I am not Catholic but I decided to observe Lent this year. I was inspired by a short video that I saw on Twitter of a priest discussing the topic. On a whim the day before Lent began I decided to not use make up for 40 days. I took it as a new experience and challenge.
I am a light make up user. I don’t use concealer, powder or foundation. But I do enjoy black liquid eyeliner, black mascara and a nice bold lip color. Getting ready in the morning is my favorite part of the day. I have fun choosing what I’m going to wear and applying my make up. I think of it as my time to spend on myself before I go out and try to satisfy the world.
The first few days of Lent I was very uncomfortable. It was shocking to see my reflection when I passed a mirror. I felt like a few people that were use to seeing me with make up looked at me strange. I felt like I needed to explain my appearance but I didn’t because I would have seemed very self centered because they probably didn’t think anything of my appearance at all.
I didn’t feel like I was doing my best when I wasn’t wearing make up because I feel that I look better with it. I wanted to give up on my challenge early on and throughout Lent. I didn’t feel like I was becoming spiritually enlightened or closer to God. I just looked plain in the face and I didn’t see any value in that.
I wish I could say that I spent the time that I usually spent applying make up reading the Bible or in prayer. I didn’t. And I didn’t show up places fifteen minutes sooner than normal either.
I was really happy once Easter arrived and I could wear make up again. It was like being reunited with an old friend. Observing Lent didn’t have an Earth shattering spiritual affect on me but I do feel like I learned some discipline and I learned to put aside vanity for the sake of honoring God. I removed a part of my life that is important to me and glorifies myself and put it to the side for a while. I’m glad that I observed Lent this year and I am actually looking forward to doing it again next year.
The experience reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses:
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,who loved me and gave himself for me.
I’ve always loved New Year’s Eve. It’s been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. I remember staying up late as a child to watch the ball drop in Times Square and thinking that it was such a treat. I’ve always enjoyed going out for New Year’s Eve as an adult. How can you not love a holiday that involves cocktails, hugs and kisses and new party outfits?
I get a kick out of the year in review shows that come on TV and radio. News outlets remind us of current events that happened throughout the year and radio shows count down the year’s biggest songs. Sometimes those events or songs seem so long ago. We can come such a long way in a year. The new year is a great time to reflect on your personal experiences and accomplishes over the past year.
2017 was a pretty good year for me. I feel very accomplished and blessed. I grew as an artist and professional in 2017. This meant a lot to me because for years I felt stagnant in my life and I didn’t see any opportunities to grow and prosper. I year and a half ago I was forty years old with a masters degree, about $30,000 in student loan debt and working as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant. I was beginning to think that I was going to work in that restaurant for the rest of my life.
I ran across a job opportunity on the internet and I filled out the application. Just as I finished the application after thirty minutes or so something went haywire with the website and the application was lost. I got really frustrated. I had been filling out applications for years without any response and I almost didn’t fill it out again. But I had a brief conversation with a man I went out on a couple dates with and he told me to give myself a break and try again later. I followed his advice and found some success. That relationship didn’t work out. But I’m grateful to that man. Without his encouraging I would probably be at the Mexican restaurant with my masters degree breaking my back serving burritos right now.
I’ve also made great strides in paying my student loan debt. I now owe about $24,000. That’s still a lot but for a long time I wasn’t even moving the needle on the amount that I owe. I only ask for progress even if it’s slow. I’ve even got a little money saved in a savings account. It’s not a great deal of money but once again it’s all about progress. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
While I was a server I bought a one year old used car. The car I was driving was around ten years old and I decided I would not pay for any more expensive repairs. One night after leaving work my car got hit from behind. I wasn’t hurt at all. The repairs would have been about three thousand dollars so I took the insurance money and got myself a new vehicle. At the time I wasn’t sure how I was going to afford a new car because the one that was hit was paid off. But I was able to make ends meet while serving tacos and then I got my new opportunity. I owe it all to God.
Things worked out for me in a way that I could not foresee. I know that the blessing of my car and job opportunity are from God because it all worked out perfectly. I believe God does things precisely and without a lot of drama or mess. God was far ahead of me and I just had to be faithful and keep working hard even though I did not see how things were going to be resolved.
I’m looking forward to what 2018 has to offer. We live in very exciting and interesting times. It’s kind of like we live in a little soap opera and it’s fascinating to see what becomes of it all. But as far as my humble life I know God is in control and as long as I keep Jesus and His word first in my life things will fall into place for me according to His plan. When I was younger people told me this and I’ve read scripture such as Jeremiah 29:11 :
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
As I’ve gotten older and have had the chance to see God work the words of the Bible have become so much more clear to me. I feel like I’ve seen them in action. Anyway, here’s to a great 2018!
It a scary time in America right now. We don’t know what to expect from our political leadership right now. They seem to be trying to change the system that we’ve had in America to a new system that exclusively benefits the wealthiest of the wealthy and makes it difficult for middle class and poor people to survive. I think that the democratically elected Republican leadership in this country is downright evil and those that support it are stupid and evil as well. Perilous times are ahead.
But the Bible tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. The world has seen evil, self centered, arrogant, egotistical, conceited, cold hearted, foolish, greedy, tyrannical leadership before. The Bible is full of stories of heavy handed poor leadership. And those that were faithful to God always prevailed.
Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not one of these passive Christians that opts out of politics because “The Lord always reigns supreme” or “God is in Control”. I agree with these quotes but I don’t think that means you can’t have a political opinion and act in your best interest. I can’t stand any of these flaky Christians that don’t vote because “The system is not Godly”. I resent a lot of stupid, gullible Christians for helping to make America ground zero for future global economic collapse, xenophobia, racism, sexism, pedophilia, poor manners and general stupidity and ignorance.
At this point in human history Americans just have to take things day by day and be prayerful and have faith in God. Take inspiration from Biblical heroes like Daniel who stood up to King Darius in the book of Daniel. Also in Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar order three boys into a fiery furnace for not bowing down to him. Be inspired by the stories of Moses and the Jews who were brutally oppressed by Pharaoh in Exodus. Remember the persecution of infants by King Herod in the Gospels. All of those that were persecuted by evil leaders persevered with faith from God. They were blessed because the were steadfast in their beliefs and unafraid of evil.
So remember that there is nothing new under the sun. We live in uncertain times in America right now so have faith in God and love each other. With that being said vote better next time and stop being so dense. Don Don’s presidency has nothing to do with Jesus and it will not benefit you unless you are rich. There is no need to test God like this. I would believe in the Lord if I lived in Shangri-La so why did these fools open the flood gates of misery, poverty and pestilence. Have faith. Be smart.
Ecclesiastes 1:9King James Version (KJV)
9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
2 Timothy 3:1-5New International Version (NIV)
3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
I’ve been considering writing about my experience with rape for months. I’ve thought about writing my story as a catharsis, for revenge and to help others. The #metoo has helped me make the decision to publish my story. I’m going to be very brief and to the point. I don’t think all of the details are necessary.
Three years ago I met a man on OKCupid. He and I communicated for around four months and I saw him in person two or three times within that time frame. While I was getting to know this man that goes by the name David Gosh of Houston, Texas I told him that I was not interested in a sexual relationship.
I explained that I wanted to live my life by Biblical rules and that meant that I wouldn’t have sex again until I was married. He told me that he respected that and sex would not be an issue in our relationship. He traveled for work and came to Kansas City often. On one of his trips to Kansas City I decided to spend time with him in his hotel room. I told him that sex of all kinds was still off the table but we could kiss, hug and cuddle.
After I got off work I went to meet David. We went to dinner and then back to his hotel room to relax and watch TV. I brought a change of clothes, a tank top and sweat pants with me. I changed into my comfortable clothes. I had been to one of his hotel rooms before and that one had a couch. This one didn’t have a couch area in front of a TV. There was just a bed. That was probably by design.
I got in the bed and David turned off the lights. He began kissing me and groping me. He began taking off my clothes and I told him no and to stop repeatedly. Ultimately I gave in to his advances and the sex act happened. Afterwards, David took a quick shower and told me he had to get up early tomorrow so I had to leave.
I changed my clothes and left. After reliving the incident in my mind I felt very used and violated. After a month I reported what happened to the Kansas City Police Department but I decided not to pursue charges for a variety of reasons. His name was removed from the police report.
I’ve been taken advantage of in other ways before. I’ve had my purse stolen, a credit card number stolen on a separate occasion. I had a window busted out of my car and the radio was stolen. In those situations after the window was fixed, I got a new purse and the credit card company was notified of the theft I felt whole and I was no longer affected by the crime. But it is very difficult to get past a violation against your body. I don’t know if this was made worse because I trusted the wrong person.
I never saw David again after that night. Once I got home I texted him and let him know that I was upset and thought he was a rapist. He doesn’t believe he raped me. He said “I knew you wanted to fuck me when you said you brought different clothes”. I brought the same type of clothes that I would have worn if I had gone home after work.
I also sent him a few hateful threatening e mails months later. He asked if we could be friends again. I laughed out loud when I read that. That was my last contact with David Gosh of Houston, Texas. I hope his home flooded. If he even really lives in Houston or if David Gosh is even his name. I don’t really know because my entire brief relationship with him was a lie.
Earlier this week Hurricane Harvey his the Gulf Shore of Texas. This storm has caused major damage and flooding to the city of Houston. Harvey is being called a once in five hundred year storm. After the hurricane weakened Houston received record rainfall. Roads are impassable, homes are damaged and people have been displaced.
Houston is the home of televangelist Joel Osteen’s church. The church was closed for the storm and upcoming services were cancelled. Shortly after Harvey hit a young man went to Lakewood church and made a video which posed the question as to why the church was not open to the public. It is unclear to me why the young man made the video. I can’t tell if he was there seeking shelter or just there to complain.
The video circulated the internet and Twitter user spent the evening casting stones on Joel Osteen and his ministry. The internet was mad that a church as prosperous as Lakewood was not open to serve the public during such a time. They felt like it was hypocritical that the church would not be anxious to serve during a natural disaster and they were not buying that the church was flooded.
I think the criticism of Osteen and his church is unfair. I am not a Joel Osteen fan and I don’t know much about his ministry. But I think people need to give the man a break. For goodness sakes he was in the same hurricane. Do people think that the wealthy or pastors don’t get rained on? Besides that churches are volunteer organizations. All of those people were hit with a hurricane and flood. So there may not have been adequate staff to serve anyone seeking refuge.
I also think it may have been unsafe to have a facility as large as Lakewood Church open during a big storm because it would draw a lot of traffic to it’s location. It wouldn’t be wise to put a bunch of people on the roads when some roads are flooded. There are logistics to be considered when trying to organize a relief effort.
I haven’t followed Osteen’s ministry over the years but from what I hear about him he is Christianity lite. He’s all of the feel good, come as you are stuff and none of the discipline or fire and brimstone stuff which is pretty typical of modern American Christianity. Modern Christianity treats Jesus Christ as if He were a genie in a bottle that is here to serve us. When we are asked to served Him many of us think that the church is being too pushy and demanding. If we are asked to discipline ourselves and be obedient many of us think that we are being controlled and that our freedom is being restricted.
This is why I think Osteen is a victim of his own success. It sounds to me like he preaches a self centered gospel that does not ask worshipper for a sacrifice. That creates self centered Christians that feel that they need to be served by the church but the church shouldn’t ask service of the community.
And that’s what we’ve seen this week from people that have bashed Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church. They instantly became angry when the community’s needs weren’t being met by this church but very few people asked what they could do to help the church. No one asked it the pastor and his staff was OK. The criticism was very self centered.
But I have to wonder if Osteen caused his own problem by preaching a gospel that is acceptable to the masses. If churches are going to preach a me, me, me gospel be prepared to serve a demanding self focused congregation.