Category: Thoughts

a hug and a prayer

February 16th, 2009

She arrived 30 minutes early for her appointment. She had never been there before; she didn’t like to ask for help. She’s always worked, always paid her own way, never looked for hand-outs.

Her electric bill had climbed to $800. She had paid $400 on it but they were going to cut off her electricity in 2 days. A call to the company told us that she only had to pay $37.20 to keep it from being turned off; the rest could be paid within the next month.

She didn’t have $37.20.

She recently left her job to take care of her daughter who had just gotten back from the “mental hospital.” The 15-year old had been cutting herself after being molested by a family member. She didn’t tell anyone about it until later. Now her mom doesn’t want to leave her by herself in the afternoons after school. She’s afraid of what her daughter might do to herself.

She couldn’t take a leave of absence from her job but has an open invitation to come back anytime. But the shifts are at terrible times; they don’t work with a school schedule. She doesn’t want to leave her daughter alone. It’s a risk she’s not willing to take.

Every program has limits, parameters. We can’t give everybody everything they need; we probably have the means, but not the hearts.

In this ministry, $150 is the most it can give, once a year. He told her we could pay the $37.20 this month, or pay $150 for the next bill to give her a little more help. He thought it would be more helpful in the long run to pay the larger amount next month.

She didn’t have the $37, and didn’t want to ask her 2 other daughters for help. But she eventually did, and they each agreed to pay half. Next month she has a pledge of $150 to put toward the electric bill. It’s a band-aid, but maybe it will help her catch up, or even get ahead.

I put some food in bags for her, her daughter, and 2 grandkids that she takes care of. Milk, eggs, spaghetti, canned fruits & vegetables, cereal, baby food.

She was grateful.

Some of the people that come in are working the system; with some you can’t tell if you should believe them or not. She seemed for real; I think she was. There’s a bit of uncertainty involved, but is it really our place to judge? Everybody makes mistakes. The difference between people I know and the people that come in for help is usually that the former have a well-off support system, and the latter do not.

She left with a pledge and some food. Maybe even some hope.

Five minutes later she came back.

“I have one more question – can I have a hug?”

Of course, we said.

“Can I pray for you?” he said. He put his arm around her and prayed for her, and for her daughter. Tears ran down her face.

Afterward she looked relieved. Uplifted even, maybe.

She left again. We sat in silence for a moment in the church library before talking again. We hope she’ll be ok. We hope she gets on her feet, hope her daughter is ok.

I recently heard that someone once said that I wouldn’t find what I was looking for in a church.

But I have.

I know I’m not changing the world. I know that there are flaws. But to be a part of something like this – to take a few hours out of my month and see these people and hear their stories and do the smallest thing to give them some help and some hope – I wouldn’t trade it.

looking forward

February 21st, 2008

I don’t know about this whole working-for-myself thing.

It’s hard.

I think we have like 10 or 15 weddings booked between now and November. I don’t know, I can’t keep track anymore. I think we have one Summer date available. If that.
I started my 3 days a week schedule 3 weeks ago and I feel busier than ever.

But we got our taxes done and again I was pleasantly surprised. So pleasantly surprised, in fact, that I’m going to start the process for looking into maybe actually buying a car for the second time (first time was back in 1998).

I’m thinking Honda Civic. Perhaps Toyota Corolla. Mostly likely used. I hate the idea of having car payments. Hate, hate, hate. Won’t do unless absolutely necessary.
I’m concerned about driving my car. It’s on its last leg, I think. It’s been back and forth between Texas & Connecticut numerous times. It’s been to Novia Scotia (far east Canada). It’s been to Arizona. California. It’s tired. I’ve written about its problems. I’m starting to have serious fears about Darek’s car (also getting old) breaking down on the drive between a ceremony and the reception. So it’s time to start the search.

Any advice?


Help please.

february 14: packing for austin

i’m only a few days behind right?


January 2nd, 2008

Sitting at my desk, watching the day slip by entirely too fast, wondering what happened to the last 2 weeks that looked so long and empty and full of free time that I could use to do the tons of things I wanted to accomplish, I find myself pondering goals. Generally I don’t do goals. I find that it’s a good way to make myself feel like a failure, because I rarely accomplish my goals, and they end up sitting in a big messy list on a sheet of paper that’s gotten yellowed over the course of its unaccomplished life.

I keep coming across other peoples’ lists and goals in blogs, and wondering if I should maybe do the same?

Looking back over the past year, it’s been kind of a hard one in some ways. Things I expected to happen didn’t quite work out. I stayed at my job longer than I meant to. Other people got things I was hoping for. I don’t feel like getting into any details, but I’ve felt suffocated by disappointments and I’m ready to let go of 2007.

Yet there were good things too. I suppose I could list my top 10 highlights of 2007 or something, and maybe I will. But I haven’t decided yet.

Looking forward to 2008 is scarier than I thought it would be. I’ll be quitting my full-time job at the end of February to pursue wedding photography, but I’ll be staying at my job (or something very similar at least) for an 18-hour part-time schedule. The problem is, I can’t seem to be able to book any more weddings. We only have 4 booked for the whole year. After several meetings, some of them which seemed very promising, I haven’t heard back from anyone. I’m sure we can at least survive on Darek’s salary, but if things don’t change, it’s going to be a tough year.

I go back to work tomorrow and I’m dreading it. My office is dark and the walls are that hideous non-color. After 2 weeks of puttering around the house, spending time with a close friend who was in town for a few days, getting the house cleaner than it’s been in a long time, painting the living room a new, much better color, sleeping in late, and never looking at the clock, the thought of sitting in that office for 8 hours makes me want to crawl in a hole and hide.

I want to get rid of all of my stuff.

Really, I do.

I can close my eyes and say “I want to get rid of all the stuff I don’t absolutely need or love.” And I think I can wipe out half of what I own, easy. No problem.

But then I open my eyes and say, “hmm…that pan really does come in handy when I want to make poppyseed chicken, or brownies, or any other sort of food requiring that sort of pan.” Or “I probably should keep all the towels we have, because what else would I possibly do with them, or what happens when we have 6 houseguests at a time?” Or “well, I really do need to have a computer to work.”

And then that whole other category: “I can’t get rid of the stuff my friends and family gave me. They were gifts, special. I can’t go around getting rid of stuff that was given to me by people I love.”

And so I keep it all, or at least, most of it. I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff since I got married. I used to be the biggest pack-rat I ever met. Old t-shirts? Precious. Paperwork? Absolute keeper. Old candy cane? But it has memories!!!

(Actually the candy cane thing happened when I was about 5, and I just wanted to show it to my parents. Another story – another time, perhaps.)

But I saved everything. Everything meant something. Everything had a memory. I couldn’t part with the stuff, because I might lose the memory associated with it. Even when I couldn’t remember why I kept something, I knew there was a reason, so I kept keeping it; after all, I kept it for a reason, right?

Then I went to college and got a job in the Archive & Special Collection area of the library. And after hours of sorting old papers and other keepsakes, I thought “Who cares about all this old crap?” It was a turning point, and my “stuff” quota has decreased considerably.

But I still have too much of it, and it drives me crazy, and I don’t know what to do with any of it. I’m not even very sad when things break, because then I don’t have to figure out what to do with them. I read in a book about organizing that “You own the stuff – the stuff doesn’t own you” – and I thought: Yeah!! Preach on, organizing book!!!

But the next step is the tough part. And I can’t figure out what to do.


October 31st, 2007

Six years ago, we were huddled in a playground tunnel, trying to escape the wind. It felt more like a Connecticut Halloween than an Abilene one, but there it was, freezing, windy, miserably cold.

No, we weren’t homeless, or locked out of the car.

He asked me to marry him, and I said yes. It was supposed to happen in the tree we had our first kiss in, but I refused to climb it on the basis of it was absolutely freezing.

If I had known, I might have climbed it.

Two years had passed since our first “date,” which wasn’t much of a date, really. We met up at Sunday Night Devo and afterwards tried to find a coffee shop to hang out in. Unfortunately, all coffee shops were closed after 10:00 on Sundays in Abilene, so we just drove around. But I guess it went well, because 2 years later, we were committing our lives to each other.

Then we went to the Paramount to watch The Changeling. And 6 years later – or 8 years later, depending on how you look at it – we’ll be watching it again. To celebrate the best decision we ever made.