Helping the Homeless

Homelessness is one of those things that everyone cares about, but few people do anything about. So, I was pretty upset when I read this editorial about a town in California that actually is helping the homeless. What thanks do they get? A lawsuit!

Heather Mac Donald writes that lawyers charge the city officials with carrying out a “deliberate campaign of abuse against the homeless.” The city’s homeless have access to “coffee and Danish brought to the park every weekday morning; bag lunches and dinner feedings; showers, laundry and kitchen facilities at a drop-in center; and shelter during the winter months.” It sounds to me like that city is trying to help the homeless. But apparently, these lawyers are not impressed.

Just to recap, the city is giving free food, showers, laundry, and shelter to the homeless. But some lawyers have accused the city of abusing the homeless. What are the lawyers upset about? They’re upset that the city is occasionally enforcing its no-camping ordinance.

Homeless people have to sleep somewhere. So what happens when the city spends thousands (millions?) of dollars to build a playground for children, but people are afraid to let their children play there because homeless people sleep on the benches during the day?

I pondered this question one time when I saw a policeman trying to get a homeless guy to leave a playground. I was there with a group of kids from the summer day camp where I worked. When we arrived, I noted the homeless man with a little bit of alarm. He looked like he was asleep, but I wondered what would happen if he woke up and started attacking us in a drug-crazed frenzy.

Or, more likely, if he approached me or one of the other leaders asking for money.

Hey, give the homeless guy a break! He’s got to sleep somewhere! And he isn’t hurting the kids. Yeah, I thought that myself for a minute.

But I couldn’t deny my fear. If I had been alone with a toddler, instead of accompanied by two other women, and two dozen or so 8-10 year-olds, I wouldn’t have stayed at the playground with the homeless guy.

So I was glad when the policeman made him leave even though I wanted the man to have somewhere to sleep. If he wants to sleep on the playground at night when the kids are at home, fine. But not during the day. The playground was built for the kids, not the homeless man. And that’s where things like no-camping ordinances come in.

If these lawyers really want to help homeless people, then they can start with Bobby. My husband met Bobby when he was sitting on the little wall in our front yard. He looked hot and tired, so Tim offered him a drink and talked to him for a few minutes.

Bobby has been back dozens of times since then. He always comes back to ask us for money. We don’t like to give him money, because he buys beer and cigarettes with it. I don’t think those things are helping him improve his situation. So usually, we give him a meal, or at least a sandwich, and the Coke that he demands.

Bobby visited us once in the middle of the night. I’m not sure why, but I think he wanted money and food. And apparently he didn’t realize that it was 2 in the morning. I had a hard time forgiving him for that. Do you know how upsetting it is to be woken up in the middle of the night by someone yelling and beating on your front door?

But the worst thing about Bobby is that somehow, he tries to make us responsible for his well being. He tries to guilt us into giving him money. He’s come by on cold nights begging to sleep in our house. I’m sorry, but that’s where I draw the line. I’m afraid that if I let him in for one night, he would never go away. The thing is, our city has shelters for men like him. Tim has offered to take him to a shelter on those cold nights, but he usually won’t go. There are programs to help people like him get jobs. He told us once that he was going to enroll in a program like that, but then he was back at our doorstep, begging for money.

I can’t take responsibility for Bobby. He’s a grown man. If he wants to live a normal life, then he should take advantage of the programs in place to help him. But since he refuses to do that, since he chooses to stay homeless, he shouldn’t expect me to finance his lifestyle.

It’s the same way for those homeless guys in California. If those people choose to give the homeless people food, shelter, and a way out of homelessness, then that’s great. It’s good to help the homeless. But the homeless don’t have the right to demand how they will be helped. And if they reject help, and choose to remain homeless, then they certainly don’t have the right to make other people’s lives miserable.

So instead of suing people that are already helping the homeless, those fancy lawyers should come to my neighborhood tonight and try to find Bobby. They could bring him a nice meal, and give him money to buy beer and cigarettes. It’s supposed to be cold tonight, and I’m sure he would like to stay at one of their houses. He might stay with them forever. Or maybe he would miss being homeless.

Written by in: Shameless Academic |

Sewing Envy

the beautiful pattern from domestic diva

the pattern is called domestic diva

I really like this pattern from Thimble Blossoms. If I keep looking at pictures like this, I will have to spend some serious time getting to know my sewing machine!

Don’t the colors look so cheerful and springy? I don’t even know if the fabrics would be available anymore or where I would find them. So, maybe it’s time to do some research! I never thought that I was into sewing at all, but now that I am seeing the cool things that can be done, I just might have to starting sewing!

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Providence in history, and today

“Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the LORD, am the first; and with the last I am He.’” Isaiah 41:4 (NKVJ)

God maintains perfect control over history. He has orchestrated complicated events and movements that we can’t understand, and He has done it for thousands of years. He was there before history began, and when it is over, He will still be there. Why do we ever doubt that He controls the events of our lives, too?


What Are You Seeking?

Yesterday, I wrote about Colossian 3: 1-4 (What Defines Your Life?). Today I want to finish sharing what I learned from that passage.

Here’s the passage:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4 ESV)

How do we seek things that are above? I’m assuming that this is talking about aligning our priorities with God’s.  Seeking things above would be pursuing things that have eternal value. It would be valuing things that God values. It would involve giving time, attention, and effort to heavenly things.

The problem is, there are so many earthly things that demand my attention. Of course, Colossians also says that “whatever you do,” you should do “heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (3:23). So I don’t think that seeking things above means that we must pray all of the time, and eat dry bread and water. Many things could be done to God’s glory.

But, there are way more possible things-to-do than there is time to do them. So how do I know if I am seeking the things above? Verse 2 says that I should “set [my] mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” I need to deliberately think about heavenly stuff! I think this could refer to having a specific time to read my Bible and pray, but also could refer to deliberately training my mind to see things from God’s perspective. Instead of just deciding what I want to do with my spare time, I should ask for direction about how I can best glorify God with that time. Instead of worrying about some difficult circumstance, I can ask God to help me grow and to glorify Him through the situation.

As I read and thought about this, I honestly thought, “I’m not that kind of person.” There is no way that I can live my life seeing things from God’s perspective, and constantly trying to please Him. I’m distractible. I’m selfish. I’m sinful.

But the old me is dead. I was all of those things, but I don’t have to be anymore. Christ has paid for my sin, and He gives me power to be like Him. I won’t be perfect until I’m in heaven, but I can begin to have the mind of Christ now. I need to be like the athlete who works hard to train for an event even though that event is so far away (in time and distance) that she can hardly imagine it. Even though she can hardly imagine the competition, she lives her life with competition priorities. And even though I can hardly imagine heaven, I can live my life with heavenly priorities.


What defines your life?

I’m sure you’ve seen them too.

There’s the t-shirt that says, “Soccer is my life” (or chess, volleyball, music . . . you fill in the blank).

Then there’s the picture of the cat that says, “Sleeping is my life. The amount of sleep I require is one more hour.”

Want to add this piece of flair to your profile?

What defines your life?

I just looked on Facebook, and found flair stating that acting, art, ballet, basketball, gymnastics, music, softball, Twilight, volleyball and writing were all life.

Even though I know it’s an idiom, I kind of wince inwardly when I see things like that. I know that these people just mean, “I am obsessed with _______.” Or, “I spend a LOT of time doing ______.” But still, these things aren’t life. And really, is that how they want to be identified? “Hello. Softball is my life. Don’t ask about my family or my favorite food or my best friend or my dog. My name is irrelevant. Just call me #15. That’s my softball number.”

I think I’ve taken my point far enough. I’m thinking about this because of a Bible passage I read this morning.

Colossians 3:1-4 says,

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (ESV)

Before I go any further, let me say that I do not think that the phrase “When Christ, who is your life . . .” is the same thing as “softball is my life.” I don’t think that because 1) Paul was writing in Greek, and the “is my life” phrase is an English idiom and 2) this is in the context of being resurrected. So I think that Paul is actually referring to the fact that Christ provided spiritual and eternal life for us through His death on the cross. It’s also fair to note that Christ created all things, so He is our life[-giver] in the sense that He gave us literal, physical life.

Hopefully I’ve sufficiently established that I am not reading my idioms into a translation. Having said that, seeing the phrase reminded me of the idiom, and got me thinking about the way things should be.

When people say that something is their life, there are usually several associated ideas.

1) They devote a lot of time, money, effort, and attention to that thing, person, skill or activity.

Well, shouldn’t this be true of Christians? Shouldn’t we devote as much time, money, effort, and attention as we can to serving, loving, and following Christ?

2) This thing is a large part of their identity.

Well, isn’t my identity as a Christian, as a forgiven child of God, and as an ambassador for Christ much more important than my sex, race, or hobbies?

3) They make choices to give up other things so that they can devote themselves to this thing.

Sports players can’t watch tv in the afternoons because they have practice. Musicians have rehearsals.  They sacrifice for the things they love. Shouldn’t Christians love Christ and choose to give for Him much more than we would give for a sport, music, or some other hobby?

That, in my opinion, is how things should be. If I’m going to say that anything is my life, it should be Christ. But the truth is that I get distracted (obsessed?) with lots of other things. And before I know it, I’m not spending much time or effort on being a Christian. I’m not sacrificing to be a Christian. I’m identifying myself as many things, but rarely as a Christian.

What can I do about this problem? And what can you do, if you have it? I think this post is too long already, so for now I’ll just say that I think the passage tells us what to do, and I’ll try to write about that soon.


Tabs 2/15 – 2/17

Last week as part of my cleaning-out activities, I made a post about my Firefox tabs. I thought I might do that again this week, as a quick way to share interesting things.

Hound of Heaven

I was reading a book that referenced this classic poem, and took the opportunity to read it again. It was a good reminder.

Free recipe cards!

Adorable! I printed a page in every color. Now it’s time to go look for some recipes to put on them!!

Butterfly Project

I really want to do this project. I’m sure I could find the necessary papers, but I don’t have the butterfly punches. Now sure if I want to buy them just for this project. I’m hoping that I can make a template out of cardboard and use it instead (though the punch would be easier). We’ll see.

Obama’s Rhetoric is the Real ‘Catastrophe’

‘Public Interest’ Lawyers say Leave the Homeless to Rot

I’m hoping to write a post about this, so I’ll save my comments for that.

Colors Palate Generator

Cool! I bookmarked this, and plan to use it soon!

Rice bag feet warmer tutorial

I’m not sure when my mom started making us rice socks, but during the winter, I am practically a rice sock addict. When I was a kid, I slept with stuffed animals. Now (when it’s cold), I sleep with my rice sock. I like this tutorial because it’s prettier than my sock, and because I could take off the decorative sleeve and wash it (not possible with my sock). Now I just need some fabric, rice, and enough courage to try to change the thread on my sewing machine. I’m new to this sewing thing . . .

God Comes to Hollywood

Somehow, I don’t think that the sinful Hollywood culture is going to crumble overnight, but just the same, I’m glad to see people celebrating good films!

Now I really, really want to learn how to sew.

No, that’s not what the blog post is called. But that’s how I feel after reading it. The barcelona skirts are so cute!! I really need to get to know my sewing machine. (sigh. After I master all the other myriad subjects I’m interested in!).

Public Relations 101: What Not to Do

The article says that this Muslim man who allegedly beheaded his wife owned a TV “station aimed at countering stereotypes of Muslims.” If that was his goal, he officially failed.


This article about nutella reminds me that I haven’t eaten any in a while. I love it on crepes.

Eating in can be just as bad as eating out

Rats. It looks like I have no other option than to eat healthy stuff. Sadness. So much for my nutella crepes.

The end

So, I planned for this post to have my tabs from all week, but it’s only Tuesday, and this is already getting long. Maybe in the future I’ll try to organize my links by subject or something. Let me know what you think!

Written by in: Shameless Academic |

Charter Communications Wrap-up

I was really, really frustrated when I wrote the last post about our problems with Charter. Apparently God has a sense of humor, because the next day, things started to get better. I published my post late Monday night. Tuesday afternoon, Tim got a call from a guy at Charter corporate. He had seen my post, and they were ready to fix our problem.

Our customer service experience over the next few days was completely different from the previous one. We got to talk to knowledgeable people. Those people actually called us back. They even gave us e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers so that we could reach them. On Wednesday, Tim talked to a network engineer for the Greenville area. I don’t know why it required a blog post for that to happen; Tim had told the customer service reps a week ago, the very first time we called, that we needed to speak with a local network engineer. Apparently, you have to take drastic action to be heard.

Anyway, that was gratifying for Tim to find out that he was right all along. The network engineer did his job, and the problem was fixed by late Thursday afternoon.

So, it took Charter an entire week to fix a simple problem, all because their people would not listen to us. But now the problem is fixed, so I’m happy about that.

And yes, they did adjust our bill. It was a token amount that didn’t begin to compensate us for all of the hours that we spent trying to get Charter to fix their own problem, but it was something. Of course, we had to call and request that adjustment. Once they thought that the problem was fixed, all calls from them stopped (even though two people had promised to call us on Friday and make sure it was working ok).

From this experience, I learned that I need to trust God more. Charter was wrong, very wrong, but I did not react properly.

I also learned that blogging works. Yay blogging!

Finally, Charter is planning to file for bankruptcy. That makes my sense of justice very happy.


My Firefox Tabs

I just wrote a post about procrastination, and at the end I gave myself an assignment. I have to clean out my Firefox tabs (which means read them, save them, or somehow act on them, and eventually close them). To prove that I’m doing this, I’m going to write notes about my tabs. I’ll also share links to the sites so that you can read the interesting stuff and add to your tabs collection. (more…)

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Why Procrastinate?

So, I read this great article about procrastinating . . . a few weeks ago. I left it open in one of my Firefox tabs because I wanted to write an article about it.

Unfortunately I can’t write an article about how to stop procrastinating because I still procrastinate. So today I’ll write about why I procrastinate. I think that identifying the causes is the first step toward a solution. (more…)

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Musical Mission Team Video

Here is a video introduction to the Musical Mission Team that Ashley and I put together a few weeks ago.


Reasons to be thankful

I got up a few minutes early this morning so that I would have time to put a roast in the Crock Pot before getting ready for church. As I prepared the meat, potatoes and carrots, I thought about how fortunate I am to be able to sit down for a nice Sunday dinner with my husband.

I started the Crock Pot on high, making a mental note to turn it to low before leaving for church.

Then I smiled, and remembered something else (or rather, someone else) to be thankful for.

I smiled because I remembered a Sunday morning approximately fifteen years ago. Fifteen, because I figure I must have been about ten, and my younger sister about five. (more…)

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New product in my Etsy shop!

Just wanted to let you see the newest piece in my Etsy shop. Check it out here.

Written by in: Scattered Fancies |

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