Photo1Confession: There are people that I purposefully hold at arms length. Okay- maybe more like football fields’ length.  Ummm…. Marathon’s length? Continents’ length? Let’s just say I steer as far away physically (or, at least as far away emotionally) as I can. They are quite literally Marginalized in my life. I push them as far from the center of my life as I can. I’m not proud of it. I’m working hard to overcome this tendency- but I have a long way to go.

It’s easy to point out and find the marginalized in our culture and the world…….The orphan, the single or single parent (especially in the church), the leper,(Yes, they still exist and are evidence that the marginalization of people is not new,) the AIDS patient (and orphan) the enslaved, the sex-trade worker, the addict, the homeless, the mentally ill, the impoverished.… the list could go on infinitum. (Links are to organizations or information on these marginalized groups.)

If you looked through my repertoire of helping…. you’d probably never guess what a marginalizing jerk I can be. I support most of the causes above in one way or another. I’ve walked besides friends with AIDS, am currently helping with the Stuck Tour locally, I help those in the throes of adopting in any way I can, we’ve  helped support a child in Tanzania through a great organization for years. I do what I can to help the homeless, we love to help the impoverished through Kiva, I worked for years as a pastoral counselor helping those struggling emotionally, and do what I can politically to help end poverty. I’ve spent over 20 years working with and for a non-profit that helps build families and the world by supporting mothers….

Still.. I marginalize. I’m guilty.

The list of the marginalized in my life is a little different from the culture’s marginalized.  Lately- I’ve been wondering…..and feeling convicted about- those I personally marginalize. Those I steer away from. Those that cause me to be less Good Samaritan and more Pharisee like.

Who are they if not limited to those listed above? (Cause- let’s face it-the things I listed above are still pretty minimal when it comes to helping the culturally marginalized…they don’t exactly take spot in the center of my life’s pages.)

They are- (pretty much) those I assume won’t like me, be open to knowing me or who intimidate me because of our differences. 

  • Physical differences….. Honestly? Really incredibly beautiful people intimidate me. I tend to protect myself from the insecurity I feel when I’m around them by isolating myself from them. (Dear friends- you are beautiful-  yes- intimidatingly, so. But, I love you anyway. I’ve learned to.)
  • Emotional and personality differences….I just don’t “get” certain emotional and personality types…. they are hard to connect with- I tend to isolate from them rather than have to do the work of connecting…
  • Spiritual belief differences… The truth: I love my Muslim neighbors (I live in a very culturally diverse neighborhood) from afar and with minimal but friendly contact. Because, I’m pretty much afraid they already hate me—-1) Because our last name is Jewish. (There has been neighborhood kid “stuff” that backs that fear a bit.) and we’re Christian… We’re kind of the almost hat-trick of what the media says they dislike. I also kind of feel like I must look like a prostitute to them with my blazing burgundy hair uncovered, and my body-too-conscious clothes. After our mailbox was mutilated by the mail truck- we considered requesting that they deliver to our neighbor for us… but my husband once quipped that our mail from “Jews for Jesus” might not go over so well….just keepin it real- people.) I also feel WAY under dressed when my beautifully- Sari- wrapped neighbors walk by….justsayin. Diverse.
  • Stylistic differences….In a world of extreme rocky- road styles.. I’m pretty much vanilla ice cream. I pretty much assume people with extreme piercings etc will find e too bland to bother with. (Okay and they kind of scare  me a bit… alright? )
  • Preference Differences….These may be lame- but I’ll confess them anyway- I don’t “get” gaming. I don’t “get” Crossfit people.(I had to google what it was thought it was a church ting… not so much.) I don’t “get” roller coaster lovers (I refuse to pay money to be scared to death or made to vomit.) I don’t “get” rabid sports fans. I don’t “get” extreme political activists or the politically obsessed.
  • Financial differences….Okay- so honestly? The poor? I get. Kind of. The rich? Not so much. Which is weird- because in the big scope of things- there are people who could look at our income and in comparison to theirs- see us as BOTH of those. Rich. Poor. Yay- we’re both! Hint: that’s probably true of you as well. Unless you’re Oprah. Then, everyone’s poor. Oprah- honey- if you’re reading this? Call me. You will want to have me on a show. You will (someday -hopefully soon-when it’s published) want to choose my book “A Mile in Her Shoes”  as a book club choice. It could bring the world of women together. Justsayin-  I have issues with the rich. (and a lot of other people and things- we know this.) Basically? I judge them. I judge their cars. (Such a waste of money.) I judge their clothes. (Again, a waste- and so stink in beautiful that I’m jealous.) I judge their in-home help. (Because again- I’m jealous and could really use some help with housework cause -duh I’m in a neck brace, for like… ever.) Pretty much I judge them because I’m jealous and or because I think “I’d use that money so much better.” With all the judgy-judgy and jealous temptations? I pretty much avoid “the rich.”  Whom ever they are. (And that clinches the fact that Oprah won’t call. oopsy.) Okay- another confession- I actually do know some “rich” people… not Oprah rich- but rich. And they also intimidate me because I feel like they judge me…I’m just a SAHM after all…

Weird list of marginalized people, I know. Trust me- this is just the beginning…. I also marginalize academics, (I never finished college….hello insecurity.) those with dementia, senility (kind of related by their polar opposition.) and pageant/ dance/soccer/extreme hippy crunchy/ or rabidly controlling or rabidly permissive parent type people.

Told you before. I can be a real- jerk.

Here’s the thing… (Now that I’ve offended or alienated pretty much everyone….) When I look around? I notice that people in general tend to kind of run in packs….. packs of people like them. Like sticks with like. SAHM’s with SAHM’s. Inked with inked. Academic with academic… with rich… etc…We live millions of kinds of intricately segregated lives. Some forms of segregation are just more obvious than others.

So- I’ve decided to desegregate. No- I’m not starting a busing campaign- I wouldn’t even know where to start- and I have a hard enough time parking my car- I’d be deadly with a bus. Instead- I’m inviting the marginalized of all kinds into my life. The culturally marginalized. The socially marginalized and those I personally marginalize. I started this journey a few years ago- and I’ll tell you something-  I’ve met and grown to love some of the most incredible people since.

People who challenge me. People who change me for the better. People who accept me when I thought they’d judge. People who are so much more than I ever would have thought.

People I want to be in right smack dab in the middle of my story… inked into the pages of my life and heart- no longer relegated to the margins where they are tolerated from afar.

I’m looking forward to using some of my margins and the marginalized and turning  the tie and relationships into art…. join me?

  • What about you? Who are the marginalized in your life? Why?
  • What do you think would happen if you changed that? How could you?
  • What do you think would happen if we all did?

Dear Lord- You know my heart from the inside out. You know how I isolate myself from people….you know who I marginalize. Please help me to Love YOU and love the people you’ve created- just as they are- the similar to me and the vastly different. Help me to set aside my prejudices, fears, intimidations, jealousies insecurities and all the things that make me want to push some people as far  into the margins of my life as I can. Write a new story  on the pages of my life. One filled with love and diversity and respect. One that looks more like yours and less like mine. I love you lord, amen. 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:36-40

“35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:35-40

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8

PS: Yes- I’m also intimidated by the artistically gifted- which, from the pic- you can see- I am not:P

To sum up this series….

Let’s make some margin time in our lives- so we can be flexible and connect when opportunities arise.

Let’s make the marginally important- marginal- let’s keep main thing the main thing and let the lesser things go.

Finally- Let’s not marginalize people…. let’s love them. That’s what Jesus did.  From hookers, to tax collectors, fishermen to doctors…..all of them. All of us.

I’m  starting to hate getting my nails done.  Not because of the $15 it costs me every 3 weeks, but because of the incessant live CNN coverage of the stock market that plays on the 60″ flat screen in the nail shop.  The stock market is not relaxing viewing, lately. 

Most of the time, I don’t pay attention to daily fluctuations- but during that 45 minutes?  I feel like I’m on a roller-coaster at some fly-by-night- here -today- gone- tomorrow- before- you -can- sue- for -damages, carnival. 

It’s not that we’re not being affected by the economy.  We live in  Michigan, and have extended family who invested their lives in the automotive industry in hopes of it’s paying them back in the form of pension insurance and stock investments in  their golden years. 

In addition to our extended family, my husband- while working in the computer industry- has specialized in automotive manufacturing software, for over 19 years.  Let’s just say…If there are 6 degrees of separation between everyone and Kevin Bacon.. there are 3 degrees of separation between everyone and the automotive industry.

EVERYTHING is connected. 

The 401K we were planning on rolling over into a new account?  Oh… it rolled over alright- and it’s NOT PLAYING , dead.  It is dead.

And yet- with the exception of that once in a while visit to the cheap nail place at the mall,  I’m not freaked out by the economy.  Am I in denial?  Am I ignorant?  Am I independently wealthy?  (Ummmm- no, I worry about my kids financial futures, (So far a job at McDonald’s- the ubiquitous first job rite-of passage- has evaded..even that is affected by the economic crunch. I drive a car so old that it is no longer manufactured, I have a kid in college (ka-ching!) and am a SAHM without income, along with most homeowners- my house has lost all the equity we’d made on it in the 9 years we’ve lived here.  None of which, equates to independent wealth. Like the rest of the world- we’re affected.)

But-  my primary investments are not in or dependant on the stock market.  No, I do not have gold bars or silver coins stock piled in my basement.(Unless the collection of empty or never unpacked from 3 moves- packing boxes could be considered gold.) I do not have a mattress stuffed with cash. (But, there might be a few missing socks in there…)

My primary investments, are in people.  I invest in my family- of course, but also in the people I meet.  Both IRL and URL.  These are investments that NEVER lose their value.  It isn’t always cash investment, (Although, I help with that when I can)  much of it is “sweat equity.”   Time and work I’ve invested in others:  helping, caring and sometimes, just being there.  It might be a note, a phone call, cookies baked and shared or help with life coaching or a problem that needs some perspective…sometimes?  I’m just good for sharing a funny story.  Things that matter and make a difference to one person at a time.

The bummer is, these investments don’t show up in my stock portfolio. (If I actually had one.. does an almost valueless 401K count?  Hmmm…can your 401K actually turn into 401 “D”…for DEBT?  I’m starting to wonder… ) Or maybe- that’ not such a bummer.  Could I really place a cash value on these things? I’ll tell you…the care- support and investment others have made into MY life, could not be valued in terms of cash.  If they could – I wouldn’t be able to afford the debt load, that’s for sure.

While I was sitting there watching the stocks dip and climb like a mountain range, I couldn’t help but wonder what a NYSE or Dow Jones Industrial Average of Human investment would look like…. I wonder what my portfolio would look like?    Honestly-I feel much more confident in my investments in people than in my financial investments. I’ve got a pretty diverse and strong portfolio there. I’ve done some risky investing that has really paid off- not just for me- but for the people I’ve invested in.

A peek at my personal investment portfolio:

1) A calculated risk nearly 20 years ago to choose to be a SAHM.  (This risky investment, I will never regret.. but like most investments -might not be right for every portfolio)

2) An investment in my marriage- to work and stay and choose to love regardless of the economic climate of the day…

3) An investment in ministry either part or almost fulltime for most of my adult life- whether in MOPS International where I help moms survive and thrive and connect- or as a pastoral counselor or writer… these are investments of time and heart that have never declined in value.

4) Diverse small investments in people I meet on-line, in line (at stores, the gas station the pediatricians office) and all the time… these are investments of all kinds- from a word of encouragement to a mom with a crying toddler to a coffee bought for a cold “going out of business” sign holder on the corner…

5) Well thought out, long term investments of resources (emotional, physical and spiritual) to special people God brings my way… these could be the sharing of a talent I have (anything from baking to photography) to help someone else, or the extra time and attention that a supportive relationship costs to help grow, encourage and build another human.

Youmight be feeling a little ripped off at this point. Maybe you “Googled” investments and found yourself here… reading the raving of a lunatic mother who think she’s making a difference.  Maybe you feel like this is a pompous , self righteous do-gooder touting her own horn. 

Well- the only horn I’ve ever played is the one on my steering wheel and the one with the red rubber bulb on my purple tricycle when I was 5.  It’s not my style… however- sharing my hope- is.

I believe the reason why I’m not constantly (but do have moments of that stomach dropping to your feet feeling)  riding the rickety roller-coaster of economic emotional turmoil- is because I  invest in people… not the Dow Jones.

If’ you’re tired of riding the roller-coaster…my advice to you is to change your investment plan.  ALL of us have resources we could share. Not just cash.  We have  skills, time, talents, love and care that could make an incredible difference to someone else.

Let’s not wait for an economic turn around, let’s MAKE one.  One person at a time. Sometimes people ask me why I do the things I do…. I have this as my answer….People matter to God.. and they matter to me… ALL people. They are His treasure… and what I chose to invest in.

Matthew 6:19-21

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

lampshade swiftOnce in a while, you just gotta play hookie from routine. That’s what my family is doing for the next couple of days!  We’re off an a little international adventure.  As any good adventurer I’ve already had a test of my resourcefulness- see the pic to the right.  Yes.  That is yarn on a hotel lampshade.  I didn’t wind the next ball for my current project- and had to wind it once we arrived.  No one volunteered to hold the yarn hank for me- so I had to improvise;) Creative and resourceful- yep- that’s me;)

My husband travels (alot) for work- and we decided to join him for a few days.  Then- we’re extending the “work trip” and making it fun.  Toronto will be our “fun” destination.  This past month has been pretty stressful.  Between Hubby’s travel- our schedule and a speaking engagement I had this week-(I spoke on grief to a MOPS Group that had very recently- lost one of it’s Moms to breast cancer- if you’re the praying type- I appreciate your prayers for the ladies and family involved;) ) I’m  pooped.  I needed a rest and some fun- and so does my family.  So- we’re playing hookie from Real Life.

Why Toronto?  Well. Ummm. Quite possibly because I am crazy. Toronto is holding it’s annual “Knitter’s Frolic”  this weekend, and it happens to coincide with the More Big Girls Knits Ca Launch at Lettuce Knit.  There will be cupcakes, and knitters and yarn and and wonderful, creative, fun- people. After my first MBGK experience– How could I not go?  Being around people like that- refreshes and energizes me.

I won’t be dragging my poor  non-knitting family to the event- they will be off on their own adventure for the day;) However- I won’t be wandering the streets alone. Ravelry has provided me with a pretty incredible opportunity  to meet, IRL people I’ve met online. Truth be told- that breaks many of my personal internet usage-rules. I have teenagers and a young one- you know…IRL meetings of internet peoples…are generally discouraged;)

But this is different- these are knitters!  Knitters are a rather interesting bunch.  While there is diversity abound- there is a commonality and connection, that I find both intriguing and addictive. Internet “meetings” blog stalkings (hi Amy! Hi jillian!  etc…) are fine…. but somewhat flat.  there is a spark and energy that you just can’t get “online”.  Knitting events, groups and other events groups-like MOPS convention etc. give women a rare opportunity to connect over a common interest/ passion.

Of course- most believe that meeting people from the internets can be dangerous… and it’s often, true.  But so can going to the grocery store and meeting people IRL. (which I also do. ) Once in a while- you find yourself in a situation where the risk is outweighed by the potential.  This is one of those times.  (Now- this could all blow up in my face and I could end up meeting some serial knitter killer- but I doubt it I’ve done my homework in advance;)

In general- I’ve found- that people are worth the risk of getting to know. 

So look forward to a report on the adventures- complete with pics and commentary;) And- really- I encourage you to give people especially knitters)  a chance- you just might like them if you get to know them!

a blur of a dayEdited to add- I told yuou we were playing hookie- hookie involves- jumping on the bed, A Candy party and (for mom) a trip to the yarn shop;)

We bought a ridiculous amount of candy (which is now gone) including white chocolate with ANTS in it.  The older boys dared me to eat one.  So I did. (gotta score points where I can) I’ll just say this- it didn’t taste like chicken;)  

Later this evening after Dh finished work- we went to the mall for dinner- and Noah visited Build a Bear Workshop. He is now the proud “bearent” of a Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey playing Penguin.

PS- please don’t tell my mom we were jumping on the bed- I may end up grounded…..;)