Spiritually Blessed

Everybody wants to be blessed. No one desires cursing. This why so many people call themselves Christians; despite the fact that they have no relationship with Christ, nor even any real association with God, nor any fellowship with Christian people or with a church. 

Many of these same people don’t even think about God unless they are in trouble, or once or twice per year at the time of a significant holiday. Worse yet, is the fact that God is not even mentioned from the majority of these same professing people except through crude jokes, or as a curse word. 

Yet, all such individuals want to be blessed. People associate themselves with Christianity, because they want to be seen as part of the group of people that God blesses and protects, yet He is nothing but an afterthought to them. This is why the verses below caught my attention.

Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:

You see, in verse 3, it talks about blessings. However, what most people misunderstand is that it is not just ” blessings” that are mentioned, but a certain type: spiritual blessings. And furthermore, not only are the blessings ” spiritual,” but there’s a specific location and association that comes with or enables receivership of those blessings.

In order to get those spiritual blessings, you have to be ” in Christ.” That is the association. For example, if you wanted to receive the wages and benefits of Microsoft, you’d first have to be “in” Microsoft. In other words, there would have to be an association…a relationship…an investment of yourself. 

Just because you know of Microsoft, or you know who started or runs that company, does not automatically entitle you to any shares of it’s profits. You may even own some of Microsoft’s products, but again, does that get you paid? Does that get you company benefits? No. It doesn’t. You have to be invested to get the benefits.

You see, the blessings mentioned were distinguished as “spiritual.” So why the distinction? Spiritual as opposed to what? Well, if we look at Christ, the answer is clear. At the time Paul wrote this letter, it was after Christ’s death and resurrection. He was on earth, but now lives in heaven with the Father. He was flesh, but now, again, He returned to the Spirit. 

“Spiritual blessings in Christ” is not a reference to the earthly blessings that most people covet. Those things are not eternal and will fade away. Even the location mentioned tells us this. The verse says these spiritual blessings in Christ are in “heavenly realms.” That has absolutely nothing to do with the earth. 

For those who ascribe to the “name it, claim it” philosophy, this verse nullifies that. Being rich is NOT a “spiritual blessing.” It doesn’t mean that those who have great wealth can’t utilize it to be a blessing to others. It just means that we shouldn’t be focused on riches and wealth, but on helping one another.

Matt 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

This is why the word ” mammon” is used in verse 24. It means wealth regarded as an evil influence or false object of worship and devotion. If you only want association with God because you think it will give you earthly blessings, you are only deceiving yourself, because God knows your heart.

imageHowever, if you have truly surrendered your will to Christ, you have already begun to live in a heavenly realm. Note that I said “a” heavenly realm, not “the” heavenly realms. There’s more than one, and your life in Christ involves levels of growth. 

“It’s the climb.”  Miley Cyrus

The heavenly realms may encompass the sphere of your Christian experience through your identification in Christ, in the areas of nature, life, relationships, service, suffering, inheritance and future glory in the kingdom of God. (See the following references for more details: 2 Pet. 1:4; Col. 3:4; 1 Jn. 5:12; Jn. 20:17; Heb. 2:11; Mt. 28:20; Jn. 17:18; Phil. 1:29, 3:10; Col. 1:24; Rom. 8:16-17; 18-21; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6, 5:10.)

So now that we understand the type of blessings, the association of the blessings and the location of them; we need to know what these blessings are. For that information, I’m referring you another well written article that lists and specifies each of the 15 spiritual blessings. You can also read it in Eph. 1:4-14.  

The point is, don’t look to earthly treasures as your blessings. The real blessings are eternal. They’re in the spirit, and completely trounce anything earthly you may benefit from. Keep your eyes on Christ and you’ll have no worries; just situations that test your faith to grow you and mature you more in Him. Just remember that the rewards come later; not while you are still on the testing grounds.

Trials and Blessings

It seems as though I just disappeared, right? There is always a good reason for those times when it seems I am neglecting my site; when it seems that I’m not doing any updates or articles. Usually, it’s a trial that I’m going through. The Amusement Park that is our world, does not just contain rides like the Carousel, or the Chairlift, where you ride comfortably along, enjoying the breeze and relaxing.

You see, I’m not the big adventurer. I’m pretty content in my little world. My preference is to feel more like I’m flying blithely through life. Even if I stumble a bit, I’m usually pretty confident I won’t fall. After all, isn’t faith like that? You know that you can weather the storms because You are in the palm of his hand. My slogan is “What me worry?” I’ve never felt severely  threatened in any way, because as I always say, God‘s got me…got us, my son included.

Usually, my walk is more like the Ferris wheel. I go up, reach a nice pinnacle; coast for a while and enjoy the view, and then slowly descend into whatever the next test or trial is. Most of the time, despite the trials, my life’s ride feels like the Star Flyer, where God and I are just sailing on a breeze. I think that’s my favorite ride, really, but this year…the ride has been different.

I don’t know what rides you prefer, or what rides best represent what you have gone through lately, but I can tell you that the rides I’ve been on this year have not been merely Bumper Cars; and I happen to like Bumper Cars. I mean, despite the fact that you do get bounced around and jolted a lot, sometimes pretty hard, the Bumper Cars of life are nothing!

Let me tell you the rides that will really kick you hard on a level you knew existed, but just never really fathomed the depth of the terror such rides could put you through.  You see, I’m not a big fan of Roller Coasters, especially those big ones like the Behemoth. I just can’t handle the lurching of my stomach when the cars are heading down from the peaks. It’s not the “terror” of the descent, but the speed with the downward pull that gets you. 

BehemothYeah, I said it. I don’t like the ride down into the valleys. Being in the valley can be hard, but in all honesty, it’s the climb back up from the valley that is the most difficult. The cars are chugging along so slowly at that point unless there is some momentum already in play. It’d be easier to stay in the valley and never climb out, but I don’t really have a problem with the climb out. I don’t want to stay in the valley. The problem for me with the Roller Coaster is the speed, and too much fluctuation.

I’ve tried the Round Up, which spins so fast you are sucked to the wall you are leaning on, and the floor drops out beneath you. I’ve had the floor drop on me…so that is nothing new. In that ride, the floor dropping is gradual. I simply relax and close my eyes so I don’t get dizzy. Its more of a spatial issue. And recovery from this sort of situation is more favorable, because despite the floor having dropped, it stays like that for a while, and then everything returns to normal. Your world stops spinning and everything comes back into focus. So this ride is not so bad.

But I have never been on the Space Shot or the Speed Pendulum rides; and I wouldn’t ever be so inclined. I’m sure most of you remember the first Marvel Avenger’s movie. These rides represent that moment in the movie when the Loki attempted to assert his authority over the Hulk. Do you remember that scene? It was the funniest part of the movie for me. The Hulk flung him about like a rag doll, slamming him into the floor several times. It was hysterical.

The-Avengers-Movie-Roster-Concept-ArtFor me, those two rides would be similar in experience, so I don’t see myself every wanting to try them. Thus, we come to the reality of my experience in the past few months. You see, despite my efforts to be somewhat prepared, and/or insulated against such a situation; I got strapped in on the Space Shot, and experienced that rather speedy free fall. Shortly after that decent; as I stumbled dizzily away from that ride, without the time to fully recovering my bearings; I ended up on the Speed Pendulum, where I was flung from one situation into another, several times with rapid speed; having barely recovered from the first ride.

I was so shaken by all of this, that all I could do was cry and fall on the Lord like a desperate, unwanted step-child, begging for help and relief. Not to say I wasn’t praying after the disorientation of the first ride; I was, and God was answering, but with the pendulum, the swing is ok, if its at a slow speed, but when its fast…its just like Loki getting slammed by the Hulk. You really feel it; and if anyone recalls, he got a severe attitude adjustment as a result, because his tune changed after that.

Loki, immediately after his attitude adjustment by the hulk.

I don’t think I went through the experiences of the past few months due to a similar arrogance. I just believe it was another of my growing pains. God’s trying to pull me in closer. I get that. He wants to fine tune our relationship, because He wants more commitment from me. I’ve had trust issues. He’s breaking those walls down. He’s demolishing the bricks of my expectations.

And now, He has once again demonstrated His grace in bestowing me with unmerited favor. I don’t deserve His grace, and certainly, not His unmerited favor, but He loves me, so I reap the benefits of that love. The situation I have gone through caused delays in my rent payments for the last 3 months. Remember the landlords I told you about in this post? These same landlords dismissed 3 months of late fees for me…and these guys stipulated a 5% late fee per day on the lease. Just the fact that they were willing to work with me, and did not process an eviction is miraculous, considering the past relationship as mentioned in that previous article.

God also provided a better employment offer that gives me benefits I wasn’t receiving before. But, like I said, God’s grace is more than sufficient for my needs, and He has ALWAYS got me…not just my back, but all of me. You know…I intended to write an article on this fab recipe I worked out yesterday when I was cooking, but apparently, God had other plans. My life is His to direct, and today, His intention was a testimony. I don’t mind. He’s good to me ALL the time. I have much to be thankful for.

All That And A Scoop of Honey!

My son and I have been reading in the book of Judges, and we came across the story of Samson. My son immediately waved is hand dismissively, stating, “I know that story.” He’s had these manga bible stories for quite some time, and references them frequently, but like I usually tell him, those are animated and much of the text is omitted. They stick to the basics of the more well-known stories, but there is much lost if only something like that is relied on, because everything in that bible is there for a reason and a purpose. So, knowing the basics of the story myself, I was interested to see what God might point out to me.

We had already covered the beginning of Samson’s story, concerning the foretelling of his birth. So we started this particular study on chapter 14 of the book of Judges. However, I just want to dip back into the last verse of the previous chapter. Jdg 13:25   And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol. The word Dan means “A judge.” Zorah means “hornet,” and Eshtaol means “entreaty.” It seems that this is statement of God’s displeasure and his mercy in spite of His anger. Chapter 14 opens up with Samson going down into Timnah, which means “a portion,” and saw a Philistine (immigrants) woman he wanted. When he returned, he just ordered his parents to “get her for me;” as if they were at his beck and call. This was the first thing that disturbed me about his disposition. brock_samson_face_detail_2_by_suarezartJdg 14:2   Then he came up, and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” I mean think about this. This guy was called to be a Nazarite for life, prior to his birth. I’m sure his parents followed what the angel instructed them to do in chapter 13, without question. So Samson’s hair was never cut. He never drank fermented drink or ate a grape of raisin a day in his life, and he was a vegetarian – he had never touched or been near anything dead. Now he’s grown and is arrogant. He shows a total lack of respect for his parents in the manner in which he speaks to them.

As a man of God, a Nazarite in particular, he was separated to be holy for God. Its a spiritual thing. God intended to use him for his purposes. The thing is, God can use anyone, but this guy was specifically set apart to be holy for God’s purposes. Apparently, his being set apart caused some measure of conceitedness in Samson, because this seems to be reflected in the manner in which he treated his parents, and the arrogance he displayed. Even after his parents questioned his choice in verses 3-4, he dismissed it, but regardless of his arrogance, this was about God’s intents and purposes.

But his arrogance was displayed again as he and his parents were going to Timnah again to see about this woman. As they approached these vineyards, a young lion came roaring towards him. We think that his parents ducked into the vineyard for safety per Samson’s directive, and he went charging towards the lion. The reason we think this is because after he killed this lion, he didn’t tell his parents what he had done. Obviously, he was not on the path or the road when he fought and killed that lion. His parents weren’t in the area with him when this happened, and I’m sure they would have reprimanded him, because, he’s not supposed to be near dead things. samson_by_willustration-d3i9ptlWhat’s worse is that he went back to that same carcass some time later (verse 8). He specifically turned aside to look at the dead carcass of that lion. If you read Numbers 6: 1-21, it details what a Nazarite is, what the requirements are, and what they can and cannot do, or eat or touch, etc;. One of the things specified is not only not touching any dead thing, but Nazarites cannot even be near a dead thing. So Samson, being raised as a Nazarite, was fully aware of these rules regarding Nazarite law, yet he chose to turn aside to look at this dead carcass.

Not only did he make this choice to turn aside and look at the carcass, but in addition, in verse 9 he saw a swarm of bees and honey inside the dead carcass, and he scooped out some of it and ate it, and took some for his parents; again, not telling them where he got it. Now obviously, the reason for the omission with his parents was because he had violated Nazarite law. What I don’t get is, why would you want to eat honey that is inside a dead carcass. I mean, that “some time later” was at least a full day according to Strong’s Concordance. That means that carcass has had time to decay. The minute something dies, it begins to decay; there is no holding period. Samson not only scooped honey from a decaying carcass, but then, he ate half and gave half to his parents, as if he needed collaborators with him in his sin.

Even if having collaborators could have excused him, his parents weren’t Nazarites like he was, and furthermore, they were unaware of where he obtained the honey from. I can’t imagine that anyone, apparently outside of Samson; would be willing to eat honey oozing from a dead carcass if they knew that that was where it came from. It’s disgusting. Apparently, he was so full of himself, that he thought he could just violate Nazarite law, and nothing would happen. But, death was attached to the honey.

While Samson was satisfying his appetites through the lust of his eyes and the lust of his flesh in violation of Nazarite law; that law would eventually catch up to him. What appeared to be so sweet and attractive at that moment would later materialize into death and destruction first in the spiritual realm and subsequently physical realm. Sometimes, all it takes is one thought; just one wrong decision can lead you down the path to destruction. For me, if I had found out that someone I loved and trusted brought me food from inside a decaying carcass (that, furthermore, had been cooking in the sun a day already); I would never trust that person again. Its inexcusable and difficult to imagine that he would do that to his parents, but it confirms the point I made earlier about his lack of respect for both his parents and for God. But what I see here is not only his arrogance and contempt, which eventually led to his downfall; but also the reasons for his downfall, which are found in Numbers 6.

Num 6:6   All the days that he separateth [himself] unto the LORD he shall come at no dead body.

Num 6:8   All the days of his separation he [is] holy unto the LORD.

What I see here is that his parents may have spoiled him a bit, considering their careful consideration of what the angel had told them about this child; and especially because they had waited so long, and tried for a long time to have a child. He was an only child, and I’m sure, because of his being set apart for the Lord, he was catered to – to some degree, because he was considered to be very special as a Nazarite. There are Nazarites that are separated for life, and some that simply choose to take the Nazarite vow for a certain period of time, like Paul did. However, the bible only mentions 3 people who were Nazarites for life: Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist. The thing is, there is a certain procedure that is supposed to be followed if, for instance, someone dies in the presence of the Nazarite. This is detailed here:

Num 6:9   And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it.

Num 6:10   And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation:

Num 6:11   And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned by the dead, and shall hallow his head that same day.

Num 6:12   And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled.

Its not like you cannot begin your separation again, but there is a process; an order to how that works and it is the law of the Nazarites, which, no doubt, Samson was well aware of. However, Samson was so arrogant, and so full of contempt for God, that he disregarded the law regarding the separation process for holiness. Additionally, he refused to even acknowledge that he had made himself unclean. maxresdefaultSo in light of this, my question was why did God continue to use him? The simple answer is, God is able to use anyone He chooses to achieve His purposes, even someone who has violated this special law of holiness. My son and I discussed this at length, and determined that this law applies to a spiritual condition, but does not negate God’s ability to move in power through the vessel of his choice.

Samson’s arrogance and disregard of the privilege he had as a Nazarite was not lost on God, but there was work to be done first, to complete God’s purpose, prior to the time of Samson’s arrogance to be reconciled. God withheld judgment on the spiritual violation until later, so that He could use Samson to fulfill his purposes against the Philistines. Anyone can be used of God, but don’t think for a minute that He will allow a chosen vessel to escape judgment for blatant arrogance and disobedience to his law. He’ll be forgiven if he seeks forgiveness and repents. However, there will be a penalty. After all, Jesus said, Jhn 14:15   If ye love me, keep my commandments.

A Matter of Consideration

This world is so backwards. Last weekend the people that live a few buildings north of me had another of their big parties. Now normally, they aren’t too troublesome with their parties. Generally speaking, they tend to be respectful of the neighbors. They don’t play their music so loud that we hear it thundering through every room in our house. We hear it, but its not so bad as to be a disruption unless we are trying to sleep; and even then, its usually just the bass beat that we hear. I told them quite some time ago that their guests could not park in my yard, and for the most part, they have respected that. But every once in a while, there’s always one or two individual guests of theirs that want to give us a hard time about that. They act like they have the right to park anywhere they choose. Last week was an example of this.

So you are probably wondering why I don’t allow people to park in my yard. Its not because my grass is in such stellar condition. We’ve had a few issues with people both from our neighborhood, and outside it, with that same idea and disposition; the sentiment that they are entitled to park anywhere they choose. Unfortunately, I presently live in the neighborhood of necessity, instead of choice. That translates to mean that I live in an area where a lot of lawless types live or frequent. It is amplified by the fact that there is a good deal of cultural diversity, but predominantly, it is dominated by one outside culture.

Because of this, the level of civility and consideration for neighbors is almost non-existent. People from this particular dominant culture don’t tend to be in the habit of demonstrating respect for their neighbors; at least, I have yet to see evidence of this. Two years ago we had a blatant example of this. This little church down the street apparently was one of the havens of the independence celebration these people were having. My street became so filled with traffic that it was like I95. People who did not live in the neighborhood were just trolling – driving through with their flags flying from their cars; hanging out of windows, yelling and carrying on. There were so many people rolling through that police attendants were stationed throughout the neighborhood, including on the corner where I live.

Unbeknownst to me, people were parking in my yard, as apparently, they had been parking all down the street to where this little church was. I stepped outside to see cars lining my yard, and someone coming out of his car after parking in my yard. I immediately informed him that he needed to move his car; he could not park there. I then proceeded to ask the officers on the corner what was going on. I asked them what was to be done about all these vehicles parked in my yard, as I did not want them there. The officer said they would call the police, as these were simply from the city to help with the traffic problems.

The thing that gets me the most about them parking in my yard, is that there is a big empty lot directly across the street from my house, on the south east corner. It is not fenced in, and no one would be bothered if they parked there, but instead, they insist on parking in everyone’s yard. My neighbors directly south of me, belong to this cultural group, and the irate wife was standing outside when I spoke to the officers about the cars. She looked very angry but I didn’t care, because for one thing, she exemplifies the problems within this cultural group.

Her behavior is always very loud, rude, and disrespectful. She fails to control her children, (5) who are constantly a disturbance at all hours of the day and night; and her family members, including the kids, are very nosy, and have a habit of intruding into my yard and causing damage to my plants, trees, and the water sprinkler system. This is one of those people that you know on sight to leave alone; don’t just get involved with.

Needless to say, the police arrived with a tow truck, and they began telling people to move their vehicles out of my yard or risk being towed. The reason most of the people knew to come move their cars, is because aside from the woman looking at me with anger, there was a man from their same culture who was standing in the middle of the street between her house and mine, giving me the same angry look. He was calling on his cellphone to people to tell them to come move their cars.

Personally, I didn’t like the way this particular officer was addressing it. He came and spoke to me, telling me about how they’ve had problems with “these people” every year. This was the first time we had noticed this particular situation, so maybe the problems they had was on another street. However, I still thought his mannerisms with this one old guy was a bit harsh, because he failed to get there to move his truck before the tow truck loaded it. I was willing to let him go, but the officer told him he was trespassing when he tried to talk to me; and they told him he had to pay $100 to get the car now, or more at the lot if they towed it.

My reasons for having the cars moved, is that in every scenario that involves people parking on the swale, it is always first – a right they think they have, yet it is my yard. Second and most predominant, they cause damage and then drive away without regard for the damage. Either their tires have dug deep grooves into my grass; or worse, they have left my yard strewn with their discards and garbage.

It is not my job to clean up after someone else’s party; and I don’t say this because I wasn’t invited. These are not the type of people I choose to associate with, so its not like I care about their party nor want to go. I don’t want the mess in my yard, and currently, because my house is a corner lot, on the corner of a well travelled street for people trying to get to the main avenues, my yard is already being used as a garbage dump by pedestrians.

I saw the condition of the angry neighbor’s yard after this celebration was done. She had allowed a bunch of people, mostly teenagers, park on the side of her yard. They sat out there drinking, yelling and screaming for several hours, with their loud music blasting through my house; and when they had finally left, her yard was a disaster. Empty bottles and cans were everywhere.

Now, its not like her kids don’t throw all kinds of junk and trash around in her yard already. They throw junk into my yard as well, which is why I don’t want them in my yard. Her back yard, which is fenced in, is like a junk yard, literally. Her fence has big gaps and you can see all the junk back there, broken glass, huge metal drums…I mean, it is really like a junk yard. I don’t even understand how she lets her kids play back there, but like I said, she doesn’t seem to be too mindful of what they are doing.

This same disregard for people’s property is the reason why I don’t let anyone park in my yard for any of the neighbor’s parties. Like I said, there is a large empty lot right across the street that they could use without causing inconvenience to any of the neighbors, but that is the last thing these people want to do. Consideration is not at the top of their list in any circumstance.

So last week, a few of this neighbor’s party-goers began parking in my yard. I came outside and began telling them that they needed to move their vehicles. Two guys immediately moved without giving us any problems, as they were just pulling up when I came out. Smoker hip aggressiveTwo females sitting on a car parked across the street in my neighbor’s front yard began to give my son and I some abusive verbal lip service, and two guys decided that they needed to challenge us, so they decided to show out.

They approached us individually first, with the first guy posturing with aggressive body gestures like the dude from the smoking commercial. He wanted to get loud and boisterous, stating with his arms flailing, that this was “HIS NEIGHBORHOOD AND HE CAN DO WHAT HE WANTS!”  This guy doesn’t even live on our street.

I wasn’t impressed. I told my son to come in the house, but he was still trying to reason with them amidst all the verbal abuse. Then this other guy came up with even more aggressive behavior, that was meant to be threatening. He got in my son’s face, jabbing his hand at him, and according to my son, he actually stuck his hand in his mouth. I saw him jabbing at him, but until he came in the house, hot as he could be, I did not know the man actually touched him.

He was ready to get a weapon and confront the guy. He’s 19. I had to catch him and correct him. I told him that those guys were not worth him going to jail for and messing his life up over. That’s not how you handle this. You don’t stoop to their level. For all their noise and posturing, I simply told them that I’m not going to argue with them. If the cars weren’t removed, I would call the police. And that was all I needed to say. I have nothing to prove. I have no need to be concerned with impressing anyone. It’s just a fact.

They were infringing on my property, and I was within my rights to tell them to move their vehicles. Whether they like it or not, is not a concern. And, without having to showboat, I calmly got my point across, because 3 officers arrived, and an older woman from the apartments that were having the party, came running down the street to tell those people not to park in my yard. I told one officer that normally, the party hosts were respectful with their parties and generally not a problem, but they had some guests that got too disrespectful with my son and myself when we told them they could not park in our yard, and that necessitated the call to them.

They asked me for my name and if I was willing to call them back if anything else developed and press charges, because the dude who came at me talking smack about he could do what he wants, had already gotten in one officer’s face with a threatening gesture. I told them I’d call if there were any more problems. Simple. Done. And there were no more problems. The officers made everyone parked in a neighbor’s yard move their vehicles and directed them to the empty lot. The party was very quiet after that.

My mom got upset when I had told her a week or two ago about a similar situation with some people in the apartments just west of us.  She was upset over the fact that I went out there, or my son, to speak to these people, but in my mind, I was trying to be considerate of their party and give them the opportunity to adjust or modify the problem without calling the police first, which is normally my immediate action. It was the same thing with this other group.

They were having a party, and this started around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. By 11pm, we were tired of it, because they played their particular style of Caribbean music very loudly, and were generally very noisy. They were parking on the side of my yard in the back as the apartments were on the side of the well travelled street that runs next to my house. When I walked outside and past them, I was assessing first. As I came back, I asked whose vehicles were parked in my yard?

One tall guy came up to me and began to tell me that I must understand that they are having a birthday party. I told him I understood that, and had no problem with that, but I wanted to know how much longer this was going to go on, because the noise had been going on most of the day. I also told him that they had to move the cars. He started to get boisterous with me, because when he first responded about not moving the cars, I told him that it was very simple, and either the cars are moved, or I call the police.

He began getting louder and more physically aggressive and threatening, lying and claiming that he lives in the apartments. I interrupted him,  “Dude! Bring it down a few levels. I’m not going to argue with you. I know you don’t live around here because I’ve never seen you before. Listen, you are asking me to have consideration of the fact that you are having a party. I’m fine with your party. But at the same time you are asking me to consider your party, you are failing to consider that the neighbors here have been putting up with your party for hours now. All I want to know is how much longer are we going to have to put up with the noise. We’d like to get some sleep.”

At that, he calmed down and told me to give them one more hour. They moved their cars and as he said, they left after an hour. I do try to be reasonable, but I expect some consideration in return. When I go to parties my friends host, if I park in someone’s swale, I always check with the party host, to be sure its ok to park there. The parties I go to are never loud and noisy enough to disturb any of the host’s neighbors. We are always mindful of that. I don’t think its too unreasonable to expect the same in return.

A Slight Change in Direction

laptop_problems-300x199As I’m sure most of my readers have noticed, I have been incognito of late. There’s a reason for that. First of all, I was working two jobs for a little while. In addition, my laptop was apparently in pc hell, because of viruses. I found out the hard way that when a Microsoft system is in your computer, either McAfee or Norton security is included, even if you don’t want either of those products.

I already had Kaspersky, a security system I liked, but when I removed the system Windows included to install Kaspersky, it uninstalled everything, but left the files where the viruses were that it had quarantined. So those viruses were free to roam through my computer and infect it. A nice little parting gift from McAfee.

The worse part, according to the outsourced Kaspersky reps who were really undercover peddlers of Microsoft support packages; is that the Kaspersky security could not stop those viruses, because they were contained in a hidden McAfee file that Kaspersky could not access. So those viruses did a job on my computer because I was unwilling to buy into the con-job from the undercover Microsoft reps that were outsourced Kaspersky techs. Sound complicated? Yeah, I was a bit bamboozled at first too.

So my laptop was out of commission for about 6 months. First because I couldn’t afford to get it fixed. However, God blessed me with a (former) client at my job who was so appreciative of my massage technique, and how I was able to release her pain problem, that she offered to enlist her father, who is some sort of technical wizard with computers. She said she would have her daddy fix it for me, so I drove into the next county where she lived…miles away, mind you, to drop it off to her for the repairs. That was about 2 months into the 6 months.

After her father contacted me to let me know that I needed a new drive, I sent a previous one that I had saved from my other laptop when the machine got damaged. So when I finally mailed one, it was still another few months without the laptop until I would get it back; mostly due to transportation issues I had, and scheduling conflicts trying to meet for me to retrieve it.

Nevertheless, in that time frame, I was back at the library to do my online interactions. But, when God wants to bring you into a new arena, certain of the old things in your life must change or else there is no room for the new. I was very dissatisfied with the first job I had at the doctor’s office. I liked the work, but not the conditions in which I worked. So I took another part-time job in lieu of leaving the first job.

That second job was at a very nice, new spa franchise that had a young, very nice manager. I really liked her, and the spa, even though it doesn’t fit with what I do. This issue was something I had brought to the manager’s attention when I was being interviewed, as I was surprised that, based on my resume, she had hired me for her spa. She explained that her customers were always requesting deep tissue massage; so knowing that I was more of a deep tissue specialist, she had emailed me twice after seeing my resume; before I responded.

After a month, she realized that I was right, as she determined that it was not a good fit; and that despite how much she liked me, she had to let me go. It was simply unfortunate that this happened to occur on the very evening after I had submitted a letter of resignation at the first job. She emailed it that same night, and I didn’t receive it until the following morning.

Right after I had gotten hired at that spa, my car, which I had felt was dying for some time, finally coughed up its last breath. It was simply not worth the investment to repair because there were too many major problems and repairs needed, so I let it go. I had been utilizing the public transportation, which I didn’t mind because I get more exercise from walking to catch the buses, and I have a tendency to bike ride more often. So aside from a few creepy, stinky people at the main terminal, it has not been bad.

Additionally, I had taken that second job at the spa, because it was on the same main road as the first job, and I took the same bus route to get there. When I submitted the letter of resignation, I had prayed about the situation for more than a week prior to submitting the letter. I was looking for the situation to play out a certain way, to make it conducive for me to leave the letter. The situation was exactly what I prayed for, which is why the email from the manager of the spa caught me so off guard the following day. I was so elated to have finally left the first job, as I had been aching to leave there for months prior.

Imagine my surprise, when I was at the library, about to leave for the second job, when I got the email. It was a big let down, especially because I had already submitted the resignation letter the evening before. Would I go back and beg for my job back? Heck no. I was done there. I had reached the point where I couldn’t stomach going into that office. There was no going back. But, what was I to do, having lost 2 jobs in the space of 24 hours?

Believe me when I tell you that the enemy attempted to attack me in that vulnerable moment. The thought he attacked me with was, “Wow! Two jobs in 1 day…what a loser you are!” So for about 5 minutes, I felt a little down. However, I recovered quickly when I realized, “Wait a minute! This is just too coincidental! God knew that the manager at the second job was intending to let me go Tuesday. He knew this long before I submitted that letter of resignation on Monday! Yet, He set everything up perfectly in order for me to do so! That was no coincidence. He’s got something better for me!”

Naturally, when I had this revelation at the end of April, I set out to find out what that new, better thing was…and I think I’ve found it. It is something I’ve been praying for a while now…something to do with my calling and purpose here. I know this because it is not only what I have been asking for, but also, it is a part of the meaning of my name, and I can’t wait to reveal it to you all.

What To Do If Your Landlord Breaches The Lease Contract

Landlord-Tenant-Disputes-_-Hollywood-FloridaAs a single mom, I’ve had quite a few run-ins with Landlords over the years, and the struggle is always in understanding and figuring out what your rights are when the Landlord is trying to strong-arm you or extort more money from you.To be frank, I’m sick of these guys I’m currently dealing with. The first offense was about two years ago, when my heel got caught in the doorway of my son’s room as the door was being shut. It caused a minor dent at the bottom of the door; one that could easily have been fixed by wood putty and some paint.
However, my Landlord chose instead, to replace the entire door; an unrequested service, for which, he charged me $170; what he called the “industry standard.” What bugged me more was that the son-of-a-biscuit kept the old door, which like I said, could easily be fixed and, I’m sure, he reused it elsewhere, charging someone else for a new door too. If I paid for a new door, the old door belongs to me, not him!
So last December, in the busyness of the season, I made an error on the check I wrote for that month’s rent. It was late, I was away from home, and did not have my rental portion on my person, to verify if the amount was correct. It had just recently been changed by HUD, so I still had the previous amount in my head. In my efforts to ensure the rent was submitted on time, I wrote out the check with the wrong amount, and put it the drop box for the Landlord the night of 11/30, and then caught the error two days later on 12/2. I immediately called the Landlord and left a message stating that I was unsure whether or not I had written the correct amount on the check, and wanted to verify it.
I requested that the Landlord contact me and let me know either way, if the check amount was correct; and if not, what was the difference outstanding, so that I could immediately give them another check to cover this error. No one responded. Mind you, I wasn’t sure if the check was wrong. I know what my checkbook stated, but I didn’t know if I had written the same on the check, or if I had written the check correctly, and simply erred in my checkbook. Since no one had contacted me, I sent an email with the same message on 12/5, and then I waited. Again, no one responded.
Those first two dates, were the only dates I definitely documented. I did call several more times leaving the same message, but I didn’t document those dates, and regardless, no response was ever given during the entire month of December. So I began to think that maybe I had just made an error in my checkbook. I kept looking for a rent payment of the normal amount being processed in my bank, but didn’t see any.
The Landlord, who had also tried to run a game on me with regard to an additional stipulation he had placed in the lease; failed to provide the lease for my review and signing until 5 days before it was due. He claimed in the lease that I was agreeing to it, because it involved an expense he was supposed to incur for days vacated for extermination that he was trying to push off onto me. He then emailed my case worker and falsely claiming difficulties with my email, which is an Outlook account with a Hotmail extension, so that he could justify not contacting me sooner, and have her email me to tell me about signing the lease.
He also tried to tell me at one point per his convenience, that he’s an IT tech, and that his server doesn’t receive emails from “free” email services. He stated that I’m “getting what I pay for.” His attempts to fabricate these issues started back in 2013. When I checked all my email communications with him, there were apparently no issues until about November of that year. He claimed to have changed his server close to that timeframe.
However, when I took his email extension (the part after @ and including the .net) and put it into the address bar, it pulled up his site. Funny thing is, the very front page of his site lists all the free email services which are good to use, my Hotmail account included.
cyndant_net1cyndant_net2But I didn’t stop there. I went to WHOIS.com and looked up that same name.net, and it pulled up info on who the server host was…GODADDY.com. So I went to GODADDY, and what did their first page show me? It lists their services, and what email service was listed there? Microsoft Office 365. When I clicked on that, it showed Q & A about Outlook…the exact same email service I have my Hotmail extension through.
godaddy_com main pagegodaddy_com support pageBut, I went a step further. I contacted a GODADDY tech who ran his email extension, the .net through their Outlook system, and confirmed that there was no problem with their system receiving any emails from GODADDY’S Outlook program or any extension listed within Outlook.
Lastly, I did a GOOGLE search to find out the timeframe of the Outlook takeover of the Hotmail accounts. It was about 6 months prior to the beginning of this fabrication by the Landlords about problems with my emails. Microsoft Outlook took over Hotmail in May of 2013, and the Landlords began complaining about issues with my email in November of that same year. You’d think an IT tech would have known this. It was all just a ploy to enable them to pick and choose what maintenance requests and messages they wanted to answer or acknowledge.
I thought that we would end up in court, so I gathered all this information, just in case. The Landlord finally contacted me on 1/12, but his message was only about the lease agreement. At that time, I was not taking calls due to illness. I did respond and leave him at least 2 messages, again requesting the information about the December rent. Each time he called and left me a message, he was intentionally vague, only stating that there was a discrepancy, but not giving me the amount as requested.
When I recovered, I spoke to him on 1/17, and finally on that date, he indicated the shortage; a month and a half later. He acted like he did me a favor, claiming that he waived the late fee for December on the 5th of that month, which meant that he did receive my messages; he just refused to answer them. This was so that he could snowball the situation into a perpetual late fee collection. He stated that he took my January rent, which was the full amount paid on time, and applied it to the December discrepancy; thereby causing January’s rent to be late, and charging me late fees for it.
At that point, he attempted to negotiate payment. I agreed to two payments to try to get the rent current, yet pointed out that it was his fault the situation happened in the first place. This effort failed because the first payment I made never cleared as a result of bank errors due to another dispute I was having since November with an insurance company. As a result, I stopped all payments to him; first because I was sure he had made some sort of legal violation with his actions, and second because I didn’t want to write a check I couldn’t guarantee, while the other dispute was still looming in the background.
He and his nasty partner began sending me threats via email and priority airmail; citing my responsibilities per the lease. I was pretty angry by this time, so I fired off a letter myself, exposing his lies and manipulation attempts, and the outright extortion he was blatantly attempting. I thought for sure we’d have to move, and I was ok with that. However, the logistics had me concerned, so I prayed about it. Not only did I pray about it, but I had my bible study group also praying about the situation for several weeks, as it was ongoing.
As soon as I gave it to God, I calmed down. I experienced such peace about the whole situation, even with the possibility of eviction looming; and answers started coming. Answers that showed me where we would go immediately should we have to move. A place was being made available and even storage provided by a friend that I had been helping for several months. So if we needed to vacate, we were covered.
Finally, I went to Legal Aid seeking some assistance. In truth, I only wanted to know what my options and rights were. I really wasn’t looking for them to take on my case. I also sought the same assistance via HUD, but neither of these agencies offered me a bit of help. One would think that at least HUD, who is also involved via a Section 8 voucher; would have at least explained my options and rights; especially to ensure that I was not violating their regulations with this situation. But they only fussed at me for giving them so much documentation, which I gave them to cover my “assets”. They only stated that they don’t get involved in disputes between Landlords and tenants.
Finally, when all those doors were closed, I went first to the Better Business Bureau, because after all, the Landlord has an incorporated business that he rents property through. I figured, if he’s a business, I can file a complaint against his business for public record, just like he would place information on my credit file for public record.
The Better Business Bureau’s site indicated that they only accept complaints regarding product and service issues in the marketplace. They referred other complaints to the consumer protection agency of the state; namely, the Attorney General’s office. So I filed a complaint there.
Additionally, I went to justanswer.com to see if I could get some legal advice. For $34, I could state my entire situation, and ask any questions I needed answered, to better understand my rights and options in the situation. Here is the answer I received from them:
It is not illegal for a landlord to wait to communicate, but it is a breach of contract if the tenant asks the landlord for a statement on the account balance, for the landlord to refuse to do so and then seek to charge any late fees for doing so. If there is a discrepancy in a Section 8 tenancy rent and the landlord will not communicate so that the discrepancy can be cleared up and late charges in the future can be avoided, first the tenant needs to contact the Section 8 office and notify them in writing about the landlord refusing to provide a correct accounting for the amount due by the tenant.
Second, if the landlord is trying to charge any late fees, you said they waived the late fee on this one time, based on the landlord’s refusal to communicate the accurate amount due so it could be corrected by the tenant, then the legal theory of “estoppel” applies. The legal theory of “estoppel” states that if the landlord’s own conduct, their refusal to tell you what the discrepancy is so you can correct it, causes the late payment then the landlord cannot seek to hold the tenant at fault for the late payments.

Then I asked if this breach gives me the right to move out. This was his answer:
He has breached the lease by refusing to provide you the proper information regarding balance due and correct monthly payment amount. The breach is not one that impairs the habitability of the premises, so no, it is not grounds to move, it is grounds to sue to force him to correct any issues with his billing process.
The great thing about this service is, the lawyer that answers your question usually specializes in the field that pertains to your issue. The other benefit is that you can email the attorney and respond with further questions if his answer did not clear up all matters pertaining to your inquiry. They ask you to rate your satisfaction with the attorney and give you the option to tip him, but I thought that $34 for 10-15 minutes of his time was enough. You also have the option of checking their system for previous answers on similar topics. If you do that, you pay nothing to get your answer, and believe me, there are tons of Q & A on their site that you can peruse to find the answers to your legal questions.
As soon as I got this answer, I immediately composed a letter to the Landlord, which I  sent priority post; telling him that I spoke with an attorney who told me that he breached the lease, and quoted the attorney’s statements above. I stated that I was not willing to negotiate any payment agreements, until it was understood and agreed upon by him, that he could not penalize me for ANY late payments while I was making payments on the arrears; until all arrears were caught up. Despite his efforts to find a way around it, he had no choice but to agree, and after 3.5 months, the matter is now resolved. I kept my peace, trusted God and waited and He took care of it. God is amazing!