30 December 2013

Thoughts on the Old Year...and the New

Hey there, did you miss me???

I haven't posted for two weeks, and it feels really good to be back!  I missed you.  Really I did!   I never meant to be away for so long, the days just flew by.  I hope you all had a beautiful and meaningful Christmas and that the message of the birth of Love is still being celebrated every day. 

I'll let you know a little bit about what's been keeping me so busy throughout this whole Christmas season. We had our homeless outreach in Glendale. If you remember, the last time I posted, I told you we were taking the kids with us to crew this month.   Cooking dinner at the shelter has gotten to be a popular outreach and I always have volunteers to crew, but this month Fr. Vazken selected 6 of our kids, ages 14-20 to come help.  We served comfort food.  Homemade macaroni and cheese, baked ham, salad and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven.  I was so proud of our kids.  They helped set up and serve, made salad and baked cookies.  But most importantly, they got to see that the residents at the shelter, especially the children that live there, are no different than they are.  The chocolate chip cookies were a hit.  And our kids had a great time serving
platefuls of warm cookies to the tables.  One family that lives at the shelter was especially grateful for the second plateful....and the third.  After we were finished and cleaned up, I asked Edward (the resident manager) if he would take the kids on a tour showing them where the residents slept and what their home at the shelter was like.  I think the kids were very moved by it all, and especially noticed the meaning of "family"...that it isn't necessarily the conventional biological family but the people that are gathered together under one roof....sharing life together.  The residents have become each other's family. And when we are there together once a month, they  become our family as well.  Edward shared with me that when our "In His Shoes" name appears as guest chef for the evening on the board, the residents know that the evening will be a good one.  He said they are grateful for whatever we serve for dinner, but they know that no matter what is served for dinner when we're there,  it is always served with LOVE.  He said that they can  all feel that.  I thought that was really beautiful.  And he's right.  We do put a lot of love into our efforts, and that is put there by God and our desire to spread His light and love to those around us. 

We also had a special Skid Row delivery the following Monday.  One of my dear friends, Sedma, who is a regular crew member for our outreach approached me.  An anonymous donor had told her they would like to donate 150 cheeseburgers to be distributed on Skid Row  Sedma asked if we could help with that.  The plan was that we meet at church at 7:00 pm.  She would pick up the warm burgers at McDonalds and bring water and chips...and we would meet up and drive down to distribute.  Well, goodness is contagious.  I had mentioned to my boss on our morning coffee walk that we had this burger delivery to Skid Row.  And she was moved and made a donation - in lieu of client gifts - to our outreach as well.  She purchased socks and fleece blankets for us to distribute.  So we did a special delivery last monday  night ...a little different than our usual hot soup and snacks.  And the people were so grateful.  There were many out on the streets that night. Just to put things in perspective.  We distributed 150 meals, over 3 locations in less than one hour.  : (  

Here's my blanket for our blanket drive
Let's see...I also had a blanket to finish up for the blanket drive.  And I did finish it.  There was a lot of bus crocheting and late night crocheting too.  But I'm glad we made it on time.  Our church distributed beautiful hand knit/crocheted and sewn blankets to the patients at City of Hope.  This an annual blanket project that we've been doing and I love that our church becomes this busy beehive of activity for Christmas.

We had our Holiday Jammin' Boutique. I'd like to give a  shout out to all of you who came out to hear the amazing gypsy jazz band - Private Cat Radio -  and to support our ministry.  It was a really fun event.  Everyone who came had a great time.  Special thanks to Bruce and Connie at the Towns Burr Gallery who opened their gallery to our event.  If you would, please show your support by "like"'ing them on their FB page or better yet by visiting their gallery or webpage.  They've got some beautiful artwork and gifts.  

I know there's something I'm forgetting here.  I mean other than the Christmas shopping and cooking.  Wait....Oh right....so this year our family decided to sponsor a family for Christmas.  We all had a great time shopping for the children in the family and trying to fulfill their wish lists.  The best part was getting to meet them when we delviered the gifts.  Their case worker arranged a meeting.  This young family had lost had been evicted from their apartment when the youngest girl was a newborn, only a week old. After 10 years of living in the same apartment, they were short on the rent by $100 and got thrown out.  Eventually they were able to get into another apartment only to have a fire destroy everything they owned.  Despite the hardships, you would never know their story of you looked at these children in the family. They were all smiles and anticipation for a joyous Christmas.  And seeing their beautiful smiles was the best gift of all...for all of us.

This reminds me of something I wanted to touch on this week.  As you know, I am the coordinator for our In His Shoes Homeless  outreach.  I like to report on it because I feel that it adds a little bit of an  inside look into what this vulnerable population is about.  Also, our outreach is supported by donations by kind donors such as yourselves.  When reporting about it, whether it's here or on facebook, it's a way for people to hear about our work and support it if they are so inclined.   So I wanted to write that any praise that is directed toward the work that we do, goes to God, whose work we are doing.  As Christians, it is our duty to love one another...and to care for one another.  Before our outreach we always do pray that God allows us to share His love and light with those on the street.  And it is only through His guidance and love that this ministry happens.  What I'm getting at is that it's not any ONE person.  You know?  It's all of us, working together, and your prayers and support in action that make it all happen.  So thank you to all of you who support us, pray for us, collect clothing, and donate to our ministry.  Because you allow us to spread God's love.  Thank you from all of us on the homeless outreach crew!

And so on to the New Year!  Tomorrow is New Year's Eve!  Are you doing anything special to ring in the new year?  What about new year's resolutions.  Are you making any?  Do you have hope that you'll be able to follow through with it?  or will they be said and done by the following week?  How did you do on this year's resolutions?  Hmmm, that's what I thought.

Well, I used to start off the new year with all kinds of resolutions.  Namely involving diet and exercise.  I mean who doesn't right?  But for the past several years I've just tried to make it more about being honest with myself.  I try.  It's not always easy.  By being honest....and then saying that I've failed to be honest, it's not like saying I'm lying to myself.  Well, if you look at it that way, it sort of is.  Here's an example.  I resolve to be honest, yes?  Okay.  And in that resolution, there's this desire to exercise.  You're with me, right?  The bottom line is...if I exercise, I will feel and look healthier, I will lose weight.  I sincerely want that.  But then when I make up excuses as to why I can't exercise, am I being honest with myself?  Do I really want the end outcome of the exercise bad enough?  So I think what I need to do personally, is to set some REALISTIC goals and make all my actions count toward the realization of those goals. Here's the inner dialogue:
Me:  "I would like to be healthier by making better choices today and in the New Year.  By doing so  I would like to see a healthier me".
Devil self:  "How about warming up a piece of that cream filled khadayif that you made for Christmas...with a nice hot cup of coffee?"
Me:  "Would eating that khadayif right now help me achieve my "healthier me" goal?  What?  No?  Then I think I'll pass.
Bravo!!! Can I hear wild applause for my tremendous willpower???
Do you really think it will happen that way?  I hope so, but the reality is that there will be days, and there will be days.  Right?  The reality is that the one piece of khadayif is sitting there calling me and saying, "come on...I'm here all alone...and if you eat me now...I'll be gone, thus removing the temptation...so go ahead, live a little."  Sound familiar?   The truth is that we can only do the best that we can do.  As long as we are being honest with ourselves that the BEST is truly the best that we can give.

Last year, I tried something that I had read on my daughter Ani's blog.  She had gotten it from another blogger.  It was called "One Little word"  and what you were supposed to do - the challenge - was to choose a single word that was going to be your word to work on for the year.  So my word last January was "Balance".  I was going to try to be more balanced in my life.  I don't get very much sleep (which is not good), so one of the things that I was thinking about balancing was my work life, my leisure time, my sleep time, my eating...you get the idea.  Balance.  Did I have a balanced year, you ask?  Well, uh, no.  In fact, I think it was sometime in March, just a month or so after "Balance" that I changed my word.   And that was because trying to balance made me realize how unbalanced my life was, and it was creating more stress for me and therefore causing more unbalancedness.  Does that make sense? The truth is that I don't sleep enough...and I do take on too many tasks.  But that's how it has always been with me.  I mean, would I be writing this at 12:53 a.m. if I was balanced?  Nooooo!

So my One Little Word changed in March to....ready?  :::drumroll::::  PEACE!  Tada!!!  And that word worked better for me.  I DID have a year filled with peace.  And though it wasn't all like that, I did find myself reigning myself in sometimes.  Most noticeably, I have changed my attitude about my work that I do for a living.  Whereas in the beginning of the year, I was in a constant battle with myself about my job, today, I am realizing that my job affords my healthcare coverage, the ability to keep a roof over our heads and to live a more peace-conscious life.  I also experienced a lot of peace in my prayer life this year. 
2013 was also my first full year of being a vegetarian (started in November of 2012).  And that helped to contribute to my more peaceful year as well.  So peace I can do.  Balance...not so much.  And maybe that's a challenge I'm going to have to take on another time.  

And so speaking of challenges, I thought I would challenge you.  I know you already have your own thing about what you're doing for the new year, but maybe think about this.  What is your one little word going to be for the new year? It can be anything:

So, what's it going to be?  Only you know the answer to that, but I would love it if you would share.  And please do it on the blog on not on Facebook to keep things all in one place! Let me know what your one little word will be.  And I will share mine with you, next week.

So that about wraps it up this for this week - and this year!!!  It's been a wonderful year.  I want to wish all of you a very happy and healthy new year filled with an abundance of God's blessings for you and your family.  Thank you for all your prayers and support throughout the year.

Wishing you all a very pomegranate YEAR AHEAD filled with hope and ripe with possibilities!!!

No comments: