I was Scammed…Twice

Mike was traveling more than usual so he decided that we needed the Ring device. The Ring is a doorbell equipped with a camera. It rings when there is activity  within the eye of the camera. To me, the Ring is just another “big brother” device watching our every move. When we first set it up, it was over-sensitive and would go off with a slight breeze. The Ring also became a secret agent for Mike. I don’t usually order things online, but due to the lockdown I was forced to.  In the past I could just sneak in the packages without the local police knowing about it. Now nothing escapes Mike. During the pandemic I was shopping online because my favorite retailer was selling items for 70% off! So I purchased some merchandise; who wouldn’t at that price? The problem with pandemic shopping is you can’t hide anything!  I came across a retailer on Facebook called loveforjesus. They were closing  and all their wonderful Christian merchandise was on sale. Their product line was really appealing: shirts with the word faith written in the form of a cross,  jewelry with crosses looped through an infinity silver necklace, and bracelets.  How can you go wrong with the closeout price?

Order Placed

Look at their fake logo, but I really like the necklace
I still love this shirt

On March 20th, I placed an order totaling $41.67 and paid through PayPal. On March 22nd  I received a confirmation with an order number. The email stated that they were getting ready to ship the merchandise and would follow up with a tracking number. It also stated that due to the COVID-19, the shipping would be delayed by an additional seven days. This was the first red flag. On April 8th I received another email; this was to inform me that they were forced to switch shipping companies. “The new shipping company is charging more, but don’t worry, we will pay for that. For all the inconvenience, we would like to offer you 20% off the already reduced price.” This was red flag number two. I logged onto their website and did some Mother’s Day shopping. This time the total was $50.37 for Jesus t-shirts for my daughter Sonja, and daughter-in-law Jenny. I was so pleased with these purchases, and Mike was going to be so elated with all the money I saved.

Mother’s Day Debacle

Each time the Ring device would go off, I thought it was my order from loveforjesus. I started to get a little worried, so I ordered back-up Mother’s Day gifts for the girls from Nordstrom Rack. I emailed loveforjesus and my email came back with Mailer-Daemon (I always thought it read mailer demon). I was beyond outraged, and I had all the time in the world to fight. I sent another email and received this:


Charles (Customer Service)

Apr 29, 14:30 -05

Hello Lynda,

Thank you for your message.
One of your orders is in transit and the other is ready for shipping.
You will receive a confirmation as well as the tracking number as soon as it has shipped out.

Kind regards,


Apr 28, 23:33 -05

I find that your company’s lack of professionalism is what troubles me the most. Where are my two orders? Even if they were coming from a slow boat in China, the merchandise should have already arrived. Please refund my money.

Lynda Ciriza
Sonja, me and Jenny on Mother’s Day

I got the bank involved, and the money was quickly reimbursed into my account. The bank will deal with these cyber heisters. Nothing angers me more than using the name of God in oder to gain revenue.


I was to embarrassed to share this with Mike but if Sonja got wind of this, she would take it to high heaven. I only wish I had not mentioned that I had ordered some Jesus t-shirts for her. I knew she would remember because she said, “Oh, no thank you.” So I had to tell her that the Jesus t-shirts never came in. Then came the interrogation, “Where did you order them from?” My reply was short and sweet, “What does it matter, they never came in.” PLEASE DO NOT TELL ME YOU ORDER OFF OF FACEBOOK! she sounded off. “So what if I did! Did you pay for it?”I answered.  Mom, you are never supposed to order from accounts on Facebook! Did you check their reviews?” “What do you mean?” My next thought was, why would I need to check the reviews on a company that was named after our Lord “loveforjesus“? Sure enough, Sonja was right. When we checked the reviews they were mostly complaints, and many customers referred to them as scammers.


Mike manages all of our finances, and though I have my own credit cards, he still pays them.  I had to tell him about the fake Jesus company. “Did you give them your credit number?” He asked. Even though I’m still writing checks, this was an electronic exchange payment. “Yes, how else do you pay?” I answered. Then came the lecture. “So now they have all of our information?” Mike was upset, I wanted to tell him that at least they don’t have our first born, but I dared not. After almost 49 years of marriage you’d think he cut me some slack.  It never matters because whatever it is that I’ve gotten myself  into, Mike will fix it. This is a constant.


My family never lets me get away with anything. After Sonja made this a topic of conversation on Mother’s Day. Mikos added, “Mom, are you still hiding packages from Dad? Will that ever change?” “I guess not!” I replied, with a sarcastic look on my face.

PayPal and Facebook

Are not these two conglomerates reputable? PayPal was the first to wash their hands of this, stating that since the bank, and not me, came to them, it was my problem. Even if I had attempted to contact them, I’d still be placed on hold. Facebook does have a headquarters phone number, but they handle themselves via cold media: no contact, no bond, and no human voice. In the meantime the merchandise never arrived.  I still reserve a little ray of hope that loveforjesus will come through, but I’m not holding my breath.

loveforjesus broke the second commandment:

Exodus 20:7 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)


You shall not invoke the name of the Lord, your God, in vain. For the Lord will not leave unpunished anyone who invokes his name in vain.

In other words, loveforjesus, you’re going to pay for this scam. And the best part about this is that God is going to deal with you.
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A Mother’s Two Sense

Hadassah (Queen Esther)

The tree trimmers were set to come on Tuesday to prepare our house for painting. Long before the COVID-19 hit, Mike and I had already picked out colors for the exterior; but when the world changed, we stopped dead in our tracks. Now we have another concern, so we’ve have postponed painting the house once again. Since the stay-at-home order, we have been having breakfast, lunch and dinner at home. In late April, while we were having breakfast, Mike noticed a hummingbird sitting in her nest. Just a few feet away from our patio door, the little bird carefully wove the smallest nest in our bougainvillea. Believe me, this was one of the most exciting events we witnessed during this shut in!


I named her Hadassah, and from a careful distance I took several pictures of the soon-to-be mother.  Mike rescheduled the house painting but forgot about Hadassah. The tree trimmer showed up during our dinner (we eat early).  I had just swallowed a bite of my dinner when I looked out the kitchen window and saw Mike motioning to the tree trimmers about the bougainvillea. I waited until the tree guy left and explained to Mike that we could not allow the hummingbird’s nest to be destroyed. We changed all our plans because this little mama was going to hatch some tiny mini-hummingbirds. I was delighted that Mike agreed to protect the mama bird.

Me, Sonja and Mikos
As a mother of two grown adults, I will drop everything if my kids need me. I am constantly praying for my family and they both know they can come to me, especially for spiritual guidance. Of course by that I mean in a Christian sense, with God as my guide. Whenever they have something heavy on their hearts, I direct them to the Bible for answers. I no longer take the initiative and give definite answers without praying first. I’m very guarded about this because I have learned the hard way. If you respond, without prayer guidance, and if it does not workout you deserve the blame.  Mothers have a burden for their children, no matter what age they are; we are spiritually connected to them forever. The Holy Spirit always reveals to us moms when or kids are hurting.
The Spiritual Bond
A mother is spiritually connected to her children for the rest of their lives. I don’t care how old your child is, you will always have that bond. I was never an overprotective “helicopter mom” because both of our children were too strong-willed to put up with that behavior. I had to use the back roads to find out what our kids were up to. One of my famous tactics was to snoop in their rooms. If they were up to no good, I was going to find out. This was the time that I was vacillating from one Christian church to another. I felt that I was being led by God.  Boy, was I wrong about that! During this time I had to learn to trust God and pray. Sometimes I not only prayed up a storm but a hurricane. That’s all I knew to do. God was slowly developing me into a matriarch and my backbone was finally being formed.
Prayer Warrior
I became a prayer warrior. Two things happen when your kids go sideways: 1. You go into battle for them; and 2. you give in and watch them fall into the abyss of life. When a mother prays, things happen in the atmosphere. Her prayers reach the throne of God. It’s the bond that connects a mother and child because the mother will forever pray for that child. When a mother prays, she does not look at the situation as the world does; but she  sees her child whole. Saint Monica never stopped praying for her son St. Augustine. He would never have become one of the greatest bishops, let alone a saint in the Roman Catholic Church. God has a plan for all of our children, and a mother’s job is to pray it through (Jeremiah 1:5). Our work is never complete because they will always need our prayers. I thank God that He directed us to the proper therapist to help us with our kids because I needed help as well. These actions were all led by prayer.
Helicopter Moms
Jenny, Maddie and Will

Helicopter moms are well-meaning, but they do not understand the damage they are causing. Forcing your kids to join clubs so that it will look good on transcripts is not teaching your child to be a volunteer. Teach your child to love God first and everything else will fall into place. For years we made sandwiches for Skid Row in my home. A young man helped out just one time, but it was one of the few times I took a photograph. Years later I posted the photo on Facebook. By this time the young man was filling out college applications, so his mother called me and wanted me to state that he was a regular volunteer. I told her that I would not lie, but clearly she could. Helicopter moms take drastic measures to see that their kids don’t miss out. They push their kids to the edge of a high cliff and wonder why they fall. Look at the mess those Hollywood parents got themselves into. They got caught, but I guarantee there are other parents who are still using back doors to get their kids into the finest colleges. It never pays to lie. One thing will always remain true: lies are always exposed, and the truth still sets us free.

Sonja,  Jacob and Lucas
Grandma’s Role
Grandmothers are seasoned mothers. When our children get married, we must cut the cord. The Bible does not say that a mother and child become one, but it does state that a husband and wife become one. We may not always agree about how our grandchildren are being raised, but my advice is to leave the parenting to the parents (I’m still learning that). Mike has kept me from so many confrontations with our grown children about their parenting. He is my filter. Many times I have said, “Can you believe your son/daughter?” Mike’s words are always the same, “Leave it alone.” He’s right. I want to become the grandmother who leaves behind the legacy of a prayer warrior. I want my grandchildren to understand that they, too, are part of my everyday prayers. Part of my raison d’être in life is to pray for my family. I am a normal mom who loves her family. Hadassah loves her family too.
Mother’s Day Prayer
Dear Lord, We pray for all mothers.  May we always praise and thank you for the gift of motherhood. We were chosen by You to become parents, may we never cause strife between our children. Lord keep peace in our families. I pray for families who are not in speaking terms, heal their broken hearts and make them whole once again. Even though it may not be a mothers fault, allow her to offer peace by apologizing. One kind act of love  covers much pain. Amen.
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First and Last Camping Trip

I guess I did laundry in the nearby stream

I’m resurrecting an old story that was introduced three years ago.

Isaiah 43:1-2 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

But now, thus says the Lord,
    who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name: you are mine.
When you pass through waters, I will be with you;
    through rivers, you shall not be swept away.
When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned,
    nor will flames consume you.

Be Prepared

When we planned our first camping trip we purchased a four-man tent, along with all new cooking utensils and sleeping bags. We were excited to drive up to Twin Lakes with our kids. It was summer the of 1978, when Mikos was five years old and Sonja was three. We must have used one of our delivery vans  because I distinctly remember it having one side- sliding door and seating for only the driver and one passenger. Our children traveled safely on a bed of sleeping bags; there were no laws against that at the time. We drove for hours until we reached the campsite. Two forest rangers greeted us at the entrance to the campsite. We paid the camping fee and were handed a flyer with a composite drawing of a rapist in the vicinity. I studied the face of the criminal, then dropped the flyer on the floor of the van. Great fear gripped my heart because of that creepy drawing.

Our brave captain

Camping Snobs

I told Mike that we were not there to make friends and I wanted to be far from any crowds, so Mike did just that. We could see campers from a great  distance; so far this was a perfect plan. Our site was a long distance from the public restrooms, but I was fine with that as well. When night fell it got dark; this type of darkness was black, scary dark, so dark  that you could not see your hand in front of your face. We had our flashlights and got into our sleeping bags for the night. I was scared of the dark and the rapist’s face on the flyer was still fresh in my mind. I tried to sleep but I could not. I felt like there were bugs in my newly permed hair. It was uncomfortably cold – so cold that I had to put on another layer of clothes. After tossing and turning, I finally fell asleep. Then I heard Mike’s voice, “Are you awake, Lynda? Are you awake?” Now I was wide awake. Mike told me that he was going to move the van in front of the entrance of the tent so that if anything happened, I was to grab the kids and lock them in the van. What did Mike know that he wasn’t telling me? I asked Mike why, and he told me to be quiet and try to get some sleep. Well, I was asleep until he decided to add more fear to this living nightmare. Every noise – the wind rustling, and the strange forest sounds – was amplified, making my life a living hell. By morning I was just happy to be among the living. It turned out that Mike overheard some campers talking about a bear sighting. Mike thought that we were going to be attacked. He had a medium-sized knife to fight off the beast. I knew this unfortunate aggression was real, and that the bear would be the victor. I’ve seen the movies, and I wanted to go home!

Mikos, me (the dead perm), and Sonja

I had just had my hair permed and, back in the day, you had to wait three days before washing your hair or the curl would come out. It was day two and I had to wash my hair; because of the imaginary bugs and dust, I could not wait for the third day. When Sonja and I walked to the showers, I had no idea that they  were communal. You had to pay for the water usage: a quarter every five minutes. So in the middle of washing my perm, the water shut off! Could this get any worse? I wrapped Sonja in a towel and sent her out for more quarters. “You tell your dad that he better have at least five quarters!”  As the result of this disobedience to my hairdresser, the perm went flat and I looked like one of the Beatles.

Family Fishing

Our provisions were scarce because Mike decided that we were going to live off the land. So in order for us to eat dinner we had to catch our own fish. We rented an outboard motorboat and traveled for half an hour to what seemed to be the perfect spot; however, I had to go to the bathroom, so poor Mike  had to turn around and dock the boat while I used the facilities. We finally reached a good fishing spot and cast our lines. At first we waited and got nothing, then Mike got a bite. Mike caught a good-sized fish which would have been our dinner, but when he unhooked the fish, it was flopping all over the boat.  The kids started crying. It was too much for these city slicker kids to see the suffering and torment of the poor creature. “Please Daddy, please put it back! Put it back!” they cried. Mike set the fish free, and we had eggs for dinner. Thank God, because the last thing I wanted to see was fish guts.

Kum Ba Ya

I tried to keep the inside of the tent tidy but the dust and insects won, beating me into near insanity. Remember that I requested to be away from the maddening crowd; well, that didn’t work out so well either. Each night, while I prayed for morning to come, we could hear singing and laughing . Now I longed for camping friends, but it was too late in the game for that. I never experienced campfire talk first hand,  scary ghost stories (I was living it), nor the singing of Kum Ba Ya. From a distance we could hear the other campers, and by the scent from their camp fires, they were probably eating s’mores.  We roasted some hot dogs and went to bed. After a while the laughter and singing annoyed me. I wanted to sing and eat s’mores, but we were camping snobs.

Take Me Home

For years I could not understand how people enjoyed camping. The stillness of the night was an unsettling reminder of how vulnerable we were. The ferocious bears, and the eerie sounds of  birds was like being in a haunted forest. The best part of this trip was packing up and staying at a hotel the last night.

Looking back at this vacation I wonder how we could have allowed our kids to ride in the back on sleeping bags. Mike and I were slowly coming out of our Hippie days, so  things like that did not matter.  Nowadays any trips with children are planned to make sure that they are entertained the entire trip. I can not back out of my driveway without the secure sound of the clicking of my grandchildren’s seatbelts. It may be safer now, but even though it was unsafe the old way, it was a lot more adventuresome.

I thank God that nothing happened to us and that we lived to tell about one of the two camping trips we experienced. But I will never forget this trip, and no one in the world could ever convince me that camping is a vacation. The spirit of fear has finally left me, but I’m still not ready for another camping trip.


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