Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I'm Not Neutral And Neither Was Jesus

I know it's been forever since I wrote anything. I've been living in my own anxiety world for a few weeks now, but I'll write more on that another time. As a matter of fact, the anxiety I live with is serious, but clearly so many people around the world have it much worse than me, and each of their stories are breaking my heart. I'm being made aware everywhere I turn that there are powerless, hurting people both near and far that are inwardly or outwardly begging for someone to do something.

One major issue that has stayed with me, other than heartache, has been disbelief at the way people will use any speck of a person's character to justify why they deserve the hurt, or even death, they endure. From Miley's homeless VMA date to the shooting of Michael Brown and the subsequent onslaught of protesting and violence in Ferguson, MO; suddenly every guy with a computer is playing judge and jury.

After the VMA video went viral, millions (like me) took to Facebook or Twitter hailing her for her positive comeback after last year's twerking performance at the VMA's left her reputation in shambles. Days later, news outlets were buzzing with the scandal of her homeless guest's criminal record (violation of probation after misdemeanor charges). Some of the same individuals who patted Miley on the back are now trying to use his record to discredit her efforts. She's also been disparaged for choosing an attractive, Caucasian, blonde haired, blue eyed, 22-year-old instead of someone more "homeless looking." *eye roll* Just because he has a record doesn't mean that everyone else used in the statistics he quoted are also criminal or can be written off as simply 'deserving' their plight. Check out these statistics on runaway youth to see my point. Also, Heaven forbid someone like Miley use her 'wow-factor' to draw attention to those in need.

Earlier this month, Michael Brown, age 18 from Ferguson, Missouri was fatally shot 6 times by a police officer after an altercation. He was unarmed and people everywhere are in uproar. In the fallout of this tragedy, one of the most popular things for some outsiders to do is point fingers at pieces of Brown's character that may not be relevant to the incident. He had been accused of stealing cigars, liked rap music and enjoyed rapping himself (which is apparently a character flaw?), and was out walking on the street at night -- so he must deserve to be killed. I've seen horrible comments at the bottom of articles where white men and women degrade his character and then decide that he deserved to die because he was he was "a thug" or "a trouble maker." When all of this goes to court and the facts are thoroughly analyzed, hopefully the judge and jury will come to a true and just conclusion. We may find that Brown was hostile towards police and in fact deserved some sort of punishment, but that will never be an excuse to look at someone's character and say he "deserves to be dead" or any other racially inflammatory statement about removing people who stereotypically look or behave like him. He is a person. He has loved ones who are mourning.

What I want to know in all of this is, who are you to say one word against another person's character when you have not spoken to them? How have we, in this internet saturated culture, become so accustomed to letting the empty echo of our opinions ring out that we don't stop to THINK about the impact our words have on the precious human souls we are talking about and talking to?

T - Is it true?
H - Is it helpful?
I -Is it inspiring?
N - Is it necessary?
K - Is it kind?

Before you write something on social media, seriously, check your post against this acronym.

I'm beyond tired of hearing people so far removed from the situation pass cruel judgement where it isn't true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, or kind.

You know why I'm so tired of it? Because both of these situations hit home for me in more ways than just  the obvious: I am human. I am a Christian. I am a follower of Jesus. I love the marginalized and downtrodden. They hit home because I have smeared my reputation in the mud and then had it wiped clean again, as best as possible. Here on earth, my reputation will always have filthy stains that like my son's laundry, won't come clean despite countless attempts to blot, scrub, or bleach the remnants away.

I was the teenager getting high, hanging out with a less-than-reputable crowd, walking on the streets at night. I've stolen. I've lied. I've manipulated. I've ruined. You can say many negative, yet very true, things about me.

However, I'm redeemed. Jesus has this awesome homemade stain remover that transcends this lifetime.

I want to say thank you to the people in my life who didn't give up on me. To the people who fought for me. The people who prayed for me. The people who never said she deserves to be left behind...she doesn't deserve to be helped...she had it coming. Thank you for loving me when I was the downtrodden. Thank you for loving me when I was the orphaned soul - spiritually bankrupt.

To all the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, loving friends, teachers, pastors, and whoever-the-hell-you-ares that have ever loved a teenager who did something stupid, morally wrong, criminal, disappointing, rude, or regrettable -- You have loved the least of these. Thank you for not giving up on us.

According to the articles I've read, Jesse Helt has kept in contact with his mother throughout the years and even returned home on Miley's dime (no shame) to see her again. She's in his corner. Are you in the corner of the millions of homeless youth in America?

Clearly, from the national outcry, Michael Brown has people in his corner. Are you in the corner of the marginalized minorities who know racism and oppression still exist? This issue is so much bigger than Ferguson.

Don't be neutral. Whether you're speaking out against race disparity, speaking out against militarized police tear gassing protesters, speaking for private donations of money or time to the homeless of America, or simply telling some hateful people on Facebook to THINK before they post...don't be neutral.

"Jesus (who was decidedly not white or American, but, it could be argued, held a great deal of power and authority) drew a solid line – like, he literally drew a line - and then He stood on the side of the weak, the burdened, the vulnerable, and the oppressed. 

Jesus rose to his feet in the presence of injustice.

Over and over again, we see Jesus stand on the side of the disadvantaged.

...And, I don't know about you, but I think I want to stand with Jesus."

              ---Jamie the Very Worst Missionary (a damn good read on the Michael Brown issue)

Y'all - we need to be praying for the youth of America. In a time when everything is so convenient, yet the age-old troubles of the heart are just as hard, we need to pray against permanent fixes for temporary problems. In Jesus name. We need to be praying for a generation of helpers, of lovers, of do-ers, of humanitarians with big hearts for people and even bigger hearts for Jesus. I realize that technically I'm still the youth of America, yet also kind of a grown up, so I have the amazing advantage of relate-ability. You can pray for me to be all of these things too. 

I know for an absolute fact that my heart for the broken, oppressed, and hurting will lead me somewhere miraculous one day. I know God is working on something big and that's why He's been breaking my heart for babies, kids, teens, and young moms for so so long. When I made my poor choices, He was there, hurting for me, and when I finally surrendered to Him, He finally got to redeem those low points in order to bring someone else closer to Him. 

Y'all, my heart is broken, but it is full. I'm so far from neutral. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Shopping the Clearance Rack...at the Grocery Store?

I like to spend money. Shopping is fun for me. Any kind of shopping - kid stuff, clothes, home decor, even groceries.

If you have money, usually it's fun to spend it and there's minimal guilt involved, but what about if you don't have much money?

We're a one-income household of three people (Me, my husband, and our toddler son). My husband is still in school (he graduates December 2014!!) so that cuts down on the hours he works. We are incredibly fortunate to have loving families who have helped us out in creative ways since our son was unexpectedly born, and we profit from several investments, but we still love to spend frugally.

Let's go back to my opening statement: I like to spend money. In order to shop like I want, I have to be creative. I have to find deals. It's so easy to find awesome deals where I live because it's a large town with many stores vying for my loyalty. One store has grabbed it (mostly) ... Kroger!

Kroger Marketplace to be exact. It's like Walmart, only with more organic choices and waaaay less sketchy people. A lot of Krogers are basic grocery stores, but the Marketplace has more. 

We love them for the selection as well as their Kroger Rewards Card that saves on almost every item in store, as well as their fuel points that can save you up to $1 off per gallon, and most recently their Kroger App that gives you even more deals and is linked up with your Kroger rewards card. 

After shopping with them for a few months, they started sending us coupons for things they know we frequently buy. I've received coupons for our favorite chips and bread, make up, baby items like wipes, and even $9 of free frozen food , or $3 off your entire purchase. 

Today at KM, I made my usual check-ins at two different clearance racks they have positioned in the places no one ever goes in the store. Funny how stores hide their best deals from us (I totally understand why - my husband is an Entrepreneurship major). 

The first is non-food clearance. Over the last 6 months, I have found a ridiculously cheap Bumbo seat that I bought for a friend and was reimbursed for, as well as a really cute infant travel system (car seat, base, and stroller) for 1/2 price ($79 for the set) that I kept for myself. The infant seat we're saving for future babes but Roman is using the stroller right now. The Bumbo had torn cardboard on the package and the travel system had been used as a model and I guess the box had been thrown away so it was being sold for cheap.

The second section is food clearance. This area is the motherload of scratch-and-dent and overstock deals! It's located in the middle of the ziplock baggie aisle, where naturally very few people shop on-the-regular. 


There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these items. Most of them have damaged packaging or the store purchased more than they could stock and sell at full price. I love being the grateful recipient of a deal at the hand of human error.
  • Clorox wipes: $1.39 (was $2.69 - torn paper label)
  • Pineapples: $0.79 (was $1.50 - dented can)
  • Chef Boyardee: $0.49 (was $1.00 - dented cans)
  • Mixed Veggies: $0.29 (was $0.49 -dented can)
  • Green Giant green beans: $0.49 (was $1.00 - dented can and torn label)
  • Garnier Fructis conditioner: $1.29 (was $2.50 - overstock)
  • Nestle milk chocolate chips: $1.79 (was $3.49 - overstock)
  • Slim Fast protein shakes: $2.49 (was $4.99 - limited edition they are no longer putting on the shelf)
  • Ziplock bags: There was a random coupon just laying on the shelf for BOGO free

I know a lot of shoppers do this anyway, but some of the young adults may not have known it was an option. I don't buy things I don't need. I just stock up on things I didn't know I would be able to get that week. 

So...Go forth. 

Get a Kroger card. It's so easy to keep up with because it hangs on your key chain and most of us need keys to get there and haul home all of our stash. 

Check out the clearance aisle.

 Don't fear the scratch-and-dent. Your food (which you will soon crush up with your teeth) is perfectly intact within that damaged exterior. 

Most importantly - save money! It feels good to spend extra time in the grocery store (by myself) so I can get that shopping fix, while knowing I'm saving tons. 

If all of this hasn't sold you, maybe this last tidbit will:

See that fine print? $441.71 saved in 2014.
How are you saving?