"....because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

The Velveteen Rabbit

I pray that's right.

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I am really excited - the Project Home Indy trip is just one week away!

I sent a message letting them know that we were trying to organize a little mini fundraiser for them. I included a question for them after some of you noticed that there were no baby clothes on their Amazon wish list. Here is their response:

Hi Julie!

That's so nice of you all! Yes! We accept new or gently used baby clothes up to 2T.

Our teens are often more in need of clothing- anything soft and stretchy is best- yoga pants, sweats, PJ's and soft tees suit everyone!

Thanks again!!

Project Home Indy

So if any of you have any gently used or new baby clothes, or comfy clothes for the momma's, they would be very appreciated.

Here is the link again to the Amazon Wish List. If you haven't used an Amazon Wish List before - you can click and purchase any of the items listed - they have amounts needed and the list updates as you buy so you can be certain that you aren't getting duplicate items. Amazon will ship the items direct to Project Home Indy.

If the shipping costs are at issue - feel free to pick the things up locally (Springfield/Crocker areas). Mom and I will arrange to get them from you and take them with us! Just leave us a comment on the blog or facebook.

Let's take a moment to pray for Project Home Indy and for those young mom's. Let's just shower them with prayer on this beautiful Sunday.

The best part of donating is the underlying message to those young mom's that they matter, and we care. We donate small, but they feel big. Sometimes all it takes to make the next right choice is knowing that people care if you do.

Please message me or comment with any questions you may have and thank you for participating!

Much love and Happy Sunday!

To learn more about Project Home Indy click here.

Here is how I learned about them.

 

Introducing the 'Let's DO something' section of our blog!!!

This is our first official event. It is 'official' because we are calling it official - criteria is very high around here.

In early March a blog I follow called Momastery introduced her readers to Project Home Indy. This is an amazing organization that goes deep to impact the lives of teen mom's. They give these girls a home, therapy, childcare - real tools to make a real difference.

Click here to see the story the founder wrote to Momastery about their organization. It's powerful stuff.

My mom and I are making a roadtrip to Indianapolis next weekend, May 4/5, to attend a charity event for Project Home Indy. The author of Momastery will be speaking at the event - I am so excited!

We are also hoping to take a car full of stuff to these girls - or at least a nice list of things that have been sent! I am personally loading up all my DVD's and a ton of books - the girls need things to do and a call out on facebook asked for DVD's.

But they have lots of needs. That's where we will come in.

Click HERE to go to their website and see their Amazon wish list - there are all kinds of items, big and small. You can order right from Amazon and they will ship the stuff direct to Project Home Indy.

All I ask is you leave a little note saying that you are going to DO this with us. You don't have to list what you donated, it isn't about how much, it's about the DO! If you are like me this process of looking at poverty differently has been a hard road - and this is our reward. A moment to give to an organization that goes deep to resolve the full scope of needs, and a chance to be a part of a group that is really investing in the lives of these girls.

If you have movies or books to donate and you live in the Springfield or Crocker area you can leave a comment and we will arrange a way to pick them up before we leave.

Thank you so much! We will be looking at how to best get involved with organizations addressing poverty going forward in the series, but this is a little chance to stop talking and start Do'ing :).

 

A young couple is checking out in front of me at the grocery store. It's late in the evening, I've had a challenging day at work, and I'm ready to be home. I'm dutifully perusing all of the last minute temptations they place in the checkout line when I realize that the couple is having an issue paying. Their card has been declined. I start paying a bit more attention when voices begin sounding strained and upset. I'm on alert for danger, a byproduct of this world we live in. Suddenly, I realize that they are paying with a welfare card and something in their over-flowing cart is not approved. They have separated their things, they know what they can and cannot purchase, and they are frustrated by this delay.

It's a $10 dollar difference. My first reaction is to offer to pay for the item, but the tension is high, and I instinctively realize that they don't need any more people involved in the situation. The cashier begins to get flustered and embarrassed, obviously wanting the transaction to be just be finished. The couple looks only at the cashier, but they don’t give any of the "I'm so sorry about this," looks that you get when you have an item with no bar-code that slows down a line. Their look says, “Do something about this. Now.” They are adamant that everything is approved.

Soon a manager comes and helps the cashier resolve the issue. I can't tell if she understands what went wrong, or if she just understood the situation needed resolved, but in either case, she quickly completes the transaction and the couple leaves. She tells the cashier to take a break.

I'm quickly checked out and on my way as well. As I leave I pass by the cashier, and she is crying as she explains to a co-worker that she did the best she could. I stop and tell her she handled the situation very well, it was just a bit embarrassing for everyone, and that is why there was tension. It wasn't the cashier’s fault that things went awry. I drive home thinking about all that I have learned in my research on this topic and the wealth of dynamics that are at play in all of our lives.

The next day, I see yet another post on Facebook decrying the maddening experience of being in line behind someone on welfare buying better food than you do, and walking out only to see them get into a nicer car than you have. Almost instinctively, I wondered what kind of car that couple was driving...and then I wonder why I'm even thinking of it.

I figured it out. I'm prejudiced against welfare recipients. White, black, old, young--it matters not. Instead of being filled with compassion, I'm more likely to ask, “Why?” Why do you need welfare? You look fine to me. Looks like you made it to the store; did you drive? If you need welfare, how can you afford a car? I wonder how nice your car is.

I'm so mortified. Here I am writing a series on poverty, and I'm prejudiced against my subject. Really? I want to find a softer word, something that doesn't carry as much weight as the word 'prejudice', but if the word fits...

How do we land in this place of prejudice and suspicion so very easily? Because, that's the easy response. Righteous indignation feels so good. Nothing can pump you up like smug superiority. And rarely do you get a chance to feel so justified as you do with welfare recipients.

I am so ashamed, but sometimes, I am also right. There really are some people that purposely de-fraud the system. Shame on them, right? It's ok to be angered by this abuse, right?

No, not right. It is all lack. It is all brokenness. Whether you lack ethics or money, you are still facing poverty. You are still experiencing a broken relationship.

I don't think God differentiates our lack. When He sees a person abusing the welfare system, He weeps. He knows that it's fraud, and His heart breaks for the people who are committing it. When He sees me silently judging them, He weeps as well. He knows that I'm a fraud, and His heart breaks for me.

God wants us all to be restored to Him. God wants all of our lack to be addressed. But until we can humble ourselves to the point that we recognize our own poverty, we will never be able to help others out of theirs.

I write this tonight because I'm going to move us from the discussion of what causes poverty and begin talking about what actions we can take to help. But one thing has become crystal clear to me in my research unless we can acknowledge our own poverty, we cannot help.

I don't subscribe to a 'victim' mentality, but I do subscribe to reality. The reality is that most poor people lack the resources required to escape their current situation. It is complex, and it varies from person to person, but some combination of the following contributes to their particular situation:

Lack of self-respect - If you have never been treated as a person of value, you will have trouble believing that you are valuable.

Lack of respect for others - If you do not respect yourself, you cannot respect others.

Inability to see a brighter future - If your perspective is limited to your upbringing and it was in a state of lack, then you cannot imagine that which you do not know.

Lack of available jobs - Our economy has shifted dramatically, and there are simply far fewer entry level positions.

Inability to manage money - If you were never taught how to budget and you live with nothing, then when you do finally get money, it's hard to not treat yourself or your family to unnecessary things and experiences.

Lack of education - Poor neighborhoods have poor schools. Poor parents either cannot show their children that education is to be valued because they are too busy trying to survive, or they are uneducated themselves and do not know the value.

Inadequate nutrition - Physically, your diet will impact your ability to learn and function.

Inadequate sleep – Likewise, sleep deprivation will impact your ability to learn and function.

Too much stress - The effects of chronic long term stress can lead to the inability to form heathy relationships, lower reading scores, significant memory loss, and much more.

Some combination of these things contribute to every individual‘s poverty to some extent, including my own. We have to acknowledge the reality that people will not be able to pick themselves up by their bootstraps if they do not own boots.

So, we are going to move forward next week, we are going to start talking about how we can DO something about the poverty in our own lives, and the poverty in our world. But I thought it was important to at first be honest and admit that I have some poverty within myself that is being drawn out by God as I research this topic.

And just to clarify - I find this all very challenging. I would much rather sit in my righteous anger and judgment. I'm not leading anyone, anywhere. I'm begrudgingly being led right along with you.

So, let me hear from you? Where did this hit you? Are you mad that I'm a fraud? Did you see some prejudice in yourself, too? What does it feel like for you to see that?

 

When you see evil in the world, remember that for each one doing evil, there are thousands doing good. Take a moment out of the chaos of this day and let your heart be filled with the good that is going on, much more quietly, with much less media coverage. This is happening in our world too.  

Today I rode a new roller coaster. Silver Dollar City's, Outlaw Run has the steepest drop of any wooden roller coaster in the world, has the second fastest speed, and is the only wooden coaster to go upside down.

I rode alone because it seemed unwise to leave the littles on their own while Greg rode by my side, even if the ride just lasts a minute, and the lockers were purposely not made big enough to...anyway.

I was just supposed to ride once.

The second time I sat in the very front, raised my arms, and just melted into the ride. Because sometimes, there is just too much to take in at once, and the best thing to do is just throw up your arms and go with it.

It's been too much lately.

Got back from my sixth business trip. Six out of fifteen weeks on the road this year.

Took my girl on her very first field trip.

We scattered Dad's ashes.

We ordered a marker for the cemetery.

My daughter turned five - such a milestone number.

The Boston Marathon was bombed.

A beautiful author whose blog I follow lost her son and wrote with such beauty, about such incredible pain, that I almost could not breathe.

My daughter told me her imaginary friend, Coldcuts (a story for another day), was moving to the beach and couldn't see us anymore.

A perfect day at Silver Dollar City.

My son is three and very strong willed (that will be a complete and telling sentiment for some, and for those who it is not, I couldn't possibly explain).

We registered my girl for kindergarten. My baby girl.

We sold my dad's car.

Too much -- too much good and too much bad. Life in the extreme is hard - even when some of the extremes are incredible, and even when some of them are not your own. I cry at commercials, songs, random comments, and thoughts that flit through my head. I cry when I write, and I cry because I can't write. I cry because life is so beautiful, and I cry because nothing could be more painful than life on this broken planet.

I went to that park today, and I rode that roller coaster alone because life is what you make of it. I could have said, "No, I will wait until I have someone to ride with me." I could have said, "No, it would be too scary to ride in the front." But I knew what I wanted, and I knew what I needed. I needed some tangible, right in front me, controlled chaos. I needed to conquer that. So when I got off the first time, I smiled, and I ran right back around and got in the front seat. I rode it and remembered my dad clandestinely lifting me up high enough to pass the height requirement so that I could ride the Screaming Eagle at Six Flags in St. Louis. I was so tiny that my rear end never touched the seat the entire ride. He loved that ride, and so I loved it. And then, we rode it again. Ah, it was just too much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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