Middle class

August 27, 2014 — 3 Comments

One book I’m reading right now – Flight Behavior – is about a poor country family who’s back farm suddenly becomes a roosting site for monarch butterflies.  They aren’t usually there so it sends the entire science and environmental community into a tizzy.

Difference of class is a huge theme in the book.  In one section an environmentalist is trying to get locals to sign a pledge of reducing their carbon footprint by “flying less” and “maintaining your vehicles” and “bringing your own togo containers for restaurant leftovers”.  The main character informs him that her husband’s truck is on it’s third engine and she hasn’t gone out to eat in two years (no mention on the flying).

Our family sees the world through middle class glasses.  We have a bank account, we go grocery shopping once per week, if we need a repair done, we can figure out how to do it ourselves, or hire someone.  We know how to educate our son so that he will be accepted to college.  We are free to be minimalistic.  We know that we could get a credit card and a house loan and move back to typical middle class life.

We would not be welcome at some RV parks where they require that your rig be worth a certain amount of money.  We do not know how to hire a high end lawyer or a sommelier, or a nanny, or a pool cleaner.  We would not be invited skiing.

On the other end, we don’t know how to get around without a car.  I have seen bus lines here but I haven’t paid attention and I can’t read a bus map to save my life.  We don’t know what churches have free dinners when.  We don’t know how to barter well.

Even though we have a less than middle class income, we still know that if we work hard enough, and do the right things, and vote correctly, we will be taken care of and have a nice, stable retirement.

Being in an RV – we meet a wide variety of people.  People who’s summer home is more money than we make in 5 years on one side, and one of Andrei’s friends on the other – we were pretty sure he would be homeless except his grandma let him and his mom stay in her trailer.

Looking at the world around us it’s easy to think everyone thinks just like us and has history just like us, but chances are they’re more different than the same.  I’d like to be more open to others and learning what it’s like through different glasses – quoting the book – “I don’t learn anything when I listen to myself talk.”  (that means comment, people!)

 

Recommended reading:

Could you survive in wealth?

Being poor

Spent – a choose your own adventure game where you have no job but none of the pain (in real life, anyway)

Women Who Love

August 26, 2014 — Leave a comment

I started reading Jesus Feminist and it began with this poem – I thought it needed to be passed on :)

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women willing to lay down our sword words, our sharp looks, our ignorant silence and towering stance and fill the earth now with extravagant Love.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who make room.

Let us be women who open our arms and invite others into an honest, spacious, glorious embrace.

Let us be women who carry each other.

Let us be women who give from what we have.

Let us be women who leap to do the difficult things, the unexpected things and the necessary things.

Let us be women who live for Peace.

Let us be women who breathe Hope.

Let us be women who create beauty.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be a sanctuary where God may dwell.

Let us be a garden for tender souls.

Let us be a table where others may feast on the goodness of God.

Let us be a womb for Life to grow.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us rise to the questions of our time.

Let us speak to the injustices in our world.

Let us move the mountains of fear and intimidation.

Let us shout down the walls that separate and divide.

Let us fill the earth with the fragrance of Love.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us listen for those who have been silenced.

Let us honour those who have been devalued.

Let us say, Enough! with abuse, abandonment, diminishing and hiding.

Let us not rest until every person is free and equal.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who are savvy, smart and wise.

Let us be women who shine with the light of God in us.

Let us be women who take courage and sing the song in our hearts.

Let us be women who say, Yes to the beautiful, unique purpose seeded in our souls.

Let us be women who call out the song in another’s heart.

Let us be women who teach our children to do the same.

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women who Love, in spite of fear.

Let us be women who Love, in spite of our stories.

Let us be women who Love loudly, beautifully, Divinely.

Let us be women who Love.

by Idelette McVicker 

Jackson, MI

August 25, 2014 — 3 Comments

For the month of August, we’re in a humungous RV park outside of Jackson, MI.  It’s the biggest RV park we’ve ever been in – if all the sites had people, it would have a larger population than the village I grew up in.

Jackson is about an hour west of Detroit and even here you can see the effects of Detroit’s collapse.  After talking to some people, the city used to have about 45k population and now it’s closer to 30k.  There used to be a car parts manufacture here and it shut down; or people would commute to Detroit and then moved away.  In addition to all of that, there is a state prison complex, so the families of the prisoners live here – not bad inherently, but mostly poverty mindset.

I think the thing that really tells is that on city-data.com, the median household income was $31k in 2000, but then $26k in 2012.  I can’t even imagine dealing with that.

After all that, it’s a nice city.  You can see in the architecture and the buildings that it has history.  It has a number of churches that were built before the Civil War and the downtown is very pretty.  The shopping is fine for me and I appreciate not having sticker shock like in the previous cities we’ve stayed in.  Everyone is friendly and there are countless farm stands out in the boonies by the campground.

Despite all of the problems, we think it’s not too bad to visit.  We all went out to lunch today and had a Coney Dog, in the place where they originated, and are looking forward to seeing more of the area this week.

 

My boy

August 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

My sweet, sweet son.  We talk about all things under the sun.  Girls and sex, ninjas and superheroes, meal planning and cooking, church and God and love.  He’s been listening to NPR lately because it’s the radio station that comes in best and asked me today what tear gas was. Not likely he’ll ever encounter it in real life.

We fight about who has to do what chore or who’s fault it was that there is toothpaste on the faucet.  We fight because he wants to go for walks after dark and I don’t want him to get hit by a car.  He tries to pretend he’s tougher than me because he’s half an inch taller.  He walks around like a little punk sometimes because that’s what teenage boys do.

My sweet, sweet boy.  My sweet boy was born into a situation where he had about a 5% chance of succeeding as an adult (success meaning being alive and having a job and a place to live).  He is an immigrant to this country.  His home country is going a bit crazy right now and I try to hide the news about it from him.  And then because of God or fate or because we decided to adopt coincidentally at the same time he was available, I became his mother.  And now he is set up for life at the lowest difficulty setting.

Meanwhile, there are dozens of other moms who talk to their sons about girls and ninjas and cooking and God and fight about chores and going out after dark.  But I don’t have to tell my son to put his hands outside of the car if he gets pulled over, or to not reach in his pockets if he’s talking to a cop.  And I don’t have to worry that even if he does all the things right, he’ll still get shot or strangled or beaten by people who have sworn to serve and protect.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – not all cops are bad, not all victims are innocent.  So freaking what.  Not all orphans are adopted either, should we not fight for adoption?  Not all poor people die of starvation, should we not work to end hunger?

I’ve been pretty depressed the last week with my heart wrenching for this fellow mother.  This mom  who rocked her baby boy and kissed his knee and told him it would be okay never knowing that it wouldn’t be okay for him.  I’ve been crying out to God to what can I do?  I’m so far removed from any conflict in my life that the worst thing that happens is that our internet is slower than we’re used to.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.

That is what I keep coming back to in my prayers.  Love love love love love.  Love conquers fears.  Love your neighbor (your Samaritan neighbor, not just your Martha Stewart neighbor).  Love your enemies.  Love and not hate.  Love and not judgement.  Love and not blaming.  Love and help despite who started it.  Love with your words.  Love by standing up for people.  Love by not making generalizations.  Love by trying to understand where people are coming from.  Love by knowing that people that hurt others are almost always hurting inside.  Love people the way they are without trying to change them. Love.  Love everyone, always, period.

In heaven there is equality between all races, genders, and classes – and don’t we pray that God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven?  Well, let’s do it.

 

Humanity

July 25, 2014 — Leave a comment

There is no us and them.  There is only us.

I love the site Humans of New York.  A photographer in New York goes around an interviews people he meets on the street.  No matter his subject matter, he pulls a good story out of them.

Our stories are what make us Human.  Our pain and joy.  Our fears and success.  Our past and choices.  Everyone is the same.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone needs love.

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Ignorance is Bliss

July 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

I wish I could go back in time.

Before I watched this John Oliver sketch.

Before I read about Jada.

Before I read the fiction story about Jesus, the immigrant.

Before, when I could eat shrimp.

Before I had heard of Michael Pearl.

Because I think if I hear of another child, man, or woman tortured, raped, killed, abused, starved or neglected because they are different than the majority of humanity – I might have a break down.

Because I want to help.  I want to give brownies and hugs and books and information -  and listen and hug and cry and rage and help and laugh and befriend them all.

But I can’t.  The best I can do is teach my sweet son that we are all loved and should love all.  And hopefully be the best that I can be to treat everyone I meet with the unselfish love of Christ and hope that it sparks a wildfire of love across all people.

But I’m only me.  I wish I never learned about the horribleness of the world.  But now that I know, I can’t do nothing.

 

Stockholm Syndrome – a victim bonding emotionally with their abusers.   According to this website – four conditions are usually present that lead to the development of Stockholm Syndrome -
1.  Perceived or real threat to one’s physical or psychological survival and belief that the abuser will carry out the threat.
2.  Presence of a small kindness from the abuser to the victim.
3.  Victim’s isolation from other perspectives.
4.  Perceived or real inability to escape from the situation.

These points sound an awful lot like what some Christians believe about God.  Especially the first one – the whole premise of Christianity is almost built on this point – Love God or He will damn you to hell!  If not that, how many times have you heard “God is putting me through a trial” or “God must be punishing me” or “Things didn’t work out so God must be saying no”.  The answer to these offenses?  More prayer, more adoration, more tithe, more church attendance, more loving actions toward God and maybe he won’t smite me this time.

But sometimes God is good.  (Of course, many of you know the answer to “God is good!” is “All the time!” – even when he is perceived as smiting you – He is still good.  Confusing?)  But God is good to us – point 2.  When we pray to him, sometimes He concedes!  There was no rain on our wedding day, we got over our flu, and we were able to pay our car payment on time.  We must certainly be doing all the right things to get such favor from God.

Point 3 – Christians are noted isolationists.  Cutting off ourselves from knowledge and information and people to stay “holy”  If you think this is not you – would you read a book or watch a movie where God was portrayed by a woman?  Would you accept a gay person to tell their story in your church about how the church hurt them?

Point 4 is a little more subtle.  But I know people who are stuck in marriages or churches or relationships because God has instructed them that it more “holy” to be subjected to abuse than to protect themselves and their families.

So what do we take from all of this?  Is our view of God skewed maybe?  God is not an abuser, but it is ingrained in us to think that way – it was in me anyway.  Make God happy or He will “get” you.  Everyone that doesn’t tow the line is going to be punished.  Sickness or poverty or a natural disaster is God’s anger at you.  We’d have to walk on eggshells all the time to avoid it all!

But we don’t.  God is LOVE.  There is no fear in love because fear has to do with punishment (1 John 4:18).  Jesus took our punishment for us.  All of it.  How would it be if we only loved our children when they were acting good.  Certainly they are more frustrating, but we don’t love them less.  Is God not the perfect parent?  Loving us, pouring his joy and blessings into our lives because he is our parent and he delights in lavishing on us.  We have nothing to fear from God.  He only asks us to do two things – Love Him, and love our brothers and sisters on this earth.  Which is really the same thing because when our kids love on each other, it fills up our love banks too.

Be free – be free from an oppressive God.  Don’t give up on him, but give up on the notion that he’s out there with a belt strap, keeping you in line.  You are loved.  You are loved by a daddy who loves his little girl or boy.  He wants the best for you in the most perfect way.  There is no fear because there is no punishment.  There is only love.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I updated and that has been for good reason – no internet!  But that is all fixed now and now both Brent and I have tethering off our phones so at least we can use the computer a little bit.  We’re still figuring out how to do the Netflix thing but instead we’ve been entertaining ourselves by reading Jurassic Park as a family bedtime story.  Gruesome!

Anyway, the end of June we left Sioux Falls and headed for Minneapolis.  Brent’s sister had invited Andrei down to visit his cousins, so we picked the Minneapolis airport for him to fly out of and sent him off.  That was quite the experience!  We got him a phone, explained the layover process about 50 times, gave him $20 for lunch and sent him on his first solo flight.  He did great.  He called a few times to clarify some things (where’s my luggage again?  Can I take my fries on the plane?) and then he forgot all about us for a week while my sister-in-law’s family took him all over kingdom come and wore him out.  He came back a seasoned travel pro and already was asking when he could visit again.

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While Andrei was gone, my parents came to visit us in MN.  They unfortunately could only stay for two days but we had fun going shopping and just catching up with each other.
When Andrei got back we had to vacate the campground the next day.  When we had made the reservations for the time he was gone, they clarified many times that we would be out by July 2nd.  It didn’t dawn on us until then our terrible rookie mistake.  We had made no reservations for the 4th of July – obviously one of the biggest camping days of the year.  Ruh-roh!
July 2nd we had an appointment to have our tires replaced about an hour west of the twin cities, and we spent the entire time while the RV was in the shop – down the street at a coffee place calling every single campground within a three hour radius.  Every single one booked.  We even drove to a couple of them that were close.  Full.  Then at the end of the day, when I was about to give up, one campground called us back and told us to call back the next day because they had an opening.  Hallelujah!
That night we actually did have a reservation.  We had decided the previous week to try out an RV camping group called Harvest Hosts.  The group matches farmers/wineries with RVers.  They open their property for us to dry camp for the night, and we visit their store and buy their stuff!  Sounds like a great time to me!  After finishing the tires, we finally got there about 7PM, threw together some dinner and didn’t do much before collapsing for the night.  No electricity and complete in the country darkness made for a great nights sleep.  The next morning I stalled around long enough for us to visit the farm store when it opened at noon and we picked up some treats for the weekend.
After that we called and confirmed our holiday campground and headed back to Minneapolis.  We got the campground for the week so we’re there right now – right in the middle of the city.  It’s not a resort or anything – just a random park with all the necessities – but golden when we had no other options for the holiday.
On the 4th we drove as close as wee could get to the action and walked the rest of the way – just like home!  Except 10x the number of people!  We walked down to the park and found ourselves a spot, only to find out we were blocked exactly by some trees.  So we quickly moved and got a slightly better view, but in the end, we saw a better show from the illegal ones being set off on our walk back to our truck!
After here we’re headed to Duluth for a month.  Not sure why – just decided it was a good place to visit.  There are churches everywhere that Brent can contact and I just want to be near water and someplace cooler!
One more random fun thing – on one of our journeys – a door fell off our closet.  It didn’t fall off the hinges like you would expect a door to fall off – it cracked completely in four pieces and fell apart in true crazy Homer fashion. I think because the hinges keep it in place, and then all the cabinets are latched shut, the stress of the swinging, twisting, bumping driving just wears on it it and this door just had enough of it.  Shortly after, we noticed another door cracking and I will have to see what we can do to prevent it from breaking in half also.
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So now that we have some sort of internet again and my phone that was being held together by packing tape has been replaced – things are all happy again in the Homer house.  Doesn’t take much! :)

Moving mountains

June 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

I moved a mountain for someone.  It was no big deal.  It was something that I was doing for Andrei, and I did some googling and some sleuthing and BAM – changed everything for them and us.

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:20

That was my verse this morning in my Daily Revelation.  I prayed about it and felt like God was telling me that it wasn’t my job to move my own mountains.  God puts people in our lives that help us with our impossible situations, and we, in turn, help out others with theirs.  Often, we don’t know we’re moving mountains for people – it might be a free item listed on craigslist, or a kind word, or a meal brought.  To us it’s no big deal – but to them it changes everything.

Andrei has a sister.  We inquired about adopting her when we adopted Andrei but the laws restricted us.  When she became an adult, she asked at the orphanage about Andrei and they said he had been adopted.  She wanted contact with him but it was impossible.
A year or so back I was googling and found his sister on a social media site.  They can have a relationship now.  What was impossible for her was possible for God and just something natural for us.

Don’t move your own mountain – move someone else’s – and God will send someone to move yours.

3 Year RVersary

June 11, 2014 — 2 Comments

Yesterday, 3 years ago, was the day we abandoned our house and moved into the RV full time.  We celebrated by having a friend over, grilling out, and watching the cheesy yet funny film – RV.

To celebrate on here, let’s play the Remember Game!

Remember when our door broke and we were locked into our RV?

Remember when we first moved in and the cat decided to hide inside the dashboard?

Or when he hid behind the fuse box and broke it?

Remember when Andrei turned on the bathroom faucet but it was frozen and then he didn’t turn it off?  It thawed while we were at church and all the water in our tank ran out.

Remember when we first bought it and thought we would roll down a cliff on our way home?

Remember when we took the RV to a drive in and the check in lady was disappointed that we only had 5 people?

Remember when the broom got stuck in the slide and I bent it all up?

Remember when we were at the state park and the dump station had a half a foot of ice on it and Brent and Andrei had to go over there every day and chip at it and dump antifreeze on it so we could use it (that was a record – we lasted 10 days on one tank!)

Remember when we left our city and just drove it off into the sunset?

Remember when life was awesome?  Oh wait, it still is!