PCC Scroll: Your Money Matters

Here is the “Your Money Matters” section of the latest PCC Scroll.

There is an old saying that goes, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” This adage is especially true when it comes to managing your money. If you concentrate all of your investments and planning in one area, you could lose substantially. That’s why it’s important to diversify your portfolio.

 

When it comes to financial planning, diversification is critical to mitigating risks. This could be done by diversifying your investments in stocks (U.S. and foreign), bonds, mutual funds, etc., while having liquid cash. It also means diversifying risk levels (high, moderate, and low), investment types (large cap and small cap), and market sectors. Some people also invest in real estate or rent out space(s) in their home on sites like Airbnb.

 

Stocks are more volatile than bonds with the potential for high growth and high loss. Historically speaking, the market seems to run on a ten-year, up-and-down cycle. Bonds are shorter-term investments with less risk. But with their stability, there is also less growth. Stocks may be better for long-term investments, and bonds may be better for short-term investments. And of course, cash is always good to have in an emergency. If you are considering investing in real estate, remember you will need to monetarily plan for vacancies and repairs (planned and unplanned).

 

While you are diversifying your portfolio, you can also diversify your income stream. Outside of your “9 to 5” job, you could use your skillset, time, and hobbies to earn additional income. Some examples include: babysitting, tutoring, consulting/coaching, writing, singing lessons, piano lessons, social media management, resume/grant writing, etc. I met a woman who started making candles for herself and her friends and family as a hobby. She now spends her weekends selling them at farmers’ markets as an income generator. I have also met several people who sell their travel photos at farmers’ markets. People also sell their pictures as stock photos and make royalties. This is actually something I want to explore. You could also drive for Uber, Lyft, and UberEats whenever convenient for your schedule. A lot of people will also pick up seasonal, part-time work, especially during the holidays. If you are eligible for overtime pay, picking up extra hours is also a good option. I recently stayed at an Airbnb, and my host only does it when she needs extra cash for a large purchase.

 

It is important to know where you are financially and where you want to go. When developing your portfolio, think about your investment goals. Think about your risk tolerance. Consider where you are in your timeline. For example, if you are planning for retirement, are you less than ten years away? If so, stay away from high-risk investments.

 

As we start a new year, it is always a good time to reset your finances. How much money do you currently have invested? Can you invest more? Look at where your money is currently invested and reallocate it if necessary. Think about the end game. How much money are you looking to earn over how many years? Also does your job offer a 401 match? If so, you should take advantage of this benefit! If you are risk adverse, why not use your employer match funds to invest in higher-risk stocks?

 

Invest in a financial planner if you need help. A good financial planner can help you create the financial future you desire. When looking for an advisor, make sure it is someone you can trust and seek recommendations. If you do go the advisor route, understand what fees you will pay. The bottom line is knowing yourself. If you have the discipline to do the research and monitor your accounts, do so. Otherwise, seek professional help.

 

Whatever you do, conduct your own research and keep a balanced portfolio.

 

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PCC Scroll: Men of the Bible (Joseph)

Here is the “Men of the Bible” from the latest issue of the PCC Scroll.

Name: Joseph

Meaning: May He (Jehovah) add

His Character: Joseph was wise, prudent, and spiritually sensitive.

His Sorrow: In their jealousy, his brothers sold him into slavery. He was also imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.

His Triumph: Joseph was reunited with his family. He reconciled with his older brothers and was reunited with his father and younger brother, Benjamin. He was able to provide for his family and a nation during a famine.

Key Scriptures: Genesis 30 – 50

Being Jacob’s first child from his beloved Rachel in Jacob’s old age, Joseph was Jacob’s favorite. Jacob’s favoritism was further illustrated when he purchased, for Joseph, a colorful robe. Joseph was naturally confident and knowing he was his father’s favorite amplified it. Joseph was also aware of the call of God on his life. He had dreams that pointed to his eventual greatness, and he was not afraid to share them. His older brothers found his being their fathers’ favorite, his confidence, and his dreams unbearable and conspired against him. Some wanted to kill him, but they ended up selling him into slavery.

 

Joseph managed to survive and prosper wherever he landed. He was a person who walked in favor, and, as he aged, wisdom was added to his confidence. From Potiphar (who placed Joseph in charge of everything he owned), the prison warden (who placed Joseph in charge of the other prisoners), other prisoners (including the pharaoh’s cup bearer who would later remember and recommend Joseph to the pharaoh), the pharaoh (whose dream Joseph interpreted), and eventually the same brothers who sold him into slavery–Joseph won the hearts of those around him.

 

Joseph was known for his integrity and spiritual sensitivity. Because of his spiritual sensitivity, he was able to hear from God and correctly interpret pharaoh’s dream. This interpretation gave them the steps needed to prepare a nation to survive the famine, saving many lives. Egypt’s being prepared caused many to go there, including Joseph’s family. He was able to help his family, see his father and younger brother, and reconcile with the brothers who sold him into slavery.

 

At Joseph’s initial reconnection with his brothers, he recognized them although they did not recognize him. As they bowed before him, he was probably reminded of his initial dream. He accused them of being spies. The interaction with his brothers may have been to test to see if they had changed, and he wanted to ascertain how they treated Benjamin. When the brothers returned with Benjamin, at Joseph’s command, it was Judah’s protective nature toward Benjamin that caused Joseph to emotionally reveal himself. The eventual reunion of Jacob and Joseph is one of the most moving scenes in the Bible.

 

In his life, Joseph experienced a lot. He was betrayed by his brothers, but he was able to forgive them and hold no bitterness toward them. He was wrongly accused of rape and imprisoned, but he knew he did the right thing in resisting temptation because he did not want to sin against God. Even in his darkest situations, Joseph was aware that God was with him. He rose from being a slave to being a ruler in Egypt. To paraphrase Joseph, God made him fruitful in the land of his suffering.

 

In Joseph, we see a wonderful example that even what others intend for evil, God can use for our good. God was continually blessing Joseph and delivering him from challenging situations. God blessed Joseph with wisdom and success. Joseph moved from strength to strength in his life and was blessed even in the most unlikely situations. He rose from being sold into slavery at 17 years old to being a Hebrew slave and prisoner for 13 years to becoming the second-in-command in Egypt by the age of 30 years old.

 

PCC Scroll: Women of the Bible (Rizpah)

Here is the Women of the Bible from the latest PCC Scroll.

Name: Rizpah

Meaning: Glowing coal or hot stone

Her Character: Rizpah was a dedicated and devoted mother who guarded the bodies of her sons and kinsmen.

Her Sorrow: Her two sons and kinsmen were executed.

Her Triumph: Her watch was noticed by King David, and her sons and kinsmen were buried in their family’s tomb.

Key Scriptures: 2 Samuel 3:6-8; 2 Samuel 21:8-14

Rizpah, who was the daughter of Aiah, was a concubine of King Saul, and she had two sons by him. We first hear of her when the houses of Saul and David were at war. Abner, who was the commander in chief of King Saul’s army, was accused of sleeping with her by Ishbosheth. Ishbosheth was King’s Saul’s son. He was a weak and ineffective ruler after his father’s death. Ishbosheth’s accusation was serious because to sleep with a wife or a concubine of a king, or in this case former king, was considered treason. It was considered trying to make a play for the throne. This accusation angered Abner and caused him to shift his allegiance to David.

 

We next hear about her during the later years of King David’s rule. There was a famine in the land for three years, and King David sought God about it. God’s answer was that the famine came because King Saul and his family were guilty of massacring the Gibeonites. This slaughter broke an oath Joshua had made with the Gibeonites years ago. King David sought the Gibeonites about how to make amends and atone for the murders, and they called for the execution of King Saul’s sons. Two of the sons, Armoni and Mephibosheth, were the sons of Rizpah.

 

The execution of her sons and five of King Saul’s grandsons took place at the beginning of the barley harvest, which was typically late April/early May and lasted until October. Her two sons and their nephews were executed, and she watched over the bodies that were left on the gallows for months.

 

Rizpah spread sackcloth on the ground and stayed and guarded the bodies the entire harvest. Sackcloth is associated with mourning for the dead as well as a public expression of penitence in view of misfortune. A woman who had once wore queenly garments now rested on sackcloth. She spent months preventing scavenger birds from tearing at the decomposing bodies during the day and preventing wild animals from devouring them during the night.

 

King David learned of what Rizpah was doing. He gathered the bones of King Saul and Jonathan and the remains of the men the Gibeonites had executed. They were all buried in the tomb of King Saul’s father in the town of Zela.

 

Rizpah is known for the loving care of her dead. She was left without a husband and her sons and was probably living in poverty. She did not have the power to stop the deaths of her sons, but she took action to protect the bodies of her sons and kinsmen, and her bold actions were noticed by the king himself. Her desire for the proper and respectful treatment of her dead was fulfilled.

 

Rizpah has been honored in art. She is believed to be the inspiration for Tennyson’s poem “Rizpah,” and the painter J.M.W. Turner created a famous piece of her watching over the bodies. Rizpah’s vigil over her sons’ bodies is often compared to Mary standing at the cross watching over her son, Jesus. Rizpah is also compared to Mary Magdalene.

 

We do not what her life was like after her vigil, but we can imagine she found comfort knowing her sons were lying in the tomb of their family.

 

 

PCC Scroll: Word of the Quarter

Here is the “Word of the Quarter” from the latest issue of the PCC Scroll.

In this issue of the PCC Scroll, we continue the overarching theme of “Being a good steward: Working what’s in your hands.” The overarching focus started in the fall issue with the subject of “Recognizing what is in your hand: What are you steward over?” The overarching thought continues with the topic, “Exploring creative ideas: How else can you use your gifts.”

 

In terms of using our gifts, if we don’t branch out and think outside of the box, we have the potential to become boxed in. We can become boxed in by external forces (how other people perceive our gifts and capabilities) or by internal forces (how we perceive our gifts and capabilities). When we become boxed in, we neglect to explore new ways to create, and we become stuck in a rut or perform out of routine behavior.

 

The practice of exploration requires us to investigate, study, and analyze. Exploration requires us to travel into new spaces and territories. Explorers value and want to see what is outside of their native land. Perhaps one way we can experience God in a different way is by going outside of the four walls of the church with our ministry. People are looking for light and hope, and it requires us taking the light and hope to them. This requires us to look at need in a different way. We must look beyond what we think someone needs and discern what they actually need.

 

When the editing team met, we asked ourselves a few questions. How do we create new avenues to use our gifts? We can start by asking, “How else and where else can I use my gifts?” We talked about different ways to express our gifts. A few examples came out. If you are a member of a choir, there are opportunities to use your gift outside of the church. For example, you could volunteer to sing at a nursing home. If you have the gift of hospitality, perhaps you could invite new members of your church to dinner. It would be a good way to use your gift and welcome new members into the congregation.

 

One way you can stretch yourself is to take or retake an inventory of your gifts. We invite you take or retake a spiritual gifts survey, which can be found at the following link: http://gifts.churchgrowth.org/spiritual-gifts-survey/. For those who have already taken the test, what has expanded and what is new? How do you live out the gifts you have been given?

 

Other questions the editing team asked were, “How else is God causing us to use our gifts?” and “What does it look like for our gifts to live in a different space?” We invite you to reacquaint yourself with wonder. It is okay to not know how things will work out, but it is not okay to be complacent. Be an explorer. It’s part of our faith journey. Be okay with trying new things, failing, asking questions, taking weighted risks, and learning. We must be open to assess our effectiveness. Be honest about what worked and what didn’t work. It is a process. Do not be fearful of failure. Be brave, courageous, and open to the unexpected.

 

You have the skills and gifts. We invite you to explore how you can use them in a different way.

 

PCC Scroll: Editor’s Corner

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

I am going to steer this article toward people who write, like to write, or want to write. It has always struck me how many people who write attend or have attended PCC. With so much writing talent in one place, how can we best harvest this gift?

 

We currently have several avenues of using the gift.

 

We have the PCC Scroll, which I think is a great way to get your writing out. We have an international distribution list. We are continuously looking for new, dedicated writers. We are looking for staff writers for “Men of the Bible,” “Women of the Bible,” and “Your Money Matters.” The commitment would be one article a quarter of around 600 words. The editing team develops an editorial calendar each year, so the subject matter would be provided. If you have an interest in writing for the Scroll, please talk to me. Also, if you have an interest in editing for the Scroll, please talk to me. And don’t forget you can always submit creative expressions, testimonies, book reviews, etc. We really do want to hear from you!

 

The church has also published two anthologies, Illuminations and The Outpouring. Is it time to do another one? I have been struck by the powerful testimonies of our members and greater community. So perhaps a book of testimonies. If you have an interest in exploring this project, please talk to me.

 

Earlier this year, we formed a writing group, but the momentum faded. Perhaps we should pick that back up? I know there were ideas for books for children. There were also some interested in having members write and produce a play.

 

How else can we use our writing gift?

 

One area that I have always wanted to explore is producing literature and brochures on various topics.

 

I currently blog. Would there be an interest in having writers rotate on a church blog? We would need to talk to pastor of course (smile). But a church blog with messages of inspiration could easily be turned into a book of inspirational writings.

 

And remember, we have a dedicated editing team to help smooth out bumps in writing.

 

With any of the ideas mentioned above, keywords are going to be commitment and dedication.

 

If you have a talent and a passion for writing and ideas of how we can collectively or individually use our writing gifts more, please get in touch with me. I would love to hear them and discuss ways we can bring all of our ideas to life. Again, we have so much writing talent. Let’s explore ways we can creatively use it.

 

And don’t forget you can use your gift in other areas. For example, at work, I am writing more press releases and wrote an article for an upcoming magazine. I am also trying to intentionally use LinkedIn and Facebook as a way of steering more people toward my blog,

latonjab.wordpress.com. The blog is a mixture of travel blogging, church writing, social/political commentary, and random musing.

 

Then the Lord replied:Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it,” Habakkuk 2:23.

 

2018 Christmas Letter

Greetings Family and Friends,

Here is my yearly “Christmas” letter. As I have mentioned in the past, it is a “highlights reel” of the year, which of course doesn’t mean everything was perfect. It is a reminder to me that at the end of the day, there is more “good” than “bad.”

For my yearly “big” trip, I went to England. I spent four nights in Bath, three in York, and five in London. It was my first time in Bath and York, but I had been to London before. I was literally booking everything a few weeks before I left. If you want to read about my trip, it is in my blog. Here is the first entry.

Trip Highlights:

  • I started off in Bath. I stayed at an Airbnb. I loved the routine of having tea with Becky each night and talking or sitting in comfortable silence.
  • I loved walking down the hill each day to get to the city center in Bath. The fall view into the valley was breathtaking.
  • I loved the walking tour that was done by The Mayor’s Corps of Honorary Guide. It was educational, and it’s free.
  • I then went to York. I really loved the coming together of Roman and Viking history.
  • I loved the wonderful breakfast I had each morning at the pub I stayed in.
  • Seeing the Horn of Ulf and York Gospel manuscripts at York Minster really spoke to me as a history lover.
  • I loved the hustle and the bustle of the Shambles, though I could picture it would be quite overwhelming during peak summer travel months.
  • I ended in London. London is such an amazing city. My favorite part about it is quite simply walking between neighborhoods in the compact center.
  • I love the site of the Tower of London. So much history has taken place throughout the country’s history in that one site.
  • Westminster Abbey. What an amazing place that houses the remains of so many historical people. I also enjoyed Bath Abbey and York Minster.
  • I could spend hours in the British Library and the British Museum.
  • A day trip to Oxford and being able to see where Tolkien (and Lewis) tread.
  • The Museum of History and Science in Oxford was fantastic. I could spend hours there really looking at the displays of telescopes, sun dials, sextants, abacuses, microscopes, cameras, sand glasses, and globes/celestial globes.

 

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.

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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 friends from other port cities, so it was a very enjoyable business trip. Long days and nights and utterly exhausting. But so much fun and a great time to catch up with some of the amazing people I have met over the years. I also had a chance to hang out with Samarah and Mary and Louanne and Randy. I was originally going to go down a day earlier, but my flight was cancelled. Unfortunately, the way it stands right now, I will not be able to attend in 2019.

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I went to Mississippi twice this year. My first trip was in May. I had not been there forever, so it was great to see everyone again and catch up. I will write more about my second trip at the close of the letter.

 

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I also managed to get to Oakland. I had not been there forever. My friend Pam and her husband, Willie, opened their home to me, and I had a great time catching up with family and friends, some who I had not seen in such a long time.

 

 

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My final trip of the year was to Las Vegas for a 40th birthday party. I hadn’t been to Vegas in a while, but it remains a good place to people watch and come back and muse about society. I have actually drafted a blog post about it. I just haven’t gotten around to finishing it.

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The fitness journey I began in January 2014 continues, though I lost my trainer in September. She decided not to come to where I work because of the upcoming viaduct closer. It has made things harder, but I am just trying to maintain. I was able to get off of blood pressure meds a few years back, and I would like to stay off of them. I did no half marathons this year. Just couldn’t get motivated.

I did manage to get a 5K in, the St. Patrick’s Day Dash. I need to do better in 2019!

It’s hard to believe my church newsletter is entering its 18th year!  If I have a prayer in general for 2019, it would be that I use my voice more in writing, especially writing where I am not self-censoring. I was looking back over past blog posts. I actually did not post that much this year. I will continue to try to fight the power through words.

As I mentioned earlier, I went to Mississippi twice this year. The second time was because my mom passed away in August. I have wanted to blog about it for some time, and I still may yet. Now, this is probably something most people would have led with, but for me, this sharing is for people who have taken the time to come all the way to the end so to speak.

Her death has put me in a weird place. While I am still not quite myself, I have at least begun social engagements. In some ways, there are times when I don’t quite believe it and maybe perhaps forget. It doesn’t seem real. It doesn’t seem possible. It doesn’t seem like that’s how it should have ended, so quickly.

My trip in May was a Godsend. I have learned over time that my mom and I are actually a lot alike even though she did not raise me. There are parts of her that I don’t think anyone saw, and I have regret about not digging more into her private parts. Death brings regrets. Things you should have done or said. But in May we had a great visit. We would spend the mornings and evenings playing dominoes and talking. We are both ultra-competitive, so we were keeping track. I will add that I won one more game than her.

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In some ways, it seems like life has come full circle and like I have rediscovered things that have been left behind. I guess you can always go home.

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

love. hug. xoxo.

ltb

The issue of race

I remember taking a women’s studies class during my college days. During the quarter, I wrote in a paper that I had encountered more racial discrimination than I have gender bias. The teacher’s response was something along the lines of, “Interesting.”

 

I have been giving the issue of race a lot of thought. Although some claim that the U.S. did not have a “race” problem before President Obama (Insert hilarious laugh…if only that were true. America has always had a race problem). It is the work of the current administration whose rhetoric coincides with the abrupt rise in hate crime. Are you tired of me pointing out that the candidate of the KKK, neo-Nazis, and skinheads was the candidate of white, Evangelical Christians? Good. I am tired of having to point it out. And the continued support is alarming.

 

To return to my women’s history class, I have never considered myself a feminist. The reason? White suffragists from the South threatened to boycott marches if black women were allowed to march. For me, this is something that illustrates what I have seen lived out several times. People will choose race privilege over gender privilege. Do they find race privilege more valuable? I see it in corporate America when women moan about the “good old boys club” all the while having formed a “good old girls club” that I am not allowed to join.

 

If white women were given the right to vote, but black people were not allowed, it would not have done me any good. On the flip slide, if black men were given the right to vote, but women were not allowed, it wouldn’t not have done me any good. It is the duality of being a woman of color. At some points in history, both worked against people who look like me to the extreme.

 

And enter the comparison game. To nullify my story, you have to share your own examples of injustice you have faced.

 

Let’s fast forward to modern times. In the era of social media, I have stopped reading comments because they only end up making me ill.

 

I will start with Condoleezza Rice. Although I did not agree with the politics of the administration she worked under, I was struck by her brilliance, intellect, grace, and beauty. Is she not the American dream? I was appalled by the media’s portrayal of her, especially with the photos they decided to publish of her. Why did they always select what I like to call “angry black woman” pictures. They tried the same thing with Michelle Obama, at first.

 

Speaking of Michelle Obama, she is a successful, intelligent, and beautiful woman-period. Enter Melania Trump. On Facebook, there was a period where their algorithm flooded my timeline with post my friends liked. Imagine my disappointment when a friend of mine liked a post that basically said it would be nice to have a sophisticated, attractive woman back in the White House, unlike the one who was leaving (Michelle). I am sorry, but if you want to play the comparison game (and that game is so not needed), what makes Melania better than Michelle? Background? Success? Intellect? Beauty? And not to throw stones at anyone’s background but an alleged former call girl, nude model is a better first lady? And the unspoken reason is that it’s because she’s white. Michelle Obama runs circles around most women. But alas, her skin color is wrong for “some” people. And when I say, “some” that is code for racists. But that’s right, I am a racist or a race baiter for pointing that out.

 

Another example if Meghan Markle, who is now the Duchess of Sussex. People’s reaction appalled me, and I realized that in their minds happily ever after is not meant for brown and black girls. Look at the Disney princesses. When did they finally bring in princesses of color? And the other thing is the comparison games between the Duchess of Sussex and the Duchess of Cambridge need to cease. In any Disney movie, there has to be an evil step sister. Guess who gets cast in which role?

 

And I have read the comments about the Duchess of Sussex. She’s divorced. Well so are three of the four of the queen’s children. She was an actress. So was Grace Kelly and a number of the current “commoners” who married into royal families have entertainment backgrounds. I know this because when I was reading the appalling comments about the Duchess of Sussex, I did a quick background check on them. I am a researcher. That is what I do. One was a known drug user/party girl and came into the marriage with a child out of wedlock, but people glow about her. Another was a “glam model” who posed basically almost nude in publications. People glow about her. Yet the Duchess of Sussex is labeled so vilely by some people and whether they will admit it or not, it comes down to race. Take a white woman of a similar background (or more suspect) and it’s okay?

 

There is an article about the Duchess of Sussex being labeled “difficult.” As a black woman, I know all too well what that means. It’s like my coworkers who are “scared” of me or find me difficult. Black women all around the world know what that term “difficult” really means. It means black, and you are afraid of black people.

 

There really is an unnatural hatred and fear of black people. I wish there were a magical pill I could give you. Believe me, I am more scared of you than you are of me. I can be in my home and have someone “accidently” come into my place and shoot me because they think I am an intruder. And somehow the story will be twisted to make it my fault. I can be walking in my neighborhood, have someone deem I am “suspicious” (black), follow me, engage me, and shoot me and someone it would be my fault. I can be dragged out the line of the video during a “routine” traffic stop and then “commit suicide” and it’s still my fault. And if labeling me the angry black woman makes you feel better, by all means, do so. To paraphrase Tupac, “And so we lived like caged beasts waiting for the day to let the rage free.”

 

I am beyond tired. Innocent. My only crime was being born black.