Street Gimmicks
February 3, 2004

If there's one thing that I hate on the face of the earth it's gimmicks. I have often ranted about my extreme distaste for the prevailing culture of panhandling that's taking place on the streets of Seattle. Some of these pan handlers, mind you, make more than I do in a year. Downtown is probably the worse in terms of gimmick"ers". Some have been there for years while others are new on the scene. There is an assigned schedule as to who gets "what" corner and "when". You will rarely find more than two working a block at once. It is an interesting phenomenon, and if you're dumb and not discerning, they will take your every last dollar. But not this chicky, I reserve my hard-earned blessings for those truly in need. A friend mentioned a comment Lakita Garth, (a great woman of God who's been on Politically Incorrect, the Senate floor, you name it) said in reference to the "homeless" problem, and I paraphrase, "One way to get some of the homeless people off the street is to send them home." Sounds overly simplistic, however very true in many cases. One, being that there are a great many of panhandlers who have places to stay. This is the case with a lot of the teenagers you see here in Seattle. My mom's a college professor and has mentioned that on more than one occassion she has passed by her TUITION-PAYING students, sitting on the streets, with beggar signs. Two, being that like MANY societal problems, the root issue is a family one. This is a present reality. The breakdown of the family pours out into the streets, turns into crime, turns into poverty, and turns into much of what the government has tried to remedy for years. We don't have crime problems, we have family problems. I often wonder what is the state the family relationships of some of the panhandlers I see on the streets. Many have been shunned by their families due to a physical handicap, others may be estranged from key family members. I also realize there are those who may have no family whatsoever. The widows and the orphans. To those, the body of Christ has an immense obligation. Garth's statement was really revelatory to me as I've never pondered the role one's family should (or should not) play in one's financial or housing situation. It bears some thought.

For the abundance of seriousness (and reality) in my words, I feel I need to remain true to the title as I've side-tracked. So I've begun my running list of consistent characters you will find on the streets of downtown Seattle on any given day. Keep in mind, many, if not most of these people are not homeless. This is of course the "greatness of america". You can gimmick your way into just about anything.

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21st Century Leadership
February 2, 2004

Well we made it to February. I found out Dr. Fuchsia Pickett "went to sleep" this past Friday. It seems as though many of God's Generals are passing on. In this past year alone we lost Dr. Bill Bright and Dr. Kennith Hagin among others. I believe this year as well we will see the passing of the baton taking place in the body of Christ. It is interesting to me that not even since Martin Luther King have we truly had what I deem to be truly powerful and influential leaders of this generation (meaning, their influence and their worlds are still heralded around the world).

Every now and then I participate in some of the discussion on the message boards at Relevant Magazine. Yes, I realize that makes me a nerd, but I have actually had some decent discussions there. Some odd months ago, I posted a question for the world (well, a small percentage of it) to see, "Who are/Will be some of the great 21st century leaders?" The Question sat dead for a very long time. A few people piped up with "Billy Graham". Perhaps they'd not understood the question? In the end, people tossed around a few names, namely Billy Graham and ultimately deduced that the upcoming generation shies away from "superstardom" and thus the reason why we can't identify leaders. I'm sorry, but this is the biggest pile of dung I've ever heard. I'm being dramatic of course, but I find it sad that no one can think of an influential leader aside from Dr. Graham. I respect that man deeply, but even as the generals I listed off earlier, I believe Billy Graham's season is coming to a close and that must become a reality for us.

When I look at the music industry for example, I see an abundance of influence. However misappropriated, it's still present. Even worse, I see a generation that is hungry for leadership in whatever form it may come. I eagerly await the sons of God to be revealed. I believe this is the season for new spiritual leadership not just within the "four walls of the church" but in all jurisdictions: government, medicine, film, television, dance, business. You name it. I reject the notion that we won't have tremendous leaders in this century. I just believe they will look different than leaders of the past because it's a new season. I only hope that we will not become stumbling blocks in our own process of progression. We need to give honor where honor is due by acknowledging the shoulders we stand upon, however, we cannot dwell on and rest upon those shoulders. Now the real work begins.

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Purpose at an Early Age
January 30, 2004

We had our first meeting with 40 days of purpose group tonight and it actually exceeded my expectations. Walking back to my car I pondered who God's made me to be. I've long known my purpose as God began revealing it to me in highschool. There's always new layers and things to be discovered about who God's made us to be. As usual, I find that I'm always one of the youngest among the group. We have a member in our group who is age 81. Praise God that there are still things He can reveal to you at that age. I also thank God that He has given me so much direction in my "youth". I became a born again Christian when I was 16 years old; and even I feel like that was too old. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful, but my desire for my own children (should I have them God-willing) is that they would walk in the house of God all the days of their lives. There was much adolescent heartache that could have been avoided had I had a personal relationship with God. Thank God that what the enemy meant for evil, God will use it for good. I intend to steer my children in the purposes of God the way my parents did for me. I don't want my children to repeat many of the mistakes I made. They will live purpose-filled lives always. That's all for now. I'm tired and I need to wash my hair.

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Too Much Allegiance
January 28, 2004

Last night I fell asleep on the couch while watching NBC. Word to the wise, never allow yourself to sleep with the television on. It hinders your rest big time. Plus, you take in whatever it is that may be on the TV (awake or not). Based on what type of programming tends to come on television during the wee hours of the night, this is not good. In any case, this morning I woke up to the Today Show (I slept in), which I usually watch while getting dressed. Coverage was of course, the New Hampshire primaries. Even in my half asleep state, I was coherent enough to hear some irritatingly true words uttered from the mouth of Hard Ball's Chris Matthews, (and I paraphrase) "The African-American community has a long history of always voting for the Democratic candidate". His statement was in reference to speculation around who will win the North Carolina primary. North Carolina of course, having perhaps a larger Black population than oh say, my home state, Washington, Chris' inference was that Democrats should court the black vote in order to win that state. I say, "baloney" (different from bologna).

Hear me. Mr. Matthews' words are very true. The African-American community has virtually branded "Democrat" on their butts permanently with hot irons. My observation has been that any black person who even dares to venture slightly out of voting hardcore Democrat is essentially a traitor to the race. Doing so could get you called a number of things, namely, "Uncle Tom". A reference to Harriet Beecher Stowe's portrayal of a docile slave character named Tom. More can be said there, but that's another post. What I call "Baloney", is the concept that politicians actually do something to get the black vote. It seems that every year or so, right around election time (state and local elections included) the African-American community becomes this group of people that need to be "won over" by social programming and legislation. However, not too long after voting day, the "Black agenda" (whatever that may be) is pretty much lost. Or so it seems.

This is the problem I have with political party allegiance. It seems to me that when a group sells itself out to one party over another, they have to be won by no one because their allegiance had already been determined. Personally,I think the collective bargaining power of a group of people is lost this way. I've stated in the past that I consider myself neither Democrat nor Republican, Libertarian (although they've got some good points) or Green Party. I'm just Jesus. Even as I type that I laugh. No you have not discovered the anti-Christ silly.

[Caveat] My friend Tiffany and I had a discussion not long ago and she mentioned how in the Christian inner circles of what I call "deep people" there are those who want to identify you by your theological standpoint on controversial issues. They'll ask, "Are you pre-trib or post-trib?" Trib=the tribulation, "Are you baptizing in the name of the 'Father, Son, & Holy Spirit?' or are you baptizing 'In Jesus Name'?" Then there's, "Are you rapture or no rapture?". A question to which Tiffany answered, "I'm neither. I'm Jesus." In other words, I'm only concerned about what He thinks and my relationship to Him. All that other stuff will work itself out. Now understand, this is not an excuse for Biblical ignorance, but simply a reality check for those of us that like to exist in our own deep little worlds of Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, stand on our mobile soapboxes espousing our "pet doctrines" that the most important thing to be concerned about when Jesus returns, is whether or not you're in right standing with God. Period.[/Caveat]

That said, this is somewhat the view I have on politics. I'm about as interested in political party allegiance as I am with Greek Letter Organizations. It's all false allegiance anyway. I'm interested in where God is working at whatever particular time and occasion an issue or candidate may arise. Now, if it so happens that some of the politicians whose views can most closely be aligned with what I see in scripture, and what I feel God is saying happen to be Republican, fine. But you will never hear me call myself anything but a son of God. Which is where my allegiance lies. I'd like to see us African-Americans use our heads more when we vote. I'll tread lightly when I say this, so I'll speak for my generation only when I say that the majority of black young adults who are so feverishly democrat could hardly stand and defend their reason for being so without some major smoke screens. It seems there's a common lie whose roots cannot be traced that has been perpetuated throughout the years in the African-American community: "We only vote Democratic because democrats are for us and no one else is." It's like a mantra. A mantra that needs to be broken. To think that former President William Jefferson Clinton has been touted half-jokingly as the "First Black President" is an insult. Hardly. If the black community is ignorant enough to further perpetuate the myth seen on film and television that black people "can't keep their pants up and their legs closed" by co-signing and concurring with an association to President Clinton, I'd have to object and say we have some serious denial going on amongst ourselves.

So Mr. Matthews' comment has once again reminded me how strongly I feel about this issue of political parties. There is some fault that can be found in all political parties. It's the inherent flaw in "people groups" IMO. Some have more flaws of course than others. I believe votes should be earned, not guaranteed. Call me idealistic, but the collective voting power of a group of African-Americans, but namely the body of Christ is far too important to just be "given over" to a single party. That's a trivialization at best. And besides, it will be a cold day in Hell before I cast my vote for that joke "Rev." Al Sharpton because he is black, a democrat, or a Christian. Now that's a mess.

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The New Tax Collector
January 27, 2004

On Friday after work, walking towards my car I saw a nice little piece of white paper on my windshield. A note from a secret admirer maybe? Wishful thinking. Sure enough, it was a TICKET!

Now surely, I thought to myself, the place where I park EVERY SINGLE DAY had not suddenly become illegal. I read the ticket, $38 big ones for get this, "Parking in an unmarked crosswalk". Someone help me understand this. If the crosswalk is unmarked, how can one see it?

Coincidentally, the day before, my sister was venting to me about getting an undeserved parking ticket. She called meter maids the modern day tax collector. I caught that revelation on Friday. I feel a kindred spirit with the people of Jesus' day. More and more I am learning to despise the Meter Maid. Do you see this picture? Forget that phony smile, yeah she may be pretty, but this woman is pure evil!!!! This picture almost sickens me. That smile on her face, the joy and cheerfulness of it all is just maddening. It's all a ploy I tell you. They lure you in with their cool uniform and pretty smile and then they BOP you on the head like little Bunny Foo Foo (childhood song reference). Well this chick here is not paying $38 smackers for doing nothing illegal (which by the way used to be $20, then $25, when did it change to $38?).

See, my theory is they figure that the average person won't go through the hassle of contesting it, then taking time off from work to show up in court and paying a ridiculous price for city parking to spend hours in court only to find out they have to pay the stinkin' ticket anyway. Or even worse, that they DON'T have to pay the ticket. Either way, the money you lose to the inconvenience of it all is not usually worth it. All I have to say is, "Watch Me". I'm gonna contest this sucker. The City of Seattle is not getting $38 from me. Period. I refuse to be bopped.

While browsing the internet, I came across the sickest thing I've seen in a long time: the Meter Maid Action Figure. Yes folks it's true. The ploy is infiltrating the minds of your children. Now there are toys to help our children practice the essence of ruining people's day.

What's next, the full Meter Maid costume? I wouldn't be surprised. I say, "Enough is Enough". There is a Meter Maid agenda being pushed here and I don't like it. And the meter maids, bless their little hearts. Some of them are just genuinely doing their job. Others, well, MOST in fact, are the poor souls who feel the need to lash out at the world regarding their own personal shortcomings, insecurities, and unhappy lives in the form of a little piece of paper called a TICKET.

Well hear me all you who feel the need to powertrip, this parking ticket shall not be my demise. I will fight. And to you my brothers and sisters, I say keep the faith. Know that in these perilous times, there are little people doing big things. For we together, my fellow ticketed brethern, shall rise up and overthrow the ruling Meter Maid regime.

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The Magnificent One
January 25, 2004

God. The great and mighty one. Where would I be without Him. I'm about half finished with msn, qwest, and all these people who are giving me the run around about my DSL being down. My lack of updates lately is for this purpose alone. So much has been going on. My apartment is usually an indication of my life and this past weekend my apartment looked like 3, 4, & 5 year-olds were left home alone. Don't tell me God's not a God of order because when I clean my house, I feel like a new woman. Seriously.

This past week was filled with suprises. One, I found out my position, which was only a one year assignment, has been made permanent because of my excellence on the job. Now I say this not to gloat, but only to point out the fact that God is truly Jehovah Jireh. Provider. I will never put my trust in a reputable company but in God and Him alone. I also was made aware of an opportunity for promotion which would involve some traveling so I'll be prayerful concering that. I believe this will be the last company I work for as I will soon be working for myself.

More news...In the awesomeness of God, the youth ministry in which I am a leader Relentless doubled in number last week. I wish I could go back and be a teenager in this day when I believe God is truly moving tremendously in the youth. Sike. You couldn't pay me money to repeat high school. Seriously, no amount would do. But I thank God that I get to be a part of history in the making. Today during service we had an awesome time of just praising and magnifying the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It always amazes me how our culture can worship with passion and intensity everything but God. I even find myself deeply entrenched in the lives of celebrities, people I idolize, the internet; all these things I devote entirely too much time and money towards. Yet finding enough breath in my body to truly praise and honor with my lips the one who gives me life is way too much of a hassle at times. That's a shame. It's a shame that we've even become so civilized in our "organized Christianity" that we can show more reverence for a stupid play off game than God who loves us more than we can imagine. There's a song I've been playing all day called "Friend of God". It's on the CD "Cover the Earth" by Lakewood Live (I'd link it but I'm on dial up right and opening one more window just might kill my computer). The words are so powerful and so basic, based out of James 2:23 and Psalm 8:4...

Continue reading "The Magnificent One">>>

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Shopping for Computer Parts
January 22, 2004

Bleck. I have nothing fairly good to say. I feel this sinus thing coming on and it's no fun. Pray for my healing because I am no good to anyone when I'm sick.

In other news, I discovered something this past week that is very old but new to me. That would be Quiz Your Friends. I have been addicted ever since. I have lots of stuff to say but not a lot of time to write it. See, currently I am only accessing the internet from work because the idiots at msn have sought to reek havoc on my life by disconnecting my DSL. Okay, well really they're not idiots. They've been VERY helpful. I'm just frustrated at this time. Four days and counting with no internet connection. I had to use *gasp* dial-up. And I just don't have the patience for that. Could this be God trying to get my attention? Nahhhhhh, [sarcasm]God would never pull me away from the internet.[/sarcasm]

Speaking of very helpful people. I walked into Best Buy the other day seeking a "USB-to-Ethernet" cable. The peeps at the Apple Store suggested I get one for my laptop since my ethernet port is broken. So I, feeling "oh so swank" with my techie lingo walked into Best Buy, INTENTIONALLY avoiding CompUSA or any other store with "Comp" in it because of their high prices, and asked the nearest associate for the "USB-to-Ethernet" cable. The conversation went as follows:

Best Buy Guy: Uhhhh, no I don't think we have that. But we have this.
Best Buy Guy holds up a nicely packaged pc ethernet card
Ambra: I have an iBook. That doesn't work on a Mac as I don't have PC Card slots.
Best Buy Guy: It Should work.
Ambra: It won't.
Ambra thinking, "Why am I educating the expert?"
Ambra: So you don't have any USB-to-Ethernet ANYTHING?!
Best Buy Guy: No. In fact, I've never heard of that before.
Ambra thinking, "You idiot, how can you work in the computer section and not be familiar with this?"
Ambra: Well do you know where I could find one elsewhere?
Best Buy Guy: No.
Ambra thinking, "He's saying more 'No's' than I prefer!"
Ambra: Well, I appreciate your help.
Ambra thinking, "Thanks for nothing. You should be fired for lack of product knowledge."

And this folks, is customer service these days.

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Happy Birthday Dr. King
January 19, 2004

Guess where I am. In my office, sitting at my desk, working. Apparently, we don't celebrate this holiday. Again I say, stay far away from retail. Unfortunately, I don't have anything really deep, profound, or prolific to say. Most of what I've felt about this day has already been expressed at some point in my life. In many ways I've become callous to this day and what it signifies. I attribute part of that to the tokenization (is that a word?..well it is now) of this day. I've found that most of America decides to become very multi-cultural right about this time of year and it usually ends on February 28th; the end of black history month. Growing up in predominately white schools, I think I got just about all I could of the "Greatness" of Martin Luther King I could handle. We would usually sing while holding hands in some circle, "We Shall Overcome"...gag me with a spoon. Hear me out. I don't trivialize Dr. King in the least. He was a prophet to that generation. But I believe we have trivialized his message. "We shall overcome some day.....deep in my heart, I do believe that we shall overcome some day." We sing it once a year and go on our merry way; no one ever stopping to recognize what true overcoming is. It seems we forget that Dr. King was a man of God first. Before he wore any titles of Dr., Rev. "Great" or "Activist", he was a man of God.

How interesting is it that many groups such as the homosexual community have championed Dr. King and his teachings. Many forgetting that this very person is one who directly opposed that lifestyle. Interestingly enough, it was one of my college history professors, who also happened to be a lesbian that pointed this out to me.

I have issue with the fact that Dr. King's faith is very much left out of much of what we say about him. The talk of racial reconciliation and oneness and unity has been going on for generations and while yes we've come so far, we've got more places to go. I challenge however, that this "dream" that even Dr. King talks about won't come through social organizations or mechanisms, programs or institutions, music, poetry, or osmosis; but only by the spirit of God and the unity that comes in the fellowship and revelation of the reality of Jesus Christ and the brotherhood we find in His Life. The only time I have ever felt complete and total unity with those of other races and backgrounds has been with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I say that will be the thread that holds the world together. Will we all get there? Nope. There will be those who reject this reality. Even the Bible declares that. But I long for the day when the body of Christ will be the example by which the world comes to see how racial barriers can be broken. (We've got a ways to go) The Bible speaks to social justice and the disenfranchised. The Bible speaks to racism and inequality. This "freedom" and this "overcoming" everyone talks and sings about is not the true freedom and overcoming I believe was in the message of Dr. King. True freedom is knowing your identity in God. True freedom is when God's spirit is present. True overcoming is by the blood of the Lamb and the power of our testimonies. That is my prayer on this day to honor a man of God. That the body of Christ would recognize our place in all this and get in position. Let's start with the most segregated day of the week. Sunday.

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5 Ways to Keep People Away from You on the Bus
January 14, 2004

Yes, I realize this is a very selfish and unthoughtful post. I realize that it doesn't exactly convey the love of Christ for all people. But do you ever have those days when you don't really feel like being bothered by people on the bus? I mean like you want to be far far away from everyone. I am some sort of magnet for people who, when there are plenty of wide-open seats available, will sit right smack dab next to me. I realize that people are attracted to the God in us. Or at least they should be right? I can't chalk it up to particularly good looks or a good scent (this is not to sound "low self-esteem" as I do believe I have those things though neither of which I can attribute to the countless men AND women who feel the need to sit by me day in and day out). So, I figure the only one I can give credit to is God. But dangit, I wish He'd give me a break every once and awhile. Yesterday was one of those days and it occurred to me that there are ways to keep people at a distance while riding the bus (and keep your dignity). So I am making an official list which I will expand as I try new tactics:

  1. Read Mean Books Preferably with big print on the cover so everyone can read the title. Reading a book with the word "Hell" in the title is good. Titles like, "Why You're Going to Hell" or "Repent Sinner or Go to Hell" or "Hell is Hot Place I Don't Wanna Be" etc. are preferable and will immediately deter people.
  2. Be sick. Or at least fake it. Coughing is good. Sneezes will clear out both the row behind and in front of you.
  3. Wear a helmet. When you wear a helmet, you're gross. No one will want to sit next to you. Whether it be Bike helmet or construction helmet, you pick. All of them will make you seem gross.
  4. Fall asleep. I think it's the fear that you'll slobber on them or something but generally, sleeping, even fake sleep keeps people away. If necessary, slobber, however that whole "keeping your dignity" part gets ruined if you do this.
  5. Master the bus face. My friend Lindsay is great at this. It's the "Don'teven thinkaboutsittingnexttomebecauseIhadacrappydayandI'llkickyourbutt" look. Perhaps I'll snap a picture of her demonstrating the "bus face". Until then, this picture somewhat captures the essence of true "bus facedness". This look will scare anyone away.

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Idiot Pundits
January 12, 2004

It bothers me when people make illogical political statements. For example, people who say, on national television, "I'm taking this all the way to the Supreme Court". No! You big fat dummie. Let me school you. You don't just "take" things to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decides what cases they will accept based on certain criteria. In fact, most cases that attempt to go to the SC are stacks a mile high and it's be years before they even looked at your application. Don't be ignorant and say stuff like that. Most cases will never make it to the SC. There's a much bigger fish to fry when it comes to the SC, like deciding a woman should have a right to "choose". Yeah whatever.

Another example would be "Impeach Bush" signs. I see them all over Seattle (I'm sure this is not surprise in granola town). This is such an erroneous statement it bothers me. Because I like Bush? No. I'd say the same for any president we've ever wanted to impeach. That's not how presidents get impeached. You don't just impeach a president because you don't like them or their policy. READ YOUR GOVERNMENT TEXT BOOKS PEOPLE It's much bigger than that. In fact, "the people" have very little say in if and when a president gets impeached. Seriously, whenever I see people carrying those signs in protest I laugh because honestly, they're beating the air. But hey, "Let them eat cake". If they want to spend 3 hours of their Saturday carrying around a sign that makes no sense, so be it. Also, a word to the people who still feel the need to display their "No Iraq War" signs in the window of their VW van. It's still not working. This is the beauty of America. You can say whatever the heck you want to. Hmm, I could debate that last sentence, but that's another post. In the same category as illogical idiots, the guy who runs across the baseball field naked, holding a sign that says, "Jesus Loves You". What the?

I remember back in high school, I was taking a class called World Peace or Global Village or some totally peacy title like that. I mean the class was a tree-hugging nightmare. No joke. For one assignment, we all as a class had to camp out overnight in a Yurt (a glorified tent/woodframe structure), play drums, do yogo and eat injara (Ethiopian Bread). I didn't have a problem with the food, but it would've been a cold day in hell before I'd sleep on the campus lawn in a YURT, chant, do "Salutations to the Sun" with those suburban white kids, AND get up the next day and go to class. Yeah right. Seriously, these were exactly the words I thought in my head. And indeed, I skipped that assignment and still managed to get a B+ in the class.

In any case, it was around that time that the World Trade Organization was holding their conference in Seattle and the riots and protests were planned. Well, my entire Global Village class planned on skipping class to go; including the teacher. Yes, the teacher. He even brought his gas mask with him to school that day. (These are the people educating your children folks). So here's what got me, we were expected to just go protest. Nobody ever bothered to ask if you wanted to go. It was a silent assumption. This is when I thought to myself, "Self, you will not allow your perspective on politics and world issues to be influenced or shaped by the masses nor by media." Needless to say, I didn't go to the protest that day or any day. I didn't choose not to go because I was "in favor" of the WTO. I chose not to go because I refused to be a trendy protester. Political and world issues are not trendy. This is serious stuff. I wanted to get to know the issues. I wanted a better understanding. I love the scripture that says, "In all your getting, get understanding". That was my mantra in high school and college. And they hated me for it.

In other news...I can't believe we're nearly half way into January. This is nuts. Time waits for no one. Not even my lazy bum. This weekend was predictable. I made it to Sunday exhausted. I had some great conversation this weekend.

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