Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Month: May 2014 (page 1 of 5)

Love in a garage sale group

My friends Kristy and Megan turned me toward the County Garage Sale trend at differing times, but now I regularly browse through the Facebook groups to see what’s offered that I need love. And, much like the rest of my life, it’s become a huge science experiment. Y’all, people are fascinating.

But now I’m sad.

First, there was this:

garage sale church.jpg


This one caught my eye first because it was about church and, on the whole, I seem to be about church. But the more I got to thinking about it, the more this post broke my heart.

Here was this person living through a difficult time. She decides that she needs to go to church to see if that won’t help – a noble and not always easy decision.

And she doesn’t know a single real-live person to ask where to go.

She asks a bunch of people who buy and sell junk together.

My friends, this is a problem.

It’s not a problem because the Garage Sale sites need to become our next marketing target – it’s a problem because the people going to the 109 churches of Miami County don’t know her personally, or not one of them has made it known to this woman that they do indeed attend and that she is welcome to join. Our circles don’t connect or even touch. The only place she can find someone who *might* go to church is on a garage sale site.

My science experiment moved forward a few weeks later:

garage sale need

Right there, among the Longaberger baskets, was a kind woman trying to help a family with children who had nothing. They needed food, clothes, toothpaste and all the very things we keep in stock because it’s on sale. And when looking for people to help contribute, the coordinator turned to: the garage sale site. Of course. Because people who sell crap are known among the world for helping the down and out. The church has no history there.

*Hangs head in shame.*

Finally, when my heart was already torn, a post stomped it into oblivion. It said, “are there any shelters in Troy for women and children?”

Until I joined a garage sale site, I didn’t realize how I surrounded myself with people who were just like me. I inadvertently thought we were all parents of toddlers who liked buying and eating local. I’ve realized I’m basically only around people who want to live into a better world and have the money to make decisions that will help them do it. We talk about our love for maxi skirts and disciplining kids and how hard it is to live your values. I wanted to believe we all have our “differences” but really, that comes down to meaningless stuff like if we were sprinkle-baptized or dunked, or maybe we choose to eat dairy-free instead of McDonalds.

Yesterday, along with these sites, revealed to me just how unlike Jesus I really am.

If all you do is love the loveable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

It’s not my lack of helping people unlike myself. It’s not even my good intention-paved road.  It’s my lack of knowing people unlike myself that keeps me from living the gospel.

Visit me elsewhere:

Waking the neighbors

My neighbors kept me up last night. Not the noise, no parties or even an ill-placed time for mowing the lawn. Actually the scene had ended hours earlier but it kept running through my head.

He was upset. Lots of yelling. Apparently I missed the big show and only saw the encore performance and it was enough to have me concerned. The children weren’t just awake, they were standing right in front of them. Then the cruisers pulled up while he was getting into his car.

This is not their first visit to the home.

Tell me, dear friends, what helping looks like? What does it look like to be a good, loving neighbor? How do you show concern and make it clear you’re not passing judgement? How do you make yourself available without putting yourself in the middle?

We don’t know these people – which is probably the first step. We don’t know names, ages or kids. We don’t know what they do for a living or why anger rises so quickly. I only know she told him that she “was only surviving.” (Because he told the neighborhood “I don’t need you to be only f*cking surviving.”)

What started as a beautiful evening of me escaping children/reading on the porch and JJ watering flowers ended with us retreating into the house because we simply don’t have a way to process and manage this information. How do you love your neighbor – your literal neighbor – as yourself? How do you truly help? Is calling the cops considered helpful? Because after they showed up when nothing was going on, he got into his car and left. The car sits in the driveway this morning.

This is the messy stuff of life that we don’t have an example. Jesus surely would’ve went over to make sure the woman was okay, but he roamed from town to town “with no place to lay his head” so he didn’t have to live next to them the following week. This level of relationship gets tricky. The dynamics of neighboring here and now seem far more complicated than his command to love everyone like those living in immediate proximity.

My theory about societal problems is that we outsource too much. We expect the professionals to do everything and live as if it’s not our problem. We’re quick to call the cops and slow to make a casserole. Everyone that has problems somewhere has some sort of neighbor. I just don’t know how to care for a neighbor with both concern and grace, that makes them feel loved while not put on the defensive for the show that happened last night.

Someone, please show me what that looks like.

Visit me elsewhere:

I had him pick up a rake

I didn’t grow up with neighbors. There was a brick house at the end of our half mile lane, but we never borrowed a cup of sugar. (Why would we when we could call Don & Jeanne?) The idea of neighboring has always been a foreign concept. When I moved into my house in Upper my mom was aghast that no one brought me a casserole, not because it went against her own experiences (the only move she ever made was from the house she grew up in to my father’s home that he grew up in, after they wed) but rather I think she was disappointed that neighbors only did that in the movies.

How to be a good neighbor always escaped me. What’s the appropriate amount of time to chat when you get out of your van or while you’re grilling? If you invite them for a swim, is this considered an open invitation? How far from an open window can they hear?

Once again, country life made me a tad naive.

So when I came home from a run one day to see our elderly neighbor out picking up sticks, I was stumped as to my participation level. I like to be helpful, but rarely excel in manuel labor. (Casseroles are more my thing. Or book recommendations. That’s how I “help”.) However, my children exhibit the perfect height-to-strength ratio for stick picking, so I ran inside to fetch the eldest two. By the time we got to the door, the sticks had been gathered and there was nothing to do. Now, I was just the crazy neighbor with all the kids who knocks on the door, asking to pick up sticks.

The following week, the story repeated, this time with the neighbor’s daughter struggling with the mower in grass so high you would think I had been in charge of mowing. Out comes elderly neighbor man with a rake, as the storm clouds headed our way. I raced inside and found the eldest again and we each picked up a rake.

This time we didn’t ask. We just started raking. H Boy LOVED this. Like his mama, he likes to be helpful, but like his daddy he is super with work-tasks. He went to work raking the biggest piles and then carrying them to the trash can. He was so proud of his work – and I of him.

I tend to think of my parenting goals in terms of character rather than final product. I have no idea what any of these kids will look like on the other side of time, but I know certain values I want ingrained into their hearts. Kindness, thoughtfulness, humility,  bravery. I’ve also given a lot of thought to the process of instilling these ideas into their database. How exactly does one become kind and humble? Where do we get so brave as to try something new?

I decided it’s by picking up a rake.

We just do the thing that needs done. We don’t talk as much in “ought to’s” and “should have’s”. We see a friend who needs something so we give it to them. Even when we don’t know the social norms of living across the street from people, we pony up the guts to walk over with a rake and say, “we want to help.”

When we do this – as if it’s normal – our kids begin to believe it’s normal.

Growing up, my circle of friends were so comfortable in one another’s houses we knew where the snack shelf was in each home. One time, a friend walked in after a softball game and immediately went rummaging for some pretzels. A family from outside The Circle was there and the mother was appalled at my friend’s action. I was stumped by this mother’s reaction. What’s so wrong with making yourself at home? (Related: this made me an awful hostess. Why should I offer you a glass of water? You know where the glasses are. Mi casa, su casa around here.)

I need to change the “normal” setting of our family’s way of life. Perhaps then my kids will grow up knowing what to do when they see someone who needs help. And hopefully it won’t be so profound that they’ll have to blog about their success with it afterward – it’s just a part of what they do.

Visit me elsewhere:
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