Integrating Faith In Communication

By Kaydene Green

Let’s be honest – if you’re a Christian, you may have noticed that talking about your faith and God in this post-modern era may have earned you the crazy eyes from onlookers. Even worse than disapproving stares are the death sentences many Christian evangelizers receive around the world. Why is talking about faith so ‘cringy’ or threatening for that matter?

It may be seen as an infringement on the beliefs of others primarily because of our melting pot society of many different races, nationalities and a diverse upbringing and life experiences that carries with them many unique beliefs and values.

Apart from that, many Christians wrestle with the new influences presented by the increase in technological advances which heavily aides in a greater distribution of distorting and unsolicited worldviews.

This kind of hinderance, amongst the many others, causes many believers to find shelter in silence. While many of the faith grow mute, the media plunges forward in it’s pursuit to publish distasteful content for the public to absorb because, well, the number of views and public approvals have become the driving forces to what becomes “viral” and “acceptable” even when the information is far from the truth or damaging.

Some unbelievers are at odds with the faith because, as I’ve heard time after time, Christian teachings appear to be “illogical”. If human logic and reasoning was so great, why then are there so many ethical issues in our world today? Would it then be safe to say human logic is limited?

I’ve never worked in ministry nor am I surrounded by all like-minded individuals every single day, which to be clear, is not in and of itself a bad thing – but when the discussions get intense, it becomes hard not to pull from the knowledge of my Christian worldview. It guides me in all I do and when I fall short of the guidance that had been provided, I run right back to it for correction and redirection.

But then, the moment I reach for my personal faith beliefs, which I believe has many of the solutions for our problems today, the conversations eventually die or never last much longer and the awkward silence soon invades the room.

And so, with every moment that presents itself to talk about my faith, I am left to wonder, “am I going to offend someone with my God-talk today? or “will they think I am crazy?” I’ve hesitated even offering prayer. Why? Because to some of my peers, there’s no one to pray to. “If God is real why is all of this happening?” I get this question all the time and I honestly wish I had the right answer ready. I’ve learned from many real life situations that we do not need all the answers to take the first step towards the unknown, so why should it be any different with the Christian faith?

So, how exactly do we go about telling our “non-religious” friends and family about our own beliefs and experiences of God? Why do we need to do it and what exactly should we really say? How can we prove that what we are saying is even true and if we can, how can we relay it effectively to others? Is there anything that could hinder the process and how do we avoid those hinderances?

As I’ve mentioned, we do not need to have all the answers and we probably never will. A Christian belief will not satisfy the desire for human logic. It is beyond what we will ever be able to make sense of in this life. It does the complete opposite of societal norms which is why it is so necessary to dive into. New actions means new results.

The Beginning Of My Christian Walk

I’ve spent many years learning of God through the experiences of others. My grandmother introduced me to church at the very tender age of 3; if my memory serves me correct; and it could be argued that if I was born in a different part of the world, I would hold firmly the values of a different religion.

But what good are speculations?

Knowing what I know about the teachings in the bible, I am grateful this faith chose me.

Let me be real with you, I’ve had moments of doubts that I don’t even know if I believe in what I say I believe in. Many people of faith may have experienced this at some point in their journey. The mass media, (mainly social media) is notoriously known for information and worldview overload. It takes me 3-5 business days (a running joke I have with some friends) to catch up and all the videos and links I receive. If I’m are not careful, the opinions presented in these posts soon permeates into my daily routine and unknowingly could begin to shape the way I behave.

I did life on my own terms for many years and learned hard and fast that I could not rely on my own human strength and reasoning. I made many disastrous mistakes and yes, it is indeed true that experiences can be our greatest teacher, but had I have my own personal relationship with God and had spent time in the profound teachings of scripture, I could have avoided many of the traumatic situations I’ve had to live through.

With that said, where do we really start?

The Foundation of The Christian Faith

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In William Fore’s article titled “A Theology of Communication”, Fore states that: “There are several Christian doctrines, derived from the witness of Scripture, Christian tradition, and the reflection of Christians today, which bear directly on the role of communication in society. They are: creation and stewardship; sin and redemption; the newness of life; good news and proclamation; and Christian witness.

Lets dive into these doctrines:

  1. Creation – The book of Genesis provides an account of the events of creation. It is here that God’s authority is established (source). God created the world and ultimately created us in his image. God placed man in the garden of Eden to be good stewards of what He created.
  2. Sin – Sin entered the world (again in the book of Genesis) through the disobedience of Adam. Sin is a result of human rebellion against God. The extent of sin goes far and wide (universal). As a result, God sent His only son, Jesus, (John 3:26) to sacrifice His life in order to redeem human relationship with God. A fallen world is evident in many ways. Have you seen the news lately?
  3. Salvation (Newness of Life) – Christians believe that through Jesus’ sacrifice, we have been granted a renewed relationship with God but to experience the fullness, we must receive this gift. (Romans 10:9-10)
  4. Good News (Proclamation) – through Jesus’ ascension, we are promised the gift of the holy spirit who is our guide to living in this broken world and when that time comes to an end, to spend eternity in God’s kingdom. (Mark 16:15 & Romans 1:16)
  5. Witness (Sharing through communication) – this is why you are reading this blog today or have even experienced someone in the streets sharing how God revealed Himself to them. Had I never been exposed to the faith or someone making it a determinant to communicate what they belief, I would have been living life hopelessly.

Applying What We Believe

Learning what the bible tells us is possibly the easiest part of the Christian faith. Anyone can do that. To bring this knowledge to full potential however, we must apply what we have read. How do we go about doing this?

  • Allowing ourselves to experience God mainly through His word. We learn the nature of the God of Christianity through careful study of the scriptures. I’ve noticed a difference with how I handle my day when I have not spent time in the word as opposed to when I do.
  • Through worship – Attending church services gives us an opportunity to gather together with raised hands and open hearts to worship the creator of the universe, but there are many other ways we can worship God.
  • Through serving – The foundation of Jesus’s mission was to serve us and through his example we too can learn how to serve others.

How Do We Get To Know God?

All around us are revelations of God. Christianity is about walking by faith and not just by what we can see (2 Corinthians 5:7). I know, telling you what I know about the Christian faith may not be appealing. “How can you prove any of this?” is a common question I get. Truth is, I cant always prove the information presented in the history books are presenting me with accurate information, but truth has a way of revealing itself. God is the author of truth. Scripture was written by men, but inspired by God. I know, hard to believe and possibly why many are skeptical about the information presented, but in taking some time to get acquainted with the bible, I’ve proven that it is indeed inspired by God. A college professor I had many years ago said that the bible is the only book that people question and has doubts about. If a best-seller book is advertised with raving reviews, the chances of it being purchased is high without any questions.

God created everything, including the universe. For us to understand the universe, we have to study it. As a result we have science and science, as I’ve heard some time ago, is really God’s way of giving us an idea of how He did it.

The best way to get to know God and to communicate Him to others, begins in scripture and with prayer. Effective communication is a two-way process. If we never tap into the spiritual aspect of our being and connect with a source greater than ourselves, How will we ever know what He is trying to say to us?

God Communicates Through…

Nature – Is there anything about nature that was known to mankind without careful study? I’m not an expert on the details of nature, but take a moment to look outside and see the wonders of God’s creation.

The Church – All of creation is potentially a mediator of divine disclosure, but the church is the community which possess the greatest potential for communication about God.

The written word, The Bible – The greatest source of communication authority is through the scriptures. But to understand it, we need the divine help God sent us when Jesus ascended.

Why People Don’t Experience God

Like any thriving relationship, there needs to be communication. Effective communication involves speaking or relaying the message as well as listening to the respnse. Have you tried whispering a message to someone who was miles away? How effective was that? Did they need to come closer to hear? Isn’t this possibly the same with the God of the universe?

How Should Christians Communicate God?

How to overcome the noise of fear, doubt, and confusion can be a tough one to do. We are called to evangelize and share the goodness of God. We can share of God through our actions, our own experiences of God, through what we do and in how careful we are with what we say.

Danny Gokey has a really neat song on communicating faith. If you are an unbeliever and you’ve made it this far in this continually developing blog, I pray you experience a God who desires to communicate with you. For my likeminded readers, share your faith communication story. What do you believe and how do you relay your beliefs. What can you add that will edify others?

If you’d like to learn more about Christian Theology of Communication check out “A Theology Of Communication by William F. Fore”.

Dont forget to subscribe below for new content as soon as they are relaeased. Until next time. Have a blessed week.

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Remember Why You Started

By Kaydene Green


Hey you! yes… you. The one who has launched out into a new adventure filled with optimism for a future drenched in passion for living on purpose. The one who wants to rewrite history, creating new traditions, breaking generational strongholds and releasing yourself from the shackles of past mistakes.

It is you that I am talking to.

The one who realizes that this new journey is easily as scary as it is exciting and who has heard that “if your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough“. The one who stepped out of your comfort zone to seek out something greater than that of yourself to tread the path that leads to places you’ve never been before, doing things you’ve never done with talents you did not even know you possessed.

Is it you that I am talking to?

May I take a few minutes of your time to give you some words of encouragement? I know, you may feel alone, unclear and doubtful and words may never be good enough. The journey to fulfilling calling and reaching new milestones can be a scary one, but many have trod this route before and are living to tell the tale.

Too often, all we see are the glorified triumphs, the ripened fruits weighing heavy on fragile looking yet sturdy branches and the perfectly patterned fluttering butterflies who were possibly still only just a caterpillar yesterday.

But what about the parts before the triumphant endings? What about the tears, the fears, the sleepless nights, the heartbreaks, and the discomfort that seems like a lifelong companion along the journey? Can we find comfort in the dark places? Can we reflect and ponder and feel every bit of it and speak life and light into the uncomfortable places?

Can we talk about the struggles you may or have been facing on this new journey?

The Obstacles

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Whether it is a new years resolution of going to the gym consistently, saving money, purchasing a new home or writing a book, starting could be argued as much easier to do than bringing the project to completion. As 2022 fast approaches, so are the long lists of resolutions. Seldom do we plan the survival strategies for the bumps ahead that will make every attempt to throw us off course.

Let’s dive into some of the obstacles you may face on your newly sought after journey and what to remember while you are experiencing them:

1. The lack of support and encouragement

You may come to a harsh realization that not everyone will find interest in your new pursuits and many of them will be people you thought cared about you. They probably do but not in the way you expect them to. You may even find yourself begging for the kind of support you expected should have been given freely. You will find that your only option to keep you moving, is to become your own cheerleader. If you are a Christian, please do not forget that the Holy Spirit is with you to help you in ALL you do. There is no greater cheerleader and support than that.

2. Realizing who is NOT in your corner

The lack of feedback will be your guide for this one. People may even start acting differently around you and towards you. If this is the case, we can’t even begin to image what they are probably saying behind our backs. It is some of the people you hoped you could rely on that probably will not be in your corner and it may be the people who you least expect that will appreciate what you are doing. This is where you will understand the concept of knowing who your tribe is. Still be as graceful and as forgiving as you possibly can, no matter what your emotions tell you what to do.

3. Lack of vision

Some days you will struggle to know what your next move is. You may find yourself asking the question “what do I do next?” more often than not. You may even end up being stuck here for awhile.

Ever heard the quote about not seeing the whole stairway before taking the steps? This is not quite the thing for control freaks, but I do believe some things are out of our control and for those things, I rely on God who already knows what the future holds. Someone asked me once, “how do you come up with the topics for your blog?” in which I responded, “I just think of what I am struggling with in the moment and ask God what does He want me to learn in the midst of this storm and the rest is history.”

4. Self doubt

You may feel like you are terrible at this new task. Give yourself some grace and adjust your self-talk to speaking life and positivity. Remember, you have to become your own cheerleader. With experience you will become proficient and better with each new day. Remember, we learn to walk before we are ever able to run.

5. Fear

When I had reached about 9 months in the transition of my natural hair journey, I was ready to do the “big chop”. It was scary to think that I was not going to be able to put my hair in a ponytail for the first time in my life. I was filled with fear and it was only just hair. I was once told “the only thing to fear is fear itself.” Fear is crippling. Fear is not from our all powerful creator so it is important not to entertain it. By His power we can live boldly and in the confidence that He has created us for good works and even if it is not exactly what we had set out to pursue, He will guide us in the direction He wants us to go. Also, do not live in the fear that others have right you off from being qualified for this. People will remember your mistakes and try to keep your capabilities hostage to your past. Let them. You cannot control what they do, but you can control where you maintain your gaze. Keep pressing ahead.

6. Lack of Motivation

Self-governance does not seem important until it needs to be. It is already bad enough that the area of encouragement is low. You will have to dig deep on most days to find the strength and couragement to continue. Remembering why you started will help you with this one. Take a mental break if you need to.

My friend John says, “When you find yourself up against an obstacle, keep pushing and use it as an experience to learn and grow.

7.Discouragement

People will make an attempt to tell you why what you are aiming for is useless. Let them. Tell them you appreciate the feedback and continue on your journey. Not everyone will understanding your calling because it is not theirs to understand. It is yours to stay faithful to. Keep pressing.

8. Success Does Not Happen Overnight

This is major. Please remember this when nothing seems to be happening. Don’t lose hope. Persistence is key. That was one of the best advices I ever received.

Dennis (a fitness advocate and friend) says, “To build muscle, you need resistance. Muscles are built when they are stretched, torn and healed.”


Know Your Why

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At the beginning of any new journey you must keep at the forefront of your mind why you started. Many companies have vision statement(s) painted mostly at the employee entrance for a reason. Many people may be motivated mainly about paying the bills, but to feel like you are apart of something greater may could increase to vigor to give it your all no matter how difficult the task may be.

“Make your vision so clear that your fears become irrelevant”

– Kerwin Rae

As for me, starting a blog and posting it to social media was nerve wracking. Left up to me, I would have kept it in the dark. But I had to remember why I started:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in ALL you do, and He will show you which path to take”

Proverbs 3: 5-6

A Bit of Motivation – Why you started

I hope you find this video as motivating as I have. Go ahead, take the first step to doing something new. You do not have to have it all figured out now and you do not have to be great at it from the very start. If it does not take you to where you thought it would, it will still take you somewhere, in a different spot than the one you are standing in right now. Be encouraged until next time. Have a blessed week.

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Last Updated: December 10, 2021

Stay In Which Lane?

By Kaydene Green

My Mistake

A few minutes after driving off the DMV parking lot after officially passing my Florida driver’s license exam, I almost got into a car accident that would have been entirely my fault. What made it even worse was the fact that the car I was driving was not even mine. I almost failed myself and the person behind me, (not to mention the owner of the car), by switching lanes without taking the necessary steps to ensure that the lane I wanted to reposition myself into was clear for me to merge into. I made an impulsive decision out of fear of missing my fast approaching left turn because I was still heavily relying on a gps at the time to guide my trips every step of the way.

Photo by Artem Podrez

The irony of the ‘close call’ was that prior to doing the exam, I received an advice that still echoes loud in my mind after hearing it so many years ago. The advice was that, “switching lanes is one of, if not, the biggest cause of motor vehicle accidents so be careful to check your blind spot before you move over into another lane“.

I am almost certain that with all the new technological advancements in our world today, distracted driving may now have topped that list. But, that is still beside the point. I did not listen well or somehow had forgotten the advice and failed to take the proper “lane changing” precautions and found myself mindlessly merging into a lane I did not belong in.

Shaken up and embarrassed after receiving the disapproving deafening horn honk from the disgruntled driver on the left back side of my miscalculated decision, I nervously made an attempt to apologize for the almost catastrophic event by leaning out of the driver’s window with surrendered hands and an apologetic posture. Unfortunately for me, she was not having any of it and made it clear with rolled eyes and the lack of eye contact that my attempt of an apology was not welcomed. Ouch!

Photo by Liza Summer

At that point there was nothing else I could have done. I had almost ruined both of our morning. Obviously, in her mind it seemed, there was nothing I could have said that would have justified the “stupid” decision I made. So, like a dog with a crushed spirit walking off with it’s tail tucked away, I rolled my window up and humbly and carefully made my way back home.

Between the high of the celebration, the anxiety of missing my turn and my overly confident desire to change lanes, the complacency of not checking my blind spot almost became the cloud on a beautiful sunny day. All because I was moving into a lane I had no business in at the time.

Photo by Craig Adderley

Stay In Your Lane

While we are on the topic of changing lanes, I’d like to share the information that Florida law requires you to Move Over a lane — when you can safely do so — for stopped law enforcement, emergency, sanitation, utility service vehicles and tow trucks or wreckers.

“Sweep in front of your own door”

German Proverb

Often times when we hear the words “stay in your lane“, it is usually in reference to the command of minding your own business. It can be quite the irritant (to me), when others meddle in matters that does not concern them. Maybe you’ve been the one to do the meddling. As for me, If I am not careful about my own approach on this topic, I get so caught up in minding my own business that I forget to ask the right questions for the sake of becoming enlightened.

Like the Florida law makes clear, there are times when moving over into a lane other than the one you are in, is unapologetically warranted. This is not something we put into perspective as it pertains to people getting into the details of our business. It feels more like a nuisance to be asked personal questions or to be put into a position to have to think about things you had no intentions of being concerned with. Context should be taken into consideration however.

What is the purpose and the intention of someone slithering their way out of their lane into mine? Is it to gain information so they can discuss it behind my back with others who does not, by the slightest, wish that I succeed? Or is it to find out enough to get to know me to offer support or a helping hand? Our own hard wired worldviews may determine the answers to these questions unless of course you have chosen the route of learning the facts about the people in question.

It Is Ok To Step Out of Your Lane

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Galatians 6:2 encourages us to share each others’ burdens and I do not see how we can accomplish this without stepping out of our own situation and circumstance, even for a short time, to selflessly focus on the concerns of others to uplift them in the way that is best suited for their specific need. This sounds like switching lanes to me, but only when the time is right and when the attempt is to benefit other drivers on the road. With self serving intentions, we may find ourselves in lanes we have no business in that proves to be very harmful for all involved.

When choosing to change lanes or to work our way into a situation that has absolutely nothing to do with us, it is a good idea to remember that our intrusion is only meaningful when the purpose is to uplift others or to expand our understanding of a situation in order to handle it better for the benefit of everyone involved. That is my personal conviction of a new perspective.

Your Lane, Your Unique Journey

Photo by nappy

Another way we can look at the topic of staying in our lanes, is to remember that we all have our own race to run with the unique talents we were gifted. I’ve learned one important element of running my own race is to maintain my gaze on my own actions within my assigned lane. To explain this better, I’ve linked a video below that has within it excellent encouragement on how to “stay in your lane”. I’ve found the advice quite useful and you may too.

Whether we are mindlessly wondering in someone else’s business for selfish reasons, being distracted by the journey of the people around us or seeking knowledge in understanding how to be the support system others need, staying in your lane should be considered within it’s appropriate context.

Were you ever told to stay in your lane? What does it mean to you? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Don’t forget to subscribe for new content as soon as they are released. Until next time, have a blessed week.

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Things I Miss The Most – A Jamaican Perspective

Jamaican Proverb: “New broom sweep clean, but ol’ broom noe dem cahna”.

Translation: The new broom sweeps clean, but the old broom knows all the corners.

Meaning: We should strive for a happy blend between the old and the new, combining the freshness of the new with the valuable experience of the old.

Originally named ‘Xaymaca’ which translates to “the land of wood and water“, Jamaica is the place I called home for my first 21 years of life. I am asked this question every time someone finds out where I am from; “so why did you leave your beautiful country to migrate to the U.S.?” and after a brief chuckle and a short stroll down memory lane, my response is almost always the same; “to pursue an opportunity that became available to me.”

Like many Jamaicans, I was vaguely exposed to the American culture and values by means of television shows, through friends who traveled it’s terrains during the summer break and would come back looking like new money at the beginning of the school year, and through migrant relatives who returned to the island for what was described as a “well needed” vacation.

I would particularly look forward to seeing these relatives in anticipation of receiving the blessing of the crisp and seemingly coveted U.S. dollars which when converted to Jamaican dollars was more than enough to earn me some summer must-haves like bun and cheese, bag juice and prepaid cellular phone cards that I could burn through faster than the time it took you to read this paragraph.

I spent a good chunk of my childhood listening to stories of trips to the United States and daydreaming about the day I could say I was “coming to America”. While I waited my turn, I would fill in the gaps in my mind about what the experience was certainly going to be like. I’ve since been privileged to not only see what the United States is like, but to also live here as well in which I have for over 12 years. (Yikes! Where did the time go?) May I add, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to live in such a great nation. Though very grateful for access to more resources and an abundance of new experiences, there are some signature luxuries about living in Jamaica that I do miss dearly and no matter how much time has passed, the yearning remains the same.

I know I cannot speak for all Jamaicans currently living in the U.S., but I can confidently tell you that these are easily some of the things I took for granted that I miss the most:

1. The Fruits

https://suzandtell.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/jamaican-guinep/

In my teenage years in Jamaica, it was a privilege for me to be able to buy American fruits in any of the Jamaican supermarkets. Purchasing grapes and American apples were considered as “a treat” as they were a little on the pricey side. Once they were consumed in their entirety, there would be no more to have until the end of the month when the next paycheck would hit.

Guinep (or spanish lime), pictured above, is one of the fruits that I miss most. I know, it’s probably not that impressive of a fruit to many, but the memory of what it represents means the most to me. I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on a bunch neatly packaged for sale in one of the supermarkets I shop at in the Tampa Bay area. I was delighted at the discovery and as you may have guessed, it did not matter what it was going to cost me to make that purchase, I had to have them. Unfortunately, unlike Jamaica, there was no “taste and buy” so the risk level was pretty high.

The package with the shiny green outer shells of the fruit took me back to some of the best summers I’ve lived through. I always looked forward to the guinep sellers riding around the neighborhood on bicycles selling bunches and bunches of guineps out of a cardboard box. Looking out for these guys by the way, was an extreme sport for me. Though the fruit would leave a stainy residue on the tongue and even on my clothes when the juice fell, it was still a hallmark to a well spent summer.

Guineps aren’t the only fruits I miss. The list is rather extensive to include fruits like sweetsop, soursop, naseberry, East Indian mangoes and of course sugarcane. Making this list was rather torturous.

2. The Food on the Beach

Hellshire beach – It’s the fish and festival for me

I have a feeling you are probably wondering why is missing the food second and not first. Well, that is because anywhere you go in the U.S. where Jamaicans are located, you will most likely find some semblance of the staple dishes. From jerk chicken, to curry goat, oxtail and beef patties, I have access to them all, one way or another. I do however miss seeing the street cooks out in the busy streets on a Friday night making jerk chicken on jerk pans and the inviting and irresistible aroma that would fill the air fresh off the caramelized and seasoned to perfection chicken. It must be noted how the chicken was always cooked to perfection even though the jerk pans or make shift “grills” had no temperature gauges.

One specific dish that I miss the most out of all, is the freshly fried fish and festival that would be made in the huts by the sea side. There’s no better experience. Enjoying the fish dish while soaking up the cool sea breeze is an experience that even though simple, should be a bucket list item. The Jamaican KFC is another staple experience. You would only understand if you’ve tried it.

3. The Pastries and Snacks

I’ve had some very delicious and beautifully decorated donuts in the U.S., but nothing warms my heart more than the simplicity of the pink berry flavored jelly filled prestige donuts with the lightly sprinkled sugar garnish. Yum! This is only one of the many delicious snacks I grew up on. Pastries and snacks like grater cake, peanut cake, onion bits, big foot, tiggaz, just to name a few, will forever leave an impression on my taste buds. Should I even mention the sweet potato pudding and the delectable fruit cake made at Christmas time? My grandmother would make it a yearly tradition to bake dozens and dozens of Christmas cakes which, in my biased opinion, is still the best I’ve ever had.

4. Working Less

My first major job fresh out of high school at age 19, was an entry level statement renderer position at a bank in the New Kingston area. It was a salaried job. I worked 8 hours per day and one of those hours was a paid lunch. Yes, you read that right. So for all my mathematically inclined readers, I worked on average, 7 hours a day. Maternity leave, as I remembered it through my observation of others, (hold your horses), was 3 months with pay. That meant nothing to me at the time.

FYI: “Across the country (The Unites States), employees who are paid an hourly wage for their services account for 82.3 million workers 16 years and older, representing well over half (58.1 percent) of all wage and salary workers in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Hourly workers have always been the backbone of the U.S. economy, and the importance of the work they do has only become heightened during this pandemic crisis.” (source).

All of this does depend on the choice of career but if you know, you know.

5. The All Inclusive Resorts

Summer of 2021 was when it dawned on me that I could not have the all inclusive vacation I wanted if I was not in Jamaica. To be fair, I have not traveled to many tourist destinations in the world or even here in the U.S., so I am not saying Jamaica is the only place that has great all inclusive experiences, but I first experienced this kind of vacation in Jamaica. What I payed for one night at a beach resort in St Petersburg Florida, which shockingly did not even have complimentary breakfast, I could have possibly paid for at least one night at an all inclusive resort in Jamaica with the guarantee of getting three meals. Yes, food is important to me because “belly ungrateful”.

6. Living Debt Free

Photo by Jill Wellington on Pexels.com

Don’t get me wrong, you can live debt free in America, but unless you were guided properly before your arrival, you will most likely understand how finances work in the United States well into a few credit card mistakes. The financial backbone of the United States, from my vantage point, appears to have planted it’s feet securely on a credit score system which bases your financial fitness through your ability to manage debt. You only start to build a credit score when you start to borrow money and avoiding debt is difficult because your credit score is like a boarding pass to a flight to your next major purchase. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

I personally believe this approach is a set up for present and future financial failure. If you have not moved to the United States as yet but are planning on doing so soon, may I suggest a very careful approach to acquiring debt. Less is more in this regard. I am no financial expert nor am I qualified to give financial advice, but I would be selfish to not bring some awareness to avoiding the money mistakes I made. On the flip side, it can be very beneficial to not have to wait indefinitely to save up enough money for something that is needed asap. This of course depends on who you ask. Whatever you decide to do just remember, “a borrower is a slave to the lender“.

7. The Diction

I just miss using the letter “u” in words like neighbor (neighbour), color (colour), and favorite (favourite). I know, this is probably not a big deal to you, but it gets annoying having to explain it was not a typo and that you can actually spell.

Feedback from Jamaicans in Tampa

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To gain some perspective, I took to the streets to locate other Jamaicans to chit chat with about what they had missed most about their beloved island.

My first stop was at a local Jamaican restaurant. Trudi, the first person I spoke with, was a server at this spot was brought to my attention as the only Jamaican available at the time, so I took a few minutes to talk to her:

Me: What is the thing you miss most about Jamaica?

Trudi: The atmosphere. I am from the country part of Jamaica (my interpretation of country is anywhere except Kingston or Spanish Town). The air in the mornings is so fresh and clean. I don’t experience that in America. I also miss the authentic food. I cyaah (can’t) stand anything out of the tin like tin ackee.

Trudi lost me at ackee. Fun fact about me: I cannot stand the taste of ackee. This is unfortunate because it makes up the Jamaican national dish.

I left this local spot and headed to a beauty supply store close by as I remembered there were some Jamaicans who worked there. After I had made my purchases, I once again sought out the Jamaicans that worked there. I found two very polite young ladies who were more than happy to participate in this conversation.

Me: Hi Sade, I’m just curious to know, what is one thing you miss the most about Jamaica?

Sade: The food.

Tanika: Deinitely the food.

Me: Is there anywhere that you can go locally that can provide you with food that is close to the original?

Sade: A mi yaad! (At my home) – this response tickled me

Sade: I also miss seeing how much pride we take in how we dress. People are a lot more casual in America.

Me: I agree. I was mostly surprised by the laid back dress code policy in many professional settings. This of course is not necessarily a bad thing and it does take the pressure off having to impress anyone by having to buy expensive attire when the money could be used for other important purchases.

Sade: Yes, Jamaicans know how to dress like fowl foot. (Jamaicans go hard with their attire)

Me: True, not to mention the church attire. No one went to church dressed casually. (this I personally do not miss)

Tanika mentioned a few things that, in true Jamaican style, I will leave unmentioned. Trust me, it is for the best.

Things I Do Not Miss About Jamaica

“Then if you miss there so much why are you here?”, some may ask.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not all sunshine and warm friendly smiles on the island. The media has paraded enough shortcomings about Jamaica to raise enough concerns and fears about the possibility of even visiting. Like any developing country, Jamaica has room for improvement.

Among the things I do not miss are the high cost for food and utilities. I also do not miss having to wait monthly for the salary to hit my bank account, and most certainly do not miss the limited resources and the lack of opportunities for advancement. Jamaica as mentioned earlier, is still developing, so I say these things with as much grace and love as possible. No matter the shortcomings, I would not change the experiences of my early years on my beautiful island.

As the Jamaican proverb encourages, “strive for a happy blend between the old and the new” and that is what this post is all about.

What do you miss most about living in Jamaica? If you still reside there, what is one thing you love about living there? Please share your thoughts below. I would love to hear from you. Until next time, have a blessed week.

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Updated: November 26, 2021

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Buying a Home While Having Debt – A Bank’s Perspective

Written by: Kaydene Green

Sooner than later, one may find themself facing the inevitable reality of pursuing the possibility of owning a home. It is an achievement and one that is the hallmark of hard work, dedication and success. Whether a home is purchased by one or multiple individuals, big or small, it is yours and there is no better feeling. For some, renting is paying someone else’s mortgage and a complete waste of your hard earned money. In some cases this may be true. What they are unaware of is the unique financial situation of the individual renting. It is easy to encourage the purchase of a home, but it is hard to steer people in the right direction who have already acquired quite a bit of debt.

The problem is, owning a home only becomes a thought, for many like myself, well after there has been an accumulation of debt. The average American has $90, 460 in debt (Source). The average cost of a home according to zillow is $308,220. and the average monthly mortgage payment for US homeowners is $1487 (Source). This is not common knowledge nor explained ahead of time and while making those thoughtless financial mistakes.

There are many people who have not considered buying a home because of debt and have not thought it necessary to even find out how. It is said that ignorance is expensive and I am definitely paying the price to say the least. I’ve done some homework to learn a few things to start looking into before attempting to apply for a home loan.

Ground Rule

Debt-to-Income ratio (DTI) is the primary consideration in the qualification of a home loan. A low DTI demonstrates a good balance between debt and income. Simply put. If you can keep your debt low or nonexistent it will become a home buying dream, if you plan on purchasing a home in the future of course

I took some time to stop by my local Credit Unions to speak with the home loans officers to gain an understanding of things to consider, while having debt, before buying a home. May I add these bank associates were extremely helpful. As I already knew for my own personal situation, I had to rearrange a few things on my financial record in order to maximize my home buying experience. I wanted to go in a bit more detail to find out exactly what areas to target and how were the best ways in doing so. If you are in debt and would like to be able to afford a home, eventually, here were a few things to consider in advance.

1. Get a free (detailed) credit check with AnnualCreditReport.com

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If you are like me you may receive monthly credit score updates from credit check apps like mint. Unfortunately, according to CD Thornton, one of my credit union’s mortgage advisors, there may be hidden occurrences on your credit that you may be unaware of that could poke it’s ugly head out once you are ready to buy a home. Things like unknown outstanding medical bills or even something as simple as not returning your cable box can be seen on your credit history and may be used against you. I guess it may be time for me to return my cable box 🙂

2. Student Loans

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1% of your student loan balance is counted towards your debt when buying a home (TD Thornton). If you are not actively paying the income driven repayment plan. It is a good idea to make sure that you are actively paying off the balance with an Income Driven Repayment Plan to provide a set monthly student loan expense. This can be calculated as much less of an expense as opposed to the 1% consideration. This makes a tremendous difference when qualifying for a mortgage. Remember, the less you have to pay in bills monthly, the more mortgage you will be qualified for.

3. Move Credit Cards to Personal Loan

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D. Pullara, relationship officer at my local credit union suggests one way to improve my credit just before applying for a home loan is to move my credit card balances to a personal loan. This should boost my credit score and allow me to pay a smaller interest rate and make smaller monthly payments. The goal is to keep my monthly expenses low. Personally, I am not quite comfortable with debt consolidation and would prefer to continue applying the snowball effect to my credit card debts but this was an honorable mention in the event you need to know how credit score can be boosted just before applying for a home loan.

4. Refinance Car for Longest Term

My 2016 Honda Civic

The goal is to receive lowest payment. A car loan can be refinanced, just like a personal loan on credit cards, to provide a lower monthly payment. When the loan is in the home stretch of ten months, the car loan does not count towards debt (D Pullara).

4. Save for Down Payment and Closing Cost

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Though many may be quailified for a grant to aide in the down payment of a loan, many will not be able to be qualified and will have to find the money otherwise. Down payments can be 6-8% of purchase price. Dey, a member relationship officer from another of my Credit Unions says one mistake many people make when considering buying a home is forgetting about all the additional fees.

5. Consider The Climate of the Home Buying Market

It is November 2021 and we are in a sellers market. In my interpretation of this, it is harder for the buyer to negotiate and will more than likely have to be ready to make an impressive offer. My deduction, take a little more time to get ready than to force the situation when funds are low.

To Close

Full disclosure: This is not financial advise but merely things to consider based on my own personal situation. Please consult your bank to get an evaluation based on your unique financial situation.

Before we see other’s inability in pursuing the purchase of a home as pointless, it may be good to understand that many people are correcting some of the mistakes that have been made in the past and will need time to rearrange their priorities. Rushing someone into purchasing a home can be a vulnerable situation and instead, encouraging persons to address their financial woes first would be a more pleasant experience.

Last Updated: November 19, 2021

Person in the Mirror

One morning, just like every week day morning, at the sound the cellphone alarm I woke up, reached for my phone, rubbed my eyes and dragged my weary body out of bed. I went straight to the kitchen, as I always do, and made myself a hot cup of coffee. Once I was done draining the cup of the last drop, I went straight to the bathroom to take a shower. As I shut the bathroom door behind me, I looked in the mirror, looked away, and then did a double take. With a puzzled facial expression I leaned in towards the mirror to take a closer look at myself only to realize that the sclera of my eyes were pinkish red in color.

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Instantly I became crippled with fear. With accelerated heart rate I tried to think hard and fast about my options and remembered I had some eye drops which I proceeded to administer the recommended amount into each eye. I ran to the mirror every 2 minutes after the application to see if my eyes had improved any and thankfully, over the course of thirty minutes to an hour, they began to look normal again. Whew! That was scary! I thought. But then I wondered, what could have caused that? I reflected on all that I had done that morning and remembered that I had rubbed my eyes with my fingers as soon as I woke up and had experienced a slight burning sensation but did not think much of it. This was not the first time I had done this but unknowingly, I was introducing allergens into my eyes and it finally caught up with me that particular morning. If I had no mirrors in my apartment, I could have easily stepped out without knowing the irritable effects rubbing my eyes with my fingers as soon as I woke up, was having on me and would not have had the opportunity to apply a solution to adjust the effects of the problem.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

A mirror serves as a useful resource for receiving information about our external details, which can be quite resourceful in making the necessary adjustments in becoming more presentable to self and to others. But what about the internal aspects that a literal mirror cannot detect? During this time I was still working on my Interpersonal Communications class when I was given the assignment to do some self-reflection. Not only was I to do this exercise on my own, but I was to also seek out someone with whom I trusted to give me their honest take on who they saw me to be.

Besides the day to day revelation of what brought me joy and what annoyed every cell of my being, I’d never considered the value in asking anyone, even my closest friends, to be my self-reflective mirror and to tell me what they thought about me as an individual. This was not the easiest question to ask no matter how comfortable I was with someone possibly because of pride. I’ve always seen myself as someone who made conscious efforts to do the right thing and any opinion that was not parallel to this was to be thrown out. At least that was what I believed for a long time.

Task at Hand

So for the sake of getting the assignment done, I chose one person that I spent much of my time with during the week and decided to ask for their feedback in how they perceived me. I also made sure that I was ready for what I was about to hear. Posing the question made them uncomfortable which ultimately made me uncomfortable. Due to their concern about the possibility of a damaged friendship, I reassured them that this was very important for my self-development and I am fully vested in receiving the feedback no matter what it was going to be. In other words, I needed them to be my self-reflective mirror. As they got more comfortable with the idea, I received careful and honest feedback. Upon reflecting on their responses, I had come to the harsh realization that one of the blind spot in my personality is that I am not inclined to giving people the benefit of the doubt for falling short. This is not to say that being naïve and ignoring the negative behavioral patterns of others are a good idea either. Both can be equally as destructive. My problem however was that as soon as the action of someone rubbed me wrong, I had already served on a silver platter all the negatives I could think of about how they felt about me and the kind of person they must be. It did not come naturally to me to put myself in the person’s shoe to think of all the explainable and excusable reasons why they had to “disappoint me”. Something about my past experiences and possibly cultural upbringing had wired me to think the worst of people first. Coming to this understanding has allowed me to find one loop hole so far in my perspective of situations and of people.

When I look in mirrors, my view is limited no matter the angle and dimension of the mirror. So it is with seeing all my innate qualities. People experience me differently than I experience myself. While feedback may not necessarily be actual facts about what my identity is, as I believe they are grounded in who God says I am, I now have a clear understanding of how others may decode some parts of who I present myself to be that are completely blind to me. More importantly, this opportunity has bulldozed me into becoming better at perceiving things in new and insightful ways and being open to receiving feedback rather than being defensive. While I believe I have convictions about some of the things I’ve done incorrectly and some people will try to be fault finders no matter how outstanding my efforts may be, allowing myself a fair opportunity to evaluate and self-reflect is critically important in gaining an understanding of who I am and how I am relating to others. It is here, in my humble opinion, that a next level perspective which is the theme of my blogs, begins.

“People who have had little self-reflection live life in a huge reality blind spot”

– Bryant McGill

When we become aware of who we are, strengths and weaknesses alike, we are better positioned in understanding our own perceptions and even that of others. We are unique individuals and are made up of our culture, experiences, upbringing amongst so many other different factors. In order to adjust my vantage point, I had to become willing to not necessarily change who I am as an individual, unless of course it is for the best, but I had to allow myself the opportunity to see through the reflective eyes of others and to spend more time reflecting on my own personality which, let’s be honest, is a lifelong journey.

I challenge you today to make a list of things you see yourself to be. Here are a few questions you can possibly use to guide your self-reflection:

  • What are your strongest qualities?
  • How have you capitalized on these qualities?
  • What do you believe are your weakest qualities?
  • How will you work to improve on these qualities?
  • How do you believe others perceive you?
  • Have you had disagreements with anyone lately?
  • What have you learned from these disagreements?

Then think of someone you can trust to give you honest feedback about how they perceive you. This is not a comprehensive list of questions as there are so many others that can encourage and guide your self-reflection. My goal is to encourage you, as was done for me, to take some time to reflect and to learn about who you are. In getting to understand your unique make up, you may become more aware of how you perceive things. We will come across many different situations, but I do find that an understanding of who we are will help navigate how we handle those moments and the potential outcomes. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic so please leave your feedback and comments below. See you guys in the next blog post. Have a blessed week!

Last updated: November 6, 2021

Perspectives

Perspective – “the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, in having a meaningful interrelationship” (dictionary.com)

Perspective Backpack

We all have an invisible backpack. As we walk the journey of life, we take something from every stage and every encounter, whether positive or negative and little by little we fill our backpacks with them. We take this backpack with us day after day, year after year and unknowingly, the contents in the bag ultimately shapes the perceptions of our experiences.

Numerous factors including our cultural affiliation, family distinctives, and religious beliefs possess the ability to shape our view on life, the situations we face, ourselves, and the people we encounter. Standing only on our limited personal ideas and worldviews without making room for new insights may pose relational challenges due to the limited nature of our vantage point. You may agree with me when I say that life is filled with provocations and problems and not all have quick fixes or easy solutions. Some of these unfavorable circumstances may leave remnants of trauma, that if not addressed carefully, could leave our attitudes stale and and our progress stagnant.

One pastor I’ve spent much time listening to, who has produced a plethora of content on right mindset once said, “right thinking can enable you, and wrong thinking can disable you“. I’ve made quite a few mistakes in most of my adult life on how to positively see worldviews and behavior patterns that were not my own. In retrospect, I now see where much of my narrow ideologies attributed to a great deal of my own negative spiral of events. I’ve made great progress since, but there is still so much more to learn as new and unforeseen events will arise.

Together, with my own personal revelations and that of others, we will explore in detail the things that shape our own unique perspectives and learn the blind spots in the ways we view many things so we can dive into new and exciting ways of perceiving misfortunes and the valuable lessons we can gain by adjusting our focal point. Excited that you are on this journey with me to live elevated and to develop a next level perspective.

For a biblical perspective on this topic, I encourage you to read day 5 of the i-factor devotional in the YouVersion bible app.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

– Romans 12:2a NIV
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Last updated: December 1, 2021

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