Thursday, May 6, 2010

I am posting my Pastor's Congregational Letter for the month. I attend the Vineyard in Columbus, Ohio. The Lord has been talking to me about making choices and especially about making the right choices in every day life. He's been teaching me and counseling me about how little choices we make every single day, makes up who we are at the end; it ultimately molds our life and our lifestyle. If any of you have looked around at your life and your circumstances and wondered about how you got to be where you are now, whether good or bad, it's largely due to the little, tiny choices we made along the way. I hope you get to read this article and be blessed!

What Makes Us Human?
Rich Nathan's Congregational Email (May 2010)

Perhaps you have heard different sayings about what separates us from the animals. Is it our ability to laugh? Is it our knowledge of our own mortality? Or is it the fact that we cover our nakedness?
Homer Simpson, the fount of all wisdom, said this to his children: "Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It is what separates from the animals...except the weasel."
Other much brighter people have weighed in on what makes human beings unique. For example, Bill Cosby said: "Human beings are the only creatures on earth that allow their children to come back home."
Albert Einstein said: "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."
You don't have to be a biologist to see how closely apes resemble people. If you look at a gorilla in a zoo scratching himself, you might say, "Hey! He looks like my Uncle Vinnie." We know that human beings and chimpanzees share 99% of the same genetic material. We also know that there are significant differences. Most of us, other than a few friends of mine, have less hair on our bodies than a chimp or a gorilla. Our brains, in general, are much larger. Our faces are different. The size of our teeth and the shape of our jaws are different. We human beings have opposable thumbs. We also have many more sweat glands.
But what makes us essentially different than chimps or gorillas? I believe that the main distinctive of being human is the power to choose.
Viktor Frankl was a Jewish neurologist and psychiatrist in Vienna, Austria before WWII. He, along with his wife and his parents, was deported to a concentration camp in 1942. His wife, father and mother were murdered in different camps. Viktor Frankl was the lone survivor.
While Frankl was in a concentration camp he developed a philosophy of life that became the foundation of his psychiatric practice after the war. Frankl discovered that even in the most brutal situations in life, human beings have a choice regarding how they will respond. Here is what he wrote:
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate...Or instead to decide what will become of you mentally and spiritually.
I believe that the gift of choice is a large part of what it means to be created in the image of God. In creation God placed our first parents in a garden filled with a multitude of choices. We read in Genesis 2:15-17: The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will certainly die." The capacity to choose for or against God, the capacity to choose the road we're on, and the capacity to significantly choose our destiny are what makes us human.
Pastor Erwin McManus, in his book titled Seizing Your Divine Moment, made this observation: "The most spiritual activity you will engage in today is making choices." In other words, the most spiritual activity that you and I will engage in is likely not those activities that we commonly call spiritual - prayer, worship, or taking communion. We can do all of those activities for the wrong reasons - to make ourselves look good in front of other people; to gain brownie points with God; to feel good about ourselves, etc. But what is really spiritual are our choices.
Every day we have the choice to say something or not to say something. We have the choice to let go of bitterness or to harbor a grudge. We have the choice to spend our time watching television, or, instead, to visit someone in a hospital. We have the choice regarding how we are going to use our money - to buy another shirt for our already-over-stuffed closet, or rather, to buy two mosquito nets in order to keep two kids in Africa from getting malaria.

It is choice, according to Viktor Frankl, that determines how full a life you and I are going to live, not circumstance as is commonly believed. Circumstance determines the size of the box that we are placed in. We don't always get to pick our own opportunities. We don't get to pick our gifts, or our talents. We don't always get to pick how healthy we will be. But in the box that life and God place us in, choice determines how much of the box to occupy. Choice asks us whether we retreat into a corner in fear or whether we, in faith, explore the entire box of our lives. Choice asks whether we close ourselves off to new relationships because of past hurt, or open ourselves to new possibilities through forgiveness.
The richness of our lives and, indeed, our essential humanity primarily comes down to choice, not circumstance. My encouragement to you is this: respect the power that God has given you - the power to choose. Choose well!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Favorite Song Right Now....

Happy New Year Everyone!!!!!!! :)
Those who are close to me, know that I rank John Mayer just a notch below Dave Matthews. That itself speaks volumes. Why do I fall in love with him all over again when he comes out with a new album? Oh, maybe it's because he's the BEST and everything he's ever come out with or ever will come up with in the future will be the BEST! Words are not enough to describe his new two singles, 'Heartbreak Warfare,' and 'Who Says,' from his new album, Battle Studies. Love it! Love it! Love it!!!!! It's such a treat for his fans :) I'm also over the top excited about his cover of 'Free Fallin,' which was originally done by the legendary Tom Petty. My sister was commenting on how he may even have topped Tom Petty! (GASP!!).. I'll be posting all 3 songs on here soon. I'm posting "Heartbreak Warfare" done live on VH1 Storytellers. I can't get enough of this song!!!!!!! Love it! Love it! Also, you can watch the augmented reality version on
ENJOY! ENJOY!!!! ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Blind Side

I absolutely love this movie!!! It has to be on my top 10! I am extremely picky about the movies I watch and even more picky when it comes to rating them high. The screenplay was beautifully written. The artists were brilliant. The mother, Mrs. Leigh Ann Tuohy, was played by the beautiful and talented Miss Sandra Bullock. She's already nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress. The father, Mr. Sean Tuohy, was played by the compelling Mr. Tim McGraw. The Oscar winning, Miss Kathy Bates, also joined the star-studded cast as Michael Oher's private tutor. Quinton Aaron made his debut by playing Michael Oher. Lily Collins plays the Tuohy's daughter, Collins Tuohy, who is Oher's age. One of the most darling characters in this movie is SJ!!!! He is the Tuohy's son and is played by Jae Head. He is cute as a button. But, don't let his charm fool you! He is one of the smartest, most entrepreneurial little guy I have yet to see!

The Tuohy family is one in a million. Who would dare take in a complete stranger and bring them home? Who would have this much compassion towards a kid on the street? From my assessment of this family and of this situation, I believe without a shadow of a doubt that this was all God ordained. God had his eye on Michael Oher. God favored him, just as he favored a little shepherd boy to be one of the greatest kings of Israel. God loves everyone and he protects everyone. His eye is on everyone and everything he has created. But, I believe that his special favor rests on a few, special ones through whom his love and power are manifested. That was Michael Oher. He could have easily been a statistic on the streets. In his own words, in an interview he gave, he said, "zero" make it out or alive from where he was from. I praise God for his divine plan and intervention in this young man's life. I praise God for the compassion and the willingness of the Tuohy family to be open to the riskiest thing they had ever encountered in their lives.

One of the many amazing things in this movie was how Mr. & Mrs. Tuohy were both on board. Even though they were two separate beings with their own separate ideas, at the end, they were on the same team. And the central message of the movie was all about protecting your family. At the end of the day, it's immensely vital to the existance of your spirit and soul, to protect those you love. That entails protecting your loved ones with your words, protecting them through your actions, and protecting their emotions and their hearts. It's so easy to kick someone, especially when they are down and out. It takes courage to lend a hand and to pick someone up and encourage them to be their best. That's exactly what the Tuohys did. They recognized the great talent he had in playing football. He had no idea about the game when he started. He was encouraged and he was trained well. The Tuohys were persistent in bringing his GPA up in order for him to be eligible to play football in college. It's remarkable to me how much effort and time and money the Tuohys spent on Michael. In other words, they never treated him any less than how they treated Collins or SJ. Why would they? He is their son.
One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Leigh Ann Tuohy tries to get to know Michael better and asks him to indulge her with any information about himself. He replies by saying, "I don't like to be called 'Big Mike.'" At that, Leigh Ann responds by saying, "All right then. I will be calling you 'Michael' from now on." You can see the advent of a beautiful relationship forming between them. Another heartbreaking scene is when Michael is given a beautiful room with a custom-ordered bed for his size. As he's surprised by her generosity, he says, "Never had one before." Then, Leigh Ann turns around and asks, "What? A room to yourself?" Then Oher responds by saying, "A bed." I was also blown away by a few teachers who took a special interest in him, especially his hired tutor, Miss Sue. Last but not least, SJ is nothing but adorable!!!! It brings you to tears and eruptive laughter to see the bond that develops between Oher and SJ!!!! It's absolutely hilarious and brilliant how SJ works these legendary coaches pretty hard when they come to convince Michael to be recruited to their respective schools.
I am so excited to see where Michael Oher's life is heading. I've always been crazy about Ohio State football!! (GO BUCKS!!!!). But, recently, over the past 5 years or so, I've gotten into the NFL. I haven't been faithful to my home teams - - the Bengals and the Browns. I love the Manning brothers, though :) Who doesn't? I've been supporting the Colts or the Giants in the past couple of years. I'll be rooting for the Ravens to go all the way to the Super Bowl this year!!! Flacco looks promising! What an exciting ride for Michael Oher and the Tuohy family!!!! It also made me realize of something so precious and fundamental: God is never in debt to those who do great things for him. If you take one step towards God in obedience and humility, he will take a million steps towards you to bless you and to reward you! I just praise God for this family and for the testament of what God has been doing in this family and in this young man's life! I am so blessed by this movie!!!!!!!! I encourage everyone to go and see this movie with your loved ones, if you haven't done so. It's a great movie to see before you enter the new year! It will motivate you and inspire you to do great things in the year ahead! :)

"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me." - Matthew 25: 37-40 (The Message).

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Faubulous 80s - Episode Deux

I am SO excited to post on another one of my all-time favorite songs from the 80s.The artist featured in this post needs no introduction, other than his just title, "THE KING OF POP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Even though he grew up with his brothers on stage in the 70s, his fame escalated in the 80s with his highly acclaimed two albums, Thriller and Bad. The songs which he presented to us as a gift through these albums will be passed down in generations to come. The creativity and ingenuity that went into creating these masterpieces, whether it be in the song itself or in music videos that went along with them, blazed a trail for future artists. The choreography that went into these songs are immortalized and pioneered the development of modern dance.

Die hard MJ fans know that there is no way you can pick a "favorite song." That's tantamount to presenting my most cherished niece, who just turned 3, the dilemma of going into a candy store and picking one, single candy to take home with her. Impossible. That being said, I present to you, "The Way You Make Me Feel, which is one of the many magical masterpieces by MJ, which upon hearing, I kid you not, transforms me into a self-proclaimed singing diva, who starts to move her hips without any cognizance or shame. If you notice the intro and outro of this particular video, like many of his videos such as Thriller, it paints a picture for the audience to follow and understand. This ingenious creation of MJ was the first of its kind in the music video industry, which came into popularity in the 80s with the advent of MTV.

I hope you enjoy this very long version of this song!!! And don't worry if you bust out singing & dancing in your dancing shoes....I'll join you! :)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Don't take life for granted

By Ruben Navarrette Jr., Special to CNN
December 4, 2009 8:28 a.m. EST
Quinton Aaron plays the role of Michael Oher and Sandra Bullock is Leigh Anne Touhy in "The Blind Side."
Quinton Aaron plays the role of Michael Oher and Sandra Bullock is Leigh Anne Touhy in "The Blind Side."

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a member of the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board, a nationally syndicated columnist and a regular contributor to Read his column here

San Diego, California (CNN) -- Sometimes, a film is so powerful that it haunts you long after you've left the theater. Usually, it's because of the weight of the message.

The film haunting me is "The Blind Side." And the message? I'll leave that to Leigh Anne Tuohy to explain.

Tuohy and her husband, Sean, are the subjects of the new movie, "The Blind Side." The film is an adaptation of the 2006 book, "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis.

It tells the incredible story of Michael Oher, who went from being a homeless inner-city high school student whose father was dead and whose mother was a crack addict to a star lineman at the University of Mississippi -- eventually being selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2009 NFL draft. The Ravens recently signed the 6-5, 309-pound Oher to a 5-year, $13.8 million contract.

This American Dream is brought to us not just by Oher's talent, perseverance, and hard work but also by the fact that he was adopted by the Tuohys. The white, wealthy Memphis family not only fed and clothed Michael but also loved him as one of their own along with daughter Collins and son Sean Jr.

The "Blind Side" is the No. 2 film in America, and the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy is played to perfection by Sandra Bullock.

Still, some critics dismissed the film as hokey and condescending, with one calling it the latest chapter in Hollywood's "long, troubled history of well-meaning white paternalism, with poor black athletes finding success through white charity."

They missed the point. Simply put, there's a lot that any one of us can do to improve the life of our fellow man. And the fact that we do it is its own reward.

"He had a much greater impact on our lives than we did on his life," Leigh Anne said in a recent interview. "You have this child, and you bring him in, and you realize how fortunate you are, how you're blessed to have family, you're blessed to have your health. So much in life you take for granted."

There's the message: So much in life you take for granted. We've forgotten how lucky we are, because we're busy cursing fate. We've stopped being grateful for what we have, because we somehow find it more satisfying to complain about what we don't. Until we meet someone who has much less than we do.

So much in life you take for granted.

As Americans, we've become victims of our own success. We've strayed so far from the example of our immigrant parents and grandparents that we bear no resemblance to that model.

Weighed down by own bloated sense of entitlement and self-importance, we've lost our appetite for competition and we prefer to talk instead about what we think we "deserve." At the first sign of adversity, we play the victim, give up, or fall apart. With all the blessings that come with living in the world's most remarkable country, still we complain. We retreat. We whine.

Here in the Golden State, thousands of students at the University of California turned out to protest a 32 percent fee increase. I wrote a column, expressing disappointment that these "brats" consider a publicized subsidized college education an entitlement and telling them to go get jobs if their education is that important to them. I heard back from many of their parents who, angrily rising to their children's defense, informed me -- in incompatible narratives -- that either there were no jobs or their kids already had two of them.

How about that? Bratty parents. Apparently, in California, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

After a few days of that noise, I was ready for a movie where, in one of the more poignant scenes, a young man is given his own bedroom and remarks that he's "never had one before." Not a room but a bed.

In another scene, Michael is so grateful to be at Thanksgiving dinner that he respectfully sits at the dining room table while the rest of the family plops down in front of the television. In another scene, he requests a driver's license just so he can have something with his name on it.

So much in life we take for granted.

I saw the movie in a well-to-do suburb north of San Diego. The crowd cheered, laughed, and cried. When it was over, there were smiles all around. I wondered: For all we've acquired, what have we lost -- and look to movies like this to replenish?

The scene about the bed made me want to run home and gather up every one of my kids' toys and give them to Goodwill. And, I tell you, the next time they ask for something they don't need, they're getting a paper route. Or at least they would if they weren't a preschooler and a toddler.

In one scene, Leigh Anne interrupts football practice to give Michael a helpful tip for a lineman -- treat the team like your family and protect the family. She tells the startled football coach: "You can thank me later."

Treat yourself to a nice present this holiday season. See this movie. You can thank me later.

The opinions expressed by this commentary are solely those of Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Fabulous 80s :)

This post is dedicated to everything 80s! :) I love it that the 80s are back!! This was an electrifying decade where decadent clothing and outlandish accessories went beautifully together. A decade where big hair and even bigger makeup were appreciated. :) I'll post 3 of my favorite songs, among many, in the upcoming posts.

I'm SOOO excited about this post!!!!!! I'm posting on one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE SONGS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is none other than "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey! Have you ever loved a song so much that no matter when or where you hear it or how many times you have heard it, you just end up loving it even more? Well, such a song is "Don't Stop Beliving" for me!!!! It's such an exciting time for Journey now as well. With the band re-united with an INCREDIBLE new, lead singer, Arnel Pineda, the band is at its peak in popularity. While Journey was becoming hotter than ever again, my sister introduced me to an incredible new show, The Glee Club, on Fox. They did a cover on this song a few weeks ago and I almost fell off my chair!!!!!!!!!!!! It was hotter than ever and I couldn't have imagined a better performance! Just as pink lipstick and broad shoulders are in again, what a fitting time for Journey to come back and for their songs to be popular with the current generation!!! :)

I love this song SOOOOOOOOOO much that I'll be posting two versions of it.
">This version is performed with Arnel Pineda, who I think has one of the most unbelievable stories to tell!!!! He's talented beyond belief and SOOOO humble! Enjoy this amazing performance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Last but not least, here's the "Glee Club" performing "Don't Stop Believing." I hope you guys are convinced about how much I love this song.. hahaha..:) ENJOYYYY! xoxo.

Glee - Don't Stop Believe
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Favorite Worship Song Right Now...

From now on, I'll periodically post my favorite worship song of the moment. I want to thank my sister for introducing me to this very transparent song, From the Inside Out, by the Hillsong from their album, Mighty to Save. I think this song is a prayer that all Christians offer up to God at one time or another in their lives. The older I get, the more I realize that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to live "right" on my own. I don't have what it takes to fix my wrongs. I can't pull myself up on my own when I fall. I need his grace and his mercy more and more as each second passes in my life. And how incredible is it that for everlasting, his light will shine in my life when I can't fix things on my own. THANK YOU JESUS!