Tuesday, January 29, 2013

here's hoping

Today my daughter went on a field trip to our Kentucky State Capitol.  Apparently high schoolers take field trip just like first graders.  She had a great time, even getting to pretend she was the President of the Senate, complete with gavel.  I think it was a Leslie Knope moment for her [you'll only get that if you're a Parks & Rec fan].

I'm especially proud of daughter Allie today, not because of the senate situation, but because she went off the reservation a bit.  When the bus pulled into a McDonald's for lunch, she and her friends decided to ask if they could eat at the Mexican restaurant next door.  It's a small parental victory for me for a few reasons:
#1  I dislike McDonald's.  Allie and I are vegetarians, and how can a vegetarian be comfortable at McDonald's?  No offense if you are comfortable there, it's just they go through a great deal of feed lot cows, etc.  But that's for another day.  Anyway, Allie loves french fries, and I'm extremely surprised she didn't indulge.  I am happy for her stamina.

#2  I like Mexican food and would choose it over any other 98% of the time.  And Mexican restaurants always have something for a vegetarian.  The simplicity of beans and a tortilla is lovely.  But that's how I was raised [a stone's throw from the border, as I annoyingly like to remind my children].  Nevertheless [I love that word], I'm glad she was willing to do something different.

#3  I had sent Allie on this trip with $7 for lunch.  It's all I had in my wallet and I figured enough for a field trip lunch in Frankfort, Kentucky.  She eats a rather small packed lunch everyday at school, so I believed whole heartedly she'd be fine with this amount.  Well, due to the Mexican lunch, she ended up throwing in a few dollars of her own.  I think she ordered off the dinner menu.  I guess she's not familiar with a Mexican menu's a la carte.  Oh, and she also ordered a milkshake.  So, I'm glad she took along some of her own cash.  I think maybe, just maybe it helped her realize the reality of what things cost and our choices related to them.  [wilted salad from the McDonald's dollar menu or enchilada platter?]

Incidentally, after their lunch, the girls decided to visit a Goodwill store nearby.  Whether their teachers knew about this, I'm not altogether sure.  What brings me joy, is there was a day not long ago, when Allie strongly disliked thrift stores.  She didn't like to frequent them as I do.  I'm a thrift store junkie.  What's not to love?  Allie prefers mall stores and Target and the usual teen girl scene.  But lately, she's changed her tune.

There are things you hope your children pick up from you and things you hope they don't.  I've found that how we handle different situations depends on just that, different situations.  My views on raising teenagers are different today, because I actually have teenagers, than they were when I had toddlers.  While Allie agreeing with me that thrift stores are awesome is not a moral issue, I do realize that her making purchases there will save her money, compared to buying new at the mall.  

Basically, we raise our kids in hopes they'll eventually learn to make the right choices.  Whether it's  where to eat lunch today or where to attend college in the fall.  For years, we make most of the choices for them.  Where they'll live, what they'll wear, what we're willing to pay for.  And we don't always know if our decisions are correct.  I will never have a one hundred percent confirmation that our cross town move was the right thing to do.  Understandably, there are those who would say it was a ridiculous and even dangerous choice.  People can always question other parents' motives and reasoning.  And there are no guarantees.  There are proverbs and suggestions and stories to refer back to.  But nobody can offer you a sure thing.  Because there comes a point, no matter how perfect our parental choices, when the kids start making their own.

I've quoted him before in a blog post, and while he's a fictional tv character, he does offer truth:
"You fake your way through it. And hopefully you
don't raise a serial killer."
That, my friends, was said by Phil Dunphy of the program Modern Family, regarding raising children.

While yes, there are some guidelines in the bible, and there are books out there and child psychologists with sound advice, parenting can be a big, {here's hoping} experience.

Here's hoping.........
they don't get lost
they like at least one green vegetable
they don't become a bully or get bullied
they don't take themselves too seriously
they take you seriously
they don't get emotionally involved with a thug
and on and on

While we haven't "faked our way through it" all, I'll admit there's more faking than I'd prefer.  More than anything, there's a lot of {here's hoping} they learn to make the right choices.  And a lot of prayer.  And more hoping.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


My son Jamie and I traveled down to Danville, Kentucky last Friday evening for a concert.  I was excited to hear the New Century Chamber Orchestra at the Norton Center for the Arts.  Danville is quite possibly my favorite small Kentucky town.  It has a lovely downtown, is home to Centre College [where the VP debates took place] and to an outsider, appears to be a quaint place.

My husband and I visited Danville back in the fall because our kids participated in a marching band competition there.  Having a few hours to pass before our kids' next performance, he and I decided to enjoy some coffee type beverages at The Hub.  If you ever get to Danville, be sure and stop in and have a drink or light meal.

As we headed for our parked car, I noticed a church a ways down the street.  I decided to take some photos of it.

What we soon discovered, is this:  This church was for sale.  If you're interested in purchasing it,  follow this link.  {note the site lists the wrong date, I believe they meant 1789, as opposed to 1879}  Upon passing by last Friday, I found it's still for sale.

After researching on their website, I found the church basement flooded a few years back.  Now they meet down the road a bit.

While I don't know the entire story, and whether or not they could have repaired the basement, whether they'd outgrown their space, whether they simply wanted to move, etc., it did make me sad to see this beautiful, old, historic building for sale.  Imagine the weddings and funerals and potlucks that have taken place in this building through the years.  I'm not saying they should have stayed; again, I don't know the congregation's story.  I'm just forlorn that this space now sits empty.

Nine years ago this month my family moved here, to Lexington.  It was our third move to Central Kentucky, so we were familiar with the city and area.  Our purpose for coming back?  My husband accepted a pastoral position at a local church.  Upon reflecting, I realize that this particular congregation had at one point met downtown, most likely in an old building.  But at some point, in the 1960s, they decided, "Hey, let's sell the church."  And they moved to what at the time was the suburban type outskirts of town.

Sure, I don't know why they moved.  I've made a few educated guesses, but I wasn't present or even alive when the decision was made.

It's interesting to sometimes stop and think about how I got to where I am.  We ended up back in Lexington because we were part of a long string of events, that at some point included a group deciding to sell, and relocate. What if they never had?  Would we still have come back under similar circumstances?  Most likely not.  They would have been another type of congregation, heading a different direction, and ironically, probably a better fit for our family.  We're now "downtown" types, as opposed to suburbanites.

Nine years into this thing, and we're nearly empty nesters and just in case you don't know, no longer at the church we moved here to be part of.  Three more years.  If the Danville church is still for sale then, I might press my husband to buy it and we live in it.  He could be a Centre professor, I could practice the church organ all day and we could enjoy a coffee at The Hub on a daily basis......  He'll never go for that.  Or maybe it will be time to move on.  On to a bigger city [lately Lexington seems small] or downtown to a loft or maybe we'll grow old together sitting on our current front porch.

I just remembered.  The church I grew up attending was sold.  The congregation moved on, to the outskirts of my hometown.  You can work.work.work in a church, sometimes for years, and it might someday go up for sale.  Yes, I realize the CHURCH is more than a building.  But the PLACE, the actual, physical PLACE where we gather to worship, where we gather to sing and pray and eat together, can be sold.  Not made into a {new thing}, not recycled to be relevant, but sold so people can move on and move out and move away.  I find that not just a little odd and sad.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

kind of ironic

Last night I finished reading The Happiness Project.   I really enjoyed the book and have joined the Happier at Home 21-Day Relationship Challenge.  So far I'm keeping up with my New Year's resolutions pretty well.   The projects I've set out to do this month are progressing well.  I've incorporated fruit into my breakfast everyday in January except maybe two days, and I believe I drank some orange juice at least one of those mornings.

Yet I awoke this morning with a dull headache and the sense that I really didn't want to leave my bed.  I'm sure this is normal, as it's January and extremely cold outside.  I did find this a bit discouraging though, as again I just finished reading a book on happiness. Why didn't I want to jump up and get moving with a zip in my step?

I drove to work, wishing I didn't have as long of a drive as I do.  [my commute isn't really all that big]

I almost started bawling as I drove, feeling emotionally down, but unable to pinpoint an example of anything seriously wrong.  [perhaps it's hormonal]

I went through the often over played in my mind situations of comparing myself to others and wondering why I wasn't more.........   [yes, I know better]

I was actually envious of a tv couple who were able to visit Hawaii.  [mind you, these people are not real, only characters on a program I watch]

I became angry at the drive of a pickup truck pulling a trailer that sped through the Transylvania University crosswalk on North Broadway, leaving a male student waiting dangerously in the middle of the road [as a parent of kids about to head to college, I don't appreciate this kind of driving]

After reading Rand Paul's lash out against Hillary Clinton in the paper this morning, I was actually ready to lash out at him [I'm not necessarily a huge fan of Hillary, but am confident she's much.much.much smarter and better informed and an all around better person than he is]

I'm not generally angry or sour yet maybe I often {pretend} to be happy more than I should.  I just find it ironic that I would feel so low on a day when I've just completed a self help book designed to motivate me toward success.  Go figure.......

I suppose it just goes to show that one has to work at being joyful.  There is planning involved.  It doesn't just happen.  Like the old song, some days are diamonds, some days are stones.  [my dad loves John Denver tunes so they are naturally stuck in the recesses of my mind]  There are days that are just plain hard, sometimes ridiculous, and we don't always know why all days aren't diamonds.

I'm moving onto another book.  This one's entitled simply, thanks!  The subject matter is, you guessed it.....gratitude.  Which is something I seemingly need to work on and from what I understand, happiness is a scientifically proven outcome of gratitude.  I'll see about that....and let you know.

Meanwhile, it's time for bed but first I'll report:

This evening I located my driving gloves which I'd misplaced [a small victory for one feeling blue]

I also baked a coworker a birthday cake [I like doing things for others]

I enjoyed a glass of Green Fin white wine I purchased at Trader Joe's [it IS Thursday, after all]

The family watched an episode of Modern Family [Phil Dunphy humors me] and a Parks & Rec [good for a few laughs]

So, the day is finishing out alright and I don't feel I have no hope at ever accomplishing my own happiness project.  Good night world, here's to Friday, weekends, and John Denver songs.  [Sunshine on My Shoulders, anybody?]

  Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy

Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine, almost always, makes me high

Monday, January 21, 2013


January 21 is an anniversary of sorts for my husband and I.  On this day in 1989, we had our first date.  We have been together ever since.  In case you're not so great at math, that 24 years.  IOW a long time.

Yes, this is how we looked in 1989.
Because of the significance of this day, the fact my son's birthday is in February and my husband's is in March, I find myself thinking of relationships the first quarter of the year.  Not to mention, there's also Valentine's Day.

I quite frequently dwell on friendship and the fact that I have fewer local, close friendships today than I've had in years.  Except for my workmates, I feel very withdrawn from the world outside my family.  I tell myself to branch out, join a few groups, enroll in a class, smile at the person next to me on the YMCA treadmill.....

Yet I come back to this:  This is my son's last school year at home.  My daughter wants to study abroad and very well might leave the country in a few years.  And I really like spending time with my husband.  Even if he doesn't want to do ceramics with me at Mad Potter.

My husband reminds me of these facts a lot.

I understand we, as people, are supposed to be relational.  We women are told we need female friends to go out to lunch with and coffee with and shop with.  I'm an introvert and despite enjoying a lunch outing with my fellow workers, I can't imagine who I'd even call and invite to dine with me.

I've considered an imaginary friend.  Why CAN'T adults have them too?  Actually, I have considered this as a book topic if I attempt to write another novel.  Another story for another day.....

In all the talk and books and tales of how we as people are supposed to be relational, I can't comprehend how I could possibly be close to a few women friends, enjoy double dates with other couples, plus be close to my teenage daughter, all the while making time to attend various musical events with my son, and most importantly, maintaining a vibrant marital relationship with my husband.  Honestly, I simply cannot.  Not while working full time, trying to keep my house clean, and visiting Kroger numerous times during the week.  And making time for myself, again, a self proclaimed introvert who needs time to read, write, craft and bake to fully function.

So, as I trudge onward through winter, I am trying to pay very close attention to my family relationships.  As Buddy, the Cake Boss would say, "mi famiglia".  Thankfully, my husband is my best friend, my son enjoys eating vegetarian food at Sav's Grill with me, and my daughter is willing to allow me the privilege of driving her to Target for a lovely shopping experience.

Happy 24 years since Balboa Park and Corvette's Diner in San Diego, Chip!  And thanks that all these years later, you take your daughter out for French food and watch hockey with your son.  I love mi famiglia, and as far as I'm concerned, that is, enough.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


The Indian arrived on Tuesday.  I know, I know.  The correct term is Native American.  But, beings I am 1/16 Native American, I feel it's okay for me to call him an Indian.  Plus, as long as the American League continues to refer to the baseball team in Cleveland as the Indians, why can't I use the label?

The Indian I am referring to is actually a piece of art.  A drawing of an Arizona Apache.  My parents have the same print in their home and have for years.  It was a gift given to my father and some of his fellow workers at a ranch where he did summer work.  He was a teacher in the days when teachers didn't make a lot of money and for many years worked a summer job.  But that's another story.

Today's story has to do with why we have the print and the thoughts it stirs in me.

My son Jamie took a liking to the Apache print so I asked my parents to try and locate another one.  After phone calls to quite a few people, they found a friend who had a copy.  It's numbered, signed and  was living in someone's storage room.  On Tuesday, it became my son's.  We have yet to frame and mount it, but we'll get to it.

You'll note the Apache is wearing moccasin type boots.  The mocs remind me of the saying,

Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his moccasins.  

I recently read about the "fundamental attribution error".  Basically we tend to judge people's actions and base them on what we deem are their character traits, as opposed to realizing their actions might in fact be due to their particular circumstances or situation.  In turn, we recognize our own personal actions' relation to our circumstances.  We are easier on ourselves, justifying our actions.

I've seen this on Pinterest a few times, and although there's much truth to it, it doesn't take into account the fundamental attribution error:

While we shouldn't act like a jerk, perhaps something absolutely rotten, beyond our control, has recently happened, and we just can't simply "be nice."

Another term for what I'm talking about is what author Gretchen Rubin labels, "cutting people slack." More famous than Gretchen, author Flannery O'Connor, called it, "find explanations for charity."

We live in such a reactionary society.  If someone does something we deem as rash, we're ready to jump all over them.  Maybe we need to find out what's making them tick.

I can be judgmental.  I can stereotype and assume.  Yet, I shouldn't.  To be generous and loving I have to cut people slack.  I have to be willing to walk a ways in their mocs.  We are in the season of Epiphany, which is the season of light.  I need to be willing to let Light [as in God's Light] shine on me and illumine what's dark and hidden, in turn bringing His Light to others.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

mistaken identity

A while back I decided I'd ask the Lexington Herald Leader about the possibility of being a writer for their Faith and Values section.  I explained a wife.mother.ministry-wife might be able to lend a point of view they were lacking.  They kindly told me they actually like the man who is currently their main writer [he's not so good in my opinion and doesn't even live in Lexington].  They did suggest I become a contributor to their "Question(s) of Faith", which they print numerous times during the year.  The QofF writers are faith leaders in our community.  Many are well known pastors.  At least one is a priest.  I am neither [I'm sure that comes as a surprise], but my original contact at the HL began listing me as Wife of Vineyard Community Church Associate Pastor, or something like that. At that time, my husband actually was on staff at VCC.  I really didn't care so much as to what they labeled me, as I was just happy to be able to say I had something I wrote printed in the paper.    My husband eventually switched jobs and I no longer was a minister's wife.  I let the HL know and they began simply listing my name, no title.  

At least they didn't list a title until this most recent edition of the QofF:
Central Kentucky faith leaders share resolutions for 2013

For whatever reason, they once again listed me as the wife of a VCC pastor.

Funny.  I haven't been in over a year.  And it really isn't that big of a deal.  Except newspapers are supposed to print accurate information.

I get what the newspaper is doing.  They want to quote folks who play some sort of role.  They want credible people writing for them.  Or at least they want someone with a title which deems enough credentials to pass as a reliable source.

We seem to want people to be what we want them to be or who we want them to be.  I've written this before.  I'm often reading of fictional characters who are living this.  People see them as one person; they see themselves as another. I'm guessing the reason for this in fiction writing is that it mirrors reality.

It's interesting to me that we often assume  people are in their particular job or role because it suits them or they have always aspired to the position.  I, for instance, did not plan as a child or teenager to be in an administrative job.  I saw myself as a teacher or in some sort of artistic role.  I never had the thought, "Gee, it would be great to wear navy blue and be a business woman someday."  I never thought, "How wonderful to be in charge of answering the phone."  In fact, just a few nights ago one of my kids asked, "Mom, why weren't you an English teacher?"  Then my son reasoned, "Because you wouldn't know how to handle it when one of the kids stood up, said F-you and walked out of the classroom."  Okay.....maybe that's one reason, and apparently he's witnessed this type of behavior at his high school.  Disciplining kids has never been my strong suit.  But, I do often wonder why I didn't become an English teacher or a librarian or a radio disc jockey.

We all have an agenda.  We do what we do for a reason.  Whether it's our job, our role as a parent or spouse, why we go to the gym.  And we don't all do the same thing for the same reason.  Some of us work so our kids can go to college.  Some of us work because we absolutely love what we do.  Some of us are somewhere in between.

But sometimes others have an agenda for us too. 

I believe one of my biggest realizations of 2012 is that my agenda, my reasoning, who I conceptualize myself as being, doesn't always line up with other people's agendas.  In other words, who I think I am or thought I would become might not be so, because it's nowhere on the radar for the person calling the shots.  This can end up being a source of disappointment. 

Yes, I know I shouldn't put my faith in people, but in God.  I know as young people we're motivated by, "You can be anything you want."  Yet, we're identified not necessarily by our abilities or possibilities, but by what's convenient and how our particular piece fits into the puzzle.  And it's not just related to our careers and occupations, but also in our positions as family members and roles we play in society at large.

Nobody really wants to be a pawn.  Yet I think that's what many of us become.  Simply a way to help others accomplish what they want to. If it sounds like I'm angry, I'm not.  Well, actually sometimes I am.  It's just that really we should call it what it is, not play and pretend.

The truth is, the Lexington Herald Leader doesn't really care what I'm all about.  They just want 10-12 people to respond to their "Question of Faith".  They've got their plan, their agenda so to speak.  Likewise, others might convince themselves of my interests or abilities to fit their puzzle.  Or they might never consider me at all, depending on the situation. 

We categorize people.  We make people, in our minds at least, what we want them to be.  And sadly, it's often a case of mistaken identity.

I'm hoping in 2013 to be less assuming of others and not allow myself to be as confined as I've been in the past.  That can mean being vulnerable, which is frightening, but also hopeful.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Fear is the squelcher of hope.  It's difficult to be hopeful when you're fearful.  To hope is to wish for the best.  To fear is [well, I think you know what to fear is].   Because HOPE is my word for 2013, I'm reminded fear is on the other end of the pole. 

Someone recently asked me if I feel afraid in my neighborhood.  For example, am I afraid to walk through it alone?  I answered no, because honestly, I am not.  While I wouldn't take a slow stroll post 9pm by myself, I'm uninhibited most of the time.

Though I am a self admitted anxiety struggler, I don't really consider myself someone who lives in fear.  Sure, I worry about things [a lot].....mostly little, unimportant things.  Things that the earth's turning do not depend on.

But sometimes fear hits, unexpectedly.  It doesn't stick around long.  It pays a visit, then heads on down the road.  I remember a morning last fall, while I was getting ready for work.  Scattered thoughts.  Joy thieves.  Negative scenarios.  Why it came when it did, I'm not sure.

I recently read Brene' Brown book, Daring Greatly.  So far, I really like Brene', and just might add her to my list of women I'd like to eat dinner with.  In case you're curious, that list currently includes:
  • Barbara Kingsolver (greatest author ever)
  • Catherine Marshall (unfortunately she's dead)
  • Gretchen Rubin (I'm really liking her The Happiness Project)
  • Madeleine Albright (first female US Sec of State.....and she's only 4'10.  Yay for petite people)
                      and others I can't think of right now

More about Brene'.........she's sincere and she's funny and she's not afraid to throw in the word, sh*t.  In other words, she keeps it real.  Daring Greatly is about the courage to be vulnerable, and I am not super great about being vulnerable.  It's not easy to admit, I am sometimes fearful.

Fearful that:
  • The new moles on my face equal skin cancer
  • Something bad will happen to my husband or children
  • I will end my days alone
  • I will acquire dementia like my grandmother
Again, these are not constant, always with me fears.  They pop into my brain; pop out of my brain.

The most prominent, possibly most realistic, seemingly typical female college graduate with a daughter fear that remains pretty much a constant:

I am not enough.  I have not accomplished enough.  My daughter will look at me and feel I haven't done what I should have done.  I'm helping someone else live their dream, and am not living mine.  I am letting her down.  I am letting myself down.  I was on the road to sure success.......and I got detoured.  I let go of the dream. I must encourage her to be all she can be.

Whether or not there's any truth to the above, the message makes a frequent appearance in my head, and from what I've learned, in other women's too.  I remember a scene from Modern Family [yes, it's a comedy, but still has some realistic points] in which I cried.  The gist of it was Clare [a mother of a teen girl] wanting to be a good example for her daughter.  There's the fear that the end will come and not all will have been completed.  Even worse, that not much will have been...........

Vulnerability is difficult.  Especially if you're guarded and have a self-perfectionistic streak.  Yet, as one of the favored authors of my adolescence states:

 "How we handle our fears will determine where we go with the rest of our lives." — Judy Blume

This is the deal......I know we're supposed to have faith and not be afraid.  God is with us, and if He is, who can be against us?  How many time have I heard.quoted.thought that verse?  Fear not; fear note; fear not.  It's ingrained in my brain.  Yet, fear comes.  And it squelches hope.  So I try to focus on other things.  I work on happiness and joy and peace.  And the fear moves on. Temporarily. And I work on realizing I am enough.  And the fear moves on...........

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

joy thief

I often think of happy people as being naive, almost ridiculously carefree.  And aren't all the cool people melancholy?  Artists, musicians, deep thinkers.  They're generally not always smiling.  They're serious and focused.  To me, it's almost like it's perfectly fine to be happy as a child, but once we're grown up, we need to lean towards the {un}happy.  We need to grasp the scope of the world's problems.  Plus we begin to realize what the thieves of joy are.

You've probably heard the expression:

"steal my joy"

As in.....
  • nothing can steal my joy
  • I let my flat tire steal my joy
  • don't let circumstances steal your joy
Maybe you haven't, but in my past I attended a lot of women's ministry type groups, and it seemed to be a standard saying.

Lately I've had a few of those "joy thief" situations.  Car issues.  Expectations.  Emails.  Nice opportunity/bad timing.  The normal anxieties and issues of life.  The winter season.  Cooking sessions that didn't turn out as expected.  Crazy, out of control eyebrows. 

This morning I came face to face, if not literally, then close, to three very real reminders that I should be happy.  Really, really happy because I have so much to be happy about.  On my morning commute I saw not one, not two, but three different scenes that were vivid representations of the joy I should be shouting about, instead of dwelling on the sublime.

Yet, alas, it seems to be so doggone easy to complain, to feel sorry for myself, to question why I can't simply drive a 2013 Lincoln Towncar.  [not really, I've no desire for a Lincoln]

I'm reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  So far, I believe Gretchen and I could truly be good friends if we knew each other.  The thing is, Gretchen, before becoming an author, went to law school and once upon a time was a clerk for none other than Sandra Day O'Connor.  She has a husband who seems to be a great guy, two daughters and she lives in New York City.  And, as I mentioned previously, she's an author [which would be my career of choice, .....right after folk music star].  Why wouldn't Gretchen be completely joyful 98% of the time?  Well....you'll have to read the book to get the full gist.  So far it's great and I've ordered a journal she created to work through with my fam, or at least my daughter.

But.......she did share one thing that for many of us, would quite likely steal our joy on a regular basis.  I won't tell you what it is, but it has to do with her spouse and makes me realize that all of us, no matter how lovely our life looks to outsiders, have things that bring us down.  Often there are really good reasons for this.

Part of my focusing on the word HOPE this year, is learning to concentrate on JOY.  It's hard to be hopeful if I'm not joyful and vice versa, really.  I know people say there's a difference between happiness and joy.  And that we should be content, not necessarily happy.  I've even heard someone say [again, in a women's ministry group] that happiness is overrated.  I'm not sure that's the case.  Really, what's so *#^% bad about being happy?

Isn't that why we have weekends and cupcakes and picnics?

Honestly, I'm working on being {happier} because when I'm happy the people around me seem to be happier too.  Yet, I often feel this distant sense of guilt when I'm happy.  Almost like, "why do you have the right to be, when there's so much suffering in the world?"  Sure, it's part of being an American:  life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  But, I'm not sure the rest of the world thinks too highly of us Americans and our pursuits.  It's hard to keep it in perspective.

Again, maybe to be happy is to be naive.  Or maybe to be naive is to be happy.  And I've been accused of being naive a few times. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013


When I recorded this entry on hope, I completely forgot about a recent incident.  A month or so back, a man knocked on our door.  It was dark out; I was making dinner.  My husband opened the door and the man outside explained he needed money.  My husband told him about a place he could go, not far from our home, where the man could spend the night.  The man proceeded to ask for a ride.  My husband told the man he could easily walk there, which is the truth and it wasn't an exceptionally cold or stormy night.

We have often seen homeless men walk down our street.  The HOPE Center is not far from us, as is the Community Inn, both of which allow for overnight stays.

I realize it is best to not give homeless people money, especially when they come to your door.  I also know my husband not giving him a ride was a good move.  Yet I think back and consider what the best response scenario is.

My husband works at Lexington Rescue Mission.  I also work for a non-profit that deals with families in tough financial situations, as well as homeless people.  So we've got some expertise.  We're not coming from a place of naivety.

So I wonder......

Should we have little kits ready to give out to down and out people we encounter in our neighborhood? You know, a bottle of water, some granola bars, an apple, directions to New Life Day Center and Lexington Rescue Mission?  Is that a practical response?

What gets me about this time around, as we've encountered homeless people frequently, is that this guy was bold enough to walk up on our porch and knock on our door.  Maybe he hit up the entire street; maybe he just chose our house.  I don't know.

Basil of Caesarea wrote, “When someone steals a person’s clothes, we call him a thief. Should we not give the same name to one who could clothe the naked and does not? The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to those who need it; the shoes rotting in your closet to the one who has no shoes. The money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.”

If HOPE is my word of the year, if HOPE is what I'm aspiring for in my neighborhood, I'm not sure how to handle it when opportunities come knocking on the door.  Are directions to a mission enough?  Should I clean out my cupboard?

This video shows how a little creativity and ingenuity can change a person's situation:

Here's to HOPING......