Tag Archives: kindness

Angels in our midst?

30 Apr

The beginning of April found me flying to Guanajuato, Mexico with four friends from the Ashland Rotary Club. We are working with the Rotary Club of Guanajuato to bring fresh water to the rural areas of the region.

school for the deaf

In the week there, we also toured the School for the Deaf in San Miguel Allende, planted trees at a preschool, and met with many selfless people who are dedicated to serving others. I was honored to be a part of that team.

Here I am with my friend, Angelica, and my wonderful hosts, Oscar and Marta.

OSCAR AND MARTA
While in Mexico I got a message from my sister that my Dad was once again in the hospital, so instead of returning home at the end of the week, I took a plane from Los Angeles to Florida to visit him.

At first, he spent a few days in the ICU and it was very hard to see him suffering. What helped make the situation bearable was that my sister and daughter were with me and the fact that my Dad had several amazing nurses. My favorite nurse, Nicole, hailed from Kentucky and made the experience much easier to handle.

me with Dad
Nicole had such a gentle way with Dad (and with us) and I wanted to show our thanks so, of course, I made her and the night nurse each an apple pie.  It was really fun to see the happy smiles when we delivered them!  Surprising people with pie just happens to be one of my favorite things… (Sound of Music soundtrack anyone?)

apple pie
After ten days in Florida, with Dad stable and in rehab, I was ready to go home. I went to the airport for my flight with United and saw a huge crowd at my gate. The details are too long to go into, but the final result was that I gave up my seat in exchange for travel money and a flight home the following day. I was happy as I’d see my Dad one more time and the travel credits will come in handy, but what blew me away was that the gate agent, Beth, booked me in first class all the way home!  If I could have, I’d have made her a pie too but instead I gave her a pretty shell and thanked her for her grace and calm under pressure.

A few days after I was home, I realized that I had a couple of gift certificates from Shooting Star  Nursery that had expired during my extended trip. When I called and told them what had happened, an employee told me that he thought the owners would likely be understanding and jokingly added “especially if I brought something I’d baked myself.”

Clearly he didn’t know who he was taking to!  Yesterday I walked into the office and surprised a few employees with a warm pie. When I shared what I’d been told on the phone the young man in charge said I didn’t have to do that… But really, I did!  Later the crew sent me a sweet text message thanking me for the pie. I was so glad to receive it.

Life is full of challenges and every one of us has “stuff” to deal with. I think we all do the best we can… but still, life can be hard. That’s why it’s nice when every now and then we get a helping hand with that “stuff” thanks to the kindhearted strangers (or are they angels?) who we meet along the way.

“We are each of us angels with only one wing; and we can only fly by embracing one another.” ~ Luciano de Crescenzo

Imagine…

20 Nov

 

Two weeks ago, I attended a Jennifer Knapp concert at Southern Oregon University.  Ms. Knapp is a singer/songwriter who as a young woman made a name for herself in the Christian music scene, and my church (along with a few other churches and the Queer Resource Center) helped bring her to Ashland.  And while her music is riveting, it was not the only reason for her visit.  You see, Jennifer Knapp was adored as a Christian “rock star” until she came out as gay.  Then things changed.   The “Christians” that had loved her music before, now turned their backs on her.  She was no longer considered one of them.

Ms. Knapp shared her spiritual journey with the audience.  She explained how she tried to leave Christianity behind, but felt that the teachings aligned with her core beliefs… and came to the conclusion that even though she was “gay”, she was also a Christian.

After the concert, Jennifer took questions/comments from the audience.  The one that moved me to tears went as follows.  A woman in her forties shared that she had recently come out to her family, and that since that time her son has had nothing to do with her.  She asked what she could do to and Jennifer said, “Love him.  Whenever you see him, love him.  You can’t change him… but you can love him.”

Jennifer sounds like a Christian to me, by golly.   But wait, she’s gay?  So the fact that she is loving, accepting, and forgiving doesn’t count then, right?  Right.

A few days ago I saw on Facebook that it was the one year anniversary of this post, I am Christian, unless you’re gay.  It’s a great article, and if you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to do so.  The author, Dan Pearce tells us about his friend “Jacob” who is gay… and he goes on to say that his article is not about homosexuality, instead – It’s about love. It’s about kindness. It’s about friendship.  

Jacob had asked Dan to share with his audience (Dan writes the blog, single dad laughing) how it feels to be gay in a conservative Christian community.   Here is a quote from that article, “You don’t know what it’s like to have your own parents hate you and try and cover up your existence. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t want this. And I’m so tired of people hating me for it. I can’t take it anymore. I just can’t.”  

After reading the article, my heart ached for Jacob and the fact that he is virtually being shunned by the community in which he lives for being who he is – the person God made him to be.  My head raced with questions: Who are we to tell another person how to live their life?  What gives us the right to judge them?  What part of that kind of this behavior is “being Christian?”

From all the stories that I have heard about Jesus, I just can’t imagine him turning his back on anyone.  One story that many are familiar with (and one of my favorites) is the about the woman who is to be stoned to death for being an adulterer (according to ancient law).  Jesus does not question the law, but instead says “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

It seems that we are still acting like those ancient people – wanting to find fault with others (and throw stones) because they are not like us – or they’re not acting like we think they should act.   And when we are focused on others, we remain blissfully blind to our own shortcomings.   But try to imagine what the world might be like if we tried to be more like the man from whom we have the word “Christian”?   I think it’d be pretty amazing… don’t you?

Yesterday I brought a Chocolate Cream Pie to the Queer Resource Center at SOU to thank the people who helped to bring Jennifer Knapp to our area… and to recognize them for all they do to make the university a welcoming place to all students.

You may say that I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one.   I hope someday you’ll join us,  And the world will live as one.   John Lennon

 

Day 270: Welcome 2012

1 Jan

This morning as I scanned Facebook posts wishing everyone a Happy New Year, I read a note written by my friend Aimee.  She mentioned that she had recently been told about a website called 750 Words.  You can read more about it here, but in a nutshell, we are encouraged to begin each day by writing 750 words (roughly three pages).  It is based on an idea promoted in the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.  As I understand it, it’s a way to release all the “clutter” in your mind so that you can allow the important thoughts, ideas, etc. to come through.

I’d read about this “practice” a few years ago, and from time to time I have begun my day in this way.  The first time I tried it, it was hard to imagine what I would find to write about but in a few minutes the words began to pour onto the page and in ten or 15 minutes I was done.  Each successive attempt at writing my three pages has been equally successful.

So, why don’t I do this more often?  I suppose sometimes I get lazy or I forget about it or maybe I feel too busy with other things.  But I think that will change with the “750 words” website.  One big difference is that you are typing and not writing long hand (which makes reading my work infinitely easier!) and there are little rewards built-in to make it fun.  Today it took me about 15 minutes to get to 750 words and I felt better at the end of the exercise.  While not really a New Year’s resolution, I hope to make this a daily habit and encourage you to see if it is something that would interest you.

As for my pie of the day,  a neighbor of mine mentioned that her friend Peggy might like to receive a pie.  She thought a quiche might be appreciated and that was pretty much all that I needed to get started.  I cooked bacon, spinach and onions and grated some sharp white cheddar for this pie.  In no time at all it was in the oven and an hour or so later we were on our way to deliver the quiche.

I was met at the door by a man who welcomed me in and went to announce me to Peggy.  When she first saw me, she definitely seemed a bit curious.  Immediately I mentioned my neighbor’s name so that she would feel more at ease and then I briefly explained my pie project and that today’s pie was for her.  When she had heard my tale,  Peggy’s beautiful smile was the best reaction I could ask for… and an absolutely wonderful beginning for the new year.

Because that’s what kindness is.  It’s not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can.  ~Andrew Iskander

Day 161: Roberta

14 Sep

A week or so ago I asked the readers of my blog to “nominate” a person that they thought would appreciate a pie. My friend Gary wrote to me and suggested that I make a pie for his friend Roberta. This is what he said about her, “She is a woman who will do anything to help others and I have experienced her kindness and “givingness” in so many ways.” With an intro like that it was certain that Roberta was going to get a pie.

When I wrote back to Gary, I asked for more information – Would Roberta prefer a sweet pie or a savory one? If savory, could it include meat (sausage, bacon, etc)? And since I always wonder how someone I don’t know might react to my bringing them a pie I asked Gary if he wanted to call ahead to introduce me. As you might have guessed, I needn’t have worried.

Today I called Roberta and explained my “pie project” and told her that Gary had suggested her name as a pie recipient. When I said that I had made her a Spinach, Mushroom and Sun-dried Tomato Quiche she seemed delighted. She told me, “You don’t know how perfect this is” and then explained why my quiche was exactly what she needed today. While I don’t understand how this confluence occurs, I am honored to be involved.

As I was saying goodbye to Roberta, she told me that she planned to share her quiche with several friends and that I could not imagine how many people would be touched by this one pie. In a way she is right… and that is part of the beauty of this endeavor.

Day 50: Debbie and The Journey Thus Far

27 May

Today is a small milestone in this yearlong journey of making pies.  Yes, there are still many pies ahead of me but it feels like a good time to pause for a moment and take an assessment.  If you were to ask me what I have learned so far, I would tell you that I have found that the simple act of giving someone a pie can have profound consequences.  Many times, though not always, I have felt that I have been in the absolute right place at the right time.  For example, I brought someone a quiche only to find out that they were incredibly busy that day and had not had time to even think about dinner.  And there have been a number of times when I’ve brought a pie to someone and was able to make a not so good day seem a bit brighter.

I will admit that this is not a project that make sense to everyone.  One friend saw me preparing to deliver my pie and said rather dryly, “Go on…. you go make someone’s day.” I left the house feeling a bit put off by his comment.  What was he trying to say?  Later, when I was leaving the house of that day’s pie recipient, she said, “You know Karen, you really made my day.” How about that. I was able to make someone’s day by bringing them a pie!

My friend Debbie told me that this is probably the best possible project for me – because I love to bake and I love to share stories about the people who have touched my life.  If you think about it, this pie adventure is composed of many different threads.  And as the threads come together they create a tapestry that tells the story of my life.  I am truly blessed – and very lucky that I am able to give thanks to those who have helped me along the way.

Today, I brought a Marionberry Pie to Debbie at Southern Oregon University. She is my neighbor, but she has also been a tremendous resource for my family as we have navigated the maze of financial aid for college.  And Debbie was the first person who “suspected” that a pie was awaiting her.  Seems this “project” is not as secret as I thought!

As I continue on this journey, I am buoyed by the encouragement and support that has been shown by my friends.  Below is an example of this support – a necklace that my friend Pam had made especially for me. Such a lovely gift. Didn’t I say that I was blessed?


YE78PAA4SUFZ

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 627 other followers