Monday, April 16, 2018

Trust and Obey.

This post is for all of those who are currently struggling with their career and feel like their hope/faith is running low. I want to testify about what God has done/is doing in my life because I remember a friend testified years ago when I needed it most. Her testimony gave me the Holy motivation that my heart needed (thank you for testifying years ago, Somer Hill).

This is my career testimony, so far. Please bear with me as I tell my story via timeline format. 

May 2007-May 2014: I landed my first job out of college after completing an internship with the same organization. I was blessed to work with a national non-profit organization where I learned a plethora of career and life lessons while developing the next generation of Latino leaders. What I loved most about this 7 year assignment was the students (and many colleague friends) I worked with and the dignitaries I met (had the honor to meet President Barack Obama as a Senator and then as the President of the United States of America several times; Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; former Vice President Joe Biden; and several others). What many did NOT know was that I actively job searched for approximately 3 of 7 years I was employed at this organization due to various other reasons. There were days I would cry out to God and ask, "why can't I get out? You know how much I want to move on with my career." God answered, "Niss, I still need you there-- just hold on. I've got this all under control." I held on until May 2014. 

May 2014: I had reached my tipping point and quit my job after asking God for clear signs and peace. He provided all of the requested signs and I obeyed and trusted. My last day at this organization was the same day I begin 7 years prior (May 15)-- full circle and one of the wisest decisions of my life. During that time I was in the first year of my MPA program and had planned to take a 6 month Sabbatical. The Sabbatical was everything I had hoped for (thank God). However, by the time the six month deadline arrived, I did not have any solid job prospects. Worry and panic started to set in and several around me knew it. My Arise Church family, parents/fam, and closest friends helped me pray through it. For a time there I was almost certain others had developed exhaustion praying for my situation. It was a despairing time, BUT GOD always made sure Hec and I had food and shelter. We never missed a mortgage payment or any other bill payment. He took care of our every need and even the occasional want. 

July 2015: After all the prayer and fasting for God to provide me employment, He opened the doors of...the federal government contracting world. "Okay, God, I will move forward because this is what you have provided. This is not really my thing, but I trust you." I had no idea what I was getting myself into-- literally. I ended up being placed in the most toxic and politically charged environments. Everyone knew "the 19th floor" and the implications it brought. I was the only Latina and made sure to stand up in faith for myself with God on my side. It resulted in me being "fired" for 2 hours by an adult bully (someone who never had anyone stand up to her) and me being re-hired by the #2 person of the org (of thousands of employees). God ALWAYS comes through. This #2 gentleman that hired me was the one I'd jokingly (but my jokes had truth) refer to as "the devil wears Prada." Literally felt like I was Anne Hathaway from the movie-- if you haven't seen the movie, you need to. He was moody, high maintenance, particular, militant (as a former Marine), extremely analytical (he was a Psychologist), intelligent, freakishly private, quiet, and I could go on and on. I'd ask God, "THIS is what you've brought me to? My Lord..." But God knew what I could handle. He ALWAYS knows best.

October 2016: My "devil wears Prada" boss was a political appointee (President Obama administration) and was at the end of his appointment. God (who is ALWAYS on time) opened the door for me to be a contractor at a different sub-agency with a different contracting company and I obeyed. When I arrived to my new assignment on my first day, the new company had duped me in thinking I had received a promotion. What I had received instead was a demotion. I was livid, confused, upset, and betrayed. I stood up again in faith with God on my side and was "unemployed" for about a day, but KNEW God would deliver. The company then delivered on their promise (no ill feelings) and secured a position they had originally offered me. This new assignment was one that would literally change my life. Refer to my Facebook post for where exactly that is and for the continuation of this blog post. My apologies for those who cannot view my page; just know God has opened doors I never thought would open for me.


Last week my family and I went through an unfortunate emergency and God foresaw that this would occur when my (career) journey was unfolding. He knew that this is where I needed to be and that these individuals would be the best colleague friends for me to lean on. Many do not consider themselves "religious or spiritual," but funny thing is that I see Jesus' love through them-- sometimes more than those who actually do profess to be religious or spiritual. How about that...     

Moral of story: Be ready for a wild ride when you ask God to lead your career and take you to new heights. He will take you to places you have NEVER imagined and for unfathomable reasons. The thing is you have to fully trust and obey-- even when you do not understand and do not fancy the circumstance. Our career is not only for us (as we often times think)-- it is also to bless others through our relationship with God.

God will NEVER forsake you. Keep holding on-- He will come through for you.
Let's TRUST and OBEY.

P.S. Wish I could write a book about my journey because there is so much that I am omitting! Please pray for that it become a reality for me, friend. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Hi, My Name is Anissa

"Hi, my name is Anissa- a grateful believer of Jesus Christ- in recovery for anger, anxiety, depression, and an unforgiving spirit."

"Hi Anissa."

I never thought in a million years that I'd be in one of those therapeutic groups that you see in the movies. My belief was that it was only for drug addicts and alcoholics-- you know, those court mandated type of groups.

Well, here I am on my last day of my 10 month therapeutic (non-court mandated) Christ-centered group. I did it by God's grace, love, and mercy. I actually went through with it and came out on the other side with a different perspective and a whole lot lighter. You see the thing is you don't actually graduate from this group even though the curriculum ends. It's like happiness; it's not a destination, but rather a journey. A journey with Jesus Christ, the lover of my soul. I know what you're probably thinking--all this kumbaya stuff sounds annoying. Trust me, I had that same mindset when I first stepped into my group on March 28, 2017. I was apprehensive, had a bad attitude, doubted the curriculum without knowing it, and thought it was beyond corny that we had to go around the room stating our names every session, along with what we'd like to work to recover from. Here I was in a room full of women, and I do mean FULL, baring our souls in search of Christ's healing. I'm an introvert, in what world did this seem like a good idea for me? Little did I know then that it was exactly where I needed to be.

Our women's group started off as 18 strong and today on our last day we ended as 8 strong. Seeking healing is a full-time commitment and it is intense. There were weeks where it was extremely difficult to search deep inside and admit to myself and my sisters some of the darkest moments of my life. Ones that only my husband, best friends, and Mama knew. Tuesday nights (after group session) and Wednesday mornings were always the most quiet and emotional for me. Dealing with the aftermath of sharing with others what I had carried over many years. But thank God I did.

What you don't know is that I had been "highly encouraged" to join this group two years ago, but I resisted to the max. There was NO WAY anyone was going to convince me to join back then. However, loved ones saw something I did not see and wanted me to get help, but it did not click in me until early 2017. Late 2016 into early last year I had reached one of my lowest points with my anger and depression. Two things that were linked because of a traumatic life situation. It pains me to type this out, but I want to bare my soul to help someone else out there. I remember this certain incident (pertaining to anger) unfolding before my eyes and leaving me in shock because I could not even recognize myself. Who had I become? How did I let this anger and depression spiral out of control and change me this way? How could I continue to serve God at my local church? How could I tell the others at my church about what I was going through? Who was I?

This is when I remembered the Christ centered program I had rejected, dejected, and even poked fun at (yes, I know, I'm not proud of that). This was my only hope and thank God I moved forward in faith.

During the course of 10 months I learned or was reinforced of the following lessons and would like to share with you as well.
• It is okay to not be okay-- just make sure you do something about it with Christ's help to heal and get better.
• We ALL have something to work on. It's not just people with addictions that need a support group.
• Speaking of support groups-- we all need them in form of loved ones and strangers who become family (like my 12 step group sisters).
• It's okay to step away and set boundaries with toxic relationships-- here's the clincher- even with family members. You owe that to yourself.
• Forgiveness is more for you than for the other person, even though it's also good to let others know you have forgiven them and are moving on.
• "Play it forward." Play what forward? Look at what you're about to do and play out the consequences in your mind and hopefully that will stop you from making the mistake. It's never worth it.
• "God, show me, me." The paraphrased version of Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV), "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting"
• It's important to verbalize your inner hurts to a safe group of individuals that respect you and want the best for your spiritual walk with Christ. In fact, it's healthy that you do so.
• It's more than okay if others do not like you, as long as you have not hurt them (and asked for forgiveness). Something new I have implemented is if someone is treating me dramatically different and poorly, I ask if I have done something to offend them and if yes, we dialogue about it face-to-face and I will ask for forgiveness. If they say no and have no idea what I am referring to (and they continue to treat me poorly), I will move on-- being okay that it's not me, but a battle they are facing within themselves.
• I am in control with who I want to be close to and open up my heart to. And that's okay. I am aware that I have built many walls (due to hurt and rejection), but also have built several bridges that I never intend to burn. Just because I do not tell everyone my deepest secrets doesn't mean I do not love or appreciate them.
• Faith leaders are far from perfect and sometimes are the ones who are most hurt within the four walls of the places of worship. I have struggled with this because of the culture/mindset that Pastors and leaders are supposed to be examples of the utmost excellence and this unrealistic "perfection." Many times I was expected to provide healing via encouraging words, be a friend by contacting others, be an exemplar leader, but it was I that needed all that (and then some). It's okay to step away to heal a bit before you return to serve. In fact, it's probably more healthy for everyone. I would not doubt that some of the leaders I told about stepping down for 2-3 months last year to heal did not understand and perhaps thought I was weak for doing so. And that's okay-- I did not feel comfortable leading at church and giving from a well that had entirely dried up inside so I stepped away and returned when I had some healing.
• I am a precious daughter of Christ that should not be beating myself up when I make mistakes and have asked for forgiveness.
• I can now forgive someone for something they are not even remotely sorry/remorseful for. This, by far, has been one of the most difficult things I have had to do. To be abandoned and betrayed by a loved one and forgive them without them seeking forgiveness. Seems impossible to us humans, but the God who created Heaven and Earth says, "I got you-- this is simple for me and it would be a pleasure to give you a forgiving spirit."
• Never say never. I said I'd never go through with a program like this and look at me now, I recommend everyone to go through this transformative experience. You never know what you will learn about yourself, others, and God.

This is not the end for me, but rather a new beginning.

If you want to work through some of your bad habits/hurts/hang-ups and desire to be part of a confidential-supportive group, please consider joining Celebrate Recovery; more specifically the 12 Step Program. I am open to chatting with anyone who would like more information. I joined the group at Immanuel's Church (non-denominational) in Silver Spring, MD and the growth I experienced is unbelievable!

Some of you remember when I came out and admitted I was in serious depression last year and had joined a women's group. Well, this is the group I joined. Many of my friends and acquaintances were completely shocked and I get it-- it's not everyday someone admits they are going through a dark time. We like to keep our highlight reel beautifully curated and make sure everything believes we are perfectly fine. We are all going through something we can recover/improve from.

I look forward to hearing about your recovery story one day and seeing how Christ transformed your life.

Love you, friend. Hope you receive the healing you may need.



Friday, September 16, 2016

Calling it by it's Name

|| Times have changed.
Things that we went through many years ago now have names |labels |diagnosis.
We are now more courageous to speak up about "taboo" subjects.
We now call things by its name. ||

For the last eleven years I have attended (worked or volunteered) a national non-profit's annual gala dinner. In a nutshell it is a fundraising dinner where the President of the United States addresses DC Latino "who's who;" incredible individuals are celebrated with awards; and Latino youth are lauded (they are our present and future!).

Last night I knew the drill (it's like clockwork to me now), but this time I brought along two of my close girl friends to volunteer with me. Thank God I did. We were in the VIP reception waiting for our Members of Congress to arrive (part of our assignment); laughing; chit-chatting; and scoping out the fashion (some of the evening gowns were fierce!). I was having a great time...until I saw someone from my past. I know he saw me and I definitely saw him. Instantly all of the bad memories flooded my mind; right there in the middle of the VIP reception while glasses were clinking and laughter and chatter filled the room, I choked on my past. Wish I could have seen my face, but I know it said it all. My heart dropped to my stomach and I felt numb.

I had to get it off my chest so I wouldn't have to suffer in silence so I told my girls. In essence, without giving too much information, when I was a early teenager I liked this one guy a lot (was probably more of a teen crush). In today's terms, he basically "friend zoned" me and life went on. Fast forward a couple years when I was either 17 or 18, he started paying attention to me and wanted to hangout more and more. One night he took me to eat and on the way back home he parked the car in a neighborhood. We have all watched enough movies and TV shows to know that when two people park a car in a dark, lonely neighborhood it's not to play Uno, parcheesi, or checkers. Sure enough, that's when he started making "moves." To make a long story short, he tried to get me do things that I was not comfortable with and it was frightening. I remember feeling alone during that moment and wanting to flee into the dark streets. I did not get raped, but I was sexually assaulted. I got so angry that I cursed him out and told him to take me home that very moment. He ended up dropping me off and I never looked back. He called me several times the days after and I ignored the calls. He even drunk dialed me a couple times admitting that he liked me, etc. etc on voicemail. I rejected and rebuked all of that and never looked back. It was a huge blow to his ego and 'til this day he does not like me. It's okay. My life obviously moved on.

Seeing him last night and sharing the memories with my girls at the gala (and today with my work best friend), it completely hit me that I was [[sexually assaulted]] as a young woman. When I was younger I internalized it because I didn't want people to think, "Uh huh, what were you doing hanging out with him anyway?" Back then it was simply a situation where a "guy went a little too far," but now I know it was way more than that. Now it has a name; sexual assault.

My guess is that I have been repressing these memories and feelings all of these years, but they surfaced with a vengeance last night after being hit in the face with it. It was like an epiphany of some sorts. Last year a group of us ran into him in DC and I was the "bad" one because I kept walking when everyone else stopped to greet and chat with him. To be fair, my friends had no idea what happened over a decade ago, but here I am, finally speaking up and unafraid.

I'm speaking up for any of my girls who might have been sexually assaulted or raped and feel ashamed to share with others in fear of being deemed as "loose," "wreckless," "too flirty or friendly," etc. You are not alone. Please don't internalize it for years like I did. Speak to someone you trust and can help you. Think of a trusted friend, family member, clergy member, church leader, obviously God, teacher/professor, or counselor, close work colleague, or even me (if you trust me and would like to open up; I am here for you).

I'm speaking up for healing and ending the silence of shame. Today I am finally calling it by it's name.

__________________________ has some great tips on what to do if you are sexually assaulted:

If you are in danger or need medical care, call 9-1-1. If you can, get away from the person who assaulted you and get to a safe place as fast as you can.
If you have been physically assaulted or raped, there are other important steps you can take right away:
  • Save everything that might have the attacker's DNA on it. As hard as it may be to not wash up, you might wash away important evidence if you do. Don't brush, comb, or clean any part of your body. Don't change clothes, if possible. Don't touch or change anything at the scene of the assault. That way the local police will have physical evidence from the person who assaulted you.
  • Go to your nearest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. You need to be examined and treated for injuries. You can be given medicine to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. The National Sexual Assault Hotline  at 800-656-HOPE (4673) can help you find a hospital able to collect evidence of sexual assault. Ask for a sexual assault forensic examiner (SAFE) . A doctor or nurse will use a rape kit to collect evidence. This might be fibers, hairs, saliva, semen, or clothing left behind by the attacker. You do not have to decide whether to press charges while at the hospital.
    • If you think you were drugged, talk to the hospital staff about being tested for date rape drugs, such as Rohypnol and Gamma Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), and other drugs.
    • The hospital staff can also connect you with the local rape crisis center. Staff there can help you make choices about reporting the sexual assault and getting help through counseling and support groups.
  • Reach out for help. Call a friend or family member you trust, or call a crisis center or hotline. Crisis centers and hotlines have trained volunteers and counselors who can help you find support and resources near you. One hotline is the National Sexual Assault Hotline  at 800-656-HOPE (4673). If you are in the military, you may also call the DoD Safe Helpline  at 877-995-5246.
  • Report the sexual assault to the police: Call 911. If you want to talk to someone first about reporting the assault, you can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline  at 800-656-HOPE (4673). A counselor can help you understand how to report the crime. Even though these calls are free, they may appear on your phone bill. If you think that the person who sexually assaulted you may check your phone bill, try to call from a friend's phone or a public phone.
  • Write down the details about the person who sexually assaulted you and what happened.
After a sexual assault, you may feel fear, shame, guilt, or shock. These feelings are normal. But sexual assault is never your fault. It may be frightening to think about talking about the assault, but it is important to get help. You can call these organizations any time, day or night. The calls are free and confidential:
Each state and territory has organizations and hotlines to help people who have been sexually assaulted.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Eradicating Racial and Ethnic "Purity"

Racial and ethnic purity- remember this term from World History and Social Studies class? The first flashback of racial purity history that comes to mind is the Holocaust. What do you think of first? No matter what bit of history initially came to your mind, you thought it was only the Nazi, KKK, and other supremacist groups who have had an obsession with racial purity, right? Wrong, think again. Many of us have an obsession with this notion of "purity" and do not even know it.....yet.

Let me give you a couple current examples:

[In the news: March 25, 2015] This young woman, Miss Nagasaki Ariana Miyamoto, is Japan's first ever mixed-race (half African American and half Japanese) Miss Universe Japan. Nagasaki is being criticized for not being "Japanese" enough, which in other words she is not "pure Japanese" and does not have pale skin like millions of other Japanese. Horrible, just horrible. Miss Miyamoto, I am rooting for you and hope you come out on top in the Miss Universe pageant. To read more about her struggle, click here.

[In the news: Since he was rumored to be running for Presidency] Excuse me while I take a moment to take a good look at this stunning photo. Okay, I'm back. President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii (Mom, why couldn't you have had me in HI?) to a Caucasian woman from Kansas and an African man from Kenya. Combined with God's help they made this fine gentleman. He is half black and half white. Many Caucasians (not all) disowned him because his appearance is "more black than white" and his Kenyan roots. Would this group of Caucasians have been more accepting if President Obama were pale skinned and had been born with baby blue eyes? The world will never know, but it's painfully intriguing to think about.

There were also African Americans who denied him as being America's first black president. Check out what Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman said in a 2012 interview:

"First thing that always pops into my head regarding our president is that all of the people who are setting up this barrier for him ... they just conveniently forget that Barack had a mama, and she was white — very white American, Kansas, middle of America," Freeman said. "There was no argument about who he is or what he is. America's first black president hasn't arisen yet. He's not America's first black president — he's America's first mixed-race president."

To read more on NPR, click here.

There are many other world-wide news (throughout history) examples. Do your research; you will be appalled.

All of this sounds awful, right? Well, this mentality abides within many of our friend and family circles as well. I have been present in Latino circles (By the way, I am Latina) where some individuals think that our friend who is half-Latina and half-Caucasian is not really Latina. "She did not grow up speaking Spanish or watching Sabado Gigante; she's white." And I am sure that on the flip side, there were some Caucasians who subtly "disowned" her as well because she is not "Caucasian enough." It's that racial "purity" mentality. So, where do these individuals truly belong (racially) then?

To put it out there I am half-Puerto Rican and half-Salvadoran, which I blogged about not too long ago (to read, click here).  Recently I was at a social gathering and someone who is from one of my lands (I will not specify either Puerto Rico or El Salvador) found out that I had blood from another land. The person's expression (both verbal and body language-wise) was priceless, but not surprising even though it stings every time. It's as if they responded, "Oh, you are not really (or fully) one of us then." It's that racial/ethnic "purity" mentality again and it hurts. It was not the first time that has happened to me and I know it will not be the last. Where do I belong ethnicity-wise? [Special thank you to those who do accept me wholeheartedly and without reservations.]

Are our races and ethnicities elitist groups? We think it is ludicrous and appalling when we hear of supremacist groups issuing heritage and DNA tests to see if others are "pure," but let us also be mindful that we do not fall into the same atrocious (and destructive) mind sets.

Let us be the generation that eradicates racial/ethnic "purity," with God's divine help, once and for all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rise Up, DC: #dosomething

*Disclaimer: The views expressed on this blog and post are mine and mine alone, but I'd like to think it is aligned with the Seventh-day Adventist mission.* 


"Here's how we can help!"
"Please pray!" 

What does this sampling of hashtags and phrases have in common? They are all opportunities to:

  • Speak up
  • Rise up
  • Be present
  • Help others
 Let's see what the Bible has to say about this:

 Isaiah 1:17 ESV
"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. "

1 John 3:17-18 ESV
"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."

Jeremiah 22:3 ESV

"Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place."

 Proverbs 31:9 ESV

"Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Romans 12:15 NIV
"Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."

Psalm 82:3 ESV

"Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute."

Those are a lot of supporting Bible verses, right? Well, there are plenty more where that came from and we see that it should be an important part of our walk with God. 
In other words, What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)? I say we revive that popular 1990's phrase! 
My heart has been burdened for a couple years now (but has intensified this year) because of the lack of major Adventist presence at Washington, DC area rallies/protests/demonstrations/vigils/walkouts/interfaith activities and also governmental-interfaith programs that assist the community.

Do you know how many times I have attended a rally and have witnessed the Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Jewish communities standing with the people and not have our denomination present? Sadly I've lost track of how many times it has been. It pierces my heart each time to not have a visible Adventist presence because I know we are also a bunch who love Christ and others wholeheartedly. And no, I'm not saying Adventists are not out there assisting others or standing with the people because I know there are (including me), but there is no visible presence like these other wonderful denominations have. 

Most recently I was accepted into a competitive inter-faith government program that will assist others (will share more about it at a later time) and am the only Adventist. At the information session (before any of us could apply) there were at least 75 individuals in the room. The government officials made everyone state their name, religion, and why they were interested. Wouldn't you know that as folks stated their information I heard Church of Latter Day Saints, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Pentacostal more than once and Adventist only once?! I was the ONLY Seventh-day Adventist in the room and while I was extremely proud and honored to represent my denomination, I was heartbroken that I was the only one. This needs to change. 

I am committed to stop my griping (about the lack of major support of Adventists) and #dosomething about it. I am launching a Facebook page, DC Adventists for Social Action (DCASA), for the greater Washington, DC area where I will funnel all the information I am aware of (protests/rallies/vigils/walkouts/demonstrations, opportunities to help others in our area and nationally, seminars to learn more to then educate the community, inter-faith activities, etc.) so we can come together as Adventists for the greater good. There is power in numbers! It is time to RISE UP, DC Adventists! It is time to #dosomething!

Friday, November 21, 2014

[Christians + Politics]

Photo Credit:

In many ways I have been a "luchadora (fighter)" since I was a child. My mother tells me that I would negotiate my way out or into things and would not give up easily. This trait followed me into my teenage years, twenties and is still following me today in my early thirties (my husband can really attest to my passionate spirit; gotta love that guy.). Last year I began my journey as a graduate student in a Master of Public Administration (MPA) program and if you do not remember the back story, I invite you to click here to read. Anyway, all of this to say that the career path God has chosen for me may lead me to be a federal or local government worker, start my own non-profit organization, or even run for public office in my state (or federal level). Only God knows what will happen in my life; maybe just one of the three major options or maybe all three. God and time will tell. 

I am a Christian and over the years as I have become more civically and politically engaged and have found my niche, I've also encountered more criticism from folks who strongly believe that Christians and politics should not mix. One of the first things people will say is that "politicians are conniving, vile, selfish, [insert many more negative adjectives] and that's no place for Christian people." To that I say, "That's even more reason to be involved; to be the change agent, the anomaly." Sure, the conniving type of politicians exist, but aren't a couple of the people sitting in our church pews or even church boards the same way? My point is there is good and bad everywhere. Just because we hear more about the rotten politicians on Capitol Hill or in our state capitols, does not mean that every single lawmaker is vile. There are individuals who take their civic duty to the heart and have been effecting change for their constituents throughout the years. If you are a solid Christian (or non-Christian) with integrity, passion and love for others, why not effect change? Are we just going to shy away because there are conniving and "no-good" individuals in the same workforce? We barely hear about those extraordinary lawmakers because let's be real, when was the last time you saw a "feel good" story about a member of congress in section A1 (front page) of The Washington Post (or any other publication)? Our society rather hear the juicy details of the lawmakers affair than what that public official is doing for thousands in their district/state.

Five years ago (September 2009) I had the honor and privileged of being selected to have a unscripted dialogue with the (then) President of my denomination (membership of 17.9 million individuals worldwide as of June 2013) and other Washington, DC area young professionals. The president did not have our questions beforehand and the session was intended to be a free-flowing conversation. I remember burning with excitement and curiosity to ask my question and I did. I asked the president what his thoughts were on members of my denomination mixing with politics, and him being pleasantly surprised at the question [Note: I spent about 20 minutes searching for video of this dialogue, but it's not posted anywhere]. However, there is a news article about it and here are some of the most relevant (to this topic) and interesting excerpts from what the president discussed:

"Be agents of change in both the church and the community."

"Far too few of our members are engaged in any way in the community," "How are we going to reach people if we do not bother to step into their world? We have to stop and ask ourselves a critical question: 'Have we got it right?' The answer is, 'No, not quite right." [Said in regards to being civically and community engaged]

With several participants employed in government jobs, the conversation naturally turned to political involvement. When one participant [that would be me!!] asked whether members should exercise caution when choosing careers in politics, Paulsen said, "If anything, I think we have erred by being too reticent to get involved."
As long as members don't muddle their church's agenda with their civic duty, Paulsen said he saw no reason members shouldn't seek elected public office.
"The church is a voice for right values," Paulsen said. "If laws are compromised and freedom is in danger, we shouldn't be afraid to influence public opinion. We should weigh the issues carefully, know what we're defending and let our voice be heard."
Wise advice, right? To read the full article, which includes other discussed topics, click here.

I do not know where the road will lead me. My God-given passion to advocate, educate, and be involved in my community and politics may lead me to run for office one day or maybe it will not at all. Either way, I know what my personal calling is; to bring light to this world which also might include more immigration rallies, other protests, the halls of congress, the halls of my state capitol, the halls of my future non-profit organization, the community around me, etc. Am I going to stay quiet just because some folks think Christians and politics should not mix and criticize or look down on me? Absolutely not. I look to the Bible and God (not humans), for specific divine life instruction. 

If you feel the burning desire to be a light in the community or in the political arena, ask God to guide your steps and embrace it! Trust me, if it's God's will for your life He will lead every move you make. Speak and rise up, children of God! 

Further Study about Christians + Politics

  • Study the story of Joseph, who was a "political hero" in the Bible times. To read the verses (Genesis 41:41 and on) in the Bible, click here. To read a blog post (not mine) about how we can apply the lesson of Joseph in today's world of politics, click here.
  • Study the story of a strong Christian who lived after the Bible times; Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. He was not afraid of mixing politics and Christianity and look at all he accomplished with God on His side! To read more about his life, click here.
  • Romans 13:1 says, "Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God." 
    • Basically to me this is saying GOD is in control and places the politicians in their respective position. It's ALL part of His divine plan. That's comforting, right?
  • Check out this website, Christians in Politics, based in the United Kingdom (London, England) that serves as a platform for Christians (non-party and non-denominational) involved, or seeking to get involved in politics or public life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Open Letter to the Unfortunate Renter Lady

Disclaimer: I have permission from Sylvia to post this on my blog.

Take a moment to read this open letter my friend wrote to an unfortunate renter lady. This blatant act of discrimination did not occur in the Ozarks; sadly it occurred right outside of the Nation's Capital in Maryland. 

When will this racism end? When will we start "judging" each other by the content of our character instead of by skin color/race/religion/gender/sexual orientation/political side/socioeconomic status/accent/last name/etc? It is time to rise up against hate like this one; not with violence or by reciprocating the hate, but by battling it with love. Love conquers ALL.

Lastly, after you read this letter please share with your networks and also say a prayer that this wonderful family finds a home 10 times better than the one on "Merry Go Round Way." God bless you. 

Open Letter to the Unfortunate Renter Lady

Dear Ms. “For Rent on Merry Go Round Way”,
It is with great sadness that I write this.  Not because I lost a little bit more of my hope in humanity.  Not because two people I love were hurt and discriminated against.  But I write with great sadness for you.  You missed out on a great opportunity.  Let me explain…
You see, I’m a pretty lucky gal.  My parents are great people.  Everyone they come in contact with love them.  I can only strive to be as loving as they are.  Bear with me for a moment while I share a little bit about them with you. They are a quiet, retired pair, but their story begins about 45 years ago, when they migrated here from Argentina.  From the moment they came to the US, they worked harder than anyone you will ever know.  They suffered more than you will ever imagine; a young couple with no money, living on a few dollars a week and often literally going hungry so their kids would have food for the day.  But they always kept their head up and strived for the American Dream.  They worked hard, paid their taxes, never took handouts from the government and became US citizens.   They raised us four children to be educated and productive parts of our society.  Most importantly, they also raised us to be loving Christians, just like they were and continue to be, never ceasing to work hard for their church every week and show everyone unconditional love.
When all of us children were grown, married and moved out, they worked toward the one last part of the American Dream they were never able to achieve.  Why?  Because they were too busy providing for us to make sure we had everything we needed, including an education.  So this last part of the dream? A house.  Not a rental like they’d always had.  They wanted a home to call their own.  So, in their 50’s, they purchased their first home.  It was a cozy little townhouse, and was their pride and joy.  What they had worked for their entire life.
Then tragedy hit.  My mother had an accident at work, causing her to be permanently physically disabled.   My father had also been disabled years earlier due to a forklift accident at work.   My mother was out of work.  My father as well.  During this time, I had to witness my parents helplessly watch as their dream slipped away, as they were unable to pay for the mortgage while my mother had multiple surgeries and was in and out of the hospital from her accident.  Now, a few years later, they have lost their home and have had to look for another place to call home.  It breaks their heart to have to look for another place, knowing they are leaving behind the one thing they had to show for their 45 years of hard work.  It breaks my heart to hear them reluctantly look for a place to, once again, rent.
However, there are the few occasions when my mom sees a place she really likes and I see a little glimmer of hope in her eyes as she tells me about it and asks me to call for them.  Call FOR them, you ask?  Why would I have to call FOR them?  Don’t they speak English after 45 years in this country?  Yes.  They do.  Don’t they do things for themselves?  Yes.  They do.  So why call for them when inquiring about a rental?  Because after all these years, they know there are discriminating people out there that will judge them based on their lingering accent and last name, Garcia.  I always insist that it is completely crazy to think that people would discriminate because they realize my parents are Hispanic by their accent or name.  But, I call for them anyway.
Well, this past weekend, YOU proved them right.
My parents had seen a nice little one-story home for rent on Merry Go Round Way in the Wildwood Park area of Mount Airy.  My mom had mentioned this area to me before as they had gone for walks around there many times when my mom’s leg was better.  She excitedly told me on Sunday that they had seen the For Rent sign on one of the homes.  So, as I usually do for them, I called this past Sunday morning, and you picked up, Ms. “For Rent on Merry Go Round Way.” You were very polite when I told you that I was inquiring about the home for my parents and you gladly told me all about it.  You said it would be available by December 1st and, since you live just a block away, you would gladly let my parents stop by to see it.  You said they should just call and arrange a time to see it.  So I passed along the information to my parents.  The renting price was within their budget, there were no steps, and it was in a 62 and over retirement community.  It was perfect.  My mom was so excited when you told them to stop by the next morning to see it.
Until you left a message about an hour or so later.  Sorry, but I think I’ve rented it, you said.  Don’t come see it tomorrow, you said.  Thanks, but no thanks, you seemed to say.
My mom’s demeanor went from excited to defeated.  My father just shook his head.  He knew he should have let me make the appointment and come see the house with them.  My father knew you hadn’t rented the house in just that little amount of time.  He knew that it was because you heard his heavy accent and last name and decided you’d rather not have Hispanics “ruin the block.”  But, he was the bigger man, and, instead of getting angry, called you back and politely thanked you for your time and for letting him know and wished you a great evening.  I told you my parents are great folks.
I still gave you the benefit of the doubt and decided to ask my friend (who, like me, has no accent but the “American accent”) to call and inquire about the house for her ‘grandparents.’  Just to see if it was really rented.  A phone call later, I realized you had, indeed, lied and the home was not rented and still very much available, to the right type of person.  You happily let my friend know all about the house that was definitely available.  You know, I really wanted my parents to be wrong.  I wanted to still have faith in humanity.  Faith in that racism doesn’t still exist so blatantly today.  But, alas, I was wrong and you do exist.
I supposed I will go back to doing what I normally do.  Call about the house/apartment, make the appointment to see it and then go see it myself or with my parents.  You see, first of all, I look like any other “white girl” you know.  No one ever knows I’m Hispanic (as if “Hispanic” has a look).  My parents as well, save for the accent and last name, are never seen as “Hispanic.”  So, when I arrive with my parents, dressed professionally, and the owners meet my parents, they always LOVE them.  We have not been to a single look through of a house/apartment at which the owners have not called me that same day, offering my parents the rental place.  Unfortunately, my mom is a little picky and hasn’t liked any of the places we have seen. So we are still looking for that place that will make my parents happy to move.
So, I’m not sad for my parents, because I know God has an amazing place out there for them.  But, like I said in the beginning of this letter, I am sad for you.  You missed out on having two of the best tenants you will ever find.  You missed out on making someone’s day.  You missed out on being a good person and having a clean conscience.  I do hope you find the type of person you are looking for to rent your home and keep your neighborhood just the way you want it.  Your kind should stick together, I suppose.  As for us, we’ll move on to the next place.  Someone out there is going to have some great neighbors and tenants.  But not Merry Go Round Way, sorry.