My Takes

Just my humble opinion…

The Eyes See What The Heart Wants To See

I really need to work on being a bit more observant especially to things happening around me as apparently I miss quite a lot! Take Superbowl 50 for example, I miss important stuff! World changing stuff! People being racist stuff!

Ok, what are you ranting about now, Carlos? Glad you asked, and if you must know, I just found out that while I was being entertained by the half-time show featuring Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars, I was also unknowingly watching a public display of racism put on by Bey.  Yup.  In a nutshell.

I wasn’t exactly a willing participant, mind you.  In fact, until the day after, I had no clue that her performance was laden with racial implications advertising her support for the Black Panther movement and Malcolm X.  Man, do I ever feel foolish! I had to find out on social media! To be honest, I also missed the guy dancing behind Mark Ronson! The thing went viral!

I enjoyed the half-time show. I saw a darn good performance by a black woman. Not that I cared if she was black or white. I wanted to see her perform so when she did, I was totally into the performance. I missed the racist allusions and in fact, didn’t even notice that she along with her dancers, were clad in bullet-proof vests! Oh my! I must be getting old. Not saying she didn’t, but I missed it!

You see, the eyes see what the eyes want to see.  Take the photo below for example.  It’s of an expired snowman in my neighbor’s yard.  If your heart is so inclined, you could see a phallic symbol. Maybe that would be reason to pay a visit to the neighbors and maybe accuse them of public mischief? Indecent exposure? If you go looking behind rocks, of course you would find all kind of nasty and dangerous things.

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What does your heart want you to see?

I looked at the half-time show with my heart set on enjoying some good performances, not too look for connotations and hints.  And that’s why I missed it!

And that’s also, MY TAKE

God’s Gone High Tech!

When my Pastor walked up to the pulpit and opened up his Ipad to read the Bible passage, I was aghast!  This has got to be sacrilegious!  Blasphemous even!  That was about 15 years ago.  I was slow to embrace this new trend.  How could the Holy Bible be traded in for an electronic device? It’s just not the same. What would people think?  What would God himself think?

I reluctantly started using my cell phone in church to access the Bible about 2 years ago.  Before using it in church, I used the Bible Gateway app for my daily devotions.  In church, I was not comfortable and felt the urge to make sure everyone knew that I was not on my phone texting but perusing the Gospel. Hello! I am actually reading the book of John here, not texting my friend John.

Last week, a friend posed the question pertaining to the above on his Facebook status.  He had visited a church and was surprised to see the elders using their cell phones instead of Bibles.  He wanted to see how his friends felt about this. Many felt that cellphones or any other such electronic gadgets had no place in a church. Although I understood the sentiments, I had to disagree.

Having the ease to access the Bible using an app on my phone has actually enabled me to become better at navigating the Bible. It also encourages me to read more often by the suggestions of devotions, geared to every life issues.  I always have my cell phone but I do not always have my bible.

Like it or hate it, technology is here to stay.  A phone is not just a phone anymore,  it’s our computer, our planner, our journal, our Bible.  It’s our one-stop shop. In order to reach out to the masses, we need to be on their level.

The world’s a changing place.  To attract people to God, we need to adapt to the changes. Music has to have appeal without sacrificing the Message. The Bible has to appeal to young readers, churches need to feel like a happy fun place.  Whatever medium it takes to realize this, as long as God is not compromised, it’s all good.

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How do you dream big?

I recently got our 16 year-old International German student Hanna, to start a blog as she has such great insight for someone her age.  This is her second blog and for one who thinks she has a problem with the English language, it is very well written and sensible.  Worthy of a reblog.  Check her out at hannasbrain.wordpress.com

hannasbrain

At my host family’s house in the living room, there’s a big picture which says: “Family rules” on it. So a couple weeks ago little Treyton started to read this sign (since he learns how to read now in Grade 1) and besides the obvious rules like listen to your parents and always tell the truth this sign simply has the two words: “Dream Big” on it. And of course he asked his parents: “Mommy, daddy, how do you dream big?”Difficult question to explain a 6 year old when I’m as a 16 year old still have to think about it. A lot.

Dream big? Does it mean to dream something particular while you are sleeping or what do we have to do to dream big? No, not really. It’s not about what you are dreaming in the night, it’s what you are dreaming about in your head, in your…

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Say A Prayer Then Do Something

There’s a joke about a woman who prayed every day to win the lottery.  One day while praying hard and telling God how she’s at the end of her financial rope, a voice was heard from Heaven, “Work with me here, first buy a lottery ticket!”

That’s the mentality of many of us Christians, myself included.  We pray for everyone and everything but do nothing further.  A friend on Facebook announces that they have cancer and our statuses send up prayers.  Earthquake devastates a country and our prayers are with the victims.  How many of us, again myself included, are quick to jump when these victims are asking for money or material help? All of a sudden we are MIA.

Prayers are good. We need to pray.  We also need to spring into action.  Telling a starving beggar you would pray for him does not feed him. Give him bread and then pray that he finds food or that someone else would also give him bread.

Praying is good. Very good. But sitting at home praying for a job won’t get you the job unless you send out some applications.

Just my take!

Random act of kindness

Have you watched or read the news lately? Not too much good stuff, is it? In fact it’s downright depressing.  Slowly eroding your belief in your fellow human beings. Well don’t despair, there are still quite a lot of good people out there.  Like the one I ran into yesterday.

While waiting in line at my favorite coffee shop, the guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked me what I was getting.  Suspicious by nature, I guardedly told him I was getting a coffee. What is it to you? I asked inwardly.  “I got it”, the fella said. I didn’t. Get it I mean…For a second or two, I wasn’t sure what he meant. It never dawned on me that a total stranger would offer to pay for my order. Maybe try to get me to pay for his but not the other way around.  “Don’t worry about it, I’ll pay for your order”.  You don’t have to, I meekly responded.  Are you sure? There was no stopping him. He insisted.

The stranger asked me what size I was getting and made it clear that I could get whatever size I wanted and while I was at it, maybe grab a sandwich. I flirted with the idea of downsizing and getting a small coffee but decided to go with what my initial order. I wasn’t planning on getting anything to eat but after a few twists of my rubber arm, I settled for an apple fritter.

We engaged in season and weather conversation while we waited.  When we approached the clerk, he told her he was paying for whatever I wanted and signaled for me to order. He was good to his word. With a profuse and heart-felt thank you, I left the kind stranger to enjoy his meal.

I acknowledged this deed on my Facebook status and found that many people had the same experience recently. Very heartening, isn’t it? Has it happened to you? Maybe not in the same way but someone may have restored your faith in humanity? Don’t forget to pay it forward. It’s the only way we could counter the negatives of this earth.

Merry Christmas!

Who Are Our Enemies?

Have you heard about the attacks? No, not the attacks in Paris.  Or Baghdad or Beirut for that matter, the attacks on Muslims.  Here’s one such attack.  Yesterday in Toronto, Canada, a Muslim woman was attacked by two men while picking up her young son from school.  They punched her to the ground while calling her a terrorist and telling her to go back home.  That’s’ the attacks I’m talking about here.  Muslims are finding the world very unwelcoming these days but is it deserving? Should we hate Muslims?

I have news for you.  Muslims are not your enemy.  The enemy lurks outside our doors. He is our neighbor, our friend, our family.  We know him but we really don’t know him.  No border security can stop him because he is already within the walls.  In fact, he was born within the walls. He doesn’t wear a turban or even knows the Koran.  The Governments promise to eradicate him and all those like him but how?  They don’t know him. He blends in.  He’s Canadian, French, American.  Then what can we do?  I would say pray but you don’t believe in God.  In fact you protest prayers in schools and think Christianity is the root of all evil.  The enemy outside your door is not a Christian but he is the root of some serious evil!

Many pray for peace, I pray for understanding, strength and faith. Understanding so I can understand why this is happening, strength to cope and faith to stand firm in my belief.  I wish for peace but it’s just a wish.  God’s will must be done.  Again, what can we do?  Love more, Hate less.  Would it stop those terrorists? Probably not but doesn’t hurt to try.

My Take

 

 

 

Beirut and Baghdad, The Ugly Step-Sisters

I love Paris. I have never been there but the name drips romance. A Paris vacation with that special someone?  Romantic.  Yes, Paris is Love.  How about Baghdad?    What I know about this place is gleaned from news about terror and the war on Saddam Hussein and his phantom weapons of mass destruction.  Baghdad conjures up images of smoking bomb craters, dead bodies and death lurking around every corner. A lovers’ utopia? Not unless you are Romeo and Juliet.  How about Beirut?  Where’s that? Baghdad?  Same images apply.  Bombings, Lebanon, Wars…Death lurks.

Beirut bombings

On Friday, November 13th, Within hours of each other, innocent civilians were murdered by ISIS terror group.  A suicide bombing at a memorial service and a road blast killed at least 47 people in Baghdad while coordinated attacks in different areas of Paris took the lives of 129 innocent civilians.  A day earlier, a pair of suicide blasts in Beirut killed 43 people and wounded close to 250. Except for Paris, you would be lucky to have heard anything about the other two. As they say, if a bomb falls in Baghdad or Beirut, does anyone hear it? Only the people who live there.

But there’s just something about Paris.  Something different.  Beirut and Baghdad are known for this type of violence, even though Beirut has been relatively safe for the last few years or so.  Paris is not a war zone.  Paris is Love.  And that’s why you probably didn’t hear of the same atrocities being carried out in Baghdad or Beirut at almost the same time.  There was no pledge by the Government to seek out and destroy the perpetrators in these countries.  The newspapers didn’t scream, “The World Mourns For Beirut/Baghdad”, of course not!  That would sound absurd.   But Paris…oui! oui! that’s a different story.

On Friday night, Iconic monuments in London, the USA, Canada and elsewhere around the world were lit up with the colors of France’s flag.  Facebook offered users the option to superimposed the red, white and blue over the profile photo, many did, in global solidarity for the fallen French.  A slap in the face to the other countries who were just not ‘pretty’ enough.  I imagine how they must feel to see us crying for Paris while ignoring their plight. The ugly step-sisters.

I know we are numbed to violence in places that are a hotbed for terrorists.  After the hundredth suicide bombings, we tuned out. Or should I say, our news agencies tune out.  Moving on the better things, like Paris, but we shouldn’t.

Remember, they are people too, killed by the same enemy.  In death they are united so let’s mourn for them all.

Just MY TAKE

Related:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/world/middleeast/beirut-lebanon-attacks-paris.html?_r=0

 

 

 

 

 

What Do They Know About Us?

On Friday November 13th, I sat down to watch a FIFA World Cup qualifying game between my birth country, St. Vincent and the United States.  To me and the other people who proudly call this little island home, it was epic. (Unfortunately, the cowardly attacks in Paris hours before kick-off lessened its significance).

This had the makings of a David and Goliath-type battle except for the fact that David would be the victor,  St. Vincent had no chance.  None whatsoever.  It was our first time playing the US team and being on center stage.  I was quite happy and satisfied with this accomplishment alone but still harbored a tiny ‘what if’ thought.

St. Vincent stunned the United States by scoring in the first 5 minutes.  They were stunned and I was ecstatic!  My ‘what if’ thought suddenly grew one size bigger.  Unfortunately it was not to be.  The Davids in the yellow jerseys without name bands, had apparently given their Goliath all they had in that first 5 minutes and now had assumed their rightful and expected position.  As the game progressed, my ‘what if’ shrank smaller and smaller.  By half time, I was just watching out of sheer allegiance.  The outcome was not in doubt.

One overly-biased, at least in my opinion and I’m entitled to have one, US commentator surgically and negatively dissected not only the Vincy team but the island as well.  He did not allow their listeners to forget the fact that here was an underdog team that didn’t deserve to be playing on the same field as the USMNT and stated that the US men’s team was made up of professionals who made a living playing soccer while the Vincentians were part-time players and in some cases, unemployed.  (Such glowing commentary!).  St. Vincent was describe as a poor country with a high rate of homelessness and unemployment. (Unlike the good old US of A).  No attempt was made to promote this gem of the Antilles. At least I didn’t hear any.  No mention that many movies, including Pirates of The Caribbean were filmed there.  How about it being one of the few true unspoiled locations with exceptional diving locales?   On the Grenadine island of Mustique, stars and royalties including Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret, have summer getaway homes there.   Too bad this Yankee didn’t know this.  Or maybe chose not to mention it.

The commentator was right on one thing, we are small.  With a population of just over 100,000, getting to a qualifying World Cup match is reason for a nation-wide celebration.  (Heck, the entire island celebrate our students’ successes!) Vincentians both at home and abroad were ecstatic and showed it on various social media.  That’s how we are.  We are small but we are proud.  We celebrate our little accomplishments.  That first goal was the goal heard around the world.  The US coming back to score 6 is forgotten.  Oalex Anderson’s sweet goal is what we will remember.

Hold on!  Make that two things that the commentator was right on.  Our players really are part-timers and are all 100% Vincies.  We do not have the financial means to support a full-time team so the players are gainfully employed.  We also cannot afford to import international players from different countries like some teams we know.  So when we celebrate, we truly and honestly celebrate a team that is 100% Vincy. The return match is set for next year on Vincy soil.  The USMNT will have a chance to experience warm Vincy hospitality. They would see that we are not all that bad.  Go Vincy Heat!

Note:  Some commenters assured me that the commentator did indeed mention that Pirates of The Caribbean was filmed in St. Vincent and that Jagger has a home there.  I never heard it. If indeed he did, that two seconds would not erase his pompous attitude.

Again, it’s just…MY TAKE!

Fill My Cup, Lord. My Starbucks Cup or I’ve Got 99 Problems And The Cup Ain’t One

I unfortunately overhead one of the most asinine things I’ve heard in a long time, on the radio while driving to work a few days ago.  I wish I could ‘unheard’ it but it was cemented in after various other media blasted it into my brain. It was the story about the Starbucks Christmas Cup Controversy.  Lucky you if this is your first time hearing about this. Some guy with obviously too much time on his hands and a penchant for igniting controversial discussions, made a video stating that Starbucks was out to wage a ‘war on Christmas’ because of its minimalistic Christmas coffee cups. They were not Christmassy enough for his liking.

Joshua Feuerstein, the guy behind all this, wrote, “Starbucks removed Christmas from their cups because they hate Jesus,” Yes, Josh, that’s a pure sign of hatred if I ever did see one.  It reeks of disdain and loathe for Jesus!

“I think in the age of political correctness we’ve become so open-minded our brains have literally fallen out of our head.” Feuerstein said in his Facebook video “Did you realize that Starbucks wanted to take Christ and Christmas off of their brand new cups? That’s why they are just plain red.”  I applaud you for bringing this to my attention Mr. Feuerstein, I knew my head was missing something, just never realized it was my brain.  I know a few others with missing brains.   Have you found yours yet, Josh?

I am a Christian and I love Christmas.  I know that the day is not actually the day Christ was born but I use it to remember the BIRTH and celebrate accordingly.  I really don’t give two hoots about who wants to join me in celebrating or who choose not to. In fact, I barely notice the difference these days.  In this age of political correctness that Joshua refers to, I have seen ‘Christmas’ switched to ‘holiday’ for fear that it tramples the rights of those who choose not to celebrate this day.  Still, I see it as a non-issue.  It’s the way of the world.  Farther along we’ll understand why.

Making a issue over a company’s choice on how they want to adorn their cups is silly and a waste of thought.  Surprisingly, millions like-minded people agree that Starbucks is definitely out to kill Christmas! Astounding!  It’s only a cup. My Christmas does not hinge on a disposable cup.  Well maybe what’s inside when I wake up early on Christmas morning does help…so why are we discussing this?  Folks, there are more important things out there to worry about, like how do they get the caramilk inside one of those caramel bars.

When Jesus said ‘Take this cup away from me’, he wasn’t referring to a Starbucks cup. Or was he??

Starbucks

Just My Take

 

Excuse Me, I’m A Rookie Hockey-Dad

It’s been a couple of weeks since my two oldest sons started their foray into the hockey world and I am still lukewarm about this venture.   Coming from soccer to this organized mayhem, it’s a shock to the system.  Maybe next season, if there’s a next season, all that would change and I’ll plunge headlong into being a full-blooded hockey dad.  For now, let’s just go with lukewarm.

“Why don’t you like it?” You might ask.  “After all it’s fun.  The parents are very friendly and willing to help when needed, so why don’t you like hockey, Carlos?”  Maybe I’m cheap? I never thought I was but after paying a high price to sign up for this fun sport, I thought I was done dishing out the coin.  Not even close.  I didn’t reckon on the game ice fee and the jersey fee and the socks fee and the jacket fee and the practice ice fee and the…I gave up. I just take my checkbook to every game and do what I’m told.  It’s fun!  The first time it was announced in the dressing room that we had to bring $300 to the next practice, I tensed, preparing for the parental outbursts of opposition. To my amazement, no one questioned this request.  Good thing I didn’t.  It would have been a embarrassing rookie mistake.  The other parents took it right on the chin without flinching!

Did I mention the volunteer shifts?  Well duh! The team needs money to operate and volunteering either in the canteen or bingo games is a fun and easy way to earn the team some cash.  But what about all that money you pay? You must be a rookie for asking that question.  Like I said, THE TEAM NEEDS MONEY!  A couple of late evening shifts in the canteen never hurt anyone, has it? Shouting “50/50!” during games is fun too.  Too bad it’s so early on a weekend that your voice is still cracked and barely audible or you’d probably sell more tickets.  The team needs money.

It’s fun, that’s what they told me when I walked into the dressing room, kid in tow, for his first practice.  Maybe it was fun for them to watch this first time hockey dad trying to make sense of the puzzle-like pieces of his kids hockey equipment.  This looks like a elbow so it must be an elbow pad.  What’s this gladiatorial thing?  Oh it’s just a chest pad.  Skate tying is another thing.  I simply hate it.  After tying the laces for the first time, I stood up, proud of myself, until my son goes, “Daddy, it’s too loose.”  Well how could I make it any tighter?  I have pulled the laces as hard as I could.  Could one of you nice parent come help me with this instead of standing around laughing at me?  It also wasn’t much fun watching my first year skaters trudge around the ice like penguins while the other kids on the teams, obviously entrenched in the system since birth, glided like swans.  At this rate, I would consider it an accomplishment if they touched the puck once in a game.

Like a said, it’s been a couple of weeks.  Hold that, it’s been a month.  There have been some changes since the first week.  The boys not only touch the puck, they get shots on the net!  They do not look much like penguins anymore.  Not quite swans but definitely not penguins.  I also do not pay hidden fees quite as often anymore, in fact, I now leave my checkbook at home!  I still have a few shifts in the canteen to cover but from the last two that I did, they are not that bad.  You get to work alongside an unhappy teenager who is quite happy to have a gofer for the night.  Grab me a bottle of coke and a bag of popcorn!

The boys still need to learn how to stop. No, not stop playing hockey, come to a stop while skating.  I thought of asking the coach to maybe give them some pointers in this regard as they apparently haven’t noticed this slight blip but I didn’t feel like writing a check for extra skating lessons.  These coaches from what I understand, are not paid for their work.  The new-hockey-dad in me wanted to point out to the coaches that maybe they should work on getting the team to be a ‘team’, like say have them introduce themselves to each other or have some team-building exercises so they could be more cohesive on the ice instead of a few pockets of friends but that would be so not the way to do things in organized kids hockey.  And hello!  They are not real coaches!  Just some nice fellas helping out.  A true hockey dad wouldn’t notice that his son still seem like he’s playing a free-for-all than a team sport.  If it’s good enough for Sidney Crosby, it’s good enough for my kids.  Who cares if the kids on the same team barely know the teammate lining up beside them? As least they are all on the ice having fun.

So yeah, organized kids hockey is fun.  I am just being cynical and a party pooper.  All the other parents are fine with it.  They seem like they are having fun and other than the visible cups of coffee at the early morning games, you’d never suspect they were up way too early.  I should just relax and think about the big payoff when one or both boys make it to the big leagues.  After all, that’s what this is all about isn’t it?  I can like this.  I can really like this…Just not right now.

My Take

 

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