At my current church, I deal with all of our immediate cash need requests (help with rent, ulilities, gas, etc). The secretary normally handles the food and the head of outreach deals with clothes/toiletries distribution. But I do the money side of things. We never do cash assistance...not as cash cash or checks written to an individual...we only pay a company or landlord or give out gift cards.
Some days, this is an awesome responsibility. I can help families stay in housing, or get the lights back on, or get gas to get home after being in the city for whatever reason (often a court case).
Other days, it is a bit bitter and confusing. We don't have a good system of evaluating a need...there is no form, no structure, it's simply based on my own discernment (and the availability of the resources). Sometimes, my gut tells me I/we are being "had" by an individual. There is something in me that knows we are being conned or schemed and it irks me. But it's a tough contradiction because there's not really a tactful way to say you don't believe someone (especially when your only reason for doubting is your "gut"). And there's always the possibility you're wrong.
It's also frustrating when a group of folks ask for the same exact thing. In Hemet, we had about 3 weeks where I got the same request from about 4 different families "milk, ground beef, diapers, and bread." That was it. It seemed simple enough and we helped a bunch of the families. But then it started to seem fishy and I said no to the next request for the same and then there were no more requests, which made me even more suspicious.
It's starting to be something similar here. I had various requests for gas cards lately...the fishy thing was the requests were coming from the same number, but different names and people were asking for it. I finally said no (finally being after two requests that we filled). It's those kinds of things that make my head spin.
Here's why: On the one hand, this could be a legitimate need and people in similar circumstances often have similar needs, but at the same time, all of the requests seem to come too close together and the same number part is really bothersome. And yet, at the same time, how do I really know what the need actually is? (Or why the need exists...is it because of drugs? unemployment? poor spending? medical bills?) It's a tough call. And should my call be based on the need? or the cause? or...?
And the really tough part for me is that when I feel taxed....like it's request after request and I feel like we are being scammed, I feel like throwing up my hands and saying "no" to everyone involved. Which definitely isn't the right philosophy either...
Sometimes in ministry, I'm left with a feeling of total impotence. In general, I'm a fixer. I like to do things. I like to help. And I really struggle when there is nothing I can actually do to help a situation. I hate feeling powerless. I hate knowing that some situations are irredeemable (at least as far as I am able). I don't like the complexities of addiction or homelessness or abuse that bind up helpful actions.
Impotence is not an every day occurrence, and I suppose, that for the sake of humility and God doing things and whatever else, it might even be healthy or necessary from time to time, but mostly, these days it's simply frustrating.
Wedding planning is well underway (again). Last spring we announced our engagement and then a January wedding date. Well, the summer got busy and life happened and we needed to take a step back and work on our relationship and our lives and work and more. So, we postponed our wedding date.
At the time, it was a heartbreaking decision. I am a woman perfectly happy meeting other people's expectations and to postpone my wedding was not what was expected. It was hard to deal with my fears of rejection and judgment. It was hard to slow down the momentum, to mourn the loss of what could have been (at least in the ways I had it established in my own mind) and to do some down and dirty relationship work.
But, it's now 5 months later, the new date is set and wedding plans are again underway.
The crazy thing is, (or maybe it's not all that crazy after all) I am enjoying the wedding planning so much more this time around. Last time it felt rushed and urgent and everything had to be done right away. I began to dread wedding planning....well, actually I think I just dreaded feeling fat when I tried on wedding dresses, but the two became inextricably linked. But now, with months of perspective, some new contacts and new ideas, I am much more relaxed.
We have the venue. I've had my dress for months (I got it before we rescheduled). I have my husband-to-be and the rest is just details in my mind! Some details matter more to me than others, but mostly, it's just details.
The only piece that really keeps nagging at me is the creative edge. I want portions of the wedding/reception/etc to stand out. I want some signature marks that just scream our identity as a couple. And I have no idea what those would be. As I think of "cool" details of flare I could add to my wardrobe or whatnot I keep thinking "that'd be fun, but it's not fully me...I'm not that cool!"
The most personalized thing so far is homemade jam as the party favors. All summer I made jam...lots of jam. Tomato jam. Rasberry jam. Peach jam. Recently I made marmelade jam and will be making some blackberry jam and probably more tomato and peach jam. Everyone will have a homemade piece of us to take home. And I like that. I just keep hoping for more cool markers that will capture who we are as a couple.
Wedding planning includes LOTS of options. Sometimes it's hard to sift through all that there is. So, for the near future, there will be a "wedding question of the day". If you have input or advice, please feel free to comment!
...regularly that is....well, at least that's the hope. When I first started blogging, I wrote all the time. And when I wrote, I typically wrote three blogs every day. It was crazy, and, as was anticipated and predicted by others, my speed slowed and lately it has only been intermittent.
But in the last couple of weeks, I have had a number of blog posts running through my head and have really wanted to get back into the habit of writing. It's a busy year with a major mission trip, a major fundraiser, a wedding, and camp all within the next 6 months, but hopefully that will mean there are interesting things to write. It will also probably mean that my blog becomes more and more eclectic as I write about wedding planning, preparing for married life, fund raising, working with the homeless, and whatever else runs through my head.