Technology: An Attribute or a Detriment?

As a programming newbie, I am enamored by the development of software from its first line of code to the packaging of the final product. It is apparent that in the past 20 to 30 years, technology has transformed our world and forced us into what is now known as the digital age. In many ways, technology has introduced convenient alternatives such as using iOS and Android applications to order food rather than make a phone call or using an app to schedule a taxi pick-up for what is now known as an Uber service. These conveniences often referred to as disruptive technology, have shaped and truly changed our culture for the better. However, is technology entirely good? Or better yet, is it always healthy for us? As a millennial, I often struggle with this question because although I grew up with the tech evolution, using computers and dissembling them at a young age, I am equally excited and worried about it. Here’s why:

The number of deaths that are a result of the use of technology rise every year. They range from “texting while driving” accidents to suicide by the hands of depressed and lonely social media users who suffered from the lack of communication that is masqueraded by the connection myth that social media provides. Some have even died from looking down at their phones while crossing the street. Thus, technology can also be a distraction if it is not kept under control. Many are so addicted to social media that they are constantly checking their accounts while at work, class and even while using the restroom. Many even sleep with their phones by their heads at night and check their accounts throughout the night. I am definitely guilty of this. Frighteningly, the iPhone has become a device we cannot live without, especially for millennials and it portrays an ugly portrait of what our future can become. Some of us are more attached to our phones than we are to actual people and struggle with intimacy in our relationships. Many of us haven’t read a physical book in years.

Nonetheless, technology also has positive attributes. Having access to a mobile device can also keep people alive. During an emergency, a mobile device allows someone the convenience of dialing 911 or tweeting the details of the emergency. It also allows a person to take photos, record a voice or video of someone being treated unfairly. Records which serve as evidence for purposes of justice. There are definitely good benefits to having unlimited communication and convenient access to emergency services.

Communication

The older I get the more my eyes have opened to the decline in communication. Many of us refuse to speak to a customer service rep or a restaurant operator when ordering food. Calling a taxi service or hotel concierge when you have AirBnB has even become archaic. There’s the existence of that small notion that “there’s an app for that!” In many cases, our communication skills have atrophied. Which probably explains why I often feel a sense of queasiness whenever I have to make a call that involves speaking to an operator or customer service rep. Eventually, that initial feeling passes and I am able to make the call but I am constantly wrestling with the possibility that maybe my reluctance to communicate has developed from the access to technology I have been freely taking advantage of. I can admittedly say that I seldom resort to a phone conversation either, only to a select amount of individuals. My texting skills are probably even worse. Although I’d prefer texting I’m not always adept at replying to my friend’s messages and they’d probably all agree that I am guilty of that.

I’ve also noticed this sense of permitted forgetfulness where it’s just assumed that a person didn’t reply because they’re busy or is struggling with focus on many things at once. For example, the NYC housing search. Should I explain? The minutes you post an available room you’re getting hundreds of views and messages from people asking if the rental is available. However, even if you’ve messaged them back immediately, that person will either ignore your message or exclaim their disinterest. Most times, they just ignore it. The internet has given us too many options and the synapses in our brains are firing off constantly at rapid speed every day. It’s easy to forget or ignore a response to a question you just asked.

Artificial Intelligence

I work in the finance industry but on the tech side. My company is not tech focused so we aren’t equipped with all of the most updated software or skills. On my team, in particular, I oddly feel like I’m still looking at legacy code from the 80’s! We are still trying to figure things out, to have a more agile approach to building programs or bug fixing and eliminating all of the manual work that is still done on a daily basis. Today, I thought about how interesting it is that many companies, even large corporate firms like mine aren’t 100% automating their tasks. If anything, not even 50%. I often wonder what it would be like if all manual tasks were automated and there weren’t enough skill to engineer and maintain the machines carrying out the automation? This would produce a conundrum of issues in the future.

I was once on an interview in which the interviewer described the engineering role to me and then said: “the goal is for you to one day automate yourself out of the position and hopefully be promoted to a different role.” It made me think of my past obsession with IoT or the Internet of Things. I’d really love to contribute to the next big thing like the Amazon Alexa or Uber, however, will this be detrimental to my children or my children’s children who may not have an interest in software engineering?

So I invite you to think about all of these things. Is technology an attribute or a detriment to you? Or are you not inclined to one side of the spectrum? What do you think life would be like if everything was automated?

The Mystery of God: How I Triumph

Throughout my life, I’ve noticed a trend in which I’ll seemingly enter seasons of harvest, praising God for the wonderful opportunities that are presented and then something happens in an attempt to deter my praise. It’s as if, a single event causes me to doubt or become unsatisfied with the opportunity I thought was a blessing from God.

For example, my aunt had a stroke before Christmas, spent 20 days in the hospital waiting for her insurance to clear before going to acute rehab. We prayed and her insurance cleared! We were praising God! However, the same day her insurance cleared, she decided to escape from the hospital causing her to lose her qualification for acute rehab.

I can share countless stories.

Last week I randomly received a response for an apartment I applied for in the housing lottery two years ago. Three days later, I received a summons about my father’s (who is deceased) home foreclosure process in which I would need to find an attorney for.

Or the job I thought was going to open doors for me, help me advance my technical skills and get ahead in the industry actually turned out to be a stalemate.

Or the guy I thought was everything I ever wanted and needed, turned out not to be any of those things.

I learned that things aren’t always what they seem. And through my extreme highs and lows in life, I somehow manage to ride the current and trust God enough to persevere.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may b (1)

I love James 1:2-4 because it perfectly sums up the position in which God wants us to be in when we face trials. He doesn’t want us to feel powerless, alone or defeated. He wants us to have confidence in Him, in His purpose for the trial. Trials are for the endurance of faith, for spiritual maturity, for things unseen. We are not supposed to stop praising or praying every time we face a trial. The scriptures advise us to pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

God is definitely up to something. I try to make sense of everything happening in my life but truthfully, I just can’t. It just doesn’t make sense. Any of it. But I don’t believe it’s supposed to. We are supposed to trust that God has a plan. A good plan and that He is working all things out for His good. He will get the glory from our testimonies. Nothing we do or experience is in vain.

And unmerited favor is real!

Not merely anecdotally speaking but God has been revealing this to me in various ways. I’m currently reading a book called “Relentless” by John Bevere. It’s part of my 40 books in 2019 list. The book, as well as Bevere’s sermons, has really opened my mind to really understand what the gift of grace truly is. It’s something we never deserved or could earn. The fact that grace is abundantly given to us exceeds anything we can ever comprehend about God. It doesn’t make sense at all! If God is a God who is just, how can He possibly give us grace? How could God love us that much? According to His goodness, we deserve punishment for our sins however, He saved us through His son Jesus Christ and then gave us the power to overcome everything Jesus has.

That doesn’t make sense. And therefore, God continues to be a mystery worth sacrificing for.  So when I think about all the trials I face I realize that I deserve every one of them but that even so, the Lord always brings me out of it because He has given me grace according to His will. Suddenly, my problems become very small and I am able to see the victory through each of them. I reflect on how God through His provision, has brought me through all of my hardships in the past.

That’s how I triumph.

So whenever you’re faced with a trial that does not make sense or even a blessing that does not make sense, remember God sending His only son to die on a cross for our sins does not make sense either. If your life doesn’t make sense right now it’s a good thing because that means God has something planned and He is about to get all of the glory!

God bless you!

A Talk With God

I hang up the phone with the social worker and pondered as I sat outside of the restroom at my office. “My life can really fall apart…” I say to myself as my eyes get watery. What do I do now? Suddenly I am reminded of Luke 22:42 which says 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus was in agony and I’m sure He desperately wanted God to take the agony away. However, He didn’t want what He was feeling to distract Him from carrying out God’s will so He said “yet not My will, but Yours be done.’ His words will forever be a resounding gong in me in all my trials.

I don’t want to do this. I just want to have a peaceful life. I need to establish a life for myself.

It was as if every selfish thought ran through my mind. I was worried about missing work although I have so much flexibility at work. I was worried I may lose my job and won’t be able to afford rent or contribute to savings. I was worried I won’t be able to take on a second job if I kept the one I have. I was worried I’d have to leave my apartment and move in with my aunt.

But then I thought…this is not about me.

His grace is sufficient for me. And if He was able to walk this earth and endure all of the temptations we have and yet not sin and carry out the will of God, then who am I to be? A woman who proclaims to be Christian; a woman who strives to be Christ-like. Am I truly operating in grace? Am I really compassionate?

God gives us trials to test our character and mature us.

But Lord I am so tired of these trials. I know You didn’t promise us an easy life but can I just have a few years of uninterrupted bliss? Is that too selfish to ask? I love my aunt and I’d lay down my life for her! Or will I? To what extent do I have to lay down my life? And why do I feel so alone in this? I know it could be much worse but how come I see most of my Christian friends living the good life? Maybe that’s a generalization, I’m guilty of portraying my life as such. Things aren’t always so good but I praise You regardless. Lord, I honor You and I trust in You. Please reveal to me the mysteries of Your heart?

I want to have a family someday. I want them to be blessed. I want to be a good wife and parent. Why is it that every time I feel I’ve taken a few steps closer to a healthy future I feel like I am taking a few steps back. My father always told me “Life is hard” and I strived not to repeat those words but why does life have to be so hard?

My dad is gone and my mom is in hospice care. My aunt is the closest relative that I have right now and she just experienced her second stroke. This just doesn’t make sense. Lord help me! Help me to rest in Your strength, Your strength which is in me. Fill me with Your grace oh Lord and help me to lean not on my own understanding. My life is in Your hands. Use me to be a blessing to others.

As I prayed today I heard that I am covered. Lord even if You are all I have, I have everything.

A Tree and It’s Fruit

As I journey through my walk with Christ, the more I notice how much He has transformed me. If I can create a facebook challenge called “How Much Has Jesus Transformed You?” you would see a stark contrast in my before and after photo. I admittingly was a lukewarm babe in Christ when I first started on this journey. The Holy Spirit had to process me through some things which took some time. His Word needed to become real to me, I needed to face some trials and I had to have real encounters with Him. I remember being brought to my first Bible study a year after graduating college. I was still drinking, partying and smoking. I was also in a toxic relationship.

In addition, I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. So although I was esteemed as a good person and held on to particular values, I was still very carnal. Worldly values and perspectives were very entrenched in our family despite my relatives professing they believed in God. In retrospect, there simply was no understanding of what a walk with Christ meant.

My first year as a Christian bore little to no fruit. I’m reminded of Luke 6:43-45 where Jesus describes the difference between a good and bad tree.

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In the beginning, I had no real relationship with God. I hardly ever prayed or read scripture while I was alone. I would intentionally miss worship at the beginning of Sunday service because I didn’t like it. I know, I can’t believe it myself especially because worship is my favorite part of service. My favorite was bible study primarily because I love learning, and I liked the community and intimacy aspect. So I would come into service on Sundays mainly to be with friends. My attire wasn’t very conservative either. I always dressed up but wasn’t always conscious of what the Holy Spirit would approve (Sidenote: not in a legalistic sense but I didn’t have a desire to portray what a godly woman looks like at the time). I didn’t attend prayer meetings. Gossip was normal. I didn’t serve in the church until maybe a year after joining. I actually never joined the church as a member.

In addition, my romantic life was in shambles. My dating life became very toxic and none of the people I dated were Christians who truly loved Jesus. So when I decided to stop dating and took a vow of celibacy it changed everything for me. It was a significant act of obedience that compelled me to want to know Jesus more. At the time I felt it was the road least traveled and I wanted to surrender my entire life to Jesus. I felt that I had to start with my romantic life hence I was weakest in the area of love.

Yes, I’m giving it to you raw.

However, I feel the need to show you how God can still love us in our brokenness and transform our lives. 1 John 4:19 says “19 We love because He first loved us.” He loves us despite our mess. He saved us before we encountered Him. He can transform anyone who accepts Him. You don’t need to be perfect. No one is perfect but Him.

Now that I have matured spiritually, I see His providence through it all. I see how He’s developed me. I have a deeper, loving relationship with God. My prayer life has strengthened. I read scripture and devotionals every day. I fellowship with believers more often, in and outside of my church community. I give more than I did back then and I actually enjoy it. I serve in my church. I’m more comfortable with evangelism and desire the gifts of the spirit. I won’t date a man who isn’t a man of God and sent from God.

Yet I’m still imperfect.

Our walk as followers of Jesus is a process of sanctification until we are united with Christ in heaven.

Most importantly, how can we tell if a tree bears good fruit?

If that person demonstrates the fruit of the spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. I’ll let you determine if I or yourself bear any of this spiritual fruit. Doesn’t necessarily have to be abundantly but any bit of it.

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God needed to break me, tear down my pride, bring me on my face after struggles with my mother’s health and father’s death and verbal abuse in relationships. He needed to process me and give me strength in my weakness. I needed to completely rely on Him and not myself or anyone else.

I pray your relationship with Him grows deeper and that you are prolific in spiritual fruit. Jesus loves you so much!

May God continue to bless you!

 

 

Re-Defining Love

Love. How do I explain?

Is it even possible to explain?

Some believe it’s a feeling, subject to being whimsical at best but I believe it’s beyond that, it’s a level of sacrifice we are not humanely privy to. I’m convinced there is only one being who can give authentic, unconditional love and that is God.

I never knew how much of an impact the absence of love from a father can have on a child. But hindsight is 2020.

In reflection, my accomplishments and behaviors may have demonstrated someone who felt truly loved by others and who truly loved herself but nonetheless, I had many struggles.

I never heard my father say those 3 beautiful words “I Love You.” Perhaps he expressed it by buying me stuff: the newest tech gadgets, video games, nice clothes. He even spent time talking on the phone with me, purchasing lots of takeout, and playing video games with my sister and I but I somehow cannot recall a day or time when he’s verbally expressed his love for us.

I can’t fault him. My family struggles with expressing love in many ways. I’m sure we may feel it and we may sometimes say the words but does the alignment of our actions and words cohesively portray a family who genuinely loves one another?

By the way, I truly love my family.

My dad was from a different generation of course. The baby boomers. I like to call them the “work-hard” generation. They pursued stable education and careers devoting their entire lives to work. Many times, spending little to no time with their families. I work with a few of these gems today. Although they love their families they can sometimes seem apathetic but it is possible that the many years of drowning themselves in work has caused that. However, it’s not their fault. Their parents also exemplified this.

My grandmother. A woman from the south who laid down her life to take care of her family. She helped her sisters and brothers escape the Jim Crow south and start new lives in the north. Although her past was always very colorful and intriguing to me I noticed how much she struggled to express the love that we desired. I recently learned about her past as a Jehovah’s Witness and how she held bible studies in her apartment before she became a Christian. She’s always portrayed herself as a believer and she was the first to bring my sister and I into a church. Even then I knew something was wrong, her lifestyle didn’t bear much fruit. If God loved us, why on earth was she not expressing that? Her expression of love for us was limited to cooking, cleaning and attending our school events. Although I love her for that and it’s taught me many things, her struggle with love is much more apparent now than it was then. I’m pretty sure she’s not a Christian today although despite her being convinced of her faith, I always question if she’s saved and share the gospel with her every chance I get. I am intrigued by how much she’s changed and how her zeal has disappeared over time.

Not to vindicate her in any way,  I had a dream about her last night. In that dream I heard her voice and as she usually does, she criticized my mother and I. I looked up and I saw a man which was strange. And I yelled out “why don’t you love me?! I love you!!” I woke up frantically from that dream feeling well aware of my family’s issues. They all struggle with love. In many cases, they do not know what love is or how to love because of the absence of a father.

The absence of a father doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve never met your father. I KNEW my father. However, the absence of a father is equivalent to a father in the flesh who does not demonstrate the true love of a father. A love that our Father demonstrates for us through Jesus Christ. One of God’s attributes is perfect love. Our Father God is the most awesome model of love we can ever know. His love exceeds far beyond anything we can ever comprehend. 1 John 4:7-8 reads Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 

7 beloved, let us love one another, for love is from god, and whoever loves has been born of god and knows god. 8 anyone who does not love does not know god, because god is love.

Once you’ve had an encounter with Jesus Christ He will transform your perception of love and help you to love deeper, love your neighbors, love enemies, love strangers but ultimately love Him. Your love for Him will pour out on others and help you to forgive your relatives and friends that may have hurt you. His love will help you to love just about anyone in your path. I pray that you have an encounter with Jesus, that you experience this love and allow Him to mend every broken part of your heart. I pray that His love transforms the paradigm of love that you have, your parents have and your parents’parents have. I pray that your families are restored, filled and overflowing with His love, forgiveness, and protection.

After giving my life to Christ at 23, the absence of a father no longer bothers me the way it has in the past. Although my father has passed away and his absence still lingers in my heart, the presence of God fills the void that was once there. His presence humbles me, convicts me and fills me with joy and peace and confidence all at the same time. Yet I still have a habit of sometimes of juxtaposing my Christian friends’ family to mine. I often reflect on how dysfunctional mine is in comparison. But then the Lord whispers to my heart and reminds me of who I am in Christ and that He has adopted me into His family. I am so grateful and overjoyed. Now I know that the love of the Father prevails, despite our past or any dysfunction our families may have. Our identity lies in Him.

May God continue to pour out His love unto you!

 

What Are We Passionate About?

According to most millennials, our work, also known as ergasia in Greek is unfortunately not always aligned with our passion. Many of you can attest to the life investment we devote to a weekly 9 to 5 or better yet 60+ hour week. We strive to earn a living that is more meaningful only to realize, for most of us that it feels more “meaningless” than intended; it’s as if we are “chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). I often ponder of the true meaning of work. Being a person who has fell victim to the mundane “workaholic” lifestyle during many seasons in my life, I continue to seek meaningful work and to find motivation even on my most difficult days.

Nothing motivates me like God’s Word. I began to seek God’s perspective on this hence work is a significant factor in our design yet many of us aren’t passionate about it. Truth is, many of us are passionate about something even if we do not feel passionate about anything at all. We are passionate about comfort. Our inherent nature desires it. However, Jesus says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”(Matthew 16:24). Therefore, we must deny our flesh and pursue His will despite our feelings.

“From the beginning, God intended human beings to be his junior partners in the work of bringing his creation to fulfillment. It is not in our nature to be satisfied with things as they are, to receive provision for our needs without working, to endure idleness for long, to toil in a system of uncreative regimentation, or to work in social isolation. To recap, we are created to work as sub-creators in relationship with other people and with God, depending on God’s provision to make our work fruitful and respecting the limits given in His Word and evident in his creation.” -Theology of Work

I don’t know about you but the thought of being “sub-creators” in God’s story convicts me. It convicts the lazy side of me that strives for comfort. The book of Proverbs refers to this type of individual who is resistant to working as a “Sluggard.”I’m sure you’ve heard the principle of reaping and sowing. For the sluggard, there is nothing to reap because it was never sown but yet the sluggard still searches for a reward. That’s comparative to looking for snow on the ground on a day when snow is forecasted, expecting your manager to inform you about the office being closed and expecting to be paid for the day. Yes, I know we’ve all done it at some point.

Escape to these places

I often times wonder if I need to be passionate about my work all the time. However, what I am learning is that I do not. In fact, work wasn’t designed for that benefit. Yes, it’s so fulfilling to be motivated by what you do and contribute purposeful, meaningful work. That’s a tremendous blessing but you’re not always going to enjoy it. God granted us free will so that we can choose to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, choose to worship Him in a fallen world, choose to have joy, peace, and contentment in menial or uncomfortable tasks. However we choose to feel, we are still commanded by Him to work. To be fruitful and to multiply whether we feel like it or not.

Escape to these places (2)

Remember, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” (Gen. 2:15). God gave Adam the pre-ordained task to till the land and maintain it and Adam honored the first instruction until God decided it is not good for man to be alone (Gen 2:18). Once sin entered the world, work was no longer a breeze. In Genesis 3:17, God says to Adam”Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. Therefore, sin caused our labor to become “painful toil.”

There are times when work will feel painful. When we won’t have the same desire to complete the tasks we were once so passionate about and that’s ok. Our feelings are completely normal. I’m made aware of this in my own industry. I do not always feel passionate about what I do and there are seasons when the work feels really challenging. Some days my brain feels really stretched and I’m reluctantly banging my head against a wall struggling to solve a problem. My code compiles with errors and the program crashes each time. That is when I recall how far God has brought me and His purpose for providing me with this job. I think about what probably lies ahead if I can only complete His assignment. How many people will get saved or the offspring who will be blessed by the fruit that comes from my labor. If I allow myself to be led by my emotions, I just might miss out which is especially difficult for me to accept when my ultimate desire is to be used by God. So don’t pursue comfort, pursue God’s will whether it feels good or not. He always has a good outcome.

God bless!

When The Unexpected Happens: Part 2

I remember when I felt prompted to go on my church’s Fall Retreat last year. I also remember not having budgeted enough money due to emergency circumstances but I was determined to encounter God. And that was the premise of the Fall Retreat, it was called Encounter. I knew that if I surrendered everything to God on this retreat, I will encounter Him and be sensitive to His voice. Surely, that’s what happened. In addition, I met so many wonderful people, established relationships and learned valuable lessons all in one weekend.

Now, after leaving the campsite and basking in His glory for 1-2 weeks after, I eventually transitioned back to the mundane, day to day life. Not expecting much yet trusting God to do exceedingly and abundantly. I noticed on the days I didn’t spend much time in His presence, I felt the weight of hopelessness; as if it was impossible for God to do a miracle in my life.

In November when I found out that my team at work will be relocating to an office in New Jersey I felt dismayed. Nonetheless feeling a strong nudging from the Holy Spirit to fast because my future felt uncertain. I don’t particularly enjoy patterns of complacency or non-stimulating tasks which is also why I felt the need to pray for uncertaintly in my career. I felt like there was more to be done and I wanted to serve wherever God wanted me to serve and be challenged as much as possible.

So I decided to start my 2019 financial breakthrough fast in December. Now around this time, I was in conversation with someone I met on the retreat in October. She insisted on meeting up with me. We kept planning our reunion but of course, there were some scheduled conflicts on both of our ends that caused our meetup to be delayed. During the fast, she texted me about a book she wanted to give me as a gift when she got back from Aruba.

We eventually met up on New Year’s day. We had a wonderful time of fellowship. It was amazing. Before we departed she gave me the book and a card. I thought it was extremely sweet and unexpected. I said thank you as she suggested that I open the envelope when I got home. So I followed her instruction and…I found $100 as soon as I opened the envelope. I wept immediately. I think what was so profound to me was the way in which God answers prayers. It’s always unexpected and always on time. His timing is perfect and I see how He blesses us when we least expect it so He can get all of the credit, the glory, the honor, and praise. Hence only He can use His people to carry out His blessings during a time of uncertainty and despair.

I truly did not deserve such a gift. I couldn’t understand why she was so kind to me. She and I only met once on the retreat and she didn’t know me or my situation. An outstanding display of  Christ’s character to show grace in such a way! It was such a remarkable way to start 2019. Moments like these are significant reminders of God’s provision in our lives. His praise will forever be on my lips and I will always be reminded of His divine providence. I pray my testimony blessed you and that you will continue to trust God during seasons of uncertainty in your lives. Only He has foresight. Only He knows the beginning and the end. So continue to seek His kingdom and His righteousness and do not worry about tomorrow.

God Bless!