Monthly Archives: October 2012

Despicable You!

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On the same day as my last post, the L.A. Times featured an article about Costa Mesa’s mayor and his “mission” to close down the city’s soup kitchen and other organizations that provide clothing, groceries, after school tutoring, health care and other services.  Comparing the charities to nightclubs, the mayor called them a nuisance to the surrounding neighborhoods.  I don’t often get political in my posts, but this really bothered me.  One of the things that I love about my city is its diversity.  We could close down the services that provide for the homeless and financially strapped in our cities who are in need and it will look liked we “fixed” the problem.  But the reality is that we will have just pushed the problem onto someone else, some other city who will take care of the needs of these individuals.  The director of Someone Cares Soup Kitchen here in Costa Mesa said that a survey last year found that 86% of the soup kitchen’s patrons are from Costa Mesa, and 40% were low-income seniors.  I thought the mayor was supposed to look after the well being of all of its residents.  When you represent the city, you represent the entire city, not just the wealthy, not just the working.  Mayor Bever represents Costa Mesa, a city that spans the poorest to the super wealthy, the employed and unemployed, and those with and without homes.  However, Mayor Bever wants to shut the doors on organizations that have been around for 25 years and whose mission is to serve those in need.  And yet, the mayor has never visited the soup kitchen.  I think it would be much more difficult to say if we managed to put this soup kitchen out of business it would solve some of our homeless issues in this city if he saw the faces of individuals, heard the stories of how they fell on hard times, and sat down and had a meal with neighbors from different walks of life.

To read the L.A. Times article click here:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-1004-costa-mesa-homeless-20121004,0,5264684.story#tugs_story_display

Tune In

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So, back to my book Seven.  I have been wanting to share.  I love it and I feel like if I were to summarize my heart and my convictions, than this book would be it.  I was reading a chapter on possessions and just how ridiculous it is how quickly we acquire and how we so easily can compare our lives to people who have more.  Why is it that we rarely look at the 95% of the population who has less?  If we did, I think we would be full of thanksgiving instead of want.  If I wanted to, I could pat myself on the back and say that I do pretty good in this area.  We live our lives on a tight budget and our house is small.  But I think that I still need to grow, why it is just really impossible to make big purchases frequently due to lack of space or money, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to.  I still buy stuff.  Unnecessary stuff sometimes because it’s cheap, sometimes because I am at the store and I just feel like it.  Not that it is totally bad, but what if, just what if I said no to myself?  What if I said, you know it’s cute, but you don’t really need it.  And what if I said that on a regular basis so much so that the checking account actually looked differently at the end of the month?  What if I stopped trying to fill the empty space in the drawer with stuff?  Maybe some of you are wondering what if I had empty space in my drawers?  And so I cleaned and I purged and am continuing to do so.

And then I prayed.

I prayed that I would be able to bless someone with my stuff.  I often feel like I can’t “help” because I don’t have the finances to sponsor a child, or give to a cause, but in so many ways I can help.  I didn’t want to give to the Goodwill.  I am not saying that the are not a worthy organization, but I wanted to bless someone directly.  I wanted to find a new home for my possessions without them needing to be purchased.  And guess what?  A couple of days later, I am at my friend Heidi’s house when a friend Lisa starts telling us about her niece who just moved out on her own.  She lived with her dad, her mom died and she has a 5 year old.  Her niece was right out of high school when she got pregnant, and just is trying to get on her feet.  Heidi happened to have a love seat in the garage, I had my stuff, and I sent out an email to a handful of friends to see what they had.  A few days later my sister, mom and I went over there with Lisa and her husband and we were able to turn her studio into a place her and her daughter could call home.  I was so grateful and so blessed to have had this opportunity.  My contribution was small.  Very, very small, seriously.  But I was excited nonetheless to have had the opportunity to pool the resources of those around us to make an impact on this person’s life.  I couldn’t have done it by myself, and had I not felt burdened to give to someone, I would have donated my stuff and would have never been blessed myself to see the impact that it had on someone else.  Oh!  And that’s not it!  I almost forgot!  That day we had swim lessons in the afternoon which is held at the city pool which also happens to be “homeless people central”.  That is just what I call it.  I have wanted to engage with these folks for awhile.  They are my “neighbors” without a roof over their head.  We call the same city home and they live less than a mile from me.  I can ignore them, I can avoid them, it wouldn’t be that difficult to do so.  Or I could engage them.  But how?  I don’t typically walk up to strangers and start talking, but on this day, I did.  I said, “Hey, would you guys be in need of a blanket?  I have a bunch of stuff in my car right now, and I was wondering if it could be useful to you.”  Double blessing!  Three of them came with me to the car, were super stoked on the blanket, Hello Kitty shaped pillow and travel sized toiletries.  Such a small effort on my part, again!  None of the things they took belonged to me, yet it gave me the opportunity to talk with these neighbors of mine.  To look them in the eyes and let them know that I see them as human beings, with stories just like me.  I go to that park twice a week for gymnastics (thankfully swim is over because it was 4x/wk) and now I can say, “how is it going Isaac?” and call these neighbors of mine by name.

Some new clothes

and a special basket with some new books. We put her lovey in there too so she would know that it is just for her!

A place for friends to sit, and a pull out bed too!

I am trying to be in tune.  I want to be connected, to know the ins and outs of the needs of those around me.  I want to be aware of needs and see what I can do to help.  I don’t want to continue on this path of possessing in abundance and then just giving away my “junk”.  While I am glad that it went to good use, I want to stop the excess at its root.  I want to stop the buying of the cute pair of jeans that are on sale for my daughter when she has 7 pairs in her drawer already.

Not too long ago I told Piper that it was time to get rid of the shirt she was wearing.  “Why?” she asked.  I replied, “Because you’ve had it a long time, and it’s a size 3T and it is just time to get rid of it because you have so many other clothes right now.  We just got bags of hand-me-downs and it is time to get rid of some of the old stuff.”  In a matter of fact way, and not being sarcastic she said, “Well, maybe you should just say no to hand-me-downs.”

Maybe she’s on to something.  I am not totally ready to say no, that is how I clothe my kids, that and garage sales.  But maybe when my friends tell me that they have clothes for me I should ask if there are any long sleeved shirts, or size 9 shoes.  Be specific about my needs and tell them that they can give the rest to another friend who could use them.  The trouble comes when I take a look in the bag, so maybe I should take Piper’s advice and not even look in!  Maybe I am preventing someone else from a blessing!

Be careful what you pray for.  God just might answer your prayers in bigger ways that you expected.  After we delivered the sofa and decorated the studio, and then passed out the stuff to our homeless neighbors, Brian and I found out that one of his students is going through a serious financial hardship.  The student’s father just lost his job and the boy told Brian that the went to this “church that was like a grocery store”.  Not able to let that go, with the help of others, we are now trying to supply the family with some necessities like food, toiletries, and gift cards to grocery stores.  If you feel like you would like to contribute in some way contact me.