No greater truth needed and such a timely reminder. I am who God says I am! Regardless of what man says or how he criticizes. I have been created for a purpose and for such a time as this. The “me” that He created, the “me” that I have grown to be, is okay. This doesn’t mean I am perfect. It doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes, say the wrong thing or be misunderstood. It doesn’t mean that I will always be accepted by everyone I meet. But it does mean that who I am is okay and because of who I am, I am totally useable in God’s plan.

I will probably still struggle with that. Thorn in the flesh and all that, but yeah, you’re right. When the thoughts arise, I can use that statement to remind myself of who I really am. My identity is not dependent on what people think or say about me or even how I feel about myself. I am who God says I am. And that’s that. . .

So how are things with you?

Oh I’m sorry to hear things are not falling into place as you hoped. That can make moving forward or even staying encouraged extremely difficult. I totally get that. Many of us find ourselves right there. It’s the waiting for something to happen and not feeling like it will, that discourages you.

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Yeah, I know that place. Praying and praying for God to intervene in a situation and not seeing it happen as soon as we’d like. It is discouraging and it is easy to lose faith. That’s how it is for me with my son. I have been praying for years through his drug usage, bouts of homelessness, attempted suicides, and brushes with law.  And to me, it seems as though change is coming slowly—oh so slowly. And there are times when something happens and it seems that the situation goes right back to the beginning.  I just want my son to be okay.

But as I sit here with you, thinking on your situation and mine, I am reminded of yet another statement of affirmation on my bathroom wall: God can do what He says He can do.

‘Nuff said! Oh but I know. It gets hard on a sister. All this waiting and anticipating and feeling like the nothing could possibly fix the situation. But hey, just like you told me, when those thoughts began to come, just remind yourself that God can (and will) do just what He said. Keep telling yourself that till it overrides anything else that may want to set up shop in your mind. God’s got this. You just keep living life expecting it.

And yes, my son is doing better these days. But you know us momma’s, we want the best for our children, right?

Oh, you heard about me doing the Freedom Challenge? Yeah. Women joining together to raise money and awareness for human trafficking by climbing mountains. Yes, you heard me, mountains.

You’re amazed I’m doing it? So am I. And if I am being completely honest, I am more than a little afraid. I admit it. I be “scurred”.

What am I scared of?  Not meeting the fundraising goals. Not being able to keep up on with the other ladies. Not being able to complete the challenge.

Oh you got jokes? My bad, you got another quote? I can do all things through Christ?  Wow, another statement from my wall of affirmations! We are three for three!

But you are right. I got this! As long as I look up for my strength and not rely on what I see or feel like—cuz you know a sister can get in her feelings—I can complete this challenge. I will complete this challenge. Any challenge. And when I think I can’t, I will use that statement to remind me that I can.

Well, girl. I gotta get out of here. The boys are wanting to go to a movie. What’s that? Where did I get the statements from?  Beth Moore’s book, Believing God….

God is who He says He is. God can do what He says He can do. I am who God says I am. I can do all things through Christ. God’s Word is alive and active in me.” 
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Beth MooreBelieving God

Asian Women Chatting over CoffeeLord, thank you for sister-friends who allow and compel us to be transparent, authentic, and venerable. Bless us to understand the need to reach out for and allow ourselves to receive the love and support being offered to us so that we may know that we are not alone on this journey. As we allow ourselves to reach out and admit our need, send those who will walk with us, stand with us, and pray with us in sisterhood and in love. Amen.


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Sonya A. Finley has been living the single life for 24 years. In that time she has raised four awesome young men (James – 26, Kevin – 23, Joshua and Johnathan – 18), graduated from college with a BFA, and began a huge step in her professional career. She is on the verge of a new season in her single life that now focuses on a journey not centered around child-rearing. She has made many mis-steps, learned quite a few bits of wisdom along the way and is happy to share with women who find themselves in the same place.

A Relationship Renewed 

A Relationship Renewed | By Terri Krumweide

Difficult relationships can be, well, difficult. When the difficult relationship is with someone you gave birth to, it can be heartbreaking. My son has always been a bit of a challenge. At 11 lbs 11 ounces, he came into this world physically advanced and already more than a handful! I couldn’t keep up with him even then, the kid was just hungry. All. The. Time. I started him on cereal, by the Doctor’s suggestion, at one month. From there, he just seemed to do everything early, roll over, crawl, walk. He even learned to ride a bike without training wheels at 3- I kid you not. Raising a child who is so physically capable, yet not mature enough to control his impulses, was, well you guessed it- difficult.

Lil Ryan and meIn addition to his lack of impulse control, he had to deal with the confusion of being raised separately by two parents with very different discipline styles, a new stepdad, and a new baby sister- not a recipe for success for any kid. I put him in organized sports at age 3, which helped him burn off some of his energy, but my first trip to the principals’ office was his fourth day of kindergarten, and every parent teacher conference was me listening to the teacher tell me how disruptive my son was in class and how all the kids followed his lead. Ritalin was even suggested, which my pediatrician, God bless her, completely rejected. It wasn’t until third grade when he had, which he will still tell you to this day was his favorite teacher, Mr. Peterson, that someone finally understood what my son needed. As I walked into that first conference, head held low waiting to hear the horrors my son had been causing in his class, Mr. Peterson smiled and told me what a good boy my son was and how smart and helpful he was in class. My look of shock made him laugh and when I asked him about him acting up in class he said, “Well if I see Ryan getting a little antsy, I just send him out to run a couple laps on the track and he comes back ready to work.” Eureka!! He had another great teacher the next year, Mr. Mann, but sadly there were many more years of unhappy teachers and trips to the principal’s office, and unfortunately it developed a pattern of me always expecting the worst and constant disappointment, hopelessness and heartache.  And if someone is always expecting the worst of you, it’s pretty easy to deliver.

Teen Ryan and meMy son was not raised in a Christian home. We went to a Catholic church until he was about 14, which does not operate in the grace of God but more on how good you are, which my son was constantly being told by people in authority, he was not. I didn’t get “Saved” until the first time my husband left, and during that time, there was so much pain and so many tears from me and his now 3 sisters’, and that, coupled with the complete devastation of losing the respect of a man he completely looked up to, he found his escape in drugs and alcohol.  Yet another source of great pain and disappointment for a mom that never wanted her children to go down a road she had been down and knew where it led. My goal at that time was pretty much just to get him graduated from high school, which he did, barely, and then he would be on his own and I would not have to be affected by his rebellion and bad choices any longer.

Flash forward to my son as an adult, living back in my house, after several times being kicked out but having just been released from being in jail for five days and having nowhere else to go. There is something about seeing your child ushered into a courtroom in an orange jumpsuit handcuffed to a bunch of scary looking criminals that makes you want to bring them home and keep them safe. I set really strong boundaries, church was mandatory, no drugs, no visitors, get a job, etc and any violation of the rules meant immediate eviction.  At first, he was so compliant and very eager to please, grateful he had a place to live, but as time went on, old behavior patterns kicked in, and he was back in the habit of disappointing and I was in the habit of constantly letting him know it.

Love WorksThen, I signed up for a class at The Father’s House- “Love Works” a program developed and taught by Weyman and Susan Howard, based on 1 Corinthians 13. Compassion is my lowest gifting, so loving other’s well is something I desperately need help with. The first week of class was about patience, first receiving it- I knew my sins had been forgiven but had I ever stopped to think about how patient and long suffering the Lord had been with me in doing that? Had I ever truly received it? As I examined it I was sure of one thing- God never threatened to kick me out of the Kingdom every time I made a mistake, not like I did to my son… Ouch. Next was, kindness, where again we focused on first receiving it from the Lord and then practicing it. I was on my knees constantly for my son and I fiercely loved him, but my thoughts towards him were anything but kind. As we continued into the study, The Lord was softening my heart towards my son and showing me what I needed to let go of “Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs” Love doesn’t but I sure did and could recite them all back to him at any given moment. When we got to the “Believes All Things, Hopes All Things, Endures All Things” section that’s where The Lord really opened my eyes to what my son needed. When I looked at my son, I saw all the hurt and disappointment of the past, I never saw him how God saw him, I never BELIEVED anything more for him, I had stopped hoping for anything more from him. As I look back and read the things I wrote at that time: “Lord, help me to see my son as you do and to love him like you do, correcting in love.” And “I need to believe that the power of The Holy Spirit can help me to believe good for my son, and to help him resurrect his true identity and be the man God created him to be.” I can assure you that The Lord did. He showed me that Ryan didn’t need to be reminded of all the bad things he’d done, he needed all the goodness in him reaffirmed, and even though he still wasn’t making choices that I necessarily liked or agreed with, I could still operate in love.

My son is a good person with a generous heart, when I looked back on the fights he got into growing up, he was sticking up for the little guy. Although he was never studious and didn’t apply himself in school, my son is really intelligent and learns things easily. Although he could be disrespectful, he is kind and helpful. His physical ability has made him amazing at every sport he’s ever tried. He is great with children; kids and pets love him. It did my momma’s heart so much good to see my son through the eyes of love again. He was more than his mistakes, he was a masterpiece.  God is Love and Love brings renewal. I began treating my son with respect, and I asked for forgiveness when I didn’t, and sure enough, as time went by, the pattern was broken and the relationship was restored. And even when our relationship was tested and we failed sometimes the effort made to love my son well, was truly blessed by The Lord, and I can tell you as I write this, not only has the Lord redeemed my relationship with my son, but He has completely redeemed my son’s life, but that, is a story for another time!


The familyTerri Krumweide lives and works in Escondido. Her greatest achievements in life are her four children, Ryan 31, recently married to the beautiful Alexys, Brianna 28, married to the brilliant Dr Brendan, Miranda, 25 married to the amazing Joey, the proud parents of her adorable first grandbaby, Jeremiah, and her youngest Micaela 21, who is currently away, killing it in college. A couple of her favorite quotes are “Sometimes the greatest thing you can do for the kingdom is not in what you do but in who you raise.” And “There is no greater joy than to know your children are walking in the truth.” All four of her children are amazing servants of God and her constant source of joy is spending time with her family. She also has two golden retrievers, Daisy 5 months and Delilah 5 years, who receive all the nurturing she has to give now that all of her children Daisy and Delilahare out of the house. She spends most of her time walking and pampering her pets, and babysitting the sweetest boy in the whole world, every chance she gets. She also co-leads the ‘Extraordinary Women’ women’s group at church where she loves connecting with the ladies of The Father’s House and friends. She is always looking for new ministry opportunities where she can utilize the gifts The Lord has blessed her with to serve others and to help further the kingdom. If you want to know more- get connected with her- she is always looking to make new friends!