Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Today is Blog Action Day. It's an annual event that aims to unite bloggers, podcasters and videocasters to post about the same issue. This years' topic is poverty. Nearly 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 4 children in Texas are hungry. This number is staggering to me. In the year 2008 can this really be true? Not just true in 3rd world countries, but my State, my city. Thanks to my friend, Bob Carlton, for initiating this effort with his readers. I'm happy to do my part, though it feels enormously small. You can read other posts from today at www.thefaceofpoverty.org.

Over the last few years I’ve been hanging out with people who offer great amounts of time and energy serving the homeless here in Austin. The result is a growing prompting in me to do my part. Like many people, it’s easy to look the other way when stopped at the traffic light. It’s easy to just simply pray that God takes care of the homeless…while I purchase fish to grill at my HOUSE with AC, a big TV and comfy bed.

Four years ago I helped start a new faith community in town. One commitment this community makes is give the first 10% of offerings to funds devoted to serving others. One of the ways we do this is through working with Mobile Loaves and Fishes. A organization commited to feeding and clothing the homeless. Each month, our community takes 2 days to make sandwiches and deliver dinner to the homeless in downtown. Since I help organize the youth group at this church, I try to work efforts like this into our calendar. I guess the first time I signed us up to help was about 3 years ago. I have to say that I was a little apprehensive. I didn’t know what to expect and honestly I think I had some negative assumptions about this group of people that fed my reluctance. I felt bad for being afraid, or even trying to find away to get out of it. It’s hard to admit that even now. A wonderful surprise found me that day. ..beautiful people. Yes, some of them wore very dirty clothes and didn’t look (or smell) very good. But…they had lovely smiles, stories to tell…they have names. I met people who once had jobs and now they don’t; they lost everything including their homes. Many of the wonderful people I met had college degrees; who knew? Certainly not me. The youth and I handed them dinner, barely enough to fill a plastic sack from the grocery store. And they were so grateful. We were able to give some of them clothes; until we ran out of the supply we brought. When was the last time you were grateful for socks? Socks?! These men and women were so polite and so thankful for the very few things we gave that day. Many of them don’t know when they will eat again, but they have food for this meal and they were thankful.

God is teaching me more and more to step outside my comfort zone, stretch my preconceived ideas about the poor and homeless, and growing a place in my heart to loving them by giving to them out of the many, many blessings and comforts in life that I have been given. Each time I make a run with Mobile Loaves and Fishes, I am reminded of the reality that I could easily be in their shoes. A twist of fate, a string of bad luck, or tragedy can find us all. There is really nothing in life that belongs to me. Everything I have is a gift; everything is temporary. My prayer for myself is that I’m always seeking to be grateful for all that I have by giving it away. May I honor God and the blessings he has given me by letting go of fear, letting go of my attachment to things and serve my brothers and sisters.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's my Birthday!!

It's true. Today is the big 4-0. I'm wearing a tiara...all day. And I've eaten birthday cake for breakfast. I think it's a pretty good start to my day!

The celebration of my birthday has morphed over time. Growing up, I don't recall much celebrating besides having grandparents over for dinner. Many of those "parties" happened on Saturday night, though I'm sure that my birthday did not fall on the same day every year. I know this because I've seen way too many pictures of me blowing out candles with pink foam rollers in my hair...so my hair is nice and pretty for church, of course. Really, I've seen at least 6-7 pictures- from different birthdays- with my hair in pink rollers. (Note to self, "DO NOT do this to your daughter.") I don't remember having parties with my friends. Though, I do remember my dad bringing a cake to Youth Group on my 18th birthday. Since college and most of my adult years, I've made little to no noise about my birthday. I didn't tell people, never did anything...it was just another day. Somewhere in my 30's, or maybe it started after my divorce at 29, I began to do things to honor myself on my birthday. I still didn't mention it much, but would buy myself a present. Slowly, that "self-celebrating" grew. I started a few rituals (like eating b'day cake for breakfast!) and telling others. At first, I would just tell whomever I saw on that day. Now, I give people a lot of notice!! I've been reminding my youth group for a couple of months now!!

There are some mixed feelings I have about being "40." Over the past year, I've have felt this inner wrestling about where my life is and where I thought it would be by today. I would necessarily call it a "crisis", but perhaps a "mid-life predicament." I'll save expounding on that for another day. Because in spite of all that wrestling, I truly feel happy and excited today. I stayed up until midnight just to be awake when the clock struck October 1. I even wore my tiara upstairs when I went to bed! I didn't sleep in it though, it was stabbing me in the head.

Monday and Tuesday I attended Rosh Hashanah services. I'll write more about that later. The litergy from the services was really beautiful. There was one particular paragraph that caught my attention. I'll close with this:

"To say that life is both fleeting and uncertain is a truth that presses upon the mind with special force as the old year ends and a new one begins. We are led to turn our thoughts to Him; to remember that He has given us our lives in trust to use in His service. We begin by entering upon the task of self-examination and self-enoblement. 'A New Year,' say the Rabbis, 'should inaugurate new life."