PCC Scroll: Editor’s Corner

Here is my Editor’s Corner from the latest issue of the PCC Scroll.

In the last issue of the Scroll, I wrote that I consider the last few and the next few years of my life to be a time of preparation. I am on a journey of laying down the groundwork for the direction I am heading. I can envision my desired future, and I am trying to lay a solid foundation to build upon. As we move toward our futures and lay our foundations, it is important to place ourselves in the correct positions to thrive.

There is a fine difference between surviving and thriving. In the church world, we have lingo about “being the head and not the tail” and “God preparing a table for us.” Both of which come from scripture. Both involve us doing our part and being in the right position. Because God has promised us life…more abundantly.

When I think about surviving, I think about waking up every Monday morning wishing for 5:00 p.m. Friday to come quickly. When I think about thriving, I think about having a strong passion for what I do as a career. Surviving seems to be just about making it. Thriving seems to be about growing and developing.

Part of my “getting into position to thrive” is talking to a Dream Coach. The process began with a 10-week series. Now my coach and I do monthly check-ins. When I say the term “Dream Coach,” many people assume it is someone who analyzes the dreams I have at night. In actuality, Angela helps me to discover and define what my passions are. What is it that I would do if money, time, fear, insecurity, etc. were not the driving forces behind my decisions? I have a strong idea of where I want to be, and our conversations help steer my actions. Each month, I walk away with “To Do’s” that help me position myself to grow and work toward those passions.

A lot of the time, I feel like the gardener many of the articles discussed in the last issue. I am impatiently waiting to see the shoots of my labor spring forth. It is like the proverbial watched pot that does not boil. But just because I don’t see anything at the surface, does not mean nothing is happening below the surface.

Working with Angela gives me the accountability I need. I set clear goals each month, and I have someone who is a cheerleader and encourager as I achieve minor and major milestones. I am learning to have patience, faith and trust that God is mindful of my hopes and dreams (and even my ambitions) and that they align with His plan for my life.

The other thing I am doing is education. I have my formal degree and certificates, and I also have my work experience. In addition, I am finding classes that align with growing my skill set in the areas that interest me. For example, in the winter quarter, I am taking some classes on social media. I am also looking for some classes on photography.

As you continue to position yourself to thrive, I would encourage you to find a friend, mentor or coach (formally or informally) that will hold you accountable to moving toward your goals. Life is busy and full of distractions, but we must be in position when it is time to reap our harvest. God wants you to flourish and thrive.

 

Advertisements

PCC Scroll: Word of the Quarter

Here is the Word of the Quarter for the latest PCC Scroll.

In this issue of the Scroll, we are continuing with the overarching theme of “Preparing for the Harvest: Positioning Ourselves to Grow.” The overarching theme began in the fall issue with the theme of “Preparing the Soil.” In this issue, we continue the overarching focus with a theme of “Positioning to Thrive.”

When the editing team met to discuss the “Word of the Quarter,” we talked about obstacles that could get in the way and keep us out of position. For example, let’s say we were trying to eat healthier, but every day we walked past a donut shop that sold freshly baked donuts. The smell alone would create an obstacle if we were trying to position ourselves toward not eating junk food.

We also talked about Mary and Joseph, who are featured in “Women of the Bible” and “Men of the Bible,” and how they changed their location many times to thrive. Imagine had they not been in position at crucial times during their journey.

We talked about Zacchaeus, who was a rich man. He desperately wanted to see Jesus, but he was short in stature and could not see Jesus through the crowd. So Zacchaeus ran ahead of the crowd and climbed a tree to be able to see Jesus when He passed. Jesus honored the seriousness of Zacchaeus’ drive. Jesus stopped and spoke to Zacchaeus by name. Jesus told Zacchaeus to come down, and Jesus went to Zacchaeus’ house, which puzzled the people.

Zacchaeus was rich because he was a tax collector, so he would not have been popular in his community. He would have been considered a traitor to his people and corrupt, but his mission to see Jesus was more important than the opinion of the crowd.

In Zacchaeus, we see a person whose hunger to reach his goal was stronger than any distractions, fears or obstacles. That is how we must be. We need to be so focused on positioning ourselves to grow and thrive that we tune out all distractions, fears or obstacles. Being in the right position means that we must be careful of the company we keep and where we find ourselves. We must be mindful of tuning out negative energy and negative voices. We must be mindful of what distracts us.

It is time to position yourself to thrive. This may mean that you need to only surround yourself with people who speak into your life and who are where you are trying to be. This may mean that you need to return to school for training. This may mean that you have to be more intentional on how you spend your time. This may even mean changing your own mindset and attitude toward what you think you can do.

It is time to get into position. This will mean sacrifice, time and steadfastness on your part. You were meant to thrive.

 

PCC Scroll: Men of the Bible

I wrote about Joseph for Men the Bible.

Name: Joseph

Meaning: May He (God) add

His Character: Joseph was a just man with strong integrity, honor, loyalty and faith.

His Sorrow: Joseph planned to quietly break off his engagement with Mary because he believed she had been unfaithful.

His Triumph: Through listening to the instruction of angels, Joseph was able to protect his family multiple times from those who would do them harm.

Key Scriptures: Matthew 1:16-2:23; Luke 1:26-2:52

Joseph was a descendant of King David and from the tribe of Judah. He was a carpenter by trade.

Joseph was engaged to be married to Mary. Imagine his surprise when he learned that Mary was pregnant. He knew that the baby was not his, and I can imagine him having a hard time believing that she had conceived by the Holy Spirit.

To avoid disgracing and shaming Mary, Joseph made plans to quietly break off their engagement. Under Jewish civil law, Joseph could have condemned Mary and opened her to public disgrace. Mary could have had a court action against her, and she could have been stoned to death. Joseph wanted to do what was right and in the right way.

In a dream, an angel of God spoke to Joseph concerning Mary and the Child. By consenting to marry Mary, Joseph opened himself to ridicule and doubt. Yet despite all of that, the strength of his belief informed his decision and put him in the right position to be used by God. Through his obedience, prophecy was fulfilled concerning the arrival of Emmanuel.

After the birth of Jesus, I am sure Joseph marveled. He must have marveled at the visitation from the shepherds and hearing about their encounter with angels. He must have marveled at the old woman and the old man he encountered in the Temple in Jerusalem. He must have marveled at the visitation by the Magi. He must have marveled at and been humbled by the mighty task he had been assigned to do.

Joseph was receptive to the position that God placed him in. He was Jesus’ legal father and thus responsible for Jesus’ well being and safety. Joseph once again put him and his family in the right position when an angel came to him in a dream telling him to flee to Egypt with his family until the angel told him to return. Thus fulfilling another prophecy concerning God’s son being called out of Egypt. Joseph was able to place his family in the right position yet once again when he was led to the region of Galilee and settled in Nazareth, fulfilling yet another prophecy.

With each of his dreams and encounters with angels, Joseph was left with two choices. Either he could have relied on his own understanding and acted out of that (in which case, he probably would have acted differently), or he could walk in faith and obedience to his divine directions. Each time, he chose the latter.

Through his actions, we can conclude that Joseph was a man of integrity and compassion. He was also obedient. He was sensitive to the leading of God, and he was willing to do the will of God. He was Jesus’ earthly father. He took Jesus to Jerusalem to be presented in the Temple when the time came. He taught Jesus carpentry.

He was also a person who was constantly in the correct position to thrive because he listened to and heeded the instructions given to him. He may have been materially poor, but his life shows a man who was a good husband and father, who provided for and protected his family.

Through Joseph, we have an awesome example of what happens when we place ourselves in a position to thrive by heeding our divine directions.

 

PCC Scroll: Women of the Bible

I wrote about Mary for Women of the Bible.

Name: Mary

Meaning: Bitterness

Her Character: Mary was a willing, humble and obedience God-fearing woman.

Her Sorrow: Mary was a witness to the crucifixion of her son, Jesus.

Her Triumph: Mary was able to perform and accept the will of God in her life.

Key Scriptures: Matthew 1:16-2:23, 13:55; Mark 6:3; Luke 1:26-2:56; Acts 1:14

The story of Mary is a beautiful example of what happens when believers are continually in the right position because of their obedience to God.

Mary was an obscure woman who lived in Nazareth. When we first encounter Mary in scripture, we learn that she is engaged to be married to Joseph. Mary was probably imagining what her life would be like as a wife and eventually a mother. Then Mary’s life was interrupted. She was visited by the angel Gabriel and told of the unique task she had been chosen for. Mary accepted her charge because, as she told Gabriel, she was the Lord’s servant.

From Gabriel, Mary learned that her older relative, Elizabeth, was also with child. So Mary went to visit Elizabeth. Her initial encounter with Elizabeth became a confirmation of her assignment. We can deduce that Mary was aware of the Old Testament because of the scripture woven into the song of praise and adoration to God that she broke out into. After staying with Elizabeth for several months, Mary returned home and to Joseph, who was prepared to quietly break off their engagement until he was visited by an angel of God. From there, we have the birth of Jesus, His circumcision, His presentation at the Temple and her own purification at the Temple.

Like any mother, Mary cared for, clothed and fed her children. As a family, they would make yearly trips to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. Joseph is not mentioned again after the yearly trip when he and Mary searched three days for the 12-year-old Jesus only to find him in the Temple. Although no record is given of his death, it is thought that Joseph must have died sometime between then and Jesus’ first miracle in Cana, leaving Mary a widow.

Mary was present for Jesus’ first miracle of changing water into wine, and she was there when He took His last breath. He was her son, and He was her Savior. From the Cross, Jesus saw His mother and commanded the disciple John to care for Mary for the rest of her life. Mary has the unique position of being there for Jesus’ birth and death.

As a mother, it must have been incredibly hard to witness her son’s death and to not be able to do anything. Yet in still, Mary had an understanding that Jesus was fulfilling His purpose. What strength it must have taken to endure something so painful. After Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can assume that Mary assisted the disciples. She is last mentioned in Acts after the Ascension, praying with the apostles in the upper room.

Mary’s example shows us that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. We just need to make ourselves available and our response to the unexpected makes all of the difference.

Although she had a humble life, today we can see Mary adorned in fine garments in churches and palaces all over the world. Throughout the ages, Mary has been revered and honored through art, music and literature. She has been called “Mother of Mercy,” “Queen of Heaven” and “Virgin Most Powerful,” to name a few. Yet it is from Mary’s own words that we can sum up her life. She was a humble “servant” who was willing to be used by God. Mary is indeed blessed among women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basilica. Photo by LaTonja Brown.

 

PCC Scroll: Your Money Matters

Here is an article I wrote for the PCC Scroll.

In this issue, we are coming from the theme of “Positioning to Thrive.” In this section, I normally focus on financial planning and investment. For this particular issue, however, I will take a slightly different angle. I want to talk about other ways you can invest in yourself. If we are going to thrive, we need to be in the right position in all of the areas of our lives.

Invest in Your Health

Some years back, I turned 40. It really made me think about how I wanted the next 40 years of my life to look. As I pondered my life in general, being physically healthy was just as important as being financially healthy. When I started researching the cost of seeing a trainer, I balked. It seemed pricey. I looked over my budget to see if there were any areas I could cut back on. As I was glancing at my budget, one line item caught my eye. That line item was “hair.” At that point in time, I realized how ridiculous it was for me to be willing to “invest” more into my hair than in my health.

I see a trainer because even though I could work out on my own, history has shown me that I won’t. We all know ourselves. If you can be disciplined to go to a gym and take classes/lift weights, then do so. Take a look at your budget. Are there line items that can be eliminated to add a gym membership? Here are a few areas that came from the top of my mind: eating out, coffee, hair, pedicures/manicures, cable, etc.

The investment has paid dividends already. I have lost weight. I sleep better. And, most importantly, I was able to stop taking blood pressure medication.

Invest in a Financial Planner

I have friends who are very good at managing their financial portfolios and who balk at the idea of paying someone to help them with their investments. Again, it gets back to knowing yourself. I don’t have the discipline to monitor the market and update my portfolio even on a yearly basis. So financially, I bit the bullet. The fee that I pay is reasonable, and I found someone who I trust to help me plan my financial future.

Invest in Your Passions (with time)

Time is probably the most valuable commodity. I often remind myself that it is not time that is the problem. It is what I choose to do (or not to do) with my time that is the issue. I love to write, and I love to read. The list of things that I love goes on. I cannot stress how important it is to find time to work on your crafts, passions and likes. Since I take the bus to work, I try to read on the bus. In the winter, when I don’t want to walk outside, I will clear a space in a large conference room and walk in a circle and read during lunch. Whether you like to paint, write, read, sew, sing, cook, etc. make the time to invest in that pleasure.

Invest in Your Passions (with resources)

I have an interest in learning about social media and photography, so my goal is to take classes on both subjects. Seattle Central College Continuing Education and UW Professional and Continuing Education both have programs on a wide range of subjects. They cater to working adults, so the classes are at night or on the weekends.

Groupon is another source for exploring interests and passions. I have taken classes ranging from glass blowing to pasta making to painting to cooking to dance. In addition to being at a discounted rate, Groupon continually offers other cost reductions at different price points.

 

2017 Christmas Letter

Greetings Family and Friends,

I started writing a yearly Christmas Letter some years back. As I have mentioned in the past, it is a “highlights reel” of the year, which of course doesn’t mean that my life is one rosy picture. It is, however, a reminder (to myself) that at the end of the day (and year), it is important to focus on the good with gratitude and thankfulness. When it comes down to it, in the overall scheme of life, I am blessed

When 2017 began, I had one main goal (outside of traveling) for the year. That was to finish the anthology, which is called The Outpouring. It was completed, and we had a book launch party for it in February. I am very proud of it. I learned a lot after Illuminations was published, and I think The Outpouring reflects it. Both are available on Amazon or through me. I am very thankful to those friends and family who took the time to support me and the other writers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For my yearly “big” trip, I went to New Zealand (Christchurch and Queenstown, plus some day trips around the areas) and Australia (Perth and some day trips around the area). I was in New Zealand for nine nights and Perth for six nights. The weather was super nice in both places, though warmer in Australia. I loved the beauty of New Zealand. The further south I went, the more enchanting it was. For a small country, there is so much to see. What I saw is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to read about my trip, it is in my blog. In case you missed it, here is the first entry.

Trip Highlights (in order of appearance – sort of):

  • The best part of any trip is the wonderful people you encounter along the way. And even if I never see them again, they are a vivid speck in my memory bank.
  • I stayed at an Airbnb in Christchurch and enjoyed meeting my host, Miliana, and my housemate, Johannes. Both very good people.
  • I enjoyed reluctantly hiking to Taylor’s Mistake and then purposefully hiking Godley Head.
  • I spent a lovely day driving to Akaroa and back with Johannes. We stopped for many pictures on the way there and back. It was just so beautiful. It was hard to take a bad picture. I enjoyed walking around Akaroa with Johannes complete with a nice picnic lunch.
  • I had a surprisingly lovely time walking around Mona Vale, a garden in Christchurch. I also enjoyed Riccarton Bush because it felt like I was in a forest.
  • Queenstown was absolutely beautiful as well. Despite it being busier, I still felt relaxed while I was there. Water and mountains. How could you go wrong?
  • Milford Sound is one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been, period. The boat ride to the mouth of the Tasman Sea was too perfect for words.
  • It was awesome to visit Gabriela in Perth and have conversations with her about life and relationships. I enjoyed our walks and our dinners. I was also inspired to make some moves when I got back that I normally would not have done.
  • Spending the day in Freemantle with Gabriela, her sister Carla and Carla’s family was awesome. I thought Freemantle had a great heartbeat. I thoroughly enjoyed the home cooked meal Carla prepared for us and meeting her family. I loved the market there and met someone who is selling his art, which inspired me.
  • Seeing a humpback whale on the boat ride to Rottnest Island and seeing the Port of Freemantle up close and personal on the boat ride to and from this island.
  • I loved the central location of where I stayed in the cities I visited. It made it so easy to get around.
  • Each trip has a song that connects to it. This trip the song is a toss-up between “The Misty Mountains Cold” and “Song of the Lonely Mountain.” from the Hobbit. Because, let’s face it, I was in Lord of the Rings and Hobbit country.
  • And of course just walking around each city is always fun. You never know what is around the corner, and it is always fun to chat up other tourists.

I remain grateful for the gift of travel. It is a reminder that regardless of race, politics, religion, etc. the majority of people pretty much want the same thing.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For more pictures, visit my Shutterfly page.

Password is: italia

I did a few smaller trips as well. In March, I took a quick trip to Long Beach for my job. I got to see my buddies from other port cities, so it is a very enjoyable business trip. Long days and exhausting but fun and a great time to catch up with some of the amazing people I have met in the port industry. I also had a chance to hang out with Samarah and Mary for a minute.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was able to go to Victoria to see Alice over Memorial Day Weekend and again in August. I am glad to have her back in North America, though I would love to visit her in Hong Kong again. Alas, I discovered Legos while visiting her. I have yet to take the plunge, but they are calling me. Victoria is just a great place to go for a quick weekend getaway.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was able to go to Los Angeles during Labor Day weekend and that was super fun. I had not been to Los Angeles in a long time. I was able to stay with Samarah and had a chance to visit with Mary and her family. I saw Mary three times this year. Twice in Southern Cal and once here. I particularly enjoyed visiting Venice Beach and the flea market in Melrose. It was inspiring to see people pursuing their passion. I made the goal of getting out more in Seattle. So far I have done two First Thursdays and a First Wednesday. I also want to hit up some markets when the weather gets better.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I even did a day trip to Leavenworth.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The fitness journey I began in January 2014 continues. I am at the point where I am trying to maintain. I was able to get off of blood pressure meds last year and that has been sustained. I did three 5Ks in 2017. In February, I did my first Mardi Gras 5K with Erica. In March, I did my sixth St. Patrick’s Day Dash, which is a 5K, with Kim and Katherine. In April, I did my first Brunch Run 5K, with Kim and Katherine. Let me say that is the best race ever! In June, I walked my fifth half-marathon (the Rock N Roll Seattle), and in November, I walked my sixth (the Seattle Marathon). The route for the Seattle was changed, and I am still complaining loudly about it. Too hilly. I would still love to do the Rock N Roll in Lisbon, Madrid, Dublin or Las Vegas.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also went on my first hike at Rattlesnake Ledge.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s hard to believe my church newsletter is entering its 17th year! Where did the time go? As I mentioned before, I am so excited that the second anthology was published. Writing is something I need to do more of. Writing has always helped me focus. It is something I am passionate about, and it is something that I have been gifted in. The time is there, I just need to use it. It just seems like there is always something there to distract me. I need to focus. I have more writing goals for 2018.

I continue to try to fight the power through words. I am not impressed by what I see happening in Washington. I am very troubled by what I consider to be the silence of “friends” on issues.

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/the-importance-of-international-trade/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/reflections-from-a-free-lunch-kid/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/the-state-of-union/

https://latonjab.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/the-importance-of-international-trade-act-two/

I general, my prayer for 2018 is that I spend less time thinking about/talking about what I am going to do or want to do and spend more time just doing.

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year!

love. hug. xoxo.

ltb

 

Leavenworth

Having grown up in Eastern Washington, it is a mystery to me as why I only just now visited Leavenworth for the first time. If at some point in my life I have been there, I have absolutely no memory of it.

 

The Victoria Clipper has a bus service that goes there, and in case we have not met, I don’t drive in the snow (I barely like driving in the sun), so I was excited to see that option. The bus departs at 9:00 in the morning from the downtown waterfront and there is another bus that departs from Northgate.

 

The package includes a breakfast bag, which included a couple of mandarins, yogurt, a muffin and a bottle of water. It was the right amount.

 

I am going to give the Clipper the benefit of a doubt and say it was an off bus day. When we first started the journey, the heat was blasting. I was about to start taking off layers, when the driver pulled over and opened up the bus hatches, explaining it was a system problem. That was fine for a short while before it became too cold. So I never felt the right temperature. The bus was swapped out for the journey home, but that bus was a little on the cold side to me as well.

 

We arrived at Leavenworth around 11:30. I walked around and wandered around for a bit. Most of the main area was either food or merchandise. I did go to a few craft fairs, and I picked up some lovely lavender/avocado body butter from Stormy Mountain Soaps.

 

https://stormysoap.com/

 

One of the churches was offering free use of their bathroom as well as cookies and coffee. Another church was offering soup and sandwiches for a donation. They also had a craft fair. I ended up going in this hall to charge my phone, which was quickly running out of juice. Sometime between my entering the hall and my leaving house, the number of people multiplied…a lot.

 

With technology, I was able to meet up with Des and her family, but I got to tell you it was too crowded. We ended up going onto a side street to get some relief. The lines to everything/where were hell of long, which I did hear about before getting there. I am not sure how the town is outside of tree lighting, but take the advice to book ahead for restaurants to heart.

 

We ended up toward the back to see the tree lighting. Again, there were just so many people there. There was a malfunction, so the lights came on in a few spots. Were turned off and came back on in a few more spots before everything came together. Oh, and they said 4:30 for the lighting, but it was well after that.

 

Then, I had to rush back to catch my bus. I was trying to get pictures, but alas, I was fighting the crowds. I was one of the last people to return to the bus in my attempt to get some pictures, but I was not the very last. We were able to leave in good order, and we got back at 8:00 ahead of the listed 8:45 scheduled time. We got another bottle of water and a snack from Macrina for the way back. We watched White Christmas. It was my first time seeing it.

 

If I were to do it again, I would probably find a company that stayed a little after the tree lighting service was over (if one exists). The crowds were clearing out as people were leaving directly after the lighting. Another option would be to stay overnight and enjoy the lights after the day trippers were gone. It reminded me of being in Venice and having the cruisers descend into the city. Then the city was calm and moveable after they left.

Pictures can be found here. Password: italia.

https://latonjab.shutterfly.com/

This slideshow requires JavaScript.