It’s Been A While…

A few years ago, I started this blog to capture all that was going on in this head of mine. I wrote almost weekly for about 18 months about my family, current events that interested me, my job, and other odds and ends. I enjoyed using this form of media to express myself, and I found that lots of people read what I wrote. I was honored.

Over the past few years, a lot has changed in my world. My girls have grown a lot. Lydia is in 8th grade, and is training to be a world class pole-vaulter. She cleared 7’6″ the other day – only 8 more feet to go and she could be an Olympian. I’m hoping 4 or 5 more feet gets her a college scholarship of some sort. Ansley is in 6th grade, and has become a well-rounded tween girl – music, sports, school, and talking back are her specialties. Clarissa is in 2nd grade and is always smiling and laughing. She loves soccer and writing and singing and watching her shows. Lydia and Ansley are taller than their mother, Carrie. Clarissa is taller than Lydia and Ansley were when they were 8.

Our pet population has changed. Babe the mini-beagle is our eldest pup. We have Asuna the slightly psychotic cat. And now we have Arlo our “bagle” – beagle/basset hound mix. Arlo is an interesting pup. We rescued him from a lady who rescued him from some shady people who had him in a cardboard box in the back of a pick-up truck. She brought him home and let him live in a barn until she could find a good home for him. He’s slightly stubborn, and he still thinks he lives in a barn from time to time. We also have a beta-fish who no one really takes care of but continues to survive.

The world has changed a lot over the past few years. We have gone from the first black president in our nation’s history in Barack Obama to a president whose most recent claim to fame is starring in The Apprentice. Mr. Donald Trump has turned our country and world on its proverbial ear, and we’re still trying to get our bearings back. His speeches are normally 140 characters and can be found on Twitter. It would be awesome to be a speech writer for Trump. Not much editing involved. Just random streams of thought in 140 character bursts. The Chicago Cubs finally won a World Series after over 100 years of futility. Joe Maddon, the Cubs’ manager is the Phil Jackson of Major League Baseball. There’s a new series of Star Wars movies. The next one is called The Last Jedi. Now the world is wondering what that really means especially after Luke Skywalker’s brief appearance at the end of The Force Awakens. The New England Patriots just won their 5th Super Bowl thanks to Tom Brady and Darth Belichick.

Who would have dreamed any of this stuff could happen?

My work life is virtually the same. I still have the same job in the same place. Carrie does too. We still attend the same church. And we still have the 2013 Honda Odyssey EX-L I blogged about in April 2013.

We still live in the same house on the same street. We do have some new neighbors who have lots of kids and have recently opened their home to foster kids. They are truly special people. I would like to have more kids, but Carrie says we’re too old for that.

I have 592 Facebook friends. I’m hoping to get to 600 soon, but I’ve become more selective about my friend choices thanks to the election. I can only handle so many political posts, and that’s all Facebook is these days. Political posts and advertisements for companies and products I purchased a long time ago. I miss the days of pictures of people’s kids and constant bragging about how perfect people’s lives are. Today my feed is filled with posts about why Trump is awesome and why Trump is an idiot, and why Obama is the reason Trump is having so many problems. I did enjoy the Obama/Biden meme’s for a little while. Some of them were hilarious.

That’s all for now. Gotta go pick up Lydia from her friend’s house.

She’ll be driving soon.

That’s a scary thought.

Stranger in a Strangeland

If you were Jewish, would you live your life as a Christian?

Would you try to hitchhike across America without a penny to your name?

Would you walk across the street to spend quality time with your neighbor?

These questions and many others will be discussed in my most recent post.

Stranger in a Strangeland.

Stranger in a Strangeland

The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America

While I was on vacation at the end of last week, I took the time to read a couple of books – actually finish one book and read another.  As a chemist with a sociology degree, I am drawn to the nonfiction realm.  Lately, I’ve been on a biography/memoir kick.  Most of the stories involve a person/author who feels the need to live life outside of their comfort zone.  The author is normally at a point in his/her life in which he/she wants to do something different.  He/she wants to interact with people that they wouldn’t normally interact with on a daily basis – to experience new things.

To have these experiences normally means leaving a job, their home, friends, and family.  In some cases, it means living a totally different life – like a devout Jewish person living a year as a Christian as I discovered in Benyamin Cohen’s book, My Jesus Year.  Or hitting the road without a penny to their name to see if society will still open up their lives and their homes to complete strangers in Mike McIntyre’s The Kindness of Strangers.

My Jesus Year: A Rabbi's Son Wanders the Bible Belt in Search of His Own Faith

The common theme in each of these books is the author’s reliance on others – normally complete strangers – to help them discover their purpose or achieve his personal mission.  For Cohen, it was living life as a Christian to gain a greater appreciation for his own religion.  For McIntyre, it was hitchhiking across the United States penniless, relying solely on the kindness of strangers.

How many of us today would even think of stopping to pick-up a hitchhiker?  Apparently people still do.  People from California to the coast of North Carolina stopped to help McIntyre achieve his mission – travel the country without a penny to his name..  And very rarely were they middle class people like you and me.  They were mostly people of limited means who knew what it was like to be in McIntyre’s shoes – penniless, living off the kindness of strangers.  For me the book sent a powerful message, and made me question how far I would go to help others.

When I read Cohen’s book, I asked myself: How many people would take the time to share their beliefs with a non-believer or even with fellow believers?  Could I do it?  In the book, Cohen shared his experiences with people from many different faiths – Mormons, Baptists, Evangelicals, Monks – and how their faith helped shape their everyday lives.  They all opened up their lives to a complete stranger – in this case Cohen.  As I read the book, I was a bit envious.  I have a hard enough time sharing my thoughts and feelings with my wife – much less a friend or a stranger.

So, you’re probably asking, Delton what is the point of this blog?

I’m not telling you to run out and pick-up hitchhikers or to run tell your wife or your friends your innermost thoughts and feelings.

The point I’m trying to make is don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.  Experience new things.  Be kind to people you don’t know.  Share your thoughts and ideas with new people.  Build a relationship with a co-worker, a fellow church member, or even build a stronger bond with your husband or your wife or your children.

Get to know your neighbors better.  As I’ve read in a number of publications and books, many of us hardly know our neighbors.  We are strangers in our own neighborhood.  So learn more about your neighbors and their families – not just what they do for a living or where they’re from.  Have a deeper discussion.  You never know when that neighbor could make a huge impact in your life or you in theirs.

What do you think?