December 17, 2017

Captivated by Maria D’Luz –she makes Brilliance of music Brighter in South Texas!

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http://www.mariadluz.com/

First of all, I want to make sure my readers know that I was by no means influenced to write this entry about Maria D’Luz by anyone other than my own decision to do so. As a new acquaintance, I felt compelled to mention her with my own accord. She impressed upon me that much. Other than the exception of Taylor Swift, I do not use my blog to promote other individuals unless divine in some way with a spiritual message and greater purpose. And naturally you will also see book reviews on my blog as well, with the words of those who change my world view forever forward.

Rarely do I personally encounter a person who sparks my interest within the first few minutes of talking to them….I feel the breath of joy on the lips of those speaking or in this case singing. I can count on one hand those who constantly practice a heartening perspective that engages others around you, without their own trying. An invisible force attracts you to such a person. To further clarify, this motion is not a physical attraction. Rather it is an aura that lures us to a person’s being. I have known only a few guys and girls to possess the indescribable lure of this enchanting appeal. And Maria D’ Luz is one of those friends.

I recently interviewed Maria for a magazine piece but also wanted to feature her in a more personal way here with my own writings of deeper thought.

When asked which major musicians collided to impact her own style of expressions, Maria mentioned the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Gloria Estefan, Earth, Wind, and Fire, the Bee Gees, and even some of Frank Sinatra. I expected to hear some modern day musical artists, but Maria appeared to prefer more of the old school songs, that once represented originality and less pop culture fads. There was something pure about the greats who energized generations.

You will hear the resemblance of these legends in Maria’s own creative composures. I mean, as a child, even I danced a groove to Gloria Estefan’s “The Rhythm is Gonna Get You.” Like Estefan, the lyrics of Maria’s new album will also have me mimicking those same salsa-shake-my-swerve memories as I celebrate my life with my own Thank-God-Its-Monday morning moments.

Please understand this simple concept. When you believe in the person fully behind the music, you celebrate the melodies of the original artist because you stand inspired by what that person represents….a genuine individual not pressured by the ways of a world that sells out for dollar signs. Maria follows her own path of originality with a grace the makes the mothers of young girls proud.

I often take myself a little too seriously, which then sucks the delight out of a present moment. With success or stagnancy through many months of challenges, Maria keeps everything in blessed perspective. She reminded me with a deep but still simple lesson: “Remember to live in the moment before you today. It becomes easy to be distracted with a vision for the future. Work on your goals and dreams step by step without losing yourself in your future mindfulness. You might force a path not made for you by God. Envisioning your own mountain peak might unfortunately limit the summit God has already planned for you.”

Maria’s words still play fresh in my mind as I recount our first major conversation. Her humility with her own wise words reveals an internal calmness in the midst of deeper waters. Maria’s centeredness can only lie within a formidable relationship with God the Father and Jesus as a personal Savior. And that spiritual peace and understanding plays into the divine words of music featured in the soul. Maria’s words as a singer and songwriter reach deep within to not just reflect the beauty of her own heart but also to touch the hearts of those who cherish her music.

As some might say in the jazz New Orleans world of Preservation Hall, Maria D’Luz’s music caresses the listener’s soul because she plays her own arrangements with soul. Music shapes our everyday existence, and it is the music of our favorite artists that most cheer us up with a memorable tune. Maria sails into the spotlight of my own favorite ITunes playlists. Play on because my mornings just got a little bit brighter.

Below you can view some of the talents that Maria so often blesses her followers, fans, family, and friends with. Her voice carries a tranquil sound lifted on angel’s wings.

Below you will find the memorable song and lyrics by Gloria Estefan that impacted the appreciation both Maria and I have for upbeat and clean Latin music. Enjoy as you because you will probably want to dance to this one.

Rhythm Is Gonna Get You Lyrics

from Gloria Estefan – Greatest Hits

O eh o eh, o eh o eh
O eh oo aah, o eh oo aah
O eh o eh, o eh o eh
(Yah ya goh)
O eh oo aah, o eh oo aah
(Yah ya goh)

At night when you turn off all the lights
There’s no place that you can hide
No, no the rhythm is gonna get you

In bed throw the covers on your head
You pretend like you are dead
But I know it, the rhythm is gonna get you

Rhythm is gonna get you
Rhythm is gonna get you
Rhythm is gonna get you
The rhythm is gonna get you tonight

No way you can fight it every day
No matter what you say
You know it, the rhythm is gonna get you

No clue of what’s happening to you
And before this night is through
Ooh, baby, the rhythm is gonna get you

Rhythm is gonna get you
Rhythm is gonna get you
Rhythm is gonna get you
The rhythm is gonna get you tonight

O eh o eh, o eh o eh
O eh oo aah, o eh oo aah
O eh o eh, o eh o eh
O eh oo aah, o eh oo aah
O eh, o eh
(Yah yeh goh, yah yeh goh, yah yeh goh)

Rhythm is gonna get you
Rhythm is gonna get you
Rhythm is gonna get you
The rhythm is gonna get you

Rhythm is gonna get you
Rhythm is gonna get you

Na na, na na na, na na na
Na na, na na na, na na
(Rhythm is gonna get you)
Na na, na na na, na na na
Na na, na na na, na na

O eh, o eh
(Rhythm is gonna get you)
(Na na, na na na, na na na)
O eh oo aah
(Rhythm is gonna get you)
(Na na, na na na, na na)

O eh o eh, o eh o eh
(Na na, na na na, na na na)
O eh oo aah, o eh oo aah
(Na na, na na na, na na)

O eh o eh, o eh o eh
(Na na, na na na, na na na)
O eh oo aah, o eh oo aah
(Na na, na na na, na na)

O eh o eh
(The rhythm is gonna get you tonight)

When you decide not to settle, you decide to face more adversity. The decision to overcome….

The above video illustrates a creative musical expression that Jennifer Nettles (lead female singer of Sugarland) never plans to settle in terms of life ambitions. If you research the background story of her career and the band, Sugarland, you would know the narrative for any artist to rise almost never comes easy. However if you seek to become more, the decision to become what you seek has a price.

That decision to reach for higher heights brings more challenges, almost guaranteed to create adversity. Those who settle for a day job and survival mode stay in the comfort zone of no risks taken. The individuals who face their fears to overcome them triumph to accomplish wonders that extend beyond imagination. Some historians believe that Thomas Edison tried over 1,000 different configurations (and some hypothesize even more than 2,000 times) to eventually discover the right construction with his invention, the light bulb. His persistence with this experiment and other accomplishments changed scientific history from that point forward.

When we reach beyond ourselves, we will face unforeseen difficulties, but it is those struggles that define the greater character within. It is those trials that teach us to hope when no light remains visible in our future. The talent to hope, no matter the circumstances, develops with experience and some might even say age. When we hope forward to become more, we soon achieve endurance to chase after any dream before us.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to never settle. The words of specific Biblical Scriptures and music like Sugarland’s song, Settlin’, inspire me to reach beyond myself. I will be discouraged. I will fail more than I succeed. I will pick myself up when I fall flat to the ground, maybe literally and figuratively. I choose the path of greater because I will be a better person for it.

The greater in my future guarantees I will encounter more hardship than most. However that is the choice I choose to make. I cannot be subpar. I cannot only be average. I strive to change lives and do great things. In the chase to struggle well, that is where I must find my satisfaction in the midst of the storm.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Sugarland – Settlin’ Lyrics

Fifteen minutes left to throw me together
For Mr. Right Now, not Mr. Forever
Don’t know why I even try when I know how it ends
Lookin’ like another, “Maybe we can be friends.”
I’ve been leaving it up to fate
It’s my life so it’s mine to make
Chorus:
I ain’t settlin’
For just getting by
I’ve had enough so-so
For the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low
So raise the bar high
“Just enough,” ain’t enough this time
I ain’t settlin’ for anything less than everything

With some good red wine
And my brand new shoes
Gonna dance a blue streak around my living room
Take a chance on love, and try how it feels
With my heart wide open
Yeah, you know I will
Find what it means to be the girl
Who changed her mind
And changed the world

Repeat chorus

I ain’t settlin’
For just getting by
I’ve had enough so-so
For the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low
So raise the bar high
“Just enough,” ain’t enough this time

I ain’t settlin’
For just getting by
I’ve had enough so-so
For the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low
So raise the bar high

I ain’t settlin’
No, no, no, no, no, no
So raise the bar high, high

San Antonio Skies Still Streaming – a poem about a new presence (by James Cartee)

date3_editedIt has been a good while and long time since I met anyone who sparked any interest to date and know more on a deeper level. Who knows? – perhaps this changed at this moment described below.

I currently write a new book of thirty-five poems to release in the fall. While not in that publication, this new piece comes from deep down in my own heart. The good emotions in life are certainly to be celebrated in the moments they occur.

San Antonio Skies Still Streaming

Astonishing to the veins pumping of my usual existence,
You appear in the San Antonio midst of museum masterpieces.
I smile without what to know, think, or do.
You breathe hard as your cool body suddenly raptures with heat.
As the tall figure of beauty steps forward, one inch above my height,
I awe in the rush of lustful thoughts at the kiss near our goodbyes.

Nobody lands perfectly upon the earth at our day of creation;
However glamour in well-curved shape brings unexpected grins.
We think constantly of each other after our greeting at the river walk.
I persist in temptation to ask that my sweet sin be purged again.
Everything will change the minute you decide that nothing stays the same
With a new direction in determination that you seek to stay with me.

I catch the glimpse of moonlight that captures your legs
Embraced in the race to my own intimate relationship.
When you cling into one with the blood of orange and blue,
You honor the decision to trust that change brings betterment
For something more close than you imagined before now.
We two-step into a new life to understand that hope floats.

The heart of Texas beats to a new story fairy tale song
With the start of a professor and nurse in ministry joined together
To change the world in the face of dark times without fear.
A sleek thin model with dark but still naughty eyes
And short hair with an image compared to the girl with dragon tattoos
Stares into the bottom of my own brokenness to discover more.

She takes my gentle hand to start a new step, with one concern at a time,
In the second before our magical moment of a first kiss.
We entwine longer than creative minds depict in artwork.
Rainbows light the morning sky. Sunsets dawn the shadow of lips sealed.
I prepare my heart for yours in the daylight of any disaster
Because I have been waiting decades of endless minutes for your arrival.

JLC iii, 3/28/14

He said, She said, What did you say? – PART 2 of 2 (A Saturday Mayhem Special Edition)

He said, She said, What did you say? – PART 2 of 2 (A Saturday Mayhem Special Edition)
Jointly collaborated with James Cartee and Avily Jerome

This week for the blog entry on relational mayhem, James Cartee (single) and Avily Jerome (married) wrote a communication entry with issues of straightforward honesty in a perplexing relationship breakup, from the perspective of a male and then mutually a female. I would suggest that you also read the previous week’s entry.

J: Simply be committed to clear communication. So often, I become the subject of guessing foreign language games. As a male, I play no games. I tell you honestly what I want as I want it. So many times, girls hint or indirectly reference whatever it is on mind, whatever it is valued, or whatever it is wanted. Then unfortunately, blame directed towards those who fail to receive the message results. Nothing is more unfair than a unclear message that someone else receives blame for not comprehending.

A: You are rare among men. As a rule, most men say what they’re thinking, but that doesn’t mean they don’t still play games. From our earliest upbringing, we’re taught game-playing in relationships. In junior high, you ask your friend to ask his friend to ask that girl’s friend to ask that girl if she likes you. As we get older we learn the art of flirtation, which may or may not mean we’re interested in each other, just that we want to have fun. Women are taught to follow “the rules” if they want to man-trap a guy. The dos and don’ts of how to get a ring on your finger. Especially as women, we second-guess every interaction. We’re never quite sure if a guy really likes us, and even if he does, we can’t be sure what he meant by whatever he said. So instead of just having a frank conversation, we end up playing more games and running around in circles, communication-wise.

J: While communication sometimes evolves through emotion, individuals possess the capacity to communicate with logic, sense, and even spiritual content. I believe it is a matter of intentional choice to act with a levelheaded approach to speak to one another clearly.

Many of my personal female readers of my blog will turn a blind eye to this topic, especially if communication issues exist in your own relationships. Most social scientists will agree, at least suggestively, that the key to any relationship is communication. If you lack communication as a strength, acknowledge the reality as a personality fault. Work on it. Improve it. Become better than what you lack thereof. And never ever use the God Card as an excuse for your own inhibitions. As the pop culture saying goes, just tell it like it is.

A: I couldn’t agree more. Especially as emotionally-driven women, we need to make a conscious effort to be straight-forward, even if honesty may cause hurt. We need to stop guessing about what we think a guy meant, and just ask him.

By the same token, men need to be aware that women are emotional, and temper their communication with love and gentleness, knowing that women may not have the same logical reasons they do, but that their emotions and feelings are equally valid.

He said, She said, What did you say? – PART 1 of 2 (A Monday Mayhem Special Edition)

He said, She said, What did you say? – PART 1 of 2 (A Thursday Mayhem Special Edition)
Jointly collaborated with James Cartee and Avily Jerome

As a regular contributor to many magazines, James Cartee and Avily Jerome team up and cowrite a male versus female perspective on relationship breakups. “That’s not what I meant.” – YES, this is BETTER than a TAYLOR SWIFT BREAKUP SONG!

James: A good while ago an old girlfriend broke up with me with an excuse that frustrates many men, what I call The God Card – using God as a reason to cover up the real lack of commitment to a person, a cause, or a dream. I believe God speaks to all of us, and this Holy Spirit filled experience affects most Christians and their decisions. Certainly include God in the breakup of a relationship, but do not solely use Jesus as the reason for that breakup. “God told me to end this relationship, but I am not sure why God told me this.” –that is worse than your classic Herbal Essences commercial above where shampoo fulfills the needs of a female.

Avily: Women are not logical. I’m just going to say it. We think with our hearts, and sometimes we don’t really have a good reason for why we do what we do. I’m a big believer in Women’s Intuition, and in many cases, even if we don’t know why we feel a certain way, some things just don’t feel right. In some instances, it saves us from walking into a parking lot alone because we just don’t feel right about walking past that guy holding the cigarette and leering. In other cases, though, as in the case of your relationship, it may not even be something we can pinpoint, but she just wasn’t “feeling” it the same way you are. That said, her excuse was a poor one. Now, I’m not denying that God can speak to people and give them direction, but to use that as an excuse is more of a deflection so we don’t hurt a guy’s feelings. I suspect she genuinely didn’t want to hurt you more than necessary, and using her faith as a reason was the best one she could come up with.

With so many good qualities among many other compliments, I further felt disheartened from the breakup. For instance, “James, you offer all these positive attributes to our relationship, but I still want to break up with you for reasons I cannot pinpoint.”)

James: The worst part of this particular old school, God Card breakup was that this individual complimented I was her best kisser, cuddler, and communicator ever dated. I always try my very best to clearly communicate my heart, my feelings, and my own life testimony. In the confession of this former significant other, I felt she never communicated the real reasons for her decision. In fact, when most implement the God Card excuse, they fear to share the real motive behind a choice, in this case more than likely another guy in my stead or fear of commitment to something amazing.

Avily: While I can’t comment on her motives since I’m not her, I can suggest from experience that she may be holding out for something better. Whether that’s a real guy she knows and is waiting for him to notice her, or whether she has an ideal in her head that you didn’t fit, she has decided that you’re not “the one.” But, rather than just come out and say that, or tell you she doesn’t feel the same way, she instead falls back on this excuse of God telling her you aren’t the one, because, really, all the logic in the world can’t argue with what God said to her.

If you die tomorrow, what will you remember? What does Tim McGraw think?

If you die tomorrow, what will you remember? Worries? Troubles with your life? Or final memories with friends, family, and other loved ones?

I am currently on a cordial visit to Auburn University for a possible new career opportunity that might additionally compliment my ambitions to become a published book author. I thoroughly enjoy my time back in the Plains, where I ask my fellow Auburn comrade, fan, and best friend, Caleb Rotton, the meaning to all of life’s greatest ministries and questions. Just tonight over a brew and bacon cheese fries at the Outback, I asked the question that enters all our minds at some point during the work week, “If you die tomorrow, what will you remember?”

And he responds, “Nothing. I will be dead.” While obviously insightful, that is not the ideal answer I exactly hoped for.

As illustrated in the previous entry, I recently attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference where I met new connections and contacts beyond my wildest dreams with doors and blessings that continue to flow forward with God’s fresh air in my sails. I then spent five days with my Dad on a father-son vacation in Daytona Beach, Florida. In addition to putt putt tournaments, walks and jogs on the beach, sling shot carnival rides, lighthouses, and the best seafood money can buy, the memories of flirting with a beautiful bartender (with my father’s efforts to “connect” us) still sing through my own sensory recall of recent remembrances.

As also mentioned with Caleb, we ate a luxurious meal at The Outback tonight, a restaurant I rarely frequent a visit to given the expense of their prices.

If I die late tonight or tomorrow, I am not going to remember the job hunt, the next draft of a book proposal, or even the papers I need to grade in the college courses I teach. I will remember the amazing writers I met at the conference in the beautiful lakeside country of Floridian scenes and the much needed personal one-on-one time with both my father and best friend. I will remember the final blog entry inputted here to remind you of what matters in life beyond the ordinary.

It is the relational moments in our favorite places that matter, at the beach, Christian-like-minded gatherings, the Daytona 500, or Auburn, Alabama, a place I still consider home on many levels. These heaven-like moments I will take with me to the afterlife. The worries and to-do lists will probably be the last thing on my spiritual mind when I meet Jesus face-to-face for an angelic home welcome to sit at His right hand. I hope a parade and hug from Jesus also await me. All the tedious other-things pass away in the doldrums of day-to-day existence.

With unforeseen adversity and losing a life dear to me at the end of last year, God reminded me to keep this perspective, a heavenly mindset. All the tedious details take care of themselves in obedience to remain faithful in the small tasks of each day. God will take care of the rest. And so I ask the question to you and myself once more, “What will you remember if you die tomorrow?”

I am so fortunate to have run across this Christian lesson and sermon with this very same message entailed. While there is no extensive videographer special effect here, I believe the clip is worth five to ten minutes of your time if you find that fresh breath is rarely experienced in your day-to-day walk with Jesus. It further solidifies my approach to life given in this blog entry.

Enjoy and remember what it truly important to live like you were dying.

FUNNY Children’s Valentine’s Day Videos-Faith like a Child! Lessons in the simple things….

….some things to remind that we cannot take ourselves too seriously!

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. Mark 10:13-16 (MSG)

I am not the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day, and I do not just feel that way because I am single and casually dating. I believe that Valentine’s is solely a reminder for store bought goodies. With an emphasis on cupid and flying arrows, Valentine’s lacks the spiritual substance of Easter, Christmas, and perhaps even New Year’s.

I see some couples spend hundreds of dollars on the holiday, eating out, buying jewelry, or other expensive thoughts. I notice that the holiday is taken very seriously by some, to the point of creating stress in search for the perfect gift. I respect the very few who buy a card and remind special ones how much they are appreciated and loved. I believe there is childlike faith there when you know that someone loves you without purchasing this holiday’s latest heart shape box of chocolates.

While it might be easy for a single writer to express such thoughts, especially when females might feel quite differently, I think each day gives the chance to express how much someone means to you. It does not have to occur only one day out of the year. I believe the holiday can be taken sometimes a little too seriously and that sometimes we must remember to just smile as these videos below remind us of what’s truly important, childlike faith for The God of the Universe who loves us!

Now that is the best Valentine’s gift we could ever receive: a Son whose Father gave Him up for our sins so that we might experience eternal life! Now smirk. Take yourself and this Dollar Store holiday less seriously. And enjoy the childlike moments below.

 

 

 

 

 

JOEY BERRIOS – A Super Bowl Champion Testimony and Story – STICK TO THE PLAN!

This is an interview I conducted with Joey Berrios, now a Software Quality Assurance Analyst for  Greenway Medical Technologies. He recently married Kelsi Rebecca Berrios, and expects his firstborn child, Jacqueline Fae Berrios, to deliver this spring. With personal stories I know in depth, Joey marks the example of diligence to stick to a plan, accomplish goals, and overcome adversity from humble beginnings. I brought attention to some of his journey through the blog because like me, I knew his story would touch and inspire many of you who face adverse times right now. We all tend to pull for the underdog. Joey represents that kind of success story that should be in one of those Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul books. Read. Listen. And learn with interest and intrigue.

Q: Do you remember anything from living overseas? Was this a happy time for your family?

My family moved to Naples, Italy because that is where the Air Force sent my father in late 1984.

I remember going to the harbor with my mother. We would purchase ice cream from a street vendor nearby and watch the boats come in/out of port. I vaguely remember eating dinner at a few restaurants. I used to chase lizards that would run up and down our balcony when I went outside to play. The beach that was nearby was dirty and not really good for children to visit. I remember one of my birthdays and playing with some fellow kids we knew through other Air Force families. I was 3, almost 4, when we returned to the United States. I remember sitting and reading Disney books at the airport in Italy and looking out the window of the plane, asking my mother what trees were since I had never seen anything like them.

My mom had a difficult time adjusting to living so far away from her family. There were many events that happened while we were overseas that almost caused us to be evacuated from the country and return to the United States. Military Police frequently came by and kept the families updated on things and we practically had to have a bag packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

When we arrived in Italy, my parents had ordered furniture for our new apartment. Unfortunately, when the ship arrived, everything was destroyed. I had to sleep in a suit case since I had no crib. We only had a small heater that my parents setup to keep me warm. They chose to bare the cold and be uncomfortable.

When we returned to the United States, my mother kissed the ground and thanked God she was back home. She said being in Italy for three years took ten off of her life.

Q: How long did it take you to graduate from Auburn University with your Bachelor’s degree?

7 ½ years.

Note: At one point, Joey suffered clinical depression while in college, and therefore his grades suffered from many extenuating circumstances beyond his control. His two brothers, mother, and father moved into his studio apartment at one point as mentioned in the next questions. While growing up and once even on his own, his family often resided in one week hotels, wondering whether there would be food to eat or where next week’s rent money could come from.  

Q: Please describe in detail the circumstances when you family lived in your studio apartment at Auburn.

It was 4th of July in 2007. I called my mom to see how their holiday weekend was going and she told me things weren’t good. They had run into a financial snafu and had no money. She asked me if they could stay with me for a few days and figure things out.

Q: How long did that time last?

9 months.

Q: Were you able to focus on school then?

My mother made things difficult for me to be in the apartment, all 300 square feet of it, so I holed up in my office at work and practically lived out of it.

Q: When you wanted to quit (if you ever did want to), what motivated you to continue?

I didn’t want to end up like my parents. My dad worked two jobs to keep a roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat, and basic survival needs. I got some things I wanted on Christmas and my birthday, but overall it was always tough and sometimes I don’t know how we got by when we did.

When my step-dad came into the picture and my brothers were born, that changed everything and added many dynamics I wasn’t ready or prepared to take on but had to anyway. I remember how much I hated being torn in so many directions: forced to be a father, husband, son, and brother against my wishes but a man does what he has to do in order to survive, even when it’s difficult. My life story isn’t original by any means.

There are many people who have survived tragedies and life changing events, and their will to live kept them alive. Despite whatever scars they bare and baggage they carry, they continue to survive and carry on as they did previously. Those are the things that kept me going. No matter how hard it was or what tragedy I faced, no matter how many times circumstances tried to beat and break me down, I continued to push forward with everything I had within me so I could one day cross the finish line. Like Jesus carrying the cross, being beaten and tortured all the way to his execution, I too carried my cross and gave it everything I had. Winners never quit and quitters never win.

Q: How did you meet James Cartee?

I met James in the summer of 2008 during the Industrial Design summer studio.

Q: What most do you respect about James?

His love for God and wanting to be a better Christian. I think James is a unique guy and someone I’m happy to call my friend.

Q: Why do you consider your motto “to stick to the plan” as something everyone can aspire to?

I was going through a rough patch at Auburn and ended up driving my GPA into the ground. I was sent to Catherine Cater hall where they have specialized advisers who work with students who are on academic warning, suspension, and 2nd suspension. The idea is that they work with you and try to find out what’s the underlying cause for your struggle. They also help you find your “path” and provide all of the resources necessary to facilitate your success, whatever that may be.

My adviser, Jenn Harrison, made a little sign that said, “Stick to the Plan” and printed it off. She told me to tape it somewhere I would see it every day as a reminder that I have a plan and am progressively working towards it, even if it’s not at the speed I’d like it to move. I once heard, “A mouse will eat an elephant if you give it enough time.” That’s how life is: a giant elephant that can be consumed but not all in one sitting. Patience is a virtue we all struggle with but once you can semi-master it, tasks become water rolling off of your back like a duck.

Q: What is/was the hardest challenge you have ever faced?

I think one of the biggest challenges I face is being content/happy with what I have and not being impatient for things to “turn around” so I can be “on par” with everyone else. I grew up not having much and seeing what everyone else had made me wonder why I had to do without those things. I feel restless in my pursuit to overcome the place I was born into, which is better than probably 30% of the world (if not more) but somehow that isn’t good enough. It’s a hunger I can’t seem to satisfy, no matter how hard I try because I’m always wanting more. I don’t know if there will ever be a point in my life where I am satisfied with what I have because I know there’s something better out there waiting for me. Being content feels more like accepting defeat than appreciating what God has provided. If people who have very little to no modern convenience can be happy, why can’t I?

JC (Interviewer): I would probably say the strongest spiritual characteristic of Joey’s personality is his heart. He will help anyone in need if he can within reasonable understanding.

Q: What within you pulls you to help friends and perhaps even those less fortunate than yourself?

The life I lived growing up, the injustices I faced from my mother, the types of people I have come across as an adult, the wrongs I have experienced, the hurt I’ve endured, and the mistakes I can’t take back are all things that have shown me what life is like. There are a lot of bad things in life but equally as many good; however, I tend to hold onto the bad more so than the good because it keeps me alive. It reminds me of what NOT to say, do, or become. It’s the cross that I have been given to bear.

I didn’t choose to take on this task; however I think it chose me. God will present you with many trials and tribulations. He will push you until you are on the brink of fracturing into a million pieces. He will load your plate up until you think you don’t have room for another morsel, but it’s all in good intention.

And because of these personal insights, I desire to be the best friend a person can have. I know what it feels like to be let down. If I can help it, I do not want to be that person.

If you would like to reach Joey Berrios for any reason, including but not limited to freelance HTML coding projects and ministry interviews, his email is josephberrios84@gmail.com. He welcomes a good challenge to support his new family and further pursue his dreams to provide as a new father.

Relationships – What do I know? What do you know? But this is funny, I do not care who you are.

You may have noticed that today I was tweeting through my Twitter account some dating advice provided by Eharmony and even me perhaps just as a joke, but a conversation with a student I am mentoring from Southern Polytechnic University here in Atlanta, Georgia spurred these tweet tidbits.

Naturally as guys, we talk about possible female prospects in our dating life. Well, Martin has been extremely affectionate towards the same girl for about the last three months, really since I first met him. And yes, I have Martin’s permission to write about this!

I have had a leery suspicion with this particular girl from the very beginning. For the sake of anonymity, let’s name her Dolly. Dolly only eats organic food. You should check out the prices of organic food in stores. Dolly also attends yoga classes three or four nights a week, which is also very expensive. The girl drives the priciest 2013 Ford Mustang on the market, which her Dad “momentarily” pays for with the car note. While she did finish her associate’s degree as a physical therapy assistant at Southern Polytechnic, she continues to live at home without a job two years after graduation.

At one point, she moved to San Francisco on a whim with a physical therapy assistant short term contract only to move back after six months because she did not like California. She just happened to wreck her newly bought Silver Ford Mustang on the way out to California. And these are just the details I remember off the top of my head. And never once did Martin mention a strengthened relationship with Christ other than that she recently experienced salvation through a yoga epiphany. As if not enough, she constantly complained on how she could not practice yoga or meditation at home because of her “noisy” siblings. Please keep in mind she lived at home for FREE!

In a final message to Martin, she wrote, “I need you to understand and continue your journey to happiness elsewhere.”

That may have been my last sign of hysteria! Sometimes we see something in someone that at least for the moment does not exist. Chris Hodges, the senior pastor from Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, calls this “missionary dating.” We try to save the person from something that we fictionally create in our minds. Please understand I have there as the salvation soldier.

I think Martin finally gave up on this lost cause after four months of frustration and continual perplexed confusion after admitting that there is more to a relationship than just “being pretty.” This is what happens when someone lives in what I call a “make-belief” world. This person has never truly suffered for anything. So everything up to this point in life has been expected and in some ways thought of as deserved.

I believe that relationships are more complex than they need to be these days. I think it is okay to ask a girl out and have fun, but in southern culture, that is rarely the case. Usually from the second you ask a girl out forward or even express an interest, serious takes over. And then nothing fun occurs.

The other night hanging out some extremely cool people from my church, a girl remained perplexed that I had a list of characteristics I look for in someone I want to marry. I simply asked, “Do you want to marry a man with a strong intentional conviction and relationship with Jesus Christ?” Of course, she responded, “Yes.” Then she seemed less perplexed when she also realized she had her own unstated mental checklist in a man she wanted to potentially marry.

I think as Christians we usually know when someone is on fire for God versus stagnantly constantly “trying to figure things out.” With a mutual attraction, that is usually the first sign that peaks my interest. There is nothing complex about my relational approach. If I want to know you, I usually just ask and seek information about the person’s personality. I will ask a girl to the circus. I will ask a girl to coffee. I will ask a girl to throw the Frisbee in Piedmont Park. If she has it going on for Jesus Christ, I got it going on to try and know that person.

But the first signal is and always will be the same for me: does she love God? If yes is the answer to this question, then I ask a few more questions of conversational interest.

The following video dives deeper humorously into Biblical relational dating. I think this preacher is hilarious, but I also think the minister rings true that a relationship with Christ comes before a relationship with someone else. I think Martin finally learned this lesson the hard way. I think whether we consciously admit or not, many believers, including me, learn this lesson the hard way.

Doer, Dreamer, or In-Betweener? Which are you in the New Year? A Life Resolution?

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)

In the last thirty turbulent days of the year through the holidays, a mixture of emotions stir in my heart and in my mind, often with a blank stare at my mirror in the morning. I wonder about my life direction as this year ends and begins with 2013. I am especially fond of the number thirteen because I love Taylor Swift, and she loves me! My number one New Year’s resolution is to marry Taylor as soon as writes another song about us. She was wrong when she wrote those “we will never ever, ever, ever get back together” lyrics.

With this ridiculous fantasy aside, I believe that people fall into three categories daily, monthly, and then of course yearly: 1.) The Doers 2.) The Dreamers 3.) And The In-Betweeners. And as I ask myself who I want to be, I ask you the same.

What do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered with your legacy? Do you want to Do? Do you want to Dream? Or do you just want to chill In-Between the two realities as you feel like it?

Do you seek to raise your arms in the Glorified Presence of God? Do you want to watch television and sleep all day as a modern day Homer Simpson?

I am active as most know me in personality, but this year I especially want to work hard, real hard. An earth-shattering moment awakened my senses at the beginning of December that I really have only begun to dig into the potential God has in store for my future. I have only touched the surface of amazing blessings. If you are anything like me, I tire of living in complacency when I believe God means so much more for me in the realization of what we can do with Christ in us!

If we truly realize and pray for the power of Christ, our level-reaching potential overflows with a supernatural confidence to touch thousands and possibly millions of lives. That is the mindset of a Doer! A Doer does not limit himself or herself! A Dreamer stagnantly thinks about what to do next, never really taking that step forward! We all know those types – “I think I want to be this.” “I think I want to do that.” “I think God is calling me to do this.”

The only problem with thinking too much is you often get stuck with all the In-Betweeners who never walk forward with their life. An In-Betweener is close to the break of a Doer but remains stuck in place for many reasons, probably but not limited to the ideas of fear and what others think. Those two observations have been the largest hindrances in my relationship with God as a Doer, instead of just a Dreamer.

Seriously, as a believer in Christ, can you imagine the power of God alive in you with the Holy Spirit, rising through the magnification of your personal gifts? Superhero movies are not all fictional. We are capable of becoming the movement makers of this country when we realize Christ in a Joshua-Sun-Stand-Still moment!

This liberation is simply what I want (and of course hope and pray) for the church in 2013! I want Christians to rise with higher heights as Doers, not Dreamers, and certainly not stuck in the middle with the In-Betweeners.

To further grasp this concept, another visual imagery involves the subject interest area known as politics. Yes, I said that ugly word. I believe that most politicians fearfully remain in the middle of my diagram above In-Between to win votes and serve their own interests to keep office. Many loquaciously speak with big words as dreamers, but never live up to the level of a doer. I think fear inhibits leaders from often doing the right thing because they fear unchartered waters and new hard decisions that need to be made. I believe if a Christian politician truly understood the nature of Christ-filled-doing relationship with Jesus, then fear of simply occupying office for another day would no longer be their focus. Serving the people of this country would, one nation under God!

I certainly do not want to be thought of as the cliché negative term that comes with the word politician. I want to be a Doer for Jesus that chases with action my dreams with everything I have. I no longer want to live in the in-between moment. I want to bring the Kingdom to this earth, and most times that requires us to act with deliberation, without the pause of best wishes or a “that’s not my problem” attitude. This world need more Doers, and that is what is what I plan to be in 2013. That is my number one life resolution, not a New Year’s resolution, a life resolution! Rise up with Christ in 2013!