Monday, June 29, 2009


As I am ALMOST done with my summer courses, I have only one paper left for my classes. This paper has to be a 15 page research paper.

I have decided to do my paper on Gentrification. I am super excited to learn and write about this issue that is becoming more prevalent in many urban neighborhoods around the world.

I have a question for those of you reading this blog:

In your opinion, is Gentrification a purely "class" issue or is it also a "race" issue?

Hopefully i'll be writing soon to tell you my opinions, but I'd rather they be "informed" opinions, so I'll wait until I research and write my paper!

God bless you all.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

The older I get, the more I realize the importance of fathers in children's (and adults!) lives. I live in a neighborhood where most kids may know who their dad is but they really don't know them. Many of their fathers have struggled with not knowing their own fathers and in turn do not know how to be fathers so they become the same absent fathers that their own fathers were. I have seen children whom are growing into young men in desperate need of strong, Godly dads. I have seen young ladies who are growing up in desperate need of dads who will tell them their value does not come from how they look or act but from the inside. I truly believe that my neighborhood and most poor or desolate neighborhoods would be completely changed if only their families were restored and fathers would take responsibility and become the dads that God created them to be.
I say all that to say that I have become fully aware of how amazing my father is and how blessed I am to have someone like him in my life. See I know my dad loves me. He loves me not just because he says it, but his actions have always shown it as well. He loves me because he has always provided for me. He is the hardest working man I have ever met. And, because of that hard-work ethic, I in turn have learned that I must be a hard-worker. He loves me because he always spent time with me. Even now, every time I come home, he wants to spend time with me. I cannot tell you what it means to me to know that he wants to go hiking or floating. I know often I am super busy and I don't get to do all the things that he wants to do, but I do hope he knows that it means everything to me to know that he wants to do something in the first place. He love me because he disciplined me. Yes, I know crazy huh? Instead of sleeping in late, he wanted us to get up and pick up chickens. I am the person I am today because he and my mom took the time to discipline me. He loves me because he taught me about Jesus. We were Sunday morning, night and Wednesday night church goers when I was younger. But that wasn't all. He showed us who God was by his actions, by loving, caring, guiding, and teaching us.

I have always been kind of a daddy's girl. I think of my dad as my hero. For no matter what happens, I know that he will ALWAYS have my back. I know that no matter what I do, he'll always love me. He is the best man I know. I pray that someday I marry a man like him. A man that loves God, his wife, and his children more than anything else and puts them above his job or hobbies or anything else. My daddy is the best!

My prayer is that more children in this world will be able to experience the love of their earthly fathers. For those in my neighborhood who aren't able to experience that love, I pray daily that they would be able to realize and accept the love of our heavenly Father. Often kids think of "father" in a negative connotation, but I hope that they understand that there is a father that will NEVER forsake them and will love them unconditionally. Psalm 68:5 says, "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Although not everyone is blessed to have such an amazing earthly dad as I have, they are blessed because each and everyone one of us have a Heavenly dad, and that dad is God and He desires a relationship and a fellowship with each of us! Praise you God!

And Dad, I love you! Thanks for everything you do for me! You are definitely the BEST!

God bless you all!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the 32nd president of the U.S. He served from 1933-1945 during the Great Depression.

When elected for his second term, he stated this during his Inaugural Address:

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

My question to all you is this, How have we progressed? If we were to give this "test" a grade, what grade would you give our nation?

God bless you all!

Thursday, June 11, 2009


IMAGINE a country where health care aides can't afford health insurance. Where food industry workers may depend on food banks to help feed their children. Where childcare teachers don't make enough to save for their own children's education.

IMAGINE a country where the economy is increasingly not working for working people.

IMAGINE a country where the minimum wage has become a poverty wage instead of an antipoverty wage. The minimum wage has lagged so far behind necessities that keeping a roof over head is a constant struggle and family health coverage costs more than the entire annual income of a full-time worker at minimum wage.

IMAGINE a country where childcare workers, mostly women, typically make about as much parking lot attendants and much less than animal trainers. Out of 801 occupations surveyed by the labor department, only 18 have lower median wages than childcare workers.

IMAGINE a country whose school system is rigged in favor of the already privileged, with lower caste children tracked by race and income into the most deficient and demoralizing schools and classrooms. Public schools budgets are heavily determined by private property taxes, allowing higher income districts to spend more than poorer ones. In the state with the largest gap, state and local spending per pupil in districts with the lowest child poverty rates was $2,280 greater in 2003 than districts with the highest child poverty rates. The difference amounts to about $912,000 for a typical elementary school of 400 students-money that could be used for needed teachers, books, computers, and other resources.

IMAGINE a country where the typical white household has about six times the net worth-including home equity-as the typical household of color.

IMAGINE a country that doesn't count you as unemployed just because you're unemployed. To be counted in the official unemployment rate you must be actively searching for work. The government doesn't count people as "unemployed" if they are so discouraged from long and fruitless job searches they have given up looking. It doesn't count as "unemployed" those who couldn't look for work in the past month because they have no childcare, for example. If you need a full-time job, but you're working part-time-whether 1 hour or 34 hours weekly- because that's all you can find, you're counted as employed.

IMAGINE a country where prison is a growth industry. The government spends more than $25,000 per year to keep someone in prison, while cutting cost-effective programs of education, employment, community development, and mental illness and addiction treatment to keep them out. (Insane huh?)

IMAGINE a country that imprisons black people at a rate much higher than South Africa did under the apartheid. One out of eight black men ages 25-29 are incarcerated in prisons or jails compared to one out of 59 white men in the same age group. The nation's bureau of justice statistics reports that incarceration rates for black men of all ages were five to seven times greater than those for white men in the same age groups. Incarceration rates for black women are generally four times higher than for white men.

IMAGINE a country where health care is managed for healthy profit. In many countries, health care is a right. But this nation has health care for some instead of health care for all. Nearly one out of five people under the age of 65 has no health insurance, public or private. Health care is literally a matter of life or death.

What country is this?
It's the United States.

Martin Luther King Jr states: "A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. We are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside; day the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be beaten and robbed as they make their journey through life...

A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth...There is nothing but a lack of social vision to prevent us from paying an adequate wage to every American citizen whether he be a hospital worker, laundry worker, maid or day laborer."

(adapted from "Imagine a Country-2006" by Holly Sklar)

God bless you ALL!

Friday, June 5, 2009


Softball season is now in full force! I am coachhing a team in the 11-14 yr old league and it has been interesting to say the least. Our record right now is 2-3-1. 2 of our losses was by only 1 run. Our team consists of two fourth graders all the way up to three eighth graders...very much a variety of skill, attitudes and maturity levels. We have two wonderful captains, Kanika and Alesha. Kanika is our emotional captain. She has stepped up so much over the past two years. Its amazing to see how much sports can teach someone about life. She has become a leader in every sense of the word and I am daily amazed at how great of a captain she is. Our other captain, Alesha, is our skills leader. She is, in my opinoin, our most skilled athlete. Without her on the field, we have to fill a huge void. Not only that, she is slowly becoming our "spiritual" leader as well. She, like us coaches, hold the girls to a high standard and always wants to go to God in prayer before and during the game.

As I have begun coaching for my second year, I have found that just important as coaching is learning. I feel the best leaders are also not afraid to learn alongside those that he or she is teaching. And oh how I have learned! One of our girls, as I was griping at her for her very slow response time, looked at me and said, "Shasta its just a game!" Yikes! How right she was. Its during those times I shut my mouth and I become more of an encourager and realize that really is my job here. Of course, I want them to get better and become really good softball players, but the truth is, most of them are just out there to have fun and be with their friends. My goal is to teach them life through this sport. My goal is to provide them with a fun, safe enviornment where they can learn but at the same time enjoy learning. My goal is to teach them about Jesus through the use of something as simple as a ball and glove or as difficult as losing a heartbreaker in extra innings.

As I continue my journey here at breakthrough, I find myself more and more becoming a spectator as much as a teacher. I have found myself more willing to learn and be taught even if it is by an eleven year-old girl. I also find myself falling more in love with Jesus as I fall more in love with his children. These girls, these girls are nothing short of amazing.

I leave you with a story, one of the many wonderful stories I can tell about my beautiful kids. I know that many people think I'm working with these heathen urban city kids or something. They ask me, how hard is it? Are they extremely disrespectful or mean? All these immediate stereotypes that people have when they see a black kid living in the hood. But, its the total opposite for my kids. Of course, they can be disrespectful at times. Of course, its not always easy. But the hard times are the best times, for its in those moments we both come out better people. So here is my story:

We decided to start one our seventh graders at pitcher. She is a good pitcher, has a long way to go, but pretty consistent and starting to get some speed as well. The only problem is, she has little emotional capacity. After walking her first batter and having 3 balls on the next, she told me, I QUIT! I want to go back to second base. I was extremely frustrated that she was quitting so easily but knew that trying to push her to continue pitching would be pointless. So, we called one of our other pitchers to pitch. The seventh grader was frustrated, as she moved to second base, I could tell she was gonna be distracted the rest of the inning. After telling her repeatedly to pay attention, the inning came to a close and I told her I was pulling her out because of her attitude. She got very upset, told me she wasn't a part of the team anymore and was very mad at me. She proclaimed she had no attitude and that she just didn't want to pitch. I calmly (for once ha!) told her that I was frustrated with her and that she needed to go sit on the bench. Well, for two innings, she grumbled and griped. I finally pulled her over to the side. It was time for some life lessons! I explained to her that her m.o. was to quit anytime things got hard. Our other pitcher had already walked about 4 girls in those two innings, yet she wasnt giving up. I told her she couldn't pitch strikes if she didn't pitch. I also explained to her how she is letting the team down by not cheering and encouraging them. I told her if I seen improvement in her, I would give her a second chance. That second chance would not be mitigated by messing up though! If she messed up, had an error or two, that was fine! She actually listened, said she would try better and went and sat down. For the rest of that inning and the next, she cheered, encouraged and actually told a couple of girls what they were doing wrong and how they could improve. It was interesting to see the complete change. I finally let her play the last inning and half. She did great! She didn't pitch of course but she hustled, cheered and tried her best. After the game, I had two last girls to take home, her and another girl who lived far away. I decided to take the far away girl home first since the 7th grader lived really close to me and the center. As we dropped off the far away girl, I asked her if she wanted some dinner (it was 9 pm and she hadn't eaten since school), McDonalds was right across the street. We stopped through the drive thru. As we drove home (the 15 minutes it took) she explained exactly why she acted the way she did. She didn't have to, I asked for no explanations and wasn't even going to bring it up. But, she told me all about how she was already upset before the game and other stuff that I didn't even realize was bothering her. Although I told her no one has an excuse for their poor attitudes, at the same time, I really appreciated how she realized her behavior was bad and chose to change it. It was a great 15 minutes to sit and just listen and talk to her. I feel like both of us learned a lot that night. I dropped her off at her house, McDonald's bag in hand, she ran up the stairs. I, waiting for the door to open as usual, was surprised when she ran back to the car. I rolled down the window, and said, "What's up?" She smiled and said, "thanks for the McDonalds!" And then ran back up the stairs and into the house!

In that moment...I was grateful for long, tiring nights. In that moment, I was thankful that God had put me in such an amazing place as breakthrough with such amazing kids as mine.

Softball is wonderful and I hope that I continue to remember my purpose as a coach and continue to enjoy and help my kids enjoy it!

God bless you all!