Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Please excuse my momentary pity party...

Some days that are really busy and overwhelming, don't you sometimes wish you could just be a little sick so you could just curl up on your couch and catch up on all of the shows you've recorded... people cater to you because you're in such a pitiful state... offer to bring you things and sometimes even fluff your pillow... you can completely veg without anyone thinking less of you because, well, you're sick.

Well,not only am I really sick... I'm really sick of my couch and I am sooooo tired of watching tv. It got so bad that I moved around furniture yesterday so I could sit at the computer comfortably and ended up playing online poker for at least 6 hours! (Doubled my money by the way!) I'm grateful for people's willingness to bring me what I need but it sucks that when you feel like crap, you don't even want anything.

The other thing about being sick is it's lonely. You get quarantined to a section of the house and you stay there...alone. Not that you want anyone there when you're barfing or disgusting things continue to come out of your nose, but you do... you wish someone could just sit with you in your misery. The other night, my body revolted on a cough spray I'd just taken and well... without going into detail, it was really gross. My kind husband descended into my despair and without a word or breath of disgust, he cleaned it all up. I really appreciated that. Really alot.

So maybe from now on, if I want to veg I just will. Being sick sucks. I miss being in the same room as my family. I miss getting dressed. I miss going places and doing things. In the meantime, I'm going to play some more online poker... they don't cringe when I blow my nose or get sick when I cough on them there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

18 and counting...

Scott and I honored 18 years of married life yesterday. He took the day off and we just spent it together doing this life that God's given us. We went to the grocery store together where he got to see first hand how the grocery bill can be so big so easily, then took the boys swimming and we basked in the sun while they bickered endlessly. We then went home and took naps before going out to a delicious dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse where the Parmesan Crusted Chicken is delectable and the dessert in the form of a mountain of chocolate cake with 7 kinds of chocolate isn't so bad either! The bill was covered by a gift card from his company honoring Scott's hard work... which made it even more delicious. We rounded out the evening sitting around our fire pit in the night air with our boys...talking and saying nothing at all.

I can't help but look back at the 18 years that Scott and I have lived this life together and wonder how we have made it this far. Scott grew up in a family where staying together was just what you do... I grew up seeing relationships scattered in broken pieces around me. It's not always been easy. Like all marriages, we have loved deeply and wounded even deeper.

Eighteen years ago, I was a 20 year old bride with stars in my eyes for a boy who loved and adored me like no other had and I was smitten. I'm not that same girl anymore though. I get really ornery sometimes. I get mad and scrappy when I feel disrespected. I'm not as shapely as I use to be... although round is a shape. I can be harsh, guarded, skeptical and unafraid to stand up for myself.
That said. I am blessed beyond measure that this boy not only loved me, but loved God and cared about the things God cares about. His heart would continue to desire to honor God and as a result, he continues to honor me and the vows our young hearts made so many years ago. Because some days, the easiest thing to do would be to find something better... easier... prettier... more fun. But that's not what love does...
It holds on when you feel like letting go. It forgives offenses and grants grace to the offender.... knowing well, that one day, you will need the same forgiveness and the same grace in return.

I'm still learning to believe that we will be old together... but I believe it more each day. History has shown me that people can stay together for a lifetime but many simply don't choose to do so. I'm learning that there are warriors that guard fragile marriages... forgiveness, grace, kindness, laughter, playfulness and an unwavering commitment to always be willing to be a participant in all of the above at any moment.

So Scott, thank you for choosing me to be your wife all those years ago, and for continuing to choose me in all the days that have and will follow... for better or worse... for all the days of our life. I love you... I'd still choose you and I look forward to being old, sagging, wrinkly lovers!

Friday, June 5, 2009

An abundant life...

I really like my life.
I live in a house that makes me feel safe, creative and overwhelmingly comfortable.

I live in a neighborhood where people not only know each other, but we really like each other and enjoy being together.

I live in a family that I really love. I would still, after all of these 18 years, choose Scott... to be the one I sleep and wake with all the days of my life. My two boys, Gavin and Eliot, are becoming men that I am proud to say are my sons... they, I believe, make this world a better place for their kindness, courteousness, respect, playfulness and friendship.

I live in community with friends that I love like family and family that I love like friends. These kind souls who cradle my truest self with such strength and gentleness... it is my honor to love them and my pleasure to play with them.

I live this life so abundant with gratitude and awe. I'm learning to breathe deeply and bask in the goodness... trusting the One who thought of me, shaped me and pours His kindness and grace over me.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

You Say Tornado Warning... I Say Party!

So what do you do during a Tornado Warning/Watch? Some just hide in the basement 'til the "all clear" is given... not us.

We made an evening of it... some of us tried to will the Cavaliers
to a Game 7...

Some grew faint in the pursuit of NBA glory
and cranked up a great game of Twister!

Unfortunately, a few more of us grew distracted from the pursuit of NBA glory and started giving airplane rides!

From the most pitiful bucket of 10 piece chicken to the groans of defeat for our Cavaliers...


...with siren warnings and monsoons surrounding our little home, a great time was had by all! How great to have friends and family, young and old... and it's hard to tell the difference!

Monday, May 25, 2009

All Because of a Cheese Stick

It's been seven months that this blog has had the name 'Scott and Jess' attached to it and I think it's fine time that the Jess in the equation brings something to the table. Today seems to be a fine day to do so. So here goes.

I had a moment in Target today. I generally have moments in Target on a slightly regular basis as I rather enjoy the color red and the vast amount of red stickers that appear in departments I like to peruse. However, this moment stood out among them.

As I checked out with my red stickered Hershey Kisses, Xbox 360 Scene It game and Ice cream cones (all of course, at a fraction of their original prices!), I included an empty wrapper from a cheese stick that I'd devoured in the dairy isle in an attempt to stave off a sure hunger headache! I explained this empty wrapper to the scruffy looking college boy who was scanning my items to which he then said, "You could have just tossed it... no one would ever know."
I replied with a sheepish smile, "Well, God would know and I guess that just matters to me."

I'm not sure I was supposed to hear what he said next or if it was a bait to continue the banter but he spoke quietly... "oh, you're one of those." It caught me off guard. I knew right away who "those" were that he was speaking of. Those people who use God and His words to shame & condemn others... people who beat broken people with spiritual sticks... all in Jesus name.

A reply came with ease, much to my surprise. "I know some of those people too" I said, "They say they are God's kids but they don't act like it. I don't want to be one of those." He proceeded to say "They always want to debate me... the Buddhist. They don't like me." As I signed my bill for the above mentioned bargains, I looked at him and smiled. "I don't need to debate you... I'm sure I'd like you and I'm pretty sure God does too." As I took my bags to leave, he looked me square in the eye and with an awkward thumbs up said "You... are okay."

I left that little red heaven knowing that something had just happened. I wondered if God might have just caught that boy off guard for a moment. I left wondering if I was one of the first of God's kids that he'd ever said that to. I wondered just how badly he'd been beaten by some of those spiritual clubs that are carried with such justification. I wondered why God let's broken people claim to represent Him in such reprehensible ways.
Maybe for the same reason He let this broken person be a part of that moment. Because just sometimes, through all the garbage, someone can see Him... in a little moment in the Target checkout line.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Reset #2 - "Fair" is Over-Rated

I think it is fairly unanimous that we would all agree that life is not fair.

People cut in front of us in line, our neighbors win the lottery, our friend gets two more weeks of vacation than we do...and we've been working longer, countless people have way more stuff (and cooler stuff) than we do, she is thinner than I am, he is taller than I am, they have a bigger house, they lost a child, he has cancer, I'm in a wheelchair....yatta, yatta, yatta. The list goes on. Life is not fair.

Thank God!

This is my second "reset" perception.

For me, the problem with fairness was that I always looked at what I didn't have, what I didn't get, what was out of reach. I was the "victim" of "not fair". But this past week, it was like I became aware of the other side of the coin. It's all relative. I may be aware of all the "things" that I see as not fair to me, but there are countless people who look at me and my life and say "It's not fair" that I have what I have. I saw all the instances of being the "recipient" of "not fair".

One side of the coin revels all the stuff I lack (unfair), but the other side of the same coin reveals all the stuff I have (fair). And you can't split the coin - it is whole. You get both sides.

Funny how we never complain about the "fair" things in our lives. No one ever says, "It's just not right that I have the sailboat", or "It's not fair that my kids are so healthy". We take the fair stuff for granted. But heaven forbid something happen to our sailboat or kids and all of a sudden it's "not fair".

Let's be honest - it's all grace. Undeserved, unmerited favor in God's eyes. Jesus wasn't fair. He gave forgiveness when we all deserved punishment. He gave life when we all deserved death. He gave mercy when we least deserved it.

So I challenge us all - begin to view your life as a glass half-full rather than half-empty and reset your perception of "fair".

Sound fair? Good!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reset - Initial Thoughts

So I started reading Luke.

Did you? You were suppose to do this with me. And when you read it, try to read it like it is the first time you have ever read it. Don't jump ahead and say, "Yea, yea...I know this part." Read with fresh eyes.

I've only gotten to Chapter 5 and already have some questions. In fact, I have already bumped up against one of my perceptions of Jesus.

Scene 1
Early in His ministry, Jesus goes down to Capernaum to teach (Luke 4:31). While there, he draws attention, people are amazed, and Jesus becomes the talk of the town. He escapes to Simon's house for the evening. Simon's mother-in-law is sick with a high fever and Jesus heals her. She is so completely recovered, that she immediately gets up and begins to get dinner for them. Well, this gets everyone pretty jazzed and the hoards come from everywhere to get a piece of the healing action. During the chaos that must have been playing out, demons are cast out right and left, screaming, "You are the Son of God", but Jesus shuts them up because they knew too much, knew him to be the Messiah (Luke 3:41). What's up with that?

Scene 2
A few days later, in another town, a man with leprosy comes across Jesus and begs him to be healed. Jesus heals the man immediately, but tells the man not to tell anyone (Luke 5:14). Again, what's up with that?

Scene 3
A few days later, Jesus is teaching and another crowd gathers (he is quickly becoming one popular dude). A group of guys who have a crippled friend try to get their friend close enough to Jesus to be healed, but the crowd was too large. These are determined and ingenious guys, so they get their friend on the roof, cut a hole in the roof, and lower their friend down right in front of Jesus. Jesus is so impressed by the crippled man's friends that he forgives the man's sins (this incident warrants another discussion, but not right now). The religious scholars and leaders of the day get ticked off and ask Jesus who he thinks he is, forgiving sins. They say only God can do that. Jesus replies, "What's easier for me to say? 'I forgive your sins', or 'Get up and start walking'? So Jesus turns to the crippled man and says, "Get up". The man does and walks home with his bed roll.

Wait a minute. Do you see what has me puzzled? In the two prior scenes, Jesus makes a point of keeping his identity hidden. Secret. But in the final scene, he makes a point to identify himself to the crowd, and more importantly, to the Pharisees, as the Son of Man, who has authority to forgive sins and heal. And he not only identifies himself, he does it in such a way that he almost expects them to draw conclusions about who he is.

You see, one of my perceptions was that Jesus came to earth and lived among us to be known. But did he? Was this really why he came? Did he want to be known as the Messiah? If so, why didn't he shout it from the streets and tell everyone he met?

If you are married or have a significant other, you are not with that person because they told you at some point in your relationship that you were suppose to be their spouse. In fact, that would have turned you off. You would have run the other way as fast as you could. If you follow someone as a leader or mentor, or have someone that you admire, you are not drawn to them because they told you how wonderful they are. You discovered that for yourself, through getting to know them, learning about them, about what they like and don't like, about who they really are, through their actions, speech, and life.

I think that's just what Jesus does. I think Jesus is more interested in seeing what conclusions we draw about who he is, rather than tell us who he is. He wants to leave the discovery up to us. And it's a discovery that lasts a lifetime.

I'm interested in your thoughts, ideas, perceptions. Join in the discussion. Let's "Reset" together.

Monday, February 23, 2009


We are embarking on an experiment in our church. For the next 6 weeks, we are going to try to "reset" our perceptions of Jesus.

The cool thing (and there is more than one cool thing) is that about 40 other churches in the Cincinnati area are embarking on this experiment with us (or us with them).

Here' the premise: We all have perceptions of Jesus. Some of them might be accurate. Most of them are way off base. Hey...don't get offended. I'm included in that statement. Be honest. We're human - He's God. It's pretty presumptuous to assume we "get" what He is and was all about.

I would love for you to join me on this experiment. Let's share what we are learning and the questions we find ourselves asking. Nothing is off limits. Throw away your preconceived ideas of who you think Jesus was/is. Forget what you learned in Sunday School. Forget what your pastor/priest/rabbi/youth pastor told you about Him. Start new. Clean slate. Read Luke like it was the first time you have ever read it, and jot down your thoughts.

For starters:

Jesus is not:

a Christian
a Republican
just a good, moral teacher
a white skinned, blue-eyed man
an American, nor does America hold a special place in his heart
a peace-keeper
Mr. Rogers
interested in my money
looking for an opportunity to scold you

If any of these statements caught you off-guard or made you gasp (even a little)...GOOD! You're starting to reset already. If you're just mad and want to disown me as a friend, I ask you - "Is your faith strong enough to be pulled and stretched and flexed without being broken?" I hope so.

I don't know about you, but I think we become far too complacent in our faith. We go along thinking we have all the right answers. And we believe our "job" is to get everyone to believe everything we do. We surround ourselves with like-minded people who never challenge us. We become lukewarm. Milk-toast. We never question ourselves "because we've always believed that".

So, for the next 6 weeks, let's challenge and question each other. Let's learn together and be prepared to be surprised. God loves to surprise us! Let's expect it, rather than be afraid of it. Ready? Here we go. RESET!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Puzzled about Geese

There is one sight this winter that has caught my attention and caused me to muse: Geese.

There are several ponds on the property where I work. During the summer months, these ponds are full of geese, ducks, and a couple swans. They offer the feel of being part of a sanctuary (not considering the copious amounts of poop they leave behind).

But all winter, I see large quantities of geese (for whatever reason have chosen NOT to go south where it is warmer) standing and walking on the frozen ponds, and occasionally swimming in the frigid waters. Here's the question that has me puzzled:

Why do geese choose to spend their day on the ice rather than the ground?

During the coldest months of the year, these geese CHOOSE to sit and sleep on the ice. Why? I mean, there is grass right over there. Wouldn't it be more comfortable to stand or sleep on the ground than on ice? Even if I had a down sleeping bag, the best money could buy, and I had a choice of rolling it out and sleeping on the ground or the ice, I would choose ground. Wouldn't you? If your thinking they want to stay close to the water in case they get thirsty...they have friggin' wings!! They can fly over to the water to get a drink whenever they want. That's no excuse. Wow...maybe they're just lazy.

And what about their feet? Why don't they freeze and die? Have you ever thought about this? First, picture a goose foot. Have you ever seen one? They are skin and bone. They is no real quantifiable amount of meat (muscle) on a goose's foot. It is simply bone wrapped in black skin. So what keeps them from freezing? Our human appendages have more meat on them than geese feet and yet these are the most susceptible parts of our bodies to frostbite and freezing.

And while I am on geese, what's with that one-legged stand they do? I get the sense that they know we think they're rowing with one oar, and it's their way of saying, "Oh yea...take a look at this". I call it "goose antagonism". It's showing off. It really bugs me.
Oops...gotta go. I'm late for my therapist.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities

The year is 1994, and the Docherty's move to upstate NY to a small town called Norwich, NY. Population: Approx. 7,000. Scott has accepted a job with Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals where they have an R&D facility located here. They have no kids, but Jess is 8 months pregnant with a son, soon to be called Gavin. They buy their first home (a dream come true) and a couple years later are joined by Eliot, the fourth and final family member. Norwich gives new meaning to the term "small town". The closest mall is an hour drive away. There are a couple grocery stores, a handful of fast food places, and a hospital. Other than that, there's not much more. To Scott & Jess, this is a stepping stone in life's journey. In reality, they don't see themselves here for longer than five years. To Gavin & Eliot, Norwich is their world and they can't imagine anything else.

Fourteen years later (2008), the family relocates to Mason, OH. Population: Approx. 30,000. There are more kids in the Mason school district than the entire population of Norwich. Scott relocates with Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals. The closest shopping plaza is a stones throw away. Gavin starts high school as a freshman. Next year, his high school will be the largest in the state of Ohio. The Cincinnati area is the mothership to P&G. All P&G'ers will return to her someday. And here we are.

I returned to Norwich this past week on business and was reminded of all the things I loved and hated about Norwich.

If there is one thing I loved the most about Norwich, was it's size. And the thing I hated the most - it's size. Truth be told - size matters.

I loved Norwich because it was truly small-town USA. After living there to 14 years, I felt like I knew almost everyone. No matter where you went, you always ran into someone you knew. If you were at an intersection waiting to make a left-hand turn, you would wave to more than half the people passing you in on-coming traffic. You would exchange pleasantries with people across the room in a restaurant and welcome most coming in. You would easily see half a dozen friends and/or neighbors on a trip to Wal-Mart. There was truly a sense of being connected to a community. You knew many and you were known. It was a great feeling. I miss that.

I hated Norwich because it was truly small-town USA. We had no mall. If you needed to buy a pair of dress shoes, you needed to drive at least an hour away. There were times when we only had one restaurant to go to (thank God for Nina's), and for some strange reason, nearly every eating place in Norwich is closed on Monday nights. There were nearly as many Dollar Stores in Norwich as gas stations. And true for most small towns, selection is a luxury, as much for clothing and eating options as churches. I recall us trying almost every church in Norwich upon arriving there 14 years ago, and for most we visited, we were the only people with our own teeth (and children rather than grandchildren).

So...although size matters...that's not the point. The point is perspective. No matter where you live or what job you have, we can all find the good and the bad. I am sure if you give me a few more months, I could write about the loves and hates of Mason just as easily. But I guess I am innately a "glass half full" person. I try to focus on the positive of wherever I am. And have always classified the present as the best time of my life. So here's to Norwich - the definition of all things "small town".

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Cheeseburger in Paradise

I know I am a fairly new-comer to the Cincinnati area (only seven months), but I think I may have found the best cheeseburgers in town!

I stumbled upon this joint when I was here last summer on my house-hunting trip. It's a "hole in the wall" joint - nothing stands out and screams "Best burgers in town!". I guess that's what I like about it , too.

The place - The Cheezburger Cafe (right next door to, and often listed also as Skip's Bageldeli). It located at 12092 Montgomery Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45249.

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These are not your run-of-the-mill cheeseburgers. They are not cookie-cutter cheeseburgers. If you are used to McD's or Wendy's burgers, these will blow those out of the water. And if you are a bit partial to the so-called endless fries (that never really materialize) and neatly packaged burgers of Red Robin, I challenge your taste buds to try the common-man's burger. These puppies are 1/3 lb. hand formed slabs of heavenly goodness. You can get a single, double, or triple...and would find it personally delightful to gorge myself on a triple (1 pound) greasy cheeseburger sometime before I pass from this world (and if I died while consuming this bovine beauty, that would just be icing on the cake!).

To top this thing, you can choose from several free and included condiments at no extra charge, including grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, mushrooms, onion straws, dill pickle, relish, and raw onion. You can also choose from several different cheeses for your creation including (but limited to) provolone, pepper jack, American, and cheddar.

They have fries...of course. You need them. Like the Lone Ranger needs Tonto. You can get regular fries or waffle-cut. You get a basket of them...and cover them in salt and vinegar. That's right. Vinegar. Salt and vinegar french fries. Can't get those at Burger King.

And here's the kicker...if you print off this blog posting and bring it in with you, they will take 10% off your order. No joke! This is real. This is how cool this place is. And here's the real clincher - if you're over in the Mason area and let me know, and we can do lunch together, it's on me. My treat.

Hi. My name is Scott and I'm a cheeseburger evangelist.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Forgotten Dream

I was reminded today of a forgotten dream...

I was surfing some friends Facebook pages and came across this...

Project Canaan from Heart for Africa on Vimeo.

I was pulled back into my passion like a rip tide. I don't know how you can watch that video and not be moved. I am reminded of a continent with far less than even us on our worst days. I was reminded of my Swazi friend, Pastor George. I was reminded of the children in the rural villages outside Mbabane that would see us from a distance and come running down the road to meet us. I was reminded of my first visit to the country with Bruce Wilkinson. I was reminded of sitting in my church in central New York on a Saturday afternoon and hearing the clear call of God asking me to go to Africa. I was reminded of my second visit to Swaziland and meeting my friend, Dan, who was not only my roommate, but a kindred soul with very similar dreams. I am reminded of Wakhile, my 6 year old sponsor child in Swaziland. I was reminded my my friend, Linda and her husband Tom, who were with me on my first visit to the country and who still return to Swaziland about three times a year to help with an orphanage.

As was reminded of so many dreams that had slipped away...

Please help me to not forget again. When you see me, ask about my passion for Africa. Ask me what I am actively doing to follow my passion. Hold me accountable.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Misperceptions for Breakfast

I am both a morning person and a breakfast lover.

Thankfully, my oldest son, Gavin, is too. So this morning, despite some failed attempts at making plans for the day, we set out for some morning goodness.

Now, I like change. If given a choice, I would rather go on vacation somewhere I haven't been before, than to return to a place I have already seen. That goes for restaurants, too. I figure, with so many options in the world, if you don't try new things, you have no idea what you are missing. I accept the risk that sometimes trying new things result in really bad experiences, but it's a risk I eagerly and willingly accept.

As we headed out of the neighborhood this morning, I asked my son where he wanted to go eat. He offered up either Bob Evans or IHOP...both places I have already been. They're good, but I've already tasted what they have to offer. I'm looking for a new taste and/or experience. I think for a moment, and then it hits me. I turn to my son, and with a big smile on my face, say, "I know where we're going". He looks back, and with a look of both mixed trepidation and excitement, asks, "Waffle House?", to which I reply, "Yep".

Now, let me provide a bit of background on Waffle House (since some of you reading may not have one near you, or may have never heard of Waffle House). We just moved to the Cinci area about seven months ago, so Waffle House is new to us as well. They dot the landscape around here like the offspring of two horny rabbits. They are everywhere. They are very small buildings and all look the same - just like a mini Midas Muffler Shop.

Perceptions are funny things. They are built from impressions, similar experiences, things we have been told, and observation. In other words, a quick, intuitive impression from what we have seen. No facts. No actual personal knowledge. And yet we give them so much weight.

And here were our perceptions of the Waffle House on our way there this morning: a room filled with cigarette-smoking truckers and food with a faint taste of tar and nicotine. In fact, I was expecting the menu to include the Surgeon General's warning that, "The food consumed in the Waffle House may be hazardous to your health". We thought is was going to be a bit dirty and grundgy, with sticky counter-tops and floors. And that the waitress would remind me of Flo from Mel's Place.

Well, we were dead wrong! Let me say, upon pulling into the parking lot, I was a bit shocked and excited to see so many cars. If the place is as bad as I was thinking, why would so many people be eating here this morning? Then, as we approached the door, I read a sign that said, "No Smoking Allowed". Hallelujah!! We sat at the counter (which was free of any stickiness) and proceeded to review the menu. We each ordered the All-Star Breakfast, the item with the largest collection of breakfast items they had to offer (so we could get a true sampling of the food). Let me say, the food was great, as was the coffee. And our waitress, Stephanie, was very nice and didn't remind me of Flo at all.
I am a fan of Waffle House! And I would recommend it to any other breakfast-loving, morning person out there. Don't judge the Waffle House by it's uncanny similarity to a quick-lube or muffler shop. It's quite good! In fact, although it is against my personal policy, I may even go back some day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stupid Rules

I am sure, like me, you grew up in a household with more than a few annoying 'rules' laid down by dear old Mom & Dad. I'm not talking about the rules promoting politeness or etiquette, like "Don't chew with your mouth open", or "Say 'Please' and 'Thank you'". I am talking about the rules that made you scratch your head in bewilderment. As a kid, I never thought twice about them, but as I got older, moved into adulthood, and became a parent myself, I think back and have to say, "What were they thinking?"

"Don't sing at the table"

This is probably the most confusing for me. My Dad was a die-hard "no singing at the dinner table" type of guy. We couldn't even hum. Not sure why. I know my Dad saw "The Sound of Music" - must have never made the connection. The Docherty's could have been this generations Van Trapp family if given the opportunity to harmonize about ham and scalloped potatoes. If you think about it (no pun intended), singing is a very harmonizing act. People come together and are happy and smiling when singing together. To my Dad's defense, maybe he was just looking for a little peace and quiet at the end of the day.

"You can't leave the house unless your bed is made"

Mom's law. As an adult, I wonder how many days of school I could have legitimately skipped by simply not making my bed. Can you see the note you would bring back to school the next day - 'Scott was absent yesterday because he did not make his bed'. I never understood this rule as a kid, and honestly, still don't. I figure it's my bedroom and not the public family room of the house. And besides, why make the bed if you are just going to rip the covers back later that day to mess it all up again?

I'm sure my kids think I have some stupid rules, too. But we can sing at the table, and sometimes I still don't make my bed in the morning.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I met Michael Jackson on Sunday.

Shortly after, I met Greg, and then Sean. These were three homeless men living in downtown Cincinnati. I met them in Washington Park. Here's my story...and little of theirs.

If you have been reading my blog, you know I was having a hard time with the whole gift-getting and gift-giving thing this year. I didn't want anyone to get me stuff I didn't need because the "season" told them to, and I didn't want to feel obligated to get stuff for other people who already had way too much. I didn't need anything...and there are so many people who need just the basics or a little help. I wanted to give away more this year than I got.

So Jess and I decided to fill bags with blankets, food, water bottles, toiletries, gloves and hats...and then give them to people who were in real need. We made five bags.

Sunday morning I decided to go out and drive around and look for people in real need - homeless people and those asking for a handout. This shouldn't be hard in a city like Cincinnati, right? We see people like this all over the place when we drive in closer to the city. So my oldest son, Gavin, came with me and we set out. No real plan; no real direction. Just looking forward to where God might lead us and how He might show up.

Gavin and I drove around for about 45 minutes and never spotted a person in need. On one hand, we should have been thrilled, but we had five bags we wanted to give away. At one point Gavin said, "I never thought this would be hard." I just quietly kept praying for God to show us where to go. We saw parts of Cinci that I never knew existed (and if I could tell you how to get there, you probably wouldn't either).

We came to this one red light and stopped. I looked across the street and there was a mural painted on the side of a building. It read, "Jesus said, If you love me, Feed my people." I pointed for Gavin to read and said, "We're trying...but we can't find them."

Less than a mile down the road, we passed Washington Park and saw a number of people that were clearly homeless and in need. This is where we had been heading all day. We parked the car, got out, and started walking across the park with each of us carrying a bag.

It wasn't long before a gentleman called out, "Hey! You guys giving stuff away?" I replied that we were looking to help some homeless people with what we had brought. That section of the park came alive with men shouting, "I'm homeless", "He's homeless", "That guy over there is homeless". We were overwhelmed.

We met Michael Jackson (hey...I'm taking his word for it). He is 53 and was recently laid off from his job. He has 13 children - all grown - and now alone. He said it is rough being homeless down in this area because it is not safe. He was humble enough to ask for a bag. I could see a hint of shame in his face, but tried to erase that away with conversation that communicated "we are the same, you and me".

We met Greg, 58, who asked for prayer because he lost his mother a couple weeks earlier and it was really rough on him. A few years previously, he lost his wife. He was without a job also. We had a bag for him.
And we met Sean, who came walking over to the car as we were pulling away from the park, and waved us down to see if we had another bag to give out. We had just one more - for him. He was a young guy. He explained that he had been married for 12 years but was separated from his wife. He and she drank too much and he was trying to stay dry. He asked for prayer to get into a shelter up the road that was difficult to get a place at.

If we had 20 more bags that day, we could have given them all out.

I left Washington Park that morning hoping that a little kindness would pay big dividends for the guys looking for a little hope and help.