Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why Should You Kiss Your Children?

Do not kiss your children so they will kiss you back,
but so they will kiss their children,
and their children's children.

-- Noah benShea, poet, philosopher and author

How Do You Know

How do you know when someone is lying to you? Any clues?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Running on Empty: Where's the Gas?

It's gettin' kinda hectic out there and I'm just about to lose my head because from day to day I don't know where in Charlotte I can find a gas station that's actually selling gas. From what I understand, the same is happening in other states like Kentucky, Atlanta, and South Carolina.

Can anyone in Charlotte please give me a list of a few gas stations in the city that still have gas for sale? If you could see some of the lines forming at the gas stations in some parts of the city you'd think we're actually in a crisis -- well, actually we are, it's just that some of us don't want to admit it.

The Charlotte Observer today featured this caption under a photo of long lines at a gas station in the city:
Hundreds of cars lined streets this morning as motorists in the Charlotte metro region tried to cope with an ever-worsening gasoline shortage.

OK, after a quick read of the article just now I see that they had the good sense and foresight to ask readers if they've spotted gas for sale. Click HERE to see that list.

I've decided not to wait until I'm just about out of gas to fill up. I'm treating the halfway empty mark like the RED area indicating that I'm almost out of gas. I see some people in Atlanta are doing the same thing. This Atlanta-Journal Constitution article talks about the panic that some of residents of that city are feeling about the gas shortage.
Many drivers were stopping to buy just a few gallons or, in some cases, filling up gas cans, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

“People don’t want to be left out,” economist James Bradfield of Hamilton College told the paper. “I don’t think it’s irrational; people don’t want to take the risk of not having gas.”

The AJC reports today that more than a week after Hurricane Ike hit the Gulf, seven refineries have were not yet back to full production. This is according to the most recent report from the Minerals Management Service.
"Meanwhile, the Colonial and Plantation pipelines, which fuel Atlanta, were likewise pumping less than normal volumes," according to the AJC.

But why is it that my people in Delaware and Los Angeles say that they are not having any problems finding gas? What's going on folks? Are some of you in other parts of the country having problems too? Anybody in Michigan, Massachusetts, or Maryland having problems? Can you write me a quick note and let me know how you're doing in the other parts of the U.S.?

I asked one of my students from Colombia if this crisis has made her consider going back home. She laughed and said, "Yes!"

It might be time to get those passports that I said I'd get for me and my daughter, if a certain Presidential candidate wins the election. I don't even know if I can wait until then! What's this country coming to?

Spiritual Weapons

2 Corinthians 10 (from the New International Version)

By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—-I, Paul, who am "timid" when face to face with you, but "bold" when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

You are looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he. For even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than pulling you down, I will not be ashamed of it.

I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing." Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ.

Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in another man's territory. But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

2 Corinthians 10:1-18 (from The Message Bible)

And now a personal but most urgent matter; I [Paul] write in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ. I hear that I'm being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I'm with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters. Please don't force me to take a hard line when I'm present with you. Don't think that I'll hesitate a single minute to stand up to those who say I'm an unprincipled opportunist. Then they'll have to eat their words.

The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way—-never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

You stare and stare at the obvious, but you can't see the forest for the trees. If you're looking for a clear example of someone on Christ's side, why do you so quickly cut me out? Believe me, I am quite sure of my standing with Christ. You may think I overstate the authority he gave me, but I'm not backing off. Every bit of my commitment is for the purpose of building you up, after all, not tearing you down.

And what's this talk about me bullying you with my letters? "His letters are brawny and potent, but in person he's a weakling and mumbles when he talks." Such talk won't survive scrutiny. What we write when away, we do when present. We're the exact same people, absent or present, in letter or in person.

We're not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they're our superiors. We wouldn't dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.

We aren't making outrageous claims here. We're sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. But there can be no question that those limits reach to and include you. We're not moving into someone else's "territory." We were already there with you, weren't we? We were the first ones to get there with the Message of Christ, right? So how can there be any question of overstepping our bounds by writing or visiting you?

We're not barging in on the rightful work of others, interfering with their ministries, demanding a place in the sun with them. What we're hoping for is that as your lives grow in faith, you'll play a part within our expanding work. And we'll all still be within the limits God sets as we proclaim the Message in countries beyond Corinth. But we have no intention of moving in on what others have done and taking credit for it. "If you want to claim credit, claim it for God." What you say about yourself means nothing in God's work. It's what God says about you that makes the difference.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Hard Times Are Comin' to Your Town

Here are some Run DMC lyrics from back in the day for the hard times we're all experiencing now in this country. Keep your head up family!

Hard Times

Hard times spreading just like the flu
Watch out homeboy, don't let it catch you
P-p-prices go up, don't let your pocket go down
When you got short money you're stuck on the ground
Turn around, get ready, keep your eye on the prize
And be on point for the future shock

Hard times [repeat 2x]

Hard times are coming to your town
So stay alert, don't let them get you down
They tell you times are tough, you hear that times are hard
But when you work for that ace you know you pulled the right card
Hard times got our pockets all in chains
I'll tell you what, homeboy, it don't have my brain
All day I have to work at my peak
Because I need that dollar every day of the weak

Hard times

Hard times can take you on a natural trip
So keep your balance, and don't you slip
Hard times is nothing new on me
I'm gonna use my strong mentality
Like the cream of the crop, like the crop of the cream
B-b-beating hard times, that is my theme
Hard times in life, hard times in death
I'm gonna keep on fighting to my very last breath

Hard times [repeat 6x]

(or say it as many times as you need to feel better)

Listen to Run DMC sing this song on YouTube.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Little Pat on the Back

Here are some of the things I've done well recently:

I convinced a man to buy my old Honda, even though it had a little smoke coming out of the hood, a bit of rust on the side, and the air conditioner was making a considerable amount of noise. And man oh man, did I need the money!

I successfully drove my daughter to a sitter's house in the pouring rain as my 1986 stick shift Volvo was acting up in a bad way. Then I drove to work, back to the sitters to pick up my daughter, and made it all the way home in a failing car, in the heavy rain.

Even though I'm not technically savvy, I'm grasping the concepts taught in my Final Cut Pro Video Editing class and taking some very meticulous notes. (I also have to say that I have a great teacher.)

I drew two attractive sketches -- one of a penguin and one of a butterfly and some flowers.

I reminded my daughter of the many things that she does well, as she seemed to dwell a bit on some things she doesn't think she does well. (I frequently tell her how proud I am of her. She's a brave and smart little cookie.)

I'll stop here....

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Father Recalls the Death of His Little Girl

This is the anniversary of the horrendous bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama that killed four young girls -- Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair. I heard a report on NPR today that I couldn't finish listening to. The report was titled "Father Recalls Deadly Blast At Ala. Baptist Church," and as the title suggests the father of one of the girls, Denise McNair, was interviewed.

"Do you mind if I ask you about that day?" the reporter asked McNair.
"No, I don't mind," he says quietly.

I can't imagine being able to think about it as a parent, much less talk about it. But this man bravely told what he remembered about that day. He talked about how the four girls were in the morgue, "side by side, on the table."

I don't even want to imagine what that looked like.

McNair and his wife Maxine are the last surviving parents of the girls that were killed in the tragic crime.

To listen to the NPR report, click here.

Here's a bit of what Wikipedia says about the tragedy:

During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church served as an organizational headquarters, site of mass meetings and rallying point for blacks protesting widespread institutionalized racism in Birmingham, Alabama and the South. The reverends Fred Shuttlesworth, who was the chief local organizer, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were frequent speakers at the church and led the movement.

On Sunday, September 15, 1963, Thomas Blanton, Bobby Frank Cherry and Robert Edward Chambliss, members of the Ku Klux Klan, planted 19 sticks of dynamite outside the basement of the church. At 10:22 a.m., they exploded, killing four young girls–Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Denise McNair–and injuring 22 others. They were there preparing for the church's "Youth Day". A funeral for three of the four victims was attended by more than 8,000 mourners, white and black, but no city officials.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I Will Not Fear What Man Shall Do

Hebrews 13:5-6 (King James version)

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

And here's the Gullah version that I love so much:

Stay way fom de lob ob money. Mus be sattify wid wa oona got, cause God say, "A ain neba gwine lef ya. A gwine stay wid ya all de time fa hep ya." Dat mek we know fa sho wa we da taak bout wen we say,

"De Lawd de one wa da hep me.
Ain nottin gwine mek me scaid.
Cause ain nobody got mo powa
fa do me bad,

Friday, September 12, 2008

Give the People What They Want

It disturbs me that certain people have tried to belittle Barack Obama's Community Organizing experience. It turns out that his ideas about running the country have come directly from his community organizing days. Obama wants the people of the country to take an active role in making positive changes in this country. Community organizers encourage and empower people to come together and help themselves. In tribute to Obama and his activist spirit, I'm reposting this piece that I wrote in the Fall of 2006 after I took a Leadership Workshop at the Nashville Peace and Justice Center. I'm also giving a shout out to my community organizer friends in Nashville, Matt Leber and Megan Macaraeg. Keep on doin' it yall!

The Art of Organizing: Giving Power to the People

Recently I had the privilege of participating in the Nashville Peace and Justice Center’s Leadership Institute. It was an amazing experience and inspired me to become more active in social justice issues. Before I enrolled in the Leadership Institute, I didn’t have the confidence to stand before people and make the following brief speech:

Did you know that across the country prisons often shackle pregnant inmates in labor or chain them to a bed? When a woman is in labor, it helps the process if she can move around, walk or squat. What real danger does a pregnant woman, screaming in pain, cause to anyone? Every woman deserves the right to give birth the way nature intended. Not with her legs shackled together like some wild animal. This practice of shackling and putting chains on pregnant inmates in labor is UNJUST and we need to fight to make it ILLEGAL.

This speech, which takes about one minute to deliver, was my homework for the public speaking portion of the workshop. Actually, I forgot some of the words as I was giving the speech. I looked at the floor and couldn’t remember what I was supposed to say next. But the encouragement that I received during my brief lapse of memory motivated me to gain my composure and finish.

I truly hope I’ll be able to one day say these words to people who can make a difference in the prison system. My anger and frustration with the way all prisoners are oftentimes mistreated was one of my motivations for attending the Institute. I’m also looking forward to working with such groups as the Nashville Homeless Power Project. My friend Matt Leber, who persistently encouraged me to participate in the Leadership Institute training, John Zirker, and the other NHPP organizers, have been tirelessly working to empower Nashville’s homeless community and erase homelessness in Nashville. I hope I live to see the day when all homeless people find and keep safe affordable housing.

When I see homeless people in Nashville, I’m reminded of the homeless family that I saw in New York City shortly after I had moved there. I saw a mother and father with three young children sleeping under dirty blankets at the World Trade Center subway station. I was appalled that whole families were so unprotected and vulnerable in such a harsh environment.

Institute facilitators taught me that the role of community organizers is to challenge people to act on behalf of their common interests. Organizers identify leaders and enhance those leaders’ skills and commitment to their cause. In other words, organizers give people the power to help themselves. Imagine that entire family in New York City visiting their City Council representative and requesting that he or she vote yes for a resolution to build affordable housing clusters for homeless families. Imagine a group of single mothers lobbying their state representative to vote yes on a bill to increase the minimum wage rate in the state.

Organizers can give folks like the homeless, single working mothers, pregnant female inmates, and many others the education, advice, and encouragement to stand up and fight for their rights. This is the work that I’m hoping to accomplish and the Nashville Peace and Justice Center Leadership Institute has given me the tools to send me on my way.

A luta continua.(The struggle continues.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Can Sing a Rainbow

I asked my students to answer a series of questions yesterday in class to encourage them to use complete sentences when talking. I asked questions like:

Where were you born?
When did you come to America?
Where do you live?
What language do you speak at home?
(and several other questions)

But some of my students wanted to ask their own questions of each other, like:

What is your dream?
What kind of music do you like?
What's your favorite song from childhood?

Here are some of their answers:

I dream about being happy.
I dream of becoming a U.S. citizen.
My dream is to end my life being loyal to Jesus Christ.

I was impressed.

One student asked me to name my favorite song from childhood. I had to think only a few seconds before I remembered this one:

I Can Sing a Rainbow
(by Arthur Hamilton)

Red and yellow and pink and green,
Purple and orange and blue,
I can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow too!
Listen to your heart,
Listen to your heart,
And sing everything you feel,

I can sing a rainbow,
Sing a rainbow,
Sing along with me!
Red and yellow...

I wish I could sing it for you. It's really cute and touching.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Coney Island: How Sweet It Is

"How Sweet It Is" -- This is what Brooklyn whispers to you as you cross over the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge into the borough. The bridge is named for Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the first known European navigator to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River.

This was my first time back in Brooklyn in many years, but Brooklyn is still Brooklyn -- lots of people, densely populated, lots of different languages and colorful people. I love it! My daughter thought it was pretty special too. After we passed the bridge and began to see the buildings and people I said, "There it is babe. There's Brooklyn!" She paused and sighed, "It's beautiful."

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

We headed for our destination -- Coney Island -- a place my daughter has been excited about since she heard about it on one of her favorite children's television programs. Since my parents live only 2 hours from the fabulous City of Rocks as it is also known, I decided to trek on up to Brooklyn from Delaware last Saturday with my little lady.

We had a blast. We rode on many rides, and put our feet in the sand and water. We also tasted a bit of the Coney Island cuisine, which includes Nathan's Famous, Regazzi pizza, and Gino's delicious Italian Ices.

We also got to check out the regal statue of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson by sculptor William Behrends, which was unveileved at KeySpan Park (home of the Brooklyn Cyclones) on November 1, 2005.

The monument consists of two 8-foot-tall bronze figures that stand on a six-sided pedestal inscribed with the following words:
This monument honors Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese: teammates, friends, and men of courage and conviction. Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Reese supported him, and together they made history. In May 1947, on Cincinnati's Crosley Field, Robinson endured racist taunts, jeers, and death threats that would have broken the spirit of a lesser man. Reese, captain of the Brooklyn Dodgers, walked over to his teammate Robinson and stood by his side, silencing the taunts of the crowd. This simple gesture challenged prejudice and created a powerful and enduring friendship.

Ahhhhh, Brooklyn. How lovely you are. We'll be back ...........

Monday, September 01, 2008

You Are What You Do

Here are some wise and helpful quotes from my Dad, Bobby Benjamin:

God gives us choices and we choose what path we go down. You either do it God's way or you do it the way you want to do it.

You are what you do. What you do has already spoken of what you are.